May 2012 Archives

It's remarkable that in 2012 you can wake up in the morning and see a front page article in the New York Times depicting various young black men as "freaks" who "throw tantrums" and "do the first negative thing he can find" with computers. #notapostracialsocietyyet


I had a great time last week on RadioBoston chatting with Matthew Chingos about his study comparing an online statistics course with face to face course. Matt and his colleagues wanted to know whether the online version of a course had the same effect on student achievement (as measured by passing rates, grades, and standardized test scores) as a fairly traditional intro stats class. To make this comparison, they used a research method called a randomized control trial, where participants (students in this case) volunteer to be randomly assigned to either the regular (control) class or the online (intervention class). ...


Kevin Simpson and colleagues took me up on my offer to host reports from EdCamps around the world on this space. Here are some of the big insights from the very first EdCamp Dubai and the first EdCamp in the Middle East! Looking forward to hearing about many more in the future.


Yesterday, I was on WBUR's RadioBoston with Matthew Chingos, discussing his new study about online learning in higher education. Matt's study involved recruiting several hundred Introductory Statistics students at several college campuses who were willing to be randomly assigned to either a regular class or a hybrid online class. In the hybrid online class, students took an online version of Intro Statistics mediated entirely by a computer, with online readings, quizzes, activities and so forth. They also met once a week for a discussion section to answer questions.


Today, I received my doctoral robe from my advisor, Richard Murnane, and tomorrow I'll receive my diploma. I am now fully qualified to give advice about doctoral studies in education.


I have a commentary published in this week's Education Week paper titled Use Technology to Upend Traditional Classrooms. In it, I propose three ways of thinking about how emerging technologies can transform the traditional factory model of education. In the factory model, we envision the process of education as the delivery of standardized learning objects into containers (brains) brought by students. One thing we could do with technology is to try to make the factory run more cheaply. For instance, we could have students take self-paced online courses and replace teachers with security guards. Another thing we could do with ...


Today, over 300 educators will be gathering at the University of Pennsylvania for a day of sharing and learning, camaraderie and laughter, and deep reflection about the art of teaching and the future of education. There will be no keynotes, no vendors, and no authoritative or authoritarian leaders telling teachers what they should learn or how they should change. Instead, these educators will come together on a Saturday, develop a schedule for addressing topics that are pressing or passion-inspiring, and they will work together through the day to develop their craft, their community, and their profession. Today, is the third ...


For gamers of a certain age, the blocky pixels of the 8-bit Nintendo era bring back fond memories. In our own time, educators are fascinated by the learning potential of games: the way they engage us, challenge us, and test us. They teach, in compelling ways, all kinds of lessons, both pro- and anti-social. Some of the most powerful lessons of games are the rewards of exploration, persistence, patience, and determination. Go Right, a mash-up by RockyPlanetesimal, is a lovely homage to these lessons. Enjoy it. As you enjoy, take a second to try to take it seriously. I'm not ...


I want to pick up a topic I started last week: the visions that free marketeers have for technology and education (I got sidetracked by EdX, my reflections on EdX, and my students at MIT.) I was reminded to revisit the topic by Thomas Freidman's last op-ed in the New York Times, where he raises concerns about our transition from a market economy to a market society, where civic institutions are replaced by market institutions and everything is for sale and everything is provided by private institutions. The process that Freidman derides is enthusiastically recommended in the Fordham Institute's recent ...


If you would like to use a hand of bananas to play the piano, play Dance Dance Revolution by jumping in buckets of water, or control Super Mario Brothers with Playdoh, then you need visit the Kickstarter campaign for MaKey Makey The MIT Media Lab is a place where people rethink our relationship with technology by remaking our relationship with technology. They are philosophers with soldiering irons.Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum are two such philosopher/tinkerers getting their PhD at the Media Lab, and they are the designers of MaKey Makey.


I'm teaching an Introduction to Education course at MIT this semester, as part of their small Teacher Education Program to prepare MIT students to serve as K-12 educators. For the last few weeks of class, the students in class are teaching lessons to one another.


Last week, I proposed a 2x2 framework summarizing the field of education technology, which asked two questions 1) Are you trying to make a billion dollars? And 2) Do you believe education can be delivered? From these two questions, we get three categories for all ed tech ventures: Market, Open, and Dewey. Given all the hub-bub about Massive Open Online Courses last week, I thought I would take a moment to put the MOOCs into this Market/Open/Dewey framework.


The announcement yesterday from Harvard and MIT to jointly form EdX provides rapid acceleration to the arms race among elite universities to build Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to try to teach the world. (Or at least the Internet-accessible world interested in graduate courses in circuits.) If you just invested millions into for-profit players Udacity and Coursera, then you are not excited to hear that the two most prestigious universities in the world are pooling $60 million into a venture with an openly-licensed platform, free courses, and modest credentialing fees. I rode the train yesterday with my downstairs neighbor, Rebecca ...


Several weeks ago, Chris Lehmann tweeted from the Ed Innovation Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, "Educators - if you don't see that there is a billion dollar industry wanting to take over schools using tech as the Trojan Horse, wake up." If I were to have one quibble with the metaphor, it would be this: the free marketeers are not hiding inside the horse, ready to jump out only after they are let in the gates of schools. They are riding right on top of the horse, shouting "Hey, this is a great horse! Let me tell you how we plan ...


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