Kevin Blissett: Out of the Cave

Leadership, Classroom 2.0, Curriculum, China

BYU 2nd to Harvard Among Students Accepted

byu_logoOf course, I have to give a shout-out to my alma mater on this story. It appears that, of applicants who are accepted to universities across the U.S., Brigham Young University is rated second only to Harvard as a percentage of those students who actually arrive on campus the first day.

Here’s one thing Harvard and BYU have in common – of all universities in the nation, both have the highest yields of students that choose to attend out of those who are accepted.

A recent study by U.S. News and World Report named Harvard as the most popular university in the nation according to this measure (79 percent yield), with BYU coming in close second with 77 percent.

The study was based on statistics from the fall 2007 entering class and was the second year U.S. News and World Report has conducted the study. Last year, BYU tied with Harvard at the highest national yield of 79 percent.

Go Cougs!


March 31, 2009 Posted by | university | Leave a comment

My Students’ Progress via Class Blog

create_a_blog_best_free_hosted_publishing_services_mini-guide_size485My Year 11 students and I are really enjoying our class blog. I’m seeing a side of their creativity that I would not have seen otherwise, I’m guessing. The students are engaged, innovative, and genuinely seem to be excited about posting even if it’s an “assignment.”

Basically I’m having them do three types of post: One is a summary assigned to one student every day detailing what we did in class; the next is a daily reflection on most any topic; the third is a specific writing assignment which we collaborate on.

What I’m noticing is that I’m no longer spending time on discrete grammar lessons, and the students seem to be learning grammar faster because the learning is more meaningful. I highly recommend the use of class blogs for any subject.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | social media, technology | Leave a comment

College Admissions in a Down Economy

harvardYou would think that the poor world economy might lower the number of applicants to universities around the U.S. Well, think again. Jacques Steinberg and Tamar Lewin report that getting admitted to a top university may be as hard as or harder than ever.


Representatives of HarvardStanfordDartmouthYale, and Brown, among other highly selective institutions, said in telephone and e-mail exchanges in recent days that applications for the Class of 2013 had jumped sharply when compared to the previous year’s class. As a result, the percentage of applicants who will receive good news from the eight colleges of the Ivy League (and a few other top schools that send out decision letters this week) is expected to hover at – or near – record lows. 



March 30, 2009 Posted by | university | Leave a comment

More Online Education

Lifehacker has a helpful article listing some more great places to get free online education. Among the more interesting offerings to me are these:

  • language learning programs
  • skills trading quid pro quo sites
  • online university courses
See the article for details.
With the continued proliferation of all things internet, this trend of providing open source materials for mass consumption will continue far into the future.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Either/Or Choice?

Digital Education reports that UK schools will be forgoing some content in the National Curriculum in favor of learning classroom 2.0 skills like Tweeting, blogging, podcasting, social media networking, etc. This is another one of those choices that I don’t believe is “either/or.” Learners will need some instruction in learning these skills, but I doubt that a considerable amount of content needs to be excluded in order to accomplish the task. Quoting from The Guardian:

“The proposals would require…children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication.”

And from Digital Ed:

Even before the new documents are released they are fueling debate over content in UK schools. I can just imagine the response it will bring from subject-area specialists: Without the content, will students have anything meaningful to blog about?

March 28, 2009 Posted by | social media, twitter | Leave a comment

Inducting New Teachers

I found this post from Jo McLeay at Open Education in which she describes what a great new-teacher induction session looks and feels like. Her account certainly prompts me to realize that I can do much more to make new teachers feel welcome in a new environment. Check it out.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | orientation | Leave a comment

Content vs. Skills

Andrew J. Rotherman analyzes “21st century skills” and confronts the perennial conflict between content-oriented and skills-oriented education and comes to the conclusion–with which I agree whole-heartedly–that this discussion presents a false choice.

Rotherman correctly contends that whether to focus more on how to learn rather than what to learn has been debated since the days of Plato, though you wouldn’t know it from the fact that some education circles label it as a “new” approach. The International Baccalaureate Organization, for example, has been using an “inquiry” approach to education for 30 years.
Rotherman’s main point is that having the skills without the proper amount of content does not provide an adequate context for using the skills and critical thinking. That is, learners must have the content foundation upon which to exercise these skills.

To critically analyze various documents requires engagement with content and a framework within which to place the information. It’s impossible, for instance, to critically analyze the American Revolution without understanding the facts and context surrounding that event. Unfortunately, state, national, and international assessments show that despite a two-decade-long focus on standards, American schools still are not delivering a content-rich curriculum for all students.

Unfortunately some 21st-century skills proponents believe these skills should replace the teaching of content. They believe that because so much new knowledge is being created, students should focus onhow to know instead of knowing. This view threatens to reopen a debate in American education that is not new either: content pitted against critical thinking rather than the two complementing each other.

Ultimately, schools need to use both approaches, and I’m not sure that either philosophy is more important that the other. Students need to be able to provide a content context for information and also need to be able to analyze and expand upon it. To the degree that schools do both, they will be successful in preparing learners for the 21st century, in my view.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | skills | Leave a comment

E-Flashcard Generation

Charles Sipe of
School Tools Blog introduces some absolutely incredible sites for making flashcards online. These can obviously be used for a myriad of educational purposes.  One example:


Unlike Cramberry, Quizlet allows you to search and find flash card sets created by other users. A nice feature of this site is that it allows you to play games with the flash card sets. In “Space Race” you have to type in the corresponding definition or answer before the term crosses the screen. If you miss, the game prompts you to type in the answer to reinforce the correct response.

Pros: There are tons of pre-made flash card sets on a wide range of subjects. The games make studying fun.

Cons: The games don’t really work with long definitions

March 28, 2009 Posted by | technology, tools | Leave a comment

Managing Your Day

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Lots of good ideas here from The Simple Dollar. We’ve probably all waded through mounds of time management programs, perhaps even gone to workshops focusing on the topic. This blog post provides concrete advice for not letting yourself become overwhelmed throughout the day. Some examples:

  • Keep your to-do list to four items per day. (This one would seem to be difficult for me, unless they are major tasks.)
  • Check email only twice a day.
  • File things once a day so that papers don’t pile up. (I try to avoid paper like the plague. If it can be done electronically, it will be. This helps me to keep things organized and neat…and saves trees.)
  • Start the day with your MAJOR creative task.
  • Take lots of micro-breaks. Move around.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | organization, time management | 1 Comment

Free University Lecture Sites

Lifehacker reports that YouTube has just launched a new sub-site called YouTube EDU. Evidently they have links to lectures from many of the US’s top universities.  They’re also pointing to another free lecture site called Academic EarthGreat info for those of us looking to better ourselves…for free!

March 27, 2009 Posted by | technology, youtube edu | Leave a comment