Web Tech in the Classroom

Because most of the focus on integrating Web technology into the classroom remains at the secondary school level…projects such as this one are relatively uncommon. But with the advent of programs like Gmail and Skype, the increased prevalence of webcams and laptops in schools, and the freedom to teach multiple subjects at once, elementary school may be the ideal place to use Web conferencing in a way that has an impact.

Article notes that fear of technology and lack of curricular flexibility are also barriers to integration.

But with a troubled economy that can result in cuts to activities like assemblies and field trips, some educators are using Web conferencing to replicate events as simple as an author’s visit.

Read the rest of this entry »



School Design

Re-thinking the school corridor:

The factory model of control and direct instruction still pervades most new schools. If we are to have thorough-going school reform, we must change the design model, too, starting with the place students first enter the school.

Roughly one-third of the typical school building is used not for learning, growing, or interacting, but for getting to the places where that happens.

Filed under: Design, EDUCATION

Today in Data

The World Bank makes data available to all!

Other NGO’s and governments now routinely make their data available, but the World Bank’s on the cutting edge of realizing that making data accessible and making it impactful aren’t the same. To get the latter, you need infographics, and good ones. More here.

And Google reveals its government censorship requests.

According to the Open Net Initiative, the number of governments that censor has grown from about four in 2002 to over 40 today. In fact, some governments are now blocking content before it even reaches their citizens.

And women still make less than men, a graphic guide.

Filed under: Power, TECHNOLOGY, TOOLS

On Teaching

Picking up a red pen will make you grade more harshly.

And on greatness in general, via TFA:

The two best metrics of previous success tend to be grade-point average and “leadership achievement”—a record of running something and showing tangible results. If you not only led a tutoring program but doubled its size, that’s promising.

Meanwhile, reflectiveness and/or a master’s degree in education seem to have no impact but scoring high in “life satisfaction” does.

These are Teach For America-based findings. The use of data is significant but Teach For America is very much a product and poster child of the current high stakes testing environment. I would take how they define a great teacher and what they view as success in the classroom into consideration. Also, the success indicators uncovered here seem largely like indicators of success in any field, not just in teaching specifically.

Filed under: EDUCATION

Touchpad Predictions in Education

By 2015, more than 50 percent of children 15 and under will be using touchscreen PCs…2014, 25 percent of textbooks will be digital.

At the university level, digital textbooks are definitely in the near future. At public school level, not so much. Rest assured that if/when the day comes, any book sellers slow to e-convert will take the issue to fight.

In terms of touchscreen PCs, the quote is misleading. The cited prediction is based on PURCHASED PCs, not on all children under 15. Far from it, as few children under 15 will have purchased PCs in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »


Start up Culture

Foursquare—and Meetup and Yipit and Venmo and Hot Potato and dozens of others— facilitates and documents urban interactions, usually in real time, often with an eye toward building communities of users. While consumerism is at the core of the business model for many of these start-ups, that’s only part of the point. The entrepreneurs behind them have a sense that the city belongs to the rising generation, not some Wall Street guy or old-media geezer or other antiquated gatekeeper.

Social media, increasingly conducted through mobile devices, is changing the ways we interact with and own our concept of culture, creativity, and community. Article here.

Filed under: Enterprise & Economies, TECHNOLOGY

A Rhode Island Proposal

According to a 66-page report released Monday by the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, which analyzes government spending.

Continue to focus on improving elementary and secondary schools, using as a guide the state’s new Basic Education Plan

Cut costs. This could include regional collaborations, cost-sharing and controlling growth in teachers’ benefits.

Implement a statewide school financing formula.

Use data to raise student achievement and ensure districts are spending money wisely and getting results.

Rhode Island ranks fifth nationally in per-pupil expenditure while yielding mediocre test results and achievements levels significantly lower than the rest of New England. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Contingency Plans, EDUCATION

A New York Moment

In education:

1. The city has transformed the way it buys these [trade] books, abandoning the decades-old process in which numerous vendors competed in door-to-door or bazaar-like settings, to one in which nearly all such books — literally millions of volumes — are purchased via computer from two large discount wholesalers that have promised savings of at least 30 percent.

Savings of $18 million to the city come at cost to small local companies and possibly, as these companies contend, to students. The one-year new system accounts for over 20% of complaints logged by DOE help desk. Another lesson that change vehicles, even those that seem to yield clear gains at face value, nearly always come at some cost to some group in a system of many interests.

2.The city will end the practice of paying teachers to play Scrabble, read or surf the Internet in reassignment centers nicknamed “rubber rooms” as they await disciplinary hearings.

Under the agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, most of the teachers will be given administrative or nonclassroom work while their cases are pending. Teachers accused of serious charges including violent felonies will be suspended without pay…The city has blamed union rules that make it difficult to fire teachers, but some teachers assigned to rubber rooms say they have been singled out because they ran afoul of a principal or they blew the whistle on someone who was fudging test scores.

3. The New York State Board of Regents…will vote on whether to greatly expand the role of the alternative organizations by allowing them to create their own master’s degree programs. At the extreme, the proposal could make education schools extraneous. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Collective Bargaining, EDUCATION, Policies & Agendas