Hour of Code is Good Enough

Whenever a new idea is introduced to education, expect a flood of criticisms. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, we need naysayers and critics to challenge all our ideas. It’s what makes a democratic society function and it’s important for our ideas to be challenged in order to improve them.

Hour of Code is one of those burgeoning ideas that is getting a lot of up take in schools. Proponents love it as an easy way to introduce the coding and computer science to students with little or no background needed from either the teacher or the student. Critics argue that it’s not enough and it dumbs down what is a critical and important skill.

We are doing a disservice to kids by assuming that they can’t grasp industry-standard languages, complex computer science topics, and applications. By limiting them, we undermine their capabilities and stifle their creative and inventive potential.


The promise of K-12 education has always been to provide children with a broad liberal arts experience that prepares them for life. While some chose a greater focus on college and career, this still suggests that we offer students a wide range of opportunities. We head down … Read the rest

How Can I Get A Higher Grade?

I teach a Masters level course at Wilkes University. Like many teachers,  I often get asked by my students, “What do I need to do to get a higher grade?” They offer to do extra credit or anything. While I understand that for some, grades are tied to funding, scholarships, etc, my grading practices are pretty clear. Students essentially grade themselves while I, and others provide feedback.  You can read more here if you like.

I understand that even as adults, the idea of grades is deeply embedded in our thinking about learning. So when I was asked recently about how to get a higher grade, this was my response:

So without going into too long a diatribe about grading, let me just say that I don’t care at all, or at least very little about grades. It’s partly why I simply ask all of you to grade yourself and give very little pushback unless there is a huge discrepancy.  What I’m interested in is your learning and trying to measure it is a futile pursuit at best.

I hope that what we’re doing here is interesting and useful. If it isn’t, I’m asking you to push me to make

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More on Digital Dualism

This post was last updated on December 20th, 2013 at 09:55 am

I continue to think about what is it that we struggle with as we consider mediated relationships, aka digital dualism. The following can be seen as a draft of challenges I hear and some attempt to respond to them and provide more fodder for discussion than simply a simplistic view of bad or good. This is not a zero-sum game. 

Complaint #1

Kids today expect immediate and constant feedback and connection. 

Think back to the days just before the telephone. The only way to maintain a relationship with someone not in your physical place was the mail. You wrote someone a letter and waited to hear back. You expected a response, you just didn't have a time frame expectation, or at least a very specific one. Perhaps you gave them a few weeks or months depending on your previous experience. But still, you expected feedback. If you didn't a response after a reasonable time, you likely did begin to get anxious and concerned. Today it's the same thing only the time gap has shrunk from months to seconds. So what is it the bothers people? Is it the Read the rest

Handle with Care

For the second year in a row, I was asked to produce a video for a local cancer fundraising event called The Concert of Hope. Last year they  raised over $100,000 in one night that featured three recording artists, an auction and my videos. While last year I created three, this time I only created one five minute feature on Sherilee who, in the past year has experienced some hope in her battle.

As I mentioned in my post last year, dealing with someone’s story of cancer is quite a task, you don’t edit flippantly. Each decision goes through a much more stringent process than other projects I’ve done. Part of my challenge this time was all I had was a 15 minute interview with no b-roll footage.  In the end, I think her story stands fine on its own. Very little however is in sequence. The last part is from the middle, the middle is from the beginning of the interview and the beginning is from the end of the interview.

Although I didn’t think about a soundtrack till after I had done a draft cut, I struggled finding a soundtrack I really liked. In the end, … Read the rest

Robbing Students of Recognition

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:03 am

Cross Posted at the TechLearning blog

Our district uses its front page to post success stories from our 40 schools. These range from academic achievements to athletic accomplishments of school teams. Schools post the stories to their own Website and submit them to me to post to the district page where generally there is more traffic. This one was sent to me earlier in the week.

Tanner Spencer from Craik, SK, attended team Canada's World Junior top 35 camp in Orlando, Florida from October 5th to October 15th.  Tanner is the youngest Saskatchewan player ever chosen to go.  The majority of the team was from BC, Ontario, and Quebec.  One player was chosen from the Maritimes, one from Manitoba, one from Saskatchewan and two from Alberta.  Tanner started pitching the first game in Orlando, started the fourth game and closed the last game.  He gave up no earned runs on six innings pitched.  Congratulations Tanner.

As soon as I read it I realize they had violated our district policy which states we will never publish a photo of a student with a full name. I also realized in … Read the rest