Tag Archive for education

Musings on Failure in School

The Math Obstacle In the past few years, reports came out showing strong correlation between failing Algebra and graduation rates — if a kid fails math, he/she won’t be getting their high school diplomas. Here are a few articles describing the studies: “Is Removing Algebra a Key to Reform?” by Daniel Duerden, August 13, 2012 “A Comprehensive Study of the Predictors of High School Outcomes: Why Some Students Graduate on Time While Others Drop Out”. “A Correlation Study of Accuplacer Math and Algebra Scores and Math Remediation on the Retention and Success of Students in the Clinical Laboratory Technology Program at Milwaukee Area Technical College” by James Manto, August 2006. “Is high school tough enough: Full report” by The Center for Public Education. There are many more… Some suggested that based on evidence, we might just want to drop the math curriculum from high school graduation requirement — if there’s a strong correlation, perhaps by removing math, we might remove the problem and more kids graduate. Obviously, I don’t think that this a great solution. But I do come across the math problem a lot as part of the educational evaluations I do in my small practice. What I see…

Innovating Justice for the New Millennium

2012-11-16 Rachel Moran, Sanela Diana Jenkins, and Richard Steinberg with Innovating Justice Award

This month, The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) announced the finalists for its Innovating Justice Awards. The top three justice innovations for 2012 were The Human Rights & International Criminal Law Online Forum, a partnership between International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor (ICC OTP) and UCLA School of Law; The National Justice in Your Community programme of Peru, a project that supports volunteer efforts of judges in their local communities to share their legal knowledge and experience; and Peace Tones, a project that works to protect the rights of world musicians through technology and education. “Innovation is one of the important growth variables. We also see the rule of law as one of the most important factors in the welfare and well-being of the society,” stated Dr. Anne van Aaken, Innovating Justice jury chair and Max Schmidheiny Foundation Professor for Law and Economics, Public, International and European Law. “Justice innovations have the potential to contribute immensely to human welfare, just like technical innovation do.” Thinking broadly, there are three categories of justice innovations. One focuses on providing education and access to the existing laws to the undeserved communities. There’s lots of misinformation out there. And those…

Social Media Election


The creative folks at Open-Site.org invited me to share the following informational graphic with the readers of this blog. Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account has probably noticed an increase in the number of political postings over the past few years. This is due, in part, to the explosive rise in social media outlets and users. But voters are not the only people who use social media; among politicians, 9 out of 10 Senators and Representatives have Twitter accounts. However, many are starting to wonder if social media is becoming less a reporter of political races and more of a predictor of the results. In Senate races, the candidate with more Facebook friends than his or her opponent has won 81% of the time. And one email sent to 60 million Facebook users prompted an additional 340,000 people to vote in the 2010 election. This infographic illustrates just how politics and social media are affecting each other.

Words, Language, Influence, & Design

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of language. Sure, there have been a lot of news relating to language (election, after all, is only a few months away): legitimate rape is one example of powerful words/phrases in the news. But I would like to briefly explore how words and language can influence the design and use of a product. Language Development It might be interesting to start really early (or to look to unusual cases of individuals without language). The following program by RadioLab does a wonderful job of introducing language and the development of comprehension: Words that Change the World. This half-hour audio show presents the work of Susan Schaller, Charles Fernyhough, Elizabeth Spelke, and James Shapiro. Susan describes a case of a deaf 27 year old man who was never taught language and his journey to comprehension. Charles describes an experiment where babies, kids, and rats are asked to find items in a blank room after a brief disorientation. He discovers that language is essential to linking concepts in our brain. Elizabeth explores the benefits of language farther. And James, a Shakespeare scholar at Columbia University, talks about the use of language to communicate complex…

Special Preview: Socio-Technical System Design

Segway Tours in SF

Brian Whitworth and Adnan Ahmad contributed a chapter on Socio-Technical System Design for the free Interaction-Design textbook. This is a very interesting, if technical discussion of the subject. While reading it, I kept thinking about how I would love to debate some of the points raised in this Chapter in person. But lacking this opportunity, below are my ideas and thoughts on the subject of Socio-Technical System Design. First, let me give a quick summary of what is a socio-technological system paraphrasing a bit from Whitworth and Ahmad own words: Socio-technology is about technology and people. Technology is any device. IT system is then a combination of software AND device(s). Human computer interaction (HCI) is a person plus an IT system. Introduction of “person” brings physical, informational and psychological levels into the combined system. And finally, socio-technical system (STS) is merger of community and HCI(s). A Bit of Historical Perspective When my son was in third grade, he was given an assignment: compare some technology from today with that of 100 years ago. He chose transportation. Here’s his insight: 100 years ago, going from San Francisco to Berkeley took a very long time. There were no bridges. People had to drive their…

Special Preview: Disruptive Innovation

Needs-satisfaction Curve of a technology by D. A. Norman

Interaction-Design.org The folks from Interaction-Design.org have just completed their newest chapter: “Disruptive Innovation” by Clayton M. Christensen. This chapter is an excerpt from Dr. Christensen’s 1997 book “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” published by Harvard Business Press. His newer book, “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators,” published in 2011 on Kindle, is a follow up to the ideas in the first book and those expressed in the Interaction-Design.org chapter. Disruptive Innovation The main idea of this chapter can be summed up by Donald A. Norman’s graph (see below). This is a graph of product performance over time — think of “product” is its most expansive form. When the product is first introduced into the market, it might not be “ready for prime time”, as we say — meaning that the product is: difficult to use, or too expensive, or replacing a well-established way of doing things, or has a high learning curve: even difficult to use products can have a shallow learning curve that allows small accomplishments right away by novice users, or requires a large ecosystem of other products and services that are not widely available: think electric cars…

US Rio+2.0 Speed Geeking Session

FrontLine SMS Screen Shot

So I’ve learned a new word: Speed Geeking. It’s like speed dating but for geeks to quickly present their ideas to a small group. You have five minutes strict, and then move on to the next presenting geek. It was a very interesting format, but it clearly had accessibility issue: I walk with a cane and I found it very hard. It would have been impossible in a wheelchair. And others with disabilities clearly had issues with this format. But that said, I’ve learned a lot. Below are my notes on the Speed Geeking event at US Rio +2.0. Noel Dickover — Senior New Media Advisor, Office of eDiplomacy, U.S. Department of State — introduced Speed Geeking and ran the event with an iron fist! FrontlineSMS Demoed by Sean Martin McDonald, Director of Operations http://www.frontlinesms.com Main Point: SMS is cheap data that is easy to structure and moves over cell networks (without Internet) Yahoo Demoed by Gil Yehuda, Director of Open Source Product Management at Yahoo! Gil talk about the use of Flickr for journalism, human rights, and keeping people safe. He raised the issue of copyright. KIVA Demoed by Beth Kuenstler, VP of Marketing & Communications If you haven’t…