Why I Love the World Almanac and Book of Facts

The World Almanac and Book of Facts
This has become a go-to reference for stuff I used to have to hunt down online. Forget that!

There’s something about the World Almanac and Book of Facts that tells me it deserves the inch and a half of room it requires on my grab-it-quick bookcase. Let’s face it, the world wide web doesn’t know everything; Wikipedia’s explanations are frequently beyond my level of understanding; and sometimes the prospect of cranking up the Google search home page one more time in a day is enough to send me out my office door and off for a three-week walkabout.

If you haven’t checked it out lately, this 1,008-page volume provides a snapshot of the year that was and the decades and centuries that were, in consumable and well-written bites.

Wondering just when the War of Roses took place and why? It’s covered in a tiny capsule in the “Military Affairs, Timeline of Major Wars” section.

Trying to figure out what song placed Shania Twain on the map? There it is in “Noted Personalities, Country Music Artists”: “You’re Still the One.”

Need the latest on internet usage in the United States? The “Technology, Internet Use” section provides data on most-visited sites, most popular apps, fixed broadband internet connections by type, usage by race and ethnicity and plenty of other statistics.

Every year I try to make donations to the non-profit online sites I use most often; the $14.99 cover price for the World Almanac costs is a bargain in comparison.

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico University Turns to the Cloud to Restore Student Services

Class meets at Sagrado outdoors
Class meets at Sagrado outdoors.

When September’s massive storm knocked out access to electricity, clean water and communications for the entire island, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón needed to get up and running fast. Thanks to an extraordinary IT team and the resources of the cloud, the school was back in action within a few weeks…

Read the article on Campus Technology…

Microsoft® Project Do’s and Don’ts: The definitive guide to jumpstart your project

Cover of Sam Huffman's book, Do's and Don'ts, published by MPUG.com
Sam Huffman’s book, Do’s and Don’ts, published by MPUG.com

This concise book (150 pages) by Microsoft Project expert Sam Huffman (and edited by me) will help you get up to speed quickly if you’re new to Project, remind you how Project works if you’re experienced and help you get the most out of the product without wasting time or effort…

Learn more on MPUG.com…

Feds Fund Education Innovation for $95 million

The U.S. Department of Education has announced the 16 recipients of this year’s grants for education innovation and research. Recipients include organizations that are undertaking promising work in teacher professional development, reading and writing, school leadership and other practices.

The total issued — $95 million — is a far cry from the halcyon Race-to-the-Top days, when $646 million was issued in 2010. In every subsequent year, the total amount of innovation funded has dropped. Last year the total was $103 million; in 2015, it was $123 million…

Read more on THE Journal…

Yes, Financial Investment in College Completion Pays Off

Often, we assume that increasing college graduate rates is worth the investment needed to spur that growth. The American Academy of Arts & Sciences decided to put an economist on the job of figuring out whether that’s true. In a report titled, “The Economic Impact of Increasing College Completion,” a team of analysts from Moody’s Analytics attempted to lay out the costs and benefits of a sustained investment program aimed at boosting program completion rates, especially for disadvantaged students. The bottom line: The investment would hurt in the beginning but pay off in big ways down the road.

Read more on CampusTechnology.com

Breakout! Gaming to Learn

Students solving clues
Sioux Falls Christian Schools students try to figure out clues that will help them unlock their breakout box.

Escape rooms are breaking out all over. The latest tally by Room Escape Artist counts more than 1700 in the United States alone. It only makes sense that teachers would want to find a way to bring the concept of a locked room into education as well. After all, who doesn’t want to escape from the classroom at some point during the year? But since the idea of locking up students wouldn’t translate well to most parents, some inspired teachers have figured out a better way to bring the challenge of the escape room to their instruction — with the use of breakout boxes.

Locked Room, Locked Box

Escape rooms, if you haven’t heard of them, are physical locations where you and your teammates enter a “magical world that has its own purpose,” as Sherry Jones, a philosophy and game studies subject matter expert and lecturer at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, explained. “There’s some reason you’re trapped in there. When you play the game, you’re trying to figure out how to get out.” The room has clues in the form of objects and gadgets, and the whole activity is timed. As the clock ticks down, the players need to figure out why those objects are there, what their function is, how they help explain why you’re locked up in the first place and how they can work as clues to help you escape before the room “blows up” or the participants inside “freeze” or some other metaphorical demise occurs.

Breakout boxes, such as those introduced by Breakout EDU, turn that formula on its head. Instead of escaping from a room, students must break into a box secured with multiple locks. They do this by drawing on what they’re learning in class to untangle clues that may help them figure out the combination to a lock, locate a key or something else to move them through the game.

Read more on THE Journal magazine here…

Fixing the Textbook Model

Brad_Wheeler

The idea that students could still be over-paying for course materials all over the country really burns Brad Wheeler, the vice president for IT and CIO of Indiana University. A big part of the problem, he believes, is that it’s taken a long time for textbook publishers to own up to the “fundamental flaw” of their industry: “They are obsessed with counting their gross margins on the things they actually do sell.” And, he added, they ignore the enormous amounts they lose through the other 75 percent of the market made up of used and rented books and other kinds of substitutes. Because of those blinders, the publishers have “long pursued a model that has been failing, year over year.”

Wheeler has arguably been one of the loudest voices telling textbook companies to change their ways. In 2009, his university began piloting an e-textbook program that eventually pollinated to numerous institutions and started a movement that led to the founding of an organization dedicated to helping schools reclaim ownership of their decisions and data.

Read more on Campus Technology…

Image courtesy of Indiana University

Kids, Education and Engineering

While plenty of STEM lessons cover science, math and even technology, engineering is often left out. Dedicated educator Christine Cunningham has figured out numerous ways to bring the “E” into the classroom to help those other topics become more real for the youngest students…

Kids_in_engineering_500_pixels

That’s the idea behind Engineering is Elementary, an organization created at the Museum of Science in Boston by Cunningham. EiE, as it’s known, has developed engineering curriculum for students in grades 1 through 5…

More on THE Journal here…

Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy; photo by Patrick Dunn.