EDU Learning Apps

resource


edu-apps.org is an open collection of learning apps that can be used in your classes.


The apps are built on LTI which is "like Facebook apps or Google widgets, but interoperable between lots of edu tools. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI)® is a specification developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium. The principal concept of LTI is to establish a standard way of integrating rich learning applications (often remotely hosted and provided through third-party services) with platforms like learning management systems, portals, or other educational environments. In LTI these learning applications are called Tools (delivered by Tool Providers) and the LMS, or platforms, are called Tool Consumers." 


The edu-apps site is run by Instructure and its contents are available on GitHub under the MIT license. The official IMS LTI site is available here. The tools listed should work in most systems.



Starbucks Scholarships and Nanodegrees


Starbucks got a lot of attention this past week for their new scholarship partnership with Arizona State University. More details have come out about the limits of the financial contribution Starbucks is making and what discount ASU Online is providing.




ASU is joining with Starbucks to offer an extraordinary new program, called the Starbucks College Acheivement Plan (CAP), to all of their full- and part-time partners of every brand, who are employed within the United States, the chance to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage through ASU’s top-ranked degree program, delivered online.


It sounds like a good thing for Starbucks employees, but I think the real story is that this is a fully online program. Participating CAP students will be offered the same curricula as ASU online students, which is the same content taught on campus by the same faculty.

Obviously, using one school online is simpler than allowing students to pick local colleges or connecting with community colleges in every state. But we know that online learning is not a good fit for every student. I wonder if Starbucks or ASU is planning on any screening or prior assessments for students to see if online work is a good fit?


Udacity, the MOOC provider, has worked with industry partners to produce courses. They have announced that a partnerships with AT&T, and an initial funding from AT&T Aspire of more than $1.5 million, launched nanodegrees. Those are compact, flexible, and job-focused credentials that are stackable throughout a career. Students in a nanodegree program select hands-on courses by industry, a capstone project, and career guidance. You can get a nanodegree and earn new ones throughout your career.

Common Core Standards in Higher Education



I have mentioned before that I don't see very much interest in higher education for the Common Core State Standards, the controversial state-based educational-standards system that is impacting K-12 education. I did come across an article from The Chronicle titled "College Leaders Sign On to Support Common Core Educational Standards" that discusses how 200+ higher-education leaders have created an organization to voice support for Common Core. Thirty states are represented by mostly administrators at public colleges and universities.





The Common Core standards were designed in 2009 and adopted in the next two years by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The Standards have support from the Obama administration but Governors Fallin (R - Oklahoma) and Haley (R - South Carolina) recently signed laws ending adoption of the reforms in their states and Indiana’s Board of Education formally abandoned the benchmarks in late April.



If all this Common Core sounds more political than educational, then you are thinking what many educators are saying. Much of the Common Core conversations that get media coverage come from meetings like that of the National Association of System Heads, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities - places where discussion on the Higher Ed for Higher Standards was also conceived.



Common Core opponents would also point out that the new coalition is a project of the Collaborative for Student Success, which receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has been a promoter of the Common Core.


According to the Chronicle article:


But public colleges and universities face their own challenges with Common Core integration. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Education Policy at George Washington University, education agencies in 16 states reported that working with public colleges to enact Common Core standards posed a "major" challenge. Published in September, the survey also found that public colleges in 27 states were having difficulty adapting teacher-training programs to the benchmarks. State education agencies also reported that colleges in 18 states were resisting the reforms in other ways.


A Seven Dollar Operating System For The Masses



USB flashdrives are so common now that they are given away like candy. Here is one flash drive that  might deserve more attention. Two entrepreneurs are behind the start-up Keepod which is being called an operating-system-on-a-stick.

They have raised money on the fund-raising site Indiegogo. Their test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya where very few people use a computer or have access to the net.

Keepod means that an old (discarded?) PC can be revived with the drive. It is an interesting approach to recycling computers for the masses.  PC schemes that resulted in machines becoming "clogged up" and running at a snail's pace after multiple users had saved different things to a single hard drive.

The Keepod team has teamed with LiveInSlums (a non-governmental organization) and used the flash drives with students and staff at WhyNot Academy in East Africa. It is a school that finally got electricity two years ago. The team bought a router and a Sim card to hook the classrooms up to the Internet and brought five old laptops with their hard disks removed using a Keepod as the boot up drive.

If a computer has a working screen, keyboard and basic processor it should work with a Keepod stick that contains a unique desktop version of Google's Android 4.4 operating system. The stick will  remember settings, passwords and websites visited and store any files or programs downloaded on the other half of its 8GB storage capacity. The information can be encrypted and is protected by a password needed for operation when it's plugged in.

Video introduction to Keepod

http://keepod.org


Go Deep

After almost four decades of teaching, I still get a thrill when a student makes that connection that was unexpected. When a student connects something new to something learned earlier (in my class, another class, from years ago or from outside school). Students spend a lot of time encouraging those connections and probably too much time actually making the connections for students.

I also want students to "go deep", as we used to say in our pickup touch football games. That means going for a long pass that could result in glory but more often results in a missed pass. Still, you learn from it for next time.

What does it mean for students to go deeper? Deeper learning means not staying on the surface. Teachers can ask deep questions, but students need to ask deep questions too.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was the reference point I was given in my undergrad education courses. Bloom's verbs categorized how we learn. “Define” is a superficial learning interaction and “critique” is deeper.

I have been spending some time the past few months working with the Common Core State Standards. They seem to like using  seem to use Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) which is another frame of reference and common language to understand "rigor," or cognitive demand.

There are four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity: recall, skill/concept, strategic thinking, extended thinking.

Most teachers I encounter, especially at the college level, have little interest in the labels. They may enjoy a discussion or argument about what the levels mean, but their only interest in a taxonomy for learning is how to get to those higher or deeper levels.