Khan Academy: The hype and the reality

Sal Khan has done something remarkable in creating such a vast and varied library, and he deserves to be recognized. His commitment to making the site free is a rare and selfless act, and he deserves to be praised. Sal Khan is a good guy with a good mission. What he’s not, though, is a good teacher. Unfortunately, the media hype surrounding Khan Academy has created a level of expectation…

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The Xplor Store: The Forgotten Carnegie Science Center Exhibit? (Guest Post by Leigh Jerz)

The other day, my wife suggested a Carnegie Science Center-related post. Only once before — in 2003 — has she volunteered a topic like that, so I took her up on the offer. I’ve noticed that, on every trip to the CSC, my wife slips away to browse the museum store while I’m watching the kids. Here’s what she wrote about this important part of our family trips: After a…

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Hacking the WordPress Social Plugin to Include Pages in Addition to Posts

I love the WordPress Social plugin, which grabs Twitter and Facebook responses to a WordPress post, and compiles them as comments along with the original post. But I get plenty of social media attention on the stand-alone pages on my site — that is, instructional handouts that I use year after year, so it’s posted in a hierarchical layout, not a chronological order like my blog. Once I learned that…

Midsummer whimsy: How to write recommendations for 847 students

Imagine writing a letter of reccommendation for one of the hundreds of students in your money-saving Massive Open Online Course: I’m pleased to recommend the person who identifies herself as Amy Clayton in my MOOC of 11,389 students, Education and Society. I have known Ms. Clayton since she began the course on May 16, 2012 at 4:15 a.m. Her avatar visited the class website regularly, and its eyes were wide-open,…

Remediation Nation: Why College Students Say High School Needs Change

Why don’t states require students to take four years of English and math, and three or four years of science? Why isn’t there a class dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of writing? For that matter, why don’t we require more than two years of history or social studies and foreign language? The students want it—69 percent of respondents say high school graduation requirements are “very” or “pretty” easy, while 37…