I hear this all of the time and for the most part, I agree with. We all do in a sense. No its not your learning style. We know that learning styles are not real. Its not even your learning preference. Its much simpler than that…so why?
It all comes down to learning taxonomies; the order in which we learn. Doing, is a high order task – meaning when you are doing, you are problem solving, thinking critically. Its high level learning. Its our end goal – to be able to problem solve and use (transfer to new situations/jobs). So shouldn’t we just ‘do’ then and bypass other types of learning? Absolutely NOT! Let me explain…
If my end goal was for you to be able to build a car engine, I couldn’t just say ‘go build a car engine’. You couldn’t do it. This is is especially true for learners with little to no prior knowledge. How can I teach you how to build a car engine when you might not even know what a wrench is? You might not know what a spark plug is? You see, I first need to teach you basic information, think factual information where you learn definitions, learn to identify, etc. Once you learn that information, like what a wrench is and what a screw is, you can learn to use the wrench to turn the screw. Now we know how to use the wrench!
Next we learn how to use that wrench to build a section of an engine…but first we need to lean about all of those parts to the engine. You see, this is how we learn. First we learn the basic facts, then we start learn concepts and how to apply that information. Only then can we really start to do! And once we start doing, we start to really learn the ins and outs – problem solving/high level learning! So you see, its not that you learn by doing, you learn many different ways. Learning by doing is how we perceive learning ‘best’ but only because its high level learning.
See video where I explain this further:
This post is for my instructional technology students for Fall 18:
I have had several students ask me about buying a new computer and figured I would post to the group…
When I get a new computer I do one of two things…1) I get one that will last me 2 years or 2) one that will last me 4 years. Obviously the 4 yr one is much more expensive.
So my recommendations…
1. Get a student discount. All of the companies offer them. Now is a great time to get back to school deals.
2. Get a minimum of 12GB of Ram. Ram matters. If you are looking at a 4 yr machine I would really recommend as close to 32GB as you can get.
3. Video card matters. Try to get an upgraded video card if possible.
4. Ram is the first thing I upgrade, video card 2nd, processor 3rd. In that order. I don’t worry about hard drive space at all as I use the cloud to store my files. I don’t worry about other features either except for making sure they have enough ports and an HDMI port.
5. I would get a PC over a Mac. Macs are great and work really well but there is one piece of software instructional designers use and there still isn’t a mac version, this is called articulate. But if you like Macs they are fine I just prefer PCs for many reasons. Chromebook, ipads, etc won’t cut it, you need a real machine.
6. As far as brands, they are all fine for the most part. I prefer Alienware and Dell since that is what I have used over the last few years. I currently have an alienware R17 with max upgrades. I like alienware because they already come with upgraded video cards that you won’t even have an option for with a standard machine. A lot of them are VR Ready.In fact, the only machine in the college of education that runs VR is mine. None of the others will do it.
7. Get a warranty. Get a warranty for as long as you want to keep the machine. Its worth it. I cannot tell you how many machines I have went through. I have had Macs die. I have had PC die. Many times. Just get the warranty. I think I have a 4 yr warranty on my current machine.
If you have other questions, please feel free to ask. – Dr. Pastore
I have described computer security a number of times in my blog. Now I am going to discuss some of the tools that I recommend this year for you to use. Here are my recommendations:
Browser: Firefox – Its open source and is the backbone of tor for a reason. I much prefer firefox to any other browser. Chrome is a close second but I do not like that its not open source. I only use Firefox for email and sites where I login otherwise, I use the next site listed as most secure for all of my searching, research, googling, etc. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
Most secure browser: Tor. Tor is designed for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing. TOR blocks your ISP, the government, etc. from seeing what you are doing online. https://www.torproject.org
Mobile Browser – Firefox and Firefox Focus are my preferred when I am connected to VPN, otherwise I use various versions of TOR for mobile which can be found in the app stores for android/ios. Firefox focus is the best but it may be too limiting for some so Firefox is the next best. Focus is really fast and simple. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus
Security add on for your browser – uBlock – works for firefox and chrome and keeps away ads and other nonsense. This helps many pages load faster too. It will also prevent youtube ads. https://www.ublock.org/
VPN – Cyberghost. There are tons of good vpns but I like that this company offers a true free version. If you are using a program like Kodi to watch TV/Movies you better be using a VPN. https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/
Malware/adware – Malwarebytes – its free and very powerful. https://www.malwarebytes.com/
Antivirus – Avira – Its free! I also think Windows defender that comes free with windows is decent. https://www.avira.com/
Firewall – Zonealarm – https://www.zonealarm.com/software/free-firewall/
“Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Pediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact of overusing technology on people’s well being. However, new research suggests that existing guidance managing children’s digital media time may not be as beneficial as first thought. “…”Taken together, our findings suggest that there is little or no support for the theory that digital screen use, on its own, is bad for young children’s psychological well being.”
I am not surprised by this finding at all. Moderation is key to everything in life and technology is no different.
Science daily Article – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171214140810.htm
Actual Journal Article: Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein. Digital Screen Time Limits and Young Children’s Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From a Population-Based Study. Child Development, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13007
I have personally noticed this as well as battery drain. These phones are designed to last 2 years (6months+/-). One of the good things about apple phones is that they always give you the latest updates but in these forced updates your phone will no longer operate as well and they are now admitting they do it on purpose. I have some gripes about Android who has similar issues – their issue is that they don’t update their phones to the latest browser because you rely on 3rd party companies, like Samsung, to perform the updates. I think your best bet for a phone is the Google Pixel 2 right now. Updates straight from Google and a monster of a phone. I am sticking with Apple for now as I am doing research with biometrics and need the apple watch for a portion of this research.
This is something I have been saying for a while, new phones are not offering any significant feature worth upgrading for. For example when cell phones first had an app store, that was worth upgrading from my startac flip phone. When they first had a camera, that was worth upgrading. But can anyone who is not a technogeek tell me what the difference is between the iphone 6 and 8? I personally still have the 6s but am upgrading to the 8 because alas my phones battery is no longer lasting a day. But I am skipping the 10. I just can’t see a reason to get it vs the 8 considering the price difference. They even use the same hardware. I see no need to upgrade to these phones though if you current one if working just fine. Oh well, check out the video.
Online Privacy – Why is it important and how do I keep my information private?
There has been a lot of buzz recently about online privacy, however; this is not a new issue by any means. Online privacy has been a concern for years. Go do a quick google search for online privacy and you will see articles from 2010, 2008, etc. discussing the issue. What is new is that thanks to our government your ISP (company you buy your internet from i.e. Verizon, charter, time warner, etc.) will be allowed to sell your browsing habits. So first, why does this matter?
For the most part, it doesn’t. A large percent of what we do online is harmless. For example, me searching for a new video game in google will tell amazon I want that game. And ads on Facebook will be for that game. Kind of cool in a sense that the internet knows what I want. This is also scary. Imagine that you think you are sick with a disease, and now amazon, google, health insurance companies, life insurance companies, future/current employers, know about it. The real question though is, should anyone be able to see what you are doing online? Is it their right? Should your ISP be able to spy on you? If you say OK, I would ask, would you allow your mortgage company to come in your house and go through your drawers? Because that is essentially what is happening. So yes, it is a concern and should be to anyone.
So, what can you do to prevent this from happening? There are a number of things and I am going to break this up so that it’s easier to understand. The important thing to remember is that you are never going to be 100% secure. But you can take steps to make it harder for anyone to spy on you. Think of it like an onion, the closer you are to the middle, the harder it is to get to you. The outer layers (i.e. no security) are easy to get to but several layers in takes more work. Also, keep in mind I am not discussing Malware, Viruses, etc here, I have other blog posts about that but I do always recommend antivirus software, malware software, and a good firewall.
To stop your ISP from spying on you (to stop just facebook/browser scroll down to the end):
For your computer/browser (for most home users):
Step 1 – get a VPN.
VPN – This is the first thing you need. I am not going to explain what a VPN is, just that it makes it so that your ISP (or job) cannot see what you are doing. They can only see that you are connected and using data. Now, the issue with VPN is that the VPN company can see what you are doing. So yes, they can sell your data just like your ISP. But I trust them more and most do not sell your data, just the shady bad ones do. However, keep in mind if you are doing something illegal, the VPN company will turn your information over to authorities if they are subpoenaed – no one is going to jail for you.
There are tons of options for paid and free ones. I personally like Hotspot shield, CyberGhost, and Windscribe because they have free versions. Here is a link to them:
Step 2 – Start using Firefox.
Why? Because of the security and add-ons. Once you download Firefox, you need to install the following add-ons. They are: HTTPS Everywhere and 1 of the privacy/adblock addons I explained below. They will not affect your browsing experience, they will however make it much more secure. Additionally, use the private browsing mode of the browser.
And do these:
- Add NoScript, uBlock, Disconnect, or Privacy Badger to your Firefox add-ons. This prevents only scripts that you allow. I personally use uBlock and Privacy Badger together.
- Use DuckDuckGo search engine. This is a search engine that does not record/track your searches. You can very easily make this your default browser by going to your browser settings and its just as good as Google. https://duckduckgo.com/
For the most secure (for people who are more technically inclined):
Use Tor Browser. Tor browser with its default settings is going to be super secure. Its slower because of how it works to hide your identity but if you are searching things no one can know about, use this. https://www.torproject.org/
Download Tor Client. Tor is the best security that most home users can set up themselves. If you are a super high tech person and want something more secure you already know way more than what I am blogging about and shouldn’t even be reading this so this post is not for you. https://www.torproject.org/
For your mobile device:
- Get a VPN. There are tons of free ones. You can use hotspot shield as I mentioned above. I use X-VPN on IOS. Keep it on always.
- For android, get Firefox browser and use the add-ons I mentioned above. Use private mode.
- For apple, use Firefox Focus browser. Apple does not allow Firefox add-ons, so use their focus browser. It’s actually much fast than any other mobile browser.
- Use DuckDuckGo search engine. This is a search engine that does not record/track your searches. https://duckduckgo.com/
- Use the web version of apps, not the apps themselves. For example, use facebook in the browser, rather than the app. Yea I know a big pain.
For those that want to be super secure, use a Tor browser. While there is no official mobile Tor browser there are tons that are free ones that use the Tor network. I personally have Onion browser for my iPhone.
To stop facebook and other internet companies like google, amazon, etc from spying on you:
1. You can always just not use the internet but come on…
2. Start using Firefox.
Why? Because of the security and add-ons. Once you download Firefox, you need to install the following add ons: uBlock and you can add Privacy Badger if you want double protection. Keep in mind, when using these add ons that some websites, like your online bank, might not work correctly, so if a site isn’t working correctly, you can simply turn them off for that site with the click of a button. It will remember, so its only the first time you visit that site.
3. Use DuckDuckGo search engine. This is a search engine that does not record/track your searches. You can very easily make this your default browser by going to your browser settings and its just as good as Google. https://duckduckgo.com/
I am constantly bombarded with instructional strategies, design recommendations, and means to improve instruction. However, while that’s awesome and I love to see new innovative ways to teach, I have stumbled onto a question that we do not ask very often unless it’s in the context of K-12 standardized testing – how much does this improve learning?
So when someone tells me that some constructivist approach, for example, problem-based learning (insert any strategy here) is a good strategy for the classroom I need to know how it impacts learning. Specifically, I want to know how it affects low-level learning, such as recall, and high-level learning such as problem-solving/transfer. How much does it affect achievement? I don’t want to just hear that it improves it over another method/strategy but I want to hear that it improves it by X% amount. Because if that improvement is only 5%, it might not be worth changing an entire curriculum.
If we start to think this way we can start to make better decisions about what works and doesn’t work in the classroom. This will save us both time and money because we won’t waste significant amounts of time on changes that offer little to no improvement in achievement.
Of course, we need to consider other variables like motivation and such, which could very well be more important than achievement in various settings but that is going to be case dependent. And regardless, we still need to have improvement numbers to ensure there is going to be a return on investment.
If we could agree that this is an important piece of data to have we could start to figure out what these numbers are. This involves experimental testing using GOOD methodologies, GOOD content, and GOOD tests; otherwise, we cannot trust that research.