The Dark Side

While searching on a topic totally unrelated to testing, or even education, I ran across this image that is just too good not to share. Ain’t web serendipity great?

Why am I imagining the CEO of Pearson under that helmet? :-)

Why Haven’t You Written?

A few months ago, Time Magazine posted an excerpt from a book by two Google executives explaining “nine insightful rules for emailing… like a professional”. At the top of the list: Respond quickly.

Ok, I’m probably the wrong person to be commenting on someone else’s communication habits,1 especially business types, but has anyone else noticed that many people these days view email more like an instant messaging service than “mail”?

They take that whole “respond quickly” philosophy to heart and expect a reply literally within minutes of their original message. And sometimes send a “did you get my message?” message if the response isn’t what they consider rapid enough.

From several years back, I recall an email etiquette list suggesting a 24-hour turnaround on replies. So is that down to under an hour now?


  1. I’m quickly coming to hate email.

One Hour, And No More

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This week, many schools here in the overly-large school district have been participating to some degree in Hour of Code activities. Nationally we’ve seen lots of media stories around the event1 and tons of traffic on coding related websites.

But what happens next week?

For vast majority of schools and students, this particular exercise will be long forgotten and Hour of Code put back on the shelf until this same time next year. Very few schools will incorporate learning computer programming into their curriculum, especially not in those “core” subjects in which the spring tests are already beginning to loom.

I don’t accept the premise that every student needs to learn how to program a computer, just like everyone will not need Calculus, Chemistry, or even college.

However, every student should graduate from high school with an understanding of how the device in their pocket, the one collecting and transmitting all kinds of personal data, works. Along with basic ideas from mathematics, especially statistics, science, and social studies. Plus good communications skills and an awareness of the real choices they have in life, including college.

So much of our traditional K12 school curriculum is focused on mechanical processes students will quickly forget and on collecting points towards a pass to the next level, not on understanding concepts they can actually use for the rest of their lives.


  1. Look! The President wrote a line of code!!

Life, Actually

If things were going according to plan, right now I would be at the Virginia Beach convention center starting the second day of the VSTE1 annual conference. I would have arrived early on Saturday for set up and worked with a large group of wonderful people to make the event a success, going steadily through tomorrow evening.

Instead I’m home taking care of my wife2 and watching the conference as filtered through Twitter and other media.

It’s very much a cliche, but I’ll say it anyway: occasionally life doesn’t follow “the plan”. So you make adjustments and move on.

Not great philopsophy, just something on my mind this morning.

Moving on.


  1. Virginia Society for Technology in Education

  2. Nothing life threatening, fortunately, just painful.

Tech Support Simplified

Tech support is not my job.

But, of course, it is. My title and job description has the word “technology” right there. Just ignore all that “instructional” stuff.

On those days when I spend too much time mired in the processes related to helping people make their machines work, the customer service approach taken by Roy and Moss in the UK series The IT Crowd comes to mind. One that is nicely summarized in these two minutes.

Go find the whole series and laugh your arse off.