Education’s ‘shiny toy syndrome’

It’s elementary, the Marietta Daily Journal reports. Public education bureaucrats do the darnedest, stupidest things. Clever kids are ready, willing and able to capitalize on that costly stupidity in a heartbeat. Within days of rolling out a $30 million Common Core iPad program in Los Angeles, for example, students had already hacked the supposedly secure devices. The Los Angeles Times reports that the disastrous initiative has been suspended after students from at least three different high schools breached the devices’ security protections. It was a piece of iCake. The young saboteurs gleefully advertised their method to their friends, fellow Twitter and Facebook users, and the media. “Roosevelt students matter-of-factly explained their ingenuity Tuesday outside school,” the L.A. Times told readers. “The trick, they said, was to delete their personal profile information. With the profile deleted, a student was free to surf. Soon they were sending tweets, socializing on Facebook and streaming music through Pandora, they said.”

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What we can learn from Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, and Amplify

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about Amplify Learning for months. It’s complicated, Forbes reports. Mashable’s story describes Amplify as the cash hungry villain: News Corp’s bid to profit off children. The New York Times’ coverage read like an informercial; retelling that same old congratulatory story of free market innovation. NPR covered Amplify when they first announced the tablets, quoting CEO Joel Klein, “We don’t have a political mission — none whatsoever. What we’re doing is developing materials in math and science and the English language arts — designed by leading experts.” How should I write about Amplify? Should I take a political stance? Or, should I evaluate the orange tablets simply as a digital learning technology, out of context? Do I bracket out the fact that this particular edtech company is owned by News Corp?

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Bypassing the SAT altogether

Mind/Shift reports: “It’s kind of declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions and the failure to foreground the curriculum and learning,” Leon Botstein, Bard’s president of 38 years, said in an interview. Saying the prevailing system was “loaded with a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with learning,” he hailed the new approach as a “return to basics, to common sense” and added, “You ask the young person: are they prepared to do university-level work?”

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Veteran teacher: The key failing of school reform over decades

The tug of war over standardized tests is just the latest round of a struggle I’ve watched many times before, The Washington Post reports. In the four decades between when I started teaching English at T.C. in 1970 and my retirement this year, I saw countless reforms come and go; some even returned years later disguised in new education lingo. Some that were touted as “best practices” couldn’t work, given Alexandria’s demographics. Others were nothing but common-sense bromides hyped as revolutionary epiphanies. All of them failed to do what I believe to be key to teaching: to make students care about what they’re studying and understand how it’s relevant to their lives…

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Integrated math might be key to student achievement

New research points to integrated model as one way to improve student gains

integrated-math

As states implement the Common Core State Standards, many math educators and curriculum specialists are advocating a move to integrated math, which, although not a new concept, has received renewed attention in light of a study indicating that the model could boost student achievement.

Integrated math involves the blending of many math topics, such as algebra, geometry, and statistics, into a single course. U.S. math courses have traditionally been separated into year-long courses that focus on one area and follow a sequence, such as algebra I, geometry the next year, algebra II, and then a pre-calculus course.

States including Utah, North Carolina, and West Virginia are moving to integrated math models. Supporters note that integrated models help students make connections across different math disciplines and help them see real-world connections. Some critics say integrated math is not necessary.

James Tarr, a professor in the University of Missouri (MU) College of Education, and Doug Grouws, a professor emeritus from MU, studied more than 3,000 high school students around the country as they tried to determine if an integrated math model led to higher student achievement gains.

(Next page: What research reveals; plus, take a poll on integrated math)

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L.A. students breach school iPads’ security

Security violation results in limited iPad use, student frustration

iPad-securityIt took exactly one week for nearly 300 students at Roosevelt High School to hack through security so they could surf the web on their new school-issued iPads, raising new concerns about a plan to distribute the devices to all students in the district.

Similar problems emerged at two other high schools as well, although the hacking was not as widespread.

Officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District have immediately halted home use of the Apple tablets until further notice.

The incident prompted questions about overall preparations, including security preparations, for the $1-billion tablet initiative.

The roll-out is scheduled to put an iPad in the hands of every student in the nation’s second-largest school system within a year. Roosevelt was among the first to distribute them, starting a week ago.

Tablets were still being handed out when administrators discovered the hacking already in progress, allowing students to reach such restricted sites as YouTube and Facebook, among others.

(Next page: What administrators, teachers, and students say)

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App of the week: Luca Lashes

lucalashesName: Luca Lashes

What is it? The Luca Lashes’ interactive eBook and app series are based on main character, Luca, whose magical eyelashes help make him brave. Geared toward children ages 0-4, the series help turn “fearful firsts” into educational experiences, whether it’s a child’s first haircut, first dentist visit, first swimming lesson, and more.

Best for: Children ages 0-4

Price: FREE

Rated: 4+

Requirements: Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Requires Android 2.0.1 and up.

Features:

• Multilingual audio narration (English, French, Italian, Spanish, and coming soon Chinese)
• Interactive sound effects for each scene w/ some animation
• “Read to me” or “By myself” option
• Original music composed to enhance each story
• Screen Tilt Animation
• Pages are dimensional to enhance the learning experience
• This “Universal App” is optimized for Retina displays and the iPad
• Word/Sound association—words are highlighted as they are spoken
• Hand drawn illustrations

Links: [Apple] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/luca-lashes-the-brown-eyed/id490018287?mt=8

[Android] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flyingword.LucaLashes.BEBEn

[Amazon] http://www.amazon.com/Luca-Lashes-Brown-Magic-Eyelashes/dp/B006P4CMV0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324595452&sr=8-2

[Nook] http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/luca-lashes-the-brown-eyed-boy-luca-lashes-llc/1108148774?ean=2940043874993&itm=1&usri=luca+lashes

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How to choose the right education technology

Education technology integrator and curriculum designer explains how to pick the right tools for schools and districts

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With so many education technology tools now available, how can school and district leaders implement the best choices? According to one veteran tech-savvy education technology integrator, there are a few ideas to consider when implementing technology. One of the biggest considerations? Put yourself in students’ shoes!

“It’s not just about the technology or the technology other schools and district are using,” said Jane Englert, learning designer and technology integrator at Ephrata High School (Pa.). “It’s understanding the needs of your students, as well as how to integrate the technology seamlessly with your curricular goals for the class.”

(Be sure to take our poll on Page 4. Next page: 7 key skills for good education technology integration)

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Bill Gates: ‘It would be great if our education stuff worked but…’

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” That’s what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 (see video below) about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University, The Washington Post reports. He repeated the “we don’t know if it will work” refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative. Hmmm. Teachers around the country are saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable “research.” And now Gates says he won’t know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs now because of reforms he is funding…

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Education 3.0: Embracing technology to ‘jump the curve’

Wired.com reports: It may not be “The Winds of War.” It may not even be as exciting as “Sharknado,” but I would argue that the role of ed tech in Education 3.0 is far more important than anything Hollywood has produced (and definitely more valuable than sharks dropping from the skies?) Education 3.0 is what we can achieve when we begin to transform education. It’s the underpinning for things that we know, frameworks that we are creating, and models that we have studied for years. Education 3.0 is what I believe we can aspire to so as to educate our students, at all levels, in ways that actually promote 21st-century skills and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow (aka, the jobs that don’t exist today but which will be required in the future). It’s the coming together of creativity, outcomes, critical thinking, big data, personalization, and much more…

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