FunnyMonkey Blog

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;...
Jeff Graham | June 5, 2013

I've been on this kick lately of looking at the original architects of the web and what people were doing at that time. This picked up steam in January, 2013, right after our Open Content Authoring Day at EduCon when we started looking at the needed structure to support flexible open content authoring. This led to looking at the origin of REST; the functionality is available in the HTTP standard, but over time we (meaning a lot of people doing web development) just ignored it because of imperfect implementations and assuming everything was HTML, and (un)fortunately things have mostly worked.

There are some issues with how people currently imagine web apps because we:

  • Bolted on a lot of "features" that broke or hid the underlying methods and protocols;
  • We assumed everything was HTML;...
Bill Fitzgerald | June 3, 2013

A question we are asked on a fairly regular basis is:

I have a bunch of resources saved in Word docs. How can I release these as open content?

It's a pretty straightforward question, and one version of an answer is:

  1. Specify a license; and
  2. Publish your content online in something like Google Drive or Dropbox.

However, there are details and decisions buried in the steps outlined above that make this seemingly straightforward answer remarkably serpentine. This blog post is an effort to collect up some of the the various possible answers to that question in a single place.

Specify A License

First, the easy part: if you are the primary author of the work, and/or your work uses/remixes openly licensed content, all...

Bill Fitzgerald | May 30, 2013

Getting data on how people learn and how they can be supported while learning is a worthwhile goal.

However, collecting data takes time, and the means by which these data points will be collected and stored have yet to be identified.

Even capturing a subset of the data specified in the CEDS standard (and this is the data standard implemented by InBloom) requires a significant investment in - at the very least - time, technology, staff training, and data analysis skills.

Kindergarten and the Common Core

I would also wager that many districts are also swamped with the rollout of the Common Core standards, to the point where their ability to ...

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...


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