Why Kubuntu (linux)?
Just Ask Noah, who can present a much better argument than I when it comes to using Kubuntu over all other Linux distros. But, I do know that a few other Linux distros perform well as well (right out of the box):
Kubuntu Backports Repository - To get latest software updates
Run (copy and paste) the following three commands from the terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
Citrix Receiver (for accessing SIIMA)
Go to the Citrix Receiver download page and select the Receiver for Linux option. Then, select the Debian download. Suggestion: Stick with Kubuntu with Ubuntu long term releases (e.g., 18.04, 20.04 etc.) and avoid installing the latest Kubuntu version that is more current than the Citrix Receiver debian file currently available. For example, at the time of this post, I installed Kubuntu 18.04 because the latest version of Citrix Receiver for debian is dated June 20, 2018. If I install a more current Kubuntu (19.04 or 19.10), Citrix Receiver will not install.
Install Flatpak backend for additional software options
You can install Flatpak backend by following this route: Discover (software manager)>Settings>Find Discover-Flatpak backend>Click install.
Install current version of LibreOffice
Install Microsoft fonts (if using LibreOffice)
In the terminal, add each one of the lines of code below, and agree to any prompts that appear during the installation process. This step is needed to reduce compatibility issues when opening native Word documents from other individuals (e.g., colleagues, learners, etc.). The best alternative to using LibreOffice is FreeOffice, which includes by default Microsoft fonts, thus, avoiding any need to install ttf-mscorefonts-installer altogether.
sudo apt update
Set APA acceptable fonts as default
Go into LibreOffice Writer and set the default font to one of the acceptable APA fonts according to the 7th edition.
If you want to sync folders and files from Office 365 OneDrive (or Google Drive) to your local computer, you'll need to download and install Insync. Insync is the only service mentioned here that is not free (current pricing).
For privacy and functionality, I search stuff using Duckduckgo... check out bangs!
For those who are enrolled in Grammar in Context II (Spring 2020), we'll be using this website and In the Classroom page to interact with course content. This week, we'll focus on the following:
This deep dive into Anchor.fm is meant to provide insights into whether or not this podcasting service is a good choice for hosting podcasts as an educator. Should you be considering Anchor.fm? Stating the obvious, one can tell what my answer is.
Reasons for not using Anchor.fm
Many have argued against using Anchor.fm which basically relates to ownership of content and branding issues.
Creative Commons License
An understanding of Creative Commons license is helpful in determing whether Anchor.fm should be used or not.
Anchor.fm Deep Dive (Explainers)
Explainer #1: Explainer: You’re responsible for making sure the content you create or post on Anchor does not breach any laws or regulations, and does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. Also, Anchor.fm is not responsibile for any loss of content.
Explainer #2: You own your content. Anchor prides itself on empowering creators, and we have no intention to take ownership of your content in any way.
Explainer 3: In order to use Anchor, you are giving us permission to use, host, and distribute the content you create. For example, this license allows us to syndicate your content to other platforms, so that your audience can hear your podcast anywhere they choose. We believe strongly in creators’ rights, and in no way does this license take away the ownership rights you have in your content.
Explainer 4: One of the best parts of Anchor is the ability to create in one place and optionally let us handle the hassle of distributing your podcast everywhere. This language allows us to distribute your content on your behalf, so that you can focus on creating and leave the technical headache of podcast distribution to us. You are also welcome to distribute your podcast to other platforms manually if you prefer.
Explainer 5: If you provide any content for use in connection with another person’s User Content, you give them the right to use that content. If you receive any content from another person and incorporate that into your User Content, you must ensure you have all necessary permissions to use it.
Source: (User content)
What others think...
Getting Smart: Anchor, another tool for podcasting, is one that has helped me to finally create my own podcast to share my ideas with other educators. But it’s also a popular tool that can easily be used with students to create their own podcast, adding in transitions and even creating a hook to advertise a podcast they create. Using a tool like Anchor would be good for launching a school podcast to share what’s happening in the school with the greater school community.
elegant themes: Honestly, it seems a little too good to be true. Anchor offers a lot of features for the low, low price of nothing at all. Some detractors argue that you’re paying Anchor by giving up rights to your content, which is not true. As per their documentation, “creators on Anchor always have and always will own their content.”
reddit opínions about Anchor.fm: highlifenerd says, I’m loving using Anchor.fm but I’m not sweating all this stuff that’s getting mentioned, maybe I should. Not everyone can shell out money for hosting, not everyone getting into podcasting has experience from radio or broadcasting, and not everyone owns their equipment. Why is the platform I’m using to host my content getting me labeled as “the most amateur of podcasters”? I find it rude to be using language like this and it comes across like you’ve already made up your mind. Why are you asking for our opinions if you’ve made it clear you think I’m an idiot for using that platform! I hope you don’t use this tone in your podcast.
So, what do you think... is Anchor.fm for you?
Enjoyed Eric Sheninger's recent scope called, "It’s Time to Reconsider Giving Kids Zeros" #edchat #cpchat #suptchat #leadered
Here are some of the main points/questions brought up during the scope:
Here are four assumptions that relate to the points listed above that I feel are relevant:
Also referred to as task-based language learning (TBLT) and task-based instruction (TBI), task-based language learning (TBLL) focuses on assessing English language language learning on authentic tasks that are relevant, meaningful, and engaging for the English language learner (Wikipedia: task-based language learning). The use of term TBLL over TBLT or TBI is intentional and significant if learning is to be stressed over teaching. This does not ignore pedagogical tasks but only to the degree they enable or facilitate skill sets, knowledge, habits of mind, and attitudes about implicit and explicit linguistic development.
I'll be teaching Grammar in Context II the spring 2020 semester (i.e., January-June 2020) to English language learners at an A2-B1 English proficiency level, which will combine TBLL, problem-based learning (PBL), and the Paideia Program (Mortimer, 1984). The level of authenticity that surrounds PBL for the purposes of this class will be to the degree that authentic input and learning outcomes relate to issues learners face day to day or likely will face in the future. A key facet to learning outcomes also includes having English language learners perform "Socratic seminars" whereby the Socratic method provides the basis for open discussions about content and language (Mortimer, 1984, 27).
Throughout the course, some variation of Long's (1998) approach for designing and delivering a task-based language teaching/learning environment is being considered:
I read a lot about "personalized learning" and every so often I come across a post that compels me to write yet again on the subject (I've written before about it here.). This time, it´s Cooper's How Personalized Learning Starts with Less Teacher Talk, More Student Voice. The following in particular caught my attention...
... I do know that [students will] come in being able to use some kind of language, and so [teachers] start there. When it comes to personalized learning, I spend less time talking at my students and more time talking to them, using the language they already have to help them develop the language of mathematics they need to know.
If the point is to encourage student voice, seems like talking with students would take priority over talking to students. Here is the list of key points Cooper makes that I totally agree with yet have nothing to do with "personalized learning":
Again, I agree with these premises... it's just that these premises have nothing to do with "personalized learning".
Personalized Learning = Personal Learning Network
Cator tries to distinguish between individualized learning, differentiated instruction, and personalized learning, but tends to confound the issue. Here is why...
Given these 15 points, consider the following definition...
Personalized learning means instruction is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary (so personalization encompasses differentiation and individualization).
This podcast was recorded (in Spanish) in November of 2016 and broadcast December 28, 2016 at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes.
Three Approaches to Cultivating a Purposeful and Professional Eportfolio for Developing Lifelong Learners
My colleague, Piry Herrera, and I will be giving a talk on eportfolios on February 4, 2017 at the CO17 open, online conference (check your local time here). If you follow me on Twitter (@bnleez), the talk will be simulcast via Periscope as well. Here is a summary of the talk:
This talk reveals how instructors guide learners in creating purposeful and professional eportfolios that are formative, summative, and reflective. Attendees will see examples of both learner and instructor eportfolios and will learn how data collection and sharing can be used to tailor school-wide adaptation of eportfolios that align with the curriculum. Although much of the discussion will pertain to a formal educational context (i.e., schools), virtually all of the concepts will equally apply to trainers and coaches in informal, educational contexts as well.
How are you currently using eportfolios with students? How are you using an eporfolio currently to promote your own personal learning network? What are some obstacles that you face? What are some successes that you have had?
I read Sackstein’s (2015) Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School last week, which caused me to wonder: What does “going gradeless” really mean? Although I agree with much of what Sackstein has to say throughout the book and did find some new things to try, I still found myself stumped as to how to go gradeless in my own classes. I would like a offer my perspective on what I got out of the book, which will focus mainly on ideas that I find puzzling, contradictory, etc., again, acknowledging that I probably agree with 90% of everything else the author states. The main issue I have is that the book never reveals how to go gradeless in the classroom.
Let me state from the beginning that the scope of my discussion will be limited to formal education (i.e., schools) where students either pass or fail their courses and are required to receive a (number) grade towards this pass/fail scenario. Thus, I will define grade as being a number (e.g., 8, 9,10, etc.), percentage (e.g., 80%, 90%, 100%, etc.), letter (e.g., C, B, A, etc.), or descriptor (e.g., fails to meet expectations, meets expectations, exceeds expectations, etc.). All four types are similar examples of summative assessment which measure learning retrospectively (i.e., on learners’ past performances). Summative assessment - like exams, tests, and quizzes - are commonly designed to determine whether a learner has acquired the knowledge, understandings, and/or skills of a particular concept, course, or domain. Given this context, the only way to determine whether a learner passes or fails a course is to receive a grade. Within this context there is no “going gradeless”.
What follows are excerpts from the book that I find puzzling, and when necessary, will try to explain my point of view in terms of giving and receiving grades.
1. My lower-level learners were enticed by the idea of a no-grades classroom…they liked the idea of not being judged (pp. 14-15).
First, the author still issues a grade, albeit a negotiation with the learners. Perhaps their are fewer grades than a “traditional” class, but students still receive grades. Calling this a “no-grades classroom” is misleading. Second, the author wants to juxtapose grading with assessing so that terms like judgment and criticism are replaced with feedback. Here´s the problem with that. Assessment, generally speaking, is either formative, summative, or some combination of both. Terms like dynamic assessment, alternative forms of assessment, tests, quizzes, standardized tests, eportfolios, and even grading all can be explained either as formative or summative. So grading is really just a subcategory or a kind of assessment.
And third, just calling teacher-learner and learner-learner interactions feedback does not necessarily make it less judgmental or critical. Feedback can be based on either positive or negative evidence. For instance, positive evidence would be teachers or anyone else modeling or demonstrating ideal or intended behavior that learners have yet to obtain with the hope that learners can on their own recognize the gap between what they know and can do and some ideal (something they current do not know and/or cannot do). In contrast, negative evidence would be teachers or anyone else making explicit any gaps between some ideal or goal and the current status of the learner´s knowledge, understanding, and/or skill sets. In addition to these two types of evidence, feedback can be formative and/or summative. So, depending on how interactions emerge, learners will detect whether feedback from others is judgmental or not. Also, not all forms of criticism (a form of feedback) are necessarily bad (e.g., constructive criticism). It´s unavoidable to receive a grade and not be judgmental.
2. The only hint throughout the book at defining what is meant by traditional grades comes in the introduction: “… the shift away from traditional grades was exceptionally challenging: it was much easier, I realized, to “just” put a grade on student work" (p. 14).
So, if I assume that traditional grades is defined as learners only receiving some form of summative assessment (I.e., letter grade, percentage grade, descriptive grade, etc.) with no complementary forms of formative assessment, then this book is really about how to employ more forms of formative assessment and how to align formative assessment with perhaps less (but still some) forms of summative assessment (e.g., grades). With a new title; the removal of words like gradeless, etc.; and further clarification of what is meant by traditional grades, formative assessment, and summative assessment; this book would be right on the mark.
3. "Creative assignments allow students rather than teachers to make the rules and to determine what is quality work, and this makes some people very uncomfortable. However, there is seldom only one right way to do anything. We need to provide opportunities for creativity while students synthesize learning, encouraging them to do things in a way that is intuitive. All learning is subjective, and when we only offer one chance or route for learning, we greatly limit the possibility that every student will achieve mastery" (p. 50).
There is a lot to unpack here. First, “creative assignments” is being compared to tests, worksheets, and any assignment dictated by the teacher. But it appears that this term really relates more to alternative forms of assessment and not just the assignment itself (e.g., How do instructors assess creativity? might be a logical essential question.). Second, I doubt that the only way of providing more options for students to create their own path to learning results in solely the learner making all of the decisions, but rather a negotiation between learner and teacher. Third, students need to not only think deductively (general to the specific) but also inductively (specific to the general). Fourth, intuition usually comes from experiences that first require more analytical thinking - it´s a process. We need to encourage both analytical and intuitive thinking and demand both deductive and inductive reasoning skills if critical thinking remains a goal. Finally, I am not sure I view learning as subjective. I do think that when assessing learning, inferences are made about what one knows and can do, which can be a subjective process (i.e., interpretation). But the trick to assessment is to find ways to make it less subjective through the use of rubrics or through triangulation, for example. Creativity, intuition, and mastery are three words I feel I never have to use to describe how I assess learners because the criteria that I use instead usually provide a clearer picture of a learner’s understandings, abilities, and disposition.
The big takeaways for me after having read this book are to maintain greater communication with students in how their grade(s) align with heavy amounts of formative assessment and related evidence and to maintain a transparent learning environment so that other educational stakeholders can see how teaching and learning is a process that is unique to the individual, yet adheres to a curriculum and carefully designed criteria.
So the essential question, I still have: What does "going gradeless" mean?
Benjamin L. Stewart
The information is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please.