Technology & Literacy, bemoaning the youth of today :-)

September 10, 2009 § 12 Comments

One often hears the criticism that students today don’t know how to write… the part of the blame is placed on technology, on the limitations of texting and twittering! For instance, here are two quotes from a book review TXTNG: THE GR8 DB8 by Marcus Merkmann in the New York Post.

[Texters are] vandals doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbors 800 years ago – John Humphrys, British TV presenter.

Texting is bleak, bald, sad shorthand which masks dyslexia, poor spelling and mental laziness – John Sutherland, author

Of course all this is presented with no real data! A contrasting perspective is presented by research conducted by the Stanford Study of Writing project conducted by Andrea Lunsford. Describing this research, Clive Thompson writes in an article in Wired:

technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions…. young people today write far more than any generation before them. That’s because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

It’s almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

Well, maybe youth today are writing more, but is it any good? Turns out that college students today are not just producing a greater number of words, but these words are of better quality as well.

Lunsford’s team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.

There is actually one concern that this research has pointed out, however the accusing finger points not at the students but rather at us, the professors. For today’s students:

… writing is about persuading and organizing and debating, even if it’s over something as quotidian as what movie to go see. The Stanford students were almost always less enthusiastic about their in-class writing because it had no audience but the professor: It didn’t serve any purpose other than to get them a grade.

Now this is something to think about…

And finally, what about the pernicious influence of texting on student writing… sadly, no evidence of that could be found!

Glad to put that myth to rest!

Finally, just in case something thinks that this “adult” condemnation of what young people do is something recent… well, turns out there are historical antecedents for that as well. The quotes below are not directly related to the issue of technology and writing, but are revealing about our attitudes all the same.

We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control — Words inscribed on a 6,000-year-old Egyptian tomb.

What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them? — Plato, 4th Century BC

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint … As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress — Peter the Hermit, 1274 AD

As they say, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…. The more things change the more they stay the same :-)

Note: I am not sure the Stanford project looked at the different kinds of media use that students engage in today (photos, video, mashups etc.), because that is a huge part of how the very idea of literacy is being redefined today. I don’t necessarily want to get into that issue here in this post, but is clearly a huge part of the kinds of literacy activities students today are engaged in.

Tech Trends, Special Issue on TPACK

September 9, 2009 § 3 Comments

TechTrends is a leading journal for professionals in the educational communication and technology field and is the official publication of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). The current issue has 5 articles devoted to the TPACK framework (including one by yours truly with Matt and Kristen Kereluik). I am providing titles and key quotes from each (with a link to the article written by us).

Mishra, P., Koehler, M. J., & Kereluik, K. (2009). The song remains the same: Looking Back to the Future of Educational Technology. TechTrends, 53, 5. p. 48-53.

The TPACK framework emphasizes the role of teachers as decision makers who design their own educational technology environments as needed, in real time, without fear of those environments becoming outdated or obsolete. Using this approach, teachers do not attend to specific tools, but instead focus on approaches to teaching that endure through change in technologies, content, or pedagogies. Teachers with flexibility of thought, a tolerance for ambiguity, and willingness to experiment can combine traits that perfectly design and tailor their own educational content, pedagogical, and technological environments.

David Passig recently wrote on the topic of melioration, or “the competence to borrow a concept from a field of knowledge supposedly far removed from his or her domain, and adopt it to a pressing challenge in an area of personal knowledge or interest” (2007)… According to Passig, melioration is a skill that affords teachers the flexibility to experiment with a vast array of technologies to meet their specific educational needs. Novel frameworks and concepts like TPACK and Passig’s melioration are starting to look at educational technology in a new way. These new perspectives focus on overarching cognitive skills, competencies, and creativity rather than technical understanding and functional knowledge of specific technologies

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Mind power: Brain Machine Interfaces

September 6, 2009 § Leave a Comment

Imagine controlling machines, typing text or juggling balls using nothing but the power of thought. What sounds like far-fetched science fiction is gradually becoming possible, providing hope for disabled patients — and new gimmicks for the computer gaming industry. Read more in Playing With Your Head: The Dawning Age of Mind-Reading Machines

What implications do these new technologies have for learning and education? I mean even Mattel is getting into the action… As the article says

The new system Mattel is introducing at computer trade shows is called “Mindflex.” According to the company’s fact sheet: “A true mental marathon, Mindflex exercises the brain in an entirely new way as players learn to continuously control their brain activity.”

So, you ask, how does it work? To train the brain, the user puts on a headband with sensors at the temples and a cable connected to something that looks like a mini miniature golf course. Then the user tries to master the first task: balancing a small ball above an air current, causing it to levitate and making it pass through a plastic ring.

At this time these interfaces work only in one direction, from the brain to the computer. But can the reverse, from computer to the brain be far behind? The power being discussed here is truly revolutionary. We have all known that computers are cognitive tools i.e. working with them changes the way we think. However, at some level changes in brain states are mediated via our senses and through movement, a somewhat inefficient process. What these technologies indicate is the future is in a merging of our brains directly with the computer… where the distinction between us and the machine will be increasingly blurred till we won’t be able to tell one from the other. Imagine having access to Google like search engines whenever a question pops up in our heads? How can we tell where the brain ends and the machine begins?

TPACK is top story on eSchool News

August 26, 2009 § Leave a Comment

I just discovered that TPACK made the Top Story of the Week for Educators on eSchool News!

Written by Laura Devaney, Senior Editor of eSchoolNews the article is titled, TPACK explores effective ed-tech integration. It is a pretty comprehensive piece with quotes from Matt and me, as well as Judi Harris, Mark Hofer and others. Don’t take my word for it, check it out…

MAET Graduate Celebration, Plymouth

July 27, 2009 § 3 Comments

Last Friday we celebrated the latest graduates from the MAET off campus program. These were students, who for the most part, have completed the MAET program over three summers in Plymouth, England. We here at MAET headquarters are extremely proud of their achievements. We had a small ceremony to celebrate their success and to wish them all the best for the future.

A video of the ceremony can be seen below. I, as representing the College of Ed and the MAET program, was asked to give a small welcome speech and you can see that in the video as well. I am including below, for the record, the text of what I said…

Text of welcome speech by Punya Mishra, Director MAET program
July 24, 2009
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Technology Integration 2.0 — was TPACK ;-)

July 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

The recently concluded NECC conference had quite a bit of TPACK related presentations. Sadly neither Matt nor I could make it to NECC… maybe next year!

One I discovered just today (h/t @mhines on twitter) was one titled School 2.0 & Understanding by Design.

Clicking on the link will take you to an archived webinar organized by ISTE, ASCD, SRI International, Central Susquehanna Intermediate District with funding support from US Department of Education. It is worth a listen if not for anything else but for a somewhat neat way of tying together TPACK with the Understanding by Design framework. This is something we have been doing for a while, though haven’t explicitly written about – so it was cool to see this convergence of ideas.

I also liked a slide they had titled Technology Integration 2.o! It does have a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? Maybe that is what we will start calling TPACK!

Judi Harris told me about two other sessions:

Making the Ideal Real: Reciprocal Mentoring and Technology in Preservice by Foulger & Gerard

Developing TPACK: Teachers’ Technology Integration Knowledge in Action by Harris & Hofer. Slides posted here.

You can actually see the video here:

The revolution will be twittered

June 15, 2009 § Leave a Comment

The recent (and ongoing) evens in Iran sadden me deeply… but also give me hope. The scenes and news emerging from there speak of courage and a need and demand for freedom. What is also amazing has been the use of technology particularly twitter to get news out of the country.

A few decades ago it was audio-cassette technology that led to the fall of the Shah of Iran. Ayotollah Khomeni had been exiled to France and his speeches would be secretly smuggled into Iran – where an informal underground network of people would dub and re-dub these tapes and pass them around. New technologies lead to new ways of sharing information, new ways to mobilize.

My heart goes out to these protesters as I obsessively track news coming out of Iran. The two best sources of news on this are Andrew Sullivan’s  Daily Dish and The Lede of the NYTimes. Or better still follow the incoming Twitter-feeds collected here.

Mea maxima culpa

April 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

I try to be scrupulous about giving credit where it is due and yet I messed up big time. This happened over a year ago and to my dismay I did not think about it or realize it till this moment.

A year or so ago we received the 2008 MSU-AT&T Instructional Technology Awards Competition for our course TE150: Reflections on Learning. In my first blog posting on this I tried to give credit to each and every person who had worked on the design of this course… and guess what I missed one of the most important people who had helped us get started: Ken Dirkin.

If this had been anybody other than Ken I think I would not feel as bad. Ken, you see, is the most amazing guy. Ken is always been available, whether in thinking of TE150, or the design of this website, or any of the classes I have taught. He is way more than the typical technology person. He is a film-maker, designer, and all around smart guy. He has a wonderful sense of the potentials of technology, a keen taste in design and a wicked sense of humor. I have felt comfortable calling him at home, at any odd hour, for any technical problems I face. And he has always stepped up, above and beyond the call of duty (in fact I think that all the help he provides is outside his immediate official responsibilities). Most importantly I consider him a friend. And then to completely forget his contribution How could I do that!

To say that I feel terrible for this lapse is an understatement.

In the case of TE150, Ken was the guy who helped us make concrete some of our initial thoughts and visions. He was the person who suggested we use Moodle, helped set it up, created the specs for our server and in many, many ways helped make this course a reality. To have forgotten to thank him, official is a terrible lapse on my part. (I take little solace from the fact that Matt Koehler, my partner in crime, seemed to have made the same mistake.)

It is too late now to go back and place his name on the official list, but I have changed our original posting to add his name at the rightful place.

I hope have learned something from this. I know Matt and I have received a great many accolades for the work we do. It is easy for us to forget just how many people have helped make all this possible.

Ken, this is my public apology for having missed your contribution to TE150. I am truly sorry. I know this may be a case of too little, too late… but again better late than never. Thank you and I owe you one (actually a lot). Big time.

Twittering in class, what’s the big deal?

April 9, 2009 § 5 Comments

Noah Ullman just forwarded me this story in the The Chronicle of Higher Education titled Professor encourages students to pass notes during class via twitter. It is amazing to me that this merited being called news. If you have been following this blog you know that this is something I have been playing with for a while (in fact based on a suggestion made by Noah). For the record, here are some links to what I had written: Microblogging in the classroom & Microblogging in the classroom II. In fact one of my students even tried it out in an undergraduate course he was teaching that semester.

I see this as a way of fruitfully utilizing the fact that all my students bring laptops to the classroom (something I have written about here and here)… seems a better solution than having them just check email or update their facebook status :-)

It seems to me that the story didn’t speak to one critical aspect of micro-blogging, how is the twitter feed brought back into the classroom discussion. The problem is that the microblogging tends to exist in a separate “space” from what the class is doing – and coming up with strategies for integrating these two spaces (the face to face AND the microblogging) is what is key. Finding the right balance is is something we struggled with in our experiments. One thing we learned, no big surprise here, is that context matters. A tool that works one way in a doctoral seminar with a dozen or so participants works very differently in an undergraduate class with twice that number of students.

Figuring out the parameters within which these new technologies and tools can be used is what we need to pay attention to. More often than not the discussion is restricted to the “tool” not its pedagogic application. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the comments that follow the Chronicle article. Take a look at them, they tend to follow the time honored rules of talking at cross purposes, with some of the silly comments that, sadly, characterize internet discourse.

Hobnob with MSU faculty

April 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Paul Morsink & Bakar Razali, two graduate students in our college have been doing this interesting variant of the 60 second lecture. They record short videos of individual faculty members talking about anything that interests them and through that allow viewers to learn more about faculty members at MSU’s College of Education. The results of their efforts are now available for all to see (yours truly is represented there as well, as is Matt Koehler). Their goal is to have a video for each and every faculty member in the college – they have around 23 so far. Check out the hobnob video project.

From Tech to Ed Tech: Distance to the moon

March 27, 2009 § Leave a Comment

For one reason or another, I have three consecutive posts regarding the earth and sun and moon – i.e. the local area in the solar system. I had just completed my previous postings (on on seeing through eclipses and measuring the radius of the earth) when I came across this news story (h/t Geekpress): School kids measure distance to the Moon « Read the rest of this entry »

TPACK in a textbook!

March 24, 2009 § 1 Comment

Just found out from Kathryn Dirkin that a prominent textbook of Educational Technology now features the TPACK framework. The book is titled “Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching” [link to Amazon.com] and is authored by Margaret D. Roblyer and Aaron H Doering. This is not an endorsement of the book (which I haven’t yet seen) though I know that Margaret has been a bestselling author and active in educational technology for many years (this is the fifth edition of the book) and I do know Aaron, having met him most recently at the SITE conference.
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TPACK tshirt now available

March 5, 2009 § Leave a Comment

The ambigram design I had first presented here is now available through cafe-press in a variety of formats. Click here to buy t-shirts, buttons and more… Just to be clear, the prices for all the items are exactly what cafe-press charges. Matt and I make no money of this. None. Nada.

Hope you like the ambigram design.

Appreciating Joel Colbert at AACTE

February 8, 2009 § Leave a Comment

I just spent a couple of days in Chicago at the Annual meeting of the American Association for the Colleges of Teacher Education.

On Friday evening was meeting of the Innovation and Technology Committee the highlight of which was a gift of appreciation that we gave Joel Colbert for his service to the Committee. It was under his stewardship (over five years) that this committee achieved a great deal: the handbook, two major forums at AACTE conferences, and other highly visible and high-impact work.

Here is Joel with the “gift”

Since you can’t see the details of what was on it, here is a jpg of what was etched on the glass:
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TPACK Newsletter (#1)

January 31, 2009 § 6 Comments

Judi Harris, Matt Koehler, Mario Kelly and I have been working on setting up a regular TPACK newsletter. The first edition of the newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday. I am including the newsletter here for archival purposes. If you are interested in signing up for future issues please follow the directions at the end of this message or drop an email to Judi Harris.
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The reluctant fundamentalist

November 30, 2008 § Leave a Comment

I just finished reading “The reluctant fundamentalist” a novel by Mohsin Hamid over the break. (I had mentioned this novel in another context here). It is a tight, powerful novel, structured as a monologue, (reminiscent of Camus’ The Fall, a fact that few reviewers seem to have noticed), describing the literal and metaphorical journey of a young Pakistani man from a successful student and businessman in America to becoming a “reluctant fundamentalist” back in his home country.

I was reading this novel even as the horrific events of the past few days played out in Mumbai (see this, this and this). In some ways the attacks on Mumbai became a lens through which to interpret the novel, making me somewhat less sympathetic to the novel than I would have been otherwise. Hamid has gone on the record indicating that the views of Changez do not reflect his own – and that Changez is a piece of fiction, a writer’s creation. Though I knew this intellectually, it was emotionally difficult for me to separate the author and the character. This was partly because Changez’s story and that of the author roughly parallel each other – though Hamid quite his high-flying job in the corporate world to become an author (not a Islamic fundamentalist) and partly because I could not but notice the connections between the western educated protagonist in the novel (Changez) and the young men (wearing jeans and designer shirts) who attacked Mumbai.
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Jeff Keltner from Google Education to talk today

November 6, 2008 § 2 Comments

There has been a great deal of interest in the educational use of cloud computing tools such as Google Docs in the College (and at MSU at large). Though these tools are often free and easy to use, they come with concerns about intellectual property and ownership of content.

As a part of informing the College of Education faculty and students about these tools the College Faculty Advisory Committee has organized a presentation by Jeff Keltner from Google. Jeff heads the Google Applications for Education initiative globally and is a specialist for Google’s collaboration products. He often presents about the Google vision for search and collaboration tools.
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Today’s Internet cliché award goes to:

November 3, 2008 § Leave a Comment

Sara Black, a professor of health studies at St. Joseph’s University for the following insightful quote:

“The Internet can be a great tool, like any tool, it can also be misused.”

Check it out on CNN.com in a story titled “#@*!!! Anonymous anger rampant on Internet

Who said this?

October 12, 2008 § Leave a Comment

A quote in today’s oped in the NYTimes, about how this current financial crisis is difficult to understand since many of the decisions were taken by computer programs. The author quotes someone as follows:

the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. … Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.

Who is this mystery author?
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The value of research

October 10, 2008 § Leave a Comment

A few years ago I was asked to talk to some major donors of the College as a part of the kick-off of the MSU Capital Campaign. The text below is what I had written out prior to giving the talk. It is not an exact transcript of what I actually said, since I occasionally digressed from the written text in front of me. I had been asked to speak about the value of research.
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Students video premiere on aftered.tv

October 10, 2008 § Leave a Comment

This just in. Leigh Wolf just informed me that a video created by three of her students this past summer accepted by AfterEd – a web-based video channel produced by EdLab at Teachers College, Columbia University. New content is published weekly, including news, documentary, and editorial segments.

The video titled 10 Things you can do with Online Applications, created by Amy Pietrowski, Paul Lacey, and Reece Lennon, will premiere at 12:00 PM EST and will also be a part of After Ed’s EdLounge weekly screening this week at 4:30 p.m. at Teachers College Library, Columbia University.

Check it out at aftered.tv

Avani Amol Pavangadkar…

October 9, 2008 § Leave a Comment

… was born on the 7th of October, to Amol and Kanchan. [Amol was my partner in crime in the making of Hari Puttar!] We went to visit her yesterday and I took some pictures. Enjoy.



View all the pictures

Political poetry

October 1, 2008 § Leave a Comment

What do Donald Rumsfeld and Sarah Palin have in common? Turns out that they both deliver speeches that can, at be, without much effort, converted into poetry. Check out this and this. Some of them are quite briliant.

Feeling ignored by Warner Bros.

August 25, 2008 § Leave a Comment

Amol just sent me this BBC story titled: Warner ‘sues over Puttar movie.’ That makes me so angry! How come Warner Bros is not suing me…
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Day 2 Morning session, Mishra & Light

August 21, 2008 § Leave a Comment

I just completed my presentation Education Technology and Teacher Education, the TPACK framework. I think it went well, though you have to talk to ask the audience what they “really” think.
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Blogging SETS: Morning session

August 20, 2008 § 2 Comments

I am trying to live blog the conference: Symposium on Education Technology in Schools: Converging for Innovation & Creativity [Full agenda here]. Let us see how far I can keep this up.
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The end of practical obscurity

August 5, 2008 § Leave a Comment

There is a somewhat troubling story in NYTimes a couple of days ago: (If You Run a Red Light, Will Everyone Know?) about CriminalSearches.com, a free service that lets people search by name through criminal archives of all 50 states and 3,500 counties in the United States! This is part of a growing trend of how technology removes / erodes people’s privacy. The creators of the system argue that they are doing nothing wrong, and that this information was always available anyway. “We are just trying to provide what’s already out there in an easier fashion, for free,” Mr. Lane said. “We think it’s pretty helpful to families.” However the potential for misuse is huge. « Read the rest of this entry »

By the numbers

August 4, 2008 § Leave a Comment

Today’s NYTimes story about an economist ranking art by the numbers (see A Textbook Example of Ranking Artworks) bothered me a bit. As the article says, David Galenson’s method is based not on the aesthetic qualities of the artwork but rather on “how frequently an illustration of a work appears in textbooks.” His method is simplicity itself, and I quote: He tallied the number of illustrations of each piece in the 33 textbooks he found that were published between 1990 and 2005, on the assumption that the most important works merited the most illustrations.” By this method he argues that Picasso’s, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as being ranked as number 1. There are two main concerns I have about this methodology. « Read the rest of this entry »

Flipping the Tech & Ed equation

July 29, 2008 § Leave a Comment

My research and scholarship has mostly been in the area of educational technology – i.e. how to improve / facilitate learning through the use of technologies. David Brooks in his latest op-ed (The biggest issue) in the NYTimes flips this around somewhat. Citing research by Goldin and Katz he argues that over the past century there has been a “race between technology and education.”
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Obama’s gmail account

July 23, 2008 § Leave a Comment

Did you know that any email sent to barackobama@gmail.com goes to an Indian software developer! Strange but true!

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