October 2008 Archives

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 ...


Tomorrow, I'll be traveling north a few hours from my home in Portland to attend the T+L Conference, sponsored by the National School Boards Association, in Seattle. While I'm there, I'll keep you updated by blogging here on Digital Education and Twittering, so stayed tuned. And for those of you who can't make it to the conference, there's an online chat taking place at the conference about one of my favorite subjects—educational gaming in the classroom—hosted by Julie Evans of Project Tomorrow on NSBA's Web site. It's scheduled for Tuesday, October 28 at 1pm Pacific time, and ...


A panel discussion today at the American Enterprise Institute, in Washington, will feature Clayton M. Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and the lead author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. He will give an address, which will be followed by a discussion with Christensen and one of his two coauthors, Michael B. Horn, of Innosight Institute, as well as education expert Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. It will be interesting to learn how Checker Finn and Frederick M. Hess, AEI's education policy expert who will ...


If you are tracking the rise of virtual schooling, you’ll find the best current information about the growth and maturing of this new way of teaching and learning in “Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning: A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice,” sponsored by 10 groups and companies in the industry, including the North American Council for Online Learning. The fifth annual edition of the report, released Oct. 23, gives evidence that growth continues apace, though not uniformly. Programs that are supplemental to students' enrollment in regular school are growing fastest overall, with one in three increasing enrollment by ...


NetTrekker d.i.—a company that provides an educational search engine for schools—recently released its list of top 100 school districts that keep students safest as they search. The title of the rankings is somewhat misleading, as the criterion for determining the safest school district was based solely upon the amount of time districts spent using the netTrekker software, but it does point to an overall trend in ed-tech to keep students safe online. As students become more and more plugged in and technology savvy, teaching them how to use the Internet appropriately is becoming a bigger issue for ...


Video lessons aiming to help high schoolers succeed in AP-level courses and to give them an edge on college admissions tests are the main offerings of an online startup that debuted this week. San Francisco-based Brightstorm Inc. has rolled out an initial set of 20 courses, each consisting of about 15 “episodes,” or instructional units of from 8 to 15 minutes long. The courses, which cover a range of AP subjects as well as SAT- and ACT-Prep, are supplementary. They assume that students are taking the conventional course in a classroom or perhaps online. But in each video course, a “rock...


Vint Cerf, who is often called the "father of the Internet" for his contribution to creating its technical protocols and architecture, will have a hand in developing a framework for the first nationwide technology literacy assessment of U.S. students, as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That's the inside scoop from Steven A. Schneider, of WestEd, which on Oct. 6 was awarded the contract by the National Assessment Governing Board to develop the framework and specifications for the test. The assessment, which will be first offered on a pilot basis in 2012, will be "totally computer-based," Schneider, ...


I just finished reading Andrew's post about T.H.E. Journal's endorsement of Sen. Obama, which dovetails nicely with the DD poll about which presidential candidate would do more for ed-tech. Take a minute to weigh in on who you think would be the best ed-tech president....


This Web site gathers videos of government officials talking about IT. Although there isn't much that's directly education-related, a lot of the videos touch on topics that are floating around in education just as much as they are in government—how budget crunches affect IT, security concerns, the effect of Web 2.0 on daily activities, etc. I just finished listening to the Government Leaders' IT Crystal Ball which talks about the future of IT, especially in light of the presidential election. There aren't a whole lot of videos on the site yet to watch, but if its extensive drop-down ...


An ed-tech trade publication has taken an unusual step in endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president. It's an interesting move for T.H.E. Journal, a small monthly that relies on corporate advertisers for practically all of its revenue. "It's not something we did lightly; it was something considered deeply among our editorial staff," Geoffrey H. Fletcher, the editor of the journal, told me in a recent interview. T.H.E. Journal is a competitor with Education Week's Digital Directions. He said the endorsement is based on the differences between Obama and Republican John McCain on the journal's core mission: ...


PC Magazine and The Princeton Review have released their list of the top wired colleges for 2008, with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign topping the list, along with Kansas State University, the University of Utah, Bentley College, and Pomona College. Schools were ranked based on the types of technology-related classes offered, technology resources for students, the technological infrastructure, and the amount of tech support available. One of the most interesting aspects of this list for me is its variability. Only 8 of the top 20 schools appeared on the list the last time the survey was conducted in 2006. ...


This AP story gets to the heart of the tension between school policies about bringing in technology such as cellphones and iPods and the ubiquitous nature of those gadgets, which I talked a little about last Friday. Educators in Minneapolis are beginning to refine school policies about cellphones in the classroom from an all out ban to an out-of-sight rule in order to accommodate the growing number of students who have them and the demand from parents to be able to reach their children at all times. Not all schools in the district have the same view on the cellphone ...


I am currently moderating a chat on cyberbullying, which is a growing problem as young people spend more and more time interacting online. You can participate in the chat by visiting http://www.edweek-chat.org/index.html?act=c&id=199. The guests are two Internet-safety experts. Sameer Hinduja is an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University. Justin W. Patchin is an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. They are co-authors of the new book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. They also jointly maintain www.cyberbullying.us,...


One of the areas that interests me most as an ed-tech reporter is the intersection between technology and student engagement. I've been writing for the Motivation Matters blog and covering student motivation for Education Week for more than a year now, and during that time, I've found that there's quite a bit of crossover between that and what I cover for Digital Directions about integrating technology into the classroom. For example, a blog post I wrote on Motivation Matters today about using iPods to motivate students to stay on task and whether or not iPods should be allowed in the ...


It's not hard to predict where I fall in the debate over whether technology has made 'millennials'—or the group of people born in the mid-'80s to about the year 2000—the smartest or dumbest generation to date, which was the question at hand at a recent luncheon hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, considering that I am a millennial. Mark Bauerlein, who wrote a book called The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future—Or Don't Trust Anyone Under 30, not surprisingly (considering that title) took the side that this generation of kids ...


It seems it's getting a little scary to be a textbook publisher in the digital age. At least that was the mood at a meeting that the school division of the Association of American Publishers, the industry's trade group, held recently in Arlington, Va. Publishers who gathered at the one-day "technology summit" on Oct. 2 contemplated a rash of challenges to the decades-long dominance of school textbooks over other curriculum materials and methods, and to their historical grip on school budgets. Use of open content, virtual schools, and "authentic" content from original sources were among the upstart trends that attendees ...


This blog post on Ewan McIntosh's edu.blogs.com points out a new peer-reviewed study that links Web 2.0 to academic improvement. The report found that Web 2.0 tools encourage participation and engagement, especially for those students who are timid; help students continue classroom discussions outside of the classroom; let students who are so inclined continue researching anytime, anywhere; and instill a sense of ownership and pride in students for the work they publish online, which can lead to more attention to detail and a better quality of work. The report also found that one of the biggest ...


Here's an interesting post over at PBS's Learning Now blog that talks about a recent court decision that upheld a school's decision to discipline students who made a fake MySpace profile for the school's principal containing offensive and vulgar information. The judge ruled that even though the offense happened off school grounds, its effect directly disrupted the school, and the students could be held responsible. Punishing kids for what happens online, especially on social networking sites like MySpace.com, is a murky subject that educators are still feeling out at this point. As Digital Directions reporter Michelle Davis wrote about ...


A bill passed by Congress on Sept. 30 is likely to boost understanding of two crucial aspects of the vast online world that occupies a growing part of our lives: broadband access and child safety. Of most immediate concern for schools is the bill's second section, authorizing a nationwide program to educate citizens about threats to children’s safety online and strategies to promote their safe use of the Internet. The bill, numbered S. 1492, which President Bush is expected to sign, directs the Federal Trade Commission to start an advisory group that will evaluate the status of industry efforts ...


A new report released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, found that technology has improved the overall quality of life for citizens and has had a generally positive impact on the world. Specifically in regards to education, the report identified three areas where technology has made significant improvements in learning: * Improved learning outcomes * A variety of different instructional methods to meet different learner's needs * Increased access to education Technology, and specifically the Internet, has made it possible for more people to access information they would never have been able to get otherwise, said ...


Is technology in the classroom just about academics? Some educators see it as a way to forge rich connections between students and their communities. I spoke recently with Vicky G. Cline, the technology director for the Greenbrier County schools in West Virginia, who has a vision to use technology to help build students’ “pride of place.” Though known for the ritzy Greenbrier resort, the county offers limited economic prospects to its young people, and many move away after high school, Cline says. But she has led a project that puts “global positioning system” devices into the hands of math students ...


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