Welcome everyone to the latest edition of FableVision's Weekly Click. We hope you're all enjoying your summer. Pretty soon it'll be August and all the comes with it: the last long days of summer, students getting ready to go back to school while the rest of us wonder where all of those balmy, sunny days disappeared to. It's been a little while since we posted a Weekly Click, so let's dig right in. There's a lot of stuff to work with this week. Featured Article
One of the most contested education reforms in the last twelve years has to be "No Child Left Behind". The law has had mixed results and some criticize its obsessive focus on testing. In an attempt to ease some of the harsher restrictions, the Obama administration has begun to issue waivers to specific states on the condition that those states set their own standards for student achievement. The fact that these waivers still put an overwhelming emphasis on testing has left some educators cold.
Perhaps the key takeaway here is from Joseph Star, who commented to the Times that, "education reform should focus on incentives to help teachers collaborate and help students learn skills that could not simply be measured by tests." This is a big, important claim. Education has become narrow-minded in its focus to the detriment of its students. While the goals of No Child Left Behind are admirable, the clumsy execution has made very little room for educators to encourage play, discovery or creativity in the classroom lest it cause their students to deviate from their rigid lesson plan.
While there are no easy answers, what is sure is that neither Bush's "No Child Left Behind" nor Obama's "Waiver" process is going to adequately resolve the education crisis. Active engagement with school systems, their faculty and the students themselves is the right way forward.
There's an old thought experiment -- maybe you've heard it before -- that goes something like this: There is a possibility that the colors we subjectively experience are not the objective colors in the '"real" world. For example, we are taught that a certain shade and hue equals "red", so when we see a Rose or a Firetruck we immediately associate their dominant colors as "red". But what if that subjective "red" we see is really someone else's "blue"? We both associate two different colors with the same word because culturally and linguistically we've been trained to "see" that color as "red" instead of "blue" and vice-versa and so forth.
Admittedly, the hypothesis doesn't hold up under too much scrutiny but the main point (the one about language and subjective color experience) actually has some truth behind it. It turns out that language actively shapes what kinds of colors we can actively perceive in the external world. The paper linked to above goes into greater detail but the basic gist is that words pertaining to color influence color perception. There is no 1:1 ratio pertaining to color perception (that is, knowing more words won't make you better at seeing colors or differentiating between shades of color) but that color perception is built into individual cultures via their dominant languages. More research has yet to be done, but this is a fascination read and worth careful consideration.
We have been accosted by Klondike for the last ninety years about what lengths we'd go to, in no imprecise terms, for one of their frozen treats. While those lengths have been exaggerated, it turns out that in reality, we'd do just about anything to get free food. Pavlov would probably drool if he saw these videos. People slap buttons, dance, bow and perform just about any ridiculous task required of them to get their hands on a box of . . . uh . . . chips. I mean at some point someone should have pointed out that adage about time being money, right? Granted there's a depression on but we're hoping this isn't the future of snack distribution. Watch the video behind the link.
The technology that we use to host, create and distribute content on the web has changed drastically in the last twenty years. More accurately, the web that we know and enjoy now didn't truly exist until a decade ago. And if we bring mobile web into the equation, well, we don't have a lengthy history at all. Web standards have improved and the internet is more than just an information superhighway; it's a place where ideas are cultivated and exchanged. Hard as it is to believe, the Internet is still in its "wild west" days, although that time is rapidly coming to a close. The Evolution of the Web is a great info graphic that details the rise and expansion of the web. Look back as this info graphic traces the rise and fall of standards, web browsers and tracks the rapid expansion of internet traffic.
Here's a good one. We're all pretty tied to social networks at this point. So how can we use those social networks to our advantage when it comes to being productive at work? John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing has laid out in precise fashion what exactly productivity looks like in the media-hungry, app-savvy 21st century. He walks you through some pretty obvious options like Evernote and Gmail as well as some less-obvious ones like Stumbleupon and Instagram. This guide (in PDF format) is worth a look if you use any of these apps on a regular basis.