Thursday, October 06, 2011


First off, Let me say that when ever I hear Cathy Davidson speak - I get smarter.

This year's Digital media and learning competition is titled"badges for lifelong learning". the good folks at Mozilla are cosponsors of the competition. Here's some info:

Digital Media and Learning Competition: This Competition focuses on building digital badges for lifelong learning. The Competition is designed to encourage individuals and organizations to create digital tools that support, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place.
Today I listened to the webinar - 'Badges 101' Hosted by Cathy Davidson (Duke U and HASTAC), Sheryl Grant (HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation),
Erin Knight, (Mozilla and P2PU); Carla Casilli, (Open Badges, Mozilla)

The webinar was worthwhile and it was great to get the condensed background and context for the badges project. They didn't talk too much about the competition and that will be handled in subsequent webinars.

Here are a few of my ideas and thoughts from the talk.

Many people know Davidson because of her work on crowd sourcing grading. It's nice to hear a respected professor come out and say, plainly, grades suck. She eloquently made the point using a history lesson. Grades haven't been around that long-since 1890. 'ABCD' grades were adopted and subsequently rejected by the Packers as being too restrictive. Educators adopted it with gusto, particularly after standardized, multiple-choice testing became accepted ( roughly after World War I)

I got this image in my mind during the webinar. The red card serves as a badge - given by the ref, accepted by the player, seen by everyone. The question was asked about negative badges - do people use them?  referees do.  In military school, I remember my demerits more than my merits.

Another thought I had for my past was that of the badges I collected while traveling around Europe as a first grader. My family and I lived in Bielefeld West Germany in 1979. I had a blue jean jacket that I wore proudly as an American. Each new town that we went to I would pick out a patch that my mom would so on to the jacket.I wish I had a picture of that jacket, but I still remember the badges that I collected. How it focused my attention during those travels.
Vivyan's Jacket with badegs... expression of his self identity.  self chosen for display.

When I think of lifelong learning I think of travel. And I wonder if the travel industry is a good place for a badge system. Go to a town-get a badge.  Do some activity - get a batch.  Collect enough badges - get a bonus, bad-ass badge.  I imagined an eager group of school kids (or Elderhostel types) test during an Alaskan whale watching Capt. to give them access to the QR code that would unlock a badge and display it for their friends back home.  Perhaps they could record the moment with a picture, video/audio or writing.

I wonder what it would take to organize something like that.  Is that what foursquare does? what are the overlaps between travel and lifelong learning?  are there specific travel learning organizations?

Thanks for listening and seeing next time.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Models: Emporium

The local Community College is working with an innovative approach to solve the problem of flagging Math proficiency - The Emporium Model from the National Center for Academic Transformation. It seems to be a 'Flipping the Classroom' type model.  It reminds me of Khan Academy which I didn't really get until I saw this TED Talk:
Models: Emporium: The Emporium Model

  • Eliminates all lectures and replaces them with a learning resource center model featuring interactive software and on-demand personalized assistance.
  • Depends heavily on instructional software, including interactive tutorials, practice exercises, solutions to frequently asked questions, and online quizzes and tests.
  • Allows students to choose what types of learning materials to use depending on their needs, and how quickly to work through the materials.
  • Uses a staffing model that combines faculty, GTAs, peer tutors and others who respond directly to students’ specific needs and direct them to resources from which they can learn.
  • May require a significant commitment of space and equipment.
  • More than one course can be taught in an emporium, thus leveraging the initial investment.

TED Talk on Khan Academy

Monday, October 03, 2011

InfoQ: QCon Keynote: Innovation at Google

InfoQ: QCon Keynote: Innovation at Google:
Patrick Copeland presents the first three principles of the eXtreme innovation approach based on the Pretotyping Manifesto: Innovators Beat Ideas, Pretotypes Beat Productypes, and Data Beats Opinion.
Fail fast and often. It comes natural to the those in virtual worlds, like games and blogs.

These guys at get it. The idea is to put it out. Always be shipping. Godin asks "What did you ship today?"

Ideas aren't as important as things. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Put it out there and see what happens.

My rebut or hesitation of this is that I'm afraid of the "yard full of $hit" syndrome. Also called the 'Camero on blocks'. it's like the idea and half done projects of the past. It's hard to look at each day as you bring yet another project into the yard...

I guess the trick Copeland is talking about is, get alot of junk in the yard(ideas you are starting) - but don't make them huge, don't make them Make them like Palm's paper prototype.

Less formally, pretotyping is a way to test a product idea quickly and inexpensively by creating extremely simplified versions of that product to help validate the premise that "If we build it, they will use it."
yep, I like this. If you are a creative person, don't be embarrassed to create. But, don't be foolish in putting all your efforts to create something people may not want. The speaker says you SHOULD be embarrassed by your first iteration of your new thing - if you aren't, perhaps you spent too much time building it.

hmmm, food for thought here.

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? -

Seriously. This makes alot of sense to me. Our whole society seems to be shifting to more and more choice - and it's getting freakin' exhausting.

Have we gone to far? I wish I could go back in time - for all kinds of reasons - but one would be to go to a 1960s supermarket. Why? because this is where the choice generation began. Food makers are kings of baffling by choice. now there are 15 types of EVERYTHING - ... could you imagine when you had only to pick between Regular and Decaff... perhaps there where two Brands. (And all that...)

All these little choices and we no longer have the energy to make BIGGER - MORE IMPORTANT - choices.

Oh well, I'm choosing Regular coffee.

More links:
Podcast where I got the tip on Decision Fatigue -

NYT article that the podcast is based -
Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? -

'Decision Fatigue' on Google Scholar - 117 articles (today)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

National Football League: NFL Audio Pass Listen to every NFL game online. Live!

National Football League: NFL Audio Pass Listen to every NFL game online. Live!

I love the AudioPass. I hate Ads.

Imagine my surprise when I hear Ads (which I hate) on the NFL AudioPass (which I love).

NFL gets a "C'mon man!" on the this.

Why do I have to pay to listen to ads? I understand ads on broadcast TV. But, when I pay for a service, I expect to be ad free.

I love the AudioPass alittle less. Hate Ads even more.