Wednesday, July 30, 2008

KDU is Going Green!

So let's remind ourselves why we're doing it. And what our options are.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to Say Nothing in 500 Words (A Lesson on Writing)

Avoid the obvious content. Say the assignment is college football. Say that you’ve decided to be against it. Begin by putting down the arguments that come to your mind. Now when you write your paper, make sure that you don’ t use any of the material on this list. If these are the points that leap to your mind, they will leap to everyone else’s too. Be against college football for some reason or reasons of your own. If they are keen and perceptive ones, that’s splendid. But even if they are trivial or foolish or indefensible, you are still ahead so long as they are not everybody else’s reasons too.”

Take the less usual side. “One rather simple way of getting into your paper is to take the side of the argument that most of the citizens will want to avoid. They are intellectual exercises, and it is legitimate to argue now one way and now another, as debaters do in similar circumstances. Always take the that looks to you hardest, least defensible. It will almost always turn out to be easier to write interestingly on that side.”

Slip out of abstraction. “Look at the work of any professional writer and notice how constantly he is moving from the generality, the abstract statement, to the concrete example, the facts and figures, the illustrations. For most the soundest advice is to be seeking always for the picture, to be always turning general remarks into seeable examples. Don’t say, “Sororities teach girls the social graces.” Say, “Sorority life teaches a girl how to carry on a conversation while pouring tea, without sloshing the tea into the saucer.”

Get rid of obvious padding. “Instead of stuffing your sentences with straw, you must try steadily to get rid of the padding, to make your sentences lean and tough… You dig up more real content. Instead of taking a couple of obvious points off the surface of the topic and then circling warily around them for six paragraphs, you work in and explore, figure out the details. You illustrate.”

Call a fool a fool. “If he was a fool, call him a fool. Hedging the thing about with “in-my-opinion’s” and “it-seems-to-me’s” and “as-I-see-it’s” and “at-least-from-my-point-of-view’s” gains you nothing. Delete these phrases whenever they creep into your paper. Decide what you want to say and say it as vigorously as possible, without apology and in plain words. Writing in the modern world, you cannot altogether avoid modern jargon. But you can do much if you will mount guard against those roundabout phrases, those echoing polysyllables that tend to slip into your writing to rob it of its crispness and force.”

Beware of Pat Expressions. “Other things being equal, avoid phrases like “other things being equal.” Those sentences that come to you whole, or in two or three doughy lumps, are sure to be bad sentences. They are no creation of yours but pieces of common thought floating in the community soup… No writer avoids them altogether, but good writers avoid them more often than poor writers.”

Colorful Words. “Some words are what we call “colorful.” By this we mean that they are calculated to produce a picture or induce an emotion. They are dressy instead of plain, specific instead of general, loud instead of soft. Thus, in place of “Her heart beat,” we may write, “her heart pounded, throbbed, fluttered, danced.” Instead of “He sat in his chair,” we may say, “he lounged, sprawled, coiled.”

Colored Words.. “When we hear a word, we hear with it an echo of all the situations in which we have heard it before. The word mother, for example, has, for most people, agreeable associations. When you hear mother you probably think of home, safety, love, food, and various other pleasant things..The question of whether to use loaded words or not depends on what is being written.”

Colorless Words. “A pet example is nice, a word we would find it hard to dispense with in casual conversation but which is no longer capable of adding much to a description. Colorless words are those of such general meaning that in a particular sentence they mean nothing…Slang adjectives like cool (”That’s real cool”) tend to explode all over the language. They are applied to everything, lose their original force, and quickly die.”

Monday, July 21, 2008


This is informative, persuasive and a great example of how to use slides in our presentations.

Want to Remember Everything You've Ever Learnt? Surrender to this Algorithm

This is a long article, but it may be worth your time. It's about a new program called Supermemo and how, "(Human) forgetting follows a pattern. We forget exponentially. A graph of our likelihood of getting the correct answer on a quiz sweeps quickly downward over time and then levels off."

Academic Meets Architecture: Applying Maths Skills to a Real-World Problem

Thursday, July 17, 2008

E-Books Like "Vegetarian Meat"?

In a digital age, there is natural tendency to chuck away our physical books for e-reading gadgets. I get a feeling that many KDU students would rather log on to Wikipedia than go into the library.

Jordan Jacks from Yale University bemoans this trend and reemphasizes the very nature of books over against the superficiality(?) of e-reading devices like the Sony Reader.

"The problem with the Sony Reader is not its ease of use, its price, or the books it can display; the real problem with the Reader lies in its very existence. Boiled down to its essentials, the Sony Reader faces the same damning comparison as vegetarian lunch meat—why read the Sony Reader’s imitation ink, look at its “paper-like” display, or handle its book-aping flip covers, when the real thing is cheaper, easier to use, and comes in more than three colors?

"The Reader fundamentally changes what it means to read, transforming what was an escapist, often solitary act—a way to leave behind the considerations of schedules or electronic
timetables, the ineffable present of daily life—into an integrated communion with the modern world. How can you escape into a book when that book is linked to the rest of the daily, electronic grind?

"Readers must, in the act of reading, be allowed to be alone with a book."

What do you think? Wanna stay with 'real' books? Or will 'virtual' reading rule the world?

Multi-Tasking a No-No?

Do you have a habit of turnng on the TV whilst you're studying? Or trying to finish half a dozen mini-assignments within an hour?
Contrary to popular belief (and practice!), multi-tasking may in fact make us less efficient.

Educator Kathy Sierra counsels us to practice mindfulness. This is a very 'Zen-ish' way of saying, "Focus - don't spread - attention!" ;>)

Read her full blog-post, Your Brain on Multi-Tasking. Some quotes from her piece below:
  • "Our brains can't do even two independent things that require conscious thought, especially if those two things involve different goals."
  • "Practicing mindfulness is like adding more hours to your day. If you're mindful, time slows down. You get more done, enjoy things more, and feel less stress. "
  • "Imagine what it would be like if every time your co-worker, friend, spouse, lover, child wanted to say something to you and you turned and gave that person all your attention."

77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper & Better

If someone granted you one wish, what do you imagine you would want out of life that you haven't gotten yet?

For many people, it would be self-improvement and knowledge. New knowledge is the backbone of society's progress. Great thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and others' quests for knowledge have led society to many of the marvels we enjoy today.

It's been said that the average adult only uses 10% of his/her brain. Imagine what we may be capable of with more advanced learning techniques.

Here are 77 tips related to knowledge and learning to help you on your quest. A few are specifically for students in traditional learning institutions; the rest for self-starters, or those learning on their own.

Check out the 77 tips.

Which tip did you think was most original or helpful? You have any rich learning tips of your own?

21st Century Assessment

Did You Know?

One of most popular short-clips on the Web regarding education.