Like most of my colleagues at Digital Directions, I am knee-deep in a bunch of stories about how online education is impacting K-12 schools, which is the focus of this year's upcoming Technology Counts report (to be released at the end of March.) At this point, I've talked to countless people about this—from teachers and administrators to CEOs and academic experts—and there's a lot of excitement about where online education could take us. To get a sneak-peek into some of what the stories we're working on delve into, I highly recommend that you check out my colleague Michelle ...


Bill Gates sure knows how to get people's attention. But at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference this week, it didn't take any high-tech tools to perk up the crowd, according to this article. Gates unleashed a jar full of mosquitoes on the business, arts, and science leaders in the audience at the elite conference in in Monterey, Calif., to make a point about malaria. "There is no reason only poor people should be infected," he told them. He paused before telling them the insects were disease free. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars ...


Chicago public schools has been creating a series of videos about various initiatives and projects in that district called CPS Right Now! The videos typically involve students and teachers, who share with the viewers their experiences, what they're doing in class, and how it's helping students. It's a really fascinating project—I could watch these all day. Here's one episode that explores iEARN—International Education and Resource Center—which students in Chicago are using to connect with classrooms across the globe. I think it really encapsulates the types of skills and opportunities that technology can bring to the classroom, which ...


If you're like most ed-tech enthusiasts, I'm sure you're watching closely the economic stimulus packages proposed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which include $1 billion for education technology. (Here's a story written by my colleague Alyson Klein about the details of those plans.) The question now is whether that money is going to make it through the conference committee (when the Senate and the House hammer out the differences between their plans), and what will it look like if it does. I listened in today on a conference call, sponsored by ISTE (International Society for ...


A new study by Purdue University has shed some light on how to most effectively engage students in technology and engineering at a young age. The study took five classes of 8th graders in a rural Indiana school and taught them about human impacts on water and water quality through a traditional textbook and lecture method and then compared their comprehension of those subjects to another five classes of 8th graders from that school who learned about water quality through engineering design modules. The students in the latter group were asked to build a water purification device as a way ...


I've been back in Portland for a few days, but I have one more post I wanted to write about FETC. During the conference, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a white paper (PDF) about 21st-century learning environments. The paper addresses more than just what the architectural structure of a school should be (although it does address that topic as well), but includes suggestions on the kind of technological and community infrastructure schools should have. The paper also emphasizes that learning environments are no longer confined to brick and mortar school buildings anymore. The idea behind a 21st-century learning ...


I just attended a great talk by Chris Dede, a professor at Harvard, about emerging interactive media in education. Dede, who has been studying and working in the educational technology field for about 30 years, spoke about how teachers today are preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, which raises the question: How do we effectively teach students the skills they need even though we don't have a clear vision of what exactly they might be doing in the future? The main focus of Dede's talk was Web 2.0, how it can be used in classrooms, and what ...


This morning, I attended an eye-opening and informative breakfast meeting hosted by CDW-G, which featured IT administrators from three different school districts, all in different phases of implementing new technology systems into their respective school systems. As someone who hears and reads a lot about education technology, it's always a treat to listen to those who are working directly with teachers and students to see how technology can make a difference in the classroom. One thing that was emphasized over and over at the meeting was how essential it is to have a supportive superintendent who is open to learning ...


Hello from Orlando, where I thought I might be able to catch some sun after a few months of winter in the rainy Northwest, but apparently that's not in the cards. I've been told that Orlando is currently having the coldest week on record since 2003. But despite the cold front, myself, along with thousands of ed tech educators and enthusiasts, have converged here this week to share ideas, review best practices, and pinpoint ed tech solutions at FETC. So far, I've met with a handful of companies exploring innovative solutions to problems with online security, data management, and green ...


California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard recently introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to help low-income schools get federal funding for technology upgrades and computers as part of the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act, or ATTAIN. The bill, which amends part of the No Child Left Behind Act, would also provide more technology training for teachers, put standards in place to make sure every child is technologically literate by 8th grade, and provide federal guidance for states on how to make sure that all schools have up-to-date software and technology. In addition, there's a research component to the bill, which ...


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