Wanted: Long-Term Thinking about Technology and Education

Educators need to think long-term about the role of technology in learning

The rampant spread of technology-mediated learning has set off fits of hype and hand-wringing—yet the U.S.’s traditional centers of higher education have mostly failed to confront the pace of change and the implications for students. There is probably no way anyone can keep up with this transformation: the technology is simply evolving too rapidly. Nevertheless, we keep trying. Will these developments truly serve our goals for advanced education? We need to know urgently.

But reacting too quickly could be as bad as adapting too slowly. As soon as the newest experiment in higher-learning technology is announced, would-be experts race to declare its success or failure. Even if their snap guesses prove correct in the near term, any alleged breakthrough will likely be sent to the scrapyard before long to make way for the next educational techno-marvel. Given what we know about the progress of technology, we need to ask which advances will persist longer than a few months.

Higher learning has three fundamental objectives: knowledge dissemination, intellectual development and “experiential growth”—mental maturation, in other words. As the field of educational technology grows, these functions must all be addressed.

The first item—dissemination of knowledge—has traditionally been the province of classrooms and lecture halls. Nowadays even the most venerated names in education are touting what they call MOOCs. These “massive open online courses” are the online equivalent of brick-and-mortar lecture halls, only with better functionality (such as the ability to pause and rewind), free tuition and unlimited seating.

The second priority is students’ intellectual development. People often assume, mistakenly, that this area is beyond the scope of technological improvement. They see no substitute for the one-on-one student-teacher bond exemplified by the high-touch methods of the so-called Oxbridge tutorial system. But can even a very good mentor offset the shortcomings of most present-day institutions, where instruction is delivered course by course, with no core curriculum?

The third and final task remains the big challenge for educational technology: personal development via experiential learning. For students, this is the lifelong process of becoming a more cultured, accomplished and compassionate human being. Traditional universities try to help students along through hands-on work in laboratories and apprenticeships, and they encourage undergraduates to take summer internships and spend semesters abroad. Nevertheless, students mostly remain anchored to their campuses. Even now technology should make it possible for a student to use the world as her or his campus.

Given the technological transformation taking place on all sides, universities need to think seriously about their medium-term strategic plans. What will universities look like in 2025? The changes will be consequential—so consequential, in fact, that stalling could jeopardize the future of higher education.

Read the entire article by Ben Nelson in Scientific American at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wanted-long-term-thinking-about-technology-and-education/

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$1000 Scholarships for Amazon Rainforest PD Workshop

Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest + Machu Picchu

The July 1-11, 2015 Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru is a cross-curricular professional development workshop for K-12 formal and informal educators to learn and use:

  • 21st Century Instruction:  5E Lesson Design ~ Inquiry-Based Exploration ~ STEM
  • Inquiry Protocols & Resources:  Project Learning Tree ~ Cornell Lab of Ornithology ~ & More!
  • Global and Cultural Perspectives:  Service Learning ~ Sustainability ~ Global Education

Join Al Stenstrup, Project Learning Tree (PLT); Lilly Briggs (Cornell Lab of Ornithology), Christa Dillabaugh, Amazon Rainforest Workshops; and Dr. David Pearson, Wildlife Travellers’ Guide to Peru; and work side-by-side with scientists Dr. Steve Madigosky, Widener University; and Randy Morgan, Curator/Entomologist, Cincinnati Zoo as you:

  • Participate in citizen science projects and inquiry based field studies on a 1/4-mile Rainforest Canopy Walkway in one of the most biologically diverse environments on the planet.
  • Spend a day in an Amazon village as you explore the complexities of sustainability and the role of education in creating a sustainable future for Amazon children.
  • Work with fellow educators to explore strategies for using the Amazon as a vehicle for incorporating STEM education, inquiry-based learning, and sustainability science education into your classroom.

PLT Certification, BirdSleuth resources and 50 ASU PD Hours included. Academic Credit and Machu Picchu Extension optional.  $1000 scholarship deadline March 1, 2015.  Program cost is $1240 + air for scholarship recipients. Space is limited! Register early to secure your spot!

Get the details and download a syllabus and scholarship application at: http://www.amazonworkshops.com/educator-academy.html
Contact christa at amazonworkshops.com or 1-800-431-2624 for more information.

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Updates to the Smarter Balanced Technology Pages

To prepare schools and districts across the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for successful implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessment system, a variety of updates have been made to the Technology page of the Smarter Balanced website. The Technology page on SmarterBalanced.org has received a significant refresh. Perhaps most notably, the Technology Strategy Framework and Testing Device Requirements and accompanying Executive Summary have been updated to reflect the most current technology requirements for administration of the assessments. This report presents a framework for collective technology planning among the schools and districts of Consortium member states and emphasizes the critical need for technology to be used and integrated into instructional activities that support student learning. The Smarter Balanced Assessment System minimum requirements can be used as context and milestones for integrated technology used for teaching and learning.

Smarter Balanced has also developed a new page to provide schools and technology coordinators with a comprehensive list of Test-Taking Devices and Approved Secure Browsers. On both technology pages, you should check out the right navigation sidebar. There are highlighted resources developed by SETDA, CoSN, and ETS to help schools and districts prepare for their upcoming online assessments.

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Ask your Superintendent to sign the #FutureReady Pledge?

The U.S. Department of Education just released the Future Ready District Pledge, a roadmap to help districts achieve success in the transition to personalized digital learning.

The pledge establishes a framework for achieving the goals laid out in President Obama’s ConnectEd Initiative. These goals include:
• Upgrading broadband and high-speed wireless connectivity
• Providing access to educational devices and software
• Training teachers to use technology effectively to improve student learning
District leaders that sign the Future Ready District Pledge will receive implementation guidance, access to online resources, and other support needed to transition to effective digital learning and achieve tangible outcomes for the students they serve.

Before the full launch of the Future Ready District Pledge at White House on October 7th, we are hoping to have at least 1,000 signatories with representation from all 50 states. In order to reach our goal, here are a few ways you can help:
1. Read and sign the pledge!
2. Challenge other superintendents in your network to sign the Future Ready District Pledge by encouraging them to visit: http://tech.ed.gov/FutureReadyPledge
3. Share the Future Ready District Pledge via social media. You can use the messages (below) or write your own.
Thank you for your support and for sharing the Future Ready District Pledge.

#FutureReady sample tweets:

Let’s make our district #FutureReady. Visit tech.ed.gov/FutureReadyPledge to read & sign the @OfficeofEdTech #FutureReady pledge!

Want #FutureReady schools? Read & sign the #FutureReady pledge today tech.ed.gov/FutureReadyPledge @OfficeEdTech

What is a Future Ready School?  Find out at tech.ed.gov/FutureReadyPledge and sign on today #FutureReady @OfficeOfEdTech

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Free MOOC-Ed Courses from the Friday Institute: Registration Open

Registration is now open for these free MOOC-Eds, and CEUs can be earned by taking the course.  The Learning Differences MOOC-Ed is primarily designed for teachers in their first three years of practice to help them understand how to approach and meet the needs of their students.  It brings together job-embedded opportunities for educators with participation by many experts in the field.  The other MOOC-Ed courses, Disciplinary Literacy for Deeper Learning and Fraction Foundations, are aligned to the Common Core State Standards that focus on those individual topics.   Course descriptions and starting dates are given below.

Fraction Foundations   Begins September 22

This eight-week course will help you teach fractions concepts and skills more effectively by increasing your understanding of students’ thinking and implementing research-based approaches in the classroom. Designed for elementary teachers, math coaches and teacher educators, this course will address rigorous curriculum standards for fractions, whether from the Common Core State Standards or from other up-to-date standards.

Disciplinary Literacy for Deeper Learning   Begins September 29

This six-week course will explore what it means to read, write, speak, and listen for learning and creating knowledge within a discipline. Designed specifically for teacher educators and 6-12th grade teachers in English and Language Arts, Science, History or Social Studies, and Mathematics, this course is open to all educators in K-12 and postsecondary levels interested in learning more about disciplinary literacy for deeper learning. Additionally, this course provides an optional PLC Facilitation Guide to assist teams as they work through the MOOC-Ed together.

Learning Differences    Begins October 6

This six-week long course will explore the habits of mind and problem-solving tools that a teacher should have in order to address all students’ learning differences. The course encourages teachers to understand their own learning differences and includes strategies for learning differences in executive function, working memory, and motivation.  Instructional coaches, media coordinators, and teacher leaders will have the opportunity to participate in an additional two units focused on strategies for coaching and supporting other teachers in their work with learning differences.

Not sure what to expect from a MOOC-Ed course? Check out this one-minute video:   mooc-ed.org/what-is-mooc-ed

More information is available on our new website at www.mooc-ed.org.

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Help Pittsfield School District win a $100,000 Grant from Nellie Mae Education Foundation

The Pittsfield School Board is one of six regional nominees for the Larry O’Toole Award, given by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for a person or persons working to promote student centered learning practices in education.

Voting is now open online for the O’Toole Award:  http://www.nmefoundation.org/grants/larry-o-toole-award.aspx

Winner Receives A $100,000 Grant!

The Pittsfield School Board, an elected body, provides citizen-leadership for learning in Pittsfield, New Hampshire – a town of 4,300.  Through collaboration with students, faculty and staff, and community, the School Board has been instrumental in helping to personalize student learning while increasing achievement.

The School Board has guided the district’s shift to a student-centered system. In the Pittsfield School District, student voice is amplified through a range of practices, including personal learning plans for each student, student-led conferences, a competency-based curriculum, extended learning opportunities, dual enrollment, online learning, and Pittsfield’s site council, a student-majority school governing body.

The school district has reorganized itself into teams and reorganized schedules to allocate weekly time for professional development to provide a consistent focus on student-centered priorities, including student advisory development, inquiry-based learning strategies, student engagement, and data driven dialogues.

The School Board counts on community members as full partners in our school’s transformation, benefiting from active participation in real decision-making through community forums, role analysis and redefinition, and long-term planning through our continuous improvement team and long-term school development planning team.

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California Protects Student Data Privacy with Two Bills

A laptop privacy sweater keeps other people from seeing what this person is doing. Similarly, student data privacy legislation in California is trying to keep student information private and only used for educational purposes. Meme Binge C.C. 2.0

Over the last year, student data privacy conversations have been percolating across the nation, but now state legislatures are doing something about it. 

California sent two bills to Gov. Jerry Brown last week that deal with two sides of the same coin. SB 1177 lays out privacy guidelines for operators of Internet websites, online services, online applications and mobile applications. Meanwhile, AB 1584 deals with contracts between local educational agencies and third-party technology vendors.

The reason for new legislation

These bills address a growing problem of mismanagement of student data. Federal student privacy legislation including FERPA and COPPA do address student data privacy, but educators, privacy advocates, legislators and industry members are split on whether that legislation does enough to protect privacy in the Digital Age we live in. While new federal legislation was introduced in late July, states have been stepping up to deal with the issue by introducing 110 bills in 36 states this year and signing 28 of them into law as of August 27, according to the Data Quality Campaign.

A balancing act

CUE Inc., a professional association of computer-using educators, said SB 1177 initially included language that would have limited the ability of students to take their cloud-based work with them when they graduated and share their work beyond school. It also would have prohibited third-party companies from suggesting relevant education products based on student performance data collected from their services.

The educator association quietly expressed concern about the unintentional negative effects of this language, and Steinberg’s office responded, largely addressing those concerns with the final wording.

What SB 1177 does

SB 1177 lays out a number of do’s and don’ts for operators of K-12 Internet websites, online services, online applications and mobile applications that apply broadly whether companies contract with schools or not:

  1. Do not target advertising on the site or another site based on information from K-12 users.
  2. Do not use information gathered through the service to build a profile about a K-12 student.
  3. Do not sell a student’s information.
  4. Do not disclose covered information unless it’s for legal, regulatory, judicial, safety or operational improvement reasons.
  5. Do protect student information through reasonable security procedures and practices.
  6. Do delete school- or district-controlled student information upon request from those entities.
  7. Do disclose student information when required by law, for legitimate research purposes and for K-12 purposes to education agencies.

Companies can use de-identified student data within their sites to improve educational products, demonstrate their effectiveness and improve their sites.

What AB 1584 does

AB 1584 dives into the details by spelling out what types of things local educational agencies should include in contracts with third-party digital record and educational software providers:

  1. Do establish that the local educational agency owns and controls student records.
  2. Do describe how students can keep control of their projects and other content created for school, along with a way to transfer their content to a personal account later.
  3. Do prohibit third parties from using student information for purposes outside of those named in the contract.
  4. Do describe how parents, legal guardians or students can review and correct personally identifiable information contained in their records.
  5. Do outline actions that third parties will take to make sure that student data is secure and confidential.
  6. Do describe procedures for notifying affected parents, legal guardians or eligible students when there is an unauthorized disclosure of student records.
  7. Do certify that student records will not be retained or available to the third party once the contract is over and lay out how that will be enforced.
  8. Do describe how local educational agencies and third parties will comply with the federal FERPA legislation.
  9. Do prohibit third parties from using personally identifiable information from student records to target advertising to students.

Along with these do’s, the bill says that contracts will be voided if they do not comply with the requirements laid out above after a reasonable amount of time and notice to do so.

Read the entire article by Tanya Roscorla on the Center for Digital Education at http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/California-Protects-Student-Data-Privacy-with-Two-Bills.html



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