Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Monday, May 30, 2005

Comment tools for Essay grading

A member in the EDTECH discussion group (bit.listserv.edtech) provided a very helpful tip:
You don't need an add-on to create custom comments in MS Word. Go to Tools on the menu bar and open up Auto Correct. Create custom comments here. Try it out: in the text field on the left type "cs" and in the text field on the right type: "You have committed a comma splice in this sentence. A comma splice occurs when two separate independent sentences are joined with only a comma." Save it. Now any time in MS Word you type "cs" and then hit the space bar those two sentences will appear. I have used Auto Correct to add all sorts of custom comments on punctuation, spelling, grammar, topic sentences, paragraph structure, and the like.

If you are grading essay submitted as pdf files, there is also a tip from Adobe for adding comment stamps, see http://www.adobe.com/education/acrobat/tips/acrobat_stamps.html

Is there a way of easily adding comment for work submitted as web pages?


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Alternate Business Plan needed for Higher Education

The Age posted an interesting article on how Hoyts cinema in Australia was experimenting with providing an IMax gaming experience to its customers.

Upon reflecting on this, I remembered the last time my wife and I went to see a movie. It was a Sunday afternoon. In the 100+ seats cinema, there were only 4 people, including us. No wonder cinema needs to find alternate revenue source from their asset (the huge cinema).

Going to cinema has become a special ocassion, when you want to experience something in addition to just watching a movie. Nowadays, most people going to cinema are for additional reasons, may be watching a movie is an excuse itself. It would be much cheaper, comfortable, relaxing to watch a DVD at your own home!

The same will happen to the large lecture hall at university. When I was doing my first degree over 30 years ago, over 300 students crowded in a large lecture hall to listen to the lecture. Today, if the course material is available online, many would prefer to access these material at their convenient time at their convenient location. I think it is an irreversible trend.

It does not mean that the face to face meeting places at a campus will no longer exist. It only means that the purpose of meeting is no longer just to get the information. It better serves some high value purpose that cannot be obtained in an online environment. Whether large lecture hall still has its value? I don't know. But I am quite sure that the utilisation of large lecture hall will be in a decline. These are huge investment. Higher Education should start developing business plan to utilise these asset!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bill Gate's Solution to American High Schools being obsolete

I have blogged about Bill's view that American High Schools are obsolete. Thanks to the link from OLDaily, I have read the whole speech and am very impressed.

The media has painted a "rough guy" image of Bill Gate in terms of his view towards education. Rumour has it that in one of his speeches, he said:

Life is not fair - get used to it.

The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping they called it Opportunity.

If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

[Side note: Any way, these rules are worth repeating whether they are from "Dumbing Down our Kids" by Charles Sykes or from Bill Gates.]

In the speech, I see some compassionate side of the man - hidden behind a strictly rational economic mask.

Once we realize that we are keeping low-income and minority kids out of rigorous courses, there can be only two arguments for keeping it that way – either we think they can’t learn, or we think they’re not worth teaching. The first argument is factually wrong; the second is morally wrong.
[all emphasis in the quotes are mine]

For the sake of our young people and everyone who will depend on them – we must stop rationing education in America.

After quoting a number of statistics, he finally dished out a solution [why the media did not report this part before? and I should have traced back to the source earlier and written about this part!]:
the new three R’s, the basic building blocks of better high schools:

* The first R is Rigor – making sure all students are given a challenging curriculum that prepares them for college or work;
* The second R is Relevance – making sure kids have courses and projects that clearly relate to their lives and their goals;
* The third R is Relationships – making sure kids have a number of adults who know them, look out for them, and push them to achieve.

These 3 new R's sound good to me. If our schools in Australia can also embrace them, by year 2020, we should still see Australia as a developed country!