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Friday, July 31, 2015

Quitman High students take math into the real world

Follow on Twitter as @PaulRiveraNews
Paul Rivera summarizes, "Geometry and construction students at Quitman High School were surprised last year when their teacher told them they were going to use geometry to build a cabin. They started in October and a year later, the project is now finished."

Photo: KTRE

It's not your typical idea, most classes are not this hands on, and for some students like Sarah Davis, the idea of building a cabin for class was something that, at first, she met with skepticism.

"I was really happy that we got it done and I'm really glad that we ended up staying in the class and actually learning," she says.

John Herring saw the idea online and thought it would be something great for his students to try. The goal behind this creation was to find an idea that teachers thought would make learning exciting and bring it into the real world.

"Most Geometry students do not want to come to class, but these 10 here, they were excited about coming to class every day and we can take it from the geometry terms that I use and converted it into the construction language," Herring says.

It’s a language that showed students why math is important even when it was difficult.

Source: KTRE

Schools are starting to teach kids philosophy—and it's completely changing the way students think

Chris Weller, Tech Insider  writes, "America may be great at many things, but education isn't one of them."

Photo: Business Inside

It's here that standardized testing creeps behind students like a shadow and where fun experiments take a back seat to rote memorization.

But in some ambitious K-12 schools across the country, philosophy courses have made tangible improvements to the way students learn.

In these classrooms, teachers tackle big concepts like ethics and epistemology. They ask, How can we know what we know? — a classic epistemological quandary — but they use Dr. Seuss to get there.

Inside the classroom

Photo: Jana Mohr Lone
Jana Mohr Lone has taught philosophy at all levels, from preschool to college. She directs the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children, and for 20 years she's been the president of PLATO, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing philosophy to schools.

Over that time, she's learned an important lesson: It doesn't take much to get kids thinking.

"Our general approach is to start off with some kind of stimulus," Lone tells Tech Insider. For younger kids, that's often a picture book or a game. In middle or high school it could be a novel or work of art. "Then we ask the children, 'So what questions does this make you wonder about?'"

After the inevitable outpouring of curiosity, Lone says teachers will typically put the lesson to a vote — which question do people want to explore the most? The winning topic then forms the basis of a discussion.

Pretty much anything is up for grabs. 
The Philosophical Child 
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Reprint edition (January 21, 2015)

Scout and Atticus Finch can stimulate a discussion on the nature of courage. "The Velveteen Rabbit" gets kids thinking about the question, "What is real?" Often, Lone says, the simplest stimuli can produce profound insights. In her 2012 book "The Philosophical Child," she recalls one particularly poignant lesson involving the nature of existence.
After asking a fifth-grade class whether we can know for sure that we are real people and not part of a virtual simulation, a bright 10-year-old girl sitting up front offered her take.
"Okay," the girl said, "maybe I can't know that I am not just the mind of a computer or living in a cave and seeing only shadows. But what I can know is that if I'm thinking about what I can know, I can be sure that at least there is me thinking, even that's all I can know about myself or anything else."
Lone was blown away, she writes. "I told her that the philosopher René Descartes had come to a similar conclusion almost four hundred years ago."
Read more... 

Source: Business Insider

Science versus Philosophy – It’s Not a Competition! by Janet Cameron

Photo: Janet Cameron
"Philosophy is not a single subject." according to Janet Cameron, Holds a B.A. (Hons) in Literature and Philosophy, an M.A. in Modern Poetry, a Certificate of Education, which includes educational psychology, and Teaching Certificates for Students with Special Needs and Adults with Learning Difficulties (Communication Skills).

Can philosophy help to keep science honest? Image by Anita Peppers.

Philosophers address an infinite number of issues and try to make sense and order of them. For example: ethics, morals, human choices, human belief systems, world politics including justice and law, the complexities of language and meaning and the nature of beauty.

All of this enables us to decide how we should live, what is important to us and why we behave as we do.
According to some scientists, that is not enough.

“What happens when philosophers talk about philosophy?” asks Anja Steinbauer in her editorial for Philosophy Now.

“It sounds as though they might be running round in circles like headless chickens. Though it can’t be denied this occasionally happens, on the whole a lot more is at stake here. So much hinges on this discussion because of the unique nature of philosophy as an intellectual discipline and attitude.”

An intellectual discipline that is currently under attack from scientists, convinced that their own discipline is the only real source of all knowledge, and that truth must be based on hard, empirical evidence before being absorbed into the mainstream.

Is this fair? More importantly, is it helpful?

Stephen Hawking says Philosophy is Dead 
According to physicist Stephen Hawking, when addressing Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, philosophy fails to keep up with science.

In his article, “Philosophy is Dead,” in The Telegraph, Matt Warman explains Hawking’s concern,

“[F]undamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard data such as that currently being derived from the Large Hadron Collider and space research.” 

Professor Hawking acknowledges that his comments apply particularly to physics.

However, physics was once the domain of philosophers whose objective was to answer humanity’s most important questions. Such questions as:

“Why are we here?”
“What is the meaning of life?”
“Does life continue after death?”

Warman quotes Hawking: “Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

This is a fine metaphor to describe an admirable search for what is true. Can science do it alone?  Does philosophy have an important part to play as the exciting quest continues, leading us to the truth about the universe and the apparently brief and insignificant part we play in its development?

If philosophy is finding it tough keeping up with physics and cosmology, what about its other vital areas of expertise, for example, ethics, morals, justice and law?
Read more... 

Source: Decoded Science

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking A Music Class In High School Improves Teen Language Skills, May Boost Academic Performance

"Musical training in high school boosts a person’s language skills, and may improve academic performance." continues Medical Daily.  

Photo: Medical Daily

Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University School of Communication, has produced a multitude of studies showing the importance of sounds and hearing when it comes to development. In children, she recently told NPR that reading begins not with our eyes but with the way our ears, and brains, analyze and codify speech sounds — this developmental facet holds true in a person’s teens, too. According to a new study from Kraus, musical training in high school can strengthen a teen’s hearing and language skills, and improve academic performance.  

From birth until a person’s mid-20s, the brain undergoes constant development. In adolescence especially, the brain goes through a period of maturation in which the number of synapses in gray matter drops. Despite losing neurons, however, the brain is becoming more efficient. Certain regions mature faster than others, with the ones responsible for the most basic processes, such as processing information and motor control, going first. While genetics plays a role in how the brain matures, life experiences do as well, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It’s for these reasons that musical training improves teens’ development. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved 40 freshman high school students who either attended music classes for two to three hours each week or joined a junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which emphasized fitness. It found that those who learned music experienced faster maturation in the brain’s response to sound, and heightened sensitivity to details in sound. While all students showed improvement in language skills necessary for reading, it was those who underwent musical training that performed the best three years later.  

Source: Medical Daily

The brain and music: McGill team graphs regions of the brain responsible for music training and individual skill

"Nature and nurture in music has now been mapped by McGill neurologists who have recorded the activity and changes in the brains of young adults over the course of a six-week piano training session. Among the results of the research is a greater understanding of how natural disposition factors into skills like music." summarizes


“I would venture to say that new skills probably change almost the entire brain in some way or another,” Dr. Robert Zatorre, Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill’s Montreal Neurological Institute and lead author of the work, told The Speaker.

What we try to do in our experiments is to isolate specific components of these changes so that we can characterize them accurately.”

In their recent work, the Neuro team sought to display and map the brain’s response to learning music. They also sought for differences in how individuals learn and respond to musical training.

The team provided six weeks of piano training for 15 young adults who had little or no background in music.

Photo: Dr. Robert Zatorre
“We measured the entire brain simultaneously using functional MRI,” Zatorre told us, “and then searched the whole brain to find the areas that changed after training, and to distinguish them from those areas which were predictive of learning success.”

The brains of all of the young adults changed as they learned the motor skills involved with playing simple piano pieces, but the team found that the brain activity of some students predicted how quickly they would become skilled.

“The areas that changed most after training were in the premotor cortex and in the parietal cortex, regions concerned with coordinating movements and mapping actions to sounds; the areas that were predictive of subsequent learning were totally different from these and involved the auditory cortex and the hippocampus, the latter of course a structure involved in the formation of memories.”

The report, Dissociation of Neural Networks for Predisposition and for Training-Related Plasticity in Auditory-Motor Learning,” was completed by Sibylle C. Herholz, Emily B.J. Coffey, Christo Pantev, and Robert J. Zatorre, and was published in Cerebral Cortex

Source: The Speaker

The sound of music, according to physicists

"Researchers elevate musicians in the air and attach lasers to their instruments." reports Brigham Young University (BYU).
The musicians played in an echoless room with lasers helping them hold the instruments perfectly in place. Photo: Brigham Young University (BYU)

Joshua Bodon is sick of hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." More specifically, he's sick of hearing one 25-second clip of the song repeated more than 550 times.

For almost two years, this physics grad student has been testing how sound radiates from live musical instruments, which includes hearing the same song over and over… and over. But the monotony has a purpose; it's all about helping musicians, instrument makers, concert hall designers, audio engineers and music producers enhance sound quality.

The work takes place in one of two anechoic chambers at BYU. Anechoic, meaning "free from echoes and reverberation," describes a room built with walls that absorb sound energy, so noise can't bounce back to a listener.

Bodon and physics professor Timothy Leishman devised a recording system with a rotating chair and a semicircular array of 37 microphones that puts musicians out of their comfort zone.

"Some people go in there and it's so quiet that it feels like everything is imploding in on them," said Darin Bradford, a music professor who played several instruments for the research. "I was really happy to be involved – it was a really fascinating experience."

The musicians who play for the study face three difficulties that they never encounter in a concert hall:
  • They have to sit on a chair elevated several feet above the floor. That allows the research team to capture sound that radiates downward.
  • The walls don't bounce sound back to the musician, which changes how they hear the notes they play. If any note in a chromatic scale or musical excerpt is slightly off-key, they've got to start over.
  • While they play, they have to keep a laser that's attached to their instrument pointed inside of a target. Slight movements that move the laser outside of the target alter the direction of the sound waves.
When they finally get everything right, the chair rotates five degrees, and they do it all over again. The process repeats 72 times until the 360-degree revolution has been completed. A complete recording for one instrument can take anywhere from five to eight hours. Fortunately these musicians – both students and faculty at BYU - get paid. They also get a break each time they have rotated 90 degrees.

When the recordings are finished, Bodon and his team of three undergraduates, Michael Dennison, Claire McKellar and Michael Rose sort through the data – about 250 gigabytes per instrument. The students create balloon plots that map each instrument's sound radiation over a sphere. The team has become so proficient at this process, that they can do it start to finish in less than 24 hours.

So far the team has completed recordings and mapping of the cello, violin, trombone, French horn, baritone saxophone, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, viola and trumpet.

Source: Brigham Young University (BYU)

Commentary: Love of learning is the key to success in the jobless future

Follow on Twitter as @wadhwa
"Not long ago, schoolchildren chose what they wanted to be when they grew up, and later selected the best college they could gain admission to, spent years gaining proficiency in their fields, and joined a company that had a need for their skills. Careers lasted lifetimes." according to Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Duke University and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory universities.

Education will always be a platform on which to build success, but it really doesn't matter what you study. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Now, by my estimates, the half-life of a career is about 10 years. I expect that it will decrease, within a decade, to five years. Advancing technologies will cause so much disruption to almost every industry that entire professions will disappear. And then, in about 15-20 years from now, we will be facing a jobless future, in which most jobs are done by machines and the cost of basic necessities such as food, energy and health care is negligible — just as the costs of cellphone communications and information are today. We will be entering an era of abundance in which we no longer have to work to have our basic needs met. And we will gain the freedom to pursue creative endeavors and do the things that we really like.

I am not kidding. Change is happening so fast that our children may not even need to learn how to drive. By the late 2020s, self-driving cars will have proven to be so much safer than human-driven ones that we will be debating whether humans should be banned from public roads; and clean energies such as solar and wind will be able to provide for 100 percent of the planet’s energy needs and cost a fraction of what fossil fuel and nuclear-based generation does today.

A question that parents often ask me is, given that these predictions are even remotely accurate, what careers their children should pursue: whether it is best to steer them into science, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields, because it is these disciplines that are making the advances happen. The STEM-humanities dichotomy has been a traditional difficulty for parents, because English, psychology, history and arts majors have been at a financial disadvantage over the past few decades. Parents have encouraged their children to go into fields such as finance, engineering, law and medicine, because they’re where the big money has been. But that is changing.

I tell them not to do what our parents did, telling us what to study and causing us to treat education as a chore; that instead, they should encourage their children to pursue their passions and to love learning. It doesn’t matter whether they want to be artists, musicians or plumbers; the key is for children to understand that education is a lifelong endeavor and to be ready to constantly reinvent themselves.

We will all need to be able to learn new skills, think critically, master new careers and take advantage of the best opportunities that come our way.

Technology is now as important a skill as are reading, writing and mathematics. Everyone needs to be able to use computers, search for information on the Internet, use word processors and spreadsheets, and download apps. These skills are now common and useful in every profession. People who master social media gain an advantage in sharing knowledge and connecting with others. Kids in Silicon Valley who can write code have an edge in starting technology companies.

Source: Chicago Tribune

How (and why) to start music lessons later in life

Carlton Wilkinson, composer, music professor, writer and editor, has a doctorate degree in music writes, "A lot of folks I run into — young adults, older folks, some retired — have decided to try to pick up a musical instrument for their own enjoyment."

Ted Velykis owns the Collingswood Music store, which opened last year on Lincoln Avenue. The business offers music lessons to both children and adults. 
Photo: Cherry Hill Courier Post

These are not delusional people itching to be on “America’s Got Talent.” They are just folks sensing music could offer their lives an additional, small sense of fulfillment.

Doctors or friends may have advised them to keep their brains active and to practice coordination with their bodies. Some may be curious to make some of the beautiful sounds they’ve heard all their lives.

Whatever the reason, learning an instrument is a positive decision, to be encouraged. Playing regularly can bring not only a sense of stability and purpose, but also a spiritual and physical sense of balance akin to meditation or yoga.

Partly this comes from establishing a connection with the tradition of music playing, creating a sense of belonging to the long line of students and teachers stretching back a thousand years at least and far into the future.

But partly, too, this spiritual fulfillment has to do with the power of music itself.

Music is probably even older than language. Some researchers believe music and language evolved simultaneously from a proto-language, sounds made by our pre-human ancestors that helped synchronize activities for survival tactics, hunting, courtship, and other aspects of social coordination...

6 tips for new music students
1. Picking the right teacher is more important that selecting the right instrument. Find the right fit for your personality and learning styles. Look for teachers who work regularly with adults.
2. Choose a school or teacher that agrees to teach you music you enjoy. You are more likely to practice.
3. Take notes you can refer to later when you are practicing. You might also record your lessons or practice sessions to hear your own progress.
4. Make both space and time in your life to practice regularly. Consider this time you are giving to yourself. Carve out a quiet area of your home; clear your schedule, ideally when you can be alone. Ask family to respect this rehearsal time.
5. Be patient. Anything worth doing takes time.
6. Remember you are doing something wonderful for yourself and your aging brain.

Source: Cherry Hill Courier Post 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Whitepaper: Building a Deep Learning Culture While Making the Technology that Supports it Invisible

This white paper examines how technology supports SLA’s core values, culture, and learning environment.

Download this white paper (PDF)

One of the leading public schools embracing inquiry-driven, project-based learning is the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia. It is a partnership between  the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute. SLA provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum focused on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. The first high school opened in Center City Philadelphia in 2006 and a second campus, SLA-Beeber, opened in the fall of 2013. SLA has a total enrollment of 700 students.

Founding principal Chris Lehmann and his team have created a dynamic teaching and learning community based on the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection. These core values are integrated into all aspects of the school from the curriculum to admissions and hiring practices.
Download this white paper (PDF)

4 Things Adult Students Should Look for When Choosing a School

Photo: Lori Eggleston Thorp
"The application process. The registration process. The financial aid process. Yes, there are a lot of processes when it comes to returning to school to finish (or start) your degree." according to Lori Eggleston Thorp, director of New College Support Services at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.
Photo: Huffington Post

Before you dive into all that, consider another one: the selection process. How can you find a university that's a good fit for you? What can (and should) you expect from a university? And where do you start?

Reputation, reputation, reputation
Start by doing your research. Look for colleges with rankings and recognition on national, regional and local levels. Learn about partnerships and programs between a university and businesses and nonprofits in its community. Read student, alumni and professor satisfaction surveys. Find out what companies hire graduates. You're getting a degree to get ahead in your career -- make sure it's going to work in your favor by providing you with skills and contacts that will set you apart and make it worth your while.

Mix and match
Most colleges offer a variety of class formats. You can come to campus for class each week. You can take a class online. You can meet once a month on Saturday. Some classes are a mix of in-person and online sessions. Consider what format best matches your learning style. Do you have the self-motivation to be successful in online classes? Do you want more interaction with your professor and peers than you'll get online? Or would you like to have all these options available?


Source: Huffington Post

Pairing E-Portfolios With Badges To Document Informal Learning

Meg Lloyd, Northern California-based freelance writer summarizes, "In order to support the recognition of co-curricular and integrative learning, the University of Notre Dame came up with a campuswide strategy to integrate digital badges in students' e-portfolios."

Notre Dame students can use digital badges to document informal learning in their e-portfolios.
E-portfolios have always offered an avenue to showcase informal learning, but at the University of Notre Dame's Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, digital learning designers realized that the maximum potential of e-portfolios on their campus was not being met. Most students were not taking full advantage of e-portfolios to document the integration of formal and informal learning.

Project lead G. Alex Ambrose
The key, Kaneb's learning scientists determined, was to promote the inclusion of digital badges in the e-portfolio. "If we are going to harness the full power and promise of e-portfolios beyond a single course assignment and show employers what students know and can do, then we need the digital badge to communicate specific competencies with evidence and motivate students to make their learning and skills visible," said G. Alex Ambrose, associate director of e-portfolio assessment at the university. Ambrose and his team came up with a campuswide strategy to develop a technology integration for the university's digital badge and e-portfolio systems.

The integration came about in three project phases. The first phase, said Ambrose, was in effect a do-it-yourself effort in which the project team coordinated between Notre Dame's Digication e-portfolio system and other campus-based systems. Students who wished to earn badges were asked to submit evidence to Digication's backend Assessment Management System, so that evidence claims for badges could be collected, scored and stored. After the evidence was evaluated and badges could be awarded, the team sent badge earners a picture file to display on their e-portfolio, along with a verification link that connected back to Notre Dame's badge directory.
Read more... 

Source: Campus Technology

Campus Tech 2015: Move Over MOOCs

Follow on Twitter as @TEBuckTMG
Tara E. Buck, managing editor of EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education reports, "Southern New Hampshire University president argues true disruption comes in the form of online, competency-based providers who deftly meet modern students’ — and industry’s — needs."

“Ten to 15 years ago, the problem was access. Now the problem is, how do we get more people to complete?”,” says Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc.

In May, Southern New Hampshire University conferred 318 nursing student degrees — a record for the nonprofit institution.
“The growth in nursing students can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increased demand driven by an aging population, as well as an older workforce with a significant number of Baby Boomers approaching retirement age,” a release from the university states. “In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 19.4 percent growth in nursing between now and 2022, with some 1.1 million jobs available nationwide by 2022.”

That reality also directly influences a few of the university’s priorities, President Paul LeBlanc told those gathered Tuesday at the opening plenary keynote for Campus Technology 2015 in Boston. The first priority is meeting the needs of today’s modern students, who increasingly juggle competing demands for their time, attention and finances. Another priority is meeting the evolving needs of industry — and that means graduating students who are fully prepared to take on the challenges of today’s modern work environments and meet employers’ demands. U.S. higher education, generally, has not evolved quickly enough to meet those goals, LeBlanc said...

Technology-Backed Education  
“One of the things I see in a lot of institutions when we talk about innovation is a shotgun approach: Everyone is talking about MOOCs, let’s do MOOCs,” LeBlanc said. “What problem did the University of Virginia Board of Trustees think they were solving by forcing [former university President Teresa A. Sullivan] to produce MOOCs?” 

When higher education sets out to leverage new technology and tools as a means of fixing or reinventing itself, LeBlanc asked, which specific higher education is being fixed?

“One of the issues I have with our policy discussions: We talk about higher education for 18-year-olds, of people coming out of high school. In reality, there are many higher educations, and they all have their own problems and policy issues to solve.”

Higher education also includes military academies, research institutions, traditional liberal arts colleges, what he termed “big-time sports higher ed” and, increasingly, nontraditional higher education for adult learners — the list goes on. The problem nontraditional higher education should aim to solve is how to meet adult and nontraditional learners’ needs and help them prove competencies to current and future employers, LeBlanc said.

Source: EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education

Tennessee College of Applied Technology Clarksville Campus to host Grand Opening August 4th

Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Dickson is pleased to announce that it is hosting a grand opening event for its Clarksville extension campus.

Industrial Maintenance/Electricity instructor Steve Shaw instructs student Greg Haler on the mechanical operations of robotics. 
Photo: Clarksville Online

The event, being held at 135 International Boulevard. in Clarksville on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 from 11:00am – 1:00pm, is an opportunity for all to come and view the new facility, the upgraded equipment, and to the meet faculty and staff.

A ribbon cutting with the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce will occur at 11:00 am and will be followed by presentations from Tennessee Board of Regents representatives, institutional leadership, and community leaders. An open house with tours will conclude the event.

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Clarksville Campus, or TCAT Clarksville Campus, is an extension of TCAT Dickson and is a post-secondary institution that provides career and technical education with the mission of building a strong workforce for the State of Tennessee. 
Through its efforts of preparing individuals for the workforce, TCAT Clarksville Campus contributes to the economic and community development of Montgomery and surround counties.

The institution provides competency-based training to individual students, as well as special industry training for local employers. TCAT Dickson is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents and is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. 
Read more...  

Related link
Additional information about the college is located at

Source: Clarksville Online

Freedom to Experiment Presents Challenges for School Innovation Networks

Benjamin Herold, staff writer for Education Week writes, "Giving small networks of schools autonomy to try new approaches with technology requires a delicate balance of logistical freedom and district technical support."

Fourth graders used new low-cost laptop computers in 2012 at Ashley Park Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., as part of a public-private partnership to encourage educational technology innovation. But the computing initiative ran into challenges because of a lack of technological support and it is no longer using those laptops. Photo: Education Week

Frustrated by the lack of innovation in K-12 education, a growing number of district leaders are giving small networks of schools the freedom and resources to try new approaches with classroom technology. 

But the approach can be rife with technical and logistical challenges, as can be seen in the experience of North Carolina’s 145,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

There, after two years and nearly $3 million, a network of nine semi-autonomous schools known as Project LIFT has mostly ditched its own student-laptop initiative. Ironically, Project LIFT is now embracing closer coordination with the system-wide strategy of the very district to which it was supposed to be an alternative.
“There have been lessons learned,” said Denise Watts, the learning communities superintendent who oversees the network. “We do not function on an island.”

Even autonomous schools must often still rely on their host district’s central office for broadband and wireless infrastructure, technical assistance, and administrative support. Just introducing devices and software into classrooms in no way guarantees that instruction will change—or that schools’ manifold reporting and compliance obligations will be done more efficiently. And while big private donations may generate headlines, they don’t always result in what schools actually need.

Despite those common challenges, experts in the field say it would be wrong to view such experiments as failures.

“There’s a downside in thwarting people’s initiative, regardless of how things turn out,” said Steven Hodas, a practitioner-in-residence at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research and policy-advocacy center at the University of Washington. “When a district makes a [system-wide] mistake, it impinges on a lot more people than when nine schools try something that doesn’t work,” he said.

Source: Education Week

Debunk 6 Myths About the Cost of Online Education

Follow on Twitter as @DevonHaynie
"Students shouldn't assume online education is cheaper than brick-and-mortar options." according to Devon Haynie, education reporter at U.S. News, covering online education. 

Photo: U.S. News & World Report

When it comes to choosing an online degree, a program's price tag tends to be the most important factor for prospective students.  

In a recent report about online learners, 45 percent of respondents said they ended up choosing the most inexpensive program among their options, up from 30 percent in 2014. 

While choosing an online degree can indeed be a wise move for a student's budget, buyers should beware that the cost of a virtual program isn't always what it seems. Below are several myths about the cost of online education. 

1. Tuition in online programs is less expensive. 
In the absence of dining halls, libraries, climbing walls and other amenities, prospective students could be forgiven for assuming that online tuition is lower than  tuition for on-ground programs. But that's not always the case. "I think there is a misconception that online is cheaper, and it's not," says Christine Shakespeare, assistant vice president of continuing and professional education at Pace University
Officials at online programs list a variety of reasons for charging the same – or even more – tuition than brick-and-mortar programs. Some say it's because they still have to pay the same faculty costs. Others say the expense of providing technology and campus services cancels out any cost savings. 
Even if tuition for an online program looks appealingly low, students should be sure to look into whether they will be paying any additional fees, says Vickie Cook, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois—Springfield. 
"They can be associated with classes or a program or the online environment," she says. Since fees are not always listed on a school's website, students will need to do additional digging to determine the total cost of their program. 

2. There are plenty of scholarships for online students.  
With some exceptions, few schools offer scholarships specifically for distance learners. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. A school may not restrict its scholarships solely to on-campus students, says Susan Aldridge, president of Drexel University Online.
"If a donor donates funds to the university, very rarely have I ever seen anything where it's restricted to face-to-face students," she says. Instead of asking whether there are any scholarships specifically for online students, students should ask about scholarships in general, she says. "If they receive any pushback from the admissions office, they should just ask if the donors have any restrictions with online students." 

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Has E-Learning Gone Wild Again?

Photo: Josh Bersin
"Online education is back with a vengeance — and it works." according to Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin & Associates. 
Photo: Chief Learning Office

E-learning is back again, and this time with a vengeance. To illustrate what I mean, let me first provide a little history.

Back in 1999, when the Internet was young, a group of pioneering companies believed that education, learning and professional development would be disrupted by the Internet. Outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers was famously quoted in January 2001 stating, e-learning will “make email look like a rounding error.”

Many big companies at that time told me,  “brick-and-mortar universities are dead;” they said virtual universities were going to take over. Many of us believed this, just like we believed that companies like Webvan were going to take over brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

Big vendors at that time included DigitalThink, Click2Learn, SmartForce, NETg, SkillSoft and Ninth House Networks. There were hundreds of others — most of which have disappeared or been acquired.

The concept was simple: Freed from the cost and time of travel, we could learn online and save our companies millions of dollars. Education would be done virtually, and even live instruction would be done online. 

E-learning received a huge boost during the recession of 2000-01. Companies trimmed learning budgets significantly, which fueled the market for learning management systems, online content and content development tools. 

In the ensuing decade, we all learned a lot. First, we learned that online learning as defined in those years was not enough. At first, people enjoyed the page-turning, somewhat slow flash-based content at first, but it got boring fast. Soon people realized e-learning should be blended with other educational experiences, leading to a decade of work in blended learning development.

Source: Chief Learning Office

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jacksonville Group Connecting Teachers To Improve Training

John O'Connor, the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida summarizes, "At one point, the Schultz Center had state funding and a big, multi-million dollar contract with Duval County schools to help teachers improve their craft."

The Schultz Center has trained thousands of teachers since it was founded in Jacksonville in 1997. But when state revenues declined, the Schultz Center funding was cut.

Photo: Schultz Center president Deborah Gianoulis.

“The recession happened,” said Deborah Gianoulis, president of the Schultz Center. “That [state budget] line-item was never restored.”

And  Duval schools decided to provide their own staff development.

So the Schultz Center had to change. The non-profit is expanding beyond Northeast Florida to offer training to teachers statewide, both in person and online. And they’re building an incubator for education entrepreneurs.

They’re also helping teachers adjust to big changes in the classroom.

Common Core, or — a variation of it like Florida is using — is a roadmap of what students should know at the end each grade. But the standards have also changed the way teachers plan and present their lessons.

Common Core asks students to collaborate — to figure out the lesson’s goal on their own. Gianoulis said teachers also need to work together to understand what the standards mean and what’s expected – but that can be hard.

“Teachers are natural collaborators,” she said. “And I, as a former journalist, years ago did documentaries in schools. And I was told once by a principal something that really stuck out in my mind. She said ‘You know, teachers are islands. They’re alone in their classrooms.’

“And yet if we look at what’s happening in the countries in the world that are surpassing us in student achievement, in many case their students spend less time in student instruction than ours do. But their teachers spend so much more time working collaboratively together.”

One way to do that is getting rid of the traditional model of professional development.
Read more... 

Source: StateImpact Florida

Study: Prospective Students See Online Education As Career Booster

"A new report revealed prospective students prefer blended programs, schools with nearby campuses, and see online programs as career booster. The growth of online education, in which enrollment increases at 1 percent annually, is fueled by factors like flexibility and the credentials that help students earn more." continues iSchoolGuide.

Young Cambodian Woman Users her Laptop 
Photo: iSchoolGuide

The Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House, Inc. have released a new report on online learning, which revealed that students find such as a pathway for boosting their career prospects. It further showed that college students prefer blended programs and find schools with nearby campuses, as well.

The fourth annual survey also found that fewer students are attending college in recent years, which it attributed to the still-recovering economy and the declining unemployment rate. Polymnia Hadjipanayiotou of Education News reported that 18.6 million students are currently enrolled in college, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research center. More than one third of them, or about 5.5 million, is enrolled in a part- or full-time online program.

The report (PDF)
Online education enrollment is rising steadily at 1 percent every year. The report showed that online courses attract more attention from prospective students mostly because of flexibility and the credentials that help them earn more. In addition, online higher education competition has become tougher than ever as over 421 institutions offered an online program for the first time between 2012 and 2013, Education News reported.

"Roughly 75% of online students seek further education to change careers, get a job, earn a promotion or keep up to date with their skills," the report noted. "The third most appealing marketing message among the group sampled was 'a high job placement rate.'"

Blended programs are courses that mix on-campus learning with online instruction. Respondents seemed to have viewed such programs as an attractive learning model since five in 10 said they were willing to enroll in a hybrid or low-residency course if their preferred program was not offered 100 percent online.
Read more... 

Source: iSchoolGuide

Lessons from the Digital Classroom

Follow on Twitter as @nanettebyrnes
Nanette Byrnes, Senior Editor writes, "Technologists and venture capitalists are betting that the data online learning generates will reshape education."

Photo: MIT Technology Review

In four small schools scattered across San Francisco, a data experiment is under way. That is where AltSchool is testing how technology can help teachers maximize their students’ learning.
Founded two years ago by Max ­Ventilla, a data expert and former head of personalization at Google, AltSchool runs schools filled with data-gathering technology.
Information is captured from the moment each student arrives at school and checks in on an attendance app. For part of the day, students work independently, using iPads and Chromebooks, on “playlists” of activities that teachers have selected to match their personal goals. Data about each student’s progress is captured for teachers’ later review. Classrooms are recorded, and teachers can flag important moments by pressing a button, as you might TiVo your favorite television show.
The idea is that all the data from this network of schools will be woven into a smart centralized operating system that teachers will be able to use to design effective and personalized instruction. There is even a recommendation engine built in.
While most schools don’t have the type of technology AltSchool is developing, classrooms are increasingly filled with laptops and other digital teaching aids. This year U.S. elementary, middle, and high schools are expected to spend $4.7 billion on information technology. What is new is that many of the technologies are capturing expansive amounts of data, enough of it to search for meaningful patterns and insight into how students learn. The potential for that to be turned into profit is a big reason investors have increased funding of educational technology startups worldwide, from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $2.4 billion in 2014; they invested over $1 billion more in the first quarter of 2015, much of that in China. What all that data is teaching us about how we learn and whether technology is actually making instruction better are the big questions at the heart of this Business Report.

Source: MIT Technology Review