Friday, November 23, 2007

Twitter, Again

My favorite quote so far describing Twitter:
Kevin Honeycutt: “ Twitter is my Cracker Jacks: caramel corn, caramel corn...then a PEANUT..then when you least expect it..a secret toy surprise! You have to put some ingredients in too or you’re just snacking on everyone else’s cracker jacks.”

Intermittent reinforcement is the best for establishing a behavior. So you keep reading the boring stuff because you know eventually there will be another PEANUT!

A guy on the video on that same page uses the metaphor of bees "pollinating all over the place" to talk about Twitter. I feel a metaphor lesson coming on!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Serious Gaming

You know, games could really teach anything. I'm sure I learned first about capitalism and our economic system from Monopoly. Most games involve strategies, planning, sometimes teamwork, coordination, etc. IBM has created a game called Innov8, "an interactive, 3-D educational game designed to bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization." Now there's a worthy cause. In the field of adult education, and education in general, as elsewhere, we are constantly experiencing the tension between IT and educational goals. That tension is built in to the conflict between the need for information and access, and the need for security. Hmm, just like life!

There have been some interesting forays into simulations and gaming for adult education. I saw one from I think Ireland demonstrated several years ago at the TESOL software developers fair that allowed students to be a waiter interacting with customers. It had what was for that time sophisticated voice recognition and branched responses. The problem is the expense of developing these simulations. But maybe with Second Life and other MUVEs we are moving into an era of many more simulations and games.

Friday, November 09, 2007

So many blogs, so little time

According to statistics posted on the BlogWorld conference site, 12 million Americans maintain a blog - is that possible? I guess we all like to get our thoughts and opinions out there and hear from others. But 1.7 million list making money as one of the main reasons for keeping a blog. Hey, I think I'm missing something here!

Over 120,000 blogs are created every day. This is definitely information overload. But each one is a part of its own community - home schoolers, chihuahua raisers, artisan cheese makers, travel bloggers, fat bloggers, political bloggers, tech bloggers, scifi bloggers, our personal curiosities and our was of connecting with each other are endless. For adult educators, it's important that our learners understand this phenomenon, if they don't already. They can participate in it, become a part of and build national and international communities.

One more statistic, blog readers spend an average of 23 hours per week online. That sounds about right. Here's a chart of the number of unique visitors to the different blog hosts, comparing Q1 2004 to Q1 2005. Old numbers, but Blogger is still by far ahead of the crowd.

There are more blogs in Japanese than in English, but they are close, and far ahead of other languages, although it looks like all languages are participating. Chinese is third, with 8%.

Branka and I are doing a pre-conference session at CATESOL, and several other conferences, on blogging for language teaching and adult basic skills in general. The key is supporting learners to find their community of interest. There's something for everyone out there, and each person has their passions. The ability to connect with others who have the same passions is what got me excited about technology 15 years ago, and the root of it all is still the same.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Questions for Teachers

Cool Cat Teacher posted the Kansas State University students' video on her blog, and then posed the following 20 questions. I would delete #20 because I know you care. And they aren't all relevant to adult education, but still, food for thought. At the very least, a teacher should have some kind of web presence that you could link to, don't you think?

1. Do you spend any time talking about proper methods of e-mail?
2. Do you have a facebook or myspace profile? (I don't?)
3. I someone wrote about you, is your name hyperlinkable? (Do you have something they can link to?)
4. Do you know the names of all of your students?
5. If your students have computers in the classroom, do your students make ongoing eye contact?
6. Are you unafraid of what would happen if youtube, myspace, and facebook were allowed in your classroom?
7. Do your students collaboratively create documents?
8. Do you expect your students to complete their reading assignments?
9. Do you assign papers and grade them after reading EVERY WORD?
10. Have you ever given assignment and allowed students to create content on the public world wide web?
11. Do you allow students to post content WITHOUT premoderation?
12. If you allow students to post online, do you subscribe to 100% of their content in your RSS reader?
13. Do you comment on your student blogs?
14. Is more than 50% of your content relevant "to life?" (Ask your students)
15. Do all of your students open their textbook for your class on a weekly basis?
16. Do you give reading assignments that include web content?
17. Have your students been taught methodologies for assessing the validity of web documents?
18. Do you give students projects where they must manage themselves, multitask, and deliver a comprehensive output that is relevant to your topic?
19. Have you changed anything significant about ALL of the courses you are teaching THIS YEAR?
20. Do you care?