November 2012 Archives

Two years ago I made 40 predictions. I said, "The education sector has not historically been very dynamic, but this year (2010) things changed. Despite the recession, we have seen more start-ups and more cool applications than ever before."


Social emotional learning "teaches the skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work, effectively and ethically," says Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).


MNCS teachers had formed a co-op and applied for a charter and operated with full autonomy. I announced that it was "the coolest school in America."


Some friends are working on a paper on the topic of common standards and innovation. The primary question is how and whether the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will accelerate or slow innovation.


New York City schools have been among the most innovative in the country as discussed last week. NYC is home to the most education industry leaders and the second most prolific tech startup and EdTech hotspot on the planet (after the Bay Area).


Good schools have a common intellectual mission. They prioritize, encourage, measure, and discuss important outcomes. This week we had the privilege of spending time with educators at Valley Christian Schools in Cerritos, California. At VCS, the 5Cs translate their mission into practice.


College Board, the longtime leader in college credit opportunities in high school, is changing its Advanced Placement (AP) approach to emphasize depth over breadth, improving formative assessment, and adding an integrative experience.


I'm trying to square two things that happened last week. The Nellie Mae Foundation issued a great report called Making Mastery Work: A Close Up View of Competency Education (MMW), a visit to 11 cool schools.


The implementation of Common Core State Standards is intended to create change in our nation's public education system ... not put change in the pockets of the American publishing industry.


"New York City is probably the UR-example of a creative city. It has always been about creating the substrate conditions on which innate aspirational energies could anchor and thrive," said Steven Hodas, tech entrepreneur now serving as Executive Director of InnovateNYC for the NYC Department of Education.


Maine is doing a lot right in education. The Maine Cohort for Customized Learning is a group of nine districts leading the way in meeting the needs of every student.


For many young people, placement exams are a hidden gateway in the system. Students often assume that with a high school diploma they can walk on to a community college campus and start working on a degree but they flunk the placement exam and end up in non-credit developmental education courses. That spells the beginning of the end of college for many young people. But that placement trap is beginning to close as states make the exams and preparation available in high school.


Contributions to free post-secondary learning opportunities have been breathtaking this year. Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been around for a while but the number and variety of courses, the investment, and aggregate enrollment exploded this year.


Consultants asked, "Why haven't districts adopted blended learning faster?" I answered, "Because it's complicated."


It's usually true that there's nothing better than learning by doing, but sometimes simulation is better than the real thing. When it comes to life, physical, and earth science, simulation can compress time, connect tasks, and allow students to see multiple dimensions.


You've probably seen William J. Baumol's book, The Cost Disease, or you've read an Inside HigherEd column about how education and health care are labor intensive and have not seen the same kind of productivity gains as other sectors. Perhaps you heard Paul Hill and Marguerite Rosa talk about Baumol's disease, "The combination of rising costs and stagnant productivity are major problems in an environment where many children are not learning the skills they need and education is now not likely to receive sustained increases in public funding."


While there are millions of happy democrats this week, a critic sees a landscape "littered with rubble and ruin and wreckage on all sides" in an open letter to the President. Elections leave aggrieved poles, but I live in a much more optimistic place. In particular, I'm optimistic about five things.


Boston has been a leader in education for more than 400 years. Drawing from its existing network of universities, learning companies, innovation economy, and technical talent, there are more than 130 education technology and learning-oriented startups in the Boston area.


Most secondary students are bored and there aren't enough STEM graduates from college. These problems are related.


Math gets all the love--at least that appears to be the case in the edtech world. But applications of automated essay scoring have been growing steadily for 15 years. The shift to digital instructional materials, preparations for state online assessment, and a new crop of writing apps is adding new energy to digital ELA.


You can extend your impact with social media. Schools, districts, networks, nonprofits, providers and startups, can leverage social media to efficiently communicate, effectively build brand awareness, and gathering feedback on customer experience.


I'm a big fan of flex model secondary schools; there at least 10 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School. In short, these models create options fast, can leverage community assets, and create a picture of the future of personalized competency-based learning.


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