Notes on Blindness

After the writer and theologian John Hull became completely blind in 1983, he kept an audio diary of his experience. This film is a dramatization using those recordings.

Notes on Blindness from The New York Times – Video on Vimeo.

For the story behind ‘Notes on Blindness,’ click here:

BCeSIS Must Die

**Summer 2014 update: BCeSIS has finally gone! A new program, Aspen, has been selected to take its place. Teachers everywhere smile.**

BCeSIS is a nightmarish grade-reporting program mandated for use in all BC schools. When droves of teachers began to report problems with the program, the British Columbia government spent over $50 million to fix it, with basically no results. It’s buggy, heavy-handed, and reminiscent of software from the early 1990’s. This is what we use to create your children’s report cards that attempt to guide them through the formative years of their lives.

bcesis ss

Any business would quickly ask why anyone would use something so pathetic across the province. There are twitter accounts and YouTube videos dubbed over old German WW2 movies (see below) dedicated to mocking and berating the existence of this digital problem package. In private industry, an agile, user-friendly, service-oriented competitor would have quickly pitched their platform and earned the contract. Alas, red tape and provincial mandates.

And today, in the middle of report card writing season, BCeSIS won’t even open on any of my internet browsers, since it was built on an old version of Java and the update renders it inaccessible.

It’s bitter, ridiculous irony: a report-writing program designed to “support student achievement” has done so little towards that goal; I would go so far as to say BCeSIS has negatively affected reporting in British Columbia. The space it provides teachers to summarize the total personal, intellectual, social and emotional learning of their students is an inadequate three sentences. The amount of headaches caused to teachers during report writing weeks and weekends have been enough to begin the next week of teaching exasperated and grumpy. This software is supposed to make our jobs easier, not harder.

And with the incredible amount of great tech start-ups even right in Vancouver (like the world-class Hootsuite) almost anyone could have done it better. Imagine a beautiful, local solution we could be proud of. But somehow, in this stupid catastrophe, we have ended up with a worthless and meaningless platform produced by a technology company whose work in general has been less than superior; technology which makes us feel like we’re doing data entry on lab rats or testing out retro software that feels like you should have accessed it using MS-DOS prompt.

Government of British Columbia, I implore you. Quickly axe BCeSIS as suggested in 2011. This living nightmare has lasted long enough.

The teacher’s gaze

Our gazes matter… our gazes communicate. They can be barriers, or gates that open the possibility of a transformational relationship.


I am teaching an Assessment for Learning class again this semester.  One of the first things I often ask my students to do in this class  is to read an excerpt from Leo Tolstoy’s, Anna Karenina.  The passage opens with the following words – “Serezha’s eyes, that had been shining with affection and joy, grew dull and dropped under his father’s gaze.”  It then goes on to describe an educational interaction between Serezha and his father that is punctuated by different kinds of assessment in an effort to support learning, but it is the assessment of his father’s ‘gaze‘ that has already derailed the learning from the start, leading to progressive frustration and anger on the part of the father (teacher) and the anxiety and ultimate punishment of the child for not learning.

We forget, as teachers, that our gazes matter, that our gazes communicate, that…

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The Culture of Arcade Games

Impact of Arcade Games to Society

Games are part of everyone’s lifestyle, regardless of race, gender, or creed—it’s an accepted principle that playtime is integrated into people’s routines as much as possible. One of the most popular genres when it comes to gaming is the arcade, a form of amusement with roots dating back to the first half of the 20th century. Information site The Verge reports that the first one in this category was called Baffle Ball, created by David Gottlieb in 1931. Later emerged other coin-operated variations such as pinball machines and video game cabinets. The 70s saw a breakthrough when Nolan Bushnell created a video game arcade called Computer Space, which started the modern take for arcade games. In the 80s Pac-Man came into existence, and it seemingly had “the most lasting effects on the American psyche”.

The arcade is not a dead industry; in the UK, there are still adult gaming centers and licensed family entertainment centers which cater to those who are passionate about the game. The UK Gambling Commission released recent statistics which are quite staggering—as of September this year, there are more than a thousand gaming centers with arcade premises in Britain. Land-based gaming centers aren’t the only ones thriving; the online industry is seeing a boom itself, with graphic innovations to up the ante. For instance, recent gaming news from Casino City Times revealed that UK-based gaming platform Betfair Arcade recently teamed up with Core Gaming Ltd which is “the gaming industry’s leading developer of HTML5 and tablet casino games” to launch a slot game based on Evil Knievel. This alliance is bound to have a huge reach, as Core plans to deliver the brand into emerging US markets as well as land-based UK markets.

With a wide audience, how do arcade games affect society? Bryan Price, in an article for Yahoo! Voices, said that different arcade games have certain benefits. Shooting games are good for reflexes, because these commonly require quick moves in order to shoot at targets and stay alive. Puzzle games aid logical reasoning and improves critical thinking, as these “strain the brain” to get to the next level. Fighting games help the memory, as the player tends to memorize special attacks and combination moves in order to be a strategic combatant. Action games improve alertness, because the senses are alive during adrenaline-pumping gaming sequences. With these effects on gamers, it’s no wonder that they stick to arcade games after all these years.

Bob Kuhn: Trinity Western University president responds to Clayton Ruby

The Province

Dear Mr. Ruby:

Since July you have been doing media interviews and public speeches denouncing Trinity Western University’s proposal for a law school.

You have done this without ever visiting TWU or even contacting anyone from the University. You have continually misrepresented the facts and misconstrued the University’s community covenant. Now you seem to suggest that the University is acting illegally in maintaining its religious definition of marriage.

This is not only absurd, it is defamatory — not just to TWU but to the millions of people of faith across Canada who hold similar religious beliefs.

Trinity Western University is a privately-funded university that was founded over 50 years ago. It has been a fully accredited university in British Columbia since 1984.

Recognized for quality, TWU is consistently ranked among the top universities in Canada for “Enriching Educational Experience” by the National Survey of Student Engagement, as reported in Maclean’s magazine; has been ranked A+ for quality…

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