3 Ways to Speed Up Education Technology Policy Changes

Richard Culatta

Education technology policy may not change at the speed of light. But it can change faster if policymakers work through regulatory options, act on data and keep abreast of what’s going on with technology.

That said, making changes faster doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, the right changes need to happen faster, said Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education.

He shared his thoughts on policy changes along with others at the Tech in Policy Briefing put on by The Hill on Wednesday, July 23.

1. Work through regulatory options

By taking advantage of regulatory options, policymakers can advance policy changes, Culatta said. For example, the Education Department required grant applicants to take specific actions such as installing student data systems and raising student standards and assessments in the inaugural Race to the Top competition. Many of the departments’ grants tie education technology policy changes to funding, a powerful incentive to change for many states and schools.

2. Encourage open standards

Along with regulatory options, open technology standards are also an important step.

“Standards are like toothbrushes,” Culatta said. “Everyone thinks they’re a good idea, but no one wants to use someone else’s.”

Education data is one area where open standards could help. The Education Department incentivized the education field to act on data and build tools that help students make informed choices about where to go to college, such as the College Navigator.

3. Learn about recent technology innovations

Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s often hard to keep up with. But taking the time to do homework on what’s going on in the education technology field will pay off in the long run for policymakers.

Innovative technology and disruptive models will tell policymakers what could happen over the next five to 15 years so they can be prepared to tackle these issues when they come up, said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, a major initiative that convenes and accelerates startups from around the world. She suggested that policymakers engage with entrepreneurs, and mentioned that more than 5,000 startups are working to improve a regulatory industry, with many of them doing business in the education sector.

Understanding new tools and disruptive models will bring policymakers to a place where they can pass the right sets of guidelines, said Liz Simon, director of public policy and associate general counsel at General Assembly, a global network of campuses for technology, business and design. By taking a proactive interest in learning about current innovations, policymakers can keep up with what’s happening and make more informed decisions.

The article by Tanya Roscorla was originally posted on the Center for Digital Education at http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/3-Ways-to-Speed-Up-Education-Technology-Policy-Changes.html

Posted in Articles/Reports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Critical Look at Blended Learning

With all the hype about blended learning, higher education leaders are taking a closer look at how effective this learning method really is.

In the process, they’re exposing a number of issues that need to be addressed, including how blended learning is defined and which core attributes matter. And they’re trying to figure out where higher education needs to go from here, particularly when it comes to researching the impact of blended learning.

4 Issues with Blended Learning

1. Definitions differ

So many definitions exist for blended learning that it makes research on its effectiveness difficult, said Chuck Dziuban, director of the Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Central Florida. In a 2005 article Can ‘Blended Learning’ Be Redeemed?, Martin Oliver and Keith Trigwell concluded that “the term ‘blended learning’ is ill-defined and inconsistently used. Whilst its popularity is increasing, its clarity is not.”

2. Model descriptions are incomplete

Car models come with complete descriptions, including physical features, engine specs and estimated miles per gallon. But blended learning models frequently come with just physical feature descriptions and don’t include the pedagogical features, said Charles R. Graham, professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University.

In the report Classifying K-12 Blended Learning, Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker categorize four blended learning models by physical features such as how students spend their time and where they spend it. The flexible model includes a customized, fluid schedule with mostly online learning and a face-to-face teacher, while the rotation model includes a fixed schedule of different learning modalities, which include online learning.

3. Transformative change does not happen

Blended learning is not disrupting the education process, so it’s attractive and comfortable for administrators, Brown said. Many of them are paying lip service to the popular idea of blended learning, but aren’t making real changes or asking what purpose blended learning serves.

4. This concept is not new

Back in 1935, a professor had a blackboard, TV and transmitter to teach students outside the classroom. While the technology may be different, blended learning is not a new concept, even though it’s being treated like one, Brown said.
Where blended learning goes from here

While these issues make research on the impact of blended learning more difficult, research should still be valued on campus, said Patsy Moskal, faculty research associate for the Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Central Florida. Ongoing research for nearly two decades and an executive-level commitment to it has allowed Moskal and Dziuban to analyze trends on campus and provide insight to faculty development staff on a shoestring budget.

One of the areas that higher education can research and study is how technology such as online and blended learning can help more students earn their degrees quickly, said Anthony Picciano, professor and executive officer in the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. It will take creative technology use to alleviate some of these problems in higher education.

“Whatever you do, evaluate what it is that worked or didn’t work, and you learn as much from what doesn’t work as what did work.”

Read the entire article by Tanya Roscorla on the Center for Digital Education at http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/A-Critical-Look-at-Blended-Learning.html

See also, The Dimensions of Online and Blended Learning from iNACOL at


Posted in Articles/Reports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Jordan Goes to Washington

Jordan with First Lady Michelle Obama

by Talley C. Westerberg

On Friday June 20th, I received an email from my State Homeless Education Director, Dr. Lynda Thistle-Elliott, regarding an opportunity for a student that had experienced homelessness who had “beaten the odds”. The criteria for student selection were that they had to be high achieving, and headed to a four year post-secondary school, and had overcome the barriers homelessness can cause. One particular student immediately came to mind.

Jordan had just graduated from a seacoast area high school this past June. As the Homeless Liaison for the school district and the School Social Worker, I had been working with this young man since he entered high school as a freshman and had been profoundly impacted by his courage, work ethic, and perseverance. Truly the embodiment of the power of McKinney-Vento legislation, Jordan experienced multiple bouts of being doubled up and inadequately housed during middle and high school because of financial hardship, but had maintained his enrollment in the local schools. Despite these difficult circumstances, his persistence and character earned him the respect of all he encountered in high school and acceptance to Keene State College for the fall of 2014. Though the vetting process was significant, Jordan was chosen among a national group of candidates.

The purpose of this event was to provide young scholars that had faced challenges such as homelessness, foster care, or other high risk life situations, an opportunity to speak to federal policy makers and First Lady Michelle Obama to help them understand the barriers that disadvantaged youth face in high school and in accessing highereducation opportunities. Ten students were selected.  The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) sponsored Jordan’s and my travel to Washington DC. NAEHCY wanted to highlight the strength and perseverance of these students and the importance of a caring adult and strong school connections such as a homeless liaison, guidance counselor, or teacher.

Jordan and I flew into Washington DC on the afternoon of Monday July 7th and met Barbara Duffield, Policy Director for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), for a quick dinner, which was followed by a whirlwind tour of the Washington and Lincoln monuments and a quick stop at the New Hampshire tower of the reflection pools.

Tuesday morning arrived and Jordan and I donned our best and headed to the US Department of Education to meet with Secretary Arne Duncan. After a brief introduction from Secretary Duncan’s staff, we settled in to his conference room with the students gathered around the table and their supporting adults in chairs lining the back of the room. One by one, these brave students began to pour out the stories of their lives. Homelessness, gang violence, eviction from housing projects, parental loss, substance use, foster care, PTSD of parents in military service and many other risk factors one would expect were mentioned. However, the resilience and power of the students gathered was profound. Many students mentioned sports (specifically basketball, as a motivator, but time and time again, the students mentioned that the caring and consistency of a specific adult kept them working to their potential and focused on achievement in school–a grandparent, a coach, a teacher, a foster parent, or a school counselor. As one student put it so well, “nobody makes it alone.”

The students traveled by taxi to Pennsylvania Avenue and spent 90 minutes with the First Lady, again sharing their stories of resilience and triumph. Ms. Obama was her warm, friendly self and Jordan was able to go into more detail about his 13 moves between birth and high school graduation, being bullied due to always being the new kid in school, and the impact of having a connection with his homeless liaison that was always there in school supporting him. Not only were the students able to make a connection with the First Lady, but they also made connections with each other that will be an ongoing support to them as they move forward with their college careers.

This kind of an opportunity is a once in a lifetime.  It was an incredible honor to represent Winnacunnet High School and the State of New Hampshire and share in the amazing stories of student accomplishments with these powerful decision makers. Most importantly, this was a wonderful opportunity for a most deserving and special young man, Jordan. We all congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you the best as you head off to college!

Story submitted to the NHDOE  by: Talley C. Westerberg, LICSW Homeless Liaison/School Social Worker Winnacunnet High School.

The story is featured on the DOE Home page at http://www.education.nh.gov/

Posted in Articles/Reports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modernizing the E-rate Program for Schools and Libraries

FCC Modernizes E-Rate Program To Expand Robust Wi-Fi Networks In The Nation’s Schools and Libraries. Reforms to Expand Wi-Fi to 10 Million More Students, Thousands of Libraries Nationwide Next Year

The following updates to the E-rate program were aimed at furthering each of those goals:

  • To ensure affordable access to high-speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries, we:
    • set an annual funding target of $1 billion for funding for internal connections needed to support high-speed broadband within schools and libraries;
    • test a more equitable approach to funding internal connections for applicants who seek support in funding years 2015 and 2016; and
    • reorient the E-rate program to focus on supporting high-speed broadband by phasing down support for voice services and eliminating support for other legacy services.
  •  To maximize the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-rate supported purchases, we:
    • adopt transparency measures to encourage sharing of cost and connectivity data;
    • encourage consortia purchasing; and
    • emphasize that providers must offer the lowest corresponding price.
  • To make the E-rate application process and other E-rate processes fast, simple and efficient, we:
    •   streamline the application process by:
      • simplifying the application process for multi-year contracts;
      • exempting low-cost, high-speed business-class broadband Internet access services from the competitive bidding requirements;
      • easing the signed contract requirement;
      • removing the technology plan requirement;
      • requiring electronic filings; and
      • enabling direct connections between schools and libraries.
    • simplify discount rate calculations by:
      • requiring a district-wide discount rate;
      • modifying the definition of urban and rural;
      • addressing changes to the national school lunch program (NSLP); and
      • modifying the requirements for applicants using surveys.
    • simplify the invoicing and disbursement process by:
      • allowing direct invoicing by schools and libraries; and
      • adopting an invoicing deadline.
    • create a Tribal consultation, training and outreach program.
    • require the filing of all universal service appeals initially with USAC.
    • direct USAC to adopt additional measures to improve the administration of the program by:
      • speeding review of applications, commitment decisions and disbursements;
      • modernizing USAC’s information technology systems;
      • adopting open data policies;
      • improving communications with E-rate applicants and providers.
    • protect against waste, fraud, and abuse by:
      • extending the document retention deadline; and
      • ensuring auditors and investigators access to an applicant’s premises upon request.

    Word : FCC-14-99A1.docx    FCC-14-99A2.docx    FCC-14-99A3.docx      FCC-14-99A4.docx    FCC-14-99A5.docx    FCC-14-99A6.docx

    Acrobat : FCC-14-99A1.pdf    FCC-14-99A2.pdf    FCC-14-99A3.pdf    FCC-14-99A4.pdf    FCC-14-99A5.pdf    FCC-14-99A6.pdf

    Text : FCC-14-99A1.txt    FCC-14-99A2.txt    FCC-14-99A3.txt    FCC-14-99A4.txt    FCC-14-99A5.txt    FCC-14-99A6.txt

Posted in Announcements | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Maver Movement Features on Edutopia

Edutopia News. What Works in Education.

Making the Future

A Maker Values the Process as well as the Product

Project-Based Learning Through a Maker’s LensSee how making can create life-long learners through exciting, real-world projects.

6 Strategies for Funding a Makerspace

Discover some clever ways of creating a space without breaking the bank.

Top Tools for the Maker Classroom

So you’ve got a makerspace — now what tools should you include?


Watch this VideoHow the Maker Movement Connects Students to Engineering and TechEighth-grader Quin created a makerspace at his school, using his passion for electronics to teach fellow students. (6:29 mins.)


Myth-Busting Differentiated Instruction: 3 Myths and 3 Truths


Coding for Kindergarteners


Using Humor in the Classroom


Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information


The Importance of Asking Questions to Promote Higher-Order Competencies


Improve Your SkillsetCan you be a storyteller and a teacher? See why 350,000 people have engaged with this inspiring (and practical!) blog post.Like This


Who's That Teacher that Kid Remembers Forever?How passionate are you about your work? See how you can up your game with some new habits.


I'm One Great Summer Getaway!Prize: $300 Corwin Gift CertificateDeadline:  July 27, 2014

Enter the Giveaway


Summer of Service: Service-Learning Grants from YSA

The awards provide project grants for youth-led, ongoing service projects that are being conducted through a school or community organization. Grants are for K-12 student leaders and already established projects.

Prize: Grants are available up to $1,000

Deadline: July 31, 2014

Check out the big list of Educational Grants and Resources, updated weekly.


 WEBINAR  Summer Boot Camp: Digital Learning Strategies

Hosted by: ASCD

Date: July 31, 2014, 12:00 p.m. PDT / 3:00 p.m. EDT

See more Educational Webinars, Unconferences, and Conferences, also updated weekly.


FB     TW    Pin     YT     Follow Edutopia on Google+      Insta     RSS

Edutopia is produced by The George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit operating foundation established in 1991 by filmmaker George Lucas. Edutopia is dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by documenting, disseminating, and advocating innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives. This free e-newsletter is published weekly and available to anyone interested in improving education. If you received this message from ET News, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.


© 2014 The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edutopia®, Schools That Work™, Lucas Learning™, and Lucas Education Research™

are trademarks or registered trademarks of
The George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.
PO Box 3494, San Rafael, CA 94912

Posted in Articles/Reports | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More than 1M comments on net neutrality debate so far

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. companies, consumer advocates and citizens submitted more than 1 million comments to the Federal Communications Commission, drawing contentious divisions on the issue of net neutrality as the first deadline to comment approached Friday.

The FCC will continue collecting comments, made in response to these first submissions, until Sept. 10 as it weighs how best to regulate the way Internet service providers (ISPs) manage web traffic crossing their networks. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules in April after a federal court struck down the FCC’s previous version of such rules in January.

The FCC’s draft rules propose banning ISPs from blocking users’ access to websites or applications but allowing some “commercially reasonable” deals between content providers and ISPs to prioritize delivery of some web traffic.

Though Wheeler has insisted the FCC would carefully guard against abuse of the rules to hurt competition or consumers, the proposal drew ire from public interest groups and large web companies that say it would result in faster download speeds for some content at the expense of other content, which would inevitably be relegated to “slow lanes.”

As the push against paid-prioritization spread across the web, thousands wrote to the FCC and the proposal has now attracted one of the biggest responses in the FCC’s history, nearing the record 1.4 million comments the regulators received after the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast that exposed viewers to a glimpse of singer Janet Jackson’s breast.

“Dear FCC,” read numerous comments filed using a template created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation group.

“Net neutrality, the principle that (ISPs) treat all data that travels over their networks equally, is important to me because without it ISPs could have too much power to determine my Internet experience by providing better access to some services but not others.”

Consumer advocates and some web companies, including online video services Netflix Inc and Vimeo, want to reclassify ISPs as telecommunications services and regulate them more like public utilities – an idea rejected by the ISPs and by Republicans both in Congress and at the FCC.

Experts disagree on whether or how reclassification would effectively prevent pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler has not proposed reclassification as the solution, but has not taken it off the table as a potential route.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp wrote to the FCC in opposition of reclassification, saying the “radical” move would impose arcane rules on the quickly changing marketplace and may raise costs for supporting already expensive network infrastructure. They say they have no plans to create any “slow lanes.”

AT&T, though, said the FCC could ban paid prioritization without reclassifying ISPs. It is unclear how the approach would stand up in court. Verizon and Comcast supported the “commercially reasonable” standard.

Cable trade group came out in support of setting the same net neutrality rules for wireless and fixed broadband, something long urged by consumer advocates and recently also backed by large web companies.

Read the entire article by Alina Selyukh, with Andrea Ricci, on 790 KGMI News Talk at http://kgmi.com/news/030030-more-than-1m-comments-on-net-neutrality-debate-so-far/#sthash.c9v1oY6o.zDcl92qC.dpuf

Posted in Articles/Reports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Tests Make us Smarter

TESTS have a bad reputation in education circles these days: They take time, the critics say, put students under pressure and, in the case of standardized testing, crowd out other educational priorities. But the truth is that, used properly, testing as part of an educational routine provides an important tool not just to measure learning, but to promote it.

What’s at work here? When students are tested, they are required to retrieve knowledge from memory. Much educational activity, such as lectures and textbook readings, is aimed at helping students acquire and store knowledge. Various kinds of testing, though, when used appropriately, encourage students to practice the valuable skill of retrieving and using knowledge. The fact of improved retention after a quiz — called the testing effect or the retrieval practice effect — makes the learning stronger and embeds it more securely in memory.

This is vital, because many studies reveal that much of what we learn is quickly forgotten. Thus a central challenge to learning is finding a way to stem forgetting.

The question is how to structure and use tests effectively. One insight that we and other researchers have uncovered is that tests serve students best when they’re integrated into the regular business of learning and the stakes are not make-or-break, as in standardized testing. That means, among other things, testing new learning within the context of regular classes and study routines.

This isn’t just a matter of teaching students to be better test takers. As learners encounter increasingly complex ideas, a regimen of retrieval practice helps them to form more sophisticated mental structures that can be applied later in different circumstances. Think of the jet pilot in the flight simulator, training to handle midair emergencies. Just as it is with the multiplication tables, so it is with complex concepts and skills: effortful, varied practice builds mastery.

We need to change the way we think about testing. It shouldn’t be a white-knuckle finale to a semester’s work, but the means by which students progress from the start of a semester to its finish, locking in learning along the way and redirecting their effort to areas of weakness where more work is needed to achieve proficiency.

Standardized testing is in some respects a quest for more rigor in public education. We can achieve rigor in a different way. We can instruct teachers on the use of low-stakes quizzing in class. We can teach students the benefits of retrieval practice and how to use it in their studying outside class. These steps cost little and cultivate habits of successful learning that will serve students throughout their lives.

Read the entire article by Henry L. Roediger in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/how-tests-make-us-smarter.html

Posted in Articles/Reports, Smarter Balanced Assessments | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment