Mixed Emotions



      emoji for okay

I can type some odd punctuation online and the Web sees :'( :-) :-| :-O :-( 8-) :-D :-P ;-) and then the reader tries to apply some meaning and interpretation to those icons.

These emotion icons, now known by the portmanteau emoticon is meant to be a metacommunicative pictorial representation of a facial expression. They became part of writing on the Web in emails, on web pages and in text messages and social media posts. They rose from a need created by the absence of body language and prosody in this non-verbal communication.

The emoticon is meant to give the receiver soem clue to the tenor, tone or temper of a sender's message.

Through the use of a few punctuation marks, numbers and letters, we hope to communicate feelings or mood. With the rise and current dominance of mobile computing, devices now provide stylized pictures that require no typing of odd punctuation to generate an image. You can simply select an angry cat, crying face, champagne toast, pile of excrement or character from a movie.

Western emoticons are usually written at a right angle to the direction of the text, but users from Japan popularized a kind of emoticon called kaomojis (???. The word emoji literally means "picture" (e) + "character" (moji) but that term has a somewhat different use in the West. In either place, they can be understood without tilting your head to the left. The growth of digitally-mediated communicative tools (DMC) has been rapid and pervasive. Most tech-savvy users are comfortable using these on a daily basis. This is certainly more true among younger generations where DMC may actually be the preferred means of communication. Still, how do these users clarify their meaning, intent, and desires?

It's a topic that gets serious study. This blogger at scientificamerican.com says the emoticon and emojis role in "Democratizing Communication" might be that:

"... emoticons reinforces the need for a personal element in DMC. The nuances that emoticons add need to mean something to the audience—which is why a standard set of emoticons is not sufficient, even while the standard of using emoticons becomes widespread. The cultural development of emoticons also emphasizes how important emoticons have become to digitally-mediated communication and maintaining our social networks. The fact that we see cultural variations in emoticons reveals that emoticons are being used to connect people—to help people understand each other through methods that limit shared information inherent to social biofeedback. 

As we increasingly transact our lives online, and find ways to effectively communicate online, what we are able to share becomes important in shaping our world overall. Researchers propose “the creation and distribution of digital goods has been democratized.”12 The creation and growth of social networking has allowed for easy sharing of creative and intellectual property. To which I will add, that these efforts have been assisted by DMC tools, such as emoticons, which allow shared ideas to be understood—not just in terms of content, but in terms of the author’s meaning as well."

And to that, we might reply: bored


Training Teachers Based on Competencies

Meeting of doctors at the university of Paris.jpg

"Meeting of doctors at the University of Paris" Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

As a graduate of a teacher-preparation program, I am always interested in hearing about new approaches to that process. Lately, there has been increasing demand for educators. I suspect that is partially from a lack of supply. Teaching is not seen as being a very attractive career these days. When I entered teaching four decades ago, it was viewed as a good solid career. The pay would not be great, but the benefits were good. It was particularly attractive to women who were mothers and could arrange their days and the year on a similar schedule to that of their children. It was a profession, but seen as less professional than a lawyer or doctor, although those three were once grouped together in rank. But that was a long time ago.

I have also seen more alternative preparation options being offered. The latest I have seen is a new graduate school and research lab announced by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. It will be a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct research on teacher and school leadership education. (MIT has no school of education.)

It is very research-based and it will be part of a new institute at MIT, called the MIT PK-12 Initiative. That aspect will provide support to STEM teachers.

It is also competency-based, which is not entirely new to higher education, but a new approach to teacher preparation. It will focus on competencies rather than on seat time. 

Arthur Levine (former president of Teachers College, Columbia University and now head of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation) says that "Instead of focusing on courses and credits students need to take, we're going to focus on the skills and knowledge they need to have to enter the classroom." Most education schools have such low admission standards and are of such poor quality, Levine says, it would be easier to replace them than repair them. "They're old and dated." 

The Woodrow Wilson Academy only will take in 25 students during 2017, its first year. Being selective seems to be important for success. A new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) found that the more selective the program, the more likely that graduating teachers will remain in the profession and that students will be successful in the classroom. Students in the new Academy will have an opportunity to work with partner school districts in the greater Boston area. 

Some comparisons have been made to Teach for America. That program is also selective. It trains new teachers for up to 10 weeks over the summer and then sends them into some of the poorest parts of the country. But TFA's results show that rather than training new teachers, it helps people figure out what they want to do with their future. And after Corps members complete their required two year commitment, fewer than a third stay in their positions beyond that period. 

This Academy is at the graduate level and I feel that the real problems in teacher preparation - and the best place to make change - occur in undergraduate programs. I'm not aware at any radical departures in programs at that level.






Not that we need more acronyms in education, but le COOC, acronyme de Corporate Open Online Course, is another one to addd to the list of variations on the MOOC model. It is also a further move into the non-academic application of the MOOC learning model.

A l'heure de la réforme de la formation professionnelle, l'accent est plus que jamais mis sur des formations opérationnelles et certifiantes. Un avantage certain pour ce que l'on appelle les COOC. Mais d'abord…qu'est-ce qu'un COOC ?

see  http://www.journaldunet.com/management/formation/1155958-formation-cooc-entreprises/


Khan Academy Offers Free Online Prep for the New SAT exam

Khan Academy has teamed up with the College Board (creators of the SAT) to create personalized SAT practice for anyone, anywhere.

In March 2016, the SAT is changing and now students can prepare for the new test on Khan Academy—for free.

Khan Academy gives students personalized practice recommendations and instant feedback on how they’re doing. If they’re curious, we also have a short video about the new SAT to help them get to know how the test is changing.

- 4 official full-length practice tests, plus study and test-taking tips

- 8 diagnostic quizzes to pinpoint your areas for practice

- Thousands of practice questions, video lessons, and hints

- Get constant feedback and progress so you know where you stand

 see www.khanacademy.org/sat

Overview of the Official SAT Practice: Sal walks through using Official SAT Practice on KhanAcademy.org, which we built in partnership with College Board (the creators of the SAT).

testWhen I had first seen the College Board and Khan Academy announcement that they were forming a new partnership, I liked that the free test preparation is being offered in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I think that is also important in giving access to the resources for students who might need more support or access to the Internet or computers. 

It is not a revolutionary approach to use diagnostic tests to determine skill level in each section of the SAT, and then direct students to different lessons that review fundamentals a student might have previously missed in school. When I was tutoring high school students 1:1 or in a small group for the SAT 35 years ago, I did the same thing using books, paper and pencil, When CD-ROMs became the way to review for the test, it added the computer's ability (a bit crudely) to send students to the types of questions they were getting wrong. Drill and practice. 

The next phase was to move that online, and the computing power increased dramatically. So did some of the predictive ability of the program to monitor student weaknesses. Khan's  service also takes in data from students’ PSAT and SAT scores and tailors the tools offered to teach skills students may have missed on the assessments and prepare them for the next round of testing.

David Coleman, CEO and president of College Board, is also looking for some positive PR for the test. The approach here is to try to ensure that students will not only be more prepared for taking the SAT but for college in general. That latter goal (also echoed in the Common Core State Standards that Coleman helped build) is one that has not been associated with the SAT in recent years. 

The SAT has been more on the defensive recently with many admissions officers at colleges saying that high school grades are a better indicator of a student’s success in college. The ACT has also risen in popularity as an alternative to the SAT.

“Our aim is to level the college assessment practice field,” Coleman said in a presentation, and Salman Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy, said his team had access to the new SAT design and were able to tailor their tools to best help students succeed while preparing for the test.

I hope the partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is only the first of more connections they make. I don't view it as a negative on schools that more "schooling" is occurring outside the traditional classroom, but as a positive that more resources are being offered to supplement what is being done in classrooms.


Art and the MOOC

A new "virtual art school" called Kadenze has already teamed up with programs at 18 institutions to create a digital platform designed for arts courses.

According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook (an emeritus professor at Princeton, one of the schools involved), the platform will be “multimedia rich” and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned art, watch videos, and participate in discussion forums.

Their website describes Kadenze as "the future of creative education" as it "brings together educators, artists, and engineers from leading universities across the globe to provide world-class education in the fields of art and creative technology."

Kadenze will initially offer about 20 courses on subjects including music, art history, and technology and art.

Their "business model" is one that has been evolving the past two years for many MOOC providers. Similar to the free and premium model used by many app and software as service (SAS) providers, it offers free access and also additional access or features for paid users. You can enroll in courses and watch videos for free. Paying $7 a month allows you to submit assignments and receive grades and feedback. Additional fees of  $300, $600, or $900 will be charged for courses that are offered for credit.