It may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that improvements to school programs can make a profound difference in young people’s lives. That thought occurred to me when I met with a group of ambitious students at the Chesapeake High STEM Academy, a public school in Essex, Md. This is not a fancy suburban school, but one that shares many characteristics of urban schools. The half-dozen students—most of them seniors at the school—described to me their lofty career goals, such as medicine and biomedical, electrical, robotics, and civil engineering. They are pursuing those goals by taking ...


For a while now, there's been a debate brewing in the education community about the impact of Web 2.0 tools and the Internet on students' writing skills. Critics say that the abbreviated and grammatically incorrect nature of Web 2.0 writing makes it harder and more confusing for students who are learning the basics of writing, while others argue that anytime a kid is writing, it's a good thing, and those same tools encourage and motivate kids to write more often. This story in The Miami Herald takes the latter stance, saying that blogs, social networking sites, text messages, ...


This week, about 250 educators from 64 different countries converged in Hong Kong at the Innovative Teachers Forum, sponsored by Microsoft, to talk about different ways to use technology in classrooms across the globe. Today, some of those teachers were recognized for their exceptional and innovative work in ed tech. Although our focus here at Digital Directions is mostly on education in the U.S., the more I report on ed tech, the more undeniable it is that we are actually living in a global learning environment that values collaboration between nations. Reading through the winners of this year's Innovative ...


The Washington Post has an interesting story up about the way that technology is making it easier for parents to check their students' grades, without having to wait until the end of the semester. Some school districts have moved to online grading systems that alert parents every time a new grade is recorded into their child's average. This helps keep both students and parents in the loop about how everything from homework assignments to quizzes and tests affect their overall class average, says the article. Apparently, many parents really enjoy this new way of keeping up with their child's grades, ...


Three quarters of the K-12 teachers in a nationwide survey report that they, or a colleague at their school, are assigning homework that requires students to use the Internet. What's more, students in 42 percent of schools are producing or creating their own videos as part of their schoolwork, with the number rising to 60 percent for high school students. The survey of 1,436 classroom teachers and library media specialists was conducted online last April by Grunwald Associates LLC, in Bethesda, Md. It was released Oct. 23, by Cable in the Classroom, the cable industry's education foundation. Video creation ...


One of the last sessions I attended at this year's T+L Conference was hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE. One of the initiatives that makes ISTE such a valuable resource to ed-tech leaders is the National Education Technology Standards, or NETS, that it puts out every few years. So far, ISTE has revised its NETS for students and teachers, and now it is working on revising those standards for administrators, to be rolled out at next year's National Educational Computing Conference in June. I sat in today on a group discussion about what those ...


I just stepped out of the National School Boards Association's press conference on the results of its new Technology and Learning Survey results. This is the fifth year that NSBA has done the survey, which asks about 500 district-level technology administrators to identify their biggest concerns and interests. This year, they added three new questions to the survey: what the top priorities of the next administration in the White House should be related to ed-tech, how the current economic situation has impacted technology programs, and how data is being used to drive decisionmaking. Not surprisingly, the number one challenge ed-tech ...


To round out my recent posts on disruptive innovation in K-12 education, I want to point out the Disrupting Class blog, for the book of the same name. Michael B. Horn, one of the authors of the book, which is subtitled How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, is tracking ways in which developments in real schools and communities are backing up the book's theory and analysis. His latest posts are about disruption in higher education, as a theme in the presidential campaign, and in education overseas. Horn is a Harvard Business School graduate who started researching ...


Hello from Seattle, where I am reporting from the National School Board Association's T+L Conference. So far since I've been here, I've picked up the new copy of Digital Directions, talked with several ed-tech companies about the newest products on the market today, and brainstormed about the educational value of using cell phones and other mobile technologies in the classroom with chief technology officers from around the country at the Consortium for School Networking's CTO Forum. In addition to a panel discussion about how those mobile technologies can successfully be used in the classroom, COSN launched two new initiatives ...


Good discussion about "disruptive innovation" this week featuring Disrupting Class co-authors Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn, at the American Enterprise Institute, in Washington. They made a powerful case that the fate that afflicted manufacturers of minicomputers, vacuum tube radios, and proprietary high-end software, is likely, in the next couple of decades, to be coming to a school district near you. You can read my story about the discussion here. By the way, Checker Finn, conservative education expert and pundit, who was the official "responder and raconteur" at the session and generally supported the co-authors' thesis, confessed that he ...


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