The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The 101

I am on board with Frank’s love of A History of the World in 100 Objects and also with his SurveyCast concept. He lays it out in some detail in his post, so go check it out, but this bit resonated with me (emphasis mine):

I suppose I’m hungry for curated educational materials online. These are more than lists of books to read: they’re organized, edited, and have a clear point of view about the content they are presenting, and subvert the typical scatter-shot approach of half the web (like Wikipedia), or the hyper-linear, storyless other half that obsesses over lists. And that’s the frustrating thing about trying to teach yourself things online: you’re new, so you don’t know what’s important, but everything is spread so thin and all over the place, so it’s difficult to make meaningful connections.

Some of the teachers I remember most from college are the ones who would say something like: “Listen. There are only two movies you need to understand to understand [whole giant big cinematic movement X]. Those two movies are [A] and [B]. And we’re gonna watch ’em.” (I feel like this is something Tim is extremely good at, actually.) It’s a step above curation, right? Context matters here; so does sequence. So we’re talking about some sort of super-sharp, web-powered, media-rich syllabus. I always liked syllabi, actually. They seem to make such an alluring promise, you know? Something like:

Go through this with me, and you will be a novice no more.


I’m just thankful that this post wasn’t about highway 101, which somehow even in Northern California has earned the definite article.

Though a 101 on The 101 (Northern California edition) would, in my humble opinion, include just two stretches that you need to travel to be a novice no more: the soulless patch heading south from Burlingame to Palo Alto (punctuated only by the 92 interchange), and the bit heading north right past Hospital Curve where even when there’s deathly traffic and you still have to make your way across the Bay Bridge the view of The City catches your breath.

I love tinkering with format, I love planning, and I love storytelling and pacing and structure, and I love how a good syllabi captures all of that at once. I feel like the tightest syllabi I’ve developed or been through have been so tightly packed and well-paced it almost seemed like a great training montage in a boxing or kung fu flick. You can watch yourself developing and understanding more and more core concepts until you leave the class feeling ready for the world.

And yes! This is a step above curation, because it requires not just taste, but expertise and experience. I think typically on the web curation has been used to define what is interesting in an unlimited scope, in which case just taste works fine. In these “survey” instances though, I’d say it’s making decisions about what is important, which requires expertise, using that to determine a suitable scope for teaching, which requires experience, and then going through another round of curation, which requires taste, to make choices about material as to what is important for that particular application.

Curation on top of curation. Yum.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

Below, you can use basic HTML tags and/or Markdown syntax.