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Anne Wujcik — Friday, May 24, 2013
There's a lot of attention being concentrated right now on various aspects of data. Part of the push back about too much testing has to do with growing parental awareness that each test administration generates a lot of data points about their children. When that sat on aggregated score sheets in a district office or when individual performance reports became part of a child's cumulative record, there was less concern, but as technology allows more manipulation and analysis of data and storage shift from a file cabinet to the cloud, anxieties mount. Parents not only want reassurances about what schools are doing with that data, some are beginning to question whether lots of it even needs to be gathered. Recent changes to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and pending changes to Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) have made the schools more anxious about compliance and interpretations vary on just what anyone, much less the educational vendors, can do with personally identifiable data. Two new reports look at different aspects of data. The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) published "Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning." The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) released "Data-Driven Innovation - A Guide for Policymakers: Understanding and Enabling the Economic and Social Value of Data." Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, May 17, 2013
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the winners of this year's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awards. ED's SBIR awards program is run by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), providing up to $1.05 million to entrepreneurial small businesses for the R&D of commercially viable education technology products. This year more than half of the awards - 12 in all - went to games and game-related projects. According to the IES website, this year's game winners display several common elements:
- Most include an adaptive component that auto-adjusts the game difficulty to the competency level of the player.
- Most include rewards and competition to drive game play.
- Several use story-based narratives to engage students.
- Most include a teaching component that supports the implementation of the game as a supplement to or replacement for standard instructional practice.
- Several include teacher dashboards, where formative assessment results are provided to the teacher in real-time to inform them of player status for further instruction and remediation.
Anne Wujck — Friday, May 10, 2013
In case you had any doubts, mobility is a hot topic in the K-12 Market. Three major surveys have been released recently that look at various aspects around the use of mobile devices in education. One focuses on parents' expectations around mobile device use, another on student device ownership and use and the third on classroom use of tablets.
- Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance, with underwriting from AT&T, released The Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study.
- The Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey was conducted online reaching a national sample of K-12 and college students.
- Project Tomorrow has begun releasing data from the 2012 Speak Up! survey, starting with From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Digital Conversion of the K-12 Classroom.
Anne Wujcik — Friday, May 03, 2013
Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk. The report was issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, formed by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell. The report was controversial then and something of a surprise, the report pointed to flagging test scores and a weakened curriculum and questioned the ability of American schools to deliver a world class education. A nation at Risk initiated the ongoing national dialog about American education. It laid the foundation for the standards and accountability movements. It's possible to argue that we've never answered the serious questions the report raised. Certainly American education has changed a lot since 1983, but we continue to struggle with persistent achievement gaps and questions about the rigor of the curriculum and the preparedness of our teachers. Education Week published a series of articles on A Nation at Risk, including commentaries from five education thought leaders on what kind of progress we have made as a nation, and where work still needs to be done. And the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the American Enterprise Institute created a video retrospective that features both people directly involved in the includes commentary from features includes comments from Lamar Alexander, Bill Bennett, Milton Goldberg, Margaret Spellings, Michelle Rhee, Diane Ravitch and Arne Duncan among others. Read More »
aNNE wUJCIK — Friday, April 26, 2013
The White House Science Fair was held this week. Here are some fun videos. The President also used the occasion to announce some expansions and new efforts under his Educate to Innovate Campaign. A new STEM AmeriCorps effort will place national service members in nonprofits that mobilize STEM professionals to inspire young people to excel in STEM education. This summer the Maker Education Initiative will launch the first-ever MakerCorps. These volunteers will give more young people the opportunity to design and build something that is personally meaningfully to them. As part of its $100 million commitment to the Educate to Innovate initiative, Time Warner Cable will launch a new effort in May 2013 to get kids and parents excited about STEM by highlighting the role these subjects play in sports. Discovery Communications is launching a new science-focused series to inspire the next generation of students, "The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius." More than 150 organizations have now come together in a coalition called 100Kin10. These organizations have made over 150 measurable commitments to increasing the supply of excellent STEM teachers; hiring, developing, and retaining excellent STEM teachers; and building the 100Kin10 movement. A new multi-year STEM mentoring campaign - US2020 - is being launched to get many more private companies to commit their science and technology workforce to STEM volunteering. You'll note that much of this STEM effort relies on the efforts of the private sector, with the President using the bully pulpit of the White House to focus attention and drum up interest. Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, April 19, 2013
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is asking for support for its White House petition to invest in classroom broadband connectivity to ensure that all students are ready for college and 21st century careers. The We the People platform at WhiteHouse.gov allows groups to post petitions seeking public support. If a petition garners 100,000 signatures within a 30 day window, it is guaranteed review by the White House. ISTE's petition argues that investment in K-12 school broadband infrastructure has lagged; even the successful E-Rate program cannot meet rapidly escalating school needs for increased bandwidth. ISTE asks for a national investment in school broadband connectivity to ensure that American students graduate equipped for success. This petition will expire on May 1 and there are a lot of signatures still to be gathered. If you agree with ISTE, go to the White House site (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/invest-classroom-broadband-connectivity-ensure-all-students-are-ready-college-and-21st-century/KFD2gCRj) and sign on. Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, April 12, 2013
If you sell digital resources to the education market, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) is looking for you. SIIA is in the final phase of data collection for its 2012 US Educational Technology Industry Market reports. SIIA fields two surveys, one for PreK-12 and the other Higher Education. Based on responses to those two surveys, SIIA aggregates numbers to project the relative size of each market segment. Submitted information is held in strict confidence and no company-specific data is published. The survey is open to SIIA members and non-member alike and is designed to be as comprehensive as possible. The real prize is that participating companies will receive a report free of charge! Simply spend 10 minutes filling out the survey and SIIA will send you a FREE copy of the $1500 report when it is published. If the requests I get for market size information are any measure, there is a real thirst for this kind of information. We all benefit when we are able to look at our own results and compare them to timely, reliable data on the size and direction of the US educational technology software market, to say nothing about the value of being able to document the growing importance of ed tech among American schools. Find more information and a link to both the K-12 and higher ed survey at http://www.siia.net/education/marketsurvey/ To preview and purchase the last report visit: http://www.siia.net/estore/10Expand.asp?ProductCode=EMRK-11 Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, April 05, 2013
Last week Chicago-based Urban Prep Academies, which operate three all-boy charter high schools, held an assembly to honor its senior class, 100% of whom had been accepted at four-year colleges all across the country. Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended the celebration and was visibly moved (which is unusual for our ultra-self-possessed mayor) as he delivered a short address praising the group's accomplishment. I tend to be skeptical about our nation's generally silver-bullet approach to charters, but this is an example of a charter that is accomplishing its mission. (And I am aware of the advantage that charters have in terms of admission and discipline policies.) Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, March 29, 2013
Well, some progress is being made. This week Congress passed and the President signed a long-term continuing resolution that will fund the operations of the Federal government - at levels equal to FY2012 - through the remainder of FY 2013. Though many people hoped otherwise, for the most part Congress let the sequester stand, though it did provide some flexibility for selected programs. That means that all Federally appropriated programs, including most education programs, will see a 5.1% reduction in their FY2013 budgets. Not great, but not as bad as it might have been. Now it's on to FY 2014. I'll expand a bit more on that in a minute, but in the end, unless the economy suddenly goes into overdrive or we see fairly substantial tax increases, the federal budget is a zero sum game. I advise focusing your attention and energy at the state level. Though state economies are recovering slowly and unevenly, education remains a state priority; in FY 2013, 36 states enacted general fund spending increases for K-12 education totaling $4.9 billion. In states where your company does a significant amount of business it may be worth lobbying a bit in support of increased education funding. Read More »
Anne Wujcik — Friday, March 22, 2013
I spent some time this weekend at the ASCD Conference which was here in Chicago. It wasn't one of the city's prettier weekends, cold and blustery, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the nearly 11,000 educators in attendance. This is a very well-run meeting, with more than 40 concurrent sessions running in every time slot not dedicated to a keynote or Exhibit Hall time. Featured speakers included Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Charlotte Danielson, Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves and Maya Angelou. There were the expected sessions on the Common Core Standards and assessment, but the ASCD crowd is as interested in social-emotional learning, civic education, multiple intelligences and project-based learning. ASCD promotes a whole child approach to education, an effort to change the conversation about education from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long term development and success of children. Read More »