FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | November 3, 2012

While down in Berkeley for BADCamp, I had the chance to go out to lunch with Jeff Graham, Chach Sikes, and Catrina Roallos. We got to talking about ways to help people working in technology (or wanting to expand what they do with technology) learn the requisite skills needed to continue to grow.

We talked about ways of finding community - either within open source projects or in hackfests - and about how the connections there can be key. And we also talked about how learning leading edge development best practice - for both front end and back end developers - really isn't widely available within schools.

One thing Chach brought up in the conversation stuck with me. When she brought it up, she made sure to point out that it was advice that she had been given from several people over time, but the reason it...

Andrea Burton | October 24, 2012

This past weekend, Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit in Seattle, WA, was buzzing with talk of Foundation, an amazing responsive web framework built with HTML5 and SCSS.

I led a session on Building Drupal Style Tiles using Foundation and SCSS and provided sample code for attendees to download and install to create their own style tiles.

Bill Fitzgerald | October 24, 2012

Due to the popularity of Apple's App Store, some folks are tempted to go all in with the blanket statement that a closed ecosystem is a better experience for end users.

This statement rests on several misunderstandings.

  • Apple's App Store is a closed ecosystem, and it works very well in selling Apple-approved products to consumers with Apple hardware and/or software. Other closed ecosystems have been less successful.
  • Success does not equal universal adoration. Not everybody that owns an Apple product loves the product, the company, or the user experience of owning Apple. While the volume and enthusiasm of the small subset of users that are delighted with Apple would have us...
Bill Fitzgerald | October 21, 2012

In the Mozilla Badges Google group, there is an ongoing conversation about the terminology around badges. This post incorporates some thoughts and ideas expressed in that thread.

At the outset, I want to emphasize that there are lot of details regarding the technical implementation that complicate what I am about to say. But, for the last couple years, when I have talked with people about badges, there has been consistent confusion about how badges work, and about how they differ from other means of measuring and demonstrating learning.

I also want to emphasize that badges done well can play a role in how demonstrating learning will evolve. As to those who advocate for badges as a means of injecting game theory into the learning process - well, that's a different conversation. I'm inherently skeptical of approaches that blur the line between motivating learners and infantilizing...

Bill Fitzgerald | October 15, 2012

In the NY Times this weekend, they ran a story about parents in New York City schools boycotting field tests, or standardized tests written by Pearson that test what questions should go on the actual test.

The standardized test review and update is needed because the current standardized tests don't align with the Common Core standards.

From the article, a couple details emerge:

  • Pearson charges the city to give sample tests that will then help them write the test; in other words, the school district is paying for kids to act as free labor and lose instructional time so that Pearson can write a test that the district can buy;
  • The current tests aren't accurate enough to reliably indicate progress, and Pearson doesn't have enough information to make them accurate without...
Bill Fitzgerald | October 14, 2012

Over at the Globe and Mail, there is an article by Robert Luke titled Education should take a lesson from the open-source movement.

The article is an interesting read, and it's always good to see people recognizing that education can learn from how open source communities work. But while this article is a good start, there are slight missteps that detract from the overall picture. From early in the article:

As we modernize our approach to education in a globalized world, there are lessons we can learn from the open-source movement. Open source provides the language of collaboration and co-operation – the basis from which programmers stitch discrete pieces into a coherent whole.

Bill Fitzgerald | October 11, 2012

Yesterday, I wrote this piece after reading an article on Incentivizing Education. The piece on incentivizing education attempts to define the philosophical justification and the absolute need for venture funded companies to profit from the public education system. But please, don't take my word for it. Read the piece yourself.

However, it's hard to take the argument seriously because it is riddled with blatantly obvious errors of fact. Yesterday, I limited myself to the second paragraph, largely for reasons of time, but every section contains assertions that are either demonstrably false, or conclusions drawn from these demonstrably false assertions (and yes, I do feel...

Bill Fitzgerald | October 10, 2012

Over at Edsurge, there is a post up now titled "Incentivizing Innovation In Education; or A Role For For Profits in Education." The original title of the post was "Incentivizing Innovation in Education; or, How I Kicked Anthony Cody’s Ass Six Ways to Sunday" but the current version has an updated title and an updated editor's note. I captured a screenshot of the original via google's cache; here is a screenshot with the updated title for people to compare the difference. The...

Bill Fitzgerald | October 3, 2012

Last night, Daniel Scibienski shared a graphic he created about using git to share lessons. This sparked a discussion about the merits of git to share lessons, and about whether curriculum is part of the solution, or a problem that needs to be eliminated. There's a fair amount of context that surrounds these questions; in this post, I'll dig into some of the gray areas that often get in the way of a complete discussion of these ideas.

Actual curriculum compared to the curriculum needed for the business plans

We need to separate actual curriculum from the current models of distributing curriculum, and the ways in which people are advocating curriculum should be used. Companies like Pearson lobby heavily on issues related to education policy; not surprisingly, when laws get written that shape what education should look like, Pearson has both a textbook and an assessment package ready to meet that "...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 24, 2012

On April 3, 2010, Apple's iPad 1 started selling to the public. On September 19, 2012, iOS6 became available for download.

The kicker? iOS6 won't run on the iPad 1.

While the hardware of the iPad 1 is still plenty functional, the lack of even any basic security updates for web browsers and email programs (let alone any of the installed apps on these devices) make the iPad 1 obsolete after two years. From both an environmental place and a budgetary place, this enforced obsolescence is both wasteful and unnecessary.




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