Twitter is not a distraction

Tonight during a meeting I found that twitter was not a distraction. It actually facilitated communication with a colleague in another timezone who was looking in at the google docs we were working on.

The setup was straightforward two of us were generating a machinima script and the other was working on the formal gallery proposal. Our colleague in Australia who consented to edit the work later was watching us generate it and tweeting comments. These tweets were not task specific and did NOT distract us from our work. In fact those of us in the room were a much bigger distraction (curse youtube).


New WoW friends and family plan!

deaxter has gone to the dark side

deaxter has gone to the dark side

In their last update Blizzard has effectively addressed what has been my biggest bone to pick with the World of Warcraft system.  Blizzard now permits any player with at least one character of level 55 or higer to make a Death Knight heroic class character on any server within their area(? like US).

I fully expect this to cause an explosion in the number of DK’s, as if there weren’t too many already, but the side effect of this is a huge benefit for the social. I can now play on (almost) any realm in either faction at a level I don’t have to grind my ass off for.  What I expect to see in the future (or rather what I expect to be a part of) is roving bands of casual DK players, new DK guilds and all around joy thanks at least in part to Artie.

So as long as all of your friends have reached level 55, you can now chose a new server and all play together.

I am quite excited about this, maybe sometime in the future there will be a DK realm too…

Mashup Video List

Looks like this will be an ongoing project, the first list includes 10 some of which just blow me totally away.  Feel free to point me to videos that belong on this list.

youtube mashup playlist

because wordpress will let me drop in one video, but not a playlist…

this one started it for me

my friend at microsoft doesn’t like it, but he has no soul (third clue is he doesn’t dance) therefore his opinion does not count. why is the godard remix so powerful to me?

okay I cannot let it go without the original bits, here is the original godard scene:

and this is the band’s official(?) video

I think the unpacking of a mashup is as fascinating as the mashup (in a good one).

[edit] all right I tend to obsess on the research end of this

this is the wikipedia entry on the godard movie bande a part

the entry on the madison (a dance that they are not doing but close)

a link to the actual madison as performed in hairspray (<3 john waters)

some folk dancing after which Brad asks “So does anybody know how to Madison?”

Sigh, I hope this thing has run it’s course…

Windows 7 & Flash

hello bluescreen my old friend

hello bluescreen my old friend

I am still toying with Windows 7 and I have to say that the experience is much improved over XP.  I know the software is still in beta and am giving it the benefit of the doubt for the most part.  I have encountered a pretty consistent BSOD though.

It seems that after a period of running flash with seesmic the machine locks up, I seem to remember it doing this with youtube as well.  I had hoped to start a conversation on seesmic tonight with Win7 but everytime it locks up and restarts it gets rolled back to the pre-flash install.

We shall see…

sjsu teaching institute learning journal

If I understand this correctly I am a co-author and share copyright.

these are the no-brainers and it looks like I shall be implementing more than a few:

1.Have students do 5 or 6 self-assessments during course. Assess a sample of them during course. In class, assess “collective” assessments, drawing examples of SIIs from students’ own words (anonymously).
2.Conduct several midterm class assessments (4, 8, 12 weeks). Use or adapt sample from Institute materials. Take an hour to read then. Then identify 3 changes you’ll make as a result of the assessments and tell that to students at next class session. Quality of assessments will improve because students know that you are listening.
3.Stop evaluating effort, but collect all efforts in a portfolio that students pull together. Good idea to have students do a self-growth paper based on portfolio content. Evaluate self-growth paper with a clear score sheet. Criteria could include timeliness, comprehensiveness, thoughtfulness, other related to course learning outcomes.
4.Get students to do peer assessments. The assessors will learn more than assessees from this process (and reduce instructor’s time assessing).
5.Adopt the following motto:  Why do for the students what the student can learn to do for themselves?

decom data part 1 – the questions

This is likely going to turn into a few posts as I try to dissect the whole phenomenon and hone my questions in order to get better answers.

I have reposted all of the questions that I asked this semester here:

all of my F08 questions

all of my F08 questions

The first thing I should mention is that at the beginning of the semester (F08) I was totally on the fence as to whether these surveys were going to be anonymous or pseudononymous and ended up by asking for a “handle.” The idea seemed pretty clear to me at the time, but I ended up explaining it several times that it was just a name that I could reference back to if I had a question and that it did not have to be the students name or anything that would identify them. As it turns out by the end of the semester I could identify all of the students by their handles anyhow. I am thinking that I need to have an anonymous drop box that is ongoing in addition to these decompressions.

Looking across these questions I see several categories that they fall into:
1) general reflection
2) project oriented
3) skill and content oriented
4) general open ended prompts
5) additional emphasis (did you notice this? types of questions)
6) project check-in
7) planning

I won’t say that this is the best selection of questions, but I want to think about these (if they be categories) and consider what I can do to open them up more, or if they are important or distracting. Moreover when is it most useful to ask a certain type of question? Obviously the “have you started on the project yet” can help me get a handle on who is waiting till the last minute.

1) general reflection – “What have you learned this week?” is probably my favorite question for several reasons. First of all it makes the student go back over what they did in class and think about what we covered. Secondly it tells me what stuck with the students, and though it is quite open-ended it gives me some insight as to what the student is seeing.

2) project oriented – “have you started?” “do you have any questions about the project” “do you have the skills” – I think these need to be refined, perhaps even into two types of questions – one that prompts the student and another that self assesses. If used sparingly this can be a prompt to let people know that they should be working already and begin their research process.

3) skill and content – this relates very specifically to #2 but it goes further, “do you know how to make a selection in photoshop” can tell me who is way behind, and “did you do the reading” or better yet a specific question about the reading comprehension can tell me where the class is.

4) general – “do you have any comments?” This is a catch all, because I just cannot anticipate everything that is going on either environmentally or otherwise. In a previous use of this I found out that my class was all hungry and distracted because of it. That is when we started bringing in snacks.

5) emphasis – I guess this can combine with 3 as well, but I did notice that this is a direct path to reaching the students, they read, comprehend (for the most part) and respond. I guess I just don’t want it to be too test-like.

6) check-in – again this feels like #3, but I think this question could be honed, maybe something like “what are the two elements you are mashing up?”

7) planning – I hope that I can all but eliminate this category, but until then there is an opportunity to fill student needs directly, “do we need more dreamweaver” and get a numerical response.

One of the key features that I think made these surveys work is the informal way they were administered and the briefness of them.  I tried to keep them short 4-6 questions but asked as many as 10 when I felt it was necessary. Overall the students answers were reasonable – honest chunks of text, and I really want to encourage that.

What did you learn this week?

I find it ironic that I find myself once more in the same place that I would put my students, trying to come up with good questions.  In my mind that means that something is right.

decom = decompression

The weekly decom’s are probably one of the things I am happiest about this semester, so I thought I would expose a little more detail including the technology, my questions, and the responses I got. It is my goal to refine the questions a bit and focus on several areas: learning goals, feedback, open communication.


Technology and realization: I used google docs, and specifically the spreadsheet with a form front-end on it. This has allowed me to quickly put together a survey and to automatically populate the answers into a spreadsheet. Most of the time I wrote the survey questions (frequently based on the previous week) the day of the survey or even hours before I administered it.

This tool also relies on the fact that every student has access to the network and they are asked (required??) to complete it at the end of class before they leave.

list of decoms

list of decoms

Questions: I frequently ask questions related to the materials covered in the previous week, and what we have learned. I also use this as an opportunity to ask about progress of projects and if there are things which are slowing down or barriers to working. I also try to include at least one open ended question.

questions and answers

questions and answers

Most of questions are essay or long paragraph, and are indicated by the response size of the answer. The most interesting thing for me is that many students took this opportunity to write a considerable amount.

Answers: I make a point of reading the answers but I need to reI need to refine my questions, sometimes they provoked lengthy answers but there were occasions where a simple yes or no was appropriate and that is all I got.


Refinements: I am focusing on better questions, and trying to find a way to make the survey more obviously useful to the class.  I once asked what they were getting from these decoms and about half were surprised that they were what it was all about.  I need to tie some results or resulting behavior directly to these and keep communication open.