August 2012 Archives

Every district needs a Mr. T. Not the bad ass from the 80s TV show, more like Justin Talmadge, a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) in the Snoqualmie Valley Public Schools in the Cascade foothills.


Lori Fey directs policy initiatives including the sponsorship of the Ed-Fi data standard for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Ed-Fi solution is a universal educational data standard and tool suite (unifying data model, data exchange framework, application framework, and sample dashboard source code) that aligns with Common Education Data Standards. The Ed-Fi tool suite is designed to integrate information from a broad range of existing education data sources. It facilitates data comparisons and interoperability, and allows vendors to develop reusable products across multiple states.


The launch of Wikipedia about a decade ago marked the beginning of anywhere, anytime learning (to borrow a phrase from a Microsoft laptop initiative in the 90s and a foundation that continues to advance the mission) where anyone with a broadband connection could learn almost anything. The anywhere, anytime shift - just now being incorporated into our formal institutions - is proving to be more significant and more disruptive than the printing press was 500 years ago.


The first social enterprise to emerge from E.L. Haynes was LearnZillion, a professional development platform founded by former principal and Chief Academic Officer Eric Westendorf and former teacher Alix Guerrier. Today, LearnZillion announced the addition of 2000 Common Core lessons developed by a Gates Foundation funded "Dream Team" of 123 teachers.


I visited schools and edtech startups in the Bay Area Friday. As my partner and I reflected on what we liked about the two companies we visited, he said, "That young CEOs has real mangement chops." I knew immediately what he meant about the combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities.


Digital Learning Now! (DLN) today released "Funding the Shift to Digital Learning: Three Strategies for Funding Sustainable High-Access Environments," the first in a new DLN Smart Series that will provide specific guidance on adoption of Common Core Standards and the shift to personal digital learning.


On September 18, 2012 I am co-hosting a conference, OpenBlend, with the Tacoma Public Schools and the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. OpenBlend is a blended learning conference featuring a full-day track of Khan Academy workshops.


Learning online is rapidly becoming part of every student's day whether it's a game on a smart phone, a workstation in a classroom, or an online course with a teacher at a distance. As full and part-time online learning becomes more ubiquitous, critics have become more vocal. Reports have criticized mixed results on traditional measures. State leaders press for effectiveness and efficiency.


OK, these are probably not the best books of all time but these mostly non-fiction titles were important to me when I read them over the last twenty years.


In case you had other things on your mind in college and missed accounting and finance, there are seven important concepts you need to know to build and lead an organization. All of these apply regardless of your tax status.


This February, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged the nation to transition to digital textbooksin the next five years. Only a month prior, Apple announced the ever so controversial iBooks 2 for iPad, which partnered the biggest leaders in publishing, put textbook writing in the hands of many, and drove down the cost of classroom reading (with the exception of the cost of the iPad). As the shift to digital picks up momentum, administrators and educators have rushed to adopt 1:1 programs with iPads, Chromebooks, and netbooks. Yet, what about e-readers?


Robert Rothman wrote the first definitive book on new national standards last year: Something in Common: The Common Core Standards and the Next Chapter in American Education. It provides a history of what, with new online assessments, will prove to frame the next decade of American education.


Last week the Department issued the final guidance on Race to the Top District (RTT-D) competition. It's a big opportunity to improvement for underserved kids.


Hans Renman in Stockholm (@tankom_hans) asked on Twitter, "Do you know any US schools that are REALLY using digital tools in an INTERESTING way for communication, marketing, or learning?" That tweet kicked off a few days of snooping around. Here is the list of 20 we came up with. We look forward to your additions!


"The Huntsville City School district is ditching textbooks and passing out laptops instead," reported a Huntsville TV station. Huntsville Alabama is one of many districts making the shift to digital learning this fall. Students from fourth to twelfth grade will receive laptops starting this week.


Recently, folks at the Pearson Foundation asked me to write about "Five Things I've Learned About Startups" and I listed building a great team as a key to success. Whether launching a startup or leading a school district change initiative, building a team is important but difficult work. As I noted, "When you get the talent, trust and focus right, the results are extraordinary."


New Visions for Public Schools has probably been the most effective intermediary of the last decade. By launching 135 new secondary schools and helped to develop other intermediaries that developed hundreds more, they dramatically improved the quality of high school options in New York City. Thousands of students each year graduate from high school and go to college because New Visions created high schools.


Tom Willis isn't playing golf this summer. In a few weeks, Willis will open two new schools in Detroit, an elementary (opening K-4) and a high school (starting with ninth graders). CEO of the Cornerstone Charter Schools, Willis is a construction manager this month.


At the Moorseville edtech conference (#Connection12 on Twitter) this week a Midwest high school principal serving about 700 students asked me for some advice on the shift to digital learning. Borrowing from advice to superintendents, here's 10 things I'd do right now as a high school principal.


Next month there will be a lot of U.S. students holding an iPad looking at a spinning wheel. Cheaper devices, powerful apps, successful school models, and preparation for online assessments is boosting student access to technology. But in most places, the pipes won't be ready for all the traffic.


I hadn't given much thought to the challenge of finding co-founders until Jessica Alter announced the education version of FounderDating, a partnership with Teach For America. We profiled the effort to match up interested and talented edupreneurs on Getting Smart last week and I called Jessica to learn more about what problem she was trying to solve.


Tom Greaves is an edtech expert, especially in school laptop programs. He has visited more than 400 and surveyed about 1,000. Project RED, housed at One to One Institute, is the first major study to considered two important issues: the impact of technology on student achievement and the financial impact of technology on budgets.


Governor Bob Wise, Alliance for Excellent Education, opened the Moorseville edtech conference (#Connection12 on Twitter) this week by suggesting that, like a bumpy tailwind, we're experiencing productive turbulence including adoption of real college/career ready standards, waivers from federal requirements that come with new demands, and online assessment starting in 2014-2015. Add what's likely to be a decade of constrained budgets in most states and you have a leadership challenge.


The Moorseville edtech conference (#Connection12 on Twitter) is an effort to share lessons from one of the best 1:1 programs in the country. This week, more than 400 teachers and administrators crammed the gym of Mooresville Intermediate School located about 20 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina.


Grad Nation is a comprehensive effort to boost the nation's graduation rate from about 75 percent to 90 percent by 2020. Launched in May 2010, Grad Nation is a project of America's Promise. There are about 60 supporting sponsors and donors, one of them is Apex Learning, a digital high school curriculum provider based in Seattle.


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