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EdTech Update





Meme: Five Things Policymakers Ought to Know

I've been tagged by  teacherninja to respond to a meme that started with Teacher in a Strange Land. It's called Five Things [Educational] Policymakers Ought to Know. It's been a long day but I'm willing to give this a shot...

1. You can’t keep kids safe by blocking access to any potential harm on the Internet.
Education is all about making safe mistakes. A spelling error made, caught and corrected on a term paper is not career threatening; a spelling error on a job application might be.  Internet use ought to allow for some errors in judgment – when the lesson learned is not permanent. CIPA, DOPA and other heavy-handed legislation is not in children’s best interest.

2. Accountability can be demonstrated by better means than tests.
The kinds of skills needed for success in a global economy – creativity, problem-solving, effective communication, etc. – can only be measured using performance-based assessments. These formative assessments, those that not only accurately measure student abilities but help grow skills, need to be counted when judging a student’s and school’s skills.

3. Schools are excellent stewards of public funds.
In the schools I’ve worked for, every penny is accounted for, every discretionary nickel spent on services or products fiercely judged to be of value, and every dime viewed as precious, given all the competing, unmet needs in the schools. This may not be the case everywhere, but it is where I work. Money spent on education is not just well spent philosophically, but “well-spent” fiduciarily.

4. You skimp on art, music, sports, drama, world languages, tech ed, and libraries the U.S. economy will tank - sooner probably than later.  

The easy budget cuts are in the extracurricular and elective offerings by schools. Ironically, as manufacturing moves to cheap labor markets or is automated, as service sector jobs continue to pay less than living wages, and as an immigrant workforce provides manual labor, the jobs that provide a middle class lifestyle will be “value-added” – those involving design, creative problem-solving, empathy, powerful communication, teamwork and cultural understandings. Guess what best emphasizes those qualities in our schools? - those programs that are first to be axed. As David Warlick among others reminds us, schooling that may have worked for our generation won't work for this one.

5. Keep politics out of education.

If your definition of politics, like mine, is “values in practice,” this may well be impossible. But the divisive politics and politicking of the past decade or so has had a detrimental effect on education. Long-term planning, serious implementation of new programs, and longitudinal research are all impossible when educational philosophies change each time a new party moves into the governor’s mansion, the White House or a department of education. Students’ futures should not be markers in games of party one-upmanship.  The end result of shifting political winds  is kids getting buffeted.

OK, great minds. This meme is passed to...

John Pederson

Cathy Nelson

Tom Hoffman


The Quotable Warlick

Tags: flat classroom warlick (Tags for blog entries will become part of his handouts.)

Live-blogging David's presentation someplace here in the woods of Pennsylvania. (Returning the favor?)

I was going to put this on the bottom, but I was afraid people wouldn't get to it - David is a wonderful presenter - outstanding information and ideas delivered with warmth, humor and compelling visuals. Well-received by this audience of school administrators. Each time I see David present - he's better! And he wasn't bad the first time I heard him a few years ago. Warlick delivers.

Dave's comments below:

Starting with keynote with something “just learned.”

  • People are going to the web to learn something “new.” – Pew
  • 8.6% of all people going to the web are going to the Wikipedia.

Invites attendees to update his wiki-based handouts.
“We are learning by teaching each other, sharing.”

Live demo of how to get handouts from Second Life.
Build libraries in virtual world "unrestrained by walls."

Our generation was prepared for working... in straight rows, performing repetitive tasks, under close supervision.

Workplace of the future: Now "home office" providing information services is today's work.

People giving up landlines for cellphones. Men shopping at the grocery store with cellphones to ears.

5 exabytes of information produced last year. Only 0.01% of that information was printed. Yet paper is what we use in schools.

We will want information technologies we can carry with us (wear).

We know almost nothing about the future we are preparing our students for.

Economy is global. Students need to be able to participate.

Plugs for Florida and Pink's books. Importance of creativity.

Kids don't shop for technology, but new and better stories.

More emphasis on STEM, but also on music, art, creativity.

21st century students learning in 19th century classrooms.

Today's kids carry their friends with them. (Invisible tentacles - communication technologies) We chop these tentacles off in school.

The depth of digital divide is between a connected, powerful community and those that aren't connected. Our country is behind assuring all homes have broadband Internet access.

Students using online games as places for learning, communication. (One of Dave's presentations was "piped" into World of Warcraft by student attendee.)

Busted for taking a picture with laptop camera during presentation.

We need to spend time teaching kids to be good producers, not just consumers, of information.

Demo of using RSS feed of GoogleNews on topic. "We are training the information to find us. My aggregator is my personal learning network."

Three conditions educators need to pay attention to:

  1. Networked Students
  2. New Information Landscape
  3. Unpredictable Future

Blown away by Students 2.0

We make the mistake of thinking that the people that do well in school are the ‘smart’ ones, but that isn’t always the case. These people may just be good at retaining information and reciting it back under pressure, or may just be good at problem solving. Our schools teach these kinds of people well, because they know how to deal with them. All you need to do with these people is throw facts and figures at them and tell them they need to know them to pass, and get become qualified to get a good job... which is not even proper learning. There is no regard there for our creative ones, or even the ‘smart’ ones who can probably do so much more given the opportunity. There is no other option, no fork in the road, not even a way to have the best of both worlds. Just one path for everyone to follow, with the same goal in mind—to fit in, and become another round peg in a round hole.

The quote above comes from