Thursday, December 26, 2013

private colleges rethink pricing

As you probably learned in Econ, pricing doesn't just mean how much something is listed for sale-- it also means how prices are advertised or presented to buyers.  For example, you may have heard of a hotel's "rack rate" (i.e., the full retail cost of renting a room)-- but it's doubtful anyone you know actually pays that rate when they can easily obtain discounts through websites, travel agents, or even AAA.  The rack rate is there for suckers, and to make the rest of us feel good about getting a reduced-rate "deal."

College pricing works the same way more often than you might think.  Who actually pays full retail for private college tuition when they can easily obtain financial aid or discounts?  Even though college is an accomplishment and a rite of passage in this culture, many factors (like economic conditions that negate the "tuition investment --> salary payoff" promise, even for law schools) have caused private colleges to rethink their pricing strategies

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

late stage college planning

Do you and your parents have a plan to reduce college costs that includes:
  • Creating a "bidding war" between colleges who see their competitors on your applications list?
  • Expertly searching and applying for private scholarships?
  • Analyzing education-related tax breaks such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit?
  • Opting out of the college's health plan?
  • Evaluating meal plans and textbook vendors? 
If not, please read this Wall Street Journal article and talk about it with your parents, your academic/college adviser/s, and your family's financial adviser/s.

If there is interest I can also ask Ms. Deborah Fox if she'll join us online for Q&A.

In the interest of full disclosure:
  1. Ms. Deborah Fox is a brilliant, insightful, nationally known expert in the field with a quick wit and a winning smile.
  2. She's also my cousin.
  3. I don't have any financial interest in her business-- but I think it's a really good idea, which is why
  4. I poached the article by taking the screen shots below, since (as you already know if you tried the link above without a subscription to the WSJ) the article lives behind a paywall (screen shot at bottom), which means that almost all of the people who most need to read it won't.  If this presents an ethical dilemma please stop reading here.

get this kid out of here

Congratulations to Nik Koyama for launching his Kickstarter campaign:


Friday, December 13, 2013

my all-time favorite christmas tree

I have friends who make Christmas trees out of all sorts of things-- this was last year's, and I still regret not trying to read one of the bottom titles...

fundraising opportunity

The library got rid of a bunch of National Geographic Magazines -- apparently they don't know what people pay for these things on ebay.  If you want any to take home, give as a gift, or sell to fund your research or collaborative working group, they're yours.  I'll keep them in the room until the end of the first week of spring semester.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

fall semester showcase p5

[Working to complete this post by tomorrow-- if you have a file, link, or embed code, please send it along.]

Thanks to everyone who presented today!  We learned about an amazing range of ideas and the people who are pursuing them.  Following are highlights (listed more or less in chronological order); if you don't see your presentation here or if you have something to add/correct, please comment or email with info & a link or embed code.

Lindsey, Melissa, Allyson, Brenna, Rachel, Miki, Becky
Head to their Big Questions tumblr for links to videos, Prezis, and more about who we are, how we get that way, what others think, and why any of it matters...

Internet Memes

Mia & Javie
In Loco Politico (check out the site here)

in loco politico

Kendall, Kristen & Jacob
Encouraging the Youth of Tomorrow, Today

Open Source Learning Wiki 

electric sheep art

Check this out.  And if you're interested in learning more please let me know-- Scott (a.k.a. Spot) is a friendly acquaintance.

for friday & beyond


(1) New plan for reporting blog stats: please bring them with you on Friday (or email Dr. Preston if you won't be in class). You will need to provide:
  • posts (by month)
  • posts (total) 
  • comments
  • page views
 If you need any help finding these please ask/email/comment to this post.

(2) Bring any ideas, questions, or brainstorms about how you might further your own interests through this course in the spring.  We'll have informal opportunities to discuss big questions, collaborative working groups, AP/college/career prep, reading choices for spring, and anything else that's on your mind.

(3) Pay very close attention to your environment.  It will be paying very close attention to you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

fall semester showcase p3

[Working to complete this post between showcases today and tomorrow-- if you have a file, link, or embed code, please send along.]

Thanks to everyone who presented today!  We learned about an amazing range of ideas and the people who are pursuing them.  Following are highlights (listed more or less in chronological order); if you don't see your presentation here or if you have something to add/correct, please comment or email with info & a link or embed code.

Melissa, Allyson, Brenna, Rachel, Lindsey, Miki, Becky
Head to their Big Questions tumblr for links to videos, Prezis, and more

Shane, Edmond, Colter
YOLO: You Only Launch Once

Rudy, Zach, Hayley, & Lauren
How To Get Past Memorization

The Happiness Project

Ashley & Bianca
To Draw Or Not To Draw: A Visual History of a Friendship

Micaela, Caroline, Hayley
If I Won the Lottery

december 11-12

Welcome to the Showcase!  Looking forward to everyone's presentations.  To complete the semester and set the stage for spring, please follow these steps:

1. Write your email address on the sign-up sheet in class;
2. Check your inbox after class for an invitation to a Google doc spreadsheet;
3. Open the spreadsheet and enter your name and blog stats.

Although the calendar says this is Finals Week, nothing about learning is final-- take the opportunity to reflect on your semester and think about how we can improve for the spring.  And, next week, CHECK THE BLOG (if you don't already follow it); there will be several shared missions over the break, opportunities for you to make up credit and get ahead, and the usual miscellany.

Wishing you and your families Happy Holidays :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

december 9

Watch this space.  Things will happen here over the next few days that you won't want to miss.

JOURNAL TOPIC: [Psych.  You can either take your journal with you or you can leave it in the crate for next semester.]

1. A word about journals
2. Several words about end-of-semester reflection, evaluation, & planning
3. A few (more specific words) about HW & where we'll head after break
4. Logistics for this week's final periods

1. Put the finishing touches on any/all work related to your path of inquiry that you want included in the semester evaluation.
2. Write your first email to your future self-- then post about it to your blog per today's discussion (title: LIFE AFTER THIS BLOG POST)

Friday, December 6, 2013

december 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons; "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane]

In The Principles of Psychology (1890), William James wrote, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.” How have your experiences in this course helped you focus your attention? What do you still need to work on? What elements of the following text (from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84) draw your attention and help you construct meaning?

The driver nodded and took the money. "Would you like a receipt?"
"No need. And keep the change."
"Thanks very much," he said. "Be careful, it looks windy out there. Don't slip."
"I'll be careful," Aomame said.
"And also," the driver said, facing the mirror, "please remember: things are not what they seem."
Things are not what they seem, Aomame repeated mentally. "What do you mean by that?" she asked with knitted brows.
The driver chose his words carefully: "It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day-- especially women."
"I suppose you're right."
"Right. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I've had that experience myself. But don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality."

1. Journal (and be sure to turn it in! :)
2. Planning next week's showcase: Q&A, logistics
3. Evaluative introspections

1. Get ready to rock.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

december 5


Analyze your preparation and your performance on today's essay exam.  How well did you do?  Better or worse than you expected?  Why?  To what factors do you attribute your degree of success?  Is there anything you thought of afterward that you'd like to add? 

1. Prepare for your Showcase
2. Remaining lit analysis work (as needed)
3. Blog maintenance (as needed)
4. Bring journal up to date (as needed)

where does your t-shirt come from?

After reading a description of rice farming in When Heaven & Earth Changed Places, I started honoring every kernel of rice on my plate and eating every last one because of what I learned about the time and effort required to grow, harvest, and market it.

About 20 years later, this story from NPR is making me look at my t-shirts differently.

my new new favorite website

Banksy speaks for himself.

my new favorite website

If you get just four or five of the 1,057 reasons this is awesome, you can consider yourself culturally literate.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

*poof!* you're a journalist

I majored in Communication Studies at UCLA.  Then I wrote for The Los Angeles Times.  But I never thought of myself as a journalist.  I didn't think a stringer covering local school districts was on par with professionals whose Pulitzer Prize-worthy writing chops and Edward R. Murrow-like ethics brought us some of the most important and compelling stories of our time.

Times have changed, and I've changed my mind.  These days anyone with investigative social media skills and a writer's "voice" can find an audience hungry for stories that the corporate media doesn't cover.  Anyone can break a major story before major news outlets.  Consider the fact that Syrian use of chemical weapons was revealed by an "unemployed blogger" sitting at home in front of Twitter and YouTube in England.  According to a BBC producer, "this guy in Leicester has broken more stories than most journalists do in a career."  Even the raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed was (inadvertently) live Tweeted by this (other) guy (who graduated from Preston University! :).

This bodes well for citizen journalism like In Loco Politico.

betrayers banquet

Speaking of trust, this dinner concept is brilliant. 

our biggest challenge

People frequently ask me what I see as the biggest challenge in education.  I imagine they expect the usual litany--poverty, culture, resources, policy-- but to me there is only one thing worth talking about: trust.  Americans don't seem to trust each other anymore.  Maybe taking the risk to learn out in the open will change some minds.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

december 4


Analyze your preparation and your performance.  How well did you do?  Better or worse than you expected?  Why?  To what factors do you attribute your degree of success? 

1. Review for tomorrow's essay exam
2. Remaining lit analysis work (if needed)
3. Blog maintenance (if needed)
4. Bring journal up to date (if needed)

tips for tomorrow

Tomorrow's exam will require you to define some words, provide antonyms for others, and create meaning with as many as you can in the time you have left.  Intensify your effort but don't get anxious.  This is what Coach Wooden defined as competitive greatness in his Pyramid of SuccessA real love for the hard battle, knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.

no excuses

I don't listen too much to people when they tell me I can't do something There's not a whole lot that's going to stand in my way. -Richie Parker

why you're going to follow me on twitter in the next 5 minutes

For a while now I've been thinking about how to hack our physical classroom.  I've designed  furniture, interactive wall spaces and surfaces, talking Arduino units that collect data and put it where we need it, hardware, a fully integrated Open Source Learning experience, the works, so that it really will be "not a classroom, but more of a space, a space that hold [sic] endless possibilities." 

But first thing's first.  You have certainly proven yourselves worthy, and you have inspired me to the next level of Open Source Learning, but-- I don't know, maybe it's finals-- sometimes it still just feels like this is all, um, you know.  A class.

I hate that feeling.

As everyone knows, there is no better time to mess with a student's head than the night before a big test.  Very interesting and potentially very rewarding things are about to happen all around you.  You won't want to miss anything that will help you take full advantage.

For example, in five minutes I will reveal the answer to one question on tomorrow's vocabulary final.  I will do this on Twitter via @prestonlearning.  You should probably start a Twitter account and follow @prestonlearning.  Like, now.

To be fair, since this may take five minutes, especially if you're still on campus, I will include the hashtag #dplitcomp in the Tweet so that it appears on the course blog feed.  Starting at 8:00 P.M. I will post more answers-- and for those I will not include the hashtag, so if you're not following @prestonlearning by then you won't see them.  Also, since so many of you have mastered the art of collaboration and will no doubt post all this on Random Absence Mentoring, FB, and elsewhere, I will only continue Tweeting the correct answers if every student in every period is following @prestonlearning by 8:00 P.M.

Have a nice day. :)

american schools v. the world

According to this account of the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment, we're expensive, unequal, and bad at math.

monster trucks and math

This girl crushes the competition in both.

lunch with mentors

If you're a member of the Open Source Learning Mentors collaborative working group, join us for lunch today!  If you're not a member, but you want to lurk/listen in/avoid sunshine, join us for lunch today!

december 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Imagination" by The Rolling Stones; "Imagine" by John Lennon]

The man who has no imagination has no wings. -Muhammad Ali
Imagination is more important than knowledge. -Albert Einstein
Imagination rules the world. -Napoleon Bonaparte
You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. -Mark Twain
If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. -Henry David Thoreau

What is imagination and what role does it play in your life?  Is your imagination getting stronger or weaker as you age?  To what extent does it help you create the experiences and the life you want?

1. Journal
2. Preparing for success unexpected in common hours

1. Literature analyses, blog maintenance, final/showcase prep

Monday, December 2, 2013

guadalupe scholarship

This just in from Sal Reynoso: Lupe Alvarez, the former mayor of Guadalupe, has sponsored a scholarship with his family for students who live in Guadalupe.  Here is the information:

Lupe Alvarez Sons Flier 2014-2015.pdf

december 2

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Back in the High Life Again" by Steve Winwood; "We Are The Champions" by Queen; "Winning" by Santana]

This weekend my beloved UCLA Bruins beat USC in football to reclaim all sorts of bragging rights in Los Angeles.  Why does anyone care?  Seriously: what difference does it actually make in the world that a bunch of barely-outta-high-school athletes I've never met won a football game?  Why am I so happy about it?  Why do so many of us students/alumni love our school colors and express loyalty and belonging by screaming about our teams at the top of our lungs?

1. Journal
2. Finals/end-of-semester prep & plan for the week

1. Semester wrap up: literature review/Dickens or Shakespeare; literature analyses; any/all outstanding work that you want considered for your final semester grade, all of which is due on your blog BY the time we meet on Friday, December 6.