Should you buy a smart watch?

With the Apple smartwatch just around the corner I thought I would offer some advice to those seeking one. I have owned a sony smartwatch 2 since 2013 and have had a chance to really see what these devices can do. Here are my thoughts…

Overall they are really cool gadgets. For a few hundred dollars (some are only $100-$150) they are not expensive and in a pretty good price range. You definitely do not need one though. I tell my students that they are the perfect gift for the ‘techy’ that has everything. Otherwise they probably are not worth it for most people unless you really want a new watch. The cool thing about them is that you do not need to take your phone out of your pocket, you can just check your wrist when you get a text. Essentially they are an extension of your cell phone. Another neat feature is that you can remotely control your phone. So if I am taking a family video/photo I can set up my phone and then use the watch at a distance to get all of us in the picture. That is the most useful feature I have found for the watch thus far and it is pretty cool although a timer on my phone works just as well. However a major concern with these devices is that they do release radiation (microwave radiation) so in addition to your phone you now have more radiation from another device. That is just a point to consider. I personally do not wear my watch too often for that reason and the fact that I do not like wearing watches. But I will admit they are kinda cool devices and you will not be upset with your purchase if you think you want one. But they are not something you need. They do not do anything your cell phone doesn’t and they require your cell phone to even work.

* I did want to add a quick note. There are many other kinds of watches out there for sports like surfing, running, etc. I am not discussing those in this post. The watches I am referring to are the android/apple based watches. The sports watches look awesome but I have yet to try them. A watch that calculates my waves sounds really cool as does a fitbit with GPS/heart rate data on it.

Using students evaluations to evaluate faculty

As my semester gets closer to the end I start receiving emails about end of the semester student evaluations. These evaluations are used to determine if faculty are doing their job (i.e., teaching). So should these be used to evaluate faculty? Well since part of my job in corporate settings was to evaluate training let’s compare what is done in corporate america to determine the success of the course vs what is done in education. In corporate we generally used Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model. As you are reading this keep in mind that student evaluations only measure step 1 of this model. So…

Step 1 – Student reactions. Did students like the training, process, course, instructor? This is the lowest and least important level. It doesn’t tell us if the course, instructor, or training was effective at all. This is the only thing student evaluations measure. Thus faculty are critiqued on whether students liked them or not. Not whether they actually taught anything at all.

Step 2 – Learning. Did the students learn what was taught? This is pretty important. If they learned the content then the course was effective. This is not measured on student evaluations.

Step 3 – Transfer. Are students able to apply what was learned to their jobs? This is very important. This is not measured on student evaluations.

Step 4 – ROI (return on investment). Was the training worth it? What were the benefits of the training? This is extremely important. This is not measured on student evaluations.

As you can see student evaluations are not very important. I mean they tell us whether students liked the course or not. However, thats it. They do not even tell us if students learned anything. Essentially students could rate a course where they learned nothing really high and vice versa making these kind of evaluations worthless when they are by themselves. Thus should faculty be evaluated with these? No. At least not as the only measure and certainly not as an important measure. It’s a pretty worthless measure. There is a reason that we use these other steps in corporate settings – we know that they are meaningful yet for some reason higher education has yet to recognize that.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that if I tried to rate a course or teacher in corporate settings the same way I did in higher ed I would be fired.

Do video games cause violence?

The short answer is no. Video games do not cause violence any more than sports, tv, or play (ie cops and robbers or tag). Here is a look at some of the research on the topic. Note that it tends to go both ways indicating that people are pulling numbers to support their views but not looking at the big picture:

-The 2008 study Grand Theft Childhood reported that 60% of middle school boys that played at least one Mature-rated game
-Violent juvenile crime in the United States has been declining as violent video game popularity has increased. The arrest rate for juvenile murders has fallen 71.9% between 1995 and 2008. The arrest rate for all juvenile violent crimes has declined 49.3%. In this same period, video game sales have more than quadrupled
-Increasing reports of bullying can be partially attributed to the popularity of violent video games.
-A 2004 US Secret Service review of previous school-based attacks found that one-eighth of attackers exhibited an interest in violent video games, less than the rate of interest attackers showed in violent movies, books, and violence in their own writings. The report did not find a relationship between playing violent video games and school shootings
-A 2000 FBI report includes playing violent video games in a list of behaviors associated with school shootings
-Playing violent video games provides a safe outlet for aggressive and angry feelings. A 2007 study reported that 45% of boys played video games because “it helps me get my anger out” and 62% played because it “helps me relax.“

Source of stats – http://videogames.procon.org/

But what about games like Grand Theft Auto where you can literally shoot people, hit them with weapons, or beat them up? Put it this way, Grand Theft Auto 5 has sold over 40 million copies. The biggest selling games in the US every year are Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. How many of those 40 million people went out and caused violence due to the game? Not only that but the latest GTA and COD games have sold many more copies than their originals in the early 2000s. In fact, the sales of these games are record breaking. Thus sales of these games has greatly increased yet guess what? Violent crimes have decreased. Am I just pulling numbers to support my conclusion? Yes however these are very telling. If these games were causing more violence, and the games are selling many millions of copies more now than 10 years ago, surely there would be noticeable spikes in violent crime.

Source of image – FBI.GOV – http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/november/crime-statistics-for-2013-released/crime-statistics-for-2013-released

Now having said all of that, I think that video game ratings are important and that kids should not be playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. They are too young to always know what is right/wrong and appropriate or not. So parents, games have ratings, please use them. If a child is very mature then I would have no problem giving them these kind of games but I do not think that most kids are ready for them. I think its a case by case basis and up to the parents. keep in mind though that kids are playing these games even though you have to be 18 to buy them so I encourage parents to really watch and monitor what their kid plays. I know that I will be.

 

 

Computer Adware, Viruses, Malware, and Security

Have problems with any of these? Here is a list of steps and freeware you should use to fix and protect your machine. Please note this is for PC only and all software is free:

1. Run rKill – This will stop all of the bad stuff from running so that you can run other software to delete it.

2. Run Malwarebytes and Ad-Aware

3. Run Combofix

4. Run Antivirus and keep it installed/running – ClamAv

5. Install security and keep it installed/running – Zonealarm

Once you have scanned your computer with the first 4 it should be clear. I would then recommend step 5 and keep it running on default settings. Also keep ClamAV running. The others should be run and used as there are problems on your machine.

 

CHMOD Commands – Permissions an LMS administrator should know

You must understand permissions if you are managing an LMS (as some of my students will do when they graduate). Thus I am posting this from last night’s class:

›Three types of users: User – Group – World

These permissions can be given for one group, multiple groups, one user, etc.

Three types of permissions: ›Read (R or 4), Write ( W or 2), Execute (X or 1)

Sometimes written as – RWX or a number equivalent such as 777. Each word corresponds to a number depicted below that can add up to 7 (4+2+1).

›R- Read (4) – read files

›W- Write (2) – write/modify files

X – ›execute (1) -Read/write/delete/modify/directory

›Example –

›-r–rwx—- = User can read, group can do everything, world cannot access

›777 = Everyone can do everything

›422 =User can read, group can write, world can write

›Rwx-rwx-rwx = Everyone can do everything

›-wx-r—– = User can write and execute, group can read, world cannot access

ATT UVerse Review – Avoid this company

Since I signed up for ATT UVerse and switched from Comcast I have noticed some interesting things that others should be aware of before they get this service. So here are my thoughts. And before you read this realize I am not one to complain about this stuff but I have never had such bad customer service in my life:

1. Do not believe anything they tell you. In fact, they will actually lie to you – well they did to me and I still just cannot believe how I was treated by this company. When I signed up for the service I was promised 1 year of HBO/Cinemax for free – nothing I care about but it was promised to me. I asked the person on the phone several times if this was for the year and she said yes. Keep in mind I actually said ‘this is for the full 12 months of my contract’ and she said yes. I asked this question like 2-3 times just to make sure that I understood correctly and she wasn’t giving me one of those 3-6 month deals that would end and increase my bill. Three months later I realize my bill jumped $50. So I call ATT and they say there is nothing they can do. I ask them to listen to my previous phone call (as they record them) and they said they would and get back to me within 5 business days. I thought great, they dont believe me but once they listen to the call I will get what they promised. 7 business days with no phone call from ATT I call them up and they apologize and tell me a manager would listen to the call asap and get back to me. 7 business days after this with no call I call again. I am told that no one is going to contact me and that even if this person promised me a free year of HBO/Cinemax that the company was NOT going to give it to me. Wow. ATT will be dropped very soon for this. Customer service gets an F.

2. Internet – I pay for up to 18mbps. I average around 6. This is terrible. No way on off peak hours should I be getting such terrible internet.

My recommendation – Avoid uverse like the plague. Comcast isnt much better but they never lied to me and my internet was always around 13mbps when I paid for 15. So what have I done? At this point I had to drop a bunch of services that were promised to me in order to keep my bill at the original cost. A real bummer. I had high hopes when I heard of Uverse but its a real let down. Oh well at least people now know not to sign up with them. I think the best thing to do is to cut the cord altogether.

 

Create a custom lesson or activity in minecraft

So you want to create a custom game or lesson in minecraft? Here are the steps.

1. First you need to create your seed. A seed is your world. Minecraft automatically generates one for you but this tutorials walks you through creating one yourself:

http://www.howtogeek.com/school/htg-guide-to-minecraft/lesson12/

2. Learning how to craft. You need to learn how to make your world. Use this guide which shows you how to create simple mining tools to buttons and levers.

http://www.minecraft-craftingguide.com/index.html

3. Once you know how to craft you need to decide what you want to do. What are your goals? There are so many things to do that its impossible to post even 1% of them here. Once you know what you want to do you need to find tutorials to help you. Fortunately the minecraft community is huge so there are tons out there. For example, here is a good tutorial on how to create a quest in minecraft:

4. Once you have created your world you need to share it. How can you do that? You can use a server or let people download your files. To share your files with others, check out the following tutorial:

http://www.howtogeek.com/school/htg-guide-to-minecraft/lesson13/

Performing a Task Analysis in Instructional Design

Have you wondered how to perform a task analysis? What it is? Why its important? If so then this post is for you. I have tried to break this down into very simple parts so that anyone can create a task analysis.

After a needs analysis (ie learner analysis, context analysis, technology analysis etc.) and needs assessment/gap analysis are completed and a training need has been confirmed, a task analysis is conducted as a quality check. This is performed to help ensure that all content/processes needed in the training are present so that objectives, content, and assessments can be created. This ensures that once objectives are created that you are not missing anything (as in everything the learner needs to know). It also ensures that all content is taught in the correct order. For example if you were teaching someone how to drive a car you wouldn’t teach them about making a right turn at a red light before teaching them how to do things like turn on the car, use the brakes, and use the gas. Thus this is a very important step that if missed or done incorrectly could cause you to design training that does not address everything needed causing unhappy clients and workers that cannot perform their expected tasks. So even if you are in a hurry and doing rapid instruction you STILL need to do a front end analysis and task analysis. Sorry there are no shortcuts here. Now surely you can do parts of the task analysis and begin design but you still need to do it.

The task analysis is where you organize your tasks into high/low level knowledge and/or processes, which helps determine what kind of instructional strategies, media, and assessments are appropriate for your training. For instance if you find that you do not need to design instruction for low level knowledge (ie facts/concepts) because your learners are experts you might only use problem based instructional methods during design. However if you do need to design instruction for those low level tasks then you would probably want to add some form of direct instruction in order to teach those low level concepts and then move onto other strategies once learners have mastered those facts/concepts.

To conduct a task analysis (after doing your gap analysis) you should do the following. Keep in mind that usually steps 1-4 are done simultaneously.

1. Determine what content/skills/processes need to be trained – You can gather this via observation, document analysis, working with a SME, interviews, surveys, etc.

2. Determine what kind of content you have (and it might be multiple types requiring multiple analyses) – Is it hierarchical? Or Procedural? Or both? At this point I can start to figure out what type of analysis I will be doing and how I will need to organize this content. I can also start thinking about my design (instructional strategies) See the example below with both types of analysis and how they can and are combined together.

3. Prioritize these tasks. You can do this in a table format using the example here. You do this for several reasons including:

a. You have limited time and need to select which content is most important
b. You have limited budget and need to select which content is most important
c. You need to decide which content to include. For instance you may only want your training to be 1 hour and not 3 required for all content. This helps you determine what can be cut.
d. If you are going to train everything this is still useful as you can determine what you should focus more of the learners time on.

Task Priority (1-10 scale) Difficulty for learner to grasp (1-10 scale) Frequency learner will utilize (1-10 scale)

4. Break the content down into simple steps/tasks – how far you break them down is up to you and your SME. This requires a SME and other data collection techniques described in step one.

5. Begin constructing the analysis

So are there different types of tasks analysis?

Hierarchical task analysis focuses on the content that needs to be trained. So you actually teach from the lowest level knowledge to get the learner to the final goal. In the procedural task analysis you teach from the start to the end of the process (ie focus on the steps). In the hierarchal example provided you can see how the problem is broken down into rules/procedures, concepts, and facts (verbal). This type of task analysis breaks the task into a hierarchy so one would know that they first need to teach the facts/concepts before showing the rules and procedures. Note that you can and usually do need to combine these analyses. The example provided does just that as some steps in the hierarchal need to be broken up into their processes. Thus you might have done several or more analyses for the one training application. Also note that you should always provide assumptions and expectations in your analyses at the end or in the document (ie learners can use a computer, mouse, and keyboard and steps 1-4 need to be trained before steps 6-8). How far you break these tasks down is up to you. For instance, you might assume your learners can read, can use a computer, etc. Sometimes they may not. And this should all be identified in your learner analysis and then carried into the task analysis.

Example: The task here was to survive a night in minecraft. For this task I had to create a hierarchical chart so that I knew the order to present the content and a procedural analysis so that I knew the steps to ‘use the crafting table’ and knew exactly where that process should fit into the training solution. Normally your content will not fit as neatly as mine does – but this is an example and should be neat. They can look very complicated as more tasks are added. Also note that some authors recommend putting your tasks into performance measures such as ‘demonstate building a shelter’ whereas I just wrote build a shelter. Either way is ok as long as you understand the tasks. This could vary by project.

Hiarchal analysis:

hierarchal

The next type is procedural. Thus information is not put into a taxonomy format (ie facts first, concepts 2nd) but rather it is taught from the beginning of the process. This is the procedure used for using the crafting table which needs to be taught according to hierarchical analysis above. Please note that I am just showing the process here. If you going to do a process map you would need to use different shapes for starting, choices, and steps. I just used all rectangles here because I do not have process mapping software on my machine.

procedure

You can also make these via text if that is easier. For instance here is an example of installing an app in an ipad:

1.0 Turn ipad on
2.0 Open Store
2.1 Search for desired app
2.2 Select app
2.2.1 Enter Password
3.0 Close the app store
4.0 Go to main screen of ipad to watch app installing
4.1 App installed
5.0 Open App to test

Now there are other types of task analysis that you will see throughout the literature however they can fit into one of the two analyses above and thus I do not see a reason to define them further as I believe this just confuses the designer. Essentially any activity you generate will fit into the hierarchal or procedural analysis (ie cognitive/information processing and if/then).

Sources:

Task Analysis Methods for Instructional Design by David H. Jonassen, Martin Tessmer, and Wallace H. Hannum 1998