Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24267
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|Posted on Monday, November 09, 2009 - 9:33 pm: ||
2009 MILE Guide: Milestones for Improving Learning & Education
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Nearly six years ago, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released its signature toolkit, the MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills: Milestones for Improving Learning and Education. Today, this toolkit has been revised and updated [pdf] to reflect new realities and the P21 Framework for Education.
Guidance and Support for Ongoing Improvement
How does the MILE Guide help states, districts and schools implement and support 21st century skills initiatives?
* Generate broad-based support for 21st century skills initiatives through step-by-step establishment of a compelling vision for 21st century teaching and learning.
* Set benchmarks and goals with assessments to help administrators, teachers, and policy leaders to identify current progress on 21st century skills initiatives and define next steps.
* Generate successful grant applications through identifying and prioritizing objectives as they seek funding via grants and other sources.
* Ensure continuous progress through providing improvement rubrics to monitor activities and accomplishments.
A Comprehensive, Coherent Toolkit for Progress
Offering a variety of tools all designed to work together, the new MILE GUIDE includes:
* The MILE Guide Self-Assessment Tool
A visual mapping and self-assessment tool that allows districts to plot where they are today and set a course for future integration of 21st century skills into systems of learning.
* Implementation Guiding Recommendations
A set of district-relevant recommendations and promising practices to help local districts move from assessment of 21st century skills integration to concrete action.
* P21 Framework Definitions
The most up-to-date P21 Framework definitions that spell out expectations for 21st century student outcomes and the necessary support systems at the state and local levels.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24262
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|Posted on Sunday, November 08, 2009 - 11:26 pm: ||
The end of teacher sameness and solidarity
by Scott McLeod / Dangerously Irrelevant blog with additional links to posts of quotes from "Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education"
October 08, 2009
Terry Moe and John Chubb say…
[I]n American education, policy making is not guided by what is best for children or the larger public. It is a political process driven by power. And the most powerful groups in that process are special interests, led by the teachers unions, with a stake in keeping the system as it is. . . . Reforms of real consequence are vigorously resisted and watered down. (p. 149)
Traditionally, teachers have taught students face-to-face in classrooms. This is the standard role, common across virtually all teachers, and has allowed for a pervasive sense of occupational sameness that has long been a very good thing for the unions. It encourages teachers to see themselves as having a common set of work interests, as being equally deserving, and as sinking or swimming together. And all of this promotes solidarity, which is critical to the unions’ ability to attract members, gain their financial and emotional support, and mobilize them for economic and political ends. (p. 158)
[T]eachers unions are steadfast in demanding sameness . . . [t]he idea is to minimize all sources of differentiation, because they undermine the common interests and solidarity that so contribute to union success. . . . [H]owever, technology gives rise to a differentiation of roles among teachers. Some may still work face-to-face with students in classroom settings. . . . Some may work with students in computer labs, handling much larger classes than today’s teachers do (because the computers are taking over much of the actual teaching). Some may work with students online but still do it in real time. Some may engage in distance learning but do it asynchronously . . . Some may work mainly with parents, monitoring student progress and assuring proper student oversight. Some may oversee or serve as mentors to the front-line teachers themselves. And more. These and other jobs . . . require different skills and backgrounds, may call for varying levels of pay, . . . offer teachers a vast array of occupational opportunities they didn’t have before, encourage a level of entrepeneurialism and individualism among them . . . The profession of the future will be a much more differentiated and entrepeneurial one, and such a profession spells trouble for the unions . . . it is destined to be a profession that will no longer concentrate teachers in common geographic locations and monopoly employers – and the resulting dispersion of teachers to new locations, combined with the diversity of employers that goes along with it, cannot help but create additional layers of differentiation that affect how teachers see their own interests. (p. 159–160)
[T]he pervasive sameness that the unions have always counted on will slowly fall apart. As the years go by, they will have a harder time generating the solidarity they need to motivate teachers to join, to keep them as members, to mobilize supportive action - and to do the things successful unions need to do if they are to wield power in politics. As sameness and solidarity decline, so too will their political power. (p. 160)
[Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education]
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24259
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|Posted on Sunday, November 08, 2009 - 10:35 pm: ||
Fred Deutsch / School-of-Thought blog
I ran across this video from Toby Fischer’s blog, Future of Education. The video is his take on education — either where we’re at now, or where we’re going. It all really kind of blows me away.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24242
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|Posted on Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - 12:03 am: ||
How schools stifle creativity
By Sir Ken Robinson, Special to CNN with an entertaining 19-minute presentation by Sir Robinson and over 75 reader comments
November 3, 2009
Editor's note: Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, an expert in creativity, innovation and human resources, gave this popular talk at the TED conference in 2006. In this article he explores why the message has resonated with audiences. Robinson is a best-selling author whose latest book is "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Viking)." He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for his service to the arts and education.
(CNN) -- I spoke at TED in 2006, the year they started to put the talks online. I'm told that since then, the talk has been downloaded more than 3.5 million times in more than 200 countries. The number of people who've seen it may be 20 times that or more.
I have a stream of e-mails, tweets and blog posts round the world from young people, parents, students, teachers, cultural activists and business leaders of all sorts. They tell me how deeply they relate to the talk and often that they've seen or shown it many times at meetings, conferences, workshops and retreats.
Parents tell me they've shown it to their children; young people tell me they've shown it to their parents. They say they've laughed and sometimes cried together and had a different sort of conversation as a result. Changing the conversation is one of the primary purposes of TED.
Why has this talk had such an impact? I think there are several reasons.
To begin with, the talk is short. The 18-minute talk is part of the genius of TED. In a world of instant messaging, rampant data and overspecialization, brevity is a virtue. (Even so, I've seen blogs that strongly recommend the talk but warn that it's almost 20 minutes long.)
A second factor is that, based on the audience's reaction, the talk is entertaining and funny at times, which always helps. And I'd just had my hair cut. We may never know how much that simple act contributed to the global appeal of the talk. But the real reason for its impact is that what I'm saying clearly resonates deeply with people of all ages and across many different cultures. I believe that the argument is becoming more urgent by the day.
What is the argument? In a nutshell, it's that we're all born with immense natural talents but our institutions, especially education, tend to stifle many of them and as a result we are fomenting a human and an economic disaster.
In education, this vast waste of talent involves a combination of factors. They include a narrow emphasis on certain sorts of academic work; the exile of arts, humanities and physical education programs from schools; arid approaches to teaching math and sciences; an obsessive culture of standardized testing and tight financial pressures to teach to the tests.
The result is a disastrous waste of talent among students and their teachers. To sense the scale of this disaster, you only have to look at the alarming rates of turnover among faculty and the levels of drop out, disaffection, stress and prescription drug use among students. Even for students who stay the course and do well in education, the rules of success have changed irrevocably. Just look at the plummeting value of college degrees.
The waste of talent in education is not deliberate. Teachers are as anxious about this as everyone else, but many of them feel trapped in the awkward groping of national reform policies, many of which misunderstand the problems as well as the solutions. The waste of talent isn't deliberate, but it is systematic.
It happens in part because the dominant systems of education are rooted in the values and demands of industrialism: they are linear, mechanistic and focused on conformity and standardization. Nowadays, they're buttressed by major commercial interests in mass testing and by the indiscriminate use of prescription drugs that keep students' minds from wandering to things they naturally find more interesting.
The tragedy is that meeting the many social, economic, spiritual and environmental challenges we now face depends absolutely on the very capacities of insight, creativity and innovation that these systems are systematically suppressing in yet another generation of young people.
Reforming these systems is not enough. The truth is that we are caught up in a cultural and economic revolution. This revolution is that is global in scale and unpredictable in nature. To meet it, we need a revolution in the culture of education.
This new culture has to emerge from a richer sense of human ability. To shape it, I believe we have to leave behind the manufacturing principles of industrialism and embrace the organic principles of ecology.
Education is about developing human beings, and human development is not mechanical or linear. It is organic and dynamic.
Like all living forms, we flourish in certain conditions and shrivel in others. Great teachers, great parents and great leaders understand those conditions intuitively; poor ones don't. The answer is not to standardize education, but to personalize and customize it to the needs of each child and community. There is no alternative. There never was.
The good news is that all around the world there are wonderful examples of people and organizations that are making determined efforts to do things differently in education -- and in business, health care, architecture, communities and cultural programs.
There are examples of these all over the TED Web site and in the expanding ripples of the TED prizes. TED itself is a great example of the spirit of collaboration and inter-disciplinarily that is the essential to a genuine culture of creativity.
What are the principles of this culture? Towards the end of my talk, I mention a book I was working on called "Epiphany."
It was published this year under a much better title, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" (Viking) and is now in 11 languages. It draws on conversations with people in science, business, education, the arts, sports and more on how they found in themselves the talents and passions that have shaped their lives. But the book is not about them: it's about you and your children, if you have any; and your friends too, if you have any of those.
There's a wealth of talent that lies in all of us. All of us, including those who work in schools, must nurture creativity systematically and not kill it unwittingly.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sir Ken Robinson.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24223
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|Posted on Friday, October 30, 2009 - 12:47 am: ||
Personal Learning Network – want one?
Judy O’Connell / Hey Jude blog
October 29, 2009 Australia
At the above link, flip through the 61 slides. Entertaining and thought-provoking.
Convince your key stakeholders of the importance of a Personal Learning Network – with the help of this excellent presentation (videos included)!! Great work from Mark Woolley!
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24202
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|Posted on Monday, October 26, 2009 - 11:12 pm: ||
Innovation Part 1: What the Forecast Says
by Barbara Diamond / The Future of Education is Here blog
October 20th, 2009
If you can cut through the jargon, it's clear that the classroom instructional model is no way to cultivate the behaviors needed in the near future. We must create schools for The 21st Century Student.
If you click on this article's links, you'll find some thought provoking information.
Innovation is the new watchword of the day. We say that, although the U.S. is losing manufacturing, tech support, and even tax preparation jobs to cheaper, overseas competitors, we still have the edge in good old American ingenuity and innovation. To keep this edge, however, we tell ourselves that we need to teach our children how to innovate, too. And, of course, we realize that we need innovative methods of education to teach our students such innovation and creativity. So we have an Innovation office in the US Department of Education, and an Investment in Innovation Fund in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
At times, I have felt rebellious about this emphasis. I have wondered, “Is everything new really better than anything old?” At such moments, I know that I am experiencing a moment of kinship with the proponents of a “back to the basics” education, which isn’t new at all. After all, I had a good, sound education without any projects or any effort to make content “relevant,” and I came out OK, didn’t I? But then I think: there were relatively few moments of the pure joy of discovery over the 20 years of my formal schooling, and, while I have a nimble mind, my specific, innate intelligence and intuition - which might have made me an innovator - were generally ignored rather than nurtured.
So, if I find myself at least a provisional believer in the new gospel of innovation, what can our 2020 Forecast tell us about innovation? A couple of points stand out. First, look at the driver of change for systems, “Platforms for Resilience.” This driver warns that we need “flexibility and innovation” to meet the challenges of “system failures.” Looking more deeply, we can see that, in this view, innovation is, in fact, made possible by “responsive flexibility,” and also by “distributed collaboration, and transparency.” But the link is even closer than that: These behaviors will, in turn, “allow institutions to meet…challenges through innovation, adaptation, and openness.” Putting all this together, the Forecast suggests that, if we are to become innovative educators, we need to be flexible and adaptable, and we need to collaborate openly and transparently.
Secondly, we can find insights from trends that fill out the driver Amplified Organization. For example, the trend “Beta Building,” under “Amplified Organization,” forecasts that “Transparency, collaboration, and rapid iteration [will] create a beta culture displaying open critique and reflective practice.” So this, again, recommends transparency and collaboration. But it adds a new point: what is this “beta culture”? The metaphor is drawn from the “beta” version of software, meaning software that is new and still in development. And along with a culture in which new ideas are being developed for learning, this trend suggests that educators, parents, and students should be involved in reflection and critique. So this is not about doing something new just because it is new. Instead, it is about innovations that have a purpose, and that are the subject of discussion and ongoing refinement.
The third, explicit mention of innovation comes in the trend “Enabled Innovation,” under the driver “Altered Bodies.” The trend says, “Neurodiversity, physical enhancements, and disability communities converge, turning marginalized populations into mainstream innovators.” This trend is just beginning to unfold, but one of the most interesting areas involves emerging research on autism. Some scientists believe that children with autism display extreme reactions to “toxins, food and airborne allergens [pdf].” Treatments and understanding being developed to help these children have the potential to facilitate learning for everyone.
So, according to the 2020 Forecast, these are the behaviors we need to cultivate to accomplish the innovations we need in education: collaboration, transparency, adaptiveness, flexibility, openness, purposeful experimentation, and attentiveness to innovations pioneered by disabled and otherwise marginalized groups. Can we do this? Will we?
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24199
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|Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 11:11 pm: ||
Liberating Learning With Virtual Ed.
by Katie Ash / Digital Education blog
The folks at Stanford University's Hoover Institution recently interviewed Terry Moe, a professor of political science for Stanford and an advocate for online learning, about his new book Liberating Learning. In the interview, Moe talks about how online learning can reform education and some of the obstacles that stand in its way. Click [here] to watch the interview, or read a transcript here.
A 'Disruptive' View of the Florida Virtual School
by Katie Ash / Digital Education blog
October 9, 2009
The Innosight Institute, Disrupting Class authors Clayton Christensen's and Michael B. Horn's nonprofit think tank, recently released a case study [pdf] about the Florida Virtual School. The document is a review of the ground-breaking online school from its conception to its role as a vendor to the unique funding model it established in 2002 and beyond. It also talks about the way FLVS established its curriculum and the philosophy behind its teaching staff.
There's lots of information drawn from interviews with Julie Young, the school's president and chief executive officer of FLVS, and the case study also examines how the path that FLVS has taken meshes with the concept of disruptive innovation.
The study itself is a largely positive look back at the evolution of FLVS, without much critical analysis of some of the struggles that the school has faced, but nonetheless, FLVS has become a leader in the online education world, and it's surely helpful to learn more about how it came to be what it is.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24034
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|Posted on Monday, September 28, 2009 - 8:30 pm: ||
How to Remake Education
NEW YORK TIMES
September 25, 2009
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Here's the only answer that makes sense in the article. The rest can be ignored or integrated into this answer.
Ravitch is a historian. Her book ‘‘The Death and Life of the Great American School System’’ will be published in February.
Tech Is The Key
Technology has transformed communications, increased the efficiency of retailing and helped elect a president. But because education is largely protected from incentives and consequences, it lags in embracing technology.
That must and will change. At a New York City pilot program, School of One, for example, each student has a daily ‘‘playlist’’ tailored to their instructional level, interests and learning style. The school blends online learning, small group sessions and tutoring. It’s a vivid picture of the shift from age cohorts slogging through a textbook to personalized digital learning.
This fall, about two million K-12 students will be learning online at home and at school (about 4 percent of the national student body). By 2020, I believe most high-school students will do most of their learning online. It shouldn’t take that long, but it will.
New tools already make possible a generation of schools that blend the best of online and on-site learning. They will be less expensive and more fun, delivering excellence with equity.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24030
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|Posted on Sunday, September 27, 2009 - 11:44 pm: ||
How tech drives success in Title I schools
New resources examine technology's potential to make a difference among low-income student populations
By Laura Devaney, eSchool News Senior Editor
Sep 25, 2009
A new report [pdf] examines how districts can make the most of education technology funds, and an accompanying guide identifies effective school technology tools. Together, these resources are intended to help school leaders personalize instruction and give teachers the tools they need to succeed with low-income (Title I) student populations.
It's kind of ironic that some of the greatest advancements in computer-delivered instruction is for learning-challenged students.
The report, "Leveraging Title I and Title IID: Maximizing the Impact of Technology in Education," and the guide, "A Resource Guide Identifying Technology Tools for Schools," were released Sept. 24 by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and the National Association for State Title I Directors (NASTID).
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 24020
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|Posted on Saturday, September 26, 2009 - 6:03 pm: ||
The E-Memory Revolution
The rise of digital records of daily life means unmatched access to our pasts, presenting both challenge and opportunity to libraries
By Jim Gemmell & Gordon Bell -- Library Journal
In addition to the specialized knowledge and skills pertaining to jobs connected to the E-Memory Revolution, who will be teaching people how to create their own E-Memories? Shouldn't public schools be offering seminars on this topic? This is just one more example of a course or mini-course that could be quickly created and disseminated to every student in the country within a year if only we had schools for The 21st Century Student. How are you going to catch public schools up to what they need to be doing, Arne? I'm not talking about 5 or 10 years from now. I'm talking next year, Arne.
When Stanford University obtained the Buckminster Fuller archive, it heralded it as "one of the most extensive known personal archives in existence." Taking up 2000 linear feet of shelf space, including hundreds of thousands of pages and over 4000 hours of audio/video, Fuller's collection does indeed sound impressive. But Fuller, considered an eccentric for leaving behind such an enormous corpus, will be put to shame by the vast repository of electronic memories (e-memories) created by the average Joe of the next generation. And these e-memory archives will take up a lot less shelf space.
We are on the cusp of an era in which, if you choose, you can create e-memories of everything, forget nothing, and keep them in your own personal archive. You can have what we refer to as Total Recall. Souvenirs and mementos will belong to another era. More and more is being recorded about each one of us than ever before, and it is bound increasingly to include reading habits, health, location, and computer usage. Archivists, who are already beginning to deal with digital curation, will have to grapple less with physical objects and more with the potential analysis and distribution of the information those objects represent. And library patrons will be a new breed, "a digital person," with their own personal digital libraries of everything they've ever read, seen, and heard.
Three streams of technology are merging to bring about an imminent Total Recall revolution. The first is recording technology, beginning with the already ubiquitous digital cameras and cell phones that include cameras. They are the first few drops in a coming deluge of sensing devices that will include location-tracking, environment-sensing (for example, temperature and humidity), and biometric sensing (via on-body devices today and someday via in-body devices). Furthermore, the trail of one's digital transactions can tell a detailed story—and not merely itemized credit card bills but phone call logs, email in-boxes, web browsing histories, movie rentals, and much more. We already have more digital records than we realize.
The second technology stream is the rapid increase in capacity and corresponding decrease in price for digital storage. Imagine an archive of everything you ever read or wrote—books, articles, web pages, emails, letters, and so on—along with ten or 20 pictures a day and several hours of audio each day. Already, this would easily fit on a $100 hard drive. In a few years, it will fit in your cell phone. A few years after that, rolling video nonstop throughout life will be possible. We already have more digital storage than we realize.
The third stream is powerful software to take advantage of a lifetime of e-memories. Searching for words in your e-memories, like Google does on the web, is only the beginning. It will be possible to find things by cross-correlation, such as the document you read while in Phoenix, the picture taken by a relative, or the email you sent on that particularly cold day. And data-mining software will crunch through your life-log, finding patterns, trends, and connections. This third stream is where the most dramatic developments are occurring now.
Creating e-memory legacies
We don't expect very many people will record audio and video continuously throughout their lives. But virtually everyone will record much more audio and video, and the overall digital trail they leave behind will be even more expansive and detailed than it is now. Imagine if your great-great-grandfather had left behind as much video and audio as Buckminster Fuller, allowing you to hear the sound of his voice, identify his favorite sayings, and watch his mannerisms. Think also of looking through all his correspondence and seeing all his travels in detail down to each walk down the street. Suppose you could find ancestors similar to you and examine a detailed record of their health, including what they ate, how much exercise they took, and even a full history of their weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and heart-rate—recorded daily or even moment by moment.
With enough information about a person, it even becomes possible to simulate their responses in a dialog. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have a program that lets you ask questions of Albert Einstein. You can chat with a virtual George Bush or Bart Simpson at MyCyberTwin.com. The scope of what you can discuss with Einstein, Bush, or Simpson is limited only by the source material. With a more comprehensive transcript of one's life, a very realistic simulation could be done. Imagine asking your great-great-grandfather about his first date with your great-great-grandmother.
Fundamental human values
Total Recall will impact more than just personal legacies; the legacy of research projects will also be revolutionized. In the past, a paper or two might be all that survived of a large research effort. In the future, all of the data, notes, and correspondence will be preserved. Others will study it and add their own observations. Someone may apply a fresh approach to the old data. This new paradigm is already being tried in the world of science, yielding deeper insights and sometimes revealing flaws in earlier published work. And it should be just as relevant in other fields, for example, history, where access to original source material will proliferate.
For the historian, e-memories will require mastering new computing skills. There will be far too much material to view—you don't have enough time to watch even one other person's life in its entirety. So, historians will become adept at using data-mining to ferret out the novel from the mundane and the significant amid the trivia. Their scholarly community will draw increasingly on the technologies of database search, wikis, and Facebook. The human values that guide their interpretations will always be fundamental, of course, but they are bound to change as e-memories in a Total Recall world give an increasingly finer grain to our understanding not only of ourselves but of other people in other ages.
Following story trails
The way that history and science—indeed any information—are consumed will change. Whatever the topic, the entire corpus in gory detail will be available. The first organizational step, though, will need to be in summaries and "story trails." Summaries may be authored, but more often they will be automatically created. We will want them even for our own life corpora, because being intimately familiar with a vast collection will not prevent it from being intimidating. Consider the automatic summarization made possible by a system from Dublin City University, Ireland, that discerns between the novel and the mundane from among tens of thousands of photos, GPS data, and other sensor values. Its output is a summarized diary that highlights the interesting part of your day.
Story trails will take you from artifact to artifact with a narrative to guide you. Think of it as a History Channel show but an interactive one that lets you browse around like you surf the web and where you can look at more than just the few seconds of video or a handful of selected photos. Imagine following a narrative of basketball star Michael Jordan's life and being able to follow up on one brief mention to watch a game he played as a teenager. Every stat is available, every second of every game, every interview. You end up in his baseball career and discover stories by others that provide fascinating perspectives. And you find they take you off on other trails through history. By following up their trails you end up deep in baseball lore and eventually looking at historic pictures of Yankee Stadium.
A foretaste of this new way of consuming information comes from the World Wide Telescope, which includes authored guided tours through the universe. You might be taking a tour of spiral galaxies, stopping for a view of each galaxy to hear details, and then virtually flying through space to the next galaxy on your tour. You arrive at Andromeda and notice that it is also part of a tour of galaxies visible via amateur telescopes; clicking on that tour icon branches you off on a new trail through the universe. And at any point you can just roam around the stars as you please.
Innovations in learning
A further change in information consumption will be the widespread adoption of electronic textbooks. While promised for years, e-texts are finally on the rise, with some colleges already offering textbooks on Kindle book readers and the governor of California advocating their adoption. E-texts will have many advantages, but an overlooked point is that they will put computing power into the hands of students, enabling them to create their own learning e-memories. The e-text should know what has been read and what hasn't. It can enable electronic highlighting and note-taking. It will record lab experiments and conversations with the teacher. Increasing use of electronic book readers and the ubiquity of notebook computers will propel the ascendency of e-texts, which will open the door to a new world of learning with Total Recall.
This will also impact all lifelong learners. The mother of an ADD son will have her own personal e-library of articles, books, advice, and notes that she will continually extend and reflect on as she gains greater insight into his particular needs. The youth baseball coach will ruminate over a corpus of practice plans, game footage, coaching seminars, and suggestions from his colleagues. The entrepreneur will have her own blend of college courses, seminars, articles, and life experience that she will grow and evolve over time.
Library patrons in the Total Recall era
All these changes mean a drastic alteration in the library patron of tomorrow. Imagine a patron today arriving with a truckload of books, magazines, and clippings, several helpers, and even a few librarians from other libraries. Virtually, electronically, this will be the Total Recall patron. In a way, patrons will be the librarian of their own not insubstantial library. Still, most will lack expertise; they will likely be asking for help with advanced search, data-mining, and making connections in the virtual world to the right experts. Patrons will ask for help building new connections with their truckload of e-memories, as it were, and may well give a librarian some access to their own memories to get this help.
And patrons won't just want to borrow works; they will want to absorb them into their e-memories. Precious little will be able to protect copyright from personal copying: recording from pages, screens, and speakers will go from possible to trivial as miniaturized cameras and microphones meet powerful software to manage the recorded content. Bootleggers may be caught, small-scale sharing of copyrighted works may occasionally be detected, but personal copies will never be discovered.
Digital curation challenges
Digital archives come with their own unique challenges, particularly data loss, data decay, and data entanglement. Backup and replication, thanks to market demand and competition, are rapidly approaching the affordability and ease of use that should make data loss a thing of the past. Data decay and data entanglement are more problematic.
Data decay occurs when the format you stored something in becomes obsolete and unreadable. It is hard to imagine a library owning every program needed to open every file type ever known. Rather than lose everything from an old spreadsheet, it is desirable to at least have a "print" version of the spreadsheet. The ability to calculate is lost, but at least the version as it would be printed can be easily retained in e-memory. Other interactive documents might be captured as video. In any event, care must be taken to preserve digital artifacts in formats likely to be long-lived and to be constantly converting them into the latest generation of formats to avoid obsolescence. We expect software services to react to market demand to perform such conversion.
Data entanglement refers to the intermingling of work and private life and the competing claims on e-memories that ensue. When we eventually part company with Microsoft, where we are currently both researchers, it will no doubt request that we perform an e-lobotomy of those memories associated with the company. However, the demarcation is not always clear. Are memories en route to a business meeting personal or corporate? And chat transcripts from our private accounts may mention company business, while corporate records could contain such personal tidbits as happy birthday greetings.
We question to what extent people will actually comply with requests for e-memory purging, but whatever they do it is clear that data entanglement will be a thorny issue for the digital archivist. Just rounding up all of the bits of a person's life will be problematic as these lives are captured and archived on their own systems, on social web pages such as Facebook, and are part of other people's lives or organization archives. Yet, all of these bits, such as an occasional email missive, are needed to complete the stories.
Another issue is simply finding enough storage space. For an individual during his/her life, storage is not an issue, but any attempt to keep all the data stored by all individuals forever seems hopeless even though we have just come through a decade when storage has doubled annually. We cannot project continued exponential increases in storage capacity into the indefinite future. Nor can we count on increasing population to deal with storing past generations—especially when population grows most quickly in poor countries. No, storage will be finite, and we will have to answer who will get in the digital lifeboat. Do we want one full life or two half-lives? Will we trim video quality for one to make room for another? Or delete the repetitious bits: "same commute to work as usual—video/GPS/auto information deleted"?
However we answer such questions, many more lives will still be digitally preserved, each in ever-greater fidelity.
Your life as a library, not a museum
Most physical artifacts will collect dust prior to being ultimately discarded or sold as antiques. Digital artifacts will be found and enjoyed and collect no dust at all. One woman we know sells tiaras on eBay. In the 20th century, she could never have found enough customers to make a business of it. In the Internet era, she has global reach. The Beatles have made a lot of additional money by selling outtakes and obscure videos of themselves. The interested student of history will soon be finding digitally stored artifacts of, say, World War II in far greater quantities than is now possible. People looking for an ancestor whom few others care about will be especially advantaged. E-memories are just so much more accessible.
We horrify archivists when we talk about digitizing things and then throwing them away. Of course, one need not destroy the physical object after making a digital copy, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of Total Recall is the reduction of clutter; it is especially satisfying to shred one's papers and eliminate rows of filing cabinets and shelves. When curators come to deal with our archives, they will surely find hundreds fewer physical objects because of Total Recall. But they will have hundreds of thousands of additional digital artifacts. Whether you agree that is a highly positive trade-off, it is surely coming.
The benefits of e-memories will extend across the life of the individual and throughout society. These benefits, along with the technological trends that make e-memories affordable and convenient, make the Total Recall era inevitable. Your life, in so far as it is information, is about to become totally accessible to you. The skills and passions of librarians will be invaluable in this new age.
GORDON BELL is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and a well-known computing pioneer as VP of R&D at Digital Equipment Corporation, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, founding assistant director of the National Science Foundation's CISE Directorate, and a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum. JIM GEMMELL, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, with publications on multimedia, telepresence, and computer networking. His research has led to features in Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, and Bing.com. Their book, Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything, is being published this month by Dutton.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 9:57 pm: ||
Psychological procedure could be useful with red-light camera issue
Jim workman / Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder
September 23, 2009
This article is a good example of why the classroom instructional model is entirely insufficient for teaching The 21st Century Student. Herein, we learn how the application of psychology in programming red-light cameras can increase the number of traffic violations. By using a a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement, the timing of yellow lights would vary imperceptibly, essentially interfering with people's ability to estimate whether they have time to get through the intersection. See, reinforcement, generally. From Wikipedia, we see that this type of reinforcement produces the highest response rate of all. [Variable ratio (VR); Fixed ratio (FR); Variable interval (VI); Fixed interval (FI)].
Educators routinely use reinforcement, but it's not possible for them to time it for optimal results. But computer-delivered instruction can be easily integrated with reinforcements that are optimally scheduled for the best results. In fact, by using artificial intelligence algorithms, a computer can "learn" what the optimal reinforcement schedule is for each individual student. Bottom line: students learn more in less time and retain it longer.
This story also points out the need to expand the school curriculum. We are increasingly being manipulated--by technology, cameras, advertisers, government and much more. Many times, the manipulation benefits the manipulator far more than the manipulated. Students need to learn how to detect whether they are being manipulated and they need the skills to resist manipulations that aren't in their best interests. This education is essential, but it's seldom addressed. With computer-aided instruction, we can integrate this knowledge into existing courses or we can create a brand new course and distribute it to all students within a year, or two at the most. You can't do that with the classroom instructional model. It takes about 15 years--a generation of students--to "fully" implement a change like this, and "fully" means it's about 70% effective. Just look at state exams as an example. We've had them for 11 years and the only reason we've had half the improvement that has been reported is because the testing system has been altered--even manipulated--to produce the improvements. It takes a long, long time to make any changes in public schools, and that's true even when nothing is fundamentally changing--like testing student performance in math and English. We must have schools for The 21st Century Student. Comprende, Arne?
Although there are some legal and constitutional problems with red-light cameras that should be addressed, as Mr. Hillis indicates, the foundational problem usually is missed. That is the fact an outside company whose goal is to increase profits rather than safety gains every time a traffic ticket is issued. In San Diego, the city entered into a contract with Lockheed-Martin in 2001 to install and operate red light cameras for a fee of $70 per ticket or 50 percent of the fine, which ever was less. The Supreme Court of California found several problems with red-light cameras including that Lockheed-Martin operated the lights on a contingency and that, "The evidence obtained from the red light camera system ... appears so untrustworthy and unreliable that it lacks foundation and should not be admitted."
Where red-light camera systems are installed law enforcement and courts are completely unaware of how the cameras are programmed. Only the company executives who make the business plan and the programmers know for sure. Whether this includes the ability to program the yellow light delay time is unclear. The procedure for insuring high profits would not necessarily have to be as simple as shortening the yellow light delay or the trigger response time slightly to take drivers by surprise. From my background in psychology, I would suggest the best way to increase the likelihood of triggering the red-light camera would be to use a form of what is described in psychological research literature as a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement. This is a very powerful psychological procedure often used in contexts such as programming gambling machines. Applied to red-light cameras this would work somewhat as follows. Information would be obtained as to how long the yellow light delay is for a given intersection, say four seconds. Then the new yellow-light timing could be programmed to vary 500 to 700 milliseconds. That would result in the yellow light being on from 3.3 seconds to 4.7 seconds and everywhere in between on a random basis. This would not be clearly evident to most of us. The city could be an unwitting conspirator in this. They could specify a given intersection to have a 4 second delay and the company could make the delay average 4 seconds over any given hour. This would certainly increase ticket issuances, but not increase safety nearly as much as absolute timing based on a safety study.
To deal with the concern I have about the red-light camera issue I would suggest two things. First, the city should buy the cameras, installation, and programming and pay up front. However, my guess is that the company won't want to sell the golden goose, except at an exorbitant price. Second, a study should be made of the intersections before camera installation to determine the yellow-light delay. After installation the same study should be made checking individual yellow-light times, not cycles over time. This check should be done periodically on a variable-ratio schedule, kind of like fighting fire with fire.
However, if a company wants to cheat to increase profits it might be hard to deal with. In San Diego sensor loops at three intersections had been moved by the company without notice to the city. This was cited by the court as an example of what can go wrong. The newest trigger mechanism technology is especially troubling. It is a kind of virtual induction loop, called a video loop, which can be reprogrammed or modified very easily, probably from someone's laptop.
Safety, of course, is the primary issue. Freeing up police time is an important secondary goal. Increased revenues to the city is additionally helpful and justified if it means we culprits start paying for violations we are now getting away with. However, if we drivers are quick learners and good citizens, then the city's increased revenues will soon diminish and we will have a safer, but poorer city.
There is a final safety issue that should be pointed out. That is the fact that it is now impossible to do a safety study in the near future to determine red-light camera effectiveness on Maple Avenue. The reason is this. Maple Avenue is having major modifications to improve safety. It would be impossible to quantify the impact of adding the red-light camera program unless an accident study was done in the second or third year after the Maple Avenue modifications, followed by an accident study a significant period of time after the red-light cameras were installed. These accident studies also would have to include traffic-flow studies on Maple Avenue and be counter balanced with accident studies in other parts of town to determine whether and how much risk was increased on other streets.
Workman, of Zanesville, is a retired school psychologist.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Sunday, September 20, 2009 - 9:47 pm: ||
Health care and an educated citizenry
by Chester E. Finn, Jr. / Education Gadfly
September 17, 2009, Volume 9, Number 33
While Chester gets the pieces of the puzzle, he doesn't give us any indication that he knows what students need to be learning to put the puzzle together. It's system dynamics. In schools for The 21st Century Student, this is just one of many topics that will be integrated in courses from 1st grade to 12th. You can't do that in today's schools because you can't train 3.5 million teachers how to do it and how to systematically and seamlessly progress though the topic within the context of courses dealing with a multitude of other topics and situations.
What kind of education would one need to make sense of the current health-care debate? As America rethinks its academic standards and international competitiveness, this is not a bad time to ask what U.S. citizens and voters (and taxpayers) need by way of knowledge and skills to follow the hottest domestic policy issue of the day and to form reasonable conclusions about what they do and don’t like about the various options, packages and arguments on the table.
Today’s elites seem certain that John Q. Public is irremediably ignorant about, and perhaps oblivious to, this debate, thus susceptible to being persuaded, brainwashed, maybe cowed. Some Democrats are convinced that the insurance industry is creating “movements” bent on misleading and confusing people and planting suspicion in their heart, while at least one GOP Congressman (and more than a few conservative pundits and talk show hosts) says President Obama is lying. All these folks seem to assume that the masses cannot possibly understand the debate. But must we accept that as a given? What would it take?
Basic literacy and math skills obviously come first. Lots of numbers, cost projections and ratios are being tossed around, and so are many sophisticated words, phrases and concepts.
Some “21st Century skills” are called for, too (even if one believes, with me, that these skills were just as important in prior centuries). One must, for example, be able to get behind the words, slogans, claims and counterclaims to discern motives, rhetorical strategies, etc., and must distinguish among fact, conjecture, opinion, propaganda, and so on. One must also muster the cognitive firepower to gauge the impact of a given proposal on one’s own situation or that of one’s parents, children, etc.
What I’m most struck by, however, is the enormous amount of background knowledge that one must possess--across multiple disciplines--to understand this debate. It’s almost a litmus test of cultural literacy. Consider, for starters, just three short paragraphs from President Obama’s address to Congress last week:
I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.
Our collective failure to meet this challenge--year after year, decade after decade--has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can't get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can't afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or expensive to cover.
We are the only advanced democracy on Earth--the only wealthy nation--that allows such hardships for millions of its people. There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.
* * *
What is “health care reform” and what’s the significance of adding the word “comprehensive” to that phrase?
Who were Theodore Roosevelt and John Dingell Sr. (and Jr.) and what’s the relevance of their past experience to our present debate? How does the past shape the present?
What are key differences between Democrats and Republicans? Why did Obama invoke both? Is it coincidental that he also named Roosevelt and Dingell?
How does “insurance” work? What do insurance companies do? What do employers do in this realm? What does it mean to be “self-insured”? What is “coverage”? “Bankruptcy”?
What’s an “advanced democracy”? How many are there? What are some others? What’s the point of Obama’s comparison of the U.S. with other countries?
Now let’s note some other essentials:
What are Medicare and Medicaid? Where did they come from? How do they work? Who is covered by them?
What’s the federal deficit and why are some people concerned about its size?
What is the Congressional legislative process and why is it unusually complex in this instance?
As is obvious, history, civics and economics converge here. If you don’t possess a goodly amount of background knowledge in these fields, how could you expect to be even a knowledgeable observer of the health-care debate, much less an active participant? And if you are not knowledgeable yourself, what are the consequences? In the end, you could wind up with some unpleasant (or possibly pleasant) surprises. More immediately, you are--just as the elites say--vulnerable to rhetorical tricks, scare tactics and propaganda, and you are apt to abdicate your civic role to others, like it or not. Those others may be elected officials or may be interest groups and lobbyists. Perhaps they will serve you well. But you’re not likely to be able to determine whether that’s so, because you simply don’t know enough.
Maybe you don’t need to know these sorts of things to succeed in college or the workplace--which seems to be the litmus tests for today’s standards-writers and education reformers. But you really do need to know them to be an effective, constructive participant in modern American life. Who is going to ensure that our schools teach these things, too?
A version of this piece appeared this morning on National Review Online.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Monday, August 24, 2009 - 10:55 pm: ||
Meta-Analysis Shows Online Learning Benefits
by ASCD Bloggers / In Service blog
Aug. 24, 2009
A recent meta-analysis of research comparing online learning with traditional classroom learning [pdf] showed that, on average, students performed better in online learning conditions as opposed to exclusively face-to-face instruction. Researchers found this effect was larger in studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face.
Report authors are emphatic that their meta-analysis does not crown online as the superior learning medium. In the studies reviewed, online learning was supported by conditions like extended time on task, supplemental materials, and increased opportunities for collaboration, and it's the combination of these elements that created observed advantages for online learners.
Another caveat: Despite estimates that more than a million K-12 students took online courses in the 2007-08 school year, very little research rigorously compares learning effectiveness in those courses to traditional learning experiences. Only five studies reviewed in the meta-analysis met inclusion criteria.
Although this meta-analysis mainly focuses on postsecondary and adult education experiences, K-12 stakeholders can certainly draw from the recorded benefits of additional time on task, support materials, and opportunities for collaboration that online learning afforded. In addition, researchers found that students benefit from online learning that is not simply a traditional classroom unit presented in an online format. When blending online learning with face-to-face instruction, this research suggests online learning that supports personalization, choice, and reflection.
Broader support for online learning may chip away at traditional, classroom-based instruction, but a short piece about this report in the NY Times claims learning will remain a community-based activity.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Monday, July 13, 2009 - 11:36 pm: ||
Counting the Origins of Failure
by Ira David Socol / Change.org's Education blog
July 13, 2009
If education in the United States of the 21st Century is failing, that failure has been built over a very long time. And I do not think that it can be “fixed” in any meaningful way unless people understand that the failures we see today are [the result of] our system working exactly as it was intended to.
Exactly right. The biggest impediment to improving education outcomes isn't students, teachers, curriculum, class size, salaries, etc. It's the system. We waste billions of dollars every year on all kinds of initiatives that logically ought to improve learning. It's mountains of dollars for pimple-sized improvements. You can't turn a horse into a tractor with the hope of getting a tractor's productivity from the horse. You have to build or buy the tractor. You have to make a systemic change. In general, systems produce precisely the results they're designed to produce. They cannot efficiently and effectively produce results they're not designed to produce.
Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Our American public education system is doing exactly what it was designed to do. It is separating “winners” from “losers” and it is reinforcing our economic gap. The system was designed in the 1840s and at the turn of the 20th Century to separate society into a vast majority of minimally trained industrial workers and a small, educated elite. It was designed to enforce White, Protestant, Middle-Class, “Typically-abled” standards on an increasingly diverse American population. A few blessed children in each generation who met those standards might move up in society. The rest would be consigned to low wage manual labor. It was designed to ensure that the children of the elites had the opportunities they needed to remain the elite. Everything about the system – from the way schools are funded, to the way standards are created, to the system of tests, to our peculiar form of college admissions, to our notions of disability – was created to meet the employment goals of the United States from the mid 19th Century to the mid 20th Century.
Unfortunately we are 50 years past that historic moment, and we are no longer happy with the results.
But if you want different results you will not get there through changing teachers, or changing managers, or expecting more from students. You can only change the results by changing the system itself.
That means changing everything, from the buildings to the timetable, from the calendar to the notion of age-based grades, from the idea of classroom competition to the furniture, from the accepted sense of “paying attention” to the purpose of teachers. All of that contributes to the “failures” we see today because all of that was designed from the start to create those failures.
American education was largely designed in two bursts of change. In the 20 years before the American Civil War writers such as William Alcott and Henry Barnard largely defined the classroom and the school. Alcott swapped out benches and long tables for desks and chairs with backs, and introduced reluctant American teachers to the newest information technology – the chalkboard and individual student slateboard. Barnard, jumping on the “Prussian Model” bandwagon (industrializing America was deeply enamored at the time of all the efficiency ideas coming from Berlin, including school* and university design), designed the multi-classroom school building for the new idea of age-based grades. He told teachers to put the alphabet charts above those new chalkboards, to put the flag to “stage right” of the teacher’s desk, and pointed out that the design of the school’s grounds, entrances, and corridors, should control student behavior.
In the 20 years beginning in 1890, the systems of the 1840s were made efficient. Now there were not just age-based grades but discrete subjects. Not just days in school but specific moments devoted to single subjects. Not just assessments but state-wide tests which enforced classroom conformity. American education was no longer viewed as craft or social responsibility, but as one more example of mass production.
Age-based grades were the perfect fit for the new industrial age. The raw material (students) would be pulled in at one end, and through repeated “stampings” would emerge eight years later as compliant workers and citizens. Quality checks at the end of each year would assess whether that raw material was defective or not. If detective, a stamping would be repeated, if that did not work, the student would be discarded. This filtered the population effectively for the employment needs of the 19th Century. Most never made it through the whole process, and very, very few would emerge at the end of eight years considered ready for further polishing (high school completion was rare well into the 20th Century). Premium “raw materials” – the children of the elite – were obviously not treated this way. They were hand-formed by tutors or the teachers at private academies. This assured that the American aristocracy would maintain their position.
We’re still there
This theory of education, as the equivalent of industrial processing, remains dominant. Everything about “accountability” – the chant of both the left and the right these days, is based in this. Yes, it has always been controversial. Many in 19th Century America resisted giving up the “One Room Schoolhouse” with its multiage grouping of students, its individualized instruction, its peer-to-peer instruction, and its acceptance of students who entered at any point and moved at their own pace. And before the Reagan era washed in a new age of educational conservatism, many public schools were experimenting with less emphasis on age as the determiner of what should be learned. But if any experiments survived Reagan, No Child Left Behind, with its insistence that every student learn at the exact same rate, cemented the industrial process legally as national policy.
And this is the source of most of our failure. Age-based grades and the industrial model ensure that in every classroom, at least one-third of students will be bored, and one-third will be behind. Age-based grades create disabilities, by insisting that there is a “norm” for every age, and labeling those not “there” yet with pathological descriptions. Call it whatever euphemism you desire, but the idea is always “retardation” – by very definition. Age-based grades – by creating rigid “norms” – damage those from differing ethnic groups and cultures. Age-based grades destroy those entering school from below middle-class backgrounds, since we are all well aware that poverty is the number one predictor of “starting behind” – and if you start behind, even if all schools were equal, age-based grades all but guarantee that you will fail at every step.
And every “grade level expectation” published by every state, and every achievement test, reinforces this system of failure.
So we continue to stamp, and we continue to filter. Oh, we’ve put in many more inspection points, and we’ve put in many more stages of remedial processing, but nothing has changed. And when the failure inevitably occurs, we do what every industrial manager does, we blame the raw material (“our students are not prepared for school”) or we blame the industrial workers (“the problem,” as Bill Gates, Sr. put it on NPR, “is the teachers.”).
America needs to decide
Our complaint now, wrongly, whether the education secretary is appointed by a right-wing ideologue like George W. Bush or a liberal former community organizer like Barack Obama, is a complaint about a system which we think does not work well enough. If you believe that then you will look at management (Charter Schools), or inspection (high-stakes testing), or replacing workers with industrial robots (scripted instruction, Teach for America).
The problem is that the system is doing what it was designed to do: sending the children of our elite to Ivy League universities and sending the children of our poor out to the streets. We see it as a “problem” only because the employment profile has changed, so instead of dumping those filtered out into factories and mines, we dump them into crime and nothingness.
If we want a different result, it is the system – not the students, not the teachers – not even really the management – which must change. These groups, after all, are just humans, humans responding to the system they are forced to survive in.
The educational system, and all the structures created to support that system – the buildings, furniture, time schedules, tests – are the problem. Decades of tinkering with the details have not altered the results at all, because those results are a creation of the system itself. So if Americans want change, it is time for them to insist on real change.
- Ira Socol
Over the next few days I’ll be looking at the structures of this system. Please share your thoughts along the way. And many thanks to Clay Burell for this opportunity to speak to all of you at change.org
You can find my blog on education, technology, and "special needs" education at SpeEdChange. You can find my books on Amazon.com
* - "The adoption of the Prussian model required the creation of a vast hierarchical bureaucracy of administrators, which in turn led to the abandonment of the one-room schoolhouses, the consolidation of the public schools, and the strict segregation of children according to age." Hardaway, R. (1995). America Goes to School: Law, Reform, and Crisis in Public Education
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 - 8:50 pm: ||
Here's how to transform education
Jeb Bush of www.ExcelinEd.org / Miami Herald
June 30, 2009
Like Amazon.com revolutionized the retail industry and iTunes modernized the music industry, technology has the potential to transform education in America.
The Internet has the ability to overcome the primary obstacles to student achievement -- access to quality educational content customized to meet the unique needs and interests of an individual student. Moreover, technology may be the only way to provide a high-quality education to each and every one of the nation's 50 million students.
Virtual education allows students to access courses beyond those offered at their brick-and-mortar school. Students aren't limited by what is offered at their particular school. With the click of a mouse, students could take Chinese at one virtual academy, geometry at another and 18th-century poetry at another without ever leaving their desks.
Economically feasible, a national online technology platform could enable educators to provide a customized education for each student by tailoring lessons and teaching techniques to complement different learning styles. This child-centered approach allows students to learn at their own pace, whether it is faster or slower than their peers. Success could be measured by the mastery of skills rather than time in seats.
An online learning environment could ultimately drive innovation in how educational material is developed and provided. Knowledge would not need to be bound between the pages of a textbook. What are now chapters in a textbook could be offered separately. Like iTunes, which allows music lovers to purchase a favorite song without buying the whole album, school districts and schools could compile the very best quality content from each provider to create their own high-quality ``e-textbook.''
Here in Florida, we are ahead of the curve. A recent nationwide study conducted by the Center for Digital Education ranked the Sunshine State first in the country for policies, programs and strategies implemented to advance online learning. Since it was founded as the nation's first statewide, internet-based public high school, the award-winning Florida Virtual School has provided more than half a million courses to students in all 67 counties. Connections Academy and K-12.com have also enjoyed success in increasing access to online courses. Despite these tremendous accomplishments, Florida -- and the rest of the country -- is nowhere close to reaching maximum potential in the area of virtual education.
As part of the $787 billion spending package authorized this spring, Education Secretary Arne Duncan gets $5 billion to spend on projects that will transform America's education system. Called the ''Race to the Top Fund,'' the money is meant to pay for innovations that improve student achievement and ultimately revolutionize our economy and workforce for the 21st century.
These federal dollars may provide the path for jump-starting dramatic change in the way education is delivered. As Clay Christensen and Michael Horn, authors of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, recently suggested, let's leverage these funds wisely by bolstering innovation in schools, increasing access to online learning environments and investing in bandwidth as school infrastructure.
The success of this bold reform will require the support of many different stakeholders with diverse and often competing interests that have a vested interest in the status quo, including content providers, textbook publishers and teachers' unions.
For technology to truly take hold in public school classrooms across the country, state and local leaders must address issues today that could prevent this revolution of our educational system in the future. School funding formulas must be modernized from seat-time to outcome-based models. Antiquated rules, such as certain certification requirements that effectively bar high-quality teachers from educating in virtual classrooms, must be revised. Most important, all students -- public, charter, private and home school -- must be eligible to access quality virtual content.
Technology shouldn't be merely a resource used periodically in classrooms, but the primary mechanism of transforming our education system into a 21st century model of student-centered learning. From access to customization to superior content, technology may be the key to helping us keep the promise of a quality education for every American student, but transformation must commence now -- starting with the ``Race to the Top Fund.''
What about you? If you had $5 billion to transform education in America, how would you choose to spend it? Tell us today at www.ExcelinEd.org.
Jeb Bush is founder, chairman of the board and president of the Foundation for Florida's Future and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. He served as the 43rd governor of Florida, from 1999 through 2007.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 - 7:10 pm: ||
Study: Students want more online learning
Funding shortages, lack of teacher preparation mean schools offer less online learning than students desire, this research suggests
From staff and wire reports / eSchool News
Jul 01, 2009
Despite a growing interest in online learning among students, the availability of online classes in K-12 schools and districts hasn't kept pace with the demand, according to a new report from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc.
According to the report, more than 40 percent of sixth through 12th graders have researched or demonstrated interest in taking a course online, but only 10 percent have actually taken an online course through their school. Meanwhile, 7 percent of middle school students and 4 percent of high school students instead have pursued opportunities outside their school to take online courses--underscoring the disconnect between the supply and demand for online learning in today's schools.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Monday, June 22, 2009 - 9:54 pm: ||
Dueling curricula put copyright education in spotlight
Organizations clash over copyright awareness materials for students
By Laura Devaney, eSchool News Senior Editor
Jun 23, 2009
A clash over education materials from two copyright awareness organizations has thrust copyright education in the national spotlight, while giving educators and students some new resources for understanding how copyrights work.
Shortly after the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation (CAEF) launched "Think First, Copy Later," which contains education materials assembled by the film, music, and software industries, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched a curriculum of its own, called "Teaching Copyright," designed for high school educators who want to discuss copyright issues in the classroom.
"Most of these curriculums paint the copyright issue in a very singular way and talk about it as something that only benefits the industries," said Richard Esguerra, an activist for EFF, which champions the public interest in digital-rights issues. "Copyright infringement is a real issue, but there's also a 'know your rights' angle and a right way to use copyrighted materials" legally.
Esguerra said technology puts even more copyrighted works in the hands of students, and students should know both the legal limitations of copyright law as well as ways to make the law work for them.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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|Posted on Sunday, June 14, 2009 - 5:20 pm: ||
No need to pack a lunch: Online learning in K-12 education
by Jessica Shiller / Change.org's Education blog
June 09, 2009
Maybe Change.org should change its name to Don'tChange.org, based on this piece.
Usually urban school systems are trying, often desperately, to recruit new teachers, but Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City schools, wants to reduce the teaching force by 30%. It is not the economy. Unlike Los Angeles and other parts of the country, no one has been laid off in New York yet. Yet, Klein has said a long term of goal his is to reduce the city’s teaching force. While TIME magazine encourages young people to choose teaching as a career, the city’s largest teaching force may be shrunk by almost a third.
Klein does not want to fire teachers but to implement a distance learning model which he claims would enable more students more access to education. Inspired by a new book by Terry Moe and John Chubb called Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics and the Future of Education, which advocates for online teaching. On page 7 of their book [pdf], Chubb and Moe list the benefits of online instruction:
1. Curricula can be customized to meet the learning styles and life situations of individual students, giving them productive alternatives to the boring standardization of traditional schooling.
2. Education can be freed from geographic constraint: students and teachers do not have to meet in a building within a school within a district, but can be anywhere, doing their work at any time.
3. Students can have more interaction with their teachers and with one another, including teachers and students who may be thousands of miles away or from different nations or cultures.
4. Parents can readily be included in the communications loop and involved more actively in the education of their kids.
5. Teachers can be freed from their tradition-bound classroom roles, employed in more differentiated and productive ways, and offered new career paths.
6. Sophisticated data systems can put the spotlight on performance, make progress (or the lack of it) transparent to all concerned, and sharpen accountability.
7. Schools can be operated at lower cost, relying more on technology (which is relatively cheap) and less on labor (which is relatively expensive).
Sounds great, right? It seems to solve some of the problems for public schools, like cost. Not so fast though. First of all, since most online education exists at the college level, very little research [pdf] has been done on online learning for K-12 students, let alone any research that has shown its effectiveness. Second, online schooling presumes that all K-12 students have computers at home, which is not the case for low income students. Not to mention the costs of technology upkeep for these virtual schools.
When Ford began building the Model A, there was very little research showing automobiles would be a good investment. In education, research follows innovation. And computers with Internet access are cheap compared to the cost of classrooms and teachers.
Thirdly, who are Chubb and Moe? Why should we trust their ideas? As early advocates of market-based school reforms like charter schools and vouchers, Chubb and Moe claimed opening schooling to the marketplace would solve educational inequality. We still have an achievement gap, in spite of the implementation of market-based reforms. So, why should we trust their latest reform idea especially when it suffers from the misguided belief that technology will solve all of our problems? I am no Luddite, and believe in the power of technology to do great things, but Chubb, Moe, and Klein are looking for a cheap and simple solution to a complex problem.
What's the assumption, here? That there can't be a relatively cheap and simple solution to education problems? That's a false assumption. We can have BOTH better education outcomes and lower costs with schools for The 21st Century Student.
Moreover, they discount what is important about having physical schools- as expensive as they are- and that is their culture.
A virtual culture can be better than a physical culture. All that fighting, bullying, cursing, sexual harassment, teacher sex abuse--yeah, that's the culture kids need, all right.
Schools provide a space for students to cultivate relationships with people who share a common experience.
But do you need 6.5 hours a day in school to cultivate these relationships? Wouldn't three hours in small groups, seminars, projects, labs and other endeavors be enough?
For children, who are just developing their social skills, even an occasional face to face meeting, which Chubb and Moe say should be part of K-12 online schooling, is no substitute for a school culture.
Again, how many hours a day does this take? And why are schools the only place where social skills can be learned?
Call me old fashioned or sentimental, but as a teacher in public schools, I found relationships between teacher and student and among students to be vital.
The assumption that there won't be solid relationships in a 21st century school is ridiculous.
It was what got many students out of bed and into the classroom every day. Chubb and Moe might say that kids would not have to get out of bed for an online school, but they miss an important point. Ask anyone what got them to love learning a particular subject, and they will often say it was a particular teacher. A person, not a computer.
When there are only teachers, then of course only teachers can pass on a love of learning. But students have gained a love of learning from parents, relatives, friends, books, television shows and many other persons and activities. Teachers don't have a monopoly on inculcating a love of learning and I'm certain that a properly written course provided online would do a far better job for more students with greater reliability than most classroom teachers.
Even if you have a MacBook to cozy up to, there is no replacing a great, inspiring teacher.
Inspiring people are always invigorating, but how many teachers are all that inspiring? I can see the cowboy's shaking their heads and swearing that no tin Lizzy can ever replace a warm, breathing horse. Relationships between people and animals can't be replaced by cars. Well, it's horse manure. Cars replaced horses and computers will replace teachers in their current and primary role as classroom instructors.
So, to Klein and friends, I ask: Why not put some funds into cultivating more great teachers? If you’re going to try only one reform, that’s where I’d put my money.
And that's why there has been no substantial improvement in education outcomes for decades. We need a way to capture the accumulated knowledge in education and build on it. We cannot keep reinventing new teachers to replace retiring teachers. It's too time consuming and too costly. Moreover, there's no way to ensure quality with over 3 million teachers no matter how much we invest in training. We are well past the time when the roles of computers and teachers in education need to be flipped. Computers need to be the front line teachers and teachers should be filling in the gaps left by computer instruction. Shake off your egos and quaint assumptions and expectations and embrace the possibilities of the unknown. Put the old mare in the barn and launch the education Ferrari!
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 23141
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 - 10:50 pm: ||
Socialization in Virtual Education
Katie Ash / Digital Education blog
June 3, 2009
Socialization is a huge issue in online education. It comes up from both supporters and critics of virtual education in almost every interview I do. It's one of the main reasons that the National Education Association does not recommend full-time online education for younger students—the teachers union feels that elementary school students need the classroom experience with lots of face-to-face interaction with their teachers and peers that they just won't get from an online program. And it's something that came up over and over again while I was researching a story about what makes an online teacher effective. Almost everyone I talked with cited creating a community where both teachers and students could socialize and build connections with each other, even through the Internet, was essential.
All of which makes this report, released yesterday by K12, Inc., one of the largest providers of online education in the U.S., both timely and relevant. The study, which was conducted by the New York City-based Interactive Education Systems Design in collaboration with the Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis, found that students in full-time online programs had social skills that were equal to or better than their peers in traditional brick-and-mortar public schools.
The students were graded on four components—responsibility, self-control, assertion, and cooperation—to determine their level of socialization. The study also found that the majority of students enrolled in full-time online programs were engaged in activities outside of school that allowed for peer-to-peer interaction at least once a week, such as sports or clubs.
One thing I do feel compelled to mention is that the study was commissioned by K12 and is based on data from 250 2nd, 4th, and 6th graders at four of the Herndon, Va.-based company's own virtual academies. And, as we've talked about before, there is a lot of variation in the scope and quality of virtual education programs that make it very difficult to compare one program to the next. So it's unclear how this study applies to other online programs. I'd really like to see a study that examines a number of different online education providers to see whether this is true of other programs besides just K12.
Either way, it's worth looking over. You also might want to check out this report [pdf] written about promising practices regarding socialization in online learning. It's more of an outline of what works well to integrate social skills into virtual environments than a study of how effective those strategies are, but it's a good read nonetheless.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 23133
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Wednesday, June 03, 2009 - 8:09 pm: ||
FLVS and 360Ed Launch Conspiracy Code - First-Ever Complete Online Game-Based High School Course
First-of-Its-Kind Course Poised to Transform Online Learning
360Ed Press Release [pdf]
Jun 1, 2009
One step closer to eliminating classroom-based instruction for a majority of students.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Students who struggle to stay engaged in the traditional classroom will applaud the release of Conspiracy Code, the first in an innovative series of online game-based courses, released today by Florida Virtual School, an established leader in developing and providing virtual K-12 education solutions, and 360Ed, Inc., a leading education game development company.
These revolutionary new courses, presented in 3D, combine proven instructional practices and academic content with the latest in online gaming tools to produce an engaging and active learning environment for high school students -- 97% of whom are avid, self-proclaimed gamers. The first Conspiracy Code course to be released is for American History. This complete high school-level course fulfills a full credit of history and will be available in June 2009.
"Conspiracy Code is everything I would have liked to do in my brick and mortar classroom but didn't have the time or resources to accomplish. It engages kids through game play, but challenges them to interact with history in the most creative, research based methods available. There is higher level critical thinking involved, project based learning, student collaboration, authentic assessments, and plenty of reading and writing. At the end of the day, I know my students are becoming excited about history and I know that this course will inspire many students."
Conspiracy Code courses offer an original learning environment where students can strengthen higher-order thinking, written communication, problem-solving, and collaborative skills through:
* Playing engaging concept practice games;
* Responding to a variety of question types;
* Writing assignments and essays;
* Completing authentic game-based assessments; and,
* Participating in discussion based assessments.
"As our world becomes more and more interconnected, students apply the critical thinking, cognitive and communications skills from video games to real-world situations. This new set of courses leverages the power of the technology within an educational framework to better prepare students for the next steps in life," said Florida Virtual School President & CEO Julie Young.
In the first Conspiracy Code course, FLVS and 360Ed, Inc. offer students an American History class where they will play as fictional characters in an espionage-themed adventure game set in the fictional metropolis of Coverton City. In the game -- or course -- students must build their knowledge and understanding of American History in order to stop a vast conspiracy that is threatening to erase and change the course of history.
"The Millennial generation engages through media devices and interactivity. The emerging online environment in education will allow us to cost-effectively build and maintain compelling content, giving students and teachers exciting worlds for learning," said Ben Noel, CEO of 360Ed, Inc.
Besides an engaging story, detailed environments, and a diverse cast of characters, Conspiracy Code offers new educational technologies to improve retention and increase comprehension. The course offers a number of unique and notable features, including the Data Map -- a 3D visual mind-map complete with tags and keywords for each piece of historical information collected -- that students populate with associations and complex relationships. Students strengthen their understanding of history by using a unique tagging system and through writing about information collected in the course note system. They also apply knowledge during interactive information modes, agent interrogations, and character interactions.
Conspiracy Code is built on a foundation of challenges and missions that allow students to learn progressively. Based on their own understanding of content and the use of clues -- standards-based, historical data -- students self-select their path and pace through the course. As they follow a sequential learning path, they master complex ideas before moving on to the next level or mission. Conspiracy Code offers students multiple communication mediums and a variety of sensory-type game play activities that enable the use of their strongest learning attributes to build higher order thinking skills.
By leveraging online gaming tools and features, Conspiracy Code takes students into an interactive learning environment where through character play, they connect with characters, course plot, and content and absorb historical facts at a higher level of thinking. The ability to make these strong connections (coupled with the immediate and constant feedback provided by teachers) allows students to develop a deeper, more real, acquisition of content and a higher level of self-assurance -- two key elements for academic success.
Certified teachers are wise guides or facilitators in Conspiracy Code courses and participate alongside students encouraging them, offering feedback and guidance and challenging their comprehension of content through a variety of assessment. Student work is tracked and documented using a web-based Student/Teacher Interface (SiTi). This system collects information about the amount of time a students spends on assessments and evaluation, the student-to-student collaborations, and time on task within each mission. Using the information and tools embedded in the web-based communication system, teachers give students immediate feedback on progress, provide interventions if necessary, and offer positive encouragement as they work through the course.
Teachers employ a variety of assessments -- written and verbal -- embedded in the course to determine how well a student is progressing, as well as their mastery of content and comprehension of concepts. Teachers use authentic game-based assessments to determine student knowledge and assign grades.
In developing Conspiracy Code, FLVS and 360Ed, Inc. pulled together a team of curriculum and subject-matter experts from FLVS, doctorates from the University of Central Florida, and seasoned game-developers. They used brain-based learning research from Caine & Caine and insights from Le Tellier about how technology can be used to boost long-term memory. The design team applied rigorous guidelines to ensure the academic integrity of the new online gaming course would meet FLVS standards and that the course was academically sound.
The American History content meets state and national standards. Credit received from Conspiracy Code courses are transferable and will be accepted by a students' primary school transcript or on their home education portfolio. Additional information, including technical specifications, can be found online at: www.flvs.net and www.360Ed.com.
School officials interested in arranging a detailed demonstration of the American History course should send an e-mail to Erik Sand at esand@360Ed.com.
About 360Ed, Inc.
360Ed is an award-winning interactive education company committed to providing compelling and effective learning tools that incorporate modern educational theories and high-production entertainment media. Based in Orlando, Florida, 360Ed, Inc. develops content, delivery systems and marketing for online education products. The founders of 360Ed bring with them years of experience in the development of software products and solutions from such companies as Electronic Arts, Microsoft and IBM. For more information, visit www.360ed.com.
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is an established leader in developing and providing virtual K-12 education solutions to students all over Florida, the U.S. and the world. A nationally recognized e-Learning model and recipient of numerous awards, FLVS was founded in 1997 and was the country's first, public state-wide Internet-based program. Today, FLVS serves students in grades K-12 and provides a variety of custom solutions for schools and districts to meet student needs. For more information, visit www.flvs.net.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 23075
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Sunday, May 31, 2009 - 3:38 pm: ||
Online instruction, stubborn resistance, and stupid faculty
A two-part tale of higher education and online instruction…
Scott McLeod / Dangerously Irrelevant blog
May 29, 2009
“Students demand free beer too”
A May 29 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reads as follows:
Opponents of online instruction believe that traditional, face-to-face teaching is always better. A colleague of mine, wary of caving in to students’ demands for online courses, remarked recently that “students demand free beer, too; that doesn’t mean we should give it to them.”
What her academic colleague somehow, incredibly, fails to realize, of course, is that students don’t have to attend his institution. Since postsecondary students vote with their feet and their pocketbooks, the institution does indeed have to give students online courses if that’s what they want. Otherwise, the university literally won’t have any tuition revenue because its potential students went elsewhere instead.
I can’t wait to see what happens over the next couple of decades. As online courses become even more prevalent than they are now, colleges and universities either will have to get in the game or be left behind. There are too many options available to students for anything else to occur. Some postsecondary institutions are going to realize that they must become more responsive to student needs and desires in order to survive; others won’t realize it until it’s too late and will disappear altogether. It should make for interesting times.
In the meantime, all I can say is… stupid faculty.
“I’ll never do it again”
Another article in the same issue of The Chronicle describes one faculty member’s woeful experience teaching online. The author goes into detail regarding all of the problems that she had with the course, including (but not limited to):
- there was a ‘lack of immediacy’ in communication;
- she was ‘only able to introduce students to a limited amount of material outside of the textbook readings;’
- it is ‘simply impossible to replicate a lecture online;’
- there wasn’t ‘enough time or a proper forum’ to help students ‘develop writing and critical thinking skills or to foster original ideas;’
- online courses are too big;
- she had no time off during the week like she would with a regular 3–hour, once-a-week, face-to-face class;
- she got too many e-mail messages from students; and
- she suspected her students didn’t like her very much.
This faculty member obviously has no idea that 1, 3, and 5 are dependent on how the course and the technology were structured. Setting up the course in a different way might have alleviated many of her concerns. Issues 2 and 6 seem to be the result of her own decision-making, not any inherent flaw in online instruction. Issue 4 doesn’t make any sense to me; didn’t she have the same number of weeks as for her other courses? It’s hard for me to be sympathetic regarding Issue 7: My students contacted me too much and asked me too many questions! Waaahh! I guess she prefers it when her students stay out of touch and don’t try to get their questions answered. Finally, can she really blame Issue 8 on the fact that the instruction was ‘online?’ There sure are a lot of faculty who teach online and also have students who like them.
Again, my main thought on this is… stupid faculty.
Whether we want it to or not, the paradigm shift is occurring around us every day. As postsecondary faculty members, it behooves us to learn about it and adjust rather than dismissively rejecting the new learning landscape and stubbornly trying to stick to the status quo.
[Okay, calling these faculty members stupid probably is a little harsh. But I think clueless fits quite nicely…]
Is there an educator out there who understands that the best online instruction DOES NOT IMITATE CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION? The best online teaching is a story-based, multi-disciplined, interactive, fast-paced simulation of life. It is NOT LECTURE AND POWERPOINTS. BAKA! It cannot be replicated in the classroom and it is FAR SUPERIOR to the classroom. Yes, students still need personal contact in the form of small group seminars, projects and career development--all of which teachers will supervise or provide. However, except for the students who need it, classroom delivery of core materials needs to DIE, DIE, DIE. It's past time to retool the role of teacher. This is a national security issue. It's a quality of life issue. We need schools for The 21st Century Student. Are you up for the challenge, Arne? I say you can't, or won't, do it.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 23027
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 10:36 pm: ||
Getting Students More Learning Time Online
Distance Education in Support of Expanded Learning Time in K-12 Schools
By Cathy Cavanaugh | Center For American Progress
May 18, 2009
Read the full report (pdf)
Download the executive summary (pdf)
Since February 2003, I've advocated schools for The 21st Century Student. If this country were the same country as landed men on the moon, we'd have these schools by now. As things stand, NY doesn't have a single public virtual school, let alone a good one. It tells you pretty much everything you need to know about NY. Virtual schools are a national security, public health, economic imperative, but Arne Duncan is throwing away billions of dollars in the name of "reform." God, how do we get such incompetent people in charge of running the government? Relationships and politics trump progress. You're screwing your kids. Robbing them of a better life and endangering their well being. This isn't the change you can believe in.
Internal and external forces are simultaneously transforming elementary and secondary education. Complementary changes within the K-12 education community are sweeping schools in the form of one-to-one computing, online learning for students and teachers, and differentiated instruction. Students can choose from among schools, courses, and powerful educational tools and resources that never before existed. As a result, education for many students today bears little resemblance to their parents’ education. This transformation is a positive change when students are connected with the tools and opportunities that meet their individual needs.
We don't need "electronically mediated teaching." We need digital lessons that captivate students so they become self-learners. If students need assistance, monitoring software will detect it and a para-professional can assist. You don't need a four-year college degree to solve 70% of K-12 learning roadblocks.
Local and national economic conditions, increasing ethnic and cultural diversity, and global forces are among the new and growing external pressures on American elementary and secondary schools. Schools alongside families form the foundation for successful participation in communities, the workforce, and our democracy, and their job has therefore grown more complex and challenging. American schools, when compared to other developed nations, appear to need new approaches that increase their capacity to prepare students academically.
Policymakers and educators alike have proposed using expanded learning time in schools as a means to improve student academic performance. Expanded learning time seeks to increase student learning by lengthening the school day and/or year, or by supplementing class time with extracurricular activities for students schoolwide. Early demonstrations of expanded learning time initiatives show success in raising student achievement, but can pose challenges to families and community stakeholders by requiring increased investment in spending and resources.
Distance education can offer an approach to expanding school learning time that allows for more flexible and individualized learning through the application of new technologies.
Distance education changes the meaning of learning time by putting the learners themselves in control. Distance courses in effect “macromanage” time by specifying broad timelines for the course and its activities. Students become the micromanagers who make the specific decisions about how much time to spend on each activity and usually when to spend the time, as well. The self-managed, just-in-time nature of learning in a distance course enables learners to expand their learning as needed throughout the duration of the course with the teacher’s support and within his or her parameters.
Self-paced courses allow students who learn quickly to complete courses at a pace that remains engaging and avoids boredom before they move on to the next course. Flexible courses give students who need more time and practice to accomplish course objectives the built-in opportunity to take the time without the stigma of asking for an exception to a rigid calendar. Millions of K-12 students have taken control of their learning time in distance courses. Distance education, as a learner-centered approach to education, is an efficient learning environment that focuses the teacher’s attention on the specific performance of individual students, guiding them as needed to achieve success. The student-teacher relationship is immediate and personal.
Interest in K-12 distance education is undeniable. The number of elementary and secondary students taking online courses increased tenfold between 2001 and 2007, from about 200,000 to almost 2 million, and could easily reach several million by 2012. As of 2008, 44 states have either significant supplemental online learning programs, which are designed to add courses to the offerings available to students in their face-to-face schools, significant full-time programs in which students take most or all of their courses online, or both. Several of the states that do not have established K-12 online learning programs are in the planning stages of creating them.
Online courses have also attracted teachers at a time when teacher retention in the profession is a critical national concern. Virtual schools regularly receive thousands of applications for each online teaching position. University teacher education programs have begun to respond to the inevitability of K-12 distance education by including online teaching competencies in their teacher education programs. States such as Georgia and Wisconsin have added online teaching requirements to their teacher certification systems.
Research and evaluation studies support the effectiveness of K-12 distance learning. Comprehensive reviews of research published in 2001 and 2005 showed that student academic performance in well-designed online courses is on average equivalent to performance in high-quality classroom-based courses. And course design, teaching and student outcomes all continue to improve. Virtual schools show that their students achieve academic standards on state achievement tests on a regular basis. In many cases, students who failed their required high school courses in traditional schools passed online courses based on the same standards. A study of algebra courses taught by state-certified teachers using the state curriculum in public traditional and virtual schools showed, for example, that students in both schools achieved at equivalent levels on a nationally normed exam.
Virtual schools have developed online course designs that effectively educate students who have needs ranging from acceleration to credit recovery, including students with physical and learning disabilities. Leading virtual schools have documented Advanced Placement-taking rates and passing rates (scores of 3 or higher) that greatly exceed the state and national averages. Virtual schools have helped students performing below basic level on prior state tests get back on track, moving from basic to proficient or advanced levels. And virtual school participation has been seen to narrow the state testing achievement gap for those in economically disadvantaged subgroups.
Distance education also supports visions of 21st-century schooling. In an era of increased complexity of information, careers, and global relationships, groups such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocate for new school and curriculum designs. These models emphasize skills focused on creative problem-solving, synthesizing, and integrating information; use of networks and workgroups; the importance of understanding multiple perspectives; and the ability to communicate effectively in multiple media. This vision requires both physical and virtual learning environments that focus on learner needs, essential skills, and community relationships in ways that are synergistic with distance education.
Online courses increase equitable access to quality educational opportunities by bringing flexibility to the course calendar, expanding the course catalog, and offering individualized instruction. Distance education for students who choose supplementary online courses is already a form of expanding learning time. Yet because these programs have been selectively deployed by state and local education agencies, it is available only to students who live in select areas; have access to the technology needed for online learning; and have the time, space, and instructional support needed to succeed in a relatively independent learning experience.
This report outlines the rationale for and steps toward making distance education courses uniformly available to expand school learning time. It also outlines some of the urgent needs in American education today and explains how school districts and educators can use K-12 distance education to address them.
Glossary of terms
Distance education: A broad term that encompasses forms of electronically mediated teaching and learning where instructors and students learn at different times and/or places through video, radio, web, and combination formats.
Online education: Teaching that occurs though digital, rather than analog, communication.
Virtual schools: Web-based distance education programs for K-12 students. These are also called cyber schools, cybercharters, electronic schools, and e-schools. Virtual schools offer full-time or supplemental programs, and in some cases both.
Blended learning: Courses or programs that combine face-to-face and distance experiences.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 22491
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 10:59 pm: ||
Can We "Think Globally"?
What It's Like on the Inside blog
03 April 2009
There was a discussion at work recently about some new "global" standards that are in development. These are not for the state, but will be put out by a private educational entity. Most people seemed really excited by the discussion. Me? Not so much.
I was remembering a former co-worker talking about a book or article he had read that made the case that the human brain just doesn't have the capacity to consider global ramifications of our actions. We were hunters and gatherers---we are adapted to focusing on local concerns and issues within our own territory. Even if technology is making the world "smaller," the fact is that most of us really do stay within a very small range. This doesn't mean that it is okay to be irresponsible with resources, but the basic understanding we need to have about our actions is that they have consequences (good and/or bad). That's it.
Can we teach children to "think globally"? Not little ones. Sure, they can learn geography and sociology/cultural information. But to actually conceptualize their relevance to the world at large? Well, you probably need some well-developed frontal lobes for that...so we're talking teenagers as the first potential batch of "global thinkers." And even then, do they have enough life experiences to make those connections?
At my advanced age, and with the advantages I've had in life, I'm not sure that even I can fully display an ability to think on such a large scale. I can wrap my mind around "actions/consequences." I understand that resources are finite. I have the capacity to make good choices within the locus of control that I have (including how I spend my money). Beyond that, I don't know how much more global I can be.
I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of having these targets. Do we need standards for being a global citizen? Do we need them just for American students...or do we expect Zimbabwe, Chile, Bosnia, and everyone else to have the exact same ones, too? If I live in a jungle in the Amazon, do I really need to think globally? Or do I just need to be responsible for myself and the environment around me? If everyone did this part, wouldn't we be acting globally? And wouldn't that be more important than just thinking about it?
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 22484
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 8:06 pm: ||
The Case for Charter Schools, Part Two
by Carl Anderson / Change.org Education blog
April 10, 2009
[Part One here, Part Three here.]
In 2006 Civic Enterprises in Association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released a study, The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. This was a comprehensive look at high school dropouts in all 50 states in the U.S. that included statistical analysis and interviews with students who had dropped out of school. The findings identify a clear need for some kind of change in public education. According to this report, 33% of students in the United States do not complete high school. The numbers are disproportionate when looking these statistics within demographic subsections of the population. These findings are supported by and are nearly identical to the findings that standardized tests administered under the dreaded No Child Left Behind program. There clearly is something that needs to change. The questions are what and how. The following is a sampling of data the report obtained through interviews:
* Nearly half (47 percent) said a major reason for dropping out was that classes were not interesting.
* Thirty-five percent said that “failing in school” was a major factor for dropping out.
* Forty-five percent said they started high school poorly prepared by their earlier schooling.
* Fifty-nine percent of parents or guardians of respondents were involved in their child’s schooling.
* Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their parents became more involved only when they were aware that their child was on the verge of dropping out.
* Four out of five (81 percent) said there should be more opportunities for real-world learning and some in the focus groups called for more experiential learning.
* Four out of five (81 percent) wanted better teachers and three fourths wanted smaller classes with more individualized instruction.
* While two-thirds (65 percent) said there was a staff member or teacher who cared about their success, only 56 percent said they could go to a staff person for school problems and just two-fifths (41 percent) had someone in school to talk to about personal problems. More than three out of five (62 percent) said their school needed to do more to help students with problems outside of class. Seven in ten favored more parental involvement.
Another report that clearly identifies a need for schools to change is the 2004 report, A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students, by the University of Iowa. Here are a few quotes from that document:
* "America’s school system keeps bright students in line by forcing them to learn in a lock-step manner with their classmates. Teachers and principals disregard students’ desires to learn more—much more—than they are being taught." (Assouline et. al. 2004)
* "Study after study tells us what so many bright but bored students already know—challenge is lacking in the regular classroom." (Assouline et. al. 2004)
* "When educators confuse equity with sameness, they want all students to have the same curriculum at the same time. This is a violation of equal opportunity." (Assouline et. al. 2004)
* "Before major corporations and large school systems became the norm in our nation, individualized education was standard practice. The one-room schoolhouse let students learn at their own pace. Teachers knew their students well, and nothing held back a student’s progress." (Assouline et. al. 2004)
* "This was not an educational decision. It was an organizational decision based upon a narrow understanding of child and adolescent development that supported the goal of keeping kids with their age-mates. This represented important progress in acknowledging and responding to group similarities. It also paralleled the American belief in the efficiency of the industrial model of organization.What was lost was an appreciation for individual differences. Individual differences in educational needs are most pronounced at the extremes. Students lost the right to direct their own education based on how fast they were able to learn new and complex material." (Assouline et. al. 2004)
Both of these studies clearly identify just two of many types of students who are undeserved by our traditional public schools. One answer to these problems was a practice that came in vogue in the 1980s of modifying curriculum to address a wide variety of cognitive styles. Influenced greatly by Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences this arguably improved instruction but it still did nothing to address the individual needs of learners. Rather than a student receiving instruction 100% of the time in a manner that worked for them they were lucky enough to receive a portion of the instruction delivered in a manner that fit their cognitive learning style. What these two studies show is that this clearly is not enough for many kids. What is needed are new schools and new programs where differentiation and individualized instruction can truly take hold. Charter schools are one option. This does not mean that there is no place for traditional schools, on the contrary. Traditional schools provide a learning environment necessary for some learners. Should they go away entirely I am sure a similar or identical model would spring up in their place.
Charter schools have an important place in our system of education, but they ARE NOT THE MEANS to totally differentiated and individualized instruction because they are almost all entirely based on the public school model of instruction, with tweaks added here and there, plus they don't have the money, the skills or the research and development capabilities to re-engineer public education. We don't need this new instruction just in charter schools, but in all schools. The only way to do that is with schools designed for The 21st Century Student. Developing this school requires a major commitment of foundation and/or government resources. We could bring the first courses online within 2 years. All it takes is for somebody to be willing to tell the teachers that they are going to have to learn new jobs as the roles of most of them change from primarily instructors to researchers, developers, troubleshooters and coaches.
Jerry Moore (Admin)
Post Number: 22410
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Monday, April 06, 2009 - 11:02 pm: ||
The 21st Century Student
A vision of the tomorrow that should be today.
Originally posted February 19, 2003
While classroom instruction must be maintained
for the courses where it makes sense
and for the students who thrive by it
IT'S PAST TIME TO BEGIN THE STEADY
TRANSITION TO A 21ST CENTURY SCHOOL
where every student will:
• Have 24-hour-a-day, year-round access to high quality, personalized instruction.
• Begin each day's learning exactly where s/he left off the day before.
• Move forward at a pace that ensures mastery of each lesson, being neither rushed nor held back by other students' progress.
• Take no state exam before s/he has successfully completed all the requisite materials.
• Be rewarded for hard work and ambition with the opportunity to complete as much vocational, technical or college instruction as possible before graduating.
• With the guidance of teachers, customize learning to include the skills and knowledge s/he finds most stimulating and useful.
• Have education enriched with courses like financial, investment and credit management, conflict resolution, systems thinking, marketing, media literacy and business and science ethics.
We need to stop reinventing the wheel and start accumulating sophistication by producing thousands of high-quality, interactive, multimedia, learning-style-specific, Internet-delivered, parent-monitored, student-selected lessons with instant feedback, online professional support and software applications to monitor each student's progress on every lesson. Education needs to become far more complex and flexible while teachers' jobs are simplified.
|I have a dream! That within 10 years we will become a Nation of Teachers, with every feasible K-12 lesson, homework assignment and test beamed into every home over the Internet. That all citizens will have on-demand access to all the knowledge and skills required for a basic, sound education, to enlarge their own learning and expedite their children's learning. That we will have 20 teachers for every student, not 1 teacher for every 20 students. -- Jerry Moore.|
That's the battle cry of the Education War of the 21st Century. It should ring throughout the lands like "Taxation without representation is tyranny!" and other battle cries. It will strike groundless fear in the hearts of teachers. Their jobs aren't going away but they will be dramatically reformed with only a relatively few specialized in classroom instruction.
You don't have to listen to a teacher tell you about it.
Sohrob Sullivan -- Beacon (NY) City School District Rombout Middle School eighth-grader, from No more teachers, no more books in Beacon, December 15, 2006.
I'm going to make an attempt to describe what a 21st century education will, and actually already should, look like. I'm sure I'll make additions and modifications occasionally. Eventually, I'll add some structure to it.
- "No child left behind" is replaced with "Provide every child with the opportunities needed to achieve to the best of his/her abilities." (The current law perpetuates the comfortable practice of teaching to the middle, if not to the bottom of the class). The focus changes from pace of teaching to the pace of each student's learning.
- To the extent practical, students receive instruction via computers, which can deliver exceptional instruction with consistency. Students who do not learn well on computers will be provided alternatives, such as traditional classroom instruction.
- Take every student from where (s)he is academically and provide at least a year's learning for a year's schooling.
- Within the same classroom, probably organized by age cohort, students may proceed through the curriculum at their own rate, which is monitored to ensure adequate progress. Students who need to take more time, take it. Students who "get it," can move on, taking extra time when they get "stuck." The teacher will have students at many different levels of the curriculum, probably working on materials from different grades. Far less time will be spent on instruction. The teachers' job will be to motivate students to consistently apply themselves and do their best, in addition to supplying brief motivating stories, exercises or discussions. (More like teacher as coach and monitor than as instructor.) See this article on how one student used a set-your-own-pace curriculum to finish high school by age 15.
- To progress through each lesson in the curriculum, students will have to perform with at least 85% proficiency, or some other level, possibly variable, depending on individual student abilities. Report cards will not have grades, but a number for each subject that indicates the student's progress through the curriculum. For example, a second grade student might receive a 3.4 in reading, indicating (s)he is 40% through the 3rd grade reading curriculum, or a 1.8, indicating the student is 80% through the 1st grade materials.
- Students will take state standards exams upon reaching established checkpoints. For example, upon completing 80% of the 4th grade English Language Arts Curriculum, the student would take the 4th grade ELA. Results would be known the same day of the test and remedial action (probably unnecessary since students arrive at the checkpoints at their own rates), of likely short duration, can be immediately commenced.
- Parents would be able to view student lesson materials and texts online before and after the student uses them. They would be able to see the results of exercises and drills. They would also be able to request specific additions or substitutions of materials within the curriculum. For example, a reading exercise to improve vocabulary might offer a story on ecology or a story on evolution. Usually, the student would be able to choose which story to use, but the parent could block certain choices.
- Parents would also be able to monitor, in real time, much of their children's studies and work. They could send instant messages of praise and encouragement, or even suggestions for improvement.
- Students will be able to choose online materials, videos, texts or readings among different viewpoints, instructors, presentation styles, subjects, their own learning style and other variables, depending on their interests and other variables. The teacher will assist students in exploring the approaches that work best. See, Educators shift focus to kids' learning styles.
- Every student will have Internet access at home, provided, or perhaps subsidized by the school. Students will be able to continue working at home during illnesses, snow days or other absences. Indeed, to keep class sizes really small, some or all students may work one day at home and the next day at school.
- Since students proceed through the curriculum at their own rate, the curriculum will be online and students will follow it sequentially in typical cases, but may also have the freedom to do related lessons at different grade levels if they wish to explore a topic in more depth while they are into it, provided they are making adequate progress through the curriculum.
- Since much of the curriculum will be provided via the computer when appropriate and effective, teacher absences filled in by substitute teachers will result in far less "down time."
- Since students may proceed through the curriculum at their own rate, some students may take 14 years for a traditional K-12 program and others may take 10. The reward for completing the curriculum in 10 years would be the opportunity to graduate from high school after 13 years with 2 years of college completed. College courses would be provided locally or via the Internet. The cost would be covered by the school as part of a minimum 13-years education (including kindergarten). This could save students and their families tens of thousands of dollars and be a highly motivating factor for students to work hard with rapid and effective progress. In other words, the system will reward hard work and self-discipline.
- Since the curriculum is online and all students have Internet access at home, students may elect to proceed through the curriculum on weekends and during breaks and vacations. In other words, disruptions to the learning process by system needs or schedules need not occur.
- Students would be able to receive help on lessons either from an online teacher, or the classroom teacher.
- Parent discussion of school work would be far more informed since students can show parents exactly what they covered from day to day. Alternatively, or in addition, the computer may create links to the students work for the past 10 days that parents can simply click and inspect.
- Most testing, including some essay exams, will be graded by the computer. Teachers will have online files of each student's work in each subject. The computer may scan across weeks or years of data to detect weaknesses in each student's learning or skills.
- Students will be able to take tests when they are ready. They will not have to wait for the rest of the class to be ready, nor will they be rushed into taking tests they aren't prepared for. Moreover, they will take only as much time as they need taking tests. They will not have to wait for the slowest student in the class to complete each test. Time saved in taking tests has the potential for adding almost a year's learning to the education of fast test-takers.
- Many lessons will provide additional information for parents about activities, books or websites that may be used to supplement the goals and materials for each lesson.
- Many lessons will provide links to related enrichment materials. For example, a science lesson may link to information on the history of science.
- For those concerned about social skills, peer interaction, class participation, recess, recreation, P.E., music, art, hands-on learning, etc., these will be interspersed throughout the day or week.
- Lessons in the curriculum will include optional "enrichment" readings or exercises, including information on story structure, critical thinking, theory of knowledge, exercises to broaden the scope of thinking or to improve synthesis and evaluation skills, and many other areas of academic import.
- The curriculum will be modernized, including instruction on life-long financial planning, critically evaluating media and information disseminated by public officials (especially how to hear what is not being said), greater emphasis on statistics, communication skills, ethics, conflict resolution, reasoning skills, etc.
- Elementary students will be able to learn a foreign language with side-by-side stories in different languages. They will be able to hear those stories read aloud or even read the stories to the computer, which may store recordings for teacher evaluation.
- Computer/Internet instruction will enable families to take vacations and breaks at their own convenience.
- Students would be able to watch classroom instruction via video streams from classrooms.
- There will be a far greater emphasis on independent learning skills. Learning how to become a learner will be a top priority. Students will prepare for state standards and regents exams not through the use of review books, but through the preparation and use of their own outlines and notes.
- In addition to increasing their knowledge and thinking skills, students will find, understand, document and model dynamic interactions and relationships within and among subjects using software like Inspiration, Stella, Powersim and Vensim. See clexchange.org and join a k-12 listserv or read archived messages. Also, see The Waters Foundation.
- It should be far easier to keep transient students on a constant path of learning, even to the point of maintaining the same curriculum while attending several schools during the same year.
- Students will be able to chose from among several online texts. If they have a problem with a concept or skill using one text, they can try another. Accessing different texts will automatically generate royalty payments to the owners. This should cost less than purchasing the same amount of materials in textbooks.
- Students who are capable and interested could complete their academics in 1/2 to 2/3 of a school day and spend the rest of their time, in or out of school, pursuing their interests, talents and passions, be it in art, music, science, government, dance, acting, sports, economics, healthcare, public service, mechanics, culinary arts, technology, social advocacy, animal care, or anything else their parents would support. In other words, it would be possible for many students to do what child actors do--become educated while being more productive.
- As students work through the curriculum, the computer will automatically generate a chronolgical and topical page of links to the materials used so students can quickly find and retrieve information previously accessed. The page(s) of links will stay with the student throughout elementary and secondary school, and perhaps for life!
- Homework becomes more like school work at home because the teacher is either available online or virtually within the lesson. Moreover, since the rest of the class does not have to be on a particular student or teacher's schedule, homework can be accomplished with greater flexibility. If Tuesday nights are busy, the student needn't stay up until midnight to squeeze in homework.
- Students could earn "merit badges" similar to the Boy Scouts in all the areas offered by them and more.
- Former students over the age of 21 who've dropped out can re-enroll and obtain a high school diploma through online courses, with in-school lab work, as required.
In short, education reform has not yet begun. The current model of education delivery today in most public schools still looks a lot more like the late 19th century model than the 21st century model. The teacher-at-the-head-of-the-class, teacher-as-primary-instructor, lock-step movement of the entire class through the curriculum, uniform texts and readings, classification of students by levels of learning ability and standardized test results, A to F report cards, grading, teacher-dependent learning rather independent learning, uniform breaks and vacations, 180-day teacher work-year, equalization of students by having them end 13 years with essentially the same amount of education, are all in their last days.
The only question is, "How long will NY's teachers and unions resist coming into the 21st century?" As this WSJ article says, "[E]ducators, while sincere, are among the most change-resistant workers on the planet."