So there's a guy named Andrew Vanden Heuvel (@avheuv) who was among the first to get the Google Glass system, and he's a science teacher, and he's blogging about it and doing videos ("STEMbite!").
Study Gauges Value of Technology in Schools NYT: A review of federal data found that technology investments in schools had not changed the nature of education.
6 months after Newtown: Rush of gun laws, mixed results USA Today: In the six months since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, lawmakers in four key states have approved significant restrictions on access to firearms. But elsewhere in the USA, the picture is far from clear.
Obama to meet relatives of shooting victims Education Week News: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday with relatives of the victims of the Connecticut school shooting, who were visiting Washington on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the tragedy
Private Preschools See More Public Funds as Classes Grow NYT: Across the country, states and districts are increasingly funneling public funds to religious schools, private nursery schools and a variety of nonprofit organizations that conduct classes.
Clinton Project Promotes ‘Open Badges’ Online Credentials NYT: Former President Bill Clinton announced a project on Thursday to expand the use of Open Badges — online credentials that employers or universities can use in hiring, admissions, promotions or awarding credit.
Last week Valeries Strauss published a post by Penelope Trunk arguing that schools shouldn't be so "uptight" about cheating.
Cheating, she argued, involves skills - like networking and collaboration - that are valued in the workplace and important for students to learn.
In a response (also on Strauss' blog), Elaine Power says what needs to be said about the most obvious problems with Trunk's argument.
In particular, Trunk seems to be confused about what educators mean when they talk about "cheating" and about why they discourage it. (Either that or she's spent time in some extremely unusual and cut-throat workplaces.)
More generally, I think Trunk is commiting an all-too-common edu-fallacy. The language varies, but oftentimes commentators will propose that schooling would be improved if it were made more like the "real world" and thus more "authentic".
Trunk makes this argument about cheating, but you can find it being made about all kinds of things in education, from teaching methods to curricular content to student motivation and classroom management. What unites these claims is the assumption that the more school life imitates "real life", the better.
That assumption is fallacious for at least two reasons.
Christensen says that online courses began with credit recovery for dropouts, AP, foreign languages, and early college enrollment. He predicts that up to half of all high school courses will be offered online by 2019 .
The first step toward disruptive innovation should be a discussion of whether technology should be used to improve schools, to save money, to enrich fly-by-night corporate raiders, or to beat down teachers and unions.
If the goal is improving schools, and not just cutting costs or teachers, we should embrace Christensen's #1 recommendation. Schools should "create a team within the school that is autonomous from all aspects of the traditional classroom."
In the inner city, we need more disruption like we need another gang war.
Rather than speed up uninvited transformations, we should recruit educators with computer skills and empower them to create an innovative environment.
Given the vast potential of disruptive innovation, surely we can afford an appropriate amount of new money to fund places where new and additional teachers and students have the space to devise blended-learning systems, flipped classrooms, hybrid innovations, or whatever emerges. If we can afford autonomous football and basketball programs, can we not afford autonomous digital learning departments? - JT(@drjohnthompson) via.
Does Math Exist (the way that science exists, and is observable, etc)? via PBS Idea Channel
Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor With Educators NYT: Separating the highest-achieving students from the lowest, a tactic once said to perpetuate inequality, is now seen by some educators as an indispensable way to cope with varying skill levels.
Gates Foundation looking to make nice with teachers Seattle Times: Though widely viewed as a critic of teachers and their unions, the world’s largest foundation has begun reaching out to them in new ways, sending the message it wants to be their friend — and their champion.
Arne Duncan To Launch 'High School Redesign' Competition Huffington Post: Now, after months of questions over what form that competition would take, U.S. Secretary of EducationArne Duncan is announcing the details.
To Lower Dropout Rates, Finding Potential Where Support Systems Are Lacking PBS NewsHour: It's just after 9:00 a.m. when Rachel Bennett greets her third period students. Bennett is a high school Spanish teacher here at Perspectives Leadership Academy. But this is the one class she teaches each day where nobody learns Spanish.
In Middlebury, Vt., Teens Train For Careers In The 'A.R.T.'s NPR: A successful Broadway set builder took his theater skills back to New England. At the tiny Addison Repertory Theater, a part of the Hannaford Career Center, he teaches all aspects of professional theater to students.
For Homebound Students, a Robot Proxy in the Classroom NYT: A small but growing number of chronically ill students are attending school virtually with robots, which stream two-way video to connect them to the classroom.
14Year Old Graduate Is Bound for Harvard NBC: Tennessee 14 year old has already graduated college and is now set to begin work on her Master's Degree at Harvard.
Video: Testing your commitment to education msnbc: How many teachers need to stage protests before the rest of us learn that standardized tests are not the best way to ensure our kids get educated? The Nation’s John Nichols joins Joy Reid with the political answer sheet. (The Ed Show)
Left-leaning observers may continue to think that stagnating incomes can be improved with better education and equality of opportunity. Conservatives will continue to insist that people without jobs are lazy bums who shouldn't be coddled. They'll both be wrong. -- Mother Jones' Kevin Drum (Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us?)
Obama Calls for Revamping of Federal E-rate Program EdWeek: The administration will ask the Federal Communications Commission to consider rechanneling and increasing funding through the program, which is derived from telecommunications fees, with the goal of giving 99 percent of the nation's schools access to high-speed broadband and wireless Internet access within five years.
G.O.P. Bill on Schools Would Set Fewer Rules NYT: Senator Lamar Alexander’s bill would allow states to devise curriculum standards, tests, school rating systems and consequences for schools that fail to meet state goals with far fewer guidelines.
No Child Left Behind Debate, Student Loan Rancor Signal End Of Bipartisanship Huffington Post: Over the last few years, even when signs of partisan rancor interfered, education held onto its unique status as an across-the-aisle, hand-shaking issue. Its position was bolstered especially as more and more Democratic politicians, once entirely swayed by teachers' unions on school policy, joined the "education reform movement," a group that is often at odds with labor on how to improve schools and whether to link teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Online college classes, once aimed at advanced students, target the masses Reuters: Coursera, a popular for-profit provider of massive online open courses - known as MOOCs - will host a series of basic general education classes to be developed in partnerships with 10 state university systems across the United States.
Universities Team With Online Course Provider NYT: In a move that could open online classes to 1.25 million students at public institutions, a California company is forming partnerships with 10 large state university systems.
Universities bolster MOOCs for online learning USA Today: In recent weeks, faculty at Amherst, Harvard, Duke and San Jose State have urged their administrations to use caution. But the involvement of entire state university systems "signals a new level of acceptance of MOOCs," said George Mehaffy, a vice president at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Reading Gains Lag Improvements in Math NYT: Among large public urban districts, which typically have large concentrations of poor students, six raised eighth-grade math scores on the federal tests known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 2009 to 2011. Only one — in Charlotte, N.C. — was able to do so in reading.
The number of high-poverty schools increases by about 60 percent Hechinger Report: Poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools was classified as as a “high-poverty” school in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education. About a decade earlier, in 2000, only one in eight public schools was deemed to be high poverty. That’s about a 60 percent increase in the number of very poor schools!
Jeb Bush Pushes Michigan's Questionable Charter School Sector Huffington Post: But it is difficult to concisely characterize charter school quality nationwide, and the study on Michigan's schools Bush touted is less definitive than he made it sound.
Sneak peek at new California standardized tests Southern California Public Radio: The new tests, administered on computers, allow for more than multiple-choice bubbles. They include boxes where students will write out answers for reading comprehension and math problems in full sentences and paragraphs. The point is to measure critical thinking and writing skills.
Bill Gates used his most recent TED talk to make the case for putting video cameras in every classroom. Teachers, he says, don't get enough feedback about their practice and performance; recording and submitting lessons for review would have a "phenomenal" impact on teacher quality for a modest price.
To be clear, Gates badly underestimates how much feedback teachers currently receive. I've certainly never had a single evaluation in which I "just got one word of feedback", so I have no idea why he thinks "98% of teachers" get so little. New teachers in particular are often assigned dedicated coaches, and formal observation and coaching is not the only way to get feedback.
Still, it's not unreasonable to think that frequent videotaping and coaching could help teachers improve. Sarah Brown Wessling agrees, and Cassandra Tognoni is so excited by the prospect of a camera in every classroom that she thinks Gates should just put up the $5 billion required to buy them himself.
But if cameras offer so much promise for improving education, it's worth asking why they're not already more heavily used. An adequate camera can be purchased for about $100: not nothing, but not so much that an enthusiastic teacher, administrator, or coach couldn't invest in one.
Here's the full list of courses that have been developed for Coursera's first foray into K12 education. I assumed these MOOCs would be asynchornous/on demand. Instead, they have start dates and "last" a certain number of weeks. (There's no "House of Cards" option for on demand bingeing.)
Pretty soon, I'm guessing, a teacher or student will wear these into class and everyone will freak out. (Meantime, I'm very excited about the TeachLive simulator they have downstairs, sort of a flight simulator for teachers.)
I'll leave most of the livetweeting to others, weighing in with the occasional tidbit.
Funny to think that at my first or second of these, in New Orleans shortly after the Hurricane, I had to beg and plead for WiFi access that's now barely a consideration.
So far I've run into lots of old friends and acquaintances, including several folks doing exciting new things (change is good!). Please come up and say hello, and apologies if I have to blog or tweet something.
You can follow the event via #nsvfsummit, or watch the video here.
There's been some buzz recently about myEdmatch.com, the new job listing site that promises to better match teachers to schools based on their stated philosophies of education. Prospective teachers sign up, fill out a survey about their educational beliefs, and then, hopefully, find a similarly-aligned school.
Since I'm on the job market myself I signed up for myEdmatch as soon as the site came online at the end of February.
So far I've been underwhelmed.
There's a newish education site out there called Education Dive, which purports to give readers "The Education Industry in 60 Seconds."
I'm not sure what need or niche it fills, or how good a job it does -- seems sort of like a pretty version of EdSurge. Here are some recent posts:
Here's Teach Live, one of those things mentioned in the Gates/AFT joint oped Effective Teaching in The New Republic:
There might be better videos out there, or other edschools or companies doing other versions of the same thing. You might recall this from a January 2012 Amanda Ripley story about 12 ed schools with classroom simulators.
But it's still a good occasion to learn a tiny bit about the underlying magic behind Google Reader -- called RSS -- and consider whether you're getting as much of the Internet as easily as you could be.
A surprising number of folks -- including those who write online regularly -- don't know about RSS and are working harder than they need to (and failing to provide readers with as much quality content as they could).
My concerns about edtech aren't so much that someone might make money -- that's already happening in education and everywhere else, and has been for years. It's a big endeavor, this public education thing, and many of us -- including teachers -- are making all or part of a living off it. So some folks are getting rich? Secondary concern.
Even the personal politics of some of those positioned to take advantage of ed tech -- who include not only the so-called "bad guys" like Gates and Murdoch but also (don't forget!) supposed relatively "good guys" like Amazon and Apple and the College Board -- doesn't bother me a ton. Everyone's got a view, and generally thinks he or she is right. You're no different; you just don't agree with them.
What really bothers me -- gives me the willies, actually -- is that the current reform movement (leaders, funders, organizations) may already be turning its relatively small but essential energies away from the success and tough lessons of the last 5-10 years (which include the limits of charter school expansion, value-added, and ending LIFO) towards the new, sexy edtech stuff like MOOCs, tablets, blended learning, big data, and augmented learning -- thereby passing by (again) the really deep and transformative problems facing education (teacher preparation and support, for example, or early literacy) that need everyone's undivided attention.
New ideas and approaches are great, but often don't end up being as transformative as they sound in the early stages and can distract folks from deeper, tougher, more critical endeavors. If you're going to do edtech, for example, why not do universal access? Image CCFlickr
Check out this new Scholastic Administrator profile of philanthropist Eli Broad (Impatient Philanthropist) in which you will learn that Broad says he doesn't want to privatize public education and read some of the ways that Broad's approach differs from the Gates Foundation on several key issues (the parent trigger, Michelle Rhee, and TFA, among other things).
Hate philanthropist reformers on sight? It won't make any difference to you. Curious about how they differ and what makes them tick? You might be interested.
Other articles worth clicking from Administrator (which sponsors this blog) include The Homeschool Twist: Districts experiment with partial homeschooling for gifted students. Kentucky: The First Domino? Early Common Core results show a steep drop. Is your state next? Interview With Terry Grier: A plainspoken leader takes Houston ISD in innovative directions—and holds all parties accountable, Sell Your Schools: Figuring out your schools’ return on investment can be a big selling point when it comes to board and public buy-in.
"The latest Pew Research Center Internet and American Life survey of 2,500 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers from 6th to 12th grade suggests that while edtech is infiltrating classrooms, key disparities are affecting how teachers teach and how their students learn."
Over the weekend, Reuters' Stephanie Simon wrote a piece about inBloom, the new Gates-funded data-sharing intiative, that raises concerns about student privacy: K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents. According to Simon, the $100M initiative is poised to be tremendously influential -- and controversial -- because of the possiblity that student data including Social Security numbers would be gathered from states and shared among educators.
However, there are some questions about Reuters story. For example, inBloom says Social Security numbers are not included in its data store and that the use of the data will be done at the direction of school districts. [Via Twitter, Simon says "inBloom rep told me some social sec #s included; now says no; I'll verify w schools, correct if needed."]
I'm no edtech fanboy, and generally enjoy and appreciate Simon's education coverage. (There's a quote at the end of her story about edtech hype that is awesome.) But this piece, like her last one on charter school shenanigans, seems somewhat alarmist and goes out past the edges of the data shared in the story.
Are there problems with state databases being being hacked and releasing sensitive student data? Tell us about them. How do these issues compare to data security problems in general? How many states include Social Security data in their student records, and how does this compare with other public agency databases, which have their own Social Security problems? Once again, some context and comparative data would be more helpful than isolated data points suggestively linked together to convey fear.
Here's that Sugata Mitra video about the School in the Cloud that you might have heard about at TED this week. And also a post about it from The Atlantic (Do Kids Really Need Teachers?). Buy or sell?
Perhaps the most influential but unheard of education blogger out there is California high school teacher Larry Ferlazzo, who teaches and blogs and Tweets up a storm most days of the week, making everyone else look pretty lazy and slow.
He's got a blog at EdWeek (Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo). He's been in the New York Times (here) and the Washington Post (here). He lets his students grade him. He's a former community organizer. Oh yeah, he writes books, too. But that's not all. He teaches at a 75 percent free and reduced lunch, 44 percent ELL high school.
Other than perhaps Atlantic Wire, which is staffed by a thousand recent Ivy League graduates, Ferlazzo might be the site/Twitter feed I use most often. (One of his regular features I love the most is called something like "Things I Should Have Blogged About But Didn't.") I'm not the only one. At last check, @larryferlazzo he had 23+K followers, a Klout score of 72.
I am being bullied by Emily Bazelon to show this video of her interview with Steven Colbert:
Interesting thing about Bazelon's book is that she is simultaneously reminding us that bullying isn't as new or growing a problem as it may seem (media hype! fear of technology!) but at the same time she's, well, talking about bullying.
"The more variables, the more correlations that can show significance. Falsity also grows faster than information; it is nonlinear (convex) with respect to data." Source: N.N. Taleb
Called Getting a chance, the new Catalyst story summary is simple -- and is applicable to many other places besides Chicago:
"Smart students from poor neighborhoods are less likely to test into gifted and classical elementary schools. Later, they are more likely to become disengaged and eventually drop out. A special initiative is giving some students a last-minute shot at elite programs."
Read it. Save it for the weekend. Come back to it. Ask your education friends what they're doing to fix the problem. Berate them if they don'thave an answer.
Think about what it would take to reduce these inequities: Better outreach, ending or limiting sibling preferences, better options to choose among, and -- first on my list -- universal choice (one application for all charter, magnet, and selective schools) and assigned matching systems to make sure every parent knows all the options and bring order to the chaotic and often unfair acceptance-hoarding that goes on when some parents apply everywhere and only release their spots at the last minute.
Is it a bubble? No, but there are signs it’s getting to be a bubble.
- Edtech industry analyst Frank Catalano, in Peg Tyre's latest Take Part column
Before I forget, you might be interested to know that Bill Gates is keynoting SXSWedu.com, closing things out on March 7.
What is SXSWedu? It's this thing that used to be a music event, then morphed into a tech event, and now includes some education, too. Last year, the documentary Brooklyn King premiered at the event, so ... anything can happen.
There will be lots of edtech, needless to say, and lots of talk about how technology is going to save (but not replace) us all. This year, I think I'll send my vGo telepresence device instead of attending in person, or perhaps just monitor the event via my personal drone.
Need any reminders of what an edtech bubble looks like -- the hype, exaggerated promises, enormous influxes of cash and media attention and wastes of time -- then refresh your recollection of the 2005 One Laptop Per Child phenomenon in which Nicholas Negroponte said he was going to transform the world by giving poor kids low-income laptops.
Well, he did -- 2.4 million XOs have been given out -- and the world remains largely unchanged. The plastic green and white machine seems downright ancient from the perspective of 2013 -- not to speak of being expensive (at $200).
According to this Reuters column from last week (Hotspots and have-nots), the main problem Negroponte faced was that the problem he proposed solving -- getting computers into peoples' hands -- was about to be solved on its own through cheap smartphones and netbooks. The main problem he didn't solve -- Internet access -- remained a massive obstacle. The solution? According to this columnist, it's a massive universal Internet access initiative to make the Internet really accessible and help nations solve their own problems and develop their own economies -- and, hey, learn online.
In that sense, I guess OLPC's failure could be used as a justification for online learning's future disappointment. There's really no stopping the enthusiasts -- just like there's no stopping the naysayers. Image via CCFlickr
Longtime NSVFer Jordan Meranus -- who's name and portfolio I mangled more than a few times over the years (and whose vague resemblance to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel I only just noticed this very moment) -- left the NSnest a year ago to help build something called Ellevation and -- wouldn't you know? -- Ellevate has just been announced as one of NSVF's latest investments.
What's Ellevation, you want to know? "Ellevation provides a set of tools for teachers and administrators who work with English language learners (ELLs). It saves time and simplifies compliance requirements, so that educators can focus on their most important task—helping ELL students to succeed."
Congrats, etc. That sounds pretty exciting. I once was on the verge of taking a foundation job when EdTrust's Kati Haycock told me that it was much more fun to get money than to give it out (Thanks, KHay!). I bet it's fun to go from giving it out to gettting it, too -- especially when you're getting it from the outfit you used to work for. Image via NSVF
Keith Humphreys had a fascinating post last week explaining why "breakthrough medical findings" - he uses the example of fish oil pills - often don't live up to the hype after additional research comes in.
He's talking about medical research, but I think the same issues arise in education research all the time. As Humphreys explains, it's difficult to perform a large-scale, well-controlled experiment to test out a new idea, and journals aren't interested in publishing small studies that find small (or no) effects. If you do enough small experiments, however, eventually you'll come up with large effects just by chance. Those results might be exciting enough to get published, but they may not be borne out by larger subsequent experiments.
If you follow education research at all, you know it's not uncommon for journals to publish studies with small sample sizes. That's often justifiable - it's hard to do big, well-controlled experiments to test educational interventions - but it does mean that big, novel findings from such studies should be taken with a grain of salt. Think of them as clues or stepping stones rather than reasons to dramatically rethink schooling. - PB (@MrPABruno) Image via Flcker CCommons
Everyone who's anyone (of a certain type) is at the Education Growth Conference in NYC today and tomorrrow. Held at the superfabulous Times Center, the invitation-only #EdGrowth event "dives into the complexities of investing in an industry in which market and mission converge and examine the intricate mix of risk and opportunity across the global education marketplace." Yep.
Journalist-type folks from EdWeek, Bloomberg, USA Today, and the Hechinger Report. will be there. Plus lots of education investment types (including NSVF) and a handful of district and public agency types. Plus Diane Ravitch (scheduled). Image courtesy of EdGrowth Partners.
This Verizon ad showing a sick kid attending school via robot turns out not to be science fiction -- "telepresence" education is already happened in a few places including New York, Colorado, Arkansas, and Pittsburgh (16 futuristic predictions that came true in 2012)
"Why, they asked, are the students in more prosperous neighborhoods unofficially allowed to ignore the ban, as long as they aren’t caught? And why are the poor kids in the eighty-eight New York schools that have been equipped with metal detectors forced to spend five dollars a week—an expense that, for some, means going without food?" (NYROB: Why Are Poor Kids Paying for School Security?)
Education reformers have taken to invoking "big data" as education's next big frontier. However, linguist Geoff Nunberg, in the NPR's Fresh Air report,"Forget YOLO: Why 'Big Data' Should be the Word of the Year," explains that "Big Data is no more exact a notion than Big Hair."
The quantity of digital data has increased, and true believers in number-crunching still claim,"'With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves.'" But Nunberg says "The trouble is that you can't always believe what they're saying." That is no problem when algorithms predict "that I'd be interested in Celine Dion's greatest hits, as long as they get 19 out of 20 recommendations right." But even when we get to the point where we are measuring information in "humongobytes," we will still need people to ask the question of what are patterns for?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
In New Jersey, teachers union fights blended learning Hechinger Report: The school, Merit Prep, is also embroiled in a controversy over how much children should be taught by computers. New Jersey’s biggest teachers union is suing to shut the school down and is hoping a state appellate court will do so in early 2013.
N.Y. Reform Commission Stresses Teacher Prep, More Learning Time EdWeek: Recommendations include setting a new, higher GPA for admissions to teacher and principal preparation programs, extending the school day, and using educational technology to overcome barriers between high school and higher education.
Conservative Rep. Todd Rokita Named Chairman of K-12 Panel EdWeek: That puts him in a powerful position for education policy—particularly if Brokedown Congress surprises everyone and somehow makes significant headway on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year.
For Many Kids, Winter Break Means Hungry Holidays NPR: Most kids look forward to their school's winter break. But millions of students in the U.S. get free or reduced-price meals at school, and when school is closed, many of those children eat less until classes are back in session.
Obama asks* Idaho teacher to help with math goals AP: In a story Dec. 21 about President Barack Obama seeking the help of an Idaho Falls teacher, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Obama personally called Skyline High School instructor Julie Nawrocki to help develop new testing strategies. U.S. Department of Education officials and White House officials confirmed that Obama did not make that telephone call.
The blockbuster news at the end of John Merrow's NewsHour segment on Rocketship I linked to this morning was that, in response to concerns about lack of timely information sharing and coordination between the computer labs and the classroom -- and the model "not really working" -- Rocketship was abandoning the lab concept and bringing the computers back into the classroom as next year.
Lack of timely coordination among lab assistants and teachers was a concern raised last spring by John Fensterwald in a Scholastic Administrator story I helped edit (here). Rocketship has touted the labs both for their learning and for their cost savings.
However, the change isn't anything immediate or dramatic as it sounded on TV, according to Rocketship founder John Danner. Danner says via email that the changes aren't taking place until after 2013-2014 and aren't taking place because the model isn't working:
"We are integrating [the lab] and classroom because [the lab] is working well enough now that we feel the cost of managing it for teachers is outweighed by the benefit of increased learning by giving them more direct control of student centered learning."
Image via Wikipedia