Tuesday, November 11, 2008
posted by Q6 at 5:22 AM
Man, I thought the Wii controllers were weird. Then I saw this.

Those of you with SMARTBoard technology in your classrooms know that technology is raising the bar when it comes to classroom presentation methodology. At some point, everyone's wondered what their teaching would be like if they had holographic technology (I'm not talking about CNN-Election-Night holography, I'm talking about Star-Trek-TNG-Holodeck stuff, here).

Behold: the Immersive Cocoon.

This is quite possibly the coolest AND scariest thing I've seen yet, technology-wise. 3-D display, interactive (using motion-capture camera technology and 360 degree projection), and designed by someone with a large SciFi DVD library. (The pod itself reminds me of those in 2001, The Fly, and The Matrix. Let's remember that in each of those films things didn't go so well for the good guys.)

Can you imagine a computer lab full of these? How about a classroom? Field trips become easier, distance learning gets another shot in the arm, homeschooling advocates develop drooling problems, and teenagers never see the light of day again. (Think I'm kidding about that last one? Can you imagine playing HALO in one of these things?)

You can read more about it here. Like any other developing technology, this is still very much a concept piece . . . but the group putting this together has a lot of other innovative ideas, which can be seen here.

The future is coming, everyone. Get ready.

Sunday, November 09, 2008
posted by Q6 at 3:34 PM
There's a weird movement that's been slowly and quietly raising its head over the last few months. Thankfully, it hasn't received much attention (nothing mainstream, anyway)--which is good, because if this idea caught on, I'm convinced it would end civilization as we know it.

Somebody out there thinks we ought to relax the strict adherence to rules of spelling.

Call me crazy or old-fashioned, but how hard is it, really, to spell properly? I know that the conventions of the English Language aren't easy for everyone, but on the surface spelling is something that we should all be able to agree on. Under the surface, we all know that when we see a form letter with misspelled words we're not dealing with someone interested in their own quality control. We're already making the world better accessible for the disabled, for foreigners, and for other groups that may need acclimation assistance. At SOME point, the line must be drawn. We work in an industry that has made specific, concerted efforts to raise the bar waaaaaaay too high in some places (I'm talking to you, NCLB) and to lower it to subterranean levels in others. C'mon--are we seriously considering lowering our standards when it comes to spelling?!?

Maybe it's all the political talk that's been going around for the last two years. Maybe it's the effects we're seeing of NCLB on high-performing schools (the best of which, in our district, will be in program improvement by 2014). Maybe it's all the training seminars I'm now able to attend because I have nothing else to do professionally. One thing has become clear to me, though: when we stopped addressing the needs of students at their specific levels--meaning when we decided to do away with tracking--things steadily got worse. Some schools are still tracking students off-the-books, others refuse to go back to it; what we're doing isn't working, though, and I don't think that relaxing or eliminating something as simple as the spelling of the words we use to communicate with one another is the answer.

This is the same lunacy that gave birth to the idea that we should lower the drinking age. I'm not an expert in Sociology or anything, but even I know a bad idea when I hear it.