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August 07, 2011

A better way to teach and a better way to test?

Separating Grading From Teaching Without “Teaching To The Test” | ThinkProgress
. . . Arnold Kling, in the course of outlining a larger project, offers a concrete example of an alternative method: The practicality of “test to what you teach” as a model for independent grading has been demonstrated by the Swarthmore College Honors program. The courses are seminars, taken by juniors and seniors in their major and minor subjects. The professors who teach the courses have control over the curriculum. The college hires outside examiners who write exams, based on syllabus material supplied by the instructors. The college administers the exams, and the outside examiners grade them. In the Swarthmore program, the exams are all free-response, without any machine-graded component. They also include an oral component. For A Means A, the mix of machine-graded,, free-response, and oral examinations is yet to be determined. That seems clever. Basically the teacher says in advance what he or she is going to try to teach, and then the exam-designer is responsible for building a test of that material and the teacher is responsible for teaching it.

August 02, 2011

You had me at the "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" riff

Making Light: The soft and unmistakable sound of a gauntlet...

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July 29, 2011

What Voldemort does now that Harry Potter is gone

Lord Voldemort's Life Is Finally Getting Back To Normal - Video @ Teamcoco.com

July 27, 2011

If We Make K-12 Education The Same As College, Expect The Same Results

If We Make K-12 Education The Same As College, Expect The Same Results | ThinkProgress
“Imagine,” ask Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz, “what might happen if government involvement in education were restricted to giving school vouchers to households below the median income.” I think it’s pretty obvious what would happen. K-12 education would start looking a lot more like college education, where by far the biggest federal involvement is semi-targeting tuition subsidies for people in need. What would happen is that is that out of pocket spending by higher income families on schooling would explode. Right now across the vast majority of the country, the convention is that moving to a place with a decent public school system and sending your kids to it constitutes doing the right thing by your kids. But in vouchertopia, there will be massive status competition. Parents who can afford to foot the bill to send their kids to the Ivy League of high school will do so. And, like in higher education, the “quality” of a given school will be determined primarily by the quality of the inputs. Consequently, schools will compete to try to be as selective as possible and will offer targeted tuition discounts to kids who enter school with unusually high ability levels. High school graduates will earn a substantial premium over dropouts, but we’ll have endless disputes over how much of this earnings premium is signaling/selection and how much reflects actual learning. Needless to say, Kling and Schulz predict, instead, that vouchertopia will lead to an explosion of efficiency and innovation. But they have to explain why making K-12 education more like college education won’t just make K-12 education the same as college education. . . . But “giving school vouchers to households below the median income” would be a subsidy and it would require a system of accreditation. And since the vouchers would need to be pegged to some kind of objective measure of school costs, the vouchers would increase in size as tuition costs skyrocket, driven by status competition. Libertarians wouldn’t like this, and they’d write articles about how the problem could be solved if we would just get rid of subsidies and accreditation.

July 26, 2011

Ars Technica sells free review for $5 on Kindle, makes $15K in three days

Ars Technica's OS X Lion review made $15,000 in 24 hours on the Kindle - TNW Media
Will people pay for quality digital content? It’s an argument that has been on the table for quite some time, with naysayers pointing towards downloads of discographies instead of paying attention to concrete purchasing decisions. Last week, Apple released its new version of Mac OS X “Lion”, and as per usual, Ars Technica’s John Siracusa delivered a whopping 27,300 word review of it. His 19-page story, published last Wednesday is available for free online and has already received over 3 million page views. In a telling turn of events, Ars Technica also decided to sell his review as a $5 Kindle ebook. In its first 24-hours on sale, the ebook sold 3,000 copies. And at $5 a pop, that’s a cool $15,000 in revenue in just one day. Harvard’s Niemen Lab interviewed Ken Fisher, the founder and editor of Ars, who is “pleasantly surprised by the outcome”. In fact, Fisher thinks of it as “free money” and that “he underestimated the power of Amazon’s one-click experience, which makes impulsive purchases painless.” . . .