September 2012 Archives

I just returned from an exciting couple of days at Education Nation, a "summit" put on by NBC News in New York. All the great and good were there: President Obama (by tape), Mitt Romney (in person), Colin Powell, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings, Jeb Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Randi Weingarten, Michelle Rhee, and many more. The most heartening aspect of Education Nation was that it focused on what works, and what can be brought to scale. In the general media, if education gets reported at all, there are just two kinds of stories: Heartwarming local stories (Aww. . .) and large-scale disaster and ...


Harvard's Lisbeth Schorr is one of America's most thoughtful observers of social innovations. In a recent article she discusses her concerns about the growing focus in government on programs with evidence from randomized experiments. She's glad to see the rise of experimentation to evaluate well-defined interventions with clear theories of action, but worries that a focus on experimentally proven programs will overly limit reformers to approaches that lend themselves to experiments. Most of Schorr's concerns are valid; there are indeed some kinds of programs that appear to be effective but are just too complex or localized to be readily evaluated ...


Last week, I wrote about how the future of instruction needs to rely on both non-technology and technology-based innovations. It may sound like a hedge, but trust me that I am excited about the promise technology has to offer! In work we're doing in England and the U.S., we're using interactive whiteboards to help teachers manage complex instruction using many teaching resources. Whiteboards are not particularly interesting technology in themselves; they merely make it possible for all students in a class to see anything that can be put on a computer screen. However, if set up to do so, ...


Think about the best teacher, the best class, the best learning experience you ever had. In that class, you were engaged. You were challenged. You were excited. You had new insights, and left the class a different person, confident in your new knowledge and skill, but even more, confident in yourself as a learner. In educational innovation, all we have to do is to make every hour of every educational day as good as that best learning day of your life. How hard could that be? The path to creating outstanding lessons every hour in every subject is being made ...


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