Glendale Heights, Ill.
Benton Harbor, Mich.
School Specialty honors top educators with Teacher of the Year Award Sponsorship
Abby M. O’Neill gives $11 Million to Teachers College for scholarship support
“But engineering isn’t about perfect solutions; it’s about doing the best you can with limited resources.” Randy Pausch, The Last LectureAs Randy Pausch suggests, engineering isn't about "looking for the one right answer or perfect solution." Engineering is about looking for solutions that work. While our policymakers and politicians talk incessantly about the need for more engineers and scientists, they advocate for a system of education of standardization and accountability that is in some ways direct contradiction to the kinds of tasks and thinking engineers and scientists do.
According to Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, authors of the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom,
“The past few decades have been a dark time in many schools. Emphasis on high stakes testing, teaching to the test, de-professionalizing teachers, and depending on data rather than teacher expertise has created classrooms that are increasingly devoid of play, rich materials, and time to do projects.”With classrooms that are bleak and where test scores dictate every move, it is no wonder our schools are rapidly becoming places where no one wants to be. Why can't we reduce a drop out rate that seems to stubbornly persist no matter what we do? Why do our students stare at us with blank expressions from their uniform rows of desks? Why are our so many of our students so disengaged from school and see it the last place they want to be? It is because our schools have become prisons of standardization where creativity and inventiveness are sacrificed for conformity. It is because of an emphasis on comparing student test scores for the purpose of determining school effectiveness and teacher/principal effectiveness which fosters more test-prep and teaching to the test. These reforms dictated through NCLB and Race to the Top have made our schools “places devoid of play, rich materials and time to do projects” as Martinez and Stager describe it. That's why no one wants to be there.
What is our alternative? How can we create classrooms and schools where learning is the focus again, not just test scores? How can we make our schools into places where our kids want to be and want to learn? How can we have schools that encourage the kinds of tasks and thinking engineers and scientists do? The answer lies in turning our schools into places where students can “make, tinker, engineer” to use the terms of Martinez and Stager.
I am just now reading the fringes of Martinez and Stager’s book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, and I am intrigued by what they propose. Martinez and Stager point to all the “amazing tools, materials, and skills that turn us all into makers.” We are all "makers" and "tinkerers" at heart they say, which means we can do as these authors suggest and use "technology to make, repair, or customize the things we need" and "bring engineering, design, and computer science to the masses.” Furthermore, we can create the kinds of learning places where “Children should engage in tinkering and making because they are powerful ways to learn.”
But what would a classroom that emphasizes “making, tinkering, and engineering” look like? Martinez and Stager will no doubt answer that question in their book, but I suspect that some of the characteristics of such a classroom would be like the following.
- Structured for exploration: The physical space would not be structured with a teacher’s desk or podium-presentation equipment at the center. Instead, space would be structured for collaboration, for individual learning, and for student-centered learning activity. A variety of high-tech and low-tech materials and equipment would be available for making, tinkering and inventing.
- Structured for risk-taking: The classroom is purposely designed to allow students to take risks in learning and in trying new ideas. Mistakes are allowed and actually encouraged. Experimentation is the rule, not conformity.
- Structured for inquiry: Students asking their own questions rather than answering predetermined questions provided by a teacher is the norm for classrooms structured for inquiry. Students pose the questions and their learning comes from the exploration and search for answers to those questions.
- Structured for students: The classroom would be structured for students, not teachers, not principals, not policymakers and not politicians. Too much of what we currently do in the classroom is done to satisfy politicians with agendas and leaders with egos. Classrooms structured for students exist for student learning and places them at the center.
Michigan Department of Education considering Buena Vista schools for emergency financial review
Student loans are at the top of Congress' agenda this summer—and they were the number one topic when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified today before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget.
Last week, the panel approved a measure that would head off a proposed hike in student loan interest rates by tying student loan rates to the rate for the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, something the administration also proposed in its budget request. (There are also some key differences between the measures. For instance, the House Republican bill includes a cap of 8.5 percent on student interest rates, while the administration would instead expand income-based repayment so that graduates don't have to fork over a lot of their income to pay back student loans. More here.)
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the committee chairman, sees the proposals as essentially pretty similar. "I'd say our proposals are pretty close, and others agree," he said at the hearing.(He cited, for instance, this Washington Post editorial).
Meanwhile, committee Democrats (who didn't rush to cheer the president's proposal when it came out in April, ahead of the GOP plan) have largely disparaged the House Republican proposal. In fact, Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the committee, has called it a "$4 billion tax on students" (a reference to the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that the plan would cut that much out of the loan program and redirect it to deficit reduction).
And some Democratic members of the committee, including Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut, said they want to see loan rates extended at the current 3.4 percent level because Congress doesn't have enough time to work out a long-term solution before rates double on July 1. Some Senate Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Majority Leader, also back a short-term extension of the current rate, to give lawmakers enough time to negotiate a long-term fix.
The whole dynamic put Duncan in an awkward position. He walked a fine line in his comments—he didn't throw cold water on the Republican proposal, but he didn't give it a huge thumbs up either. Instead, he said he's not in favor of any proposal that would make college more expensive for students. And he's interested in a "long-term fix" on student loans and wants to work with Congress in the next month and a half to make that happen. (That runs counter to what some Senate Democrats are pushing.)
Waivers, Pre-K, Common Core
The administration's plan to offer states flexibility from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, which are in place in 37 states and the District of Columbia, took some bipartisan heat. Kline said he has made his concerns about the process "abundantly clear" and added that he doesn't think the law should be renewed by "executive fiat."
Miller, who is typically an administration ally on K-12 issues, was even more fiery. He is really worried that the administration's waivers shortchange students in particular subgroups (such as English-language learners) and allow states to water down requirements (for instance, by giving credit for GEDs). He's already let the administration know about these concerns, and today he said he wants the education secretary to keep them in mind when deciding whether to renew waivers.
"I urge you to hold a high bar for everyone and insist on changes where necessary," Miller said. "You must be the conscience of the nation, resisting the temptation to focus on what's good for adults rather than what's good for students." (Interesting to note: No one mentioned district waivers.)
Duncan also made a sales pitch for the administration's plan to significantly expand early-childhood education programs. The proposal seemed to have a lot of fans on the Democratic side of the aisle, including Miller. But Kline said he'd much rather see new money poured into special education, which he sees as a primary federal responsibility.
Duncan noted that there's a lot of interest among states—including from Republican governors—in expanding early-childhood education. He wants to travel the country trying to build a coalition in support of the administration's proposal.
It took 90 minutes for lawmakers to finally bring up the biggest thing happening in education policy these days: the Common Core State Standards. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., asked Duncan whether the federal government is trying to create a national curriculum.
Duncan took umbrage at the suggestion. "Let's not get caught up in hysteria and drama," he said. He noted that the Education Department is legally prohibited from putting in place a federal curriculum.
Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana, the top Republican on the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, also asked about language in the administration's budget request that would provide $389 million in assessment grants to states that have adopted college- and career-ready standards. (Check out page 21 of the administration's budget request if you want to see it for yourself.) Rokita wanted to know if there any other set of college- and career-ready standards, besides common core. Yes, Duncan said. Both Virginia and Minnesota have college- and career-ready standards and aren't in common core. (Actually, Minnesota is a halfway state. It's adopted common core in language arts, but not math.)- Alyson Klein
In case you missed it, a wrong-minded study was released this month from the National Bureau of Economic Research that says that computer ownership does not affect educational outcomes.
Makes you wonder how on earth earth such misguided studies can even be commissioned. Also makes you curious about who is really behind the funding of research that misleads readers into believing that poor kids don’t need the same tools their wealthier peers use for success.
Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other "intermediate" inputs in education.
Note: You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery. However if you have a .GOV email (i.e. @schools.nyc.gov) you may be eligible for a free copy.
You know. The kind of stuff that teachers do.
Michael J. Petrilli writes to Deborah Meier once again today.
I want to say more about a topic that interests us both: How to create an accountability system that empowers excellent educators to create top-notch schools while ensuring a basic level of quality for everyone.
It's a real dilemma, because what might work in a hothouse setting (especially lots of professional autonomy) has tended to disappoint when taken to scale.
That's not easy for me to admit. My first education enthusiasm was the notion of autonomy and uber-local control, as epitomized in Chicago's "local school councils" of the early 1990s. I wrote my college thesis on the topic (with the help of the University of Michigan's great David Cohen), and came away convinced that educator autonomy, plus parental choice, would lead us to the Promised Land. (Professor Cohen knew better!)
A few years later, I landed at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, where we embraced the "let a thousand flowers bloom" mantra of the early charter schools movement. I helped plant a few of said flowers in our hometown of Dayton, Ohio—flowers that turned out to be, err, more like skunk cabbage.
It was a disaster. Well, not a total disaster. A few of those charter schools (in Ohio and elsewhere) turned out to be quite good. KIPP. Amistad Academy. The Met. High Tech High.
But many, many more turned out mediocre, or worse.
What was the problem? We'd cleared away the soul-sucking union contracts and much of the mindless bureaucracy. We'd empowered educators to do their thing and let the magic happen. Yet many flopped.
It wasn't just the test scores—though those were often pretty pitiful. Anyone who visited the schools could see with their own eyes that there wasn't much there there—the curriculum (if they had one) was disorganized or incoherent, the teaching was inconsistent (at best) and nonexistent (at worse), the culture was weak. The schools were often small, safe, and welcoming—virtues, all—but you couldn't say much more about them without wanting to cry.
This period of the charter movement yielded difficult lessons—but which lessons is still debated. Did it just show that nothing works—that poverty is too much of a barrier for anyone to overcome? (Most of these early charters in most states were serving overwhelmingly poor students.) Were the charters simply underfunded—money matters after all!—and just needed more resources to succeed? Did it prove that "decentralization" and "professional autonomy" are misguided—and that what we need is more centralization and control, like some systems overseas?
My own take is that freedom—for educators to do their work and for parents to choose an environment that's right for their children—is necessary, but not sufficient, for the creation of excellent schools. That it's "necessary" is obvious by looking at what happens in highly controlled, regimented systems in the United States or around the world. These systems can bring a certain degree of quality control to the task and make sure that outright failures (educational, fiscal, or otherwise) don't happen. But it's hard to find an "excellent" school in a command-and-control system. That's because of a simple fact of human psychology: We hate being told what to do.
But removing all strings isn't sufficient to get you excellence, either. You can't just empower anyone—you have to empower a team of people who actually know what they are doing. And these people, collectively, must have the capacity to run a great school. They need to have a coherent pedagogical vision, know how to build a curriculum, know how to create a positive school culture, know how to build and follow a sensible budget, know how to put reasonable "internal controls" in place, know how to recruit a great staff, and on and on. These people, it turns out, are scarcer than I had realized at age 22.
And then you have to hold these schools accountable for getting strong results with kids. That brings us back to the question of measurements. I think the charter movement had it right from the get-go: Each school would have its own "charter" spelling out the results that it would be responsible for achieving, and these metrics could be customized to the school. More traditional schools might have been happy to use test scores, but more progressive ones might use something else—say, their graduates' success at the next level of schooling. (Deborah, how do you think about this for a school like Mission Hill, whose test scores are pretty mediocre? Is it how well their students do in high school?)
Then came the modern standards-testing-accountability movement with its emphasis on uniform achievement measures, culminating in No Child Left Behind. Here those of us in the charter movement made a mistake. We quickly agreed to be part of the "same accountability system" as other public schools, which meant that those customized "charters" mostly went out the window; the measures that mattered were the test scores and nothing but. We did this for understandable and strategic reasons—imagine the outcry from charter opponents if charters didn't have to sweat the tests!—but it was a step backward nonetheless. And it led, predictably, to less pedagogical diversity in the charter movement, which came to be increasingly dominated by "traditional" models of schools.
So now what? Let me make a modest proposal for how to design an accountability system going forward; I think you might actually like it!
- First, as the default system, we keep something like we have today, but with better standards and tests. (Yes, common-core standards and tests.) Students are tested annually; schools are held accountable for making solid progress from September to June, with greater progress expected for students who are further behind. States and districts give these schools lots of assistance—with curriculum development, teacher training, and the like. Such a default system won't lead to widespread excellence, but it will continue to raise the floor so that the "typical" school in America becomes better than it is today. (NB: I'd scrap any state-prescribed "accountability" below the level of the school. In other words, no more rigid teacher evaluation systems; leave personnel issues to the principals.) And it would provide taxpayers an assurance that they are getting a "public good" from their investment in public education (namely, a reasonably educated citizenry).
- Then we offer all public schools—district and charter—an opt-out alternative. They can propose to the state or its surrogate that they be held accountable to a different set of measures. My preferences would be those related to the long-term success of their graduates. School "inspections" could be part of the picture, too. These evaluation metrics would be rigorous, but designed to be supportive of, rather than oppositional to, the cause of excellent schools. And they might be particularly important to educators of a more progressive, anti-testing bent.
How about it, Deborah? The "default" system would keep schools from being bad, and might even help most schools be good. And the "alternative" system would unleash our best educators to go for great.
The department won't disclose its plans for efforts to regulate career-oriented programs.
As Gainful-Employment Talks Resume, Education Dept. Is Mum on Appeal
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved extending federal student loans, work-study funds, and other support to students who are in the United States illegally.
'Dreamers' Could Receive Federal Student Loans Under Immigration Bill
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge may not have discriminated against a female job candidate, the court said, but the evidence warrants a trial, not dismissal of the case.
Day before Yesterday
At a hearing, students' and veterans' groups argued for shoring up the rule. For-profit colleges argued for dropping it, or waiting for Congress to act.
With 'Gainful Employment' Negotiations Set, Department Hears From Interested Parties
The Chronicle of Higher Education
David A. Pickler, President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and member of Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education, was featured in The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet today discussing the failures of school voucher schemes and the impact of the recent Louisiana Supreme Court ruling deeming their state’s school voucher program unconstitutional.
Imagine a state outsourcing the education of its disadvantaged children to dozens of private entities, asking for only minimal updates on the students’ learning and their financial management of taxpayers’ dollars.
This happened in Louisiana last year, when Gov. Bobby Jindal and his allies in the state legislature rammed through a school voucher bill that diminished communities’ schools and their students by siphoning off public funds to private, parochial, and for-profit enterprises.
But the Louisiana Supreme Court recently took a strong stand for public education across the country when it deemed the funding for that plan unconstitutional in a 6-1 ruling.
Read Pickler’s complete commentary on The Washington Post’s website.
When I was in junior high many years ago, I recall teachers warning students that if they did not shape up, their crimes would go into their "permanent record." At the time I really did not know what that meant. It conjured up images of some moment in the future when an earthly version of Saint Peter might unroll some lengthy scroll of misdeeds, for which we would be held to account. The reality turned out to be much more mundane, as I discovered a few years ago in a musty school district warehouse, where I saw box after box, and file cabinet after file cabinet of dusty "cume folders." These manila folders, some thin and some thick, are the actual "permanent records" our teachers warned us about. They hold report cards, suspensions, and other details of our school career. Once a student has graduated, these papers gather dust for a few years, and then are shredded. So much for permanence.
But that may change in the brave new world being built by the data hungry technocrats driving education reform.
inBloom, the non-profit started with a hundred million dollar investment from the Gates Foundation, is planning to create a digital record which, barring catastrophe, truly could be a permanent record of every K12 student, from their first interaction with the schools to the last. The amount of information they are planning to collect is staggering. Here are the several hundred categories, which include academic records, attendance records, test results of all sorts, disciplinary incidents, special ed accommodations, and more.
This level of data collection was made possible by the Department of Education's 2011 revision of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to this report,
...in 2011, regulations issued by the department changed FERPA to allow the release to third parties of student information for non-academic purposes. The rules also broaden the exceptions under which schools can release student records to non-governmental organizations without first obtaining written consent from parents. And they promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records, according to EPIC, a nonprofit public-interest center based in Washington D.C.
There are several concerns that this raises. The first is around the security of this data. Unlike the manila file folders gathering dust in a school district warehouse, these digital files will truly be a permanent record of every step of a child's life. Anyone with all this information could create a profile of every person that grows up within a school. Over time, this will be the vast majority of people in this country. Moreover, this sensitive information will be stored by inBloom on a data cloud, tempting to hackers. The vulnerability of the information is acknowledged by inBloom, which states on its security policy that "inBloom, Inc cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted."
States and districts that choose to participate in this system may then turn this information over to for-profit companies, like Rupert Murdoch's Amplify, and Pearson. Amplify is actually building the operating system for inBloom, despite the fact that its parent company, NewsCorp, has been cited for violating privacy both here in and in the UK. Companies like Pearson are creating management systems and "data dashboards" to allow school districts to access and organize all this data, based on each student and teacher having a unique ID number.
Teacher records to be collected by inBloom include their names, addresses, the test scores of every student in their classes, allowing for various value-added estimates to be made. They also include their work history, including the "Separation Reason Type," -- a long list of reasons a teacher left employment - including some that might flag someone as undesirable. For example, if a teacher leaves their post due to "Discharge due to unsatisfactory work performance," this is noted in their record. A teacher such as Sarah Wysocki, who was fired a year ago in Washington, DC, because her VAM scores were low, might find herself tagged in this manner. Districts may consult these records before hiring teachers, so low VAM scores could become a career crippling event.
I have recently been writing about scenarios that are being made possible, and some have accused me of pessimism or even paranoia. But we have a recent history that suggests we ought to be vigilant about these matters. Teacher evaluation systems have been legislated that require teachers to be evaluated based on the scores of students they never taught. Teachers in subjects not covered by regular tests are finding their performance measured in strange ways.
Those in charge seem to have a rather cavalier attitude towards the way these chips fall. When Secretary Duncan was asked recently about major system failures in online testing systems, he said this:
We should have competition. We should be transparent -- I don't know who that company is, I don't want to pre-judge -- but if that company can't deliver, there's an opportunity for someone else to come in and do something very, very different... We should not have one problem and then say we should go all the way back to pencil and paper, that doesn't make sense to me.
This is a business. Folks are making money to buy these service. If those folks are doing a good job to provide that service, they should get more business. If they're doing a bad job providing that service, they should go out of business...
We'll get better and better. I do think, directionally, this is the right way to go. We have multiple players playing in these space... Let's see who's for real. But again, directionally, having computer-adaptive tests, having the ability to evaluate way more than just fill-in-the-bubble stuff -- the critical thinking skills -- directionally, it's the right way to go.
There will be bumps, there will be mistakes. The big thing is, 'What can we learn with them?' What was wrong with the contract? What was wrong-- how do we not replicate this someplace else? With all this stuff, we're moving the country in this direction, so for me, that's not just an Indiana challenge.
Duncan was speaking about the testing systems, but the same laissez faire approach is being taken with companies that have been invited to manage all this student and teacher data. Once this sort of data has been compromised, there is no way to get that horse back into the barn. We can trust the powers that be, and trust the wonders of the market to reward and punish the companies that are "playing in this space." Or we can act to stop our states and districts from sharing this sensitive information.
Concerns over student privacy have been one of the reasons that Republicans have given for opposing the Common Core, in resolutions such as the one passed last week in Utah. This aligns with the resolution recently passed by the Republican National Committee against the sharing of confidential student data without parental consent.
We have also heard from such progressive organizations such as Class Size Matters, the Center for a Commercial Free Childhood, the Massachusetts ACLU and the Learning Disabilities Association of New York, about the tremendous risks involved in storing all this highly sensitive information on a cloud and sharing it with for-profit vendors. Because of protests from the left and the right, as well as many parents without any political affiliation at all, Louisiana recently withdrew its data from inBloom, and Georgia's Superintendent says he will not participate in the system either.
Thus far teacher unions have largely been silent on this front. Many teachers already have student test scores included in their evaluations, often based on faulty and unstable VAM analyses. Will we find ourselves enmeshed in data systems that make it so this data becomes a part of our permanent records as well?
What do you think? Should we be concerned about the expansion of these student and teacher records?
Continue the dialogue with Anthony on Twitter.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has now awarded No Child Left Behind Act waivers to 37 states plus the District of Columbia.
Alaska, Hawaii, and West Virginia are the latest additions to the list, the Education Department announced today.
This means that the vast majority of the country is now operating under their own federally approved but state-crafted accountability plans as Congress continues to refrain from rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which NCLB is the latest version.
For Hawaii, their waiver continues a spate of good news. Last month the state finally secured a new contract with the state teachers' association, paving the way for Hawaii to keep its Race to the Top promises (and its grant award).
The last state to win a waiver was Idaho seven months ago.
Illinois continues to languish in waiver purgatory—the state that's been stuck there the longest over problems meeting the federal department's aggressive timeline for new teacher evaluations. Other states with outstanding applications include Alabama, Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire.
One of the biggest remaining question marks is whether Duncan will grant a first-of-its-kind waiver to nine California districts after their state couldn't successfully get one on its own. The districts are working on revising their proposal after getting a feedback letter (which the districts refuse to share) from the Education Department.
Interestingly, the department's news release says that California has notified federal officials that it will not make another go at a waiver, and instead will focus on common standards implementation.
- Michele McNeil
“PBL has been practiced in various ways in education and has become increasingly common with the advent of of digital technologies in recent years.” Yong Zhao, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial StudentsProject-Based Learning (PBL) is being touted as the 21st century answer to how we should be educating students and the perfect delivery-system for the Common Core State Standards. While those reasons for implementing PBL are legitimate, there are other reasons for implementing PBL as well. First of all, it has the potential to be a more engaging learning and teaching strategy. Secondly, it may more accurately mirror the world of work by engaging students in problem-solving. Thirdly, it can engage students in using technology to create and innovate. While these are additional reasons to implement PBL, we also need to be clearer regarding what we mean by PBL. There are multiple versions of PBL and those versions are not all equally effective in addressing these same reasons.
In his book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, Yong Zhao describes three different iterations of PBL, each with its own features and desired outcomes. He specifically advocates for the third model, Entrepreneurial Model of PBL, in order to educate students to effectively tackle the problems we face in the 21st century, but his PBL model framework is an interesting way to help us think about what we mean by PBL and what we want to accomplish with its implementation. Here’s Zhao’s three models:
|Academic Model of PBL|
|Mixed Model of PBL|
|Entrepreneurial Model of PBL|
It's clear by looking at Zhao’s three models of PBL, that the first two models are about teaching the prescribed curriculum, but only using PBL as the conduit for that teaching. The last model, the Entrepreneurial Model, is designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set which is what Zhao’s book advocates and states is needed in the 21st century.
Whether you see Zhao’s “Entrepreneurial Model of PBL” or product-oriented learning as being feasible or not, it does offer some interesting ideas to ponder. As Zhao points out, “Entrepreneurship is about inventing a solution to an existing problem or creating a product or service to meet a need.” And if what we really need are creative and inventive solutions to the problems staring us in the face as 21st century citizens, then there’s certainly a great deal merit in this Entrepreneurial model of PBL.
Online social workshop at the Social Learning Centre starts Monday 27 May.
Organising a formal online social learning experience for the workplace is much more than just requiring people to use some social media tools in an online course, rather it means applying 5 fundamental pedagogical principles:
- scaffolding the social learning experience
- offering as much autonomy as possible
- focusing on enabling the social interaction
- supporting the experience with content as appropriate, and
- driving it with a performance outcome in mind
You can read more about the importance of these principles for underpinning a successful formal online social learning experience in my blog post, 5 principles for a successful formal online social learning experience.
This workshop will help you plan a formal online social learning experience as well as scaffold its framework. It will also provide the opportunity for you to run a short session yourself with the other participants.
Although this workshop is primarily aimed at those active in workplace learning, it will also be suitable for those in education.
Part 1 : 27 MAY - 7 JUNE
Week 1: Planning your workshop
Weeks 2-3: Scaffolding the framework
Break to allow time for you to work on your own online social learning experience
Part 2 : 15 JULY - 7 AUGUST
Weeks 4-5: Running your own mini online social learning session. Members are encouraged to participate in as many as of the other online social expereinces they can.
Week 6: Review: reflections on your own experience both as an organiser and participant.
Book a place
To register for this online social workshop, please complete the registration form HERE
As I noted on Friday, I spent the latter part of last week out in Clark County, Nevada, talking with local leaders and the local Public Education Foundation. The Clark County School District, which encompasses Las Vegas, is the nation's fifth-largest school system (serving 310,000 kids). After two years in office, superintendent Dwight Jones unexpectedly stepped down two months ago. Nevada chief Jim Guthrie stepped down a short time later, after only about a year in office. This has all led to considerable, and understandable, consternation. Given the recent spate of superintendent openings in big school systems, e.g. Baltimore, Boston, Indianapolis, and so forth, this is a challenge with which a bunch of communities are wrestling.
In Clark County, acting superintendent Pat Skorkowsky is charged with keeping school improvement efforts on track in a system with 40,000 adults and more than 300 schools. Meanwhile, a school board marked by strong personalities and real differences of opinion tries to decide whether to conduct a national search. Oh, and the state has just decided that the district's "school performance framework," which leaned on Colorado's growth model and which formed the backbone of Clark County's accountability and improvement strategy, needs to be revised to reflect the state's preference for a more NCLB-like model.
It all takes me back. Some readers may remember that I got my start in education with my 1998 Brookings book Spinning Wheels, in which I studied 57 urban systems and found that the typical district was launching a steady drumbeat of reform initiatives. Given this, it wasn't too surprising that nothing seemed to deliver -- or stick. Educators learned to close their doors and wait out the breathlessly announced new changes, knowing "this too shall pass." Leadership turnover aggravated the problem -- as each new supe felt a need to put his own stamp on the district by launching a new set of dynamic reforms (while losing interest in those already in place). The upshot: changes in district leadership can amount to a reset rather than a passing of the baton. If the existing strategy stinks, then hitting reset makes sense. But my experience is that system after system intends to pass the baton, but winds up stumbling into a reset due to mixed signals, petty politics, and the natural inclination of new leaders to respond to expectations and prove their mettle by busting out some fresh moves.
Three suggestions on how to pass that baton and avoid accidentally hitting the reset button.
1. System leadership needs to push back against the natural inclination (especially among local press, advocates, and civic leaders) to rave about fanciful new promises and practices and to push for the district to embrace the hot new thing.
2. Accept that course corrections are inevitable, and that leadership turnover is a good opportunity for just that -- so long as folks work hard to distinguish adjusting course from abandoning course. This also means keeping honest disagreements in context and not throwing everything out the window, hoping that a "fresh start" will purge all contention and conflict.
3. Stay focused on pursuing and tracking incremental gains (in attendance, teacher behavior, enrollment in rigorous courses, cost efficiencies, and such) so that the sense that progress is "too slow" doesn't lead to a reflexive, frustrated decision to start all over again.
Glitches in the department's debt-management system forced it to rely on estimates of what the collection agencies should be paid.
Education Dept. May Have Overpaid Loan-Collection Agencies, Report Says
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The U.S. Department of Education extended until 2014 the deadline for compliance with rules requiring colleges to be properly authorized by state governments.
Relief and Confusion Mingle as State-Authorization Rules Are Delayed
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative pairs local needs with classes and research, with benefits for all parties involved.
Universities in several other states find the Sustainable Cities Initiative worth adjusting to their own circumstances.