News came out on Friday that Zuckerberg and Chan were going to give another big gift to education -- this time to the Bay Area. Will it be any different -- or more effective -- than the Newark gift?
I never want to bet against our digital future, and I’m predisposed to agree with most of Marc Prensky’s hopefulness, as proclaimed in Brain Gain. But, Prensky seems too dismissive of the reports by teachers and others about the shortterm damage being caused by our rapid adoption of digital technology.
I don’t think that we have gotten to the point where all of the reports about unintended negative effects of this technology could be due to a mass hallucination, perhaps recorded in some secret space in the Cloud.
So, while I will enjoy and gain energy from the predictions of futurologists, I’ll stick to my knitting and just pontificate on the field I know – inner city schools.
I got a kick out of Prensky’s overly rational anticipation of a key issue related to Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of $100 million to Newark schools. He wrote that “potentially, it is a very good thing … if it is used in a digitally wise way.” Prensky thus seemed to anticipate that Zuckerberg would contribute in ways that he was qualified to contribute. He also hoped that Zuckerberg would “imagine and plan for at least a year (and maybe more) before any technology gets ordered.”
In other words, Prensky didn’t seem to consider the possibility that someone as smart as Zuckerberg would jump into a field he knew nothing about, and finance a transformational reform of it, without even looking into the basic evidence about what works in school improvement. Zuckerberg, the technology expert, illogically invested in a mayor, Cory Booker, who made a virtually evidence-free bet on incentives and disincentives that had a long history of failure!?!?
What would have happened, however, if Zuckerberg had stuck to his knitting and invested his money in something he knew about?
Another week, another education site launches.
You already knew this one was coming -- and that Adriene Hill was going to be the lead reporter along with editory Betsy Streisand.
But you probably didn't know that the effort was going to be dubbed Learning Curve.
"The most ambitious and expansive education project in Marketplace’s 25-year history, LearningCurve will engage a national audience in an ongoing conversation on multiple platforms. Coverage will include on air segments across the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs, a dedicated website, infographics and interactive quizzes, videos, dedicated Twitter and Tumblr accounts and, starting later in June, a regular podcast hosted by Adriene Hill and Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson."
Read the full press release below. Crossed fingers.
Here's a chart of education spending from GSV via NPR showing that test prep and instructional materials make up just $37 billion out of a $789 billion K-12 education expenditure.
There are lots of Common Core maps and charts out there these days, but RealClear Education's Emmeline Z. has one that's particularly useful because it breaks down "what each state is planning in the coming years for its Common Core-aligned assessments for grades 3-8 and high school" -- and in particular which testing comany (Pearson, AIR, or someone else) they're going with ((Mapping Common Core in the States). Click on the link for lots of interactive goodies -- maps, charts, and circles.
There was no big news made at #EWA14. No loud arguments, or big deals (other than the announcement that the next conference will be at the UofC). That's why we were all Tweeting about cakepops and other diversions. But there were still a bunch of tidbits to be noted about the state of education media and the people who provide it:
4. The rise of the nonprofit news outlets. Chalkbeat rolled deep with a rumored 21 staffers in attendance, but there were also lots of other nonprofiteers in attendance (EdWeek, EdSource Today, SCPR/KPCC, Hechinger, etc.) In comparison, there was just a single NYT and LA Times reporter there,* and but a handful of AP reporters. (There are other reasons they don't feel the need to attend, but still...)
3. Changing of the guard (from journalism to other pursuits). Banchero is out. McNeil is out. Turner is out (a year ago). Others are but a memory. They say they're sad but also look a little relieved. It feels like there may be more moves out of journalism (as well as between outlets) to come.
2. Notable outsiders/new faces in attendance included Nikole Hannah-Jones from ProPublica (who had some things to say about attendance zone "gerrymandering" that might make progressives reconsider their defense of neighborhood schools), the new communications team from College Board (fresh off their big SAT rollout success), Xian Barrett and Anthony Cody (teacher advocate/activists who've attended on and off for the past couple of years) but no Ray Salazar, alas.
1. Soft interviews with Weingarten and Duncan. All due respect to the Washington Post's Layton and NPR's Drummond, but their interviews lacked the friendly but tough questions and followups that I recall John Merrow and others (Jay Mathews?) providing at past events when public officials rambled through their usual talking points. It wasn't just me who thought so -- lots of grumbling from the back rows (though not on Twitter - cowards!).
What'd I miss or get wrong? When do we get to see or hear the panels we missed? Did everyone get home safely and easily?
*EWA's Caroline Hendrie tells me that there were two other LAT reporters there -- Stephen Cesar and Larry Gordon.
Teachers are understandably asking for appropriate training and other resources needed to implement the standards and expressing concerns with high stakes decision-making attached to new tests. But the CTU has gone further and called for abandoning these new standards and better tests, with no alternative but to fall back on outdated standards that consistently failed students. It is irresponsible to turn back the clock on raising standards. -- Carmel Martin in the Chicago Sun Times (CTU foolish to fight Common Core)
If you’re going to come sell us a product, don’t call yourself a partner. You’re not, you’re a vendor. If you want to partner with us, that means you have to listen to us and we have something that’s going to change you, and you have something that’s going to change us. -- Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, at this year's SXSW (via EdSurge)
"We also got a peek behind the magician's curtain, with a discussion of the fraught relationships between Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, among others, who set the stage for Albert Einstein's monumental discoveries." The Atlantic Wire: Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Us How Magnets Work
Kids will still go to physical schools, to socialize and be guided by teachers, but as much, if not more, learning will take place employing carefully designed educational tools in the spirit of today’s Khan Academy --modular learning tailored to a student’s needs. -- Google gurus Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen pp 21-22 of THE NEW DIGITAL AGE: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives (Vintage)
The US creates so many billionaires for lots of resasons, reports Business Insider, the larest factors being access to capital (think Silicon Valley) and an entrepreneurship culture (How The US Produces Self-Made Billionaires). But our education and training is also a leading feature, which is interesting to note.
Perhaps the key purpose of schools is teaching children to become "inner directed" persons, who can control their own behavior. Its hard to think of a single more destructive aspect of data-driven reform than its seemingly unintended consequence of turning children into "other directed" persons, trained to just respond to carrots and sticks.
Perhaps this is not a disgraceful byproduct of testing, but an embrace of a humiliating value system for both adults and children.
The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison, in Merit Badge Idea for Nashville Teachers, Students Draws Ire, describes an incredible new way of supposedly bestowing respect on teachers – issuing merit badges.
He reports on the opportunity being granted to “earn ‘virtual badges’ — tokens, of sorts — for taking on additional professional development or demonstrating other accomplishments.” Garrison writes that the badge system might even be expanded and tied to compensation.
This is not an April Fools joke. The badges would be digital icons or logos on the district's computer system. But, they may also offer a physical badge, like those issued by the Boy Scouts.
Nashville’s chief academic officer, who pushes the idea, said that the district will solicit teacher input before developing its final proposal. They might tie the badges to pay in the 2015-16 budget.
There is talk of expanding this disrespectful idea to students, further teaching them to salivate before virtual treats. The kids could cash in virtual badges at online stores. The logic behind teaching students to devalue learning is, as usual, Orwellian, "We want kids to own their learning and own their experience, and this is a way to do it."-JY(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Next month, roughly 300 US schools are going to find out how well their sophomores match up to similar students in other countries (and what they really think about the schooling they're receiving). For some of the schools, it will be the second time.
Whether the school-level assessment that provides the scores -- a PISA-based measure called the OECD Test For Schools -- will help schools improve instruction or merely help them market themselves is the subject of my latest Harvard Education Letter piece.
You can find it online here.
Some folks -- Andreas Schleicher, for example -- think it's a great new tool. Others - Pasi Sahlberg -- like the PISA and the OECD Test but worry about schools misusing the results to create rankings rather than revamping their offerings. The handful of schools that participated in the 2012 pilot and talked to me about their scores and responses were a mixed bag.
International testing is coming, one way or the other. And I'm not just talking about IB programs. The Common Core has a lot of overlap with PISA. Three states already get a state-level PISA (as do roughly 100 states and regions in other countries that particpate in PISA). I wouldn't be surprised if more states and districts sign up for the next administrations of PISA and the OECD Test.
Thanks to everyone who helped me with the story -- and not to worry I hope to be writing again about this in the near future so all those conversations and email exchanges won't go to waste. For me, it's fascinating to find out how hungry some educators are for international test results and frustrating if understandable that so many schools participated but haven't revealed their results.
More immediately, there's a ton of information about the experiences and results from Fairfax County (where 10 schools participated in 2012 and 25 participated this year) here. There's also a slideshow from the OECD here.Image via Flickr.
Check out Anya Kamentez's helpful explainer (in which she also describes having helped unearth private student data in a high-profile student privacy situation when she was a college student).
No doubt, at least some of these concerns are warrented.But in other cases, the proposals may go overboard.
In Georgia, educators and others got together to prevent a proposed piece of legislation from going forward. You can read about it on the AJC blog: "Parents, college presidents, technology giants, superintendents, chambers of commerce and teachers joined forces to call out the insanity of dumping national standards, forbidding tests that reflected national standards and imposing technology limits so extreme that they'd shut down online learning." The state PTA education chair was among them. In response, the Governor reversed himself on the proposal and it was halted.
For more background, check out some local public radio segments here, here, here, and critical commentary here. Share more about what you know or think in comments or on Twitter. Image via Flickr: Giulia Forsythe.
The NSVF Summit in San Francisco is next week, and if you're not invited tough luck.
And apparently they're going to be livestreaming at least parts of it as well (like they did last year).
Some of the headliners include John King, New York State Commissioner of Education, and Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff, US Department of Education, and Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton. Other highlights include speakers like Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, a TEACH video booth, 20 NSVFseed grantees.
The big new wrinkle this year is that they're trying out a satellite event sort of like TEDx. The New England SummitX invite is here.
Previous summits (see below) have included tense words between Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, proposed COPPA changes from Mark Zuckerberg, and spacey interview questions and robotic sound bite responses from Laurene Powell Jobs and Rahm Emanuel. Reed Hastings famously declared that charters weren't cutting it, and Rocketship said it would open schools in DC if Kaya Henderson would give them space. Waiting for Superman was screened in Spring 2010. Sometimes, people wear fun outfits.
Previous posts: Google Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013; Thoughts On NSVF 2012; Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12; Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon Valley; Fashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF Summit; Another Spring, Another Summit (2009); NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09; Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit.
InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]
Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.
U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.
Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
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.