Thursday, December 13, 2012

Online learning: Knowing their work, but not them.

Online learning is all the rage right now, but I don't think it's a panacea or silver bullet. I'm learning from teaching online that it has strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages, and definitely trade-off's when compared to face-to-face instruction. In this 3-minute video, I describe what I've learned this semester in teaching online. My key reflection is that I get to know my students' work, but I don't get to know them as people. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

6000 Skulls

I just spent the day trying to really get my head around human evolution at the Hall of Human Origins in the National Museum of Natural History. I think I'm getting it. Australopithecus died out. Homo heidelbergensis is probably the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals. Homo erectus lived a long time and was pretty dang tall.

The biggest thing I'm pondering as I walk away is how all that we know about early humans is based on 6,000 skulls. That seems like a low number. On the one hand, the number doesn't bother me. 6,000 is a pretty hefty count for any collection of specimens. Even just 1 piece of evidence is something that science must deal with, as long as it is authentic. And 6,000 is a lot more than 60 or even 600.

On the other hand, that seems like such a small number to answer the question, "Where did we come from?" In my day-to-day world, people don't believe in human evolution. I don't see them being convinced by this amount of evidence. Sure, I could try to argue with the reliability of the skulls we do have or the promise of future finds or the difficulty of fossilization. Those science-y arguments don't work well for the non-science-y people I'm thinking of. Human evolution asks them to overturn much of their worldview, and I don't think 6,000 data points are enough for them to do that.

(And I just realized that the number of currently known skulls is equal to what most of my people believe to be the age of the Earth. How crazy is that?)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Talk at Tedx Birmingham

Speaking at Tedx Birmingham was an amazing experience! How do you cram 25 years of teaching into 18 minutes? How do you communicate the dire challenges in American education and the hope all around us in excellent innovations? How do you help people outside of education understand how our education system is failing children while at the same time honoring teachers and the impact they have?
The resources I used in the talk should be tagged in my Delicious account with "MyTed". Let me know, please, if anything you need is missing. Also, here's the link to the presentation I used during the talk, which was developed in Prezi.