FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | May 30, 2013

As mentioned in earlier posts, much confusion exists around the Common Core standards.

There is also some full throated paranoia mongering confusion about the requirements of data collection and the Common Core standards.

To be clear, data collection and the Common Core standards are two separate things. However, due to how the evaluations based on Common Core have been rolled out alongside Common Core, and how both Race to the Top and NCLB waivers have emphasized the need for increased data collection, the confusion here is understandable.

Question Mark

However, just because the confusion is understandable does not mean it needs to persist.

Data collection about education...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 24, 2013

On Wednesday, OPB ran one of the better stories I have heard within mainstream media on the Common Core standards; the piece was reported by Rob Manning. The piece focused on adoption within Oregon, and contains gems like this quotation from a district superintendent:

Lazy Cow

“In eastern Oregon, we have a saying that cattle get bigger because you feed them, not because you weigh them.”

However, the story also fails to nail down some key details.

Adopting the "Smarter Balanced" Assessment

The Manning piece describes how the Oregon Board of Education recently voted to adopt the currently incomplete ...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 22, 2013

Cole Camplese has a piece on pushback against MOOCs over on his blog. In it, he asks:

(N)ow that the MOOC thing has happened the same people who built rallying calls for more open access to learning are now rejecting this movement. Why? Because it is driven by corporations trying to make money? Because it isn’t really open? Because the press isn’t giving a few people the credit they believe they deserve? Because these aren’t really courses? Ok … that sounds like the same stuff we’ve always dealt with.

The hype around MOOCs is identical to things we have been dealing with for a while. EdTech and Higher Ed have a bad habit of looking for a messiah. Remember when Second Life revolutionized education? Before that, remember when the "free" web made charging for things obsolete? Good times.

He then answers his question:

Yes, the way the current MOOC...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 21, 2013

I'm getting ready to head in to DrupalCon, where over the next few days I'll be talking education and open learning with anyone who is interested.

And as I'm heading in, I have MOOCs on the brain - not because I'm particularly a fan of MOOCs, but because of the tendency to take a great thing (in this case, information and interpersonal exchanges distributed broadly over the web) and reduce it into something that feels more manageable, but is ultimately something lesser (in this case, MOOC platforms). More on this later.

The Web Is Your MOOC

Part of the reason that I'm thinking these thoughts prior to heading into DrupalCon is that I've long held the notion that open source communities have been engaging in effective peer-supported learning, even while many for-profit companies and academic communities have been struggling to distill the process of peer-supported learning into something resembling a...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 13, 2013

Over the weekend, as I was searching for something on my phone, it struck me how little I understand this device that I use countless times each day.

What happens when I touch my finger to the screen? What is the technology that enables my fingertip - but not, for example, a finger in a glove - to effect reactions within the phone. While I could probably do a decent job explaining the software and data components of this interaction, I would have - at best - a highly speculative breakdown of how the hardware worked.


And taking a step further back, once we understood how the hardware worked, how many people could explain where the hardware was sourced from? Who has an informed insight into how people live in the places where are things are sourced and built?

Once you start asking questions, our surrounding world is filled with them. How...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 2, 2013

Over on his blog, Dr. Charles Severance has outlined some issues he faces with his use of Creative Commons licensing. I suspect that he is not alone in grappling with these issues. While I have responded in the comment thread on his blog, I also wanted to put these thoughts down here so I don't lose them over time.

Dr. Severance (and additional commenters) outline some scenarios where they have experience issues.

The first two scenarios pull from this comment:

The first scenario is I write a book, make it CC-BY, provide a free electronic copy, and publish at a low price on Lulu so those who want a printed copy can get it. An unscrupulous person grabs the electronic copy and with no changes puts it...

Bill Fitzgerald | April 26, 2013

As part of our work on open content, and how to design systems that support authoring and translation that are both useful and usable, we have been thinking about the role of metadata and, by extension, search. This post contains some incomplete thoughts - a line in the sand, more than anything - and, six months from now, will provide something for all of us to laugh at. Possibly, we will all be able to laugh at this sooner than that. Time can be cruel.

In other words, I am firmly reserving the right to recant any or all of what I'm saying here. I'd love to hear different viewpoints on this.

Keep Data Simple

This sounds - and is - pretty basic, right up until it's time to implement an actual system. However, as soon as it's time to build a system, people "just need this one field."

In building data systems, additional fields are the equivalent of scope creep.

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...


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