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Child’s Trade Deficit lesson – to Trump

Who said ‘trade deficits’ are hard to understand? With some graphics a kid could do it. The script is spot on.

(Despite the fact that the target audience is the most powerful man in the world.)

Of course this seems ‘produced’ by older folk – probably by the Jimmy Kimmel show. But there’s great lessons in her presentation technique – voice inflexion, body language and gestures, and even the pacing. The kid turns a very dry subject from Economics 101 into a story.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2018 in Communications

 

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Rock, Paper, Scissors, Writer’s Notebook!

There are some sure-fire things that spark creativity in a classroom. And no it’s not always a computer! I say this despite the fact that my class is a computer lab, so bear with me. I keep magnets of all shapes and sizes handy, as it is easy to start a conversation about science with a lump of metal. I also have a box of weird-looking rocks that look like they belong to a Martian landscape.

A few weeks back our reading specialist gave me a book called A Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher. It seems pretty obvious, that every would-be writer should jot down thoughts and ideas he or she stumbles upon. The book encourages students to consider taking ‘notes’ in different ways: “Seed ideas,” “Mind pictures,” “Digging out crystals” and “Snatches of talk” among others.

When I teach writing, no matter what the task at hand is (a letter, a poem, an essay, a speech) I get the student to start with a blank sheet of paper and use it as a ‘brain dump.’ This could exist on the margin of a hand-drawn graphic organizer. Somewhere in that stockpile, there will suddenly appear a key word or phrase that you can take and run with. Fletcher explains that unearthing ideas is akin to excavation:

“Once you locate the rock you use a heavy tool like a crack hammer to carefully break off pieces of stone ….revealing a ‘gem pocket’ filled with sparkling Herkimer diamonds.”

Writing is a lot like that. Anything can spark an idea, but one must painstakingly mine it to let the words tumble out.

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Education

 

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Has Facebook ‘made things worse’ in Sri Lanka?

Singapore asked Facebook some tough questions. I hope Sri Lanka did.

On January 10th, Singapore’s ‘Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods’ took a deep look at how news spreads. It addressed such things as ‘digital manipulation’ and ‘hyper biased news’ in a well footnoted ‘green paper.’ Testifying at the hearing were the big 3, Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Facebook has been infected by social bots and seems to be unwilling or inept at fixing things, as we have seen in Sri Lanka’s case involving a complaint by lawyer, Jeevanee Kariyawasam. (Reported in the LA Times last week. The article quotes Sanjana Hattotuwa and Mario Gomez.)

Really worth a Read: Hate Speech on Facebok

(A report by the Center for Policy Alternatives, Sri Lanka)

It’s time to be proactive about social media platforms as they become de facto news feeds. Not by shutting down, but by timely, smart inverventions, as the CPA study recommends. The video below of Singapore’s stance, is worth watching!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2018 in Social Media, Technology

 

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No, WhatsApp is no substitute for Facebook

It may seem tempting to think WhatsApp could be a great Facebook substitute. But that’s amlost like giving up donuts for breakfast, and having a bar of chocolate instead.

For starters, Facebook owns WhatsApp – a little known fact. It bought it for $19 billion in 2014. That was when many were becoming aware of that thing called ‘Chat apps.’ This means much of user data, inclusing phone records, pictures, text chats etc are being scooped up into a giant data blender.

Also, Whatspp is not a mini broadcast station. No ‘PDA’ feature – for public displays of affection.

And just in case you’re wondering if Instagram might be an substitute, bad news. Facebook owns that too. Like not putting cream and refined sugar in your tea, and using consensed milk instead.

 

 
 

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Publishing, Coding, Avatars, and ‘Little Data’ – My takeaways from EdTechteam Summit

EdTech workshops help recharge our batteries. Just attended one last week by EdTechTeam. Two days of intense, hands-on sessions that are easy to incorporate in the classroom immediately. I was impressed by:

Created using Spark

Adobe Spark. I didn’t realize that Adobe was putting so much weight into tools for students that won’t cost an arm and a leg (they are free!), and are so intuitive. For anyone needing to give students an on ramp to Photoshop, web design, and creativity, they have three tools worth exploring.

Google Earth. Geo tools make an interesting hook to get students to consider the value of data, behind those fascinating images and places they could visit using Google Earth. Who thought spreadsheets could be so exciting! A great way to get the to understand the ‘Little Data’ that makes up Big Data, as Chris Betcher explained.

Coding. Yes, there could be no EdTech event without coding, but there’s so much more happening in the open-source community. From Game design to Wonder Robots.

BitMojis. Avatar-based story-boarding that derived from BitStrips. It is however owned by Snap, which could be a problem in schools, for obvious reasons.

On my radar & worth exploring:

  • Doctapus –  Created by a science teacher, Andrew Stillman, this Chrome extension is a boost to workflow with teachers in mind.
  • WonderBots – Clever little spherical bots called Dot and Dash that make coding come to life!
  • FlipGrid – Video tools for Student engagement
  • ClassCraft – A way to introduce video game mechanics in the classroom
  • HyperDocs – An interactive, rich-media document created in Google Docs, which could be used to collect all materials for a lesson or learning cycle into one ‘hub.’ The approach could be also used to create small books.
 
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Posted by on March 25, 2018 in Workshops

 

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Channel 4 sting shows how Internet gets contaminated

To me the most disturbing thing was not the use of a Sri Lankan decoy in Channel 4’s Sting operation on Cambridge Analytica. It’s the creepy statement by the chief exec of Cambridge Analytica caught in the sting :

“We just put information into the bloodstream to the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape. And so this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but with no branding – so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”

 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2018 in Communications

 

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PR Stunt or Learning Moment? When protesters take over class

Student protests happen everywhere, not only during times of turmoil. When I was in Uni, students took over parts of the campus ‘kidnapped a Dean (!) and held him for a few hours. At another time some stormed the campus police station. Most student protests happen in public spaces, with rhetoric aimed at public figures – or at least those people in power.

So what do you make of a situation when a classroom (in Reed College in Portland, Oregon) was turned into a protest space? Is the audience just students like themselves, sounding off their different perspectives? Watch this and think again.

  • Is it possible that the demonstration was set up (this doesn’t seem a spontaneous turnout) to create ‘media’ and not just to hijack the space?
  • Was the debate that took place toward the end, unintended?
  • Was it an appropriate way to address sensitive issues around a Humanities 101 class?

What’s your take?

For some background, read the piece in The Atlantic in November last year.

 

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