Archive for February 6, 2012

Aspect ratio for Web applications

I promised a Computational Media student here at Georgia Tech that I’d post this.  He’s running an experiment to understand what ratios will work best for using HTML5 Canvas on current Internet devices.  If you’re willing to participate in his (very short) experiment, please do visit


February 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm 1 comment

Fighting a reliance on computers, when it might be too soon for teachers

A couple people sent me links to this story.  What I’ve seen written about this story has a tone of “Those luddites!”

There’s something deeper going on.  In the quote below, Sabrina Laine talks strings being attached and a lack of training and support.  Maybe the real issue is that we don’t know how to put computers into schools well, and spending time on it is taking time away from teaching and learning.

One could imagine a similar scenario playing out over earlier media, from pencil and paper, to filmstrips and televisions.  Administrator says, “You have to start using this technology — it will improve your students’  learning dramatically!” backed up with “That’s what I heard!” or “I read a study!” or even “Like the salesman said!”  The teacher asks, “How?  What do I do with it?  What’s it good for?”  And the administrator may reply, “Figure it out!”

It’s that last part that the teachers in Idaho may be complaining about: They don’t want to figure it out.  They have enough to do trying to teach and to cajole students into learning.  They’re willing to use it when the technology is ready.

The problem is that it may never be ready like that.  Using a new medium or technology for learning gets figured out in practice, and many innovations figured out in the lab, without the teacher’s input, never work.  The teachers have to be involved to make a technology work well, but it clearly places yet another demand on them.  It’s a tough situation.

This change is part of a broader shift that is creating tension — a tension that is especially visible in Idaho but is playing out across the country. Some teachers, even though they may embrace classroom technology, feel policy makers are thrusting computers into classrooms without their input or proper training. And some say they are opposed to shifting money to online classes and other teaching methods whose benefits remain unproved.

“Teachers don’t object to the use of technology,” said Sabrina Laine, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, which has studied the views of the nation’s teachers using grants from organizations like the Gates and Ford Foundations. “They object to being given a resource with strings attached, and without the needed support to use it effectively to improve student learning.”

via Idaho Teachers Fight a Reliance on Computers –

February 6, 2012 at 10:45 am 3 comments

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February 2012

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