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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe Re:What advice can I offer? (96 comments)

Yeah. That's more or less the problem. Most teachers don't use them any more than as glorified blackboard/video projector hybrids. There's very little training available. The schools that are trying to make better use of them set up "user groups", where the teachers who have a bit more ability with them are expected to pass on their skills and knowledge to their colleagues (and be, more or less, completely ignored).

I'm pretty much at the top of the game regarding the use of the standard software, but, as I've got better with it, the clunkiness has really started to grate on my nerves. I know that the things cost a few thousand each, and I want to be able to use them to their full potential.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe Google Chrome (96 comments)

You wouldn't believe the battle I had to fight to get Google Chrome installed on my classroom computer and the bank of laptops that I use with my students. If you can believe it, the preference was for IE9.

Have you got a particular extension in mind? I have looked...

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe genericized trademark. (96 comments)

Yeah. The 800 series are great. I've had a play with one at a colleague's school. They're still limited by the software used with them.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe InterLACE (96 comments)

That's been suggested to me in another forum too. I'm taking a look. Cheers! If I had mod points...

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe Hello Mr. SmarterThanMe! (96 comments)

Sure. Can you write something about the difference between descriptivism and prescriptivism? Cheers. :)

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe Re:What advice can I offer? (96 comments)

Yeah, I've asked this on teacher forums. Got exactly the response you expected, despite the shortcomings. Teaching is an exceptionally parochial profession, and I, personally, don't like to be limited to doing things the way that they're usually done.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe SMART? (96 comments)

Yep. *Like* that. :)

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

SmarterThanMe Re: What advice can I offer? (96 comments)

Actually, it's sort of my motto. I work with highly gifted kids who are typically "smarter than me".

about a month ago
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GOCE Satellite Burned Up Over Falkland Islands

SmarterThanMe British? (107 comments)

...There are some Argentinians who would like to have a word with you, Unknown Lamer. ;)

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

SmarterThanMe Do not get your 4yo a phone (682 comments)

I'm going to assume that this isn't just a troll post. It is a pretty freaking ignorant question.

Wearing every single one of my hats (teacher, parent, part-time academic in linguistics (and, in particular, child language acquisition), techie, etc.), I'm going to claims some authority when I say this: DO NOT GET YOUR 4YO A PHONE. Mostly I'm adding to the chorus above, so I'm not going to bother rehashing the reasons against that everyone has already given, but I will add a couple more in dot points:

@ We have enough problems with the social reliance on phones in adulthood, but in early adolescence it's a disaster, let alone infancy. For adolescents, phones bring with it all sorts of problems like increased risk of cyber-bullying, exposure to age-inappropriate content, and problems with Google/Apple sponsored apps^h^h^h^hscams. There is no good way to stop this for teenagers, so how are you planning to stop it for a toddler?

@ Remote parenting does not work, and fairly consistently causes problems - you know all those parents whose Dads were at work until late at night? How did they turn out?

@ There is no type of "play" involving a phone that isn't better done by a kid, physically, in the real world. A block sorting game on a phone? Brilliant, why not do it in real life?

1 year,21 days
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Hanford Nuclear Waste Vitrification Plant "Too Dangerous"

SmarterThanMe Re:Greed (292 comments)

Just as an aside, it's interesting that you refer to Copper as a "rare earth"...

about a year and a half ago
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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport

SmarterThanMe What sort of idiot... (284 comments)

What sort of idiot bombmaker would make a bomb that vibrated, ticked or had a big freaking waste of money LED showing a countdown? It's right up there with literally having a red wire and a blue wire. The extension of this, then, is what sort of idiot "airport official" closes an airport because he saw something vibrate?

about 2 years ago
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Why Girls Do Better At School

SmarterThanMe Re:Feminization of US schools (690 comments)

You know what I find funny? Choices on reading material for students (particularly in middle school), which overwhelmingly favour girls' preferences in reading (i.e., more contemporary, more female main characters and so on). I prefer to get my students to work on books that in which they individually have an interest, rather than working on books that I like.

about 2 years ago
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Why Girls Do Better At School

SmarterThanMe Why do girls have a better attitude? (690 comments)

I think we need to ask why girls have a better attitude towards learning. Speaking as a teacher, I think that I can suggest a couple of factors and examples of why this is an important question.

TLDR: schools and schooling is overwhelmingly female oriented, and does not adapt to the needs of boys (nor anyone, really).

Schools, particularly primary (elementary for my American friends) schools are female dominated and, unfortunately, this leads to problems for boys. I taught in a school recently where I was the only male teacher at the school where there were some issues for boys. Whether there was a causative relationship or not is open to question, but the boys at the school were wild, and their achievement was substantially lower than the girls on several measures. I (simply because I was a male) was seen as the solution to an ongoing behavioural crisis among the boys in the older grades because I was seen as a role model as a boy who was interested in learning, but I think that by middle school, where I teach, it's too late for that to have much effect.

In fact, against the more influential male public role models who seem to be more interested in sport, driving, etc., than anything school-related, my effect would have been minimal (and I argued this point prior to my appointment, and my position was confirmed time after time through my appointment - in fact that failing was attributed to me which was fun). I have seen at other schools attempt to conflate an interest in sport with an interest in school by involving local sports people in reading programs at the school. The sports people come in to the school and inadvertently confirm students' beliefs, that sport and reading do not mix much. But it's a fun novelty, I suppose.

The other problem with female dominated schools is that the curriculum becomes more female dominated. At least in my experience, boys do have shorter attention spans, and do seem to have more kinaesthetic or visual approaches to learning (against girls, who more often seem to have auditory learning styles more suited to the "stand-and-deliver" lecture approach to teaching). Teaching in a single sex boys' class requires shorter lessons with more emphasis on doing stuff than discussing stuff, and this doesn't suit the approaches that a lot of teachers want to use.

Finally, there's a belief that boys are bad, whether this is explicitly stated or not, and, equally, that we should be easier on "boys being boys". In my work, I visited a school and sat through a presentation given by Year 1 students on school rules. Which was hilarious for a whole bunch of reasons, but most notably in the way that the activity seems to have been presented to the students. They were providing examples of good and bad behaviour. The teacher had chosen to tell the students to make a girl doing something good, and a boy doing something bad. The students then got up and use male pronouns for describing one scenario (where a student does something wrong) and female pronouns for describing the other (when a student does something right). The teacher corrected a student (a girl actually) twice when she said that she had drawn a girl doing something wrong, which had me on the verge of heckling the stupid woman.

As to being soft on "boys being boys", I believe strongly that we need to instil a sense of honour among boys. I had a Year 6 student a couple of years ago who incessantly physically and verbally bullied younger students and girls in the playground. I constantly brought him up on it, but was always held back from applying the school's discipline policy because "he doesn't have any great male role models", "you know his parents are really strict", or "he's just a bit energetic". The worst excuse that I heard from a colleague was that a girl he had bullied had to "share part of the blame" because she "instigated" the situation by talking to him (it's like a "she asked it by dressing that way" defence in rape cases). Over and over excuses were made for him by other staff such that he got away with things that would probably result in severe measures (like separation from other students, or meetings with parents or behavioural plans) being enacted. In fact, generally, the approach to dealing with boys at that particular school was to accomodate them rather than guide them. This meant that there were parts of the playground which were considered practically lawless by students and teachers. On the other hand, the principal strictly enforced rules for girls as petty as sock colour and the wearing of ribbons and even gave a stern talking to two Year 5 girls in my class for being best friends (because it's apparently exclusionary, even though they self-excluded themselves from other students also). I'm all for understanding students' wants and interests in our teaching, but boys sometimes do things which are stupid and they need to be pulled up for it, just as we apparently have no trouble in doing with the girls. If this is the case in regards to behavioural management, how can we expect boys to be engaged in the classroom?

It's important for me to note that I'm not saying that girls have it easy through school: they don't, particularly in later schooling, and particularly because of the social structures that we (teachers) set up in our classes and schools. But our approaches to teaching have to be modified to suit the needs of learners and I'm not convinced that we're doing it. Part of the reason is that schooling and learning is, unfortunately, seen as inherently a female pursuit. I also agree with the authors quoted at the UGA article that this is not a problem that has recently come up, but has always been there.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012?

SmarterThanMe My Nominations and Choices (321 comments)

1) Best overall web comic series of 2012. (Any web comic that produced content in 2012): Gunnerkrigg Court is a brilliant webcomic that has a compelling plot, interesting characters and art that has developed superbly since the comic's beginnings.

2) Funniest web comic of 2012. (This one represents the single funniest comic of any web comic series.): Evil Inc. got the most laughs out of me this year, even if a lot of the humour was a bit Dad-joke-ish. Runners up would include: Penny Arcade , XKCD , Scandinavia and the World and Overcompensating .

3) Best art in a web comic of 2012. (Web comic from 2012 with the most amazing art ever): Dresden Codak is, without any doubt, the repository of some of the most geekiest and beautiful artwork the web has ever seen. Runners up would include: Namesake , Lackadaisy Cats , Sore Thumbs and Avengelyne

4) Web comic that was most relevant to you in 2012: Real Life , because his adventures with Harper are roughly mirroring my adventures with my daughter Hailey.

Honorable Mentions (because they'd likely win categories if there were a couple more here): Bad Machinery (Best Story), Eerie Cuties (Best Black & White), Three Panel Soul (Best Drama) and Wapsi Square (Best Main Character), and Sinfest (Lifetime Achievement) among others.

about 2 years ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Re:Good (211 comments)

Regardless of the effects on the individual, one must consider the ramifications on the larger scale. On the family level, there's strain on people who are not involved in the actual gambling (i.e., partners and children of affected individuals). Then there's the social level where gambling leads to increased social costs because of crime and mental health ramifications.

It's like smoking. Second-hand smoke has been shown to affect children and others in an environment as much if not more than the actual person who is "exercising" his/her rights to smoke. Further, my taxes pay for smokers to get treatment for diseases that they should not have. Is that fair? No.

about 2 years ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Re:Good (211 comments)

Yeah, great. But the problem then is that those people are the ones who end up either offing themselves, mugging people at train stations, or sending their families (you know, the partner and 2.3 kids who weren't gambling) bankrupt as well. Yay social Darwinism!

about 2 years ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Good (211 comments)

Poker machines are morally disgusting. They're basically a way of imposing a tax on people too stupid or hopeful to know better. Here in Australia, there's people who literally bankrupt themselves pouring money into the bloody things. I'm all for individual responsibility, but those bloody things are designed to addict more than cigarettes or crack cocaine.

What's more, venues that have poker machines deliberately target the poor. I've walked into a couple of poker machine venues, they are literally the embodiment of everything that is wrong with modern day society. Pensioners, disabled people, smoking heavily and desperate for, if nothing else, just a near-win.

about 2 years ago
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Best reader-submitted /. logo of October 2012?

SmarterThanMe Jack Thompson (137 comments)

+1 vote.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Alternate software for use on smartboards?

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  about a month ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Teacher here, you can call me Mr. SmarterThanMe. I have a fancy smartboard installed in my room. Smartboards allow me to show students a whole range of other stuff other than just whatever I'm writing. I can prepare instructions and activities before the lesson and just move through the boards. I can pull up some students' work and display it through the projector. I can bring up some stimulus for use in a writing task. So much better than blackboards.

Except the software that comes bundled with this particular brand of smartboard is ridiculously clunky. Without naming this particular piece of software, and highlighting it's shortfalls, has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives (open source or otherwise)?

The main features that I'd like are:
  • Handwriting recognition
  • The ability to make and use templates
  • Grids or guides or *something* to be able to teach measurement

I have gold star stickers for any good suggestions. Thanks in advance."

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Aussie kids no longer able to buy Adults Only games

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "The Won't-someone-please-think-of-the-children brigade suffered a major loss when the Australian Senate passed legislation allowing for the creation of an R18+ category for the classification of videogames. This should mean that, from 2013 onwards, (a) adults can buy adult games without any dumbing down; and (b) kids will no longer be able to buy games that are way too adult for them."
Link to Original Source
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Sending Juice to explore Jupiter and its Icy Moons

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Europe will spend €1 billion sending a spacecraft, named Juice, to explore Jupiter and its moons. The mission will have a particular focus on the "icy" moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa with the hope of developing our understanding of what similar planetoids around other stars could look like."
Link to Original Source
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Xbox modding might be "fair use"..?

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Matthew Crippen, who allegedly played around with his Xbox in such a way that he would have been able to play pirated games or homebrew software (ie, circumvent the DMCA protections on the device), is preparing his defence on the basis that his modification was "fair use". His lawyers are referring to a similar case involving modding of iPhones where it was accepted as a "fair use" situation."
Link to Original Source
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Will Wright to do "SimTVShow"

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Will Wright, creator of various famous computer games beginning with "Sim-", is involved in the production of a new TV show "Bar Karma". The possibly vaguely Sci-Fi show will involve viewers heavily in putting forward their own storyboards that the show will then play out. Viewers also vote on the storyboards that they most like for the next episode. In effect, the viewing public collaborates with each other to create the show!"
Link to Original Source

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