Gender stereotypes emerge early

I read a recent paper on gender stereotypes that interpreted research data from studies of 400 children which identified the emergence of gender stereotypes – the association of “brilliance = males” – from the age of about six years of age. Although this research was conducted within a US cultural context (which one was not indicated in the paper), the findings reveal that these beliefs, and the self-selection by girls of areas of interest that are not seen as “very, very smart” like physics and psychology, are inculcated culturally from an early age. The paper does not try to identify where these stereotypes are from: early years educators are implicated but it’s clear that these beliefs are deeply rooted by the time children reach secondary school. It is a huge ask of physics teachers to take responsibility for mending the gender gap in their classrooms.

Bian, L., Leslie, S.J. & Cimpian, A., 2017. Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Science (New York, N.Y.), 355(6323), pp.389–391.

Open Badges Closed

Well, that was another massive waste of time. For all the hype and hope of having truly transportable awards for training and achievement, backed by Mozilla, no less, the current state of play is pretty disappointing.

I’m running an online resource for some of my students using Moodle, and have been experimenting with badges for minor achievements to help them remain motivated in an unpressurised way, in what is otherwise a highly pressurised programme. Feedback from them has been that the badges are just a bit of fun, really, and not a significant feature of the course. However, talking to one of the students recently revealed that if the badges were to be publicly show-offable, such as on a LinkedIn profile, then they would add a new level of significance that might help them work just that little bit harder to earn these little digital stickers.

Enabling the backpack link within Moodle and trying it for myself (yes, I have awarded myself one of my own badges, for testing purposes obv), I discover that the whole open badges thing is now dead, having been abandoned by Mozilla. Simple issues such as having multiple email accounts within the backpack remain of no interest as the whole idea withers and dies.

Shame. This whole internet thing seemed like a good idea when it was new.

Open Source 1, Microsoft 0 (own goal)

So, I’m sitting down to work on some stuff for my job that is in a Microsoft file format, because that’s what the corporate world uses, when this message appears. I managed to sign in using my corporate id and their subscription.

What ticks me off is that I have already bought and paid for this software. It makes me even more determined to move to open source.

tryGit: it’s the teach, not the tech.

I picked up a link to a free online course from a recent Linux Voice podcast. I tried the course and wasn’t really impressed with it. The interface is nice, with an embedded virtual terminal to let you practice typing in the commands but the pedagogy is pretty weak. There’s nothing in the presentation that indicates that the designers understand how to construct understanding: all this lovely bit of code is doing is rehearsing a list of commands (and there’s even a click-once shortcut if you can’t be bothered actually typing). It’s more of a checklist than a course. It would be easy to turn it into a really effective bit of online learning with the addition of some better structure and graphics, and maybe a little assessment for learning. A shame, really, as it is clearly a loss leader to sell the Code School itself: I am in the market for some good quality online learning in their area, but I’m not likely to look any further at their catalogue.