July 2012 Archives

The push for better teacher observation, evaluation and development started about the same time Jason Lange was finishing up a master's degree in education at Stanford. Jason could see there was a big opportunity for easy to use tools and personalized learning for teachers.


Raising money is a function of delivering the right pitch to the right person. That's true for impact seeking investments from foundations and return seeing investments from private equity investors.


Last Friday, Mark Edmundson, an English professor at The University of Virginia, wrote a scathing critique of online learning in The New York Times. Mr. Edmundson's understanding of his subject lacked an in-depth intellectual or practical study of the myriad diverse programs available to students from grade school to graduate school.


While the NRC definition of deeper learning purportedly shifts from "21st century skills" to broader "21st century competencies" including skills, knowledge, and expertise, the definition seems accurate - but a bit shallow.


This country is stuck in disingenuous debate fueled by superpac superficiality. There are great examples of launching pads around the country. It would be great if, rather than mudslinging, we saw more launch pad politics.


Leadership Public Schools (LPS) is a network of four small high-poverty high schools in Richmond, Oakland, Hayward, and San Jose, California. These locations (and nearby Summit Prep and Downtown College Prep) are the best example of great high schools combining the historic benefits of small rigorous and supportive environments with the potential of incorporating personal digital learning.


This first post in the DIY series is about the monthly call I get from an edupreneur asking, "Should we form a nonprofit or for-profit corporation?" There is no simple answer. Twenty years ago a mission-focused organization would have been formed as a nonprofit but these days there are lots of dot-coms as focused on impact as return.


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is sponsoring the Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP) to improve the quality of student assessment in America and, as a result, increase the quantity and quality of student writing.


Barbara Bergstrom takes a look at "free school reform" in Sweden and its effects on the classroom. She shares critical observations around quality and reputation, looking at the Swedish Knowledge Schools as a primary case study.


Improvement is doing things better. Innovation is doing things differently. Well-deployed technology enables both. Two bloggers missed these important distinctions this week.


Robert Putnam's data is really disturbing. The Harvard sociologist is at it again. Like Bowling Alone, Putnam's new data (discussed recently at the Aspen Ideas Festival) suggests the opportunity gap is widening. More than race and poverty, class and a lack of social mobility are widening gaps that reduce opportunity.


After I described blended learning at a recent conference, Diana Frezza from Scholastic came up to me and said, "Hey, we invented blended learning with READ 180." Having seen a lot of READ 180 classrooms over the last 20 years, I knew it was a proven multi-modal reading intervention. But I wasn't up to date on READ 180 Next Generation so I called Scholastic president Margery Mayer.


For-profit giants are often viewed with skepticism in education. Nonprofits generally focus on impact but move at a slower pace and struggle to raise donations to fund growth. Is there a better model?


We're excited about the prospects, but we all know it will take time for digital learning to transform education. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of teachers will continue to be the single most important school factor in student learning.


At Rocketship Education our mission is to close the achievement gap within our lifetimes. The three pillars of our model are: parent and community engagement, rich professional development for our teachers and school leaders, and individualized learning for our students. Toward the end of individualized learning, we utilize a blended learning model in our K-5 elementary schools. Students use technology and small group tutoring in our Learning Lab for individualized basic skills practice, allowing our teachers to focus on higher-order thinking skills in the classroom.


Utah Connections Academy (UCA) Inaugural Graduating Class of 2012 - eight eager faces, eyes sparkling with a sense of pride and accomplishment - for many of them an accomplishment that would not have happened without the transforming powers of digital learning.


It was a shocker when Tony Bryk announced that he was leaving University of Chicago for Stanford almost a decade ago. Bryk ran the best research shop the country--one known for making local observations with such clarity that they were always of national importance. UC turned Tim Knowles.


The education sector is in the early stages of transitioning from learning management systems (LMS) to learning platform ecosystems. In fact, a lot of US schools will skip the LMS phase and go straight from print to platform.


The drought is over and capital is flowing to innovators in K-12, postsecondary, and consumer learning. That's the conclusion of a report from GSV Advisors including industry veterans Deborah Quazzo and Michael Moe. They examine the "near spontaneous explosion of entrepreneurial activity in education."


Some opinion writers are critics. I'm an advocate. I'm less interested in stale reform debates and more interested in the potential of innovation. Like other sectors (energy, health care) new technology allows us to reframe gnarly old problems.


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