Friday, May 3, 2024

may
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

The enemy is at the gates, things have fallen apart. The center does not hold…

Yes, I’m being dramatic. The climax of Derby Week is here in Kentucky with the running of the Kentucky Oaks today and the 150th Kentucky Derby tomorrow. I’ll avoid downtown Louisville this weekend at all costs to leave the visitors to their frivolities and watch as they leave behind the memories of too many mint juleps and not enough gambling wins to make the journey worthwhile.

Also, I have some guidelines on how to prepare the best mint julep for your Derby parties. Pour a shot of bourbon, neat or on ice, however you prefer. Take all the other julep ingredients and throw them in the trash. Enjoy your bourbon.

Seriously. Mint juleps are gross. And I like mint.

I’m more focused on Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day. The universe conspired to have both events fall on the same day as the Derby, leaving alternative entertainment plans and celebrations for those not so enamored with seeing horses who’ve had too many beatings carry jockeys around an oval for two minutes, running so hard that they nearly die. Of course, if they get injured while running, the likelihood they will die increases. Sometimes, they euthanize the horse right on the track.

We’re going to catch The Phantom Menace in the theater today, and I’m taking my kiddo to our local comic shop on Saturday to grab a free comic (and pick up a copy of Space Ghost #1 if they have any left!).

But, I’ll still sit down for a few minutes, catch the Louisville Cardinal Marching Band play “My Old Kentucky Home” before the Derby, and sing along with a tear in my eye. As much as I don’t care for the Derby, there are some traditions I’ll happily participate in this weekend.

Quote of the Day

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with." (Stephen King, On Writing)

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.” (Stephen King, On Writing)

The core of what our dark leader, Stephen King, is getting at here is to become good at writing—or anything, really—you have to get past your own doubts and fears and just do it. Nothing gets done until something is done, and nothing changes until something changes.

To put it in scientific terms, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

The outside force is you, or maybe your will. Regardless, until you do something, your fears will always win. They’re not going to go away (it’d be nice, but they won’t), so you may as well make peace with them and let them know who’s really in charge.

Musical Interlude

I love Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Love it. There’s something about the layers of rolling chords, the dynamic range from almost a whisper to a swelling roar. For me, it’s a perfect piece of music and sounds equally brilliant whether a master pianist delivers a solo or the full orchestra carries the musical load. Here’s a great interpretation (with great acoustics) to brighten your day.

Long Read of the Day

If you’ve ever wondered exactly why your favorite (or least favorite) celebrity gets to write a book, there’s a reason. The publishing industry mainly focuses on celebrity books and repeat bestsellers to make money. Most books sell very few copies, with only a small percentage achieving high sales numbers. Big advances for books don’t guarantee high sales, and backlist books contribute significantly to publishers’ revenues.

Elle Griffin explores the events of the failed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger detailed in the book The Trial and reveals some of the nasty bits about the publishing industry.

Video of the Day

I’m double-dipping here with another music video—god, why did MTV ever stop playing them—but this is excellent and I’m going to force all of you to appreciate classical music before I’m done (Mayhap not, but I’m still gonna try.)

Evan Goldfine has an excellent newsletter on listening to Bach, and yesterday, he released a “beginner’s guide” that provides several entry points for your Bach journey. Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile are personal favorites, so seeing them mentioned along with bassist Edgar Meyer was a treat. Here they are playing a rendition of Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major from their 2017 ‘Bach Trios’ release.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the weekend, gang. Make time for coffee, reading, and maybe some pizza. And spend time with those you love because they’re all we’ve got when it all ends. The rest is just bonus points.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

A bit of techno typing

What happens when you give kids support and an open playground?

Austin Kleon’s son, Owen, dropped his latest SoundCloud album.

He’s 11.

My favorite track, Typing, is embedded here. It’s a banger of creativity. And heavily influenced by Kraftwerk and Daft Punk, just like I am.

Oh, the possibilities.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Meta wants to put students and teachers in Quest VR headsets

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Meta plans to make Quest VR headsets a key tool for classroom learning, offering students immersive educational experiences. The push for VR in education raises questions about the future of learning and student engagement. Despite concerns like cybersickness and limited accessibility, Meta sees VR technology as a promising avenue for transforming education.

  • Meta will release a suite of visually engrossing education apps for teachers to use with students ages 13 and older in time for the fall 2024 semester.
  • Teachers will be able to manage multiple Quest devices at once without preparing and updating each device individually.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Exploring the future of learning and the relationship between human intelligence and AI – An interview with Professor Rose Luckin

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In this interview, Professor Rose Luckin, a pioneer in integrating artificial intelligence (AI) with education, shares insights on the ethical dimensions of AI deployment in education, emphasizing the importance of ethical AI and its potential to support learner-centered methodologies. She discusses the challenges and opportunities generative AI presents in assessment, learning, and teaching, highlighting the need for robust partnerships between educators and technology developers.

Professor Luckin stresses the importance of integrating AI into education with carefully crafted ethics and governance frameworks to maximize its potential benefits while mitigating risks. The paper discusses AI’s evolving role in education and the critical need for lifelong learning. It underscores the imperative of ongoing research and collaborative efforts to navigate AI’s significant dangers and opportunities in education.

Here’s another interview with Professor Luckin on AI and Education in the 21st Century:


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Ten books from MIT faculty to expand your knowledge of teaching, learning, and technology

reading

As we head into Spring Break and, soon, into summer, you may already be building your reading list.

I know not everyone is busy marking professional learning books like me (yes, I have a sickness), but if you are, I have some recommendations.

Here are 10 books shared by MIT Open Learning faculty that explore teaching, learning, and technology. The books cover topics such as innovation in manufacturing, creating Android apps, sociable robots, educational technology, the science of learning, and workforce education.

One of my favorites, Failure to Disrupt, is on the list. I believe that text is required reading for anyone in the educational technology space if you’re brave enough to admit that we are often wrong about what technology can do in our schools.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Are We Reading Right in the Digital Age?

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Just like schools grappling with the cell phone conundrum, there’s another digital dilemma brewing – our reading habits. In a compelling study by Altamura, Vargas, and Salmerón, we’re forced to question: Are digital reading habits benefiting us, especially our younger readers?

The research dives into the effects of leisure digital reading from 2000 to 2022, involving a staggering 469,564 participants. The findings? It’s a mixed bag. Digital reading, while convenient and interactive, doesn’t always enhance comprehension, particularly in younger readers. In early education stages, digital reading could even hinder learning. But, as students grow, the digital format shows promise, especially in high school and university settings.

So, what’s the catch? It seems the way we interact with digital content is key. Interactive elements like feedback questions and digital glossaries can spike engagement and understanding. Yet, the ease of digital access might be a double-edged sword, leading to superficial reading instead of deep comprehension.

Educators and parents are left pondering how we balance the digital reading revolution with the need for deep, thoughtful comprehension. It’s a puzzle we must solve, much like the ongoing battle with cell phones in classrooms.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Does the new AI Framework serve schools or edtech?

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The Australian Federal Government released the Australian Framework for Generative AI in Schools on November 30, 2023, as a guide following the introduction of ChatGPT. While acknowledging AI’s potential in education, the Framework emphasizes human wellbeing, privacy, and safety. However, concerns are raised about its relevance and adequacy due to the rapidly evolving nature of generative AI. Critics argue that the Framework, with its six core principles, underestimates AI’s inherent biases and reliability issues, placing unrealistic expectations on educators.

At the 2023 Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Jane Kenway encouraged participants to develop radical research imaginations. The extraordinary impacts of generative AI require a radical policy imagination, rather than timid or bland statements balancing opportunities and threats. It is increasingly clear that the threats cannot readily be dealt with by schools.

Lucinda McKnight and Leon Furze

The article suggests improvements to the Framework, such as redefining generative AI, acknowledging its limitations, addressing the digital divide, and emphasizing evidence-based policies. It also calls for policies that are inclusive and consider diverse perspectives, stressing the need for teacher-led policy development in AI education. The authors advocate for a radical policy approach that accounts for the far-reaching impacts of AI and ensures that schools play a pivotal role in shaping a just future with AI.

For a comprehensive understanding of these issues, the full article can be read on EduResearch Matters.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Are We Entering an Edtech Renaissance?

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I remember the days of the early 2010s as a number of edtech tools we now all know and use regularly first hit the scene. And everyone talked about the coolest thing they’d seen and how it would “revolutionize the classroom.”

Plot twist: It didn’t.

Now, we see all the hype around AI and the onslaught of new AI apps made specifically for education. Of course, I’m excited about the potential, but I also see the problem of focusing on the wrong questions.

Catlin Tucker has a good take on what’s happening right now in the world of edtech:

It reminds me of the early days of the edtech boom when I would attend the Computer Using Educators (CUE) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conferences, and the most popular sessions had titles like “50 Tech Tools in 50 Minutes.” I remember questioning how effective those sessions would be at improving teaching and learning. Yes, attendees were exposed to a list of fun tools they might use, but they were not learning how to use those tools in service of strong pedagogical practices. That is the same concern I have now.

Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, I see endless videos of teachers sharing AI-powered tools. They demonstrate the efficiency and simplicity with which these tools generate lists of questions, create quick assessments, and plan lessons or entire units. I can appreciate the excitement since lesson planning is a time-consuming endeavor. The piece of the design puzzle missing for me is how educators can use these AI tools to architect student-centered learning experiences that better meet the specific needs of learners.

Catlin Tucker, PhD

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Embracing AI isn’t just about using flashy edtech

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Prince George’s County Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Millard House II, is at the forefront of integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their educational system. House believes that AI tools like ChatGPT can revolutionize classrooms by equipping students with essential digital-age skills.

House’s focus on technology and AI aligns with the district’s commitment to preparing students for a technologically advanced future. The partnership with the AI Education Project, as part of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s broader economic initiative, aims to provide cutting-edge education to students, teachers, staff, and school leaders. The district has also prioritized AI literacy and training, empowering nearly 1,500 educators to confidently use and innovate with AI tools. Addressing challenges such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and ethical use, Prince George’s County Public Schools is dedicated to shaping a future where their community thrives in the age of AI.

AI is no longer a futuristic concept; it is a tangible reality with the potential to enhance and individualize the educational experience for a student population with diverse needs and teachers in our district. So far during the course of this school year, we have trained nearly 1,500 educators. It was amazing to watch the excitement on the staff’s faces when they got to engage with AI tools to support their work and help their students understand the power of AI.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Common Sense launches AI tool reviews

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One of my favorite places to check for reviews of tech tools, sites, and such is Common Sense Media. I like their content so much, that I use their digital citizenship curriculum in my schools.

They’ve launched an AI tool review system to help everyone understand a little more about the current AI invasion.

Key components of the initiative include:

  1. AI Product Reviews: Common Sense Media recognizes that AI is a socio-technical system, meaning it’s inseparable from the humans and processes that shape its development and use. Their AI product reviews provide contextual analysis, examining how these products fit within society and identifying potential blind spots in AI systems. These reviews serve as “nutrition labels for AI,” detailing a product’s opportunities, considerations, and limitations.
  2. AI Principles and Assessment: The initiative grounds its AI product reviews in eight principles that reflect Common Sense Media’s values for AI. These principles create a shared understanding and guide for evaluating AI products.
  3. Review Categories: AI products are categorized into three types: Multi-Use (like generative AI for chatbots, image creation, translation tools), Applied Use (specific-purpose AI not designed for kids, like streaming recommendations), and Designed for Kids (AI specifically built for children’s use at home or in school, including educational products for teachers).

Currently, they have 10 reviews posted, including reviews for ChatGPT and Bard.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!