FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | August 5, 2013

Lisa Petrides, the president and founder of ISKME, has a new post up on her blog titled The Elephant in Education: Open Source Pillaging. In this post, she explains why OER Commons (one of the first - and certainly one of the best - OER repositories) is licensing the metadata around the content shared in OER Commons under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license:

Eames Elephant

Organizations like ours (and we are not alone) are having...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 24, 2013

While not widespread, a fair number of school districts have used RFID tracking devices to track the location of school kids.

From the perspective of a school or district, using RFID to track kids can have some negative side effects -- like lawsuits.

But if you roll out a 1:1 iPad program, you get to say that you are a trailblazer in 21st century learning! The fact that you can -- via Mobile Device Management -- install a GPS tracking app on a device that works like an RFID tracker is a bonus that you don't need to emphasize. It's not like a school district has ever misused "...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 20, 2013

It is difficult to keep up with the amount of misinformation spewed on a regular basis about the Common Core standards. The conversation is complicated because, depending on who is talking, the words "Common Core" can mean any one, or any combination of, the following:

  • The actual Common Core standards;
  • The curriculum aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • The tests aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • School ratings based on the tests;
  • Teacher evaluations based on the tests; and/or
  • Incentives contained within Federal Department of Education funding that paired Common Core adoption with test adoption and data collection.
Empty desks

One of the more recent examples occurred when...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 18, 2013

Update: Bruce Baker, over at School Finance 101, has a more detailed breakdown of the NCTQ report.
End Update

The National Council on Teacher Quality put out a report that is it describing as "an unprecedented evaluation of more than 1,100 colleges and universities that prepare elementary and secondary teachers."

Let's take a step back from the hyperbole and see what's going on.

Let's say your organization has a goal: undermine the work of trained, experienced educators in the classroom, and the programs that prepare them. This goal hits teachers unions, who have a large body of credentialed, trained, and experienced educators, and the...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 16, 2013

While collecting up my thoughts after the Portland Public Schools Common Core event last week, I came across this set of talking points written by the district "as a support to principals and teachers to understand State of Oregon requirements and our practices around testing."

The full doc is available for download from the Portland Public Schools site; I have also stored a copy locally (pdf download). The FAQ is dated February, 2013; it's not clear whether this document is a version that has been updated over the years, or whether these talking points were created fresh in early 2013...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 13, 2013

After attending the Portland Public Schools Common Core parent event, I've been thinking about the event, the people tasked to staff it, and the split between the Common Core standards, what our kids will be taught as a result of the adoption of these standards, and parent and community frustration at how these standards have been adopted.

One piece of feedback that I hope that people in Portland Public School District are hearing is that people want to talk about the process by which the standards were adopted. At the event last night, there was no outlet or opportunity to discuss concerns with the standards themselves. As a result, curriculum people were barraged with policy questions.

In rolling out Common Core, the district should have a series of events that focus on sample instruction within the classrooms. Focus on what kids will be doing. For what it's worth, this should be...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 13, 2013

Last night, on Tuesday, June 12th, I attended what was called a "Parent's Academy" on the in-progress Common Core rollout. The event was put on by Portland Public Schools. The goal of the event was stated clearly on one of the handouts they provided:

The purpose of our presentation tonight is to help families understand the new Common Core State Standards and how these changes will benefit your child's education. Our intent is to help you to become informed about ways you can help your child be successful.

This goal set the tone for the evening, and attempted to provide a context: the Common Core Standards are here, they will benefit your child's education, we have a plan, and you can help. The goal of the meeting was to provide a positive, forward looking message - both about the quality of Common Core, and about the ways in which the District is preparing for the rollout. As one presenter put it, "The fact is, they're here, they're adopted...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 9, 2013

In reading through the coverage of the ongoing data collection by the government, one of the ways that people obfuscate the depth of the privacy intrusion is by hiding behind the term "metadata."

David Brooks, in NPR's Week In Politics, provides an example of how jargon is used to obfuscate reality:

I'm somewhat bothered by the secrecy, but I don't feel it's intrusive. Basically, they're running huge amounts of megadata through an algorithm. That feels less intrusive to me than the average TSA search at the airport.

A more accurate description is that a TSA search is more immediate, physical, and obvious, and is intrusive in a palpable way. By describing the government data grab as passing data through an "algorithm," Brooks attemps to create a level of...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 7, 2013

At the risk of stating the obvious, I've been following the news of widespread data collection by the NSA with some interest.

After watching things continue to unfold today - including President Obama's underwhelming defense of the program - these are some random thoughts and questions I have:

  • I'd like banks to get comparable surveillance as civilians.
  • I'd like to see the discussion broadened to include corporate responsibility for just acquiescing to these data requests.
  • Schools that went all in with iPads - how are you explaining to parents that your 21st Century Learning enrolled their...
Bill Fitzgerald | June 7, 2013

Based on recent reports, it sounds like the NSA is regularly collecting data from major phone companies, nine major tech companies, and from credit card companies and ISPs (although it's not clear whether the credit card/ISP data collection is ongoing or intermittent).

The list of companies participating includes many major players within the States; it's difficult to imagine anyone using any technology within the States not using at least two of these companies on a daily basis. Most people likely use more. The list includes:

  • Facebook;
  • Verizon;
  • Apple;...


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