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.