University research will evaluate physical data to gauge teacher effectiveness

GSR technology could give an advantage to 'tyrannical' teachers, Ravitch says.

A student’s physical reaction to a classroom lesson soon could be used to judge how successful—or unsuccessful—an educator is in keeping students engaged.

Researchers and Clemson University received a nearly $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November to study Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, which house sensors that measure a student’s physical reaction to learning—such as increased sweating—and uses the data as a way to grade an educator’s performance.

Wireless sensors produce readouts showing whether students are alert, anxious, bored, or excited in the classroom, and as Clemson researchers determine the reliability of this experimental technological gauge, many in education are skeptical of the GSR bracelets as a mainstream classroom tool.…Read More

$3M gaming project could help spark STEM education

MIT will develop an online multiplayer game for high school math and biology.

A $3 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant will help the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Education Arcade build a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) to help high school students learn math and biology.

Part of the grant’s purpose will be to change the way that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics are traditionally taught in secondary schools. Studies indicate that many students fail to remain engaged and interested in STEM education in high school and college, leading to a need for highly skilled STEM employees in the nation’s workforce.

MIT Associate Professor Eric Klopfer, director of the Education Arcade and the Scheller Teacher Education Program, has researched educational gaming tools for more than 10 years. Klopfer created StarLogo TNG, a platform that helps kids create 3D simulations and games using a graphical programming language, as well as several mobile game platforms—including location-based augmented reality games.…Read More

Virtual network promotes sharing of learning content across state lines

The virtual network will allow educators to post and download learning resources in an open-source format.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York are joining forces to fund an open-source technology network that would give teachers access to a huge repository of learning resources across state lines.

Such a network is now possible because of the Common Core State Standards, which replace the current patchwork of individual state standards with a set of common standards. The Common Core standards have been approved by more than 40 states and play a critical role in the development of a national exam, planned for 2014.

For more on the Common Core standards, see:…Read More

Gates gives $20M for digital learning, Common Core curriculum

$3M will go to the Pearson Foundation to create 24 online courses supporting the Common Core standards; four of these courses will be free to schools.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced April 27 that it will be investing more than $20 million in game-based learning and other digital tools to help usher the new Common Core standards into the classroom.

The foundation wants to help teachers engage students in learning the challenging new standards being adopted by more than 40 states. It says some of the web-based games, social-networking platforms, and online courses will be available for any teacher to use free of charge.

The new tools will include video games that build proficiency in math, reading, and science, as well as a new game platform that can be used for various subjects. The grants also include money for web-based classes aligned with the new common standards.…Read More

Gates Foundation focuses on college graduation

For many years, diversity in higher education has been measured by how many low-income students and students of color enroll in college. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to make a dramatic change in that definition by focusing instead on college graduation rates, reports the Associated Press. The foundation, along with the National League of Cities, announced Sept. 27 that New York City; San Francisco; Mesa, Ariz.; and Riverside, Calif., each will receive $3 million over the next three years for work designed to boost college graduation. The foundation says its long-term goal is to double the number of low-income adults who earn a college degree or credential that meets job-market demands by age 26. The grants announced Sept. 27 are for aligning academic standards between high school and college, strengthening data systems, implementing early assessment and college prep strategies, and creating support systems to help students get through school. “We know that in today’s economic climate and labor market, a high school diploma is no longer enough,” said Allan Golston, president of the U.S. Program at the Gates Foundation. “We must not only ensure that young people have access to college; we must ensure that they go on to complete college and earn a degree or certificate with value in the workplace.”

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Gates Foundation to invest in next-generation instructional tools

The Gates Foundation will invest funds to develop “next-generation instructional tools” to help implement the Common Core state standards.
The Gates Foundation will invest funds to develop “next-generation instructional tools” to help implement the Common Core state standards.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to invest up to $250 million over the next eight years to develop “next-generation instructional tools” that will help states and school districts implement the Common Core state standards, the foundation said in its annual report Sept. 7.

The Gates Foundation, one of the largest givers of money to K-12 and higher education in the United States, also plans to fund “data-driven research that explores ways states can modify the [Common Core] standards and assessments to improve student success in school and the workforce.”

Led by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, the Common Core State Standards Initiative established a set of shared K-12 standards for English and math that states could adopt voluntarily. The idea was to replace the patchwork of state standards that vary dramatically from state to state with a single, rigorous set of guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.…Read More

Ed-tech grant program aims to boost college readiness

The Educause-backed program will fund ed-tech projects designed to make high school graduates college ready.
The Educause-backed program will fund ed-tech projects designed to make high school graduates college ready.

Six months after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pumped $3.6 million into a national certification program for teachers of remedial college courses, a new initiative will dole out grants to education-technology projects aimed at improving college readiness, especially among low-income students.

The Next Gen Learning Challenges program, launched in late June and headed by nonprofit education technology supporter Educause, will aim to raise America’s high school graduation rate – which hovers around 50 percent among Hispanic, African American, and low-income students – and ensure that college freshmen are ready for higher education without having to take non-credit-bearing remedial classes.

Only half of Americans who enroll in a postsecondary school will earn a degree, according to national statistics, with as few as 25 percent of low-income students completing a degree program.…Read More