Woz: Computer can be a friend and not just a computerized text book

In this interview with the EE Times Interview Steve Wozniak creates a compelling case for how schools are squelching creativity.


Student Learning Outcomes: Making the invisible visible

In the article “Measurement of ‘Learning Outcomes’ Comes to Graduate Schoolin The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 1, 2010, David Glenn asks three deans why graduate schools should require detailed student learning outcomes.

The main points:
“Making the invisible visible”

Notes from “The Learning Paradigm College”

I’m reading “The Learning Paradigm College” by John Tagg. I am posting my notes on this blog as I read — virtually highlighting phrases and scribbling in the margins on this blog– a public act — as an experiment in documenting my own learning.

One sentence in the Foreword (by Peter T. Ewell, Vice President of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, 2002) strikes me. I underline and even post it here.

“So long as we are centered on instructional delivery, instead of the central act of students making meaning from their encounters with problems and new knowledge, well-intentioned reforms will never take.”

This gives me pause for reflection…but I read on…

He states that many faculty members “…are apt to resent critiques of current institutional practice as attacks on their own competence and commitment.”

In my experience, I’m not sure that’s been the case. I think, more often than not, the faculty who hear about student-centered pedagogy and then do not change their practices, see it more like an alternative lifestyle practices, like an organic vegetarian diet and daily practice of yoga.

Those who do those things may be healthier…but really?
Those things require a lot of work and training. AND are the benefits really so much better than what I’m doing? Student-centered teaching is a total lifestyle transformation (in the work place).

And like the organic food movement, student-centered pedagogy has made steady progress in infiltrating mainstream institutions, but still remains on the fringe.

Other pertinent quotes  from “The Learning Paradigm College” by John Tagg:

“The problem is that the explicitly stated values–which always include a strong commitment to undergraduate education–are often at variance with the actual values that drive our decisions and policies.”
Tagg cites “What Matters in College: Four Critical Years Revisited” Alexander Astin, 1993

“[Instruction ] can be a useful tool. But it only a tool. when we make the production of tools the objective and ignore what the tools are meant to achieve we produce warped priorities and incoherent plans. To say that the mission of a college is instruction is like saying that the mission of General Motors is to produce assemble lines or that the mission of a hospital is to keep beds filled.” (Barr and Tagg, 1995)

“if colleges exist to produce instruction, then activities that aren’t instruction, however the paradigm defines it, are simply excluded.


8 ways to assess a student

Thinking about assessment:

as • sess (ses’) v.t.
[late ME < ML L
assess (us) ptp. of
assidere (ad + sedere)]
to sit down beside

Alverno College developed an assessment approach with 8 ways to assess student learning



Describes what a student will be able to do with what she knows in personal, professional, and/or academic contexts as a result of a set of learning experiences.


Demonstration of abilities in action in the kind of integrated situation in which students would use them in their life beyond campus


Specific indicators of ability/knowledge as seen in performance.

Criteria provide a picture of ability/knowledge in action:

allowing an instructor/assessor to make judgments

helping a beginning learner imagine a successful performance

incorporating qualitative dimensions of performance


Tells a student how well she is doing from a perspective outside herself

Like a mirror, provides a student with matter for both reflection and growth

Raises questions that enable a student to critique and further develop her abilities and ideas

Can assist a student to separate her performance from her judgment of self


Achievement of distance from classroom learning experiences by various degrees

Self Assessment

The ability of a student to observe, analyze, and judge her performance on the basis of criteria and determine how she can improve it


International Film Festival in Havana, 2010

Valerie Landau, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Maggie Alarcon
Valerie Landau, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Maggie Alarcon having dinner at La Finca in Havana, Dec. 2010
Film Premiere of “Will the Real Terrorists Please Stand Up” at the Havana International Film Festival
Rush Hour in downtown Havana
Dolphins at the Havana Aquarium
Dolphins at the Havana Aquarium
Cuba, que linda es Cuba
Fense in Havana

Discarded Havana Barbie
Havana on the coldest day on record in Cuba
A tree is growing on the roof
According to Christopher Columbus’ journal Cuba had a barkless dog…this is not one of them.

La Mission Band rocks Roccapulco

La Mission Band members enjoying the Low Rider car show before they rocked the house

On Halloween, 2010 La Mission Band rocked the Roccapulco with a historic CD Release Party and Lowrider Car Show playing songs from the movie “La Mission”.

They assembled an all star band with four fabulous singers while two giant screens showed the Giants game and vendors, artists, and low rider enthusiasts cruised the sidewalk outside.
Posing with the lowriders

Uncle, Greg Landau, and nephew, Camilo Landau inspect the cars before their performance
La Mission Band posses before the concert

Check out the videos of the event:
Webos TV
StreetLow Magazine

10 Steps to Redesign Your Website

Does your website have an identity problem?
Is it hard to tell who your site represents and what it is?
Is there is a disconnect between the cool things people are doing on the site and what folks see when they land on the front page?

Then your site needs a narrative (visual, text, structure) to guide users to the part that resonates with them.

In some ways good design is like good teaching, you facilitate an
experience for the user. I’ve found that by defining clear goals and
measurable objectives and then creating a context ( words, picture,
icons, etc. ) for users to explore, they gain understanding and
ultimately discover something useful. I’ve used this approach with
effective results in face-to-face teaching, in educational game
design, in e-learning, in website and multimedia design.

What makes communities thrive? I’ve found it’s a combination of the
authenticity (street cred) and passion of the organizers and their
ability to tap into what the audience has longed for ….along with
something that provides the users with a sense of belonging.

Builder communities in particular are tricky to maintain, the key is to find a
balance between keeping it real, (edgy, open, free, creative, with
high functionality) and making it easy and appealing. Finding the
balance between typical opensource (known for lack of interface
design) and Apple style (based on a tyranny but with amazing
interfaces) is tricky but certainly achievable if the designer can
articulate and tap into its own core.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing” (a mantra taught to me by Jamie Dinkelacker) is key to effective design. If goals are clear, then each user can find his/her own

We did this when creating wiki-based sites with scholars around
the world working with students to study the works of Douglas
Engelbart. The results were astounding. The critical thinking skills
of our students skyrocketed and hundreds of pages were generated,
serious dialog and professional projects created and friendships
forged, Here is a sample of one student project:

We used a similar approach in creating the Engelbart Timeline Mural
where we engaged over 100 people (including receptionists, CEO Tim
O’Reilly, and Google evangelist Vint Cerf) to actively participate and
share data, critique our work.

My approach to redesign of a website requires the active participation
of the stakeholders. My gift is in helping teams find their voice and
express it with clarity and creativity.

In redesigning a large and poorly organized website– the task is usually to help the team of
core stakeholders focus on “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

In the collective mind a vision is buzzing around, the trick is to articulate
the vision so it is easily shared and implemented. Then the design
reveals itself–elegantly and almost effortlessly.

I facilitate processes that help:
Define who are the stakeholders
Guide them to define clear and measurable goals and objectives for the site
Define primary and secondary target audiences
Articulate what the team wants those users to know and do
Keep team focused on “keeping the main thing, the main thing.”

Tasks of the designer:

  1. Facilitate the creation of clear goals and objectives – what do you want users to: see, hear, know, feel, or behave
  2. Articulate the story – who, what, where, and most importantly why
  3. Define the look and feel
  4. Create sitemap and navigation
  5. Create a wireframe for key pages
  6. Create naming convention that reflects the new paradigm
  7. Define work flow processes where necessary
  8. Test – conduct user testing with five members of the target audience as well as staff
  9. Refine the design based on user testing
  10. Present the resulting design to the team and the students implementing it.

Word Cloud of this blog post
Wordle: Web Design Tips