Archives for category: Technology, Computers

Leonie Haimson lists here the best and worst education events of 2014.

She cites the demise of inBloom as one of the best and the Vergara decision as one of the worst.

What would you add to her list?

Tony Talbert was a professor at Baylor when he decided to spend his sabbatical teaching high school so he would be better at preparing teachers.

“My return to high school allowed me to encounter students who considered digital technology not simply a tool for a specific task but instead a context for living and engaging in the world around them. It quickly became clear to me that the high school students I was teaching in 2013 ordered and perceived their world in a significantly different manner than the high school students I once taught more than two decades past.

“The old teaching and learning paradigm where technology is a tool to be used for a singular purpose and then put away until it is needed again had made way for a new paradigm where technology is a context without a beginning and without an end. Simply put, in the lives of my high school students digital technology was an extension of themselves. Therefore, it was with this reality that I as teacher had to find a way to incorporate this new paradigm into my lesson planning and teaching method in order to more meaningfully inform and transform the minds and lives of my students.”

Now the trick will be for teachers and students to use technology thoughtfully and not become part of the technology industry’s bottom line.

Chris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist, wants governors, schools, and parents to ban the use of handheld electronic devices for children under the age of 12.

Rowan lists ten reasons why he believes that these devices impair children’s healthy development.

Among the negative effects, he says, are attention deficit disorder, obesity, increased impulsivity, delayed cognitive development, sleep deprivation, mental illness, aggression, decreased concentration, and exposure to radiationeission.

What do you think?

The Network for Public Education shares the widespread sentiment that testing has gotten out of control, consuming too much time in the classroom and narrowing the curriculum.

 

In this post, NPE endorses a new initiative to protect children from invasions of their privacy by online testing, which these days is collecting confidential information that may be shared with vendors and other third parties without parental consent.

 

Last weekend brought exciting news from our friends at United Opt Out and Student Privacy Matters. Recently Student Privacy Matters, an organization comprised of a national coalition of parents, co-chaired by NPE Board Member and Class Size Matters Executive Director Leonie Haimson, and Colorado parent Rachael Stickland, released information related to the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

 

COPPA states that parents of children under the age of 13 not only have a right to know what online information is being collected from their children, they have a right to opt them out of any online program that their child participates in at school, including online testing.

 

UOO believes that COPPA may be the key to a national opt out strategy. Last weekend UOO’s Peg Robertson, also know as blogger Peg with Pen, wrote the following:

 

This has serious implications for the Opt Out movement. As PARCC and SBAC and other online tests roll out we have a national strategy that can be used, for all children under age 13, as we opt out/refuse the tests. Currently, any other online programs and online testing in use for under age 13 can be halted. We know that there will be many questions to answer as we move forward with this strategy – understand that the only way to get our questions answered is to try it. Let’s do this.

 

 

Student Privacy Matters has provided sample letters to send to your child’s school to get information regarding what on-line programs are in use, as well as to opt them out off those programs. UOO recommends using the sample opt out letter to opt children under 13 out of the upcoming PARCC tests, which will be mostly administered online.

 

NPE will follow developments on this exciting potential opt out/refusal strategy, and provide updates as they become available.

 

For more information, open the link and read more about the organizations and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Stephane Simon has written an in-depth article about the tech industry’s campaign to promote the tech industry.

Politico writes:

“CODING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST?: A PR campaign that featured an appearance from President Barack Obama on Monday to promote computer science education is raising questions about the motives of the tech-company funders and the growing influence of corporations in public schools. The $30 million campaign touting the need to train more employees for the industry is financed by companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon – even as tech giants lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in foreign programmers. Courses through the campaign’s marketer, the nonprofit Code.org, have not been formally tested but are making their way into tens of thousands of classrooms nationwide. And the coalition is pushing more than a dozen states to count computer science classes toward high school math or science graduation requirements.”

Simon writes:

““Nowhere else in education do we start by saying ‘We have a need for this in the K-5 curriculum because there are good industry jobs at Google,’” said Joanna Goode, an associate professor at the University of Oregon who works on computer science education. “I’m not doing this work to train Google employees.”
Such skepticism hasn’t slowed the industry’s momentum. Founded just last year, Code.org created three introductory programming courses for students in elementary and middle school in a matter of months. The curriculum has not been formally tested — but already, about 60,000 classrooms nationwide already have committed to using it….

“Silicon Valley CEOs have complained for years about a huge shortage of qualified programmers. In its “National Talent Strategy” released in 2012, Microsoft said it had 3,400 unfilled jobs in the U.S. for researchers, developers and engineers. And Zuckerberg has said that Facebook aims “literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find,” because they’re in short supply.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists numerous categories of computer services as among the fastest-growing careers in the country; those jobs are also generally well-paid.

“Skeptics, however, aren’t convinced that there’s a real shortage — and suggest that tech companies are simply eager to bump up the supply in order to keep their labor costs down.
They note that salaries in the IT industry have not increased, in real terms, since the late 1990s — unlike salaries in other fields, such as petroleum engineering, where the labor market was undeniably tight. Furthermore, only about two-thirds of students who earn college degrees in computer and information sciences take jobs in that field within a year of graduation, according to an analysis by Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/hour-of-code-schools-obama-113408.html#ixzz3LQUUSsq1

Note:

Jeb Bush is one of the biggest boosters of online learning, virtual charters, and graduation requirements for online courses. His Foundation for Educational Excellence is funded in large part by the tech industry.

This is a shocker. FBI agents raided LAUSD offices and carted off 20 boxes of documents related to former Superintendent John Deasy’s controversial $1.3 billion iPad deal.

In a new report from the National Education Policy Center, Professor Noel Enyedy urges school leaders to be cautious in accepting claims that technology can “personalize instruction” or lead to transformational changes. The full report can be found here.

 

The use of computers in the classroom – or even instead of classrooms – has generated renewed enthusiasm in influential circles. Advocates of significantly advancing the practice often refer to greater reliance on computer-based learning as “Personalized Instruction.”

 

Yet while its potential merits thoughtful small-scale adoption, there is little evidence that marrying digital technology to education has changed schooling for the better, according to a new policy brief published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

 

The reasons for such lackluster results are many, according to the report’s author, Noel Enyedy, associate professor of education and information studies at the University of California-Los Angeles. Chief among them is the absence of a clear model for what actually constitutes “Personalized Instruction”; advocates of the practice apply the term to a wide range of approaches to teaching that rely heavily on online or other digital resources.

 

“Computers are now commonplace in the classroom, but teaching practices often look similar, as do learning outcomes,” Enyedy writes in his policy brief, Personalized Instruction: New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results, and the Need for a New Direction for Computer-Mediated Learning. The brief is published today by the NEPC, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

 

“After more than 30 years, Personalized Instruction is still producing incremental change,” Enyedy writes. Large-scale studies, including meta-analyses, of Personalized Instruction programs “show mixed results ranging from modest impacts to no impact.”

 

Additionally, Enyedy points out, the highest potential for benefits appears to reside principally with so-called blended instruction programs, which make use of traditional classroom teaching in close alignment with elements that might be delivered via computer, including online. Blended learning done well, he notes, is more expensive than traditional education – undermining the frequent claim that computerized instruction can help achieve significant fiscal savings.

 

In light of the growing interest – yet lack of evidence to support – sweeping changes in schooling that would rely on digital media, Enyedy offers a series of recommendations for policymakers and researchers:

 

While continuing to invest in technology, policymakers should do so incrementally. They should view skeptically claims and promotion of computerized learning that oversteps what can be concluded from available research evidence.
Policymakers and researchers should clearly distinguish among the key features of technologies being used in education so that research and discussions can revolve around shared ideas and concretely defined practices.
Much more research is needed in the K-12 education context, because the evidence primarily cited is extrapolated from research involving undergraduate students and in the professions, “where developmental and motivational factors differ,” Enyedy observes.
Policymakers should encourage developers of educational technologies to work with researchers and teachers in testing and validating particular software and hardware tools: “We cannot trust market forces alone to sort out which systems are effective.”
When investing in technology to be used in education, school administrators must ensure that there is “substantial professional development for teachers” to go with it.
Everyone involved with schools must understand that Personalized Instruction is just one of several models for using computers in the classroom, and all need to be open to considering alternative approaches to making greater use of technology in the learning process.

You don’t have to look far into the future to see the technology sector circling the schools, giving generously to elected officials, hyping the wonders of computers instead of teachers (so much cheaper, and computers never need a pension), and gently persuading legislatures to add online courses as graduation requirements. Consider the federally-funded tests for Common Core: all online, all requiring a massive investment in equipment, bandwidth and support services. The Golden Fleece: replacing teachers with computers.

 

Laura Chapman writes:

 

 

 

Latest Bamboozlers are the “on-line only” promoters of “learning,” no need for teachers.

 

In a press release dated February, 3, 2014 KnowledgeWorks and The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) announced their shared agenda for federal policies that would change “our entire K-12 education system” to fit a student-centered learning environment with demonstrations of competency, free of traditional notions of schools, teachers, and student learning.

 

The policy report addressed to federal officials calls for the status quo on requiring students to meet college-and career-ready standards, but these standards would be aligned with specific competencies mapped into the idea of optimum trajectories for learning that will lead to graduation. Individual students would be tracked on the “pace” of their mastery through the use of on-line and “real-time” data. The data for each student is supposed to inform the instruction, supports, and interventions needed by each student in order to graduate.

 

This vision requires competency-based interpretations of the college-and career-ready standards and measures of those competencies. It requires a recommendation system (data-driven guide) for prioritizing required learning and ensuring continuous improvement in learning until graduation.

 

The vision calls for federal funding to states and districts for developing “personalized learning pathways” (PLPs) for students along with the infrastructure needed to produce real-time data for just-in-time recommendations for the interventions and supports needed to move students to college and career readiness.

 

The system in intended to build reports on the progress of individual students relative to mastery, or a high level of competency, for the college and career readiness standards.

 

In addition to keeping individuals “on-pace” in demonstrating standards-aligned competencies, this entire system is envisioned as offering “useful information for accountability, better teaching and learning, and measures of quality in education.”

 

In effect, programmed instruction is the solution for securing student compliance with the Common Core State Standards, assuring their entry into college and a career, with “instructional designers and programmers” the surrogates for teachers. Teachers are not needed because the out-of-sight designers and programmers build the recommendation systems for needed “interventions,” also known as “playlists.”

 

This is a souped-up version of vintage 1950s programmed instruction amplified in scope and detail by technology–on-line playlists and monitors of PLPs–personal learning plans–available anytime.

 

In fact, students get one-size-fits education, at the rate they can manage. The rate learning is optimized by computers programmed to lead students to and from the needed playlists of activities (e.g., subroutines that function as reviews, simple re-teaching, new warm-ups for the main learning event or subsets of methods for presenting the same concept). The student does what the computer says and the computer decides if and when mastery or some other criterion for competence has been achieved.

 

The selling framework is for “personalized, competency-based student-centered learning in a de-institutionalized environment.

 

Out of view are scenarios where all education is offered by “learning agents” who broker educational services offered by a mix of for-profit and non-profit providers. Token public schools remain in the mix, but are radically reduced in number and the loss becomes a self-fulling prophesy justifying radical cuts in state support. Profit seekers, together with volunteers and “20-year commitments from foundations” provide for “students in need. This is one of several scenarios from KnowledgWorks.

 

 

The quest for federal funds is found here at http://knowledgeworks.org/building-capacity-systems-change-federal-policy-framework-competency-education#sthash.Nr0OpfWq.dpuf

 

See more at the CompetencyWorks website http://bit.ly/cwk12fedpolicy

Andrea Gabor, professor of journalism at Baruch College in New York City, recently interviewed Stuart Maguder, an architect in Los Angeles who serves on the Bond Oversight Committee of the school district. He was unusually outspoken in his criticism of John Deasy’s deal to spend construction bond money on IPads for all. For his criticism, he was briefly ousted from his unpaid position, then restored after a public outcry. He is critical of both Deasy and the teachers’ union, finding them both intransigent.

Gabor, an expert on the work of W. Edwards Deming, observed:

“As Magruder spoke of Deasy defeat and the union’s intransigence, I was struck by an irony: My principle purpose in traveling to Los Angeles was to attend the annual conference of the Deming Institute, which was founded in order to continue to work of W. Edwards Deming, the management guru whose ideas about systems thinking and collaborative improvement–informed by statistical theory–helped turn around struggling American industries in the 1980s.

“The unraveling in Los Angeles is just the latest example of education reformers who have yet to absorb the most valuable management lessons of the last half century–achieving lasting institutional change and improvement involves teamwork, collaboration among all the constituencies in an organization, and systems thinking. None of which have been on display in Los Angeles.”

Leonie Haimson, CEO of Class Size Matters (and a dear friend), is voting YES on Proposition 3 in New York, the “Smart Schools Bond Act.”

 

I am voting no. I expect that the bulk of the money will be used to buy the devices and technology needed for Common Core testing. Leonie and I agree that bond money should not be used to buy devices that have a useful life of 3-4 years.

 

Leonie says that districts will be able to decide how they want to use the money. She believes New York City will use most of the money to build new schools and replace “temporary” trailers.

 

New York City schools, she points out, are badly overcrowded, and this new money would provide an opportunity to increase capacity and reduce class sizes.

 

She writes:

 

Each school district can use the revenue in the following ways:

 

· Purchasing educational technology equipment and facilities, such as interactive whiteboards, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets and high-speed broadband or wireless internet.
· Constructing and modernizing facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and replacing classroom trailers with permanent instructional space.
· Installing high-tech security features in school buildings.

 

While I and many other education advocates including Diane Ravitch are fervently opposed to using any bond revenue for the purchase of devices like laptops or tablets that have a useful lifetime of only a few years, as the interest on the bond act is repaid over twenty or thirty years, it is clear that districts will have the choice of how to use these funds and have a broad array of options.

 

New York City is due to receive about $780 million if Proposition 3 is approved. The Department of Education’s five year capital plan makes it clear that if the bond act passes, $490 million of city funds previously directed toward technology would now be diverted toward building more schools to alleviate overcrowding for smaller classes, creating 4,900 more seats, and the rest toward creating 2,100 seats for pre-kindergarten.

 

As the analysis in our report Space Crunch makes clear, the city’s school capital plan is badly underfunded as is. Though it will includes less than 40,000 additional seats if the Bond Act is approved – and even fewer if it isn’t – the real need is at least 100,000 seats, given existing overcrowding and projections of increased enrollment over the next five to ten years.

 

So, voters in New York. You can vote “yes,” as Leonie Haimson advises, if you believe that the money will be spent to add new classrooms and reduce class size. Or you can vote no, as I will, if you believe the money will end up paying for iPads, tablets, and other technology that will be obsolete long before the bonds are paid off. If the measure passes, I hope that Leonie is right.

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