Sunday, March 18, 2012 books for the people

I saw this on the O'Reilly Radar blog, and absolutely love it:
"We all have books we love so much, we'd like to give them to the world. We want to share them, but also reward their creators. With digital books, it can be hard to do both. offers a win-win solution: Crowdfunding. We run pledge campaigns for books; you chip in. When, together, we've reached the goal, we'll reward the book's creators and issue an unglued ebook. Creative Commons licensing means everyone, everywhere can read and share the unglued book - freely and legally. You've given your favorite book to the world."
If you could gift one book to the world, what would it be? Head over to to see what others have come up with.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Koha 'how-to' videos

Nicole Engard has been producing a series of videos to help people learn more about Koha. Head over to her blog to see how she's getting on:
Lately I have been recording a series of tutorial videos on Koha. I’m going to be sharing them here, one per week – and here’s the first in the series:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Games make kids smarter

In Gabe Zichermann's TED talk 'Games make kids smarter' he mentions Andrea Kuszewski's work on maximising cognitive potential, or the science of learnable intelligence. It's a fascinating subject, rapidly evolving and worth further reading. Here's the TL;DR version:
  • Seek novelty
  • Challenge yourself
  • Think creatively
  • Do things the hard way
  • Network
It's great article, and well worth a read:

Monday, March 5, 2012

To BYOD or not?

Gary Stager (for whom I normally have a lot of time) had a shocker when he wrote this piece entitled 'BYOD: Worst idea of the 21st century?'
Here's a good counter: 7 Myths About BYOD Debunked dispatches a number of Stager's points.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Student-led learning: Desert Island Day

Good blog post and nice video from Happysteve about 'radical self-direction':
"So, day 3 of the year. 180 kids, 90 new, 90 veterans. Establishment phase. Here's the premise: you have crashlanded on a desert island. There are no teachers. How on earth, logistically, did [these teachers] manage this? Well you should ask them on Twitter. From what I gather and observed (I spent about 30 minutes of the day in attendance in person): the 6 teachers hid outside the open space, observing the kids via video links and open windows. They tweeted clues in via a large twitter screen that acted as a well of knowledge. They used a P.A. system to phone-in further clues. They had established rules: students must remain within 2 metres of their team. Students must ignore 'spies' (adults who entered the space, dressed in costumes). It was pretty much pure game-based-learning. Simulation. Here's the environment we've curated, now prove yourselves. And LO AND BEHOLD, they did! "

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What silicon valley executives keep getting wrong about education

This is a great article from Dr. Keith Devlin which starts with Sun Microsystems' co-founder Vinod Khosla's reading of what is wrong with education:
' "Education 2.0 [...] we have not experimented enough with [...] out-of-the-box approaches but have instead tried to force-fit [...] traditional (often broken) ideas into the 'computerized' model."
Devlin's critique bring in Sal Khan and the flipped classroom and makes some good, balanced points about it:
"Which might sound fine if this statement were not preceded by his explicit mention of Khan Academy as one of the new experiments. For KA is precisely a traditional approach transported onto the Web, namely one-to-one instruction, sitting side-by-side with the teacher. Is KA valuable? Sure it is? But "all" Sal Khan has done is take the traditional textbook instruction and put it up on YouTube."
Devlin's great point about the Khan Academy (which a lot of people miss) is..
"what resources like Khan Academy provide is instruction, not teaching/learning. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience good teaching will know the difference"
He goes on to say:
"Khan is a good instructor -- he explains well in a highly non-threatening, "I am your friend" way. That's not an easy thing to achieve when the entire information channel consists of his voice and a screen-trace of what his hand writes on a tablet screen." 
"Watching videos of people playing golf will surely help you learn to play, but you won't get very far without going out on the fairway, frequently, and doing so with a good coach who can watch what you do and correct your inevitable errors. Not once but many times, over a long haul."