Top Students Are Not Attracted to Teaching

It may not come as a surprise to you that we are not attracting and retaining the top talent in our schools to become teachers.

"Efforts to help US schools become more effective generally focus on improving the skills of current teachers or keeping the best and ejecting the least effective ones. The issue of who should actually become teachers has received comparatively little attention. Yet the world’s top-performing systems—in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea—recruit 100 percent of their teaching corps from students in the top third of their classes."

That quote is from the McKinsey survey of nearly 1,500 top-third US college students. It confirms that a major effort would be needed to attract them to teaching. For example, among top-third students not planning to enter the profession, 33 percent believe that they would be able to support a family if they did.

You can see a graph of the survey results at www.mckinseyquarterly.com/newsletters/chartfocus/2010_12.htm



Project Based Learning Made Simple

The Buck Institute for Education had Common Craft create a short animated video that explains in simple language the essential elements of Project Based Learning (PBL). Common Craft does very good simple "explanations in plain English."  This one takes on the essential elements of PBL.

PBL (which, unfortunately, is also the abbreviation for PROBLEM based learning, which is not the same thing) has many buzzworthy elements for "21st Century skills and competencies" like collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. It seems like the idea has a stronger hold in K-12 which assumes that what college professors want are those skills because they are integral to college success. That may be, but many college classrooms assume students come in the door with these skills or those skills are not really a part of the college classroom.

Take a look at "Project Based Learning Made Simple" and let me know what you think about the video, and your own use of PBL in K-12 or higher education.




Here Comes Santa Claus

It has become a Serendipity35 tradition to track Santa's incredible journey on Christmas Eve. Of course, we use technology to do that.



The "NORAD Tracks Santa" web site is part public relations and part educational and part just fun.



Of course, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is serious business, but for more than 50 years they have been giving press releases about detecting Santa's sleigh and reindeer using their tracking systems as he leaves the North Pole.



I remember those reports as a kid being tagged onto the end of the evening news. The past few years, people are more likely to check on Santa online, so NORAD has added Google Earth to display the trip in 3D.



Santa’s elves have been busier than usual this year preparing. Visit Santa’s Village to see what’s been going on, and join in on the fun!



You can track Santa at www.noradsanta.org

 







The real NORAD site is at http://www.norad.mil. The North American Aerospace Defense Command is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.

 


Video Holiday Cards From Colleges

The past few years we have seen more and more colleges create video "holiday cards" and email and post them online. It saves some trees and postage, and it might even save them money (especially when you use students as content creators and talent).

Karine Joly (of Higher Ed Experts) has collected 8 of them, and a lot of commenters have posted links to their college's video on her page.  Add your own college's card link if it isn't on the list.

You can view her post at http://collegewebeditor.com/blog/index.php/archives/2010/12/14/top-higher-ed-holiday-cards-2010-edition/

Here's one example from American University that features lots of students, faculty and staff.




Holiday Card from American University on Vimeo.



Understanding Shakespeare


viewerUnderstanding Shakespeare is the B.A. thesis project of Stephan Thiel at the Interfacedesign program of the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam.

Its goal is to introduce a new form of reading drama to help understand Shakespeare’s works in new ways.

It also changes our conventional ways of "consuming" narratives and knowledge using information visualization.

What the group was trying to provide was an overview of the entire play by showing its text through a collection of the most frequently used words for each character. It reminded me of tag clouds.

A scene is represented by a block of text and scaled relatively according to its number of words.

Characters are ordered by appearance from left to right throughout the play. The major character’s speeches are highlighted to illustrate their amounts of
spoken words as compared to the rest of the play.

Now, in a very un-Shakespearean way, you can look at how this project created an application of computational tools that explored in order "to extract and visualize the information found within the text and to reveal its underlying narrative algorithm."

They turned the visualizations into actual prints (90cm x ~220cm) for an exhibition.

I can imagine the purists opposition to this tech view of The Bard, but I applaud all efforts to look at old things in new ways with new tools - even if what it accomplishes is to make us once again value the original.