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Random thoughts from AERA

Whew, none of the anti-ed. tech. folks have found my last blog post (yet).

Anyway, my AERA 2008 journey began today.  Here are some thoughts:

*Federal grants for educational research:  student achievement is the bottom line.  If you don’t propose to study anything that can’t be linked to student achievement, don’t bother applying.  One prof. who has multiple ED grants even suggested that they don’t expect to find any effects on student achievement from the program they’re investigating, but it’s in the proposal.  I guess if you want to be on the gravy train, you’ve got to play by the rules of the game.  My only wish is that rather than student achievement, the bottom line was learning.  But, I don’t make the rules…maybe someday?

*Cyberbullying:  I look forward to reading the papers from this session that I attended.  I think it’s really important to frame the issue properly and I suspect there are some good ideas in the papers.  I didn’t necessarily hear anything new or exciting in the session, but who can really say anything meaningful in 15 minutes?  My take?  I think we need to consider whether cyber-bullying is really all that different from what has already been going on forever.  I don’t want to imply that “kids will be kids,” but I’m not convinced that cyberbullying is in addition to more traditional forms of bullying.  We need to document empirically whether what we know happens in the hallways, on the playgrounds, etc. is still happening or whether it is being replaced by cyberbullying.  Also, we need to make sure that educational policymakers at all levels don’t respond by shutting off access to cyberspace.   When kids bully each other at the mall, do we close the malls?  For lack of a better cliche, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

*Gaming: went to a session chaired by Chris Dede (one of my heroes…I actually introduced myself to Dede and felt a bit like a groupie, but I’m glad I did it).  Unfortunately, the work that was being done around the River City Project was way over my head (and the presenter didn’t time his presentation well and had to finish up in warp speed).  He was talking about data mining, but pretty much lost me at hello.  The other projects under study were interesting, but I didn’t get a sense of the purpose of the researchers.  A study of whyville.net seemed interesting, but I didn’t hear anything that blew me away.  Regardless, I still remain intrigued by the learning potential within MUVEs, but I just don’t have enough time right now to dig any deeper than my own current surface learning.

*Finally, got to meet fellow blogger Justin Bathon, he of the Edjurist Accord.  Good to meet you f-2-f Justin, and I’ll be following your rising star in the Law & Ed. sky.

 Off to some receptions tonight (free food, cash bars) and then some fun around NYC with my academic friends/colleagues!


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