Carnegie students ask for your help

Friday, May 2, 2008 at 7:18 | Posted in computer, internet | Leave a comment
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If you have 15-20 minutes to spare during this weekend and you want to help a group of Carnegie students, they would appreciate if you took the time to completing an on line survey about your communication habits. I did it yesterday. As you can see in comments to Jaanus’s blog post, there are minor issues with some of the questions but the survey is overall good. You will help a bunch of very talented post grad students to develop user interfaces.

By the way, did I mention that you have a decent chance of winning a $50 Amazon gift certificate?

A transparency statement: I am by no means affiliated with Carnegie University and I have no personal interest in promoting this survey but Jaanus is a long time on line friend of mine.

Firefox detention: principal claims hoax

Monday, January 7, 2008 at 4:37 | Posted in firefox | 2 Comments
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In December several blogs (including mine) wrote about a kid in Big Spring High School allegedly having been given a two hour detention for using Firefox web browser instead of the sanctioned IE. I was skeptical about the accuracy of the news back then because it sounds just too surrealistic to be true. Principal John C. Scudder has released a statement calling it a hoax:

Recently, a file was uploaded to the Internet purporting to be a copy of a letter from Big Spring High School to a student regarding a two hour detention. The uploaded letter was an altered version of a detention letter sent to a student. Unfortunately, privacy concerns prevent the School District from giving a full explanation of the nature and source of the letter’s alteration at this time. The Big Spring School District does have confirmation that the discipline letter was altered.

The reports, blogs and other sources on the Internet indicating that a Big Spring student was assigned detention for using the Firefox internet browser instead of Internet Explorer are untrue and were based on the fake letter. Detention is assigned in our schools after appropriate warnings are given. If students continue to engage in non-academic activities or fail to follow a teacher’s directive during class time, discipline can and will be assigned.

If this was supposed to be a revenge for what the student experienced as an unjustified punishment, it was not a very clever one. If it was supposed to be a joke, it was a bad one. Since the school is obviously not legally allowed to tell of all of their side of the story, I invite the student in question to come up with a truthful version of the story and, if need be, an apology. That would take a whole lot of more guts than posting a silly hoax.

Firefox detention

Monday, December 17, 2007 at 11:50 | Posted in firefox | 3 Comments
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The Google search for Big Spring High School still returns links related to the Pennsylvania school district or the school itself on top but I can imagine that is soon going to be changed. This sounds too crazy to be true but several blogs report that a kid has gotten detention for using Firefox. Also, this letter looks real enough.
If this is true, it sadly confirms that there are teachers who should seriously consider changing careers because they have less to teach their students than vice versa. If this is not a hoax and there actually is a poor student in Big Spring High School who has fallen victim of teacher ignorance, I say go for it. Your right to use Firefox is worth a couple of hours in detention.

Is Europe a country?

Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 20:28 | Posted in USA | Leave a comment
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There seems to be a problem with education in the US or at least there used to be. A fifth grader appears to be much better informed about geography than somebody who did not do their homework while at school.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from youtube.com

Did you know?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at 5:08 | Posted in web 2.0., youtube | 2 Comments
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Did you know all those facts about web 2.0 spelled out in this video (YouTube)? I did not. I had a general idea and I am not at all surprised but I certainly did not know the numbers.

What am I talking about? Karl Fisch an Scott McLeod are teachers who use web 2.0. in and outside their classroom. This video presents facts about the environment children should be prepared to enter after school. It also asks if the education system can deliver what is needed to cope with the World of tomorrow. And not just the American education, the topic is global. As Karl Fisch explains, introducing the updated version of the video:

I (and Scott) had two main goals. First, I wanted to make it less us (as in U.S.) versus them. That wasn’t my intent in the original, but it certainly could be interpreted that way. It still includes some of the U.S./China/India statistics, because we felt those were indicative of the “shifts” that are occurring, but it avoids words like “we” and “they.” But we want all kids to be successful, whether they are in the U.S., India, China or somewhere else. We believe these ideas and conversations should be occurring globally, and we hope this helps contribute to that conversation.

The video takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds to watch but I promise you it is time well spent if you have any interest towards web 2.0. and education. The video presentation is intended as an introduction to further discussions. One place for that discussion is the Shift happens wiki.

via Geirsan

Investments to India promoting racism

Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 17:48 | Posted in India | 1 Comment
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The Indian caste system is a sort of internal racism. While the Indian constitution strongly rejects any discrimination on basis of the caste, the system is very much alife and members of higher castes rigorously defend their privileges against affirmative actions. Affirmative action is called reservations in India and it basically means lower caste quotas in government jobs and higher education.

As the BBC reports, thousands of students and software engineers are protesting in the streets of the Indian technology capital Bangalore against the Indian government’s latest affirmative action programme to reserve more places for lower castes in colleges. The demonstrators oddly enough defended their divine privileges under the banner “Youth for Equality”. The BBC quotes a software engineer named as Venkatraman as saying:

we will intensify the agitation till the government drops the move to increase reservations

In several towns in the southern state of Karnataka doctors have laid down surgeries to protest the latest reservation plans. The federal government has proposed an additional reservation of 27 % for students of some traditionally discriminated castes. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is promising “massive expansion” in the higher education.

I am usually somewhat sceptical about quotas. Especially some gender based quotas may actually turn out to be counter discriminative and work out against the very principles of equality that they are supposed to promote. But I do not think this is the case here.

The Indian economic boom is very much based on western investments on technology. As it turns out, these investments seem to support the racist caste system. Which is good to bear in mind next time you are considering to buy a computer, a cell phone or an application.

Self conflicting statement

Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 2:09 | Posted in Canada | Leave a comment
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CBC reports that teaching evolution has become an issue in northern Quebec. High school teacher Alexandre April was reprimanded for discussing Darwin’s evolutionary theory in his biology class at Ikusik High School in the Inuit village of Salluit. According to Kativik School Board, students are free to explore the theory of evolution at the library or on the internet. Apparently, teachers are not allowed to instruct them in that research.

CBC quotes a member of the Saluit education committee:

“There’s a part of the world thinks they came from apes, but we know that we have been human,” said Molly Tayara, who sits on the Salluit education committee. “We should be telling our kids that. That shouldn’t be a taboo.”

Now, that kind of a statement looks a bit self conflicting to me.

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