Posts tagged "education"

Texas School District to Give iPads to All Teachers, Students

In the McAllen school district, officials last week announced a more than $20 million commitment to provide an iPad for all 25,300 students and 1,634 teachers.

And despite painful budget cuts, Superintendent James Ponce said the costly initiative—coined “Teaching Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community,” or TLC-3—was mandatory in the 21st century.

Should Kids Be Taught to Code? Growing Movement Says Yes

Think computer science should be a standard component of the public school curriculum? So does a grassroots group of educators, developers, parents, and industry leaders in the U.K. As part of a just-launched effort called Coding for Kids, they’re working to find ways to teach kids how to code and generally “support education of programming and computational thinking for the current and next generations.”

Adding computer science education early, Mulqueeny wrote on the petition, would “lessen the disparity between the sexes.” Waiting any later in students’ education poses a risk of “losing the female coders” to the geek-aversion phenomenon. 

They’re also challenging interested parties to commit to furthering the coding education movement and tracking commitments on Twitter through the #codingforkids hashtag.

Text messaging in schools

Over the last few months, there has been increased interest in using text-messaging at school. Although many schools do still have strict policies that forbid using cell phones in class, more are exploring ways to use text-messaging as a communication tool to bridge home and school.

There’s also been an explosion in new tech start-ups that offer services for just this purpose. They’re taking advantage of students’ and families’ access to cell phones, but more importantly perhaps, they’re tapping into the popularity of text-messaging among teens. They’re also working to make sure that the SMS communication is safe, that both student and teacher privacy is protected, and that records are kept so that any inappropriate behavior can be identified. Some of these startups include Remind 101, Cel.ly, and Snapp School. (You can read more about Cel.ly here.)

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But just as text-messaging may be on the cusp of widespread adoption in schools, there are rumblings in other sectors that text-messaging is dead. Or more accurately, perhaps, that text-messaging should simply die.

Will YouTube Videos Ever Replace Teachers?

The “flipped classroom"—which switches the order of classroom instruction and homework—is the latest education craze. Instead of receiving in-class lectures from a teacher, students watch a video lesson on YouTube. The next day, they head to school and do homework under the teacher’s supervision. Flipped classroom advocates say the model is more effective because students have their teachers and peers with them to give them feedback when they encounter problems with homework.

But there’s a major flaw in this innovative model: the nation still has a tremendous digital divide.

The other element left out of the flipped classroom discussion is that watching a video is no more active or engaging than reading a textbook. 


The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator?

The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator?

Facebook is Not Ruining Student Grades, Study Says

The latest of several studies to look into the relationship between Facebook use and low grades has a counterintuitive twist — some kinds of Facebook use are correlated withhigher GPAs.

“Facebook use in and of itself is not detrimental to academic outcome,” says study author Reynol Junco, a professor at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. “It depends how it’s used.”

All Facebook activities do not have the same relationship with grades. Posting status updates and using Facebook chat generally mean a lower GPA, while checking to see what friends are up to and sharing links suggest a higher GPA. In other words, social Facebook activities were correlated with lower grades and information-related Facebook activities were correlated with higher grades.

Great read about classrooms and their technology future

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

This conundrum calls into question one of the most significant contemporary educational movements. Advocates for giving schools a major technological upgrade — which include powerful educators, Silicon Valley titans and White House appointees — say digital devices let students learn at their own pace, teach skills needed in a modern economy and hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets.

“The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. 

And yet, in virtually the same breath, he said change of a historic magnitude is inevitably coming to classrooms this decade: “It’s one of the three or four biggest things happening in the world today.”

Read more from the New York Times

Missouri lawmakers vote to repeal Facebook limits

Missouri lawmakers on Sept. 23 passed and sent to the governor a bill designed to refriend Facebook and other electronic media for thousands of Missouri’s teachers and students.

Not everyone, however, has decided to “like” it–including Gov. Jay Nixon, who wants to hear what teachers and school boards think.

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed a repeal of an earlier law barring most private electronic contact between teachers and students, including exchanges on social media websites such as Facebook.

But the new bill does more than just repeal the so-called Facebook law. It also requires local school districts to adopt their own policies by next March, “to prevent improper communications between staff members and students.”

FCC opens access to social media sites for educators

Now that even the staid Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has loosened its tight rein on social media networks, it’s time for more educators to use these tools to improve classroom instruction and home-school communications.

In August, the FCC clarified an earlier ruling that led to widespread blocking of social media networks by school districts receiving discounted internet access through federal e-Rate dollars.

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By clarifying that schools can allow access to social media websites without violating the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and risk losing coveted e-Rate dollars for telecommunications, the FCC opened access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other top social media sites for instructional use.

Myths About Game-Based Learning

One common myth about GBL is that it requires high-level technology. Another is that it is simply using games, whether physical or on the web, in the classroom. These ideas are not entirely true. Yes, GBL can be more rockstar when using technology, but it is not a requirement. No, GBL is not simply using games in the classroom. It is about making a rigorous unit of study a robust game, not just one day, where multiple games and challenges are used to explore concepts and learning targets in depth.

Gee refers to teachers as “learning designers,” and I couldn’t agree more. Teachers are the designers of all the components of the learning environment for students, from the management to the assessment. So here is the question for each educator: How do I design engaging game-based units in my classroom to assess important learning targets?

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