FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | April 24, 2013

There's no getting around it. The Common Core standards bring out the crazy.

Benjamin Reilly does a good job of collecting the crazy in one place, but his "alert" highlights a real issue: the amount of disinformation about Common Core has the potential to derail any rational discussion about the standards.

So, for those following along at home, here is a high level breakdown of the elements of this discussion. At the outset, I want to stress that this is a summary, and that there are certainly things I am missing and/or getting wrong. Please, point out these myriad shortcomings in the comments.

The best place to start is with the Common Core standards - these are learning standards, plain and simple. There are things to like and...

Bill Fitzgerald | April 21, 2013

Yesterday, Darren Draper put out a post expressing some concerns with Teachers Pay Teachers. Shortly after putting out that post, Darren was forced to don his flame-and-troll-proof suit, as the comment thread got, well, interesting.

I'll get to the discussions in the comment thread later in this post, as a majority of the comments are illustrative of a small part of a larger problem.

OpenWashing, Teachers Pay Teachers Edition

Teachers Pay Teachers markets itself as "An open marketplace for educators where teachers buy, sell and share original teaching resources." In this context, Teachers Pay Teachers (or, TpT) provides a clear example of how the word "open" has been mangled beyond recognition.

Bill Fitzgerald | April 8, 2013

Last weekend, we ran another open content authoring session at Lewis Elementary in Portland, OR; we'll have more details on the event in a post laster this week. During this session, we talked with several educators about ways to work around the organizational barriers they face. I'm going to list out a couple here; frequently, when we talk about the things that are absent from school learning environment, the conversation stops at blockages of YouTube and other social media sites. Really, though, there are barriers that are far more basic and pervasive than that.


Students Can't Save HTML Files

We spoke with an educator working within PPS who had set up a lesson where students were learning about the web, including some basic HTML and css. The...

Bill Fitzgerald | April 7, 2013

Twibbon is a service that markets itself as a tool to support "your cause, brand or organisation in a variety of ways." Twibbon targets Facebook and Twitter, and provides a small graphic that gets added onto a profile picture. This graphic is a visual way to show support for a ause.

After reading through Twibbon's privacy policy I have one question for organizations that use Twibbon: why do require that your supporters surrender all privacy?

The Twibbon privacy policy is remarkably honest when it descibes what it will collect, as it clearly states that it will get your contact information, your location, and other details related to surveys and "offers" (aka, ads and marketing).

RIP Privacy

What we may collect

We may collect the following...

Bill Fitzgerald | April 1, 2013

Over the last few days, I spent a little time looking over the inBloom Data Store Logical Model. Based on what I have seen there, I have some additional questions and observations about the data that is stored within the system. The questions included here are not comprehensive by any means. Rather, this is a short list compiled after spending around an hour reviewing the data model.

A. inBloom Could Be Used to Screen Immigration Status

inBloom can store information about how a person verifies their identity. The values used here could be used as a screen to check immigration status. Given some of the...

Bill Fitzgerald | April 1, 2013

When Beverly Hall ran the Atlanta public school system, she oversaw gains on student test scores on standardized tests throughout the city. These gains resulted in her being named the 2009 Superintendent of the Year, and collecting $580,000 in performance bonuses over 10 years.

According to an indictment handed down on Friday, Beverly Hall and 35 other people within the Atlanta school system conspired to cheat. The cheating consisted of people changing student answers on standardized tests. The gains in Atlanta - based largely in improved test scores on standardized tests - are likely not real.

Beverly Hall and Arne Duncan at the White House

While the cheating in Atlanta - and the level of cheating - is horriffic,...

Bill Fitzgerald | March 29, 2013

In the inBloom data model, there are four instances where people are tied to what is called a Unique State Identifier.

A Unique State Identifier is defined as:

A unique numeric code assigned to a person by a state education agency.

The people identified by the Unique State Identifier are:

Bill Fitzgerald | March 27, 2013

At the outset, I want to make it clear that this blog post is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of all things related to Open Educational Resources at the US Federal level.

But with that said, from a high level, it's interesting seeing the move toward Open Educational Resources, and how they are referenced more frequently as both criteria for grants and as a deliverable of these grants.

At the Federal Department of Education is helping with outreach to articulate why OER's work.

In 2011, in a joint program between the Departments of Labor and Education, 2 Billion dollars were put toward a program that explicitly required materials produced be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license. In February,...

Bill Fitzgerald | March 13, 2013

On Saturday, March 9th, we held an Open Content authoring day in San Francisco. It's the second we've put on this year, and for those interested, we have a third coming up in Portland, OR on April 6th.

The San Francisco meetup was held on the campus of Lick Wilmerding, made possible thanks to Jonathan Mergy. In the morning of the meetup in San Francisco, we spent some time working with the participants on converting existing lessons - stored in word docs, google docs, or as collections of files - into more granular, more easily reusable, chunks of information.

The work of transitioning existing instructional material into reusable open content is largely organizational, and involves reviewing and editing existing...

Bill Fitzgerald | March 12, 2013

On April 6th, at Meriwether Lewis School, in Portland, OR, we will be hosting an open content authoring event. The event will be run unconference style, where participants will be able to work with peers as they research, create, and revise educational material. The day is free to attend, and lunch will be provided.

Eventbrite - The Write Stuff - Portland 2013

Based on past events we have run, we anticipate that most participants will be interested in one of five related tracks:

  • People looking to revise individual lessons;
  • People building/creating complete courses;
  • People supporting teachers/departments as they create their learning resources;
  • People who are not working on anything specific, but want to help...


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