Is education lacking humanity?

With a national climate full of blame, are educators still human?

humanity-education Sitting down for an impromptu meeting with one of the country’s largest education nonprofits, a small cluster of education reporters and leaders discussed how the upcoming education trend for 2014 won’t be some new tablet, but rather a focus on education’s lost humanity.

Walking through 30-degree weather, bundled against a cold that’s turned the country into one giant icicle, it was a warming experience meeting Brian Lewis, the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) CEO. “After this I’m hopping on the train to see my son,” Lewis said. “He’s a creative type and is going to perform some things from his YouTube channel tonight. He’s inspiring.”

Also inspiring was sitting down to a meeting that materialized into a conversation about how ISTE aims to refocus its mission and its branding to become a more “human” organization.

(Next page: The changing role of schools)


2013: The Year in Review

Inside this issue:

How ‘augmented reality’ can enhance instruction

What school leaders can learn from high-profile missteps in tablet deployments

Why the ‘forgotten’ elements of STEM education are just as important

How changes to the federal eRate program could affect school wiring projects

How gaming, BYOD, and social media are transforming education


Joel Klein says curriculum is his legacy’s lone dark spot

The further away Joel Klein gets from the New York City school system, the firmer he is about the changes he brought during his tenure, Gotham Schools reports. But there is one blemish on a generally positive self-assessment, which Klein disclosed Thursday night as part of a 60-minute conversation with CUNY Institute for Education Policy Director David Steiner. A lone regret, he said, was an early decision to push schools to adopt a uniform curriculum that embraced philosophies of progressive education over more traditional instruction. “This was, in candor, not my background,” said Klein, a former U.S. Attorney General who taught math for a year in the late 1960s…

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Colorado schools face challenges in transition to digital textbooks

Mesa County parent Elizabeth Chiono received letters from some of her son’s teachers at the beginning of the school year informing her that he would not get textbooks in history and science classes, the Denver Post reports. The school district instead offers parents a link to online materials, causing the Chionos to have to rush to the school library before tests or to locate another computer whenever the outdated software on their own computer does not allow them to view schoolwork. It’s a growing problem that has complicated the family’s access to educational resources, but Chiono said other families face much more difficult situations. “I know kids that live in trailers who don’t have any access to computers. They barely have food on the table,” Chiono said. “If you don’t have Internet, that puts your kiddos behind.”

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Nine tech torments I’d like to see fixed in 2014

I know it’s the season of thankfulness and giving, but it’s time to complain, CNET reports. I enjoy technology, and I appreciate how difficult it is to write all that software and design all that hardware. I use it every day, usually for many hours, and it has improved my life in countless ways. But when there are shortcomings I encounter over and over, my irritation skyrockets. The thing is, many of these problems can be fixed. The computing industry is fixing big problems with USB ports and cables. I no longer have trouble getting iOS 7’s control panel to show with a swipe up from the bottom of my iPad’s screen. My ISP just upgraded my network at no charge to me so that my online backups take minutes or hours, instead of hours or days. Specks of dust on my SLR’s image sensor were really irritating on my last camera but now hardly ever bug me. Improvements give me heart. But for now, here’s why my glass isn’t always half full. I hope that some of these will be fixed in 2014…

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British Library sticks 1 million pics on Flickr, asks for help making them useful

In 2008, the British Library, in partnership with Microsoft, embarked on a project to digitize thousands of out-of-copyright books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, ArsTechnica reports. Included within those books were maps, diagrams, illustrations, photographs, and more. The Library has uploaded more than a million of them onto Flickr and released them into the public domain. It’s now asking for help. Though the library knows which book each image is taken from, its knowledge largely ends there. While some images have useful titles, many do not, so the majority of the million picture collection is uncatalogued, its subject matter unknown. Next year, it plans to launch a crowdsourced application to fill the gap, to enable humans to describe the images. This information will then be used to train an automated classifier that will be run against the entire corpus…

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How do two ‘connected districts’ do it?

Here’s how your fellow administrators create and sustain connected schools

connected-districtsEducators and administrators enjoy sharing their success stories and like to help fellow school districts see success in their own initiatives and efforts.

Whether it’s blended learning, bring-your-own-device, or other ed-tech initiatives, school district administrators are making sure that their classrooms are connected and able to prepare students for college and the workforce.

Personalization and individual learning experiences

The 95,000 students in Georgia’s Fulton County Schools have different learning styles and interests, and district administrators say they believe students’ learning opportunities should mirror their preferences and needs.

(Next page: How Fulton County is personalizing instruction with the help of technology)


10 school initiatives that never go away

A new concept called ‘initiative fatigue’ has educators griping

initiative-school-fatigueThere’s a philosophy in fashion that goes something like this: Keep it; it’ll be back in style in another few years. Just like the clothing industry, education has a cyclical nature of its own, mostly around initiatives, leading educators on social media to discuss what they call “initiative fatigue.”

Initiative fatigue stems from what educators say is a new initiative touted as the savior to whatever education problem plagues you. For example, Common Core for 21st century learning, computer-based testing for better student data, and a focus on STEM for global competitiveness.

(Next page: What educators are saying)