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January 17, 2014

How Teachers Can Best Use Technology

Districts like Mooresville, North Carolina, and Danville, Kentucky, have rethought instruction, the teaching job, and classroom culture, and used technology to turbocharge those changes. These districts and networks have clear goals and engaged teachers. Indeed, their teacher satisfaction figures are terrific, as is student attendance and interest. Mooresville has the second-lowest spending among 115 North Carolina school districts and was recently named the best school district in America by Scholastic.

December 18, 2013

The World's Most Successful Ed Tech...

It's hard to talk about schools today without talking about technology. Enthusiasts celebrate the wonders of tablets, virtual schools, and "blended" learning. Skeptics recall a litany of overhyped, underwhelming past efforts. News accounts whipsaw between breathless tales of digital learning and horrific accounts of troubled virtual schools. Last year, Forbes ran a cover story, "One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education." But we've been there before, plenty of times. Indeed, in 1922, Thomas Edison proclaimed, "The motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system...In a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks."

December 11, 2013

Keeping Eye on Ball Amidst L.A.'s Tech Woes

The Los Angeles Unified School District has been lauded -- and scrutinized -- for its trailblazing efforts to reform teacher evaluation and include student achievement in hiring and firing decisions. But the $1 billion push to provide every student and teacher with an iPad may be attracting the most attention.

October 30, 2013

Breakthrough Leadership in The Digital Age

We're bombarded these days with enthusiastic accounts of "digital learning." The stuff is cool, but the excitement is a little disconcerting given that educational technology always seems be ripe with promise, yet has rarely delivered. Now, some view this checkered history and conclude that technology just can't help that much when it comes to schooling--that Horace Mann's schoolhouse was schooling as God intended. A lot more take a look at schooling, and then blithely figure they've finally cracked the code. I think both schools of thought are wrong. The truth is that today's education technology does hold immense promise, but what matters far more than the tools are what skilled hands do with them.

October 28, 2013

ClassDojo & How Tech Can Help With Soft Skills

There are a lot of ed tech providers out there. Some don't impress, but others offer products and services that really do offer new capabilities and opportunities for students, teachers, and parents. Bror and I make note of many of these in the course of Breakthrough Leadership -- and one of those is ClassDojo, which is helping teachers and parents use tech to tackle soft skills. Last week, I had the chance to chat again with co-founder Sam Chaudhary about what's been going on with Class Dojo (you can find a Straight Up interview with him from last fall here).

October 23, 2013

Fixing E-Rate's Fine, But Then It's Time to Get Serious

The promise that technology will remake schools has been uttered plenty of times by governors, journalists, and CEOs. At the moment, federal policymakers' attention is focused on E-Rate. E-Rate (an informal name for the Universal Service Fund's Schools and Libraries Program) is a discount on telecommunications services for schools and libraries. Enthusiasm for E-Rate reform is fine, so long as policymakers recognize that improving the program is only a modest step along the road to tapping the power of education technology.


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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