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Wednesday
Aug132014

What programs reside on your hard drive?

Gartner on Monday said that sales of Chromebooks will reach 5.2 million units worldwide this year, with more than 80% of the demand in the U.S. That's an 80% increase in sales from 2013.

But this demand was driven almost entirely by education last year, which accounted for nearly 85% of Chromebook sales, according to Gartner.

... the Chromebook was attractive to the school system, especially because of its management, cost and low maintenance. School System CIOs are Sold on Chromebooks, ComputerWorld, August 11, 2014.

When it comes to technology, I hate to buy more machine than is needed to the job. And I am beginning to think about 90% of educators would do just fine with a Chromebook or Chromebox.

Just how many drive-based programs do people run anymore?

I use Photoshop Elements, iPhoto, and, uh, well, that's pretty much it. Everything else opens in a browser. And I am not such a sophisticated user of Photoshop that I could not do what little editing I do using an online tool. I need to move my photos and photo management system to the cloud.

The old standbys of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint have been replaced by GoogleDocs. It's painful to use Outlook. I don't edit video. The rare game I play is now online. 

I wonder just how many teachers are in the same boat - able to complete nearly every task online using only a browser? Moodle, Schoology, Edmodo - all web-based. Gradebooks - web-based. IWB software may be the exception, but I don't see us replacing IWBs as they wear out and screen mirroring software takes its place. 

As the opening quote suggests, Chromebook/Chromebox management compared to MDM for iPad or the re-imaging of desktops is a breeze. And one could buy 3-4 Chromebooks for the cost of a laptop. 

Look to see the next big tech wars in school be Chrome vs regular laptop, not Windows vs OSX. I hear the banners flapping now...

So, what am I missing?
 

Image source

Monday
Aug112014

A little steamed about STEM

 

Is it just me or does questioning the motives of educational "reformers" just sort of come naturally?

The big push to get more kids pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) always seemed somewhat dubious to me. Anytime one has to make special efforts to get someone to take classes or enter a field* makes one naturally wonder why. Could it be the way the classes are taught, the working conditions in the field itself, or the image of the professions involved?

The reason most often given for the STEM push is that our economy needs more workers in these fields and that by having jobs which are in demand, students will be making a smart career choice. Sound plausible given the degree to which technology seems to dominate economic growth news and that math, science, engineering are components of doing technology well.

But not everyone agrees. Last year in the IEEE's Spectrum newsletter, Robert N. Charette's well-researched and well-sourced article The STEM Crisis is a Myth states:

And yet, alongside such dire projections [of the need for more STEM workers], you’ll also find reports suggesting just the opposite—that there are more STEM workers than suitable jobs. One study found, for example, that wages for U.S. workers in computer and math fields have largely stagnated since 2000. Even as the Great Recession slowly recedes, STEM workers at every stage of the career pipeline, from freshly minted grads to mid- and late-career Ph.D.s, still struggle to find employment as many companies, including Boeing, IBM, and Symantec, continue to lay off thousands of STEM workers.

and

[A] Georgetown study estimates that nearly two-thirds of the STEM job openings in the United States, or about 180 000 jobs per year, will require bachelor’s degrees. Now, if you apply the Commerce Department’s definition of STEM to the NSF’s annual count of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, that means about 252 000 STEM graduates emerged in 2009. So even if all the STEM openings were entry-level positions and even if only new STEM bachelor’s holders could compete for them, that still leaves 70 000 graduates unable to get a job in their chosen field.

and 

Clearly, powerful forces must be at work to perpetuate the cycle. One is obvious: the bottom line. Companies would rather not pay STEM professionals high salaries with lavish benefits, offer them training on the job, or guarantee them decades of stable employment. So having an oversupply of workers, whether domestically educated or imported, is to their benefit. It gives employers a larger pool from which they can pick the “best and the brightest,” and it helps keep wages in check. No less an authority than Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said as much when in 2007 he advocated boosting the number of skilled immigrants entering the United States so as to “suppress” the wages of their U.S. counterparts, which he considered too high.

So do we encourage our own children and our students to take STEM classes and for our schools to make STEM curricula a priority?

While it's not as sexy or PC as promoting STEM right now, I'd rather see us do a better job of career counseling, encouraging the exploration of many academic disciplines, and sending a strong message that pursuing training and work in any field can be rewarding. And no matter what your vocational choice, good communications, problem-solving, personal technology skills, critical thinking, and a host of dispositions are needed for success. 

Maybe we just need a catchier acronym.

OK, STEM winders - have at me.

*Increasingly such as education.

Cartoon source

Saturday
Aug092014

BFTP: Woot, W00t, - evolving language and gooseberry pie

But al the thyng I moot as now forbere,
I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere,
And wayke been the oxen in my plough,
The remenant of the tale is long ynough.
I wol nat letten eek noon of this route,
Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
And lat se now who shal the soper wynne;

The Knyghtes Tale, Chaucer, 14th Century England

And...

Um.........to me sorry but dis book iz horrible i dont lyk it n tew me itz jus borin sorry not trying tew be disrespectful tew da author but i mean really. But thanx 4 writin it s0e i can read it tew n0e nt tew read it again but da 1st tym i read it it wuz ok but az i keep readin it more den 2 tyms den it gtz more borin s0rry.

Quintonya, response to blog post, 21st Century cyberspace

 

Language evolves. I just wish that human thought evolved along with it.

Original post July 10, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a picture of the gooseberry pie I enjoyed this week at my mom's house. Here is the recipe:

  • Locate thick woods with wild gooseberry bushes.
  • Spend at least an entire hour picking each pea-sized gooseberry individually from the thorny bushes - one pint quart* is required per pie. Humidity and voracious mosquitos are a given.
  • Spend at least another hour stemming each gooseberry.
  • Prepare the filling, make the crust, and bake.
  • Watch the whole pie being eaten in less than 10 minutes.

I had always taken the these pies my mom made for granted until I went gooseberry picking myself once. Unlike the hybrid gooseberries that are the size of a shooter marble, the wild ones are very, very small and it takes a lot of them to make a single pie.

I guess the lesson here is to never underestimate the effort others may go through on your behalf - or a mother's love for her family!

* Common knowledge according to my brother... Sorry.

Original post July 9, 2009