This is a warning for my fellow educators… Let me save you some frustration, aggravation, and maybe some money. Do not attempt to purchase academic software from a company called “JourneyEd.” They also do business as Academic Super Store and perhaps several other similar names.
The process is supposed to be fairly straightforward. You place an order, then submit documentation proving you are qualified to purchase. The website says “one business day” is required.
Being a somewhat thorough person, I decided to call before ordering to get some assurance I was qualified. The customer service rep who took my call started reading to me from the website. I kept interrupting; he kept reading. I finally managed to speak to a supervisor who assured me I was qualified, so I placed the order and submitted my documentation for verification.
What followed was several days of nightmarish sorts of communication. I would email customer service–they would eventually reply assuringly that verifications are handled in the order received. I resubmitted my documentation several times, using different channels. Just about the time I was becoming suspicious, I received an email reminding me they were waiting for me to submit my documentation. At this point I did the research I should have done at the start and discovered they’ve been getting negative reviews since at least 2003.
So I cancelled the order. I did so by emailing, faxing, and placing a phone call to a thoroughly apathetic customer service representative. Now here’s where it gets funny. This morning I had a handful of emails from them assuring me that my order was cancelled and that I would not be charged nor would the order be shipped. So we have a company that is quite adept at cancelling orders but can’t seem to process them and ship them.
The good news is that I found another supplier and placed the same basic order late yesterday afternoon. Creation Engine also emailed this morning, advising that my order has been shipped from California and is already in Louisville KY. Lessons learned:
If you are looking for academic software, do NOT order from JourneyEd. Do order from Creation Engine.
If you are considering a business relationship with an online company, google “customer reviews and the name of that company” BEFORE you go too far.
All the way to the end. I’m not going to do a spoiler, but I will tell you that part-way through I found myself thinking how hard I wished people could realize that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in a child’s life. But in the end, that wasn’t the point.
I recently finished the book “Origins of the Specious” by Patricia O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman (Random House 2010). Subtitled “Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language,” it was truly a fun read. Unless you think etymology is about the study of eyties, you might enjoy it as well. (Etymology is the study of the history of words.) I also happen to enjoy a good word play–and this book starts with one right in the title.
It did take me a while to finish, because I chose to digest it in small bites. Not only was it informative, the writing is great. Watch this.
In the chapter “Snow job” the authors dispel the notion that there are dozens (or hundreds, depending on your version) of words for snow in the Eskimo language. Some dependable sources list four, one got to seven in 1940. (Wait for it!) The authors point out, “In the decades since then, the number or words has snowballed with each retelling…” Another paragraph notes there has been an “avalanche of snow stories.”
So while I’m recommending the book, I’m also willing to concede that not everyone will fully enjoy or appreciate the topic or the writing… but if you’ll visit http://www.grammarphobia.com/ you can learn more about several books they’ve written… and visit their blog for some “tastes” of etymology that will impress your friends at dinner parties.
The other day I was walking a second grader back to his classroom after he’d read a couple of chapters to me. We were bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have time to finish the story. I suggested he might be able to finish it during his MIL and then tell me about it later. He was suprised that I know about MIL.
For those who don’t, the acronym stands for “Managed Independent Learning.” A third grader piqued my inerest a few years ago and explained the basic concept. There are some periods throughout the day when students are, literally, allowed to manage their own learning independently. Well, there’s some obvious supervision required, but it’s pretty awesome to watch.
A slightly older colleague provides an interesting perspective on the process and why it works. I stumbled on to this TED clip a few months ago and it’s been “bothering” me ever since. While the speaker is talking very specifically about using video, spend the twenty minutes it takes to get the concept. Then tell me it doesn’t make sense.
When I’m teaching real estate courses one of the questions I get asked frequently is “Are we going to have to do this in practice/real life?” (It might not be a surprise that it most often comes up during math exercises.)
It’s a good question, of course. It’s also a hard one to answer honestly because sometimes “it depends.” So I will often put my tongue in my cheek and reply “Yes, at least once–when you take the final exam at the end of the course.”
I recently finished reading a series of articles on student engagement and motivation that I thought created several important perspectives in relation to that frequently asked question. I was attracted to the series based on a teaser suggesting it’s important to “teach your students how to fail.” Now that’s an interesting concept–and one I’m still exploring.
But what followed was the suggestion to “teach students to value learning, not performance.” That statement forced me to wheel my chair back and stare at the screen for a while. I admire the simple elegance of that suggestion.
For years we’ve met at the altar of an adult learning model that suggested we (educators/trainers) only have value when we are involved in “performance-based” training. Our lesson plans have to have “action words” in those behavioral objectives. “At the completion of this course, the student will be able to…”
I remember having my cage rattled quite a few years ago by an instructor who suggested “writing behavioral learning objectives is arrogant and presumptuous–what right do you have to decide what students are going to learn in your classes?” It’s probably fair to label him an extremist, but he makes an interesting point. As if to reinforce his point, I’ve had a number of occasions when a former student has contacted me and thanked me for something he or she learned in my class–and I don’t remember teaching it.
Our obsession with performance (including how students perform on tests) may have some unintended results. I listened to a student at the start of a recent class introduce herself with the observation she “was tired of taking classes and learning.” I thought it was a very sad statement. But I also think she’s wrong. She’s not tired of learning. I think she’s tired of being taught.
Too often our systems of education remove the joy of learning. If we can’t figure out how to put it back in, we ought to at least look at some ways to allow it!