Infographic: Teachers and administrators want more classroom technology

According to a new national online survey, 92 percent of teachers polled said they would like to use more educational technology in the classroom, highlighting the growing national understanding that educational technology isn’t optional, it’s essential.

The survey, conducted for Common Sense Media’s Graphite by Harris Interactive in May 2013, asked teachers from around the U.S. “How important do you think it is for teachers to use educational technologies in the classroom?” “During the school year, how often do you or your students use [insert type of educational technology] in your classroom?” and “What are the biggest challenges to integrating educational technologies in schools?”

(Next page: What administrators and teachers are saying)

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Obama budget threatens popular STEM education initiatives

Ayah Idris, 14, spent two weeks of her summer isolating strawberry DNA at a Seattle cancer research center, watching heart cells pulse in a dish and learning about ethical guidelines for animal research, Yahoo! News reports. This type of inspiring dive into the rigors and rewards of a career in science would seem to be a perfect antidote to the national hand-wringing over the slipping state of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the U.S. In addition to offering the kinds of inquiry-based experiences that have been shown to best promote science learning, programs such as the Summer Fellows bring kids in contact with the latest scientific advances that have yet to be published in textbooks. Now, the funds that bolster these programs are in danger…

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New Common Core tests: Worth the price?

Now that both of the federally-funded consortia of states designing standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards have released pricing data for each exam, states are assessing whether they can afford to pay, the Washington Post reports. Already some aren’t liking what they see. On Monday, the 21-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, announced how much it would cost for the Core-aligned test: $29.50 a student for summative math and reading tests…

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Teacher fired after extinguishing classroom flames

When day care teacher Michelle Hammack briefly left her classroom to extinguish a nearby fire, she probably did not expect her actions to lead to her own firing, the Huffington Post reports. Hammack was supervising children at her Florida day care center job last week, when she smelled something burning and found a small fire in an adjacent room’s oven. Hours after successfully extinguishing that fire, she was terminated, according to local outlet WTEV-TV…

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Children of immigrants start life better off than U.S.-born children

Children of Latino immigrants begin life with a substantial advantage over the children of U.S.-born Hispanics, faring better across areas such as education, health and economics, says a new study released today by the Foundation for Child Development, NBC Latino reports. Yet over time, the study finds persistent disparities in income, health insurance coverage and education disproportionately affect the children of Latino immigrants…

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Zhao: U.S. schools focusing on the wrong skills

In an age when routine jobs can be outsourced or automated, it is creativity that will create a thriving new middle class, Zhao argued.

What is the purpose of our education system? If it’s to produce skilled employees, then we’re on the right path with Common Core standards and assessments, says education researcher Yong Zhao. But Zhao argues that it’s time to rethink that purpose—and with it, our present course of action.

Instead of producing employees who are capable of following directions, U.S. schools should be concerned with producing entrepreneurs, Zhao told attendees of the 2013 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference in Boston. And this requires an approach to education that is radically different from the one most schools are taking now.

In an entertaining and thought-provoking keynote speech, Zhao—who is associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education—compared the current U.S. education system to a “sausage maker”: taking a diverse group of students with individual talents and churning out workers with desired skills. But in the process, he said, creativity is being lost.

(Next page: The skills that U.S. schools should be nurturing among students)

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How to have more meaningful iPad professional development

Effective professional development requires less of a focus on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of technology, and more on the pedagogy of using it.

“Leading Change” column, July/August 2013 edition of eSchool NewsIn last month’s column, I argued that the power of the iPad in education lies in harnessing its creative and mobile abilities through the use of versatile, “evergreen” apps and the web. Yet, by and large, school leaders aren’t doing enough to put teachers in a position to excel in iPad classrooms. Often, the substantial investments schools make in purchasing iPads are woefully out of balance with the minimal investments they make in preparing teachers to use these new tools effectively.

Many school leaders simply give teachers iPads and expect them to integrate them in innovative ways. Yet, when new tools are introduced, they’re often used to extend existing instructional practices. Remember the interactive whiteboards that appeared en masse a decade ago? Years later, many are still be used as glorified projectors. As HarvardX researcher Justin Reich points out in “The iPad as a Trojan Mouse,” introducing a shiny, enticing iPad is only an initial step. To create real change in education, we must ultimately address pedagogy and best practices.

The real challenge for educators is not learning a particular device or app. It is learning how to create relevant and meaningful learning environments.

When I begin a workshop on iPads, teachers quickly learn how to take a screen shot and record a video—among other skills. However, when I ask teachers how they could use various iPad features to improve teaching and learning, I am often met with silence. It doesn’t occur to many that a student can take a screenshot of their work at any point as a means of formative or summative assessment. They don’t think to record exemplary student actions and behaviors and show them to other students, or ask students to demonstrate critical thinking skills by recording their problem-solving process on the iPad. Without guidance, meaningful applications of the iPad are a foreign concept to many otherwise experienced and successful educators.

(Next page: What educators need instead)

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Why we need a new education law—and why ed tech should play a role

The reauthorization effort will re-establish a democratic process that will allow those in the field to weigh in with suggestions that might put us back on the road to true education reform.

“Learning Leadership” column, July/August 2013 edition of eSchool NewsThe reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has eluded Congress for too long. Without Congressional action, the current administration has seized the moment and used regulatory fiat to implement its policies. But many of us feel that the policies being implemented lack counsel from the educators in the trenches.

The voices of teachers, principals, superintendents, and board members go unheeded, and we are on the verge of causing serious harm to an educational system weighed down by federal rules and regulations. The reauthorization effort will re-establish a democratic process that will allow those in the field once again to weigh in with suggestions that might put us back on the road to true education reform.

Unfortunately, bipartisan conversations are not happening, and we have been subject to both parties in both chambers creating their own bills [see story]. Nevertheless, superintendents are encouraged by the fact that there is more agreement than disagreement. For example, the 2011 bill that emerged from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee shifted responsibility for educational accountability from the federal government back to the state and local levels. A similar approach can be seen in the bill crafted by House Republicans.

Twelve years into a bill expected to be renewed in 2007, No Child Left Behind is still the law of the land, except that waivers can be obtained from its insidious requirements in exchange for other rules and regulations. The 2011 bill called for the elimination of Adequate Yearly Progress, annual measurable objectives, supplemental education services, and the related funding set-aside—music to our ears.

(Next page: What school leaders hope the new law will include)

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Google serves 25 percent of North American internet traffic

Everyone knows Google is big, Wired.com reports. But the truth is that it’s huge. On an average day, Google accounts for about 25 percent of all consumer internet traffic running through North American ISPs. That’s a far larger slice of than previously thought, and it means that with so many consumer devices connecting to Google each day, it’s bigger than Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram combined. It also explains why Google is building data centers as fast as it possibly can. Three years ago, the company’s services accounted for about 6 percent of the internet’s traffic. “What’s really interesting is, over just the past year, how pervasive Google has become, not just in Google data centers, but throughout the North American internet,” says Craig Labovitz, founder of Deepfield, the internet monitoring company that crunched the data…

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Congress’ chance to help students get 21st century skills

The Huffington Post reports that at the local level, it has become increasingly clear that as states, districts, and schools are raising standards and increasing their focus on graduating students that are prepared for college and careers, there is a need to build capacity within the education system. Many districts and schools have already begun to address this need by partnering with effective community-based partners, and investing in expanded learning opportunities; programs that keep students engaged and excited about learning while improving academic achievement. While local efforts to improve education have been effective, systemic change has been difficult because of federal inaction. That, however, may be changing…

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