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This week’s Crash Course’s video on navigating digital information focused on evaluating images and videos.

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Host John Green provided examples of how images could be used to represent and misrepresent both context and context. If it is easy to fool someone with text, it is even easier with images.

When presented with any image we might verify its context and content by a) seeking its source and determining its reliability, and b) searching laterally for its validity. If links or cues are not available in a suspicious image, we might use Google’s image search or Tineye to evaluate its worth.

How about videos? The principles are the same: Determine the veracity of its source, the reputation of its creator(s), and whether or not is was altered. It might be difficult to do the last item nowadays, but difficult is not impossible. What works for text also works for videos — search, read, and watch laterally.

I did not know that this was a thing — people following other people who video record themselves studying.

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But I can see why it would appeal to those who need to create conditions around them so that they remain focused and motivated.

The content creators, if they can be called that, are actually models of behaviour that others can draw inspiration from. They do not actually have to teach content.

This trait something that might elude novice teachers even though their teacher preparation courses and mentors might tell them. What they do and how they model behaviours matters. They teach not just with their words, but also (more so?) their actions.

Values are more CAUGHT than they are TAUGHT.

A quick definition of praxis might be theory enacted in practice or theory-informed practice.

We need praxis in teaching and instructional design. For this to happen, practitioners would have to be aware of theories that undergird practice, stay up to date with changes, and pursue relevant professional development.

But all these are not enough.

As the image embedded in the tweet above illustrates, knowledge of theory does not guarantee effective practice. Even a good model to follow is not sufficient. A recipe does not a cake make.

So a missing element in my superficial definition of praxis might now include the need to learn quickly and effectively from mistakes. This applies as much to facilitating learning as to cake-making.

I am not the first to point this out and I doubt I will be the last. The legal disclaimers or warnings that are automatically added to the end of organisational emails are ridiculous and unenforceable.

Here is one example:

This message and any files transmitted with it may be privileged and/or confidential and are intended only for the use of the addressee. If you are not the intended recipient, you shall not disseminate, copy or use this message for any purpose. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately by return email and delete the original message. Thank you.

Simply adding it to the end of an email message does not absolve the sender of carelessness, stupidity, or responsibility. It tries to put the onus on the recipient while not being able to ensure their compliance.

So why do it? My guess is that someone started doing it and lemmings followed. If you are not convinced, read some corporate email and count the number of gentle reminders, kind assistance, or revert backs. It is lazy language disease that spread with use.

Just because something is high-sounding or threatening does not make it legally-binding. It is a lazy way to look effective but not actually be effective.

How much more value could I bring to a tweet like that?

Maybe something I have shared before.

Nostalgia is like grammar. It makes the past perfect and the present tense.

Perhaps a critique of the thumb drive that is supposed to be where “our students are”. Students might just thumb those drives because even these are losing relevance.


You know the fairy tale about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If you suspend disbelief, you also know that a female intruder broke into a family’s home and treated it like it was hers.

But that is not my complaint. Instead I focus on what some educator’s call the Goldilocks Principle.

Again, you have to ignore that Goldilocks was a bad example of a human being. You have to fixate instead on striving for middle ground — not too hard, not too soft… just right.

I have nothing against logical compromise or finding good balance in all we do. I am against naming it after Goldilocks.

Goldilocks took advantage of Baby Bear’s expectations and practices. It was the fairy tale bear that wanted a particular type of chair, temperature of porridge, and comfort of bed.

What Goldilocks did was reap what she did not sow. I say we give Baby Bear the credit. If we create optimum conditions, meet the needs of the majority, or otherwise keep the peace between unhappy extremes, I say we operate by the Baby Bear Principle.

… with no model answer.

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Are textbooks obsolete? In a roundabout way, John Green mentioned how expensive they are and how there are more and much better resources online today.

But he says nothing about the dominance and self-interest of publishers of textbooks and journals. They sell books and journals (paper and electronic) to institutions of higher learning still stuck in the age of paper. The embrace change only if they can control it and take advantage of it.

So are textbooks obsolete? You get your answer when you can answer the question: Are universities obsolete?

Click to see all the nominees!

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