Success and failure, pt. 2 – Blended learning, mixed results

Starting around 2010 I started putting content online for our students, each class with one page in its own hidden directory under our school’s domain.

I intended the kids’ classes’ sites as just a way to share the music and art the kids had made, and as a high-tech replacement for the special free classes for parents that we used to have on Saturday mornings.

The adults’ sites had links for videos and articles that we were using for homework that week as well as printable worksheets for weeks when I didn’t assign anything.  The centerpiece of an adult classes’ site though was a class dictionary which was updated weekly, and could be checked by all the students in the class in addition to being used in games and flash card-style javascript applications in the browser window.  Every week after my adult classes I’d update the xml dictionary file for their class and upload it with a few new words, chosen by the students from that week’s materials and discussions, along with definitions and example sentences.  Eventually most of those xml files came to contain hundreds such entries stretching back for years.

You can see an example of the kind of site that our adult classes had here.

So you can guess from the title of this post that not all went according to plan.  I’m still glad I made the sites, as probably are most of my students, but the overall lesson from this excursion into online territory is that you shouldn’t spend too much time designing additional content or services that are outside the norms of your particular teaching milieu.

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Infinite virtue

The 20th century was unfortunately rich in utopian projects, which justified massive human misery roughly thus:

  • A society of infinite human virtue is possible
  • Creating that society requires finite human suffering
  • Infinite virtue minus finite suffering still equals infinite virtue

For the simple reason that infinity – x = infinity as long as x is finite.  A utopia is worth any cost paid along the way.

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One of the necessary steps toward a perfect human society.

I believe the fact that calculations of this type led to tens of millions of 20th century deaths was pointed out in the unexpectedly wittily-written book Atrocities.  That book, like many other books, also gave me a little perspective on intercultural issues and things I’ve noticed while living in Japan.

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