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TL;DR Newsletter by Ian O’Byrne
Letter sent on Aug 1, 2016

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) newsletter #56

Welcome to issue 56 of the TL;DR Newsletter. In TL;DR we’re documenting the news of the week in literacy, technology, and education. If this is your first time here…welcome. :)

This week we discuss complex and ill-formed problems.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend that you subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out next week’s issue. You can review archives of the newsletter here. Alternatively you can also check out TL;DR on Medium.

This week I shared the following posts:

RSA Animate: Economics is for everyone (11:20)

This week in class our class was discussing the knowledge, skills, and dispositions we want our students to gain during their time from Pre-K up through 12th grade. One of the key pieces of knowledge that was a common theme was financial literacy.

This video by legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang helps make this tricky subject a bit more approachable.

Opening the textbook: Open education resources in U.S. higher education, 2015–2016

A new report from the Babson Survey Research Group suggests awareness of open educational resources (OER) among U.S. higher education teaching faculty is improving, but still remains less than a majority.

Survey results from responses of over 3,000 faculty show that OER status is not a driving force in the selection of educational materials. The most cited barrier being the effort required to find and evaluate such materials. Most shocking is that while use of open resources is low overall, it is somewhat higher among large enrollment introductory-level courses.

A growth mindset could buffer kids from negative academic effects of poverty

In TL;DR we’ve often talked about Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, and other educators researching the role of a growth mindset in learning and achievement.Recent research suggests that when students believe their intelligence can grow and change with effort, they perform better on academic tests.

This post shares findings from a national study of tenth-graders in Chile found student mindsets are correlated to achievement on language and math tests. And students from low-income families were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their more affluent peers. However, if a low-income student did have a growth mindset, it worked as a buffer against the negative effects of poverty on achievement.

Toddlers learn words poorly in noisy environments

Forty years ago, psychologists found signs that children living in noisy places were having trouble learning to read. They suspected that the noise interfered with language learning. Now, their suspicions have been confirmed, this time in the lab.

New experiments conducted in the lab have confirmed this suspicion. Toddlers have trouble learning words when there’s too much background noise.

Brianna McMillan, a graduate student at University of Wisconsin, Madison had 106 children between ages 22 and 30 months sit in a booth and learn the relationship between some made-up words played through speakers and some made-up objects presented on a television screen. The words were read by a female voice and, in some cases, the kids heard background noise of two other men talking too. McMillan adjusted how loud that background talking was to see whether toddlers could still learn the new words.

The gift of privacy: How Edward Snowden changed the way I parent

This week I was a bit off of the radar as I celebrated a week long family vacation. I’m the oldest of seven and we had a house full (20 people) of brothers, sisters, and kids join my parents at the beach here in South Carolina. Throughout the week we had numerous discussions about how each of us parents, and this related to the use of technology by our children.

There was a misconception that my Wife and I must let our children use technology all of the time because of my interests. They were a bit shocked that we didn’t want our son using tablets or other technologies at all while playing, resting, and eating with family.

This great post from Annie Hartnett on Salon details her thoughts and reflections as she considers another aspect of technology use (privacy, security) with her own son. Annie presents a smart and savvy look at the complexities that exist with digital literacies in the Post Snowden era. This examination thoughtfully examines the issues and tries to unpack them in her how life.

I think in the end, this is one of the more important decisions we’ll have to make as digital parents. I believe that it’s much more challenging to understand and enforce than issues of screen time.

Relighting Thimble and the ImageSeek Teaching Kit

Alan Levine’s work and the tools that he shares are a regular staple of my work and teaching. Just this past week in class I was discussing Creative Commons licensing, and showing my students how I add licenses to images on my blog posts usingAlan’s attribution helper. Alan’s blog is a guide (and exemplar) for me as I consider the how, what, and why of materials that I share online.

This latest post details the reboot of his Ingredients of Me and ImageSeek Teaching Kit using Mozilla Thimble. Ingredients of Me is a powerful activity to have students/learners identify the qualities that they possess…and start remixing some HTML/CSS code to express this information. In many ways it’s a powerful icebreaker to use with learners. The ImageSeek Teaching Kit is a drop dead simple way to identify and properly cite images to use in blog posts. I’ll use this Thimble piece this week in an activity with my technology class.

Science journal app: Tracking the ups and downs of music

Just after Google I/O 2016, I read a couple of blog posts announcing the Science Journal app for Android devices. I immediately installed the app and tried to identify ways to use it in teaching and research.

As usual, internet rock star Kevin Hodgson was already thinking and playing with the app and shared some of his results. Kevin used the app to record and compare audio levels while his new/old band practiced.

This post has me thinking about a new project based learning assignment I’ll assign in my classes this upcoming semester in which students will collect data and build a case study about Charleston and the local area. I’m thinking about having students collect audio (and other) levels using the Science Journal app and share these forms of text in their projects.

What would you do with an app like this?

Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.

- Henri Kaiser

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