June 2009 Archives

Crowds at the National Educational Computing Conference flock to the exhibit hall for demonstrations of cool tools for the classroom, and free giveaways.


A NECC panel discussion hosted by Education Week's Digital Directions turned into a free-flowing give-and-take between the panelists and the audience on topics ranging from the cost of online learning to using students for technology support.


The Digital Directions staff have been interviewing a plethora of notable ed-tech leaders at the NECC '09 conference in Washington D.C. this week. With topics ranging from students' use of personal technology, educators' ambivalence to cell phones in the classroom, the shrinking pot of (federal) money available for ed tech, and disruptive innovation in education, we think there's something for everyone. Chris Dede: Disrupting The Traditional Classroom Harvard University Professor Chris Dede discusses the potential for online learning to drive innovation in the classroom. Elliot Soloway: Ed Tech Classroom Climate University of Michigan professor Elliot Soloway discusses the need ...


Teacher-educator Lujean Baab gave tips on leading an online classroom at a NECC session today called "Managing Mayhem."


This morning I joined a gathering of company leaders, school district administrators, as well as a few members of the press, to talk about the most pressing issues in cyber security for district technology administrators today.


Project Tomorrow analysis shows a disconnect between the demand for online learning options and teachers' interest in teaching such classes.


Here's another report from our intern and guest blogger Tim Ebner: Techies hit the town last night, spilling out of the NECC conference at the Washington Convention Center and into the many bars and clubs that hosted off-site networking parties throughout the city. These social happy hours provided a less formal environment, where educators could enjoy a drink, or two, and connect with fellow attendees. Most of the events happened in and around Chinatown. There was an ISTE sponsored tweet-up at a basement watering hole called Rocket Bar, a Schoolnet reception at Madame Tussauds museum of wax, and a Gaggle.net...


International Society for Technology in Education CEO Don Knezek spoke to reporters about the struggle to convince Congress to maintain federal funding for educational technology.


In an age when information can be easily manipulated through applications such as Wikipedia and Photoshop, who should be teaching our students about media literacy and what should they be learning about it?


The session on classroom learning stations today at NECC, led by Camilla Gagliolo, an instructional technology coordinator for the Arlington, Va., public schools, showed teachers how they could set up a number of learning stations with PDAs, computers, iPods, Nintendos, and smartboards. In the interactive session, several groups of teachers and administrators spent a few minutes using the gadgets to complete language arts activities, then moved to another table to try a different device. Although the stations incorporated different technologies, they all revolved around the same classroom lesson plan so that students could explore lots of different approaches for tackling ...


A few dozen educators, armed with hand-held devices, trekked around the National Mall to see how Web 2.0 tools can be used outside the classroom to engage students. But the educators' tech tools didn't work as well as some hoped they would.


I just got out of a packed session about library tools and resources where five librarians shared their best, mostly free, online resources. And luckily for everyone who can't attend NECC, they've put that information up on a wiki for everyone to see and contribute to.


During a panel discussion about open-source software this morning, tech administrators and open-source experts seemed optimistic about where open-source is going in education while agreeing that there is much more potential to be tapped.


So what did Malcolm Gladwell talk about during his keynote speech at NECC? Fleetwood Mac. No, really. Looking closely at the evolution and success of the late 60s rock band can teach us three important points about creating meaningful learning environments, he said.


Diane Brook from the Catholic Education Office in Sydney, Australia, outlines how schools should transform their classrooms into 21st-century learning spaces.


The agenda for NECC is chock full of sessions about how to use mobile computing to improve learning, especially through the use of cellphones. But not everyone in the education world is jumping on the mobile computing bandwagon.


NECC '09 goes Hollywood with an Oscar-style show featuring digital shorts from teachers and students. And the winner is...


A whole team of reporters, editors, Web producers, and photographers from Education Week and Digital Directions is off to the National Educational Computing Conference in Washington this week, so get ready for our full coverage.


A new federal report concluded that "blended learning" is somewhat more effective than strictly face-to-face or online programs alone, but K-12 studies on the topic are lacking.


Just in time for NECC, we've launched the DD Innovators Discussion Forum, where ed-tech experts can discuss how to balance the need for technological innovation with the realities of running schools.


There's only a couple of days left before thousands of ed-tech experts, administrators, and industry officials (13,000 last year!) converge on Washington to attend the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference. Of course, several of us from Education Week and Digital Directions will be on-site covering the conference with stories, blog posts, tweets, videos, and photos. Stay tuned to the Digital Education blog for the latest coverage of the conference. Or follow us on Twitter @digidirections. Lots of high-profile ed-tech folks will be there, including Chris Dede, Elliot Soloway, Susan Patrick, and ... Malcolm Gladwell? Aside from being an internationally famous ...


There's been a lot of attention paid recently to ed policy in other countries, and even a move toward setting international benchmarks or standards that outline what content and skills students should master in order to be competitive with their peers around the world. I've written a lot about the comparisons made between schools in the United States and other countries, particularly those that perform well on the PISA or TIMSS tests. Inevitably the experts analyzing the data point to the likes of Singapore, South Korea, and Japan as models of academic success. As I wrote in this recent Digital ...


The Bethesda, Md.-based Holton-Arms School, a private college preparatory school for girls in grades 3-12, announced today that it, along with a consortium of other all-girls schools such as the Laurel School in Cleveland, the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., and Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, is opening an all-girls online-only secondary school, starting pilot classes in the 2009-10 school year. Holton-Arms officials claim this is the first online-only school for girls in the United States, but Digital Education could not independently verify that claim. "We believe that girls inhabit online spaces differently than boys and that this initiative ...


It seems that the days of students scrawling formulas and definitions on the palms of their hands are gone, according to this report by the San Francisco-based Common Sense Media. As you might expect, today's students are instead turning to their cell phones and other technologies to help them cheat. As Kathleen points out in her story, more than a third of teens with cellphones admit to using them to cheat at some point, and more than half of the students surveyed have used the Internet to cheat. Students with cellphones admitted to cheating by texting their friends during tests, ...


On Capitol Hill yesterday, teacher Lisa Short schooled members of the House education committee on technology's potential for boosting learning, and then she gave them a pop quiz to make sure they were paying attention. All the testimony is on the committee's YouTube channel, and here is a video of Short during her presentation: The science teacher from Gaithersburg Middle School in suburban Maryland asked the members to use handheld clicker devices to register their answers to a question about the percentage of the nation's schools that utilize the kind of interactive whiteboards that have been effective for her students. ...


The 2009 Game Education Summit, taking place in Pittsburgh, is kicking off today. It's billed as "the only conference where the video game industry and academics from around the world can come together to have meaningful conversations about the future of game development." Whether or not that's true, many of the sessions cover topics that seem to be coming up more and more in the field of educational gaming, such as collaboration between game designers and teachers and incorporating game writing into students' curriculum. And if, like me, you're not able to make it to the conference, they're streaming the ...


A Scottish teacher is censored for tweeting about students.


About a month ago, we mentioned a new initiative that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set forth to explore free, open-source digital textbooks. This AP article gives a few more details about why the state is pursuing the plan and how it's being received. Using open-source textbooks statewide is an extremely ambitious plan, say most educators, and has never been attempted in this country at such a large scale. But with the state facing a $24 billion deficit, it seems that Gov. Schwarzenegger is hoping to pinch pennies in whatever ways he can. This is a clear example of the way ...


A coalition of civil rights groups has recommendations for ensuring that underrepresented groups have broadband access as a tool to improve educational opportunities, as well as other critical areas.


According to this AP article, there's trouble brewing in Indiana for virtual school advocates. Virtual school supporters scored a victory when Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, included $7 million in his two-year budget proposal to create a state-led online education program and help fund pre-existing cyber schools. But democrats in the state's House argue that it's irresponsible to set aside money for schools that don't even exist yet when the brick-and-mortar schools that do exist are facing budget cuts. The governor's budget proposal includes an annual 2 percent increase for traditional public schools, but those numbers are based heavily on ...


From what I know about Jim Burke, he isn't the type to worry about his relevance as an English teacher. Burke, the founder of the English Companion Web site, Ning, and a long-running listserv, as well as the author of a bunch of books about teaching, has had a huge influence on thousands of his colleagues around the country, and untold numbers of students throughout his career. But a conversation Burke started recently on the popular Ning site hints at his, and other teachers', anxiety over the rapidly growing world of online education. As his district outside San Francisco turns ...


Online dual credit programs are certainly proving popular with North Carolina students. In just two years, the number of high school students who registered for online college-credit courses was up to more than 5,400 in 2009, compared with about 1,400 in 2007, according to state officials. The Learn and Earn program, which I wrote about several years ago, allows students to earn college credit while completing their high school program. They can do so by attending one of the state's Learn and Earn high schools, which are housed on or close to college campuses, or through the online ...


As a follow-up to yesterday's post about the Florida Virtual School and their new game-based American history course, we received an e-mail about another resource for teachers and students who are interested in educational games. Calculation Nation, created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM, has a series of online math games that allow students to challenge the math skills of students around the globe. The games are standards-based, according to the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and Curriculum Focal Points, and are designed for late elementary and middle school math students. There are five different ...


Socialization is a huge issue in online education. It comes up from both supporters and critics of virtual education in almost every interview I do. It's one of the main reasons that the National Education Association does not recommend full-time online education for younger students—the teachers union feels that elementary school students need the classroom experience with lots of face-to-face interaction with their teachers and peers that they just won't get from an online program. And it's something that came up over and over again while I was researching a story about what makes an online teacher effective. Almost ...


The Florida Virtual School has just launched a new game-based online American History course. The game, called Conspiracy Code, is an espionage-themed course-long game that will count for a full credit of American History. Designed by 360Ed, the game is available to students starting this month. It will be interesting to see how students and instructors alike react to this game. It seems like a natural extension of what Florida Virtual School is doing, and it makes sense to explore the game-based method of teaching since the infrastructure is already in place. But as I've discovered through my reporting about ...


A couple times a week I remind my kids that "there are starving children in the world, now eat your green beans." In most American homes the message has become cliche. When I was a child in the 1970s my mother referred to the children in famine-plagued Cambodia to make her point. There have been plenty of other examples—from Ethiopia in the 80s to the more recent food shortages in North Korea or Sudan—for subsequent generations of moms to use in the hope of getting their children to clean their plate. I'm pretty certain, however, that the larger...


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