Ex-NC Gov. Perdue unveils education tech effort

Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue says she wants to jump start collaboration among teachers, students and entrepreneurs to develop electronic technology that improves learning for adults and children, the Associated Press reports. Perdue announced Wednesday the initiative called DigiLEARN, or the Digital Learning Institute. She chairs the group, which held a strategic planning meeting at North Carolina State University. Perdue was elected North Carolina’s first female governor in 2008 and left office a year ago after choosing not to seek re-election. Since then, the New Bern Democrat has spent time at Harvard and Duke universities and started a consulting firm…

Beware Chinese data: Its schools might not be so great

For much of my life, I have been obsessed with China, Jay Mathews reports for the Washington Post. A TV documentary about the Great Leap Forward caught my eye when I was 16. I studied Chinese language, government and history in college and graduate school, then spent five years as The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and Beijing. My wife, who was my Los Angeles Times competitor, and I wrote a book about the country. I love Chinese culture. I think the creative competition between China and the United States is a plus for humanity. But I learned long ago not to trust Chinese government statistics. Chinese officials these days are more enlightened and honest than the ones I dealt with, but they appear to be distorting data in ways that are harmful to educators’ efforts in China and the United States to learn from each other…

Welcome to the wild, wild web? Fewer parents enforcing internet rules for kids

Canadian children are increasingly being left to their own devices – both literally and figuratively – when it comes to accessing the internet, according to a major new study of students’ online habits, the Vancouver Sun reports. ReleasedWednesday by MediaSmarts, the survey of 5,436 youth in grades 4 through 11 revealed that today’s parents, compared with those in 2005, enforce dramatically fewer rules when it comes to their kids’ internet pursuits. And unlike the recent past, when shared family computers reigned supreme, Canadian students are now likelier to go online using their own smartphone or portable device. But Jane Tallim, co-executive director of MediaSmarts, said it’s not necessarily a “bad news story,” noting that increased household awareness about Internet safety may be leading to less formal policing…

8 incredibly easy steps to a professional development makeover

School district expert says good professional development takes common sense, taking advantage of your best resource

creativityresizedThere’s a lot of talk these days, especially with the implementation of Common Core, about how to reform student learning. However, there’s a group of learners education is leaving behind, say experts: Teachers. Professional development (PD) needs a makeover, they say, and it’s a lot easier than you may think.

One of the first slides Tom Murray, director of technology & cyber education for Quakertown Community School District in Bucks County, Penn., shows to his audience during his recent edweb.net webinar, “How to personalize learning plans for your teachers,” can resonate with any professional.

Listening to a lecture, a grown man in a business suit is slowly falling asleep in his chair. The title of the slide is “If I Die:” with the cutline, “I hope it’s during a staff meeting because the transition to death would be so subtle.”

“I don’t mean to offend anyone,” said Murray, “but that’s the feeling of most teachers when they have to attend ‘traditional professional development.’”

(Next page: Steps 1-3)


7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep children from growing into leaders

While I spend my professional time now as a career success coach, writer, and leadership trainer, I was a marriage and family therapist in my past, and worked for several years with couples, families, and children, Forbes reports. Through that experience, I witnessed a very wide array of both functional and dysfunctional parenting behaviors. As a parent myself, I’ve learned that all the wisdom and love in the world doesn’t necessarily protect you from parenting in ways that hold your children back from thriving, gaining independence and becoming the leaders they have the potential to be. I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be…

Read more


5 reasons you should be teaching digital citizenship

Students buzzed about the latest uproar on Instagram, TeachThought reports. Anonymous sources had posted a “questionable”–and NSFW–list for multiple public schools in our city on Instagram, leading to distraught girls, viral Twitter reactions, and an investigation. This type of cyberbullying and reckless use of digital communication is rampant among teens, but this recent episode was only unusually due to its elevated publicity. Every day, I see a student deficit on how to mindfully employ the unbridled potential and power of their smartphones and other digital tools. But who’s to blame? Is it the girls who decide to post racy photos or sext people they supposedly trust?

Read more


L.A. Board of Education approves next phase of iPad plan

The Los Angeles Board of Education approved the next phase of a $1-billion effort to provide computers to every student, teacher and administrator, reports the Los Angeles Times. The board agreed to distribute iPads to every student at 38 more schools, begin a bidding process to provide laptops for students at seven high schools and buy as many iPads as needed to complete new state tests in the spring. In doing so, the board opted not to follow the advice of an oversight panel that had recommended purchasing thousands of fewer devices. In the end, board members — who said they wanted to avoid unnecessary spending — approved a proposal that removed entirely a cap on how many iPads the district could buy for standardized testing scheduled for the spring. But they also insisted that they expected the number to be well below the 67,500 tablets the district staff had recommended…

Read more


Around the world, net neutrality is not a reality

Net neutrality—the idea that all Internet traffic should generally be treated equally—suffered a setback last week when a federal court struck down the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s latest regulatory effort, the MIT Technology Review reports. Pro-neutrality types have worried that a few giant companies will end up controlling, or at least mediating, the Internet experience for much of the population because of special deals they’ve struck with Internet providers for prioritized or subsidized data delivery. But in the emerging economies of the world, that’s pretty much how things already work, thanks to a growing number of deals Google and Facebook have struck with mobile phone carriers from the Philippines to Kenya…

Read more


Five steps to a successful blended learning program

Follow this advice, and your transition to blended learning will go a lot smoother


Blended learning is an entirely new challenge—and chances are you won’t get everything right from the start.

History tells us that as they forged westward, pioneers often faced unexpected obstacles. It’s a great reminder that trailblazers need to be prepared for potential pitfalls.

As school leaders consider adopting blended learning to provide more opportunities for their students, here are five key considerations gleaned from the thousands of schools we’ve worked with.

1. Define your academic goals.

A blended learning model can be tailored to meet one or more objectives, such as personalizing instruction by infusing technology into the core curriculum; expanding the course offerings available to students; allowing students to take accelerated or specialized courses without leaving the school building; or helping students recover credits and graduate on time.

Your district’s goals should inform every step of the process, from selecting curriculum materials to recruiting the right staff. Once goals are set, it’s important to establish metrics so you can ensure the program is meeting its intended results.

2. Help teachers understand their critical role.

There is a common misconception that implementing technology displaces classroom teachers. In reality, the online component of a blended learning model is a powerful complement to face-to-face instruction—and, as in any classroom, the teacher is the single most important determining factor for student success.

With data generated from online tools and resources, teachers can pinpoint individual student needs and focus on high-value activities: coaching students, providing intervention for those who need extra help, and designing challenges for those who grasp concepts quickly.

School leaders can increase teachers’ comfort with blended learning by building awareness. Consider hosting forums to share your vision for this new model of instruction, and engage teachers in the process. Professional development also will help teachers learn how blended learning can be a classroom ally, freeing them from burdensome tasks so they can personalize the learning experience for students and spend more time mentoring, motivating, and instructing.


New site explores the science of the Winter Olympics

Videos feature interviews with athletes, engineers about concepts that help competitors excel in the Olympics

winter-olympicsNBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has partnered with the National Science Foundation to create a new video series exploring the “Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

The videos mark the latest installment in NBC Learn’s Emmy Award-winning “Science of Sports” series. Narrated by NBC Olympics hockey host Liam McHugh, this 10-part video collection delves into the physics, engineering, chemistry, design, and mathematics behind the Winter Olympics events.

The video segments feature a variety of sports stories as told by some of the world’s top athletes, along with perspectives and research from NSF-supported scientists and engineers. They reveal how key engineering and science concepts, as well as cutting-edge technology, play an integral part in each athlete’s sport.

“We are very excited to release this special series, as the Sochi Olympics nears, and build on our innovative partnership with NSF,” said Soraya Gage, general manager of NBC Learn, in a press release. “Viewers will be able to watch and learn how science and design concepts play an essential role in the Olympic experience.”

“These stories demonstrate the interplay between sports and engineering, in areas from robotics to medical treatments,” said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF’s assistant director for engineering. “We hope the impressive feats of athletes and engineering researchers will engage and inspire young people, as they see how engineering technologies can change many facets of our lives.”

The videos include…

Alpine Skiing and Vibration Damping: Kam Leang, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Tom Watson, of Watson Performance in Hood River, Ore., describe how advanced materials and engineering help reduce unwanted vibration, optimizing the performance of athletes.

• Figure Skating Physics: Brad Orr, head of the physics department at the University of Michigan, explains that good balance, or stability, is basic to everything a skater does—and this begins with understanding the center of mass.

Engineering Competition Suits: At the 2014 Olympics, long track speed skater Shani Davis will be wearing what might be one of the most advanced competition suits ever engineered. Under Armour Innovation lab’s Kevin Haley and polymer scientist and engineer Sarah Morgan, of the University of Southern Mississippi, explain how competition suits help improve athlete performance by reducing friction and improving aerodynamics.

Engineering the Half Pipe: Mechanical engineer Brianno Coller, a professor at Northern Illinois University, explains how engineers design the half pipe so that snowboarder Shaun White can get more air time and allow him to perform tricks.

Each episode is accompanied by science and engineering-focused lesson plans developed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for middle school and high school teachers.

“Teachers are always looking for new and innovative ways of cultivating student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math,” said David Evans, NSTA’s executive director. Evans said the videos “provide teachers with an opportunity to connect their curriculum to real-world applications, which enhances student engagement.”

Other videos in NBC Learn’s “Science of Sports” series feature the Science of the Summer Olympics, Science of NFL Football, and Science of NHL Hockey.