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The Great Homework Debate March 28, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in high school, instructional design, other.

I was watching tv last night and a commercial came on for what was upcoming in the news at 11:00 pm. One of the stories had to do with homework. Someone was on tv talking about how homework is hurting our children. Although I did not see the actual news program, it got me thinking about homework.

For someone to go and say that all homework is bad seems very irresponsible to me. I think back to when I was in grade school, and although I do not believe that all homework helped me all that much, I could not have imagined making it through some subjects, such as math, without doing homework. It gave me a chance to practice what was just covered that day and reinforce the learning.

In a website I just found, Nancy Kalish writes about how homework is extremely harmful to a child’s desire to learn or read or such. She believes that there is no evidence that homework helps studenst. I just cannot believe that. I distinctly remember my experience with homework and know that for me its not true.

My papers and projects I worked on in school gave me the skills to produce papers and write documents in college and even now in my job. It was the foundation for future learning.

However, that does not mean that I dont think that in the schools today some teachers overdo it with homework. I definitely believe they do. Just as you must do things in moderation, homework is no different. Teachers must separate “busy work” from truly necessary reinforcing homework.

I also believe that for the most part, homework should be a reinforcement for learning. It cannot replace the teacher. Guidance by a teacher is still necessary. However, you cannot wipe homework out.

So I think that the people who argue to get rid of homework need to rethink their approach. Homework is not all bad. It depends on how homework is used in the scheme of learning. And I think the teachers need to rethink their approach to assigning homework. They must have an instructionally sound reason for doing so.


Still waiting… March 22, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in other.
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For all who want to know, I have applied to the Teaching and Learning Sciences Ph.D. program at Lehigh University. This has been something I have been inspired to do for a while, but was not motivated enough to do it until now. It’s exciting (and scary, knowing all the work that could be ahead of me).

I inquired about when I will receive notice of whether I have been accepted to the program. I was told March 15th. March 15th has come and gone. I understand the process that goes on and the time it takes for that process, but every day I bite my nails in anticipation. Did I get in?

I never was a consistent mail checker..oh, not until about March 9th. Since then, I have checked the mail every day. Is today the lucky day?

Project Organization Tool March 21, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in project management.
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There’s a great new program I just found and have started using. ThinkingRock is a great tool to get things done when you don’t know what all needs to be done. For me, sometimes attacking a project is hard because you are looking for the end result, when there are actually many smaller projects and tasks that must be completed before you can accomplish your overall goal. I downloaded and used ThinkingRock this morning and found it just great!

Although the interface of ThinkingRock was a bit confusing at first, I shortly found my starting place. The program has you begin by entering comments into its interface. It then takes each of those comments and makes you decide whether it requires an action or not. If it does require an action, you specify what the end result can be and either when it needs to be completed, by who, or if it’s done. And all of these things can be grouped into little projects, even categorizing by putting smaller projects within bigger projects.

It was great to use this morning, after just coming into work, to start off my day. It focused me. I am currently in the midst of a website redesign project and there is much to be completed yet. I created tasks and gave descriptions as to what would be the desired result.

My favorite part of this program: Once you get everything entered, you can create a report in a pdf and hand it out to your team, as a task checklist. The reports can get pretty detailed or be brief.

What a great tool! I haven’t even gone into detail here, but I must say – you must try it!

Expanding the Learning Scope: Websites March 6, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in instructional design.
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I believe that learning is more than traditional “courses.” Of course, it exists everyday in the little tasks we do, or in conversations, or in browsing a newspaper. But sometimes, there are realms that, as designing, sometimes are forgotten as an environment in which to learn.

My latest project at work happens to be the design of our website. We have done all of the preliminary work – setting up the global links, deciding what will be a part of each section. Video and audio has been requested in the site. All of this is great, but I believe a website is another way to teach someone something. Our goal is to teach a viewer what we are about. And that requires a careful design of textual content, visual placement of components, and media to support.

Our main goal, I feel, is to utilize the technology in a way that we do not overuse the technology. To put everything we can possibly do onto the site with little regard for the user would be foolish. It is, in the end, all about that user. What will make them learn the most from this website?

 We have decided to create a site with global linking (a good idea for any site). However, I feel that to make a website serve its purpose, it must instantly tell the user what its purpose is and lead him or her in the right direction. The key to this (on the home page) is to put together a series of “quick links” that highlight the most important areas of the site. Although a user can find these areas by using the global links, someone not familiar with the site could be presented with this quick link button, be intrigued, and visit the page. Thus, we are teaching the user what we are about by highlighting the areas of our site.

These “quick links” must be simple and catchy. Add too much animation or interaction and you lose the user. There is always a fine line between cool and interesting and too much.