Tag Archives: Europe


Image courtesy of sippakorn / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2829

Image courtesy of sippakorn / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2829

Personally, I don’t like soccer and never have. I find it colossally boring. Any sport that is decided by one goalie kicking against another goalie is silly. Why not just eliminate most of the other play and get directly to that part?

I like baseball. I played baseball as a kid from about the age of 7 until high school almost every day of summer. I was raised in the 40s and 50s when boys idolized baseball giants, like DiMaggio, Williams and others. Then, it was the practice to build such men into heroic role models, even if their private lives were not quite so heroic. The image was what mattered. It was what boys emulated.

Baseball is an individual’s game. The team is an accretion of cooperative specialists whose consummate teamwork makes possible the poetic perfection of a well-executed double play. The home run is an individual achievement, celebrated by doffed caps and a slow trot amongst collegial, congratulatory slaps on the shoulder. Crowds cheer in celebration of the achievement of individual skill over the laws of gravity.

Little League baseball started when I was still young, but I never played in a formal team. I played pick-up ball, what used to be called “sandlot” ball, so named after the practice of turning vacant city lots into impromptu diamonds. But we played it with joy, love and dedication. From this voluntary practice we learned such deep concepts as good sportsmanship, team spirit and friendship. It did not encourage killer competition. If anything it encouraged cooperation and camaraderie.

Until the society began to move leftward, in imitation of the Europe we’d had to save in the Second World War, nobody ever thought of soccer. It was foreign, uninteresting, nothing as clever or subtle, in rules or practice, as baseball. I never even heard of a “soccer mom” until the 60s.  It took me a long time to understand the term, and when I did understand it, I didn’t like what it meant, i.e., some liberal, suburbanite whose kid was so socially integrated he had no personality. How could soccer help develop a personality running around a field kicking at something that resembled a small basketball?

Now, I don’t actually belittle the sport itself. There is skill involved in manipulating a ball with your feet, elbows and head, but not with your hands. Kids learn to do it with a tennis ball, because it’s much better to train on something small, so that when you get to that bigger ball, you find it easier. No, it’s not the sport that bothers me. It’s the social thinking.

First, soccer is not an American game, like baseball. It’s European and, as such, requires European thinking. Dare I say “collective thinking?” Every move seems geared toward achieving a collective goal. Sure, in baseball, the ball is thrown among teammates to stop runners and there is a strategy in each and every play that is aimed toward scoring. But when I see a mass of people running and kicking a ball all over the place, I see a crowd, not a well-coordinated group of individuals.

I know there are skills in soccer, but they seem to be homogenized among all players, the same skills distributed like egalitarian commodities among the equal cogs in the team. In baseball, every player has a set of skills applied to an individual purpose within the whole. Many players have similar skills, but each performs differently within the 9 man patter of a baseball team.

But even those things are not what bother me most. What bothers me most is the soccer moms themselves. They all seem so much alike in dress and manner. All seem to share the same liberal values, egalitarian and inoffensive on the outside, even if killer competitiveness lurks on the inside. I can’t say I like Little League mothers (or fathers) much more, with their often threatening overt competitiveness. I don’t like Little League either, because I think kid sports ought to encourage the aspects of character I mentioned in regard to sandlot ball.

It used to be consummately American to drive through the city or surrounds and see baseball diamonds dotting the landscape. Out in the countryside, among plowed fields, every so often one saw a baseball diamond pop up. Not so much, anymore. Recently, a field formerly dedicated to casual sports boasted no fewer than three baseball diamonds. One used to walk or drive by and see softball teams and impromptu baseball games played there. Now, two of the diamonds have been removed and the field overtaken by soccer players. It breaks my heart, because, when I was a kid, baseball was America. Soccer never was and, at least for me, it will never be.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse. You can find out more about FJ over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.


Filed under American culture, Guest Post, Sports

Augmented Reality In The Classroom: Aurasma

Submission by Charles Cooper and Jill Compher

The simplest and most fundamental of elements in any sphere of knowledge seem to be the most difficult to explain.  The fundamental may be basic, but it is also the foundation upon which more complex things rest upon.  The atomic is difficult to qualify or quantify because qualities and quantities are based on those essentials.  Most of us can’t imagine, for example, our classrooms without certain crucial tools like electricity, our computers, or that bottle of Tylenol taped to the bottom of our desks. We would like to introduce you to your next crucial tool…Enter: Aurasma (key dramatic music).

Aurasma BB

Aurasma is a game changing app for Apple and Droid products that we absolutely LOVE.  Once you see it in action, ideas will fly out of you so quickly you may want to stop reading now and get something to write with.  The complexity of its application is completely up to how much you want to integrate this app in your lessons.  It is simple to use, but adds so much to your classroom experience.

Originally, Aurasma was developed as an advertising app to add POP to boring paper media advertisements.  If you go to their “campaign” site you’ll see the various companies involved with this project.  Because it was developed first in England, Aurasma is hitting its stride in Europe.  Organizations like the Tottenham Hotspur and Mercedes are using this app to really hook customers.   It has slowly been making its way into the United States.  Recently, Marvel Comics, GQ, HP, and the Rolling Stones have incorporated this augmented reality app into their arsenal of marketing efforts.

Aurasma is a free app that allows the user to tag an image with additional layers of information.  These additional layers can consist of audio, video, or image files. Just like the advertising efforts mentioned above, this app can really draw students into any upcoming or current lesson.  For example, a poster of Abraham Lincoln can be brought to life by layering audio of the reading of the Gettysburg Address, a scene from a Civil War documentary, or a still image related to the Lincoln Presidency.  At this point you may be thinking isn’t that what a “QR Code” does?  Nope!

QR codes are disembodied portals to a destination.  A QR code usually distracts from the image it is layered upon.  Aurasma, however, IS the image.  It allows the operator to use a picture, already useful and full of information, as the portal itself.  This picture then leads to additional information, examples, or interactive documents (via Google Docs, to name one source) that continue the lesson or open it up to higher level prompts or assignments.  A QR code is essentially limited to a single destination point.  With an Aurasma “studio” account (free) you can layer a video on top of ol’ Honest Abe.  Double tap the screen of your device while the video is playing to make it full screen.  Then, with a single tap to the screen the app can send you to a second destination like another video, a website, or an educational platform like Moodle, Angel, or Blackboard (or your very own blog).

Watch this video to see the process in action.

There is only one minor limitation to this app from our experience.  You must establish a “channel” and have other users follow you in order for outsider to have access to your “auras”.  If you tag a political party’s logo with a video of how off-base their political views are, Aurasma will pull up only the tagged video you uploaded.  This delivery system is similar to Twitter in the sense that you only get the messages from people you follow on Twitter.  If multiple people or companies layer a video on that same image, only the videos of the channels you are following will appear.  We’re not sure what happens when multiple channels tag a single image with their own videos, but up to this point, this has not been an issue.

We have incorporated the many uses of Aurasma into a bulletin board that demonstrates its power.  We used Bloom’s Taxonomy as our frame and attached multiple examples from various disciplines.  So, if you are a newcomer to technology in the classroom use Aurasma on Bloom’s Knowledge Level, but if you’re a pro looking to put some pop in your lessons you may want to use Aurasma to target Bloom’s Synthesis Level.

There are two options when creating auras via Aurasma.  You can create and store them in the “private” section or the “public” section.  You will find below instructions for making a “public” aura.  Auras must be public and connected to a channel students are subscribed to for classroom use.

  1. Once you download Aurasma (for free) and register it.  You will press the “A” icon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. You will see a “+” icon at the bottom of this screen.  Press this to create a new aura.
  3. There is a library of preloaded 3-d images and videos you can use or you can create your own.  Let’s assume you want to create your own.  So, next press “device”.
  4. In the upper left hand corner you’ll see a large purple “+”.  Press that.
  5. You can take a new video or image by choosing “Camera”, you can upload a previously taken image or video by choosing “photo album”, or you can upload images or videos from the internet by choosing “blinkx”.  Just for brevities sake, let’s choose a still image you already have on your device.  Press “photo album”.
  6. Once you pick your image or video, you will be given the option to name it.
  7. You will then be prompted with the question “Would you like to create an Aura?”  Choose “ok”.
  8. The “Aura” screen will appear.  The next image you capture will be your “trigger image”.  When Aurasma sees this image, your overlay will appear.  So find something around you that has enough detail for the spectrum indicator at the bottom to move to the “green” side.  This lets you know that Aurasma can “see” it.
  9. Take the picture and Aurasma will give you a preview of your final product.  Push the “>” button to move on.
  10. Name your project.  You have the choice to make it public or private here as well as whether you want to add it to a channel or not.  Remember, channels are how your followers will access your “Auras”, otherwise these are accessible only to you on your device.  For classroom use, choose “public” and add to your classroom channel.
  11. Finally, Aurasma will let you know when your “Aura” is ready to go!  All that is left is to try out your new Aura.
  12. Follow our pre-established channels to see some examples of this in action.  First, in Aurasma, search for and follow Northwest High School, #CoopGovt, and Compher Social Sciences channels.  Next, follow this link to our list of images that will then trigger the overlays (don’t forget; double tap the screen to make the video larger and single tap to go to the next part of the assignment).


Aurasma Trigger Images

  1. Or, if you already have Aurasma loaded onto your device, focus on the above “Aurasma Trigger Images” to immediately be sent directly to the multiple other Aurasma examples.

*Charles Cooper (@Thrasymachus) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  He teaches college and regular ed. government and was awarded the 2012 Humanities Texas Teacher of the Year Award.

*Jill Compher (@JillCompher) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  She teaches AP Psychology and Sociology.  Jill is an AP Psychology reader for College Board.


Filed under Education Technology, Professional Development