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Comment Every tech revolution... (Score 5, Insightful) 352

Every technical revolution in education since Edison's wax cylinder phonograph or prior has been prophesied to replace classroom teachers.

A brief list:
The Gutenberg press.
Edison's phonograph.
Classes by mail.
Voice radio.
Two way video.
Multi user computer terminals.
Multimedia software.
The internet.

This too will become a minor fad, blossom, fade, and find a very minor place in the ongoing art of education.

Comment Locked down Chromebooks (Score 1) 219

I teach physics and the list of software I can't run and for which there is no full equivalent is longer than the list of software equivalents I do use on Chromebooks.

I have had to maintain a classroom lab of Windows computers to run the software I need for data import and analysis, video analysis, computational physics, and simulations. If IT stops supporting them, I could easily run all of that software on Linux on the same machines for the foreseeable future.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another rapid-update. 1

Oops, I let my major-post date slip by, 26-Jul-2013.

However, tomorrow, 10-Feb-2014, marks ten years since my first journal entry. Maybe I'll post an entry tomorrow to celebrate.

Comment Re:iGoogle (Score 1) 383

I'm glad I'm not the only one who laments the upcoming loss of iGoogle. It's been how I get my quick blog/news updates every day for years.

When they announced the shutdown, I went through the process of exporting my feed information so I could import it in Google Reader. That seems to have been a wasted effort.

I'm paying close attention to the alternatives people are mentioning here...hopefully something will fill the iGoogle gap.

Comment Re:Doesn't Scale (Score 1) 183

There is no way you could do a US Presidential election this way.

Maybe. Scale it up in steps. Groups of 12 citizens who are known to each other get into rooms to conduct a vote. One is chosen to take their group's decision to the next level, where 12 group representatives who know each other get together to vote. And so on...you'd only need seven levels of voting to reach the final 12 representatives in the current US voting population.

I'm using a fuzzy interpretation of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game to assume that you could always arrange the representative groups to all know each other. Probably that means that the person in each group with the highest socio-economic status would be the logical representative, since they would be the most likely to have direct ties to other high socio-economic status members of other identical level groups.

  I've not fleshed this out logically or mathematically any further than that. I'm also not suggesting that this would work well (or that it would be better than our current system), just proposing that it might be a theoretically possible way to do a US presidential election.

Comment If the technical sets still existed... (Score 1) 425

I used to ask for LEGO sets for birthdays/Christmas, and essentially the more motors and gears and shafts and connectors there were, the better. The last set I have like that was the original Lego Mindstorms programmable set. Sure, there were instructions (like there always were), but it was a set filled with gears and shafts and blocks and connectors. I could make anything I wanted out of that (and I did, and I was in college).

If I could still get that kind of set, and not a "Star Wars X-Wing" set, I would STILL be buying LEGOS for MYSELF, as well as buying them for nephews and nieces.

Comment Embracing technological tools... (Score 1) 570

Schools should embrace the new technology available to them. We are now able to produce interactive educational experiences with portable devices, created by the very BEST teachers. Students are able to use the devices at their own pace, studying a concept over and over until they really "get" it. Why have students together, learning at an artificial pace, studying curriculum created by someone who is merely average?
Of course, the technology I refer to is the Gutenberg Press (ca. 1440), and the interactive educational experiences are mass-produced "textbooks".

Or it is the postal service and correspondence courses (ca. 1900), Or radio and broadcast education (ca. 1940). Or television and televised courses (ca. 1960). Or mainframe computers and computer-based learning (ca. 1975). Etc. etc.

I think until we have artificial intelligences advanced enough to understand human thought, preconceptions, and learning as well as a well-educated human, actual human teachers with (real or virtual) classes will remain an essential part of education for most people in most subjects. While I am a teacher, I came into the profession through an alternative route, and held these opinions before I ever considered teaching.

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.