What Does Apple Plan to Cover?

Apple says “we still have a lot to cover” when announcing its October 22. People are wondering just what this means. It could mean they will be showing several new or enhanced products. I wonder if it might also mean they will be introducing special new covers for iOS devices. If the covers include a keyboard, most likely they will be for iPads and/or iPad Minis. Whatever they have in the offing, we only have a few days until we know for sure.

Today Show Show Supports Computer Science Education

The Today Show this morning had a segment with Code.org‘s Hadi Partovi on the importance of teaching Computer Science in our K-12 schools. See the Today Show video here.

“Every Student in Every School Should Have the Opportunity to Learn to Code” – code.org

“Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn to code,” says code.org with an awesome video. See it here in one or all of its three different lengths.

I applaud code.org‘s important efforts promoting computer science with the video, quotes from famous persons, and links to CS resources. They cooperate with CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) and other organizations. And founder Hadi Partovi spoke at the CSTA2013 conference in mid-July. I enjoyed talking with him at the conference and came away with a good feeling about what the organizations can accomplish working together.

Computer science teachers especially should check out PDFs of presentations (including Hadi’s) being added to CSTA2013Presentations. They include many good ideas and info.

Teaching Evaluations and Long Term v Short Term Learning

Do the best professors get the worst ratings?” asks Nate Kornell Ph. D in Psychology Today. He cites two studies. One study compares groups of students watching a one minute video on cat genetics. 

  • “In the fluent speaker video, the speaker stood upright, maintained eye contact with the camera, and spoke fluidly without notes. 
  • In the disfluent speaker video, the speaker stood behind the desk and leaned forward to read the information from notes. She did not maintain eye contact and she read haltingly.”

The first speaker earned higher ratings for effectiveness and the amount they learned. However, both groups did equally well on the test. Higher ratings did not correspond with teaching effectiveness.

The other study included 10,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy. They were randomly assigned introductory calculus classes with the same syllabus and standardized exam and they took advanced classes with standardized exams. Less experienced professors got the highest ratings and their students got the highest scores in the introductory classes. But, experienced professors’ students earned higher scores in advanced classes. 

Nate Kornell: “To summarize the findings: because they didn’t teach to the test, the professors who instilled the deepest learning in their students came out looking the worst in terms of student evaluations and initial exam performance. To me, these results were staggering, and I don’t say that lightly.”

Student evaluations have questionable value for evaluating teaching. This aligns with my observations. Even so, they can provide a valuable window into student perceptions that teachers can use to enhance classes. 

Standardized exams have questionable value for evaluating teaching, too. They can measure alignment of teaching/learning to a test, rather than depth of understanding a student develops during a class. This implies the foolishness of increasing the importance of standardized testing in teacher evaluation if we value students’ depth of understanding of a subject.

(Thanks to Mark Guzdial for pointing out this study in his Computing Education blog “Learning for today versus learning for tomorrow: Teaching evaluations.”)

Take Note with Vesper for iPhone(5)

I purchased the iPhone app Vesper within hours of its introduction Thursday (June 6, 2013)  on the app store. The app’s elegant simplicity invites entering notes, thoughts, and todos. Using the app is the easiest way for me to enter notes of a few lines or less. So, I’ve entered items I thought of before, but it was not quite convenient enough to enter them in other apps. That is a testament to Vesper’s user experience.

Items can be easily tagged at any time. Tags are easily added or removed, and lists of notes are by all notes, notes including a specific tag, or archive notes. Change the order of notes by dragging them up or down and leaving (dropping) them where you want them. Make a new note in a tag’s list and that tag becomes the default for the note. You can then change the tag(s), if needed.

You can slide a note left from a list screen to move it to the Archive list. You can slide a note left from the Archive list to move it to the regular lists, so you can move a note back if you change your mind or if the wrong note was moved.

Another feature is website names on your notes turn clickable when you leave the note writing screen. You don’t need the http:// part. The domain part of an email address similarly becomes clickable. Click either and you are taken to that page with the built-in web browser. You can copy text from the web page or click the “Send To” button and COPY to put the current url on the clipboard. You can also Send To SAFARI or MESSAGE or MAIL. Otherwise, you can choose Send To MAIL, MESSAGE, COPY, or DELETE from the message screen. So, you can delete a note when you are sure you have no further use for it.

I am pleased overall with Vesper. It feels more refined than one would reasonably expect from a 1.0 app. I have not wanted other choices for Send To so far, even though others have requested additions. The only thing missing for me is the ability to use the on screen keyboard in horizontal mode for wider spacing between the keys to make keyboarding easier and more accurate. Overall, though, I’ve had a good first few days experience with the app and look forward to using it for a long time. We will see how that works out. I recommend the app in the meantime. It is very good.