You might have missed this series of stories from Palo Alto Weekly about student bullying, a district's flawed response -- I certainly did -- but the Society of Professional Journalists gave the Northern California outlet one of its top awards for small media outlets.
Read more about the stories given the award here, or how the stories came about here. Interesting to note that the reporters unearthed a federal Office of Civil Rights case about halfway through the process, and in the end the complaint was made public (by the child's parents).
"The Weekly coverage included two cover story packages researched and written by Lobdell,"Out of the Shadows," (June 14, 2013) about bullying, and "Power to Hurt," (Aug. 16, 2013) on the use of social media by teens, and numerous news stories by Kenrick and Lobdell on the school district's handling of bullying complaints, federal investigations and the development of bullying policies."
The full list of SJP awardees is here -- I didn't see any other education-related stories but I might have missed some.
We created a new Chief Privacy Officer. We've put out guidance recently, and where it needs to be strengthened going forward -- and not just us, but everybody, states, districts, schools, myself as a parent trying to figure it out everyday with my kids. This is not one that you're going to issue some guidance and that's the Bill of Rights for the next 100 years. -- Arne Duncan (Arne Duncan Responds to Criticism Over Student Data Privacy EdWeek)
Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"
Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed.
And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.
Image courtesy TechChrunch.
Meet Caprice Young, though you probably knew her already. She's a former LAUSD school board member who helped right the ship at LA's troubled ICEF charter network then went to work for the Arnold Foundation. She also worked as a Deputy Mayor and for a distance learning company along the way, and was a Coro Fellow.
Young left the Arnold Foundation fulltime last year and did some consulting but then decided to join GreatSchools as a senior advisor because she things the site is fascinating and as yet under-used. You might not hear a lot about GreatSchools, but it's got impressive pageviews, according to Quantcast -- 5-6 million pageviews a month (much higher than Kahn Academy and other big-name sites, according to Young).
Now 15 years old, GreatSchools keeps adding features and collaborations like this week's Detroit rollout in partnership with Excellent Schools Detroit. Not too long ago, the site began producing its own stories (Diversity: "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"). They've partnered with real estate site Zillow and are fending off competitors like Niche and Education.com that do similar things just not as well, says Young. Next up after Detroit is an effort to deepen the school profiles using social media and qualitative data, and a spinoff dubbed GreatKids that is intended to help parents understand what it looks like when their children can do, say, 2nd grade math.
What would be really cool -- in the category of unsolicited suggestions -- would be if GreatSchools partnered with big-city districts who are doing universal/streamlined application and admissions processes, so that parents could see ratings, user reviews, and apply all in one place. Yeah, sort of like HealthCare.gov, I guess. Would make NSA spying on parents easier. Loaner tablets for parents who don't have computers?
This video from Motoko Rich's NYT home visits story today shows a cloud-based device that tracks word use at home.
This scene from CNN's Chicagoland documentary series showing Google's Eric Schmidt visiting a Chicago school with Mayor Rahm Emanuel illustrates the battle over the education marketplace that includes more and more "free" versions of software. This is not OK with union president Karen Lewis (or some privacy advocates concerned about data mining). Or watch a new interview with Bill Gates on education reform.
Here's Reed Hastings speaking to CCSA Charter Conference 2014 last week, via Politico, during which he rails against the the vagaries of local elected school boards and urges aggressive charter expansion. (He's not the first to make this argument. Matt Miller's 2008 Atlantic piece, First, Kill All the School Boards, is another notable example.) Don't agree with Hastings? Show your commitment by canceling your Netflix subscription immediately, even if you have episodes of House of Cards still to watch.
via Kottke @mrpabruno
Here's the trailer for "Take Away One," about the story of educator and author Mary Baratta-Lorton, whose revolutionary ideas about hands-on learning "transformed nearly every classroom in America" and whose murder remains a mystery. Screening in NYC next week. More about it here.
Basically, the advice I got from places like Roslyn, Mooresville, McAllen, and Burlington (MA) boiled down to getting very clear about why you're doing this and what you expect to be different in classrooms because of the devices, holding off (or at least piloting) before making big purchases, and making sure to have enough bandwidth and WiFi access to let all those devices work at roughly the same time.
Click here if you feel like checking it out.
PBS NewsHour: Seeking tech genius among disadvantaged teens.
Online courses can be excellent and often more suitable than classroom for Knowledge level... Without huge investment, online courses are usually unsuitable for Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation. - NASA engineer Robert Frost (Will online courses ever be more powerful and effective than a classroom course? via Quora)
Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.
Profiles of founders of Wireless Generation, SchoolNet, and K12 from Education Next (For Education Entrepreneurs, Innovation Yields High Returns)
Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).
What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered. The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier.
Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old. Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.
There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.
One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."
Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.
There's always good reading that comes in over the weekend (or that I miss during the week), but I know that some of you have lives and/or don't take your jobs seriously enough to check the Internet 24/7, so here are some of the best things you might want to check out or at least know about:
Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next [Teaching] Job? : Planet Money : NPR http://ht.ly/sXDrS
Against the Rage Machine http://ht.ly/sXxCi Why so many of us are outraged so often, and feel the need to say so via n+1
From Jay Mathews: Students won’t learn? Go visit their parents: D.C. is trying to see if visiting parents at h... http://tinyurl.com/krcektz
A week later, I'm still not much national coverage of unlawful teacher dismissal lawsuit in NOLA. Also, no one's biting on my prediction that if the new Ezra Klein / Matt Yglesias endeavor has an education component, Dana Goldstein is most likely to head it.
What's going on in edtech and innovation these days? Growing pains? Overly ambitious timelines? Credulous media suddenly turned skeptical? Or are there lots of people who've simply taken the wrong path?
A few weeks ago MOOC enthusiast Sebastiaun Thrun admitted that the model wasn't working (largely due to high attrition rates). A handful of iPad deployments have blown up or seem unlikely to result in student learning increases.
Now, Rocketship -- the highly blended charter school model -- is having to revamp its programs for a second time (see Edweek here) and apparently rolled back its expansion plans, too (via Caroline Grannan). Image via Flickr.
From PBS NewsHour: "WorkKeys, developed by ACT,uses actual workplace scenarios to measure how well individuals can decipher charts, graphs and other visual information, convert ratios, measurements, and make calculations across a variety of situations, and effectively comprehend memos, instructions and other authentic workplace documents." Click here to read the transcript.
TED Talks may or may not be the world's most intellectually rigorous form of idea-sharing for adults, as several recent blog posts and articles have suggested, but the format -- in full or just parts of it -- still has some appeal and potential benefits for teachers and students who want to try it out in schools.
This new Harvard Education Letter story I wrote explores schools' small but growing use of TED Talks. Classroom and in-school uses of TED Talks are turning into whole-school TEDx events and even (in at least one case) whole-district TED Talks
"Hosting a standalone TEDx event is no easy feat. For student organizers, the event requires the ability to organize and coordinate, to think through logistics and ideas, and to work with adults as well as other students... Organizers' duties include finding speakers and a venue that's appropriate, creating a program and TEDx event logo, deciding which TED Talks to play in between live presentations, scripting and shaping presentations, recruiting an audience, and arranging with teachers and administrators for students to attend. TEDx events are supposed to be filmed from three different angles, streamed live online, and uploaded to the Internet. (The head-mounted microphone, use of buzzwords, and dramatic pauses are optional.)"
Blogger extraordinaire Jason Kottke penned this post for the Nieman Journalism Lab (R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013) recently, echoing what I've been telling you guys for years now: The blog is dead, long live the blog.
Kottke predicts that the blog has been dead for a while now, and that more folks will notice this in 2014 than in the past. It's true -- the blog format with its comments and such is old and creaky. No argument there.
But blogging -- the broader activity of sharing useful information and opinions with the world -- is if anything on the rise. With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr, everyone's blogging now. It's just not called that.
What to call it? I have no idea. Meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@alexanderrusso), Facebook (personal profile or official page), and Tumblr (HotForEd). And I'll continue and try to bring social media onto this site for all of you who are still not into it.
The White House is looking for student filmmakers to share short films about " the power of technology in classrooms" -- the deadline is January 29.
Edmodo's Nic Borg is one of several education-related folks in Forbes' 30 Under 30 compiled by @CarolineLHoward. Plus SFER, Jeremiah, folks from NYCDOE, Khan Academy, and more. In this video-turned-gif, Borg is talking about how successful startups are sometimes the product of lucky timing and have to innovate to figure out how to succeed in the long run. Indeed, I'm wondering how many of the 2007 version of this feature are still around, if there even was such a thing.
This is a talk from a school-hosted TEDx event at Silicon Valley's Gunn High School about how computers and magic aren't all that far apart.
The way thinsgs are these days, nearly the first thing that came up in response to the news that VentureBeat was starting a new education channel was the issue of sponsorship / editorial control.
Indeed, there's a Apollo Education Group icon on the page, though it's not mentioned in the announcement itself. They're the parent company for University of Phoenix.
The arrangement is described elsewhere, in a post that also claims that VentureBeat is "the first major technology news organization to dedicate a channel to how technology is transforming the global education market."
The VentureBeat announcement includes lots of enthusiasm for edtech activity. No surprise -- there's lots of action in edtech (and lots of money in education, generally speaking). Recent stories from them include How data is driving the biggest revolution in education since the Middle Ages, The President’s ‘gaming guy’ tells us that educational games fascinate Obama.
Of course, there's very little media out there that's not paid in some form -- by advertising, subscriptions, philanthropy-- or free but ideologically driven. So caveat lector and all that. Always been that way, probably always will be. The recently announced NPR expansion is being sponsored by Gates and Wallace foundations, for example. Politico's education page is funded through subscriptions, advertisers, and sponsors like Power Jobs!. This site is sponsored by Scholastic Administrator.
I'm not sure this has much to do with education or school reform, or even technology, but it's everywhere and it's pretty interesting for an ad.
"4. Every student will have a customized learning experience, with no grades or syllabus." (Five surprising things that will happen in the next five years Sploid)
From Fast Company: Can Your Brain Really Be Retrained?
KQED's MindShift checks in with Doug Lemov about his new book, lexile scores, and Lord of the Rings.
"A day at work doesn't look like this. What about a day at school?" [Also from Upworthy -- they're so good at the headlines! -- and possibly not new (but I don't remember).] PS -- It's in French.
There's a big national push to get US kids to learn how to code computer programs going on, as you may have noticed (see Google News roundup here).
You know, there are lots of programming jobs out there, and we need more American kids to program the drones and teachbots of the future.
What do you think? Excited? Fearful? A little of both? Me, too.
I don't know of any other big city school district making this kind of announcement.
Image via Flickr HackNY
The average American school has about the same bandwidth as the average American home, even though obviously there are 200 times as many people at school as there are at home. -- President Barack Obama in a recent speech
In this hourlong radio documentary, American Radio Works explores the potential power -- and peril -- of individualized education technology efforts. Can it match a watchful tutor? Listen above, and/or click here to read and/or see some visual extras: One Child at a Time: Custom Learning in the Digital Age.
Last night on 60 Minutes, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced drone delivery in the not too distant future, which set the Internet on fire (so to speak) and reminded me to remind you that drones are coming to schools, too (or at least I think they will and am fasci-horrified by the possibilities).
Other tidbits from the 60M segment? Bezos knows that he's just as likely to be disrupted as previous industries were, and is fighting hard not to let happen to him what happened to Blockbuster, etc. Also: Cloud computing is Amazon's fastest-growing revenue source. Like Google, they're not really making money off what you think they're making money off of.
The Beastie Boys aren't happy about it (or maybe they're being gamed), but you'll probably like this viral video to promote Goldieblocks and girls' interest in making things.
Last week, MOOC founder Sebastian Thrun told Fast Company that, well, things weren't working out as well as he'd hoped three years ago. Today at the Atlantic Eduction page Owen Youngman describes how 56,000 students turned into 1,200 course passers.
The Learning Accelerator via the Hechinger Report
But at least they're not asking you for money or using a 3D printer to make a gun, right? (Spotify and New York City Schools Get Together To Hack on Music Education).