Summer in the city

MOOC – Massively Open – open to anyone anywhere anytime and free. Ok so you have to have an internet connection and a “device”. That enables whole lot of people to learn stuff if they want to AND they are not prevented from doing so.

For CCK08, most people posted their “assignments” to their own blogs. The organizers had a neat application that looked for tagged posts and produced a daily email newsletter with links and the first 100 characters for the text. They expanded that to include tweets and links to the course Moodle discussions. People who got this really took control of their learning.

Lots of K-8 teachers are actually doing something like this with their kids. It is really amazing. Not wide spread but great to see.

I’m trying to work on digital literacy with the kids at the local Boys & Girls Club. Arg! The 20 netbooks computers they have are provided as part of a grant program for K-5 kids. The program has a very structured curriculum which doesn’t include using these computers, but they “can’t” be used by the other kids who aren’t part of the program. When the K-5 kids need them for homework or educational quiet time activities, the filtering software blocks access to sites assigned by their classroom teachers and/or vetted by reputable educators.

One of the accessible math sites charges $100 / year for a class of 30. B&GC has about 60 regulars but they only have homework/quiet time for about 1 hour per day, so likely use is pretty small. They all could use more math, mostly remedial but not all. It would be great to have each kid have their own access with individualized practice presentation and tracking. Sorry – that’s $200 / year. No price break. The tutors will continue to use flash cards.

Another annoyance – I got a $50 gift voucher for applications purchased through Edmodo (a kids LMS which is accessible at B&GC and used by many of the kids’ teachers) that are blocked by the filter. Have to go through the regional office who has to work with the network support company who may or may not be able/permitted to grant access to the 8 additional sites required to access the “purchased” applications. Been waiting more than a month but no word back to date.

End run – I have several apps on my phone. The kids can get a bit of math practice – usually 2 working together for part of the 1 hour a week that I’m there.

I’m hoping things will be better in the summer. Many kids will be there all day as part of a couple of different grant-funded initiatives. These have structured programs and paid facilitators. It may be possible to work with kids not in those programs or within the scope of the funded programs. Helping needy kids is really hard.

Learning is the free and open-source version of education. It’s about individuals connecting to knowledge and pursuing their passions among peers and guides with fewer constraints–time, place, cash, or otherwise.


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