Esther Wojcicki: “American schools are becoming more like classic Chinese schools”

Hysteria. That is what I predict will be happening in education circles next year, EdSurge reports. 2014 may turn out to be frightening for education in America: we will likely see national hysteria over US students’ falling scores, both in the recently released PISA test scores (Programme for International Student Assessment) and as a result of the new generation of Common Core assessments. We will see districts scrambling for silver bullet solutions. But the biggest concern I have is those  such quick fix efforts could just make our education system bleed even more. The PISA scores showed that the American students are falling even farther behind other countries… in spite of our obsession with testing and teacher accountability…

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Clash of the Titans! Inside Microsoft’s battle to foil the NSA

After the NSA scandal broke this summer, revealing that the U.S. spy agency was eavesdropping wholesale on the most popular services on the web, Microsoft turned to five or six of its top engineers for help, Wired.com reports. One of them was Mark Russinovich. Russinovich is a Microsoft Technical Fellow — a title reserved for the company’s most respected thinkers — and he now works as one of the lead architects of its new-age cloud service, Windows Azure. Before joining Microsoft in 2006, he made his name rooting out unseen flaws in popular computer software, including more than one security hole, and it’s no accident that when the NSA revelations trickled out this summer, Windows Azure was one of the Microsoft online services that was already encrypting data to protect against the sort of snooping the NSA was practicing on a massive scale. It was only natural that Russinovich ended up on the small team of engineers who would decide how Microsoft should respond to the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden…

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Rep. Jack Kingston proposes that poor students sweep floors in exchange for lunch

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wants kids to learn early in life that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To make sure they absorb that lesson, he’s proposing that low-income children do some manual labor in exchange for their subsidized meals, the Huffington Post reports. On Saturday, Kingston, who is vying to be his party’s nominee in Georgia’s Senate race next year, spoke at a meeting of the Jackson County Republican Party about the federal school lunch program. Under that program, children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty line are eligible for free meals. Students from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level can receive lunches at reduced prices…

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Why school librarians are critical to digital learning

A new Follett-sponsored initiative aims to raise awareness of how important school librarians are to ed-tech success

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‘It makes sense that, in this Age of Information, we’d want to align our information specialists with the digital conversion taking place in schools,’ Edwards said.

School librarians are critical to the success of digital learning initiatives, and they deserve a place at the table in discussions about digital learning: That’s the message behind a new awareness campaign that targets K-12 superintendents and other senior school district leaders.

“Too many people still see school library programs in kind of a stodgy way. They need to change that mindset and think of a school library almost as the ‘research and development’ center in a school,” said Susan Ballard, a former librarian for the Londonderry, N.H., schools.

Ballard now teaches in an online library science program at Simmons College, and she is the immediate past president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). While she was the organization’s president, she collaborated on an initiative called Project Connect, which aims to give school librarians a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of digital learning programs.

Sponsored by Follett and launched at AASL’s national conference in Hartford, Conn., last month, Project Connect grew out of an idea from Todd Litzsinger, Follett’s president of K-12 content and services.

To help lead the project, Litzsinger brought together stakeholders such as AASL, the nonprofit organization Digital Promise, and school district leaders such as Mark Edwards, superintendent of North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District and the current Superintendent of the Year.

Getting school librarians “to have a stronger voice” in the transition to digital content and instruction is important, Litzsinger said. He added: “Often, they get overshadowed in the decision making process—but they really hold the key to making all this work.”

(Next page: How school librarians have made a big impact in Mooresville, N.C., schools)

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 9: Connected Educators

eSchool News counts down the 10 most significant developments in educational technology during the past year. No. 9 is Connected Educator Month.

connected-top10In school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These are only some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you right here.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on K-12 schools this year—and how they will continue to shape education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

(Next page: Connected Educator Month grows)

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eSchool News is now accepting your submissions

We are now accepting your submissions on the latest in technology and innovation in education

eschool-news-submissionsShare your opinions and best practices on relevant technology and innovation in education issues. Contribute today in our new “Colleague Corner” column or “My Tech Essentials.”

Colleague Corner

eSchool News features weekly commentary from leading educators on the latest in edtech. Become a contributor by submitting your stories here.

Read breaking news from your fellow educators

Enjoy today’s top articles from leading educators and administrators in K-12.

1        Our new reality: Social media monitoring in school by Mark Anderson, principal of Decatur Middle School, Indianapolis, Ind.

2        Walk on the Light Side by Lisa Fratt, senior writer at Boston Children’s Hospital.

3        Trends towards scalable personalized learning with technology by Anthony Kim, CEO and founder of Education Elements.

4        Five must-have tools for social studies instruction by Jim Beeghley, PhD, educational technologist, blogger, podcaster, and expert in using technology to teach social studies.

My Tech Essentials

My Tech Essentials is a new column which features educators discussing their favorite technology. Have great tech essentials you’d like to share with readers? Please submit articles here.

Five must-have tools for social studies instruction

What are the ed-tech tools that educators can’t live without? Each month, we’ll ask a different reader.

James Beeghley

Jim Beeghley, PhD, is an educational technologist, blogger, podcaster, and expert in using technology to teach social studies.

Geography and More: Google Earth

This amazing tool can be used for more than just geography. For instance, you can use it to track the travels of historical figures, such as following a particular unit during the American Civil War by adding image overlays to create “then and now” images and looking at its locations over time.   [Read More]

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A full-featured, $38 tablet is coming to the U.S.

Datawind announced that it plans to sell a $38 tablet in the U.S. through as-yet unnamed online and brick-and-mortar retailers early next year, the Wall Street Journal reports. The London-based firm plans to sell three models in the United States, ranging in price from $38 to as much as $149 with varying specs and capabilities. The goal, says Suneet Singh Tuli, Datawind’s CEO, is the same as it’s always been – to bring the least expensive computers possible to schools and low-income communities. “Affordability shouldn’t be the reason people can’t get on the internet,” Tuli said in an interview. “We want to specifically reach a customer base that right now is not on the internet.” According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of American adults don’t use the internet.

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You’ll make more money if you can code

Being able to learn marketable digital skills is sluggish and difficult — or so they say, Mashable reports. Adda Birnir noticed a gender divide between a media company’s business and technical side (read: men) versus the editorial side (read: women). She created online tech education platform Skillcrush to give women a way to learn marketable skills that could lead to steady, high-paying jobs and relevant, satisfying work. The five-year-old company teaches digital skills: We’re talking about technical jargon, coding, building a website and understanding user experience. You do so by signing up for classes that are designed to be fun and done on your own time. But that wasn’t always the format for Skillcrush. “Our challenge is actually not convincing people that tech skills are really important,” she says. “It’s convincing people that getting tech skills is something that they can do.”

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