CourseKit Is A Disruptive Tool For Education

CourseKit is an online way to manage and facilitate your courses. It provides a vehicle for discussion, assessment, calendar functions and sharing files, articles, books and more.

What is most interesting about it is the price: FREE. Up against existing competition like Blackboard, CourseKit has gone the subversive route and is reaching to individual teachers and lecturers rather than institutions and their labyrinthine IT departments. A teacher or lecturer can take their course onto CourseKit since it is a completely online tool and so will work across all networks and through all firewalls.

I’m looking at it as a vehicle to take some of my workshops online as well as for possible use with my teaching in 2012.


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Local Teacher Using Immersion Techniques to Teach Second Languages

A Melbourne teacher is using immersion techniques to improve the teaching of second languages. “Her technique, which is known as the Accelerative Integrated Methodology (AIM), uses gestures, music, dance and theatre to teach second languages so students rapidly develop fluency.”

Read more in The Age article about it.

The AIM website has lots more information.




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Teaching 2030

A US initiative, Teaching 2030, looks to be on the right track. While recognising that all sorts of other factors affect childrens’ performance in school, they identify that better teaching improves the performance of all learners, whatever else is affecting them. It also recognises that too many of the administrators of education are not practicing classroom teachers themselves.

There is a great video on the site,

While the focus is on K-12 education, what they are talking about is also true of other levels of education. Worth a look.

Posted in Education, US | Tagged | Leave a comment Provides New Study Opportunities for US Kids

The site seems to be an interesting development in helping students prepare for various tests. Hooked in with some of the major publishers in this area, the site allows students to purchase access to practice tests and preparation material, as well as providing a social networking link to other students studying the same thing and real feedback on how their test results compare to that of other students, since a 75% might be an outstanding relative result in one test that most struggle with, while this could be a poor result in a test that most other people are blitzing.

While at the moment all the content is for the US market I would hope this expands to suit other markets.

Fast Company had an article about them recently.


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Five Things Students Want From Education

eSchoolNews recently asked its readers what they wanted out of education. The responses were interesting and boil down to five things:

  • More use of interactive technology
  • Teacher mentors
  • Innovation
  • Choice
  • Real-world application and relevancy

You can read the whole article here.


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A Font Specifically For Dyslexics

A Dutch designer, Christian Boer, has designed a font specifically for dyslexics, dyslexie. Some independent testing with a small number of other dyslexics suggest the font does improve readability. At the price being asked for it, the font seems out of the range of most people unless someone big like Apple or Adobe license it and include it in their bundled fonts.

The font works by changing the shapes of letters so that they cannot as easily be confused when undergoing the inversions and reflections that dyslexics often see happen to the letters they are looking it.

Frankly, this only seems like a first step to me. I think there is a lot of room for some serious rethinking of lettering and font design for people who suffer from dyslexia spectrum issues.

Christian’s website has more on the font.


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Crowd-sourcing Funding For Book Publishing

Just have others have done for developing products, Unbound, a UK business, is doing for book publishing. allows authors to post proposed books and have people commit an amount to fund the book writing and publishing, gaining a copy when it is published. Like Kickstarter, Unbound allows a project to be proposed, a minimum fund-raising target to be set, as well as a time limit.

With what is happening in the publishing business, this may be a hope for authors who cannot self-fund a writing project.

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TED Raises Curtain on TEDGlobal 2011 Conference, “The Stuff of Life”

850 participants arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland for four-day program featuring 70 talks, performances and cutting-edge technology

TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, opens its annual Europe-based TEDGlobal conference today in Edinburgh, Scotland. The conference shares the same format as its twin event in Long Beach, CA: inspired thinkers and doers from around the globe take the stage for talks, performances and demonstrations across dozens of disciplines. This year’s TEDGlobal conference theme is “The Stuff of Life.”

Read More »

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Why Is It That The Only Solution Governments Have Is Tax? The Carbon Tax Stupidity

Ok, now I am know I am going to get up many people’s noses by saying a carbon tax is stupid, but let me explain why. Carbon emissions need to be not only tamed, but drastically reduced. I want my daughter to have a future. But is taxation the best approach?

Taxation seems to be one of the standard ways that governments fall back on in their social engineering activities. They love it because it adds a new revenue source and, because they know people will keep doing it anyway, adds a growing revenue source. But I believe governments resort to taxation out of a lack of creative thought and a desperation to do things within one term of office.

So let us look at some other ways that we could achieve a better result.

We already have an EPA and we have controlled emissions of many substances for industry. Why not make carbon a controlled emission and gradually ramp up the penalties and ramp down the amounts of emissions at which the penalties apply? Simple, clean and gives industry a known timetable. It also puts carbon where it belongs, as just another emission that industry need to control.

Then we take a positive initiative when it comes to personal emissions. Why in a country like Australia are not all hot water systems solar? Israel has done it, why can’t we? Make a ruling that from 2013 all new hot water systems installed in new homes, or as replacements, must be solar boosted systems.

Then let’s start building the sort of future we want. Pensioners are hard done by and basically spend all the income they receive. So why not put, at government expense, a solar power system on the roof of every pensioner’s house. Don’t make them pay for it and let them keep the savings in paying for electricity they gain. Make sure the systems are decent sized too. Further, have the guts to make the solar systems installed Australian made. Don’t have the stupidity of the insulation scam and this time only use large, existing and tightly monitored companies to do the installations and make sure the power companies pay proper credits for excess capacity. The pensioners will have extra money in their pockets, which they will spend, stimulating the economy. Emissions will drop. We’ll create jobs and a much stronger local industry.

Once all the pensioners have their solar power systems, the economies of scale will have pulled down the cost of such systems in Australia, making them more attractive to working taxpayers. As an incentive you continue the roll out of solar power by offering tax breaks for lower income people to install the systems. You also start offering tax incentives to landlords on rental properties.

All new public buildings, such as schools, hospitals and government buildings should then have solar systems integrated into their design.

Now all the above will take time, and politicians hate time. But that is what would be good for Australia. With such a planned rollout of solar capacity we would start to see substantial control of carbon emissions while we also build a local industry to support it in the long term and, hopefully, build an export base.

As the solar panel capacity is there, the government could start to offer tax incentives to industry to install systems on factories and office buildings. We could offer tax incentives to people with electric cars if they have solar systems at home, and so on. I think you start to see how this works. As the local manufacturing capacity grows the government spreads the incentives to a wider and wider cross-section of the Australian society, from the poorest to the richest over time. All this drives down the cost of solar through economy of scale effects and encourages the roll out of new solar technologies.

Since in Australia peak energy usage is in summer, at the same time as peak solar power generation, it will mean, over time, that electricity suppliers can replace dirty generation capacity with cleaner base load ability. Everyone wins.

Sadly none of the above will happen. In Australia, as I suspect is the case elsewhere, we are hampered with a collective lot of politicians with no imagination, not integrity and no ability to see beyond the next election. They also confuse what is good for themselves with what is good for Australia, which I believe is almost never the case. If you want to make it happen you will need to get campaigning.


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Social Media and Education

I found a great little article on Edudemic discussing information reported on about the impacts of social media use on education. While hardly exhaustive, it does offer a few bite-sized comclusions: use social media in the classroom and students need to control their use of social media outside of school if they want to get things done effectively, like study or work part-time. The article on Edudemic has cut infograms that might be useful to show to students.


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