“Big Mother” as Cognitive Tutor

tutorIn my last post, I suggested that education would do well to mine the wealth of information that can be derived from digitally tracking student movements. A lot can be learned through amassed patterns of student use within software virtual environments and actual physical environs. Today Education Week reports about a New Breed of Digital Tutors Yielding Learning Gains. The article focuses on a school district in Everett, Washington where:

all of Everett’s high school students have a choice in signing up for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and geometry: a traditional class or one that mixes teacher-led lessons with a sizable dose of machine-based tutoring.

Later in the article, the point is made:

Studies suggest that, on average, students who use Cognitive Tutor make learning gains that roughly translate into the equivalent of as much as one letter grade—the difference, in other words, between an A and a B.

So here’s one more example of how technology supports the individualization of skill-building in the cognitive domain. With teacher-shortages in many areas and a graying of the force, it’s not difficult to see how this trend will continue and become more sophisticated.

Yahoo’s Shared Time Capsule

Yahoo's TimecapsuleI don’t know how I missed this great site while it was open, but Yahoo’s Time Capsule is a fantastic interactive exploration of life in 2006. I’m sure there must be cyber vandalism lurking in some corner, but what I saw was a lovely appreciation – both in the original postings as well as people’s comments.

There are all kinds of possible uses for this site – one of the best might be to have students create their own similar site or explore the themes as a way to help children and adolescents to express themselves about their feelings. Not a bad idea for us blokes as well!?

Jonathan Coulton’s “Flickr”

Take a creative and talented alternative folk singer who’s tuned to Web 2.0 and you’ll get Jonathan Coulton’s “Flickr” (16 mg Quicktime movie).  It had to happen and it couldn’t have come from a better source.  You can also get just the song (which is lovely as is).  Thanks.

“It’s not Always like you think”

According to one study at Coventry University:

the use of text message abbreviations is linked positively with literacy achievements.

Perhaps just like the pundits who said videos would spell the end for movies attendance (wrong) and music file sharers would never pay for music (not!), maybe the obvious isn’t true with text messaging? Could be that literacy skills cross boundries of text types? Could be, but note that this study also had a sample size of 35 andf that

the children who were better at spelling and writing used the most “textisms”.

Which could mean that like their ability to spell accurately, these kids were also tuned into the different grammar of SMS. It cuold aslo maen taht clihredn are celver.

MS Still Not Getting it

Realizing that a culture of sharing can create overnight successes like YouTube, Microsoft has started to (sort of) sing a different hymn. Hoping to tap into all that teenage talent out there among young Gamers, Microsoft has created a new platform for developing Xbox 360 games. A quick look at any site that lets users hoist their work knows how active these can be. But here’s the old think – and it so dang obvious! MS is charging $99 (no, not $100!!!) for the developer’s software so that they can own the buzz from underage workers… Peter Moore, head of the games business at Microsoft, said,

My dream is that a high school student will get a royalty check from Microsoft some day for a game that sells on Xbox Live.”

Wow, and then maybe these kids can get a job as an Electronic Arts employee. And then maybe a “bright future” in the Hi Tech industry.

Web 2.0 on These Days PBS show

These Days hostTom Fudge held a good background program on Web 2.0 that you can listen to or get as a podcast. CNET Editor-at-large Brian Cooley and Michael Arrington on his live show on Monday, May 8, 2006. Here’s a quick way to hear about the kinds of sites in the WebQuest referred to yesterday.

Colbert Analyzes Wikipedia

Reposted on YouTube Colbert has a go at “Wikiality” – the process of group think entered into Wikipedia can turn falsehoods into agreed upon reality. The interesting thing is that the lay person’s insight into Wikipedia is that it’s full of rubbish. I wonder how many have used it? Better yet, how many have entered serious content and had it rolled back because it wasn’t good enough?

the knock on your door at midnight…

Web VigilantesThe New York Times reports on a new twist on Internet Searching in “Online Throngs Impose a Stern Morality in China.” It seems it started with a cuckholded husband: the liaison first starting at a World of Warcraft gathering. The man’s wife hooked up with a college student and began an affair. After first forgiving his wife, “the man discovered messages on his wife’s computer that confirmed to him that the liaison was continuing.” He posted a 5,000-word letter on one of the country’s most popular Internet bulletin boards and started a wave of vigilanteism that carried over from the Web to real life. The husband brought his case before the Web court whose vehement condemnations of the affair accounted for a “10 percent increase in daily traffic on Tianya, the bulletin board with the most users.” But the response flew from the Net to the neighborhood:

“We call on every company, every establishment, every office, school, hospital, shopping mall and public street to reject him,” it said. “Don’t accept him, don’t admit him, don’t identify with him until he makes a satisfying and convincing repentance.”

This event raises significant issues in a country whose history includes the retributions of the Cultural Revolution and also suppressed freedom of speech. Part of the reason I found this article important to highlight is that my take on The New WWW may suggest to some that I call for a hard right turn toward morality. My point in studying the social changes induced by technology is to simply say, “Look, it’s all going different. The old rules don’t necesarily apply. There is no more black and white and intelligent and caring people must live with their eyes and hearts open to the changes coming all around us.”