Computational Thinking, LiuLiShuo & Audiobooks


Why Computer Science Education in K-12 Settings Is Becoming Increasingly Essential by Mehran Sahami, The Huffington Post, 14 Sep. 2016.

Is computer science for everybody? In this blog post, the author reminds us that in today’s world, computer science goes beyond programming for programmers. It is more and more part of our everyday lives. The author asserts, “This is the reason we don’t talk about teaching CS as just teaching ‘programming,’ but rather as a means for students to develop ‘computational thinking’ skills.”

Ex-Google Guy Builds English Teaching App That Adapts to Student by Selina Wang, Bloomberg Technology, 13 Sep. 2016.

Chinese parents spend quite a bit of money for English lessons for their children, then find out that their children don’t speak English very well. In steps LiuLiShuo, which means “speaking fluently,” an app which incorporates gaming and social media into English learning. While it has its critics, it also has 30 million (yes, million) users.

Audiobooks Can Support K-12 Readers in the Classroom by Kate Stoltzfus, Education Week, 19 Sep. 2016.

Audiobooks have been around for quite a while, and their usefulness for struggling readers has been supported by research. With the growth of digital media, audiobooks are becoming even more important as a tool for learners, especially students who have trouble reading. A study by the American Association of Schools Libraries in 2012, which focused on elementary students, found that “audiobooks improved students’ reading scores, increased students’ positive attitudes about their reading ability, and offered students more personal choice in what they read.”

Got a Technology Question? Ask a Librarian

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

When is the last time you went to the library? When is the last time you went to check out a book?

Maybe your library offers e-books you can check out on your Kindle or iPad, so you don’t even really need to go. If you haven’t been in a while, you may be in for a surprise.


Since the advent of personal computers and the growth of the Internet, library services have changed and continue to evolve. If you have been in a library recently, you probably noticed that the day of the spinsterish librarian shushing everyone has pretty much disappeared. Modern libraries have quiet corners for those who want to read or study.  Continue reading

Lessons from Large-scale Digital Curators

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

One advantage of the digital age is that it is easy to save anything. As individuals we save emails, documents, pictures, videos, many more files than we really need on our computers, on remote devices, most recently in the Cloud. We may be more or less organized with our “filing” system so that our digital records are at our fingertips, or not.

For teachers and students alike this ability to store and easily share files can be time-saving and create different ways of interacting with materials and with each other. As we use and save these files, we often assume that they are safe and will be around forever. The same goes for materials we access daily from a variety of websites.

However, imagine that you are responsible not only for your own digital records but for those of an organization, such as a library, museum or a municipal archive. How do you conserve and administer large-scale archives and repositories? How do you provide easy access of these materials to others? Luckily, there are trained professionals who handle the input and output of these large sources of digital information. Their knowledge about archiving and preservation can provide models which can be used in everyday life.

Recently, UNC Chapel Hill, one of the leaders in digital preservation, held the DigCCurr Institute to provide a space for digital curation professionals from around the world to share their ideas and learn about the issues and how to handle some of the challenges of large-scale digital preservation. You can learn more about it at: DigCCurr Institute 2015 Draws Digital Curation Professionals from Across the Country and the World

Blended Learning, Digital Equity, Skills-based Economy

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

Phil McRae is among the very few in education who see a problem in hyping blended learning, “where students’ face-to-face education is blended with Internet resources or online courses,” as innovative. He says, “As this broad definition illustrates, it would be difficult to find any use of technology in education that does not easily fit into this boundary.”1 This is not to say that all uses of technology in schools aren’t innovative. Some are. But simply adding web content or activities to classes that are primarily F2F isn’t necessarily new or effective.

Still, the biggest problem with blended approaches, innovative or not, isn’t so much its effectiveness but its impact on completely online courses. For many educators, blended is synonymous with online when it reaches a tipping point, measured in a ratio between F2F and online requirements. When a certain percentage — roughly 80% — of the course work is online, then the class is placed in the same category as fully online courses.

This seemingly innocuous perception is arguably the greatest impediment to the development of completely online courses and programs. The F2F imperative, whether 20 percent or 1 percent, instantly eliminates the possibility of disruption that defines online learning. In other words, the door for nontraditional students who cannot, for whatever reason, attend classes on campus remains closed.  Continue reading