Why BYOD makes sense: Thinking beyond a standardized 1:1

I was recently asked, “Why are you giving the teachers choice of a laptop? Why not just go all in with one device?” My answer, simply stated, is that homogenization of any tool is never a good idea in a context that is intended to foster creativity, Edutopia reports. The same argument is underway with the Common Core. Many fear that we are homogenizing educational standards and limiting opportunity for creativity, hacking and boundless exploration. That explains the viral popularity of Ethan Young, a Tennessee student who, at a school board meeting, provided an eloquent breakdown of what the Common Core really is and how it is affecting teachers. His points are valid, but the same points have been raised for years in education only to fall upon the deaf ears of bureaucrats…

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The link between early childhood education and PISA scores

Buried under the  headlines of the last week  about the newly released Program for International Student Assessment results — which showed American 15-year-old students nowhere near the top on the 2012 math, reading and science tests, is an interesting bit of data, the Washington Post reports. It’s the connection between early childhood education and the top-performing PISA nations. PISA is given by an organization called the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of 34 countries, including the United States, China, Germany and Japan. In the majority of OECD countries, more than three quarters (79%) of 4-year olds are enrolled in early childhood education programs. And according tothe report on 2012 PISA scores released last week, across OECD countries, students who attended early childhood programs performed better—a full year ahead of their peers…

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Here’s why we absolutely need ed-tech

Teachers, admins acknowledge ed-tech’s crucial role

ed-tech-learningEd-tech remains critical to K-12 education, especially when it comes to student success and engagement. A survey of public school teachers and administrators sheds light on why and how ed-tech implementation isn’t reaching its full potential.

Ed-tech increases student engagement in learning, and 96 percent of surveyed teachers agree with this. When students are engaged in their learning, they learn more naturally and willingly, meaning that lessons have a real impact.

Ninety-five percent of teachers said ed-tech enables personalized learning, and numerous studies show that not only is personalization the best way to approach teaching and learning, but it’s what students ask for time and time again.

(Next page: More ed-tech imperatives)


Don’t make these mistakes with flipped learning

From stale practices to no accountability, even flipped learning can fail students

learning-flipped-mistakesFlipped learning has taken off in classrooms across the country, but what many educators are realizing is that the new toy feeling of videos as homework is wearing off. The reason: You can’t re-package stale teaching techniques as something new.

To get the most out of flipped learning, the trick is in the design.

During a recent edWeb.net webinar on flipping the science classroom, Marc Seigel, a chemistry teacher at Middletown High School in Middletown, N.J., explained how four years ago, the concept of flipped learning was intriguing and just catching on.

“At first, I used a handheld camera to tape some lectures and post them on my website as a supplement for students. But I didn’t use them for instruction yet,” he said.

Seigel soon began posting podcasts on YouTube as homework assignments for students, and asked students to complete tasks in the classroom. According to Seigel, this worked for approximately one month before students lost interest again.

“I began to lose track of what day of the week it was,” he said. “It was sort of like a vacation where everything blended together because it was the same effortless things day after day. And that’s not good.”

According to Seigel, the students began to lose interest as well, and that’s when he realized he’d been making classic “rookie” mistakes with flipped learning—mistakes some teachers make with regular teaching methods as well.

(Next page: Flipped learning mistakes to avoid


S.C. education leaders want $30 million to help schools go wireless

The S.C. Education Oversight Committee wants state lawmakers to spend $30 million next year on technology to improve wireless access in school buildings across the state, reports the heraldonline.com. The request, said members of the state’s education research and accountability arm, comes as public school districts increasingly set goals to give every student a computer or wireless device, and as testing and classroom instruction move online. The request is about $20 million more than lawmakers have been spending on internet technology. The General Assembly has spent $10 million annually for the last five years to increase internet bandwidth in school buildings, many of which have hard-wired internet access. Going wireless requires an investment in more expensive technology, said Melanie Barton, the Oversight Committee’s executive director…

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Parents say they don’t need state test results

Last month, I asked whether parents and grandparents were worried about threats to annual testing caused by the national switch to the Common Core standards, the Washington Post reports. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan had warned that California would be shortchanging students and their families if it held to its plan not to report school test averages next year. Almost everyone who responded to me said Duncan was wrong. I proposed in that column a year’s respite from reporting state test results, while teachers adjusted to the new Common Core lessons and tests. “Schools can give the new tests but use the results only for improving teaching methods, not for assessing students and teachers,” I wrote…

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10 jobs destined for robots

The robots are coming, and they want our jobs, InformationWeek reports. That’s progress. In the 20th century, they wanted our women. Actually, the robots don’t want all of our jobs. They’re said to be capable of competing for about 47% of them, at least in the US, given current technological expectations. So only half of us will need to retrain. The other option is to join the Resistance. Who knew The Terminator was an employment double entendre? The other half of us should get used to being lonely on the job, which may evolve into making sure our mechanized colleagues don’t malfunction or do something unexpected. Small consolation though it may be, if you’re the last human on the factory floor, you won’t need to worry about turning out the lights when you leave. That’s the sort of task robots do very well…

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Millions participate in the Hour of Code

How is your school district celebrating the Hour of Code?

kid-codeLast month, eSN gave readers a preview of Computer Science Education Week’s major initiative, the Hour of Code, which asks students, teachers, parents, and schools to learn just one hour of computer programming during Computer Science Education Week.

Activities include introductions that teach students coding basics, an intro to JavaScript, “Robot Vocabulary” and unplugged computer science, how to create your own app, and more.

At press time, more than 5.7 million people learned an hour of code, and more than 163 million lines of code were written by students.

Will you be participating in the Hour of Code? Share your comments with me at @eSN_Laura and @eschoolnews.

(Next page: The Hour of Code in practice)