Edtech Pentameter

Defending the humanities on a quantitative 'net
and finding room for qualitative depth.

Infiltrating Internet Filters

A while back I wrote about the problem of schools blocking student access to the internet. The types of filters that are widely used by schools impede access to a lot of important information. For instance, at the school where I work, here is what happens when I look for an ebook:

image

It is easy enough to write this off as an exception, but even for some educational sites that I have intentionally had removed from the blocked list, the utility of the sites is badly marred by the remnants of the filter. For instance, I use the site Poetry Genius, a channel of Rap Genius, as an annotation platform for one of my classes. Although students have access to the site, large swaths of what is to appear on a given page is blocked from view. 

image

In case you cannot read the text of my assignment above, the YouTube embed that is blocked by “AutoExec” is a video of an Aeolian harp being played by the wind. It is part of the student’s assignment to watch the video and reflect on the harp’s value as a metaphor for poetic inspiration. Questionable, hmm?

image

Obviously these videos related to Robert Hass and W.H. Auden are obscene… Below you see “Auto Exec” infiltrating the page to block the social media panel, because there is nothing worse than a student tweeting her love for Countee Cullen at countless other teenagers.

image

Good luck to all seniors taking the AP Literature exam tomorrow.
And don’t forget your diction descriptors.

Good luck to all seniors taking the AP Literature exam tomorrow.

And don’t forget your diction descriptors.

Amazon Staff Meetings: "No Powerpoint" »

People tend to agree that Power Point can be a mind numbing format for presentations, though I do find that it is a great way to help students impose a little structure on their class lecture and discussion notes. What is particularly great about this article about meeting protocol over at Amazon is that Power Point is not supposed to be replaced by a better lecture, but by a better piece of writing. 

Students seem so unaccustomed to reading except when they are in search of specific answers that I love the idea of kicking off a class meeting with a silent reading “do now,” where kids are not given a specific direction, but are meant to form their own critical responses. While I would love to do this with specific literary passages, maybe to catch up students who are behind in reading homework, I also am interested the idea of presenting the lesson itself as a well fleshed out essay. There is something counterintuitive about presenting a lesson as an idea fully formed, but then again, it might allow students to start at a deeper point of discussion. It does seem too rare that I have an opportunity to model the craft of writing for students and let them see me exposing my own work to debate and criticism. 

Two signboards for schools painted by Hans Holbein the Younger: A School Teacher Explaining the Meaning of a Letter to Illiterate Workers (above) Principles of a Schoolmaster, teaching scene for children (below).

All Hands on Deck: Redefining the 'Substitute' Teacher (EdSurge News) »


Henry of Germany delivers a lecture to university students in 14th-century Bologna. 

This image appeared last week in the other Atlantic article about lectures. It might be obvious from the title “Lectures Haven’t Worked Since 1350 — and They Still Don’t Work Today,” that the interviewee’s opinion is a bit extreme to mesh with mine. That us why my absolute favorite part of the article is the wonderful commentator who writes a play-by-play of the illustration, illuminating the fact that actually most of the audience is listening: attentively:

It’s odd from a illustration that you can tell if someone is droning on. Many of the students appear to be paying rapt attention to the lecturer or to the written material in front of them. Several sport large greying beards, suggesting they may not be traditional students. Some might be women. There seem to be 3 pairs where one is giving the other the eye, while the other is paying attention to the lecturer. There is only one pair with both turned to face each other, possibly in conversation.
Only one person might appear to the casual observer to be asleep. They are in the second last row, closest to us, with their hand to up to their forehead, covering their face, leaning out towards us, clearly beyond the end of the bench they are on! You can see the end of the top of the bench (sharp point) visible slightly above and behind their head. Much of the body, especially the elbow and head, is clearly beyond the end of the bench since it is in front of the edge of the bench blocking our view of it.It is the position of a distraught individual leaning away in shame having realized they have completely misunderstood an illustration!

Thanks 99Luftballons!

Henry of Germany delivers a lecture to university students in 14th-century Bologna. 

This image appeared last week in the other Atlantic article about lectures. It might be obvious from the title “Lectures Haven’t Worked Since 1350 — and They Still Don’t Work Today,” that the interviewee’s opinion is a bit extreme to mesh with mine. That us why my absolute favorite part of the article is the wonderful commentator who writes a play-by-play of the illustration, illuminating the fact that actually most of the audience is listening: attentively:

It’s odd from a illustration that you can tell if someone is droning on. Many of the students appear to be paying rapt attention to the lecturer or to the written material in front of them. Several sport large greying beards, suggesting they may not be traditional students. Some might be women. There seem to be 3 pairs where one is giving the other the eye, while the other is paying attention to the lecturer. There is only one pair with both turned to face each other, possibly in conversation.

Only one person might appear to the casual observer to be asleep. They are in the second last row, closest to us, with their hand to up to their forehead, covering their face, leaning out towards us, clearly beyond the end of the bench they are on! You can see the end of the top of the bench (sharp point) visible slightly above and behind their head. Much of the body, especially the elbow and head, is clearly beyond the end of the bench since it is in front of the edge of the bench blocking our view of it.It is the position of a distraught individual leaning away in shame having realized they have completely misunderstood an illustration!

Thanks 99Luftballons!