Thursday, January 31, 2013

Assertive Discipline - How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

Karen Hamilton April 3, 2010

Assertive Discipline - How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways….

Over the last few days reading about assertive discipline, I have found myself getting angrier and angrier. Is that a sign of getting old? I must confess, I have absolutely hated reading about 80% of what I have read. I have to ask myself, what, oh what could have caused such a reaction in one like me who is usually cool, calm, and collected. In two words: Assertive Discipline!!- Hated it.

Control versus Autonomy

In his book Solving Discipline and Classroom Management Problems: Method’s and Models for today’s teachers, Charles Wolfgang talks about “personality fit.” To explain the concept, he illustrates the difference between two types of teachers: Mrs. Control and Mrs. Autonomy. Wolfgang believes that teachers have “a personality core that is the ‘child’ in us.” (Wolfgang, 3) From his point of view, the teachers who by choice primarily use rules and consequences in their classrooms are projecting their core personality, one of control. The autonomous teacher on the other hand moves away from rules and consequences towards relationship and listening and projects a core personality of autonomy. A problem naturally arises when teachers are forced to teach in ways that are against their nature.

To project further, maybe it is the case that when teachers are forced to read large amounts of data that report on a subject that goes against their nature, they get angry! Grrrrr!

Declaration of Bias

OK, time for a deep breath. (Oh no- that was step 4 in limit setting!) It’s no secret then, that my nature is one of autonomy and my teaching method is primarily relationship, listening. To me that is the way it should be because, I teach in college, a world populated by adults who have chosen to be there. The term discipline in a punitive sense is very rarely a part of the college classroom.

Now that I have completely declared my obvious bias, it’s time to discuss so-called assertive discipline and spin-offs and how they fit or do not fit into the adult group activities of my life.

Assertive Discipline

According to Lee and Marlene Canter and their Assertive Discipline approach, a teacher needs to have a high level of control in a class. Teachers get that control by establishing clear rules and directions that define the limits of behaviour. Students who exhibit good behaviours get positive recognition and rewards, while students who exhibit bad behaviours face escalating consequences. Clearly, their model is based on behaviourist ideas. But from my point of view, they push the boundary of behaviourism even further. Where many behaviourists see humans as entering the world as a blank slate, (Locke’s tabla rasa) Canter and Canter see children’s natural instinct as one of misbehaviour. According to Canter & Canter 1992, “Children are not innately motivated to behave in school.” To them children are bad until you make them good. Sadly, this system of authoritative classroom management is one of the most widely used programs in schools today.

Positive Discipline

A spin off of Assertive Discipline, is Fredric Jones’ Positive Discipline. What is different in Jones’ model is that the focus is on positive rewards and only when the positive techniques fail would a teacher use punishments. This theory uses “limit setting” to keep students on task and again is clearly a behaviourist approach to teaching, learning and discipline. Teachers are taught to follow the exact step-by-step approach that is limit setting to control their classes. One technique is to get into the child’s space by getting close to them. This intimidation tactic may work with young children, but if a college teacher were to try something like this there may be unintended consequences.

The Groups in my life- Not!

Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t want to belong to any group that would accept me as a member.” I’m with Groucho. Now of course Groucho was a comedian and he was joking, but what did he mean? I can’t speak for him, but I can explain why I relate. It is certainly not like some might assume that I feel that I am not good enough to be in any group. It is that I treasure my absolute freedom and independence and perhaps this is at the root of my problem with theories that control, theories that reward and punish, theories that assume that people are bad, and theories that separate people into opposing camps and groups in general.

All groups in any culture or subculture create norms which members are expected to follow. In a democratic society, theoretically, the members vote for leaders to represent their interests. Certain of these leaders become the lawmakers who create the rules, regulations and consequences. Those who disobey face the punishments their society has deemed appropriate. So no matter how much any of us may want to be free, we are still members of a larger society that often follows rules, regulations and behaviourist consequences.

Rules and regulations have never been my favourite thing and anytime they have been overly imposed on me in situations like schooling, they have stifled my creativity. For me a rule has to be grounded in logic, or I may not follow it. Obviously, in our society one needs rules, regulations and conformity to a certain extent. You cannot arbitrarily decide to drive on the wrong side of the road. You need to meet certain criteria to complete studies, and if you have a job you have obligations to meet the job requirements. A member of a union, must follow the rules determined by the majority. To survive and strive in society requires self-discipline.

But what is this word discipline? And how does one acquire self-discipline?

Covaleskie and Dewey

In an article called “Dewey, Discipline, and Democracy”, John Covaleskie talks about John Dewey and his ideas about the nature of discipline and its role in both democracy and education. According to Covaleskie,

“Dewey does not think of discipline as a matter of control or a precondition of teaching, but as an integral part of education. Further, he is not interested in education as a transfer of information so much as an apprenticeship for a certain sort of social life. In this respect, discipline is required for social membership. In addition, as part of the ability to pursue worthwhile goals, discipline contributes to the creation of a good life. It is not the way teachers treat students; it is a certain way children learn to relate to the world. Dewey sees discipline as inextricably linked to a child’s interest.”

In the article, Covaleskie goes on to explain that discipline is what is necessary to stay on task until an end goal is reached. Order in a classroom can be imposed with theories like assertive discipline, but it can also be obtained by providing engaging tasks that students make sense of. When students are engaged in their own learning, they also learn self-discipline. In this learner-centred model of education, the teacher is a facilitator of learning and aids in students’ apprenticeship. In the imposed system, children do as they are told and they may be more, “prisoner than disciple.”

What does motivation have to do with it?

In theories like Assertive Discipline and Positive Discipline, students receive positive reinforcement in the form of extrinsic rewards. According to Alfie Kohn and others extrinsic rewards can in fact be a kind of punishment. Proponents of Cognitive Evaluation Theory believe that what is necessary is intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside an individual. A person who enjoys doing a puzzle is motivated intrinsically. The task or activity itself is the reward. It is art for art’s sake. People will work hard on any task when they are interested or passionate.

Researchers Deci, Koestner & Ryan in “A Meta-Analytic Review of Experiments Examining the Effects of Extrinsic Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation” conclude that extrinsic rewards decrease intrinsic motivation.  If for example you enjoyed doing a favour for a friend, and then that friend insisted on paying you for that favour, you may be less likely to offer to help out again. So as teachers hand out rewards, what are they teaching children? When the emphasis is on “free time” or a toy rather than a task, what are children concentrating on? Is it the task or the reward? Will they ever want to do that task again if they do not receive a reward?

The key to motivation in education from this cognitive point of view is to provide authentic meaningful engaging materials so that learners can construct their own learning. By providing choice, collaboration, opportunities for skill building, and meaning, individuals learn self-discipline. These are at the heart of constructivist learning theory.

How do groups in my life use Assertive Discipline?

I am aware that I have danced a jig around this question. But the answer to the question is I wouldn’t consciously belong to a group that used assertive discipline. From my freedom loving position, assertive discipline goes against my beliefs in the importance of intrinsic motivation. If I were to go into my college tomorrow and someone told me from now on I would have to use assertive discipline, I’d run. It doesn’t seem to have a place in my adult functioning world. It is not that I do not see some fragments of salvageable bits and limited uses of behaviourism and discipline techniques in education. It is that what is important to me as an individual is to help to encourage meaningful authentic learning in a welcoming collaborative environment--an environment where the members of the group are a part of the process and together we think, and together we learn.

I’m a bit passionate about that.

Title “Assertive Discipline - How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.” with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Assertive discipline, WikiEd. Retrieved from

Bono, J. & Judge, T. (2003). Self concordance at work: Toward understanding the motivational effects of transformational leaders, Academy of Management Journal 46 (5), 554-571.

Canter, L., & Canter, M. (1992). Assertive discipline: Positive behavior management for today’s classroom. Santa Monica, CA: Lee Canter and Associates.

Covaleskie, J. (1994). Dewey, Discipline, and Democracy, Philosophy of Education. Retrieved from

Deci, E., Koestner, R., & Ryan, M. (1999). A Meta-Analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation, Psychological Bulletin 125 (6), 626-668.

Education and training: Teaching assertive discipline (Jan 4, 2009) hi10pro:YouTube. Retrieved from

Kizlik, R. (Dec 29, 2009). Assertive discipline information, Adprima. Retrieved from

Kohn, A. (2006). Beyond discipline: From compliance to community.( 2nd ed.) Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Kohn, A. (1993). Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Langton, N., Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2010). Organizational behaviour: concepts, controversies, applications, (5th Cdn Ed. ) Toronto, ON: Pearson Education.

Mayer, Richard. E. (2008). Learning and instruction. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

McGlynn, Angela Provitera. (Feb. 2008). Millennials in college: How do we motivate them?  Education Digest 73 (6) 19-22. 

Positive discipline, WikEd. Retrieved from

Sheldon, K., Elliot, A. & Ryan R., (2004) .Self concordance and subjective well-being in four cultures, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 35 (2), 209-223.

Thomas, K. (2000). Intrinsic motivation at work: Building energy and commitment San Francisco, Ca: Berret-Koehler Publishers.

Wolfgang, Charles H. (2005). Solving discipline and classroom management problems: Methods and models for today’s teachers. (6th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley And Sons, Inc.

1915 Rules for Teachers

    You will not marry during the term of your contract
    You are not to keep company with men.
    You must be home between the hours of 8pm and 6 am unless attending a school function
    You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores
    You may nt travel beyond city limits unless you have permission from the chairman
    You may not travel in a carriage or automoblie with a man unless he is your father or brother
    You may not smoke cigarettes
    You may under no circumstances dye your hair
    You may not dress in bright colors
    You must wear at least two petticoats
    Your dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the ankle
    To keep the school neat and clean, you must sweep the floor at least twice daily,scrub the floor
    at least once a week with hot soapy water, clean the blackboards at least once a day and
    start the fire at 7 am so the room will be warm by 8 am
    Thank goodness rules change!

I wonder how silly people in the future will find some of the rules and consequences imposed in schools today.

Misconceptions: Slinky: A Love Story

Karen Hamilton March 7, 2010


Slinky: A Love Story

Consumer Behaviour- It’s just common sense!
In the early 1900’s department store owner John Wanamaker famously said,
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
What Wanamaker recognized is that advertising is not a simple matter. Despite what many people think, marketers are by no means as skilled at manipulating the public as many of us would believe. The fields of marketing and consumer behaviour are filled with misconceptions. It’s not uncommon for people to believe that we all know who we are and we know why we buy. Many believe that consumer behaviour is just about the buying process, and if we have the money we will buy the best product and that best product will be the one that succeeds. People also often believe that if they recognize they have made a poor decision in buying a product, they will readily acknowledge it. All the above are just a few of the many misconceptions about consumer behaviour. 

Consumer Behaviour- Wait a minute it’s not so simple!
In reality, consumer behaviour is a complex process that includes what happens before, during and after a purchase. Humans are complex creatures and our self- knowledge varies from person to person. The best product is not always a winner and a poor or silly product can be successful. Although we can be manipulated by marketing pitches, we still have the ability to say no, but one thing is for sure-- thinking and challenging assumptions are required.
As a teacher of a college course called the Psychology of Consumer Behaviour, I have the task to teach the theories of consumer behaviour, stimulate students thinking processes and help them begin to challenge some of the assumptions they hold. Because my course is a general education elective course, I have students from a variety of programs. While some students are from marketing, others could be from graphic design, community service, accounting or any other college program. My approach to the subject has always been two sided. While I can admire a good marketing technique, it is just as important to help others understand how to defend themselves against that very technique.

Misconceptions, Concrete Examples, Discovery Methods and Inductive Reasoning to the Rescue!
In his book Learning and Instruction, Richard Mayer discusses the importance of breaking students’ misconceptions. He promotes the use of concrete examples, discovery methods and inductive reasoning to enable meaningful active learning. Although most of his examples relate to science or math, these same ideas can be used in any area, but specifically in teaching consumer behaviour.

Why I love my Slinky
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows- it's Slinky.”
By about week 6 in my course, I generally find that my students have a fair bit of knowledge about consumer behaviour. They have had a few opportunities to show that they understand concepts, but they don’t always recognize the depth of their own knowledge, and are not that confident in the area of problem solving. It is about that time that I bring my mini slinky to class. My slinky lesson uses a number of the concepts that Mayer discusses.

Student Mission: Discovery!
My purchase of the mini slinky pictured here has quite a story and it is my students’ mission to figure out all of the following:
· Where did I buy it?
· When did I buy it?
· What store, what location in the store?
· What was the first thing that came into my head when I saw it?
· What type of purchase was it-planned, unplanned?
· What are all the factors that motivated me to buy it?
· What do they know about me that might lead them to understand the purchase?
· Who did I buy it for? If I bought it for someone else, who was it for and why do I still have it?
· If I bought it for someone else how did I rationalize keeping it?
· What are all of the terms that we have talked about in class that explain this purchase?

What Happens when students set to the task: Action!
When students are first presented with the task, they immediately ask, “How do we know?” There are a few groans.
“Ah, but I’m sure by the end of class you will have discovered all the answers,” I say.
The first hint is that I bought it in walking distance of the school. As the students form themselves into groups, I promise that I will give them some hints as they go, but really I want them to question everything. If they want to use their computers to review notes, locate stores in the area or brainstorm in anyway that is all fair game in the pursuit of the slinky story. Technology may play a role, or it may not depending upon the groups’ own approach. Technology could enhance the result especially if they are reviewing course notes online. Students are allowed to ask me some small questions that may guide them. Mayer suggests that guided discovery is “more effective than pure discovery in helping students learn and transfer.” (Mayer, pg 317)
According to Bruner (1981) when students discover rules, they organize their ideas in meaningful ways that result in better learning. Discovery learning can encourage active engagement, promote motivation, autonomy and the development of creative problem solving. Once my students are in groups, I can see that they are really engaged in solving this problem. Immediately, brainstorming is taking place. The groups are active.
During the group discussions, students pass around the little slinky box, the slinky story booklet and the slinky. They examine all of the pieces of the object. I often play one or two of the original slinky commercials during the activity. (There are hints in that.) By using all of the senses students are able to really get into the task through a concrete example. They begin to envision me in the store being motivated by my surroundings while trying to use what they know about me and what they know about consumer behaviour, they transfer their knowledge to the task. The task appeals to Howard Gardners’ Multiple Intelligences. There is thinking, reflecting, spatial knowledge, kinesthetic involvement with the objects, music, pictures and words in the commercial, a group social experience and the use of logic.
The slinky lesson starts with no rules. This is an inductive process. There is the slinky, there is me and then there are only questions. It is not about one final answer-- the lesson involves many steps where the process is more valuable than the end goal. According to Polya, the emphasis should be on the process of problem solving rather than the final answer.” (Mayer, 434) Generally, all the groups answer the majority of the questions. 

Reflection. Ah ha!
When we discuss the results and the potential answers, students become aware of other concepts they had not thought of and sometimes I too become aware of things I had not considered. Together the class comes to the conclusion that buying anything no matter how simple can be a complex process that can involve little thinking at times and a lot of thinking at other times. They realize too how questioning can uncover motivations and rationalizations in purchase behaviour. A simple buying process can be affected by people, places, prior experiences and more. Human nature is complex.
I’ve used the slinky lesson a number of times and it has been very successful in showing the students what they know and in reinforcing many of the basic concepts of consumer behaviour. It has also given students an opportunity to problem solve a simple scenario with complex concepts showing them what they know and what they can find out if they question assumptions. From a teacher’s point of view, it illustrates that students are able to transfer knowledge to explain novel situations.

Next time: Maybe a Little More Problem-Solving Process!
What I might do the next time around is outline the problem solving process more. Perhaps I would ask students to write up their process. For example, ask them to clearly define what the problem is. State what is known and unknown, and what are the constraints. I might give them a copy of Wood’s Problem Solving Model: Define the problem, think about it, plan a solution, carry out the plan, look back. (see more detail in Teaching Problem-Solving Skills, University of Waterloo) 

Maybe a Little More History to Begin
Next time around, I may begin with a brief history of the slinky. Did you know that there have been over 250 million slinkies made and that if you stretched them out they would circle the earth 126 times? Or that a slinky has been in outer space? NASA crew members took a slinky to space to illustrate simple zero gravity physics. Did you know that the slinky was invented by Richard James as part of his WWII research into springs to stabilize instruments on ships while on rough seas? While James was working, he accidentally knocked one of the springs off a bookshelf. Instead of falling to the ground, it stepped its way down a set of books.
And did you know that although it was invented by a man, it took a woman to realize its potential? James’ wife Betty named it “slinky” and pointed out how it could be used as a toy.
“A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Slinky.”

What concepts does the slinky story tell?
For those who want to know more about the slinky story, I can tell you that some of the concepts it involves are these: consumer behaviour definition, role theory, market segmentation: demographics, psychographics, nostalgic attachment, sensation, perception, vision-colour-graphics-layout, touch, sound, exposure, attention, stimulus selection factors, interpretation, schema, semiotics, positioning strategy, advertising, jingles, learning-classical conditioning, repetition, operant conditioning, cognitive learning, memory, retrieval, recognition, situational factors-environment, drive theory, expectancy theory, needs/wants-goals, motivation- motivational conflict, cognitive dissonance, Maslow, involvement, the self, fantasy, self-image congruence model, the extended self, personality, brand personality-branding, point-of purchase displays, time, impulse/planned purchases, attitudes, ABC Model of Attitudes, emotional/rational appeal, the paradox ---> the less important the product is to consumers, the more important are the marketing stimuli.

Slinky Confessional Time!

I did buy the slinky for someone else, but I couldn’t bear to give it up, so I convinced myself I needed it. How did I resolve my cognitive dissonance?
Well, it took me a few minutes to come up with it, but my rational is a good one: It’s not just that I wanted the slinky, I actually need the slinky to teach Psychology of Consumer Behaviour.
And that is a short story of how a want became a need.
Mayer, R.E. (2008). Learning and instruction. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education
Barnes, Julian E. (Jan 26, 2001). Business DIARY: A Name, a name, destined for fame. New York Times. Retrieved from
Discovery learning (Bruner), Retieved from
Fashionable myths about advertising. (May 6, 2009) The Ad Contrarion. Retrieved from
Foshay, R., Kirkley, J. (1998). Principles for teaching problem solving.
Kapp, Karl. (June 2009) Teaching tips for problem solving skills, Kapp Notes. Retrieved from
Teaching problem-solving skills, Centre for Teaching Excellence University of Waterloo. Retrieved from
Toy time in space. (April 16, 1995) New York Times. Retrieved from
Zargaj-Reynolds, Paula. (Aug 8, 2007) Advertising is good for you: Advertising Myths. Retrieved from

On Design: Design Principles

From Ugly and Bad to A-ha!

Is reading online different from reading text in printed form? Is learning from a textbook different from learning online? 

If you are like most people, you will probably have answered yes to both of these questions. When an instructional designer sets about to create an online lesson, it isn’t as simple as pasting text into an online page. If you have taken online courses, you may have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. The good would include text with illustrations and interactivity that enhances comprehension. The bad would include massive amounts of text on pages and pages of text with no headings, no focus, no sequence, no classification and no interaction. The ugly would include excessive use of colour on colour without reason, pictures for the sake of pictures rather than illustration, music with no relevance, and information every which way all jammed into one chaotic page. (See samples of the bad and ugly at end of essay)

The Goal of Good Design Principles

In many respects good design principles that promote comprehension in print are transferable to multimedia, but multimedia presents more complications and there is even more need for simplicity and clarity. According to Richard E. Mayer in Learning and Instruction, learners impose structure on lessons. One learner may be advanced and another weak, so it is important that authors of textbooks or lessons impose a structure on their writing. Writing should guide readers to select key ideas, organize these into concepts and integrate new information with their current knowledge or experience. The goal is not just memorization but transferability of ideas, problem-solving and critical thinking. 

Structure and Transfer of Learning

In “Teaching by Guiding Cognitive Processes During Learning” (Chapter 10) of Learning and Instruction, Mayer talks about methods to impose structure and aid in transfer of learning. Specifically, he talks about adjunct questions, signaling and advance organizers. Adjunct questions direct the reader’s attention to important material; while signally uses outlines, headings, signal words to aid the creation and organization of a learner’s conceptual framework. Advance organizers may include things like models or diagrams that activate prior knowledge and aid in the understanding and transfer of new concepts. It would be safe to say that all of these concepts apply to the online environment, but one would have to look further to understand multimedia. 

Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning

Since the advent of the online environment many researchers have studied and developed models that relate cognitive theory to multimedia. Drawing on his own work in meaningful learning and the work of others on cognitive load theory, Mayer proposes his Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (1997). According to the theory learners possess two separate processing systems where auditory messages go to a verbal processing system and animation goes to visual system. His theory includes the following principles:
1. Multiple Representation Principle: An explanation in words and pictures is better than words alone.
2. Contiguity Principle: A multimedia explanation with words and pictures should present corresponding words and pictures contiguously rather than separately
3. Split-Attention Principle: A multimedia explanation with auditory narration and pictures should not also show the words as text which causes cognitive overload
4. Individual Differences Principle: The above principles are more important for low knowledge than high-knowledge learners, and for high-spatial rather than low-spatial learners.
5. Coherence Principle: A multimedia explanation with fewer relevant words and pictures is better than one with too many. A short summary allows a student to select information and organize and interpret using their own framework. 

Design Features: Navigation

Others who have studied multimedia and cognition are Thuring, Hannemann & Hake. In their 1995 paper “Hypermedia and Cognition: Designing for Comprehension,” they point out that websites should enable viewers to clearly identify their current position with respect to the overall site, easily retrace their steps, and easily find different options to continue. With multimedia, it is not so simple as turning the next page. Many of us have seen this happen: we are at an important site and we follow a link and then another and then have trouble getting back to where we started or perhaps go off never to return again.

Design Features: Line Length and White Space Online

Should a line of text in the online environment be the same length as that in print material? 
Do readers prefer certain length of lines online? Do shorter lines aid in comprehension? 
 What effect does white space have? 

Several researchers have studied the above questions with mixed results. A 2005 study by A. Dawn Shaikh looked at online news reading speed, comprehension and line length preference. Students read passages that were 35, 55,75 and 95 characters wide and then were tested for speed, comprehension and preference. Although the 95-character line was read faster, it did not translate to better comprehension. Some users preferred the short lines and some the longer lines. Researchers McMullin, Varnhagen, Heng & Apedoe in 2002, found that line length had no significant effect on comprehension but white space did. Participants had better comprehension when there was more whitespace. They also found that irrelevant information inserted into a page decreased comprehension. In 2003 Bernard, Fernandez, Hull, and Chaparro found differences in preferences between adults and children (Shaikh, 2005). Adults preferred medium line length 76 characters per line and children preferred shorter 45 characters when compared to 132 characters per line. Maybe the answer lies with the audience’s preference, but certainly layout plays a factor.

Gestalt Theory
Those who study graphic design often refer to the principles of Gestalt theory when designing meaningful messages. A phrase to explain Gestalt theory is, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” What this means is that we tend to take in an overall view of images and text, before we begin to dissect it into pieces. Because one of the courses I teach is Visual Communications and because Gestalt theory also relates to comprehension, I have chosen two websites on Gestalt principles to compare and contrast readability, usability and comprehension with respect to the previously mentioned criteria.
Both sites have been online for quite awhile, and I have found both sites effective in different ways. One is mostly textual and the other is interactive.

Site One: Spokane Falls Community College’s page: The Gestalt Principles
The Gestalt Principles page opens into a basic white page with black text and black and white illustrations page. The page is aligned left and each line is approximately 50 characters long. There is a lot of white space in the page. The page opens with a brief definition of Gestalt and then goes on to explain and illustrate the principles of similarity, continuation, closure, proximity and figure/ground. Each topic has a clear identifying heading and either one or two simple examples of the concept. The author also bolds key words throughout the brief explanations. The top navigation allows the user to jump to the specific concept within the same page. The one link out is to a PDF file that is an exercise for students to test their knowledge and to further explain their answers. 

This webpage is simple and to the point. It clearly guides the reader to select key points, signals an overall framework and allows readers the opportunity to integrate the understanding into their own framework. The exercise allows learners to self-test thereby ensuring transfer of knowledge. Although the site is black and white and not very interactive, it does what it sets out to do in a way that is clear and coherent. The line length is neither long nor short, so it would appeal to most readers in the target group. The whitespace certainly creates an easy flow of information. Of course the true test is this-- After reading the page, do you have a good understanding of the basic Gestalt design concepts? How can you use these concepts to better design a page for your learners?

Site Two: Mike Cuenta’s Gestalt & Typography Presentation
This page was created in 2000. The page discusses the two Gestalt concepts similarity and proximity specifically as they pertain to type and online layout. Compared to site one, the topic is narrower and illustrates type and image placement; whereas, site one’s emphasis was more focused on Gestalt and images, which may relate to logo design. Site two uses the application Shockwave, so some learners will have to download Shockwave to their computers to view it. This could present a slight obstacle for some users.
Like the previous example the page opens aligned left. The whole size of the page is small so that it would be viewable on multiple screen sizes. The start page has simple colour and design with the logo and a start button. Navigation-wise, pressing start is the only option. The narration starts with a definition of Gestalt and then talks over visual representations that illustrate the concepts. It follows exactly Mayer’s principles Multiple Representation, Contiguity, Coherence and does not violate Split-Attention. It presents the material using two methods at the same time on different channels without causing cognitive overload. The navigation is simple. You can end at any minute but you cannot pause and rewind a bit to replay; you would need to start again from the beginning. There is no activity to check transfer like site one, but that could be provided elsewhere if one were to use this. This multimedia explanation appeals to the particular learners involved. Graphic design students tend to be visual learners, but it also appeals to the other learning styles as well. The visuals are simple; the text is simple; the movement throughout illustrates the changing concepts so it does an excellent job of bringing to life a concept that is hard to explain in simple text and pictures. But again the true test is: What did you learn and how can you apply it to your own learning environment?
The two samples although older still represent good opportunities for learning and consolidating Gestalt design concepts. In most respects they follow Mayer’s and other’s principles. 

What have we learned?
If we understand our audience, start with a solid plan, follow proven strategies and design principles, and provide opportunity for interaction through questions and self-evaluation, we will most certainly create more meaningful instruction. 

As promised:
Example of the bad in web page design here
Example of the Ugly in web page design here

Cuenta, Mike. (2000). Gestalt & typography: An interactive design tutorial. Retrieved from February 12, 2010.
Graham, Lisa. (2008). Gestalt theory in interactive media design. Scientific Journals, 2(1), Retrieved from February12, 2010.
Mayer, Richard.E . (2008). Learning and instruction. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Mayer, R.E., & Moreno, R. (1998). A Cognitive theory of multimedia learning:Implications for design principles. Retrieved from February 12, 2010.
Mayer, Richard E. (1997). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from February 14, 2010.
McMullin, J., Varnhagen, C.K., Heng,P. & Apedoe, X. (2002) Effects of surrounding information and line length on text comprehension. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 28(1), Retrieved from February 13, 2010.
Shaikh, A.D., (2005).The Effects of line length on reading online news. Usability News, (7)2. Retrieved from February 12, 2010.
Spokane Falls Community College, Initials. The Gestalt Principles. Retrieved from February 10, 2010.
Thuring, M., Hannemannn, J., & Haake, J.M. (1995). Hypermedia and cognition: Designing for comprehension. Communications of the ACM, 38(8), Retrieved from;jsessionid=9F74F8D42E2B84068F1B1E63B1D51507?doi= February 12, 2010.
Wilkinson, M.J. (2009, May 20). The Line length misconception, The Viget Advance. Retrieved from February 14, 2010.

Metacomprehension - When "I don't know" is the answer!

If you are a homeowner, I’m sure you’ve met him. He comes in tools ablazing ready to fix that washing machine, refrigerator, eavestrough, or whatever item has just put you into homeowner hell. He might be drop dead gorgeous or be the guy with the moon-man pants. He might even be a she. He could be your partner, neighbour or friend --Whatever, one thing is for sure: he’s cocksure and he’s got tools. Wow, look at those tools!

It isn’t long before he is at work. He doesn’t seem to ask you a lot of questions. He knows just about everything. Why ask questions? While he’s working, he’s telling you about his wife, his mother, his kids, and all manner of things you’d never thought of or wanted to know. Time is beginning to drag on. There are items strewn all over the place. Dollar signs flash before your eyes as he brings in more parts and more parts and even more parts. Wasn’t this supposed to be a simple job? It’s getting late now and it’s still not fixed. He tells you that the problem is a “what’s-it-widget” and it’s going to need ordering. He’ll have to come back. Now wait a minute! Wasn’t this guy an expert? What about those fancy tools?

What you have just encountered is “The Hack.” He’s the guy who thinks he knows everything but doesn’t stop to ask, “What do I really know?” In metacognitive terms, he’s low on comprehension and low on metacomprehension.

Say what? Meta who? OK let’s start from the beginning. Do you know what you don’t know? Do you think about your own thinking? Have you ever been reading a book or watching a movie and suddenly realized that time has gone by and you don’t know a thing that you have just read or seen? When you make that realization you are using your metacognitive skills. You are thinking about thinking. According to J. H. Flavell metacognition, “refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them.” When we use metacognitive skills, we plan how to approach a task, monitor our progress, ask questions, re-evaluate and continue until hopefully we have reached our destination. We have learned and we have learned about our learning.

So how does metacomprehension fit in? According to Sally N, Staniford, in her 1984 article Metacomprehension, metacomprehension is simply, “the awareness of and conscious control over one's own understanding or lack of it.” Metacomprehension is then a type of metacognition. Many times we see it used to refer to reading comprehension and strategies to improve comprehension but it could include comprehension of many things like comprehending deeper meanings in film or art.

In many respects metacomprehension can be seen as a bottomless toolbox. This toolbox has all the things we need to solve any problem. There are simple things like hammers and nails and duct tape, but there are all types of fancy specific tools too. Before you look into your toolbox, you’ll need to know exactly what type of problem you have. There will be questions! Your toolbox looks exciting, but you’ll need to study its contents and evaluate. Which tool should you use? Is it a simple problem, or a complex one? Will you need a more complex tool? Do you know how to use it? In no time, you’ll be testing out your tools and hopefully learning more and more. Sometimes you might even stop and say to yourself, “I know exactly what is wrong, but I just don’t know how to do it.” Dratz, now what? Wait, what’s that in there? Hey it’s my friend the expert in the toolbox. What can she recommend? But even though this toolbox is bottomless, each person who looks into it may see something different. One person may pick just the right tool and another person might pick something that will work eventually. It appears there is more to this toolbox than meets the eye. Even though the toolbox is bottomless and has all the answers, it will depend upon the level of expertise of its user.

Sally N. Staniford suggests that metacomprehension can be broken out into four categories. In category one we have High Comprehension and High Metacomprehension. This means you know something and are aware that you know. For example you are given a problem to solve and you are correct in knowing that you solved it correctly.

In category two we have Low Comprehension and High Metacomprehension. Here we say to ourselves, “I don’t know and I know I don’t know.” We are aware that we don’t understand.

In category three we have High Comprehension and Low Metacomprehension. In this case we know the answer but do not know we know the answer. If you are a teacher, you will know this student. She always knows the answer but she has to ask you if she is right every time.

In category four we have Low Comprehension and Low Metacomprehension. This is where “The Hack” lives. Here we are sure we know, but in fact we do not and we are unaware that we do not.

Optimally, what we all want is high comprehension and high metacomprehension. As teachers, we want our students to know subjects and to have the metacognitive skills to become aware of their thinking processes. To get there we reflect on our thinking and encourage our students to reflect on their own thinking. How do we do that when sometimes it seems that everyone just wants to rush to the magic answer?

Let’s go back to our favorite “Hack.” Where did he go wrong? He appeared to have the right tools and say the right things before he came in. But he started off badly. He asked no questions! He never really found out what was wrong and when it was going wrong. He dove in without thinking seemingly rushing to the end. While he was at work he talked about everything else but the job he was doing. He had no plan; he was distracted. Instead of finding out the exact problem, he just kept changing things to see what would work. He didn’t ask enough questions about what had just happened and how this thing was related to that thing. He didn’t monitor his progress and make changes to improve his strategies. He never once said, “I don’t know.” He was unaware that he didn’t know. And worst of all he walked away and was paid for it. Ouch! Reinforcement!

If we now think of these same basic concepts and apply them to the work that we assign as teachers, most likely we will develop work that requires students to reflect on their learning by having them focus on the learning process step-by-step. Ask them to summarize, explain a concept another way through analogy of metaphor, (lol) read a story line by line and ask them to guess what comes next (double lol) and question, question and question again. Beware the final answer!

Picasso once said, “Computers are useless; they can only give you answers.” But did he really mean that computers are useless? Or did he mean that what is important is the questions? We look into our bottomless toolbox and we find answers, but aren’t we really more in search of the next questions? There will always be a point where we say, “I don’t know.” The key is to say that in the form of a question. Learning is like that.

As for “The Hack,” Bertrand Russell sums it us best in his Triumph of Stupidity when he says, “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Well Bertrand, I do consider myself an intelligent person and I, for one, don’t mind a little doubt now and then as long as it leads to the next question!


Blakey, Elaine & Spence, Sheila. (Nov 1990) Developing metacognition. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources Syracuse NY. ERIC Identifier: ED327218 Retrieved from on February 1, 2010.

Halter. Julie, Metacognition, encyclopedia of educational technology, San Diego State University. Retrieved from February 1, 2010.

Livingston, Jennifer A. (1997) Metacognition: An overview. Retrieved from February 1, 2010.

Pierce, William (2003) Metacognition: Study strategies, monitoring, and motivation, Prince George Community College. Retrieved from February 1, 2010.

Russell, Bertrand. The triumph of stupidity (1933-05-10) in Mortals and others: Bertrand Russell’s American essays, 1931-1935, 1998, p28.

Standiford, Sally N. (1984) Metacomprehension. Retrieved from ERIC database. February 1, 2010 (ED250670).

Ground Control to Major Tom- Wonderments

Our next course Psychology of Classroom Learning and Management featured a whole lot of work and didn't get any feedback until the very end. We worked and we worked and we wondered.

One of our tasks was to write "Wonderments." What are wonderments, you ask?

Well according to our outline:
  •  "Wonderments are questions that the reader poses on the author as the textbook, and/or lecture material is encountered. They typically start with a "I wonder (if, about, whether, when, what etc.).." It is also helpful to the audience is a page number is inluded sp that the student relies" can be informed..Also reasons for the wonderments are sometimes included, and possible solutions." 
Now it's not that I thought the idea of "wonderments" was totally stupid or anything, but we were required to read massive amounts of stuff and then write some 60 wonderments and then reply to our classmates wonderments. It got to the point that all I did was wonder. I would read things and I would come up with some serious things to wonder about but sometimes I'd come up with the stupidest things to wonder about, and then I'd find really sarcastic things to wonder about.

--> Here are some of my silly, sarcastic and odd wonderments:

  • I wonder why I like Alfie Kohn’s idea best. Is it just that I like the name Alfie? What's all about, Alfie?
  • I wonder why my puppy decided to eat my textbook while I was on the phone. She particularly enjoyed chapter 2 on phonemes. Page 47 was her favourite. I wonder if the story “The dog ate my homework," could actually be true from time to time. 
  • I wonder why when the chapter talks about adjunct questions (pg 356-364) it doesn’t use adjunct questions in its own narrative.
  • I wonder why sometimes researchers have to prove again and again ideas that we intuitively know are correct.
  • When reading all these techniques to improve reading and understanding, I wonder how the world got to where it is. There were no experts in the beginning.
  • I wonder why an author trying to convey the importance of first sentences would start with a poor sentence himself. (Pg124 sentence “Suppose that you were to write a short biographical story, such as an essay on how a water faucet works or a business letter.” What is the “business letter” doing in this sentence?????
  • I wonder how people who write about writing, don’t see how their own poor writing is so distracting.
  • I wonder why the writer refers to the cave man. Were there no cave women?
  • I wonder what would have happened if humans had twelve fingers. Would our number system have been based on 12?
  • On page 186 Schoenfeld noted, “ There is reason to believe that such suspension of sense-making develops in school, as a result of school.” I wonder if I was the only one who thought this was funny.
  • The Skep author says that Canter and Canter believe that children are not innately motivated to behave in school. I wonder what Maria Montessori would say about that..nevermind, I think she would say “nonsense!”
  • I wonder how I managed to get through school and be successful without once getting candy or stickers.
  • I wonder why I relate to Felix Autnrieth’s comment, “I think assertive discipline is the best way to kill creativity, curiosity, self-expression, motivation, logical reasoning in our children. Let us breed another generation of bore and dull adults because it works so well.” Oh yeah, because he's right.
  • I wonder why I think of the Gestapo, while I read about Positive Discipline.
  • I wonder when I can just read something without having to wonder about everything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sometimes you just Hate a Course

Evaluating the Course on Evaluating Technology

Where am I?
I suppose it's always going to happen when you take a program- there's going to be a course you really just wish you had never heard of, never had to take and never wanted to think about again. Such was the course I took in the fall of 2009. The course was supposed to be about Evaluating Technology but it really was just about Evaluations of Programs. Now a course on Evaluations of Programs would have been OK, because evaluation is evaluation after all and I think every teacher might need to know the things involved in evaluation, but the course was called Evaluating Technology so there was this "expectation thingy" that some of us had and the expectation thingy kind of hung over the whole course like a big old horrible cloud. And when things start that way they can easily go south rather quickly. So I found myself at the South Pole in this one rather quickly.

Let's get Ready to Rumble!

Here we are it's D-day, we are live in the web conferencing system and ready to go. There are my cohort who I've been in two classes with and a few new people too-cool! We have just had two intense exciting courses and we are pumped and ready for the next. We've been in this live conferencing system before so we know the drill- we listen but we participate through our microphones or through the chat window. Well, that's what we thought.

What's it all about Alfie?

So it begins, the usual preamble and we are off. But there are all these acronyms flying around and some of us are not from the US and we just don't have a clue what all this NCLB and PDQ stuff is, so well, we have to ask don't we? Well, we do and we did and yup we (mostly me and my pal Deb) got yelled at for asking questions!

OK so we can't speak up so what about the chat box, surely we can talk about this in the chat box? Hell, no! The chat box was not for chatting you see because it was distracting even if the chat was totally on topic. As one of the two Canadians in the course, I heard the teacher ask more than once "What the Canadians thought" about this or that. While some in the class thought that the two Canadians were being insulted by the stereotype, the Canadians in fact were rather happy about being called the Canadians and sticking up for their weirdo Canadian values.

Getting there regardless

In spite of the fact that all the stuff on evaluation in the course was not about technology, I decided that my major project would be one where I actually did evaluate technology so by hook or by crook I made the course about evaluating technology and I made it relevant and real for something that was actually going on at my college. A student's got to do what a student's got to do.

E-Gads--There'll be Learning

Overall there was a lot of valuable stuff in the course that was supposed to be about evaluating technology and I'm certain I learned a lot. However, the restraints imposed on the situation had a way of turning me back to the obnoxious smarty pants brat that had lived mostly quietly inside me when I was a kid. The smarty pants brat that had only occasionally slipped out way back when, suddenly was alive and now not at all afraid to stick up for whatever I believed in- a girl's got to have standards after all especially in a course about Evaluation.

 So while we were forced to live in this box handcuffed, we found a way to bond and break out -of course we did.... Cue the Back Channel! Oh the fun we had back there. As the live sessions in video conferencing went on, we -the naughty girls who weren't allowed to talk on topic in the chat box- took to email to continue on conversations that were more often than not humourous re-interpretations of the subject and the situation. Multi-tasking was raised to new heights as at any moment any one of the naughties could have been called on to answer whatever question popped into the instructors head. While maintaining the back channel and still listening to the lecture there was a point where we heard the instructor say, " Well what would that Karen Hamilton person think of that?" I had been raised to a new level of stature, victory at last! I was that Karen Hamilton-Person. I'd always wanted to have a two part last name. OK so I was being a bit disembodied since I was actually alive and in the virtual world of the web conference and I was being spoken about as If I weren't there at all...magical experience actually.

On further reflection though I learned a lot about the subject and I learned a lot about boxes, and the effect of boxes. I learned about the value of questions and what happens when they are squashed. And I learned that no matter what it is important to stick up for what you believe in and say what you think. I learned too that sometimes the most you get out of something is because of the real people who you live and learn with-the people who matter.

And I learned that no matter how old I get, I can still be that same subversive little kid who didn't want to colour between the lines and who really didn't want to sit in that desk row on row just like everybody else, because after all I am that Karen Hamilton-Person! ha ha ha
I dedicate this blog post to my compatriots in crime- Debbie and Carla who are the best Back Channel pals ever!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Technology and Pedagogy

by Karen Hamilton - Wednesday, 5 August 2009, 09:13 pm

Integrating Technology

I certainly agree with Cuban and Fishman that the student-centred teacher who is more inquiry-oriented is more likely to integrate technology into teaching, but I’m not sure that I can whole heartedly agree that the traditional teacher will not be at all influenced to integrate technology. Both Cuban and Becker talk about the importance of a person’s teaching philosophy. The teachers who adopt technology to enhance teaching tend to be the constructivists.

Who is Right? Who is Wrong? It ain't Black and White

Firstly if we did assume that there are only two categories or even three if we accept some are in the middle, we are making too many assumptions from my point of view. Maybe we can categorize people to a certain extent but to assume that some will never change isn’t that positive and it’s a bit too defeatist to me. In the Liberal Arts department where I work, we have an overwhelming number of what I would consider “traditional” teachers. Some of them are older, but certainly some are young. If we accept the proposition that all these traditionalists are hopelessly stuck in their old ways, are we saying they are not good teachers? Are we saying we should ship them off to a leper colony?

I consider myself to be a tech junkie; I want to learn everything that I can, try things see what works; but does that mean I am right? Not really.

For sure 100% I’m going to try to convert people, but I’m not about to make the assumption that technology is everybody’s answer. And I’m not going to suggest that some of these decidedly old school teachers are not good teachers because I think some of them are good teachers. Yes I laugh at the teacher who says he does not believe in any of the technology and says he’d never use Powerpoint and he makes a presentation to faculty by projecting a word document and projecting his typing on the screen.

But even he has progressed to projecting Word so that’s a small step- he just doesn’t see it.

We need a Champion! and A Few Baby Steps

I say never underestimate the power of the champion and the group. On page 137 when Cuban is going over the history of older technologies being introduced he talks about the small group that banded together to beg for funds. He says, “These champions of technology influenced peers.” And Becker says, “ Building up computer expertise of teachers also may produce greater use of the internet; as would more training for teachers to use the internet. However, it is the remaining “condition” in our list that is the most intriguing-frequent informal contact with other teachers at their school.” (33)

The history of my Liberal Studies group is long and storied. We’ve been a division, been split apart and 2 years ago put back together again. Long ago when we were a division we were not liked by the programs. Some thought we were the extra stuff that took away from the real meaning of their programs. Inside my group many thought, they were the superior- the academics. When we were torn apart and put into the divisions, many whined and complained until they put us in a group again.

 When we were first reformulated we had a new chair so we had a chance for a new beginning. We had an image problem. I was making podcasts for my courses at the time, so I said to my chair why don’t we all try to be leaders in the college by creating video introductions to our courses. I was even offering to sit down with each of them and do 90% of the work. We held some sessions and generally they saw that there might be some advantage. Maybe it wasn’t a great success. We ended up with 3-4 other people who had video introductions and I did a lot of the work but it was a beginning. The problem as always was that people just didn’t have the time and yes some were more resistant than others, but I at least had them considering it, so it’s my belief that it rubs off a little all that enthusiasm. Like the Zhao article said a little step. One of the most resistant of the whole group was a woman who really isn’t old. No way she was having any of it. She had her ways and that was it. But wouldn’t you know she came around and last year she created an online course. So maybe she wasn’t quite as much of a traditionalist after all. Or did she evolve? Or has the group started to experience a shift even if it is slight?

You Can't Force 'em!

I have to agree that you can’t force people to use technology. A few years ago we were granted the ability to have degree programs, so the division I was in created a degree program . They wanted to introduce a laptop program, even though a large chunk of the faculty were not that computer savvy. I was  not affiliated with that program so I got to watch how it played out. As Fishman points out the numbers that some try to say prove technology is happening is “all about stuff.” (1) The degree program was trying to prove how forward they were because they had a laptop program. The tech resistant ended up with a page in WebCT and that’s about it. Others did adapt, but it’s a gradual process. Is one page posted in WebCT technology? Not really, so I can agree it can’t be forced, but I’m not sure there’s no chance to influence them especially if they can see a real advantage.

One of the people in my office is really pretty low tech almost no-tech guy. I saw him at the scantron making music with the sound of wrong answers. I commented that it didn’t sound good and then mentioned I hadn’t seen a scantron in 6 years. His ears perked up. That was how it started. Just this semester I helped him put all his tests online. Wow was he happy, and now he’s off trying to convince the guy in the next office. I asked him how the testing went and he told me about how he had time in his class to do more things instead of wasting time in class on tests.

Do Technology Plans link to Learning Goals?

Fishman also makes note of how technology plans don’t link to learning goals. At my college we have had an e-learning plan and policy for a number of years, so perhaps we are the rare group he speaks of. He makes a good point when he suggests that learning how to use technology is not equal to learning how to teach with technology. Our school has a PD site that is loaded with things that one can learn. Maybe it’s good to have a million courses on how to use Powerpoint for some, but I’d have to agree that, that really isn’t teaching teachers how to use the technology to enhance learning. We do tend to focus on the “learn this technology” types of things over the how to make it work in learning.

 Is a School a Business?

When Cuban talked about the infiltration of business into education, this resonated with me. College management these days has adopted the language of business in a frightening way and success is measured in dollars and cents. Everything is framed to prove we do a great job. When figures are posted about students who get jobs after graduation. But do the figures mention the quality of the jobs? Is it possible that a business grad is working at McDonalds. I don’t think it’s the norm but it happens and when colleges and universities frame things this way is it any wonder that students demand something more that just an education. Some demand a darn good job. There’s this story this week where a student of Monroe college is suing because after graduation she didn’t get a job Is it any wonder?

Motives for Adopting New Tech

Cuban also talks about the motives for this drive to use technology. Often it’s an attempt to be more efficient to save money. Right now there are space problems in many colleges so there is this big push to move some courses online or create new ones. Is this push really to serve the needs of students or the money needs. If these were well qualified teachers writing courses who had expertise in online teaching, maybe it wouldn’t seem so, but it can be that part time workers may be creating “online” courses when they have never taught online, taken an online course or even taken any courses about online learning. This is alarming especially when you consider that some of these courses may be  no more than a bunch of links and downloaded pages and assignments that are sent through email. Right now many schools are  trying to set up some step by step process where courses have to be vetted well before they ever run. Sometimes you have a teacher who decides, hey wouldn’t it be nice to stay at home another day, why don’t I put my course online. This isn’t a good motive. The consequence is in many places that the numbers look good- look at all the online courses- but what about the learning experience?

Innovators and Early Adopters

The Cuban article also talked about the slow integration, Innovators and early adopters. This reminded me of the Technology Adoption Cycle Marketer’s love these lifecycles and bell curves and maybe there’s a reason- things do have natural lifecycles, so to expect some giant leap just isn’t reasonable. Cuban also points out that the people who might use the technology are not the ones who make the decisions about what is adopted, or management buys into something meant for business. This is a problem that happens in lots of industries like they mention with engineers who make applications fit. Extremely disturbing was the doctor who went to the computer to check the stats on whether the person would be better at home or in hospital and the mention of sending the patient home and “saving her insurer” (148) Humans have become commodities. We are all just statistics. Maybe the student who didn’t get a job after graduation from Monroe College feels like that statistic. She was promised that x% of students get jobs after x amount of time after graduation.

The Becker article had more meaning for me towards the end when it focused on constructivist ideas. It seemed almost funny reading about modems and teachers not knowing how to search on the “world wide web.”They seemed to have picked some strange ways to break out their information, especially when they mentioned GPA and what school someone went to. To me the value judgments there were a bit disturbing. They seemed to try to deconstruct everything. I wondered why they didn’t do different statistics for men and women. Would that have just been too loaded?

Measuring Success

I guess the biggest problem for me in all this is how do you measure the success of using technology. Do we say things are successful only if students’ grades increase? I hope not.

Can we really measure what anyone gets out of school? A student can get mediocre grades but still be a great success, maybe it was the teacher who understood what the fanfic, or manga or machinima was all about, maybe it was the teacher who listened, maybe it was a moment where a teacher wrote something on an old-fashioned chalk board.

Like we’ve heard, it’s not about the technology, it’s whatever we do with it.