Saturday, December 10, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Authentic Learning group favorite links are here.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Authentic Learning group favorite links are here.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Textbooks Are Killing Me!

    I’ve been thinking of how we might shape a new model of for texts that might lower the materials cost of higher education and thereby make it more accessible who find it cost prohibitive. Certainly, I realize tuition far out-paces course materials as an item on students’ higher ed budgets. Still, every bit helps.

    Some steps I took:

    • I downloaded Amazon’s student app and used it in the COOP to scan course texts for their partners. Where the Amazon texts were less expensive, I added them to my cart. (This was the case in all but two instances.)
    • When I got home, I compared the items in my Amazon cart with used versions available through amazon. Whenever possible, I chose the used version.
    • I took advantage of amazon’s offer of 6 months of free Amazon Prime membership for students. This secures free 2-day shipping and other as of yet unknown “deals.” (When selecting used texts, I only purchased those qualifying for Amazon Prime.)
    • When it was possible, I purchased the Kindle version of texts. I’ll be reading them on my iPad, but I’d take advantage of the new Kindle Cloud feature if I didn’t have a Kindle or iPad.
    • I opted against texts that were recommended but not required (with the exception of the APA style guide).

    As a result, my possible costs of $600 ended up at around $450. That’s a chunk of rent or more than a month’s worth of groceries.

Give it a try next semester and then lobby your friendly, neighborhood academic departments to work with students to help in every way they can. 

What's the Fuss with Google "Suggested Users"

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Google+'s "suggested users" list.  Seems to me as just another pretty much accepted way to populate an otherwise empty social network until you get the chance to fill in the blanks, but others have pointed out that many of the suggested users have empty streams.  Why suggest empty streams, Google?  Seems a bit half-assed or beta-assed if you will. Maybe somebody at Google realizes if you can't do something useful then do something that appears useful.

Audrey Watters remarks, "I’m not on it [the suggested lists], and I bet you aren’t either, particularly if you’re an educator — because, well, there aren’t any educators on the list."  But she also points out that Twitter's suggested user list has few if any educators.

She also points out that

Google’s Bradley Horowitz — de-facto spokesperson for the new list — does recognize that there isn’t an “extreme knitters” group. In a post yesterday, he says he wants to assure extreme knitters — along with everyone else who isn’t a tech or pop culture celebrity — that the fact that Google doesn’t recognize your interest group is “a bug.”

Don't get mad just make your own list.  Isn't that what the Circles are?  I have a circle for my CoopCatalyst folks.  I curate my own list of folks for #edchat and for a freshman comp class I am teaching this fall.  Do like Audrey Watters "suggests"-- curate your own circles. 

In Facebook you might be using 'Pages' (although I think that whole edifice rides on the shaky ground of having been first out of the gate).  In Twitter you can create your own lists although they haven't been all that handy for me to use regularly.  So what's the dealio about raking Google+ over the coals?  Keeps 'em honest, I guess.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tech Tidbits: Kim Cofino's Disruptive PD Technology

Tech Tidbits: Increasing Teachers’ Digital Efficiency | always learning

Just finished a pedagogically provocative post on crowdsourcing "tech tidbits".  Kim Cofino gets a handle on what is needed in training now--something short, something cheap, something that builds tech capacity--to help us get the most out of the limited time we have to learn. And, neatest of all, she flies in under the radar with a truly subversive learning framework.

Who can argue that simple tools like using 'CMD+F' or 'CTL+F' to find something on a webpage or in a pdf is not important?  No one. In fact, in the short time horizon we will be generating a zettabyte of data in one year.  Any filtering tool that might help us dig through that midden mound is a very happy one. 
Cofino runs these PD sessions like "a fair". 
1.Fifteen teacher/trainers are seated waiting to teach one 'tidbit' listed below:
  • Creating labels in Gmail
  • Creating e-mail lists in Contacts
  • Install Google Notifier to set up web Gmail as your default email client (this has saved me hours of work)
  • Creating collections in Google Docs and organizing your files
  • Making a copy of a document & saving for yourself (to edit)
  • Sharing a collection with a group (made in your Contacts list) or a colleague
  • Make a Google Doc public, for linking on your class blog
  • Check the revision history in a Google Doc
  • Creating events in Google Calendar and setting automatic reminders via e-mail
  • Creating repeating events in Google Calendar
  • Importing the school’s calendar into your own Google Calendar
  • Creating a Google Reader account and subscribing to feeds
  • Create a bundle of feeds in Reader for each class you teach
  • Adding feeds to folders in Reader
  • Recording screencasts in QuickTime
2. Everyone (trainers and learners alike) has access to a shared Google Doc with the day's training agenda (topics and trainer contact info).
3. Teacher pair up with teachers in a cafeteria style.  Cofino compares this to speed dating only she calls it "speed geeking".

4. The teachers then become the trainers and new learner/teachers rotate in from the other "dates'. Reminds me of a tactic I used in middle school called "the wheel" where you have an inner core of teachers and an outer core of learners.  It really is a clever modification of jigsawing.  

5.  If one of the trainees felt they could teach one of the tidbits then they would put their name down on the Google Doc.  I am reminded of Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society and Sugata Mitra's 'child-driven learning'
I hope Cofino realizes how utterly subversive this pedagogy is.  What's good for the teachers is good for the students, n'est ce pas?  And doesn't this model fit the world we live in better than the dead institution walking that passes for schools today?
6.  When you are done you have two very important results:  learners got to control what they wanted to learn (to a limited degree), learners got to share what they learned, and learners got a list of those with expertise to call upon.  The shared Google Doc would also serve as a place to add future learning needs and perhaps to share with parents and administrators and staff who might want to be a part of that learning community. 
Kim Cofino should get a big shout and a happy one, too.  This is a great PD framework as well as a model for what should be happening in our schools every day.  Perhaps this is just the trojan mouse we need to leverage the tipping point needed to turn our schools from bridges to nowhere (the 20th Century) to bridges to somewhere (the emerging future).  Or as Illich puts it, "Our present educational institutions are at the service of the teacher's goals. The relational structures we need are those which will enable each man to define himself by learning and by contributing to the learning of others." 

(Illich, Ivan. Deschooling society. Calder and Boyars, 1971. Print.)



Friday, August 19, 2011

Video/Multimedia/Streaming/Photos/Slideshow Curation: Yokto

I think this is a new idea under the sun.  Grab some videos online, some videos of your own creation, grab a picture, grab whatever and put it all in an embedded presenter.  Done.  Below is the first go at this on the topic of learning.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Authentic Learning Group Diigo (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Authentic Learning group favorite links are here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ten Undergrad Gen/ed Classes

Dana C has asked us to list ten gen/ed classes that I took as an undergrad. Here goes (and Dana I can't peak because that transcript is nearly 30 years old and I don't have a copy)

1. Lit/Phil 101
2. Lit/Phil 102
3. Western Civ 101
4. Western Civ 102
5. Pol/Sci 101
6. Pol/Sci 102
7. Intro to Bio
8. Intro to Psych
9. Math 101
10. Religion 101

I went to Centre College from 1973-1977. I still remember some of these classes very fondly. Sweet memory.

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TREND: Changing Roles in Higher Education

Derek Bruff, Dwayne Harapnuik, and Jim Julius in their Chronicle of Higher Education article, "Revolution or Evolution? Social Technologies and Change in Higher Education" discuss the adviseability of and likelihood of transformational change in the adoption of new technologies by faculty.

Key Points:

1. New technologies provide new learning 'affordances' but is a social technology revolution possible in an environment that values incremental change at best and no change at worst?
2. The authors narrate the story of a recent interactive session during the annual conference of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Saint Louis.
3. POD's are located in faculty development offices on most campuses and are active in attempting to improve faculty teaching through change initiatives.
4. Ideas from POD
a. The model for information flow has changed from an industrial one to a filtering one.
b. We have shifted from an Instructional Paradigm to a Learning Paradigm. This is reflected in Monica Raskin's "Twitter Experiment" at University of Texas at Dallas. Bruff, et al ask whether this is the change we need to be drawn toward?

c. Some have argued for this radical shift:

d. POD Prezi Presentation

5. POD group's examples of "roadblocks, obstacles, and speed bumps" toward this shift.
a. Faculty as proto-Luddites
b. Faculty need for models
c. Faculty loss of control when shifting
d. Faculty don't see it as a personal, professional, or university priority
e. Faculty don't have the 'geek' openness to new tech ideas
f. Faculty remain unconvinced of advantages over status quo
6. Here is an online document outlining their discussion and another interactive one using Google Forms to focus the previous one.
7. The biggest challenges?
a. The move from sage to the side, from prof-centered to student-centered.
b. Sharing effective models with other faculty
8. The authors do not explicitly answer whether it should be evolutionary or revolutionary; instead, they invite the readers to join.

Comments to Article:

9. You have to address faculty fears either way. Fierce autonomy, fear of being made redundant by technology, lack of clear cost/benefit analysis--these are all examples of the fear that fills reluctant colleagues.
10. Access to the tools of change along with a way to 'unstrand' colleagues will lead to change of both kinds.
11. "Most profs are amateurs when it comes to teaching"--improving learning no matter the tech (3X5 cards, face-to-face sims, Twitter). Focus on making the amateurs into pros.
12. References to book Nineshift
13. "Revolutions require ubiquity."
14. Administrative motive is suspect--use tech to save money is first priority.


Failure to address this question simply kicks the can down the road for someone else to address and it may well be that a ginned up crisis or a real crisis will reduce the options we once had much like the climate change deniers may have damned our options in addressing carbon buildup in the atmosphere.

Being out of step with out students might be considered quaint by some. It might be thought that faculty are the last bulwark against the barbarian-students at the gate. Whatever rationale is given for sticking to the status quo ante-technology, it is clear that these 'good deeds' will not go unpunished. For-profit companies are gaming both student desires and federal money in an ugly takeover attempt. If you want to look at a school 'too big to fail' just consider University of Phoenix. This purity of the academe will be it death.

Lastly, the comment above that most professors are amateurs not pros is the dirtiest little secret of the ivory tower. Faculty development does yeoman work on our own campus considering how underpowered and de-valued it is. But the greatest sin is that it can be safely ignored by tenured faculty. And, honestly, it is ignored and without moral or professiona or personal hazard. One of the most morally bankrupt results of this is that those who have the power often and regularly do not exercise it for students but rather for their professional and personal selves. Yes, that is the foul cruft of corruption in the air and it is the most dangerous threat to the thousand year tenure of the University.

Hacker, P. (11:00 am). Revolution or Evolution? Social Technologies and Change in Higher Education. ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education, . Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

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Trend: Affordability--Etextbooks at University

John Levi Hilton and David Wiley discuss in their First Monday article "A Sustainable Future for Open Textbooks?" the viability and sustainability of one model of etext delivery--Flat World Knowledge.

Key Points:

1. In 2008 the average price of textbooks was US$702 and 5.5 billion nation wide.
2. Textbook companies and professors have come in for a raft of criticism over the last ten years over the cost and waste in texts for classrooms.
3. E-books have proved a cheaper alternative but their cost, readability, and resale ability have proven to be stumbling blocks to adoption.
4. Free e-textbooks have been proposed as an answer by non-commercial groups like CourseSmart, Connexions, and Wikipedia as well as commercial efforts like Flat World Knowledge (FWK) and Textbook Media.
5. Flat World Knowledge's business model is the subject of this essay.
6. Benefits of FWK:
a. Older texts will not be discontinued even if revisions are available.
b. Texts are allowed to be freely customized.
c. Full text online version of etext is free.
d. Audio, pdf, and print version available for sale.
e. Higher royalty rate paid to authors (15%)
7. Alpha testing indicated that the business model was looked up favorably by both faculty and students compared to traditional texts.
8. Beta testing indicated that the majority of students were likely to buy the text instead of reading it only online.


Making college more affordable may depend on efforts like these to reduce costs. The authors suggest that this model might become the rule for K-12 which also is in desperate economic straits. One-to-one laptop initiatives would be well-advised to look at this freemium model and load up textbooks onto this hardware. The model might provide a counterbalance to the out-of-control costs in traditional textbook publishing.

Implications for the library's role in etextbooks has not been thought through. Amazon already sells more ebooks than paper books and access to these etexts through smartphones, tablets, and e-readers is becoming nearly universal; therefore, barriers to access are lower than ever before. In other words the textbook market is suffering severe dislocations as it tries to adjust to the 'textonic' forces shifting beneath them. Or maybe not. There does not appear to be a rush by faculty and students to adopt. Some have suggested that a new model (already used by the University of Phoenix) be used where stukdents woiuld pay a materials fee which would be lumped together to get e-books for all.


We really could see the end of the 'paper and binding' textbook in five years. Western needs to have a pilot program running now to make this happen because the present system is effectively broken. But I am concerned that universities will not effectively contain costs considering how poorly they have fared keeping a lid on digital subscriptions at libraries. And...what exactly would the consequences be for existing campus bookstores? Lost revenue and lost jobs? No, this is disruptive stuff here and not all tea and skittles.  That the law of unintended consequences will have powerful sway here, there is little doubt.

Hilton III, J. L., & Wiley, D. A. (2010). A sustainable future for open textbooks? The Flat World Knowledge story. First Monday, 15(8). Retrieved from

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trend: Technology Based Delivery Systems--the MOOC

Canadian educational research guru Stephen Downes outlines the beginnings of a new trend--the massively open online course (MOOC).

Key Points:

1. The MOOC is not just an online course with lots of students. Downes characterizes it as one that has 'connectivist' philosophy at its heart. Also, the course is free to all and open to all. Nothing is required and participants can participate as much or as little as they wish. Everything is optional.
2. Downes and fellow professor, George Siemens, model the work of the course (Connectivism and Connective Knowledge or CCK11) together and welcome others to join in.
3. The course reflects the underlying philosophy of connectivism.
4. Connectivism has as its major tenet that learning is not acquired nor is it transmitted; instead, it is the process of making connections across a distributed network of connections. In such a learning environment you situate yourself in a place where you can make connections among a community of practitioners.
5. There are four parts to the MOOC
a. Aggregation--Since immersion is one of the necessary conditions for maximizing connectivity, Downes stuffs the course with lots of contents of varying degrees of difficulty including a dailyk newsletter, blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, collected Tweets from Twitter, bookmarks, discussion posts, and any kitchen think he can come up with. The idea is for each person to create his or her own stance toward the material and others who want to talk about it.
b. Remixing--Once immersed the next step is to make connection within the course much like your neurons which learn by firing together. This associating is very loosely governed by rules if at all and might be said to resemble spiral learning models. The only suggestion Downes makes is to reflect upon the associations that form and to share that content with others.
c. Repurposing--Downes calls this the hard work of the course. At this stage the idea is to get beyond 'reception and filtering' and begin to create. Like an artist's pallette, the colors and canvas come from the materials already gathered together in the first two steps. The pattern is simple: watch the facilitators and adapt and practice with them. Seymour Pappert called this 'constructionism' and tradesfolk call it apprenticeship. Practice is at the heart of connectivism.
d. Feeding Forward--This is what we called "sharing" in kindergarten. It is public and difficult, but it is worthwhile. Feeding forward provides the grist for feedback which you will get from those who appreciate the risk you have taken for their benefit.

Quote from Daniel Pink: "Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our neglecting the ingredients of genuine motivation--autonomy, mastery, and purpose--they limit what each of us can achieve."


One of the conclusions we need to draw from this is that learning is communal. While this is not a new understanding the affordances of new technology make its practice possible in tribes of folk who happen to want to be together to learn something. New pedagogies based upon new theories may be the most disruptive technologies that have every existed. The overturn existing paradigms almost unintentionally and by their very existence constitute a profound challenge to the status quo. Connectivism is a challenge to every existing idea that does not make as its reason for being the goal of maximizing the availability of connections in the system.


Credentialing as we know it is very hard to do under this regimen. Carnegie units are cottonwood fluff for connectivists. Grades make no sense because the only person who can tell you if they have learned something is the connected learner. But this is not at all impractical or impractible. We can still assess mastery. If someone can do it, they can be a practitioner. This is akin to what we used to call "reading law at the bar". Lincoln was a connectivist.

Also, I don't think the MOOC works outside of the philosophical framework of connectivism.  


Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. The Huffington Post. Blog, . Retrieved March 10, 2011, from

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Trend: Changing Role of Faculty/ Creating a Web Presence

Miriam Posner and her fellow bloggers make the argument that faculty need to make themselves more visible on the Internet. If they do so, they assert that it will benefit their "scholarship, pedagogy, and even service."

Key Points:

1. Web presence sounds like marketing. Isn't that beneath the dignity of one with an advanced degree? Certainly not, according to the authors.
2. If others are looking at you online (and they are looking at your 'presence') then you need to make sure they see what you want them to see.
3. Start with Google and end with Google.
4. Basics to creating a good presence:
a. when you sign up for web apps or platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) understand what you control and what you don't.
b. be consistent in your persona (voice, image, style)
c. understand that social networking is like potlatch culture--by your works shall ye be known

5. Keep tight control over what is public on public platforms like Facebook.
6. Use Google Profile as you default public page. Keep it simple and consistent as in 4(b) above.
7. Social networks rank high in Google searches so King effective ones. is a worthwhile one because you can store the necessaries there (CV, papers, teaching credo, links), it speaks the speak of academe, it is professional, it allows you to follow others' work (notifies you when colleagues add to their sites) and sends you emails anytime someone 'lands' on your profile page via Google.
8. Consider using LinkedIn in addition to LinkedIn ranks highly in Google and helps you differentiate yourself from others with the same name.
9. Use Twitter if it fits your discipline. For example, in education it is nearly de rigeur to have one because the most influential educators tend to use it heavily for professional development.
10. Use RealSimpleSyndication (RSS) to maintain ties to professional ties and developments within your discipline. Get feeds for:
a. favorite blogs
b. google email alerts
c. Database alerts for research areas
d. twitter feeds
e. Jobs pages like the Chronicle's
f. Calls for papers

Comments to the above article yielded:

11. Buy a domain with your name.
12. Create an page. This is a single page that points others to all your presences on the internet.
13. Create Google Scholar alerts.
14. Consider using Interfolio as a showcase for your work and career.
15. Offers up an alternative to "presence"--make yourself discoverable.
16. Use academic commons tools like Zotero and Mendeley.

Significance and Consequences:

Wouldn't it be fun to create a television series based upon doing web presence makeovers for faculty? I think it would reinforce the idea of faculty as arbiters of academic mojo at a time when we could certainly use a better image. Of course, I am only partly serious in this, but the implications of this article are bigger than its DIY intent. What would it mean if web presence was a part of the tenure process? The authors only assert that it can benefit scholarship, pedagogy, and service. How could it?

Scholarship? The social aspect of Internet life effects most of us. Why wouldn't it help us be better scholars. The efforts of The Center for History and New Media have brought us, a browser-based tool fof gathering research into a database which can in turn be accessed by others. Zotero Commons works with the Internet Archive to share research resources. It also allows for collaborative source sharing and group bibliographic work. Scholarship is becoming increasingly collaborative and web presence/discoverability might make a university much more international in its scope.

Pedagogy? One metaphor for this pedagogy is one developed in David Weinberger's seminal book on the web as social medium, Small Pieces, Loosely Joined. According to Weinberger's theory we are moving from a world of complex institutions that work together like machines. This is fine as long as the parts are maintained, but with the Web we don't have a machine but instead a living, messy network of small pieces that we are bringing together ourselves. So too, our pedagogy is growing into a definable presence that defies boundaries, even mashes them together. This article helps define these boundaries a little more clearly while recognizing that it is still a messy business.

Service? To be discoverable on the web is to acknowledge the service one has already done and to imply the service one can afford to others in the future. That service extends to the community and all of its members, but if you are not known by your good works then opaqueness looks like we are hiding something. It is scary, but also exhilirating and perhaps terrifying, that public money calls us to public service.

Increasingly, parents and students are becoming consumers of this new transparency. How much better would we serve future students and past ones if we were all to follow the advice in this article. And even better what if it was common practice to be this transparent at all levels of university life?


Some view life as a zero sum game, finite and limited by the hours of the day. I suppose if you followed this article's advice you might lose some sleep at first, but I do think that eventually this discoverability would become second nature and lead to productivity of a new order. This is the goal of The Red Balloon Project, to re-imagine undergraduate education. Part of that re-imagination is to make faculty roles fit the world better rather than vice versa.

It is a disruptive act to change your role, but it might be a necessary one if university will survive the dislocations of the 21st century. Below Clayton Christiansen discusses some of these disruptions. It is surprising how many of them call for faculty to change who they are professionally.


Hacker, P. (2011, February 14). Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics. ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education, . Retrieved March 10, 2011, from

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Trend: Common Core Standards/Alignment

Doug Lederman in his article "Colleges and the Common Core" explores the limited success in creating a 'seamess' K-20 system of education in the US.

Key Points:

1. Policy makers have long acknowledged and discussed the need for a smooth transition to college level work.
2. Work has been accomplished toward this end, but the author says the progress has been limited. Lederman points to a 2008 article that casts doubt on the effectiveness of so-called 'P-16 councils'.
3. He quotes Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, as making much the same criticism at the first joint gathering of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.
4. Instead of progress we are getting familiar blame games, each side blaming the other for student ill-preparedness.
5. Top leaders Gene Wilhoit and Paul Lingenfelter hope that the new common core standards of high school graduates will be an occasion for improving this stalemate.
6. Wilhoit and Lingenfelter assert that without the core standards students and their schools won't know what to aim for. Without changes to schools of education that reflect those core standards, then there will be no one to teach students how to meet them.
7. The larger goal is "college attainment and completion" and Wilhoit and others in the joint gathering were optimistic at least at the attainment of a new 'awareness' of the need to address the issue.
8. The small start at the joint meeting highlights the gravity of the job of aligning colleges and core standards.
9. Problem One: Core standards were set up without hied involvement although some have argued that postsecondary teachers were surveyed (lame-o).
10. Hied involvement likely to ramp up as all parties figure out how to bring them into practice.
11. Knowledge and skill levels for entry-level academic institutions are described in the core standards, but proficiency levels are not established. That is where hied will contribute by helping to develop the assessments that will measure these skill and knowledge levels.
12. Three consortia have applied to the federal government for Race to the Top funds to build these assessments.
13. Kevin Reilly, president of the Wisconsin university system, would use the assessments to "help drive more sensible messages about what you need to do to attend any of our campuses."
14. Faculty must reconcile institutional standards with common core standards.
15. Next, the ed schools will have to change the way they prepare teachers. According to Wilhoit, we don't have that workforce in place.
16. The practical interface between postsecondary and secondary will be the ed schools and their professors, but national organizations will have their say as well.
17. Some at the joint gathering worried about how legislators might dumb down the standards and lower admissions cutoffs in response to parents' pressure.

Significance and Consequences:

One might argue that while the core standards have been put forth there is still much jockeying back and forth over the assessments and still more over revising the already drafted version; yet, one can never underestimate how slowly and finely this kind of top down, money driven millstone can work over time. Some commentators have remarked that we are beginning to see "a long, passive aggressive takedown of the Common Core in English Language Arts".

I am particularly worried that these well-intentioned folk are working with a fully stocked empathic deck. Their understanding is...understandably from an eagle's eye view. Looking top down from their eyrie they certainly get the illusion that they know the lay of the land, but it necessarily misses the classroom level hurlyburly and even further the professional mindsets that make up that classroom. In other words these leaders don't have the slightest inkling of the potential effect both professionally and personally to those who are expected to buy into and implement their plans. A true hell of unintended consequences could be hatched from such an airy perch. I worry about that. How many experienced teachers will flee the predations of these hawks?

I am also concerned that the whole enterprise has a distinct odor to it. The impressive involvement of the ETS from the beginning begs the question: who guards against the guardians. Damon Hargraves has tried to follow the money behind this initiative both profit and non-profit and has sketched out how their might be not so secret corporate agendas driving the common core push.

I am also concerned by one of the quotes in the article attributed to the president of Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education Robert L. King who remarked, "While everyone in this room is persuaded [about the wisdom of the common core standards and the need to raise educational attainment], we should be worried about parents coming back on our state legislatures." I hope this was taken out of context. If not, then two items are worrying. First, I wonder that there are no other voices in the room and that these meetings are echo chambers for prevailing opinion not public opinion. No one elects these arbiters of core standards. King should be especially sensitive to this and does not appear to be so. It is small wonder that conspiracy theorists abound and that experts' motives are often impugned. It ain't paranoia if they really are out after you.

Second, I am concerned about the obvious disdain that King has for parents. How dare they do an 'end around' someone who is looking out after the best interests of their children! Who better to decide what is in their best interests than Robert King, a carpet bagging New Yawker


This initiative has the makings of a very fine train wreck. Economic conditions are poor for reform of any kind much less that of the ill-conceived and hierarchic as this one. If the latest footage around the world hasn't put you in the know then let me--common folk from Cairo to Madison are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. This isn't to say that reform isn't needed, it is, but not this kind done this way.

By all that is reasonable in educational research and sensible classroom level professional behavior, I think that we need to more like the Finns. Much has been said about their mighty educational system but little about the culture that supports it. Finland is a nearly homogeneous country. It is small. Teachers are paid above average and they seem well respected. I seem to be arguing against myself here, but bear with me. The Finns have a curriculum. Finito. No assessments. No standards. Just curriculum.

We have made the mistake of putting the horse not before the cart but to the side of it. Imagine if you will the retrofitting that will be needed at the classroom level for teachers to fit what they are already doing into the vagueries of such standards as these: they use technology strategically and capably. It will be as much 'by guess' as 'by gosh' when it comes to deciding how to do that and how that doing will be assessed by some as yet to be decided upon national test. Make no mistake. This is the first leap toward a single, ETS/CollegeBoard administered exam. Whether that fits the plethora of educational conditions in the US or not is not the concern of these people. Their concern is that the parents shut up and do what the experts say. Inflammatory you say? It is because they are.


Lederman, D. (n.d.). News: Colleges and the Common Core - Inside Higher Ed. Inside HigherEd. Retrieved from

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