She Snoops for Scoops: The Personal Side of the EdNET Community
She Snoops for Scoops: The Personal Side of the EdNET Community
Vicki Smith Bigham — Friday, May 18, 2012
Happy Friday, everyone! As educators and students are preparing to close out another school year, and we all look forward to summer days, things remain busy and also challenging for many of you. I wish you success in your endeavors, whatever they currently may be. I am glad to help keep us connected through this column—read on now for this week's scoops....
Congratulations and best wishes to SMART Co-founders!
There are some changes at SMART Technologies Inc. Nancy Knowlton, Co-founder, President and CEO, and David Martin, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, have left their executive management roles as of April 30th, 2012. Tom Hodson, the company's current Chief Operating Officer, is named Interim President and CEO. Nancy will continue to sit on the board of directors in the new role of Vice Chair, and David will continue as Chairman of the company. Their significant shareholding in the company will not change as a result of the change in their roles. Nancy and David, who are married to each other, co-founded SMART in 1987, and both have served in their current positions since June 2007. Prior to that, the two held a variety of similar positions with a now-subsidiary company. The board plans to conduct a comprehensive search to select SMART's next President and CEO, considering both internal and external candidates, and is engaging an executive search firm to assist with this process. The company expects to fill the position later this year. Congratulations to both Nancy and David, who have had tremendous success and built and nurtured such a strong, significant and innovative company that serves our education market. We wish them every future success and happiness.
Congratulations to a true education visionary!
The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of 16 national education associations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers dedicated to improving student learning in America's public schools, is honoring Jack Jennings as its 2012 Education Visionary Award winner. Jack is the founder of the Center on Education Policy, one of the most influential education groups in the United States. He founded CEP, a national, independent advocate for more effective public schools, in 1995. From 1967 to 1994, he served as subcommittee staff director and then as a general counselor for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and Labor. In these positions, he was involved in nearly every major education debate held at the national level, including the reauthorization of such important legislation as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and the National School Lunch Act. Jack is currently a member of the National Academy of Education and has served on the board of trustees of many organizations, including the Educational Testing Service, the Title I Independent Review Panel and the Pew Forum on Standards-Based Reform. He has received awards from dozens of organizations for his work in education and most recently was the recipient of awards for distinguished public service from the American Education Research Association and from Phi Delta Kappa International. He has written a book on the politics of national education standards, edited four volumes on federal education policy, and writes a blog for the Huffington Post. He holds an A.B. from Loyola University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and he is a member of several legal bars, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Honorees of the Learning First Alliance Education Visionary Award are individuals who exhibit:
• Exceptional leadership in bringing groups who have a variety of points of view together to work collaboratively
• Tenacity in focusing on the needs of children from all environmental and economic backgrounds
• Respect for professional educators and a belief that they too have the best interests of children as the focus of their work
• A demonstrated belief that public education is the cornerstone of our democratic way of life and should be nurtured for the benefit of every American
Jack Jennings surely exhibits all of these and more. Join me in congratulating him on this much deserved honor!
MDR welcomes a new hire....
MDR welcomed a new customer resource this week. Kevin Noonan joined the team as a digital media sales specialist, bringing his deep expertise in internet marketing from Lexis Nexis, lawyer.com, and Reed Elsevier, where he focused on web advertising, digital marketing, and search engine optimization. With MDR's growing digital marketing solutions, Kevin will add valuable insight to the integrated marketing opportunities available to customers. Kevin will be based in MDR's Shelton, CT office, and can be reached at email@example.com. Welcome, Kevin!
Did you hear?
A British particle physicist and sports enthusiast, a data analyst for the National Weather Service in Washington, D.C., and a graduate student from Germany won the $60,000 first prize in a competition to design innovative software to help teachers and school systems assess their students' writing. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation sponsored the contest and awarded $100,000 to the top three research teams—none of which have a background in education.
The competition itself was as innovative as the problem it was intended to solve. Participants competed in the Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP) to develop software that could score students' essays used in state standardized tests that had already been individually graded by educators. The winning team came closest to replicating how the tests were graded by the trained experts. The goal of the competition was to assess the ability of technology to assist in grading essays included in standardized tests. The contest revealed that software performed extremely well. This will pave the way for states to include more writing on standardized tests. The goal is for students to acquire critical thinking and communication skills that writing requires - all without the burden of added time and cost to the system.
The competition drew more than 2,500 entries and 250 participants and inspired data scientists to develop innovative, accurate ways to improve on the current essay scoring technology. ASAP was hosted by Kaggle, the leading platform for data prediction competitions that allows organizations to post their data and have it scrutinized by the world's best data scientists.
In conjunction with the ASAP open competition, the Hewlett Foundation also sponsored a groundbreaking study of companies that offer essay-grading software. The study found that the scoring software was able to replicate the scores of trained educators, with the software in some cases proving to be more reliable. The study was released on April 16th at the annual conference of the National Council on Measurements in Education. ASAP was designed by The Common Pool, LLC, and is managed by Open Education Solutions.The winning team of the Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP) hails from three different countries: England, Germany and the U.S. Their collaborative effort brought together the team's diverse skill set in computer science, physics and language and created the most innovative, effective and applicable testing model from more the 250 participants. The team says they believe they have just barely scratched the surface of possibilities with software scoring technology. Members of the winning team include:
- Jason Tigg - A resident of London, Jason applies his scientific expertise to predicting financial movements at work and game programming in his free time. Armed with a Ph.D. in particle physics from Oxford University, he is also a champion runner and rower—he won last year's Barnes and Mortlake Regatta held on the Thames River.
- Stefan Henß - The team's talented rookie, Stefan brought his expertise in language and semantics analysis to help guide the team to success. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in computer science from the Darmstadt University of Technology in Hesse, Germany.
- Momchil Georgiev - Momchil, the son of two teachers, applied his deep appreciation for learning and a passion for data analysis to the team's winning entry. Born in Bulgaria, he earned a Master's degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University and now works as an engineer for the National Weather Service in Washington, D.C.
- Phil Brierely, based in Melbourne, Australia, has a Ph.D. in Engineering and Artificial Intelligence. He created a popular data mining system called Tiberius that is a leading competitor in the Heritage Health Prize, a two-year competition to improve health care.
- Eu Jin also lives in Melbourne and brought his data mining and fraud investigation experience to the team.
- William Cukierski is a Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University. He has used his data expertise to predict everything stocks to grocery shopping trends.
- Christopher Hefele, who currently works for AT&T as a systems engineer, is not new to scoring high in Kaggle competitions—he was part of the team that took home second place in Netflix's million dollar competition to improve its movie recommendations.
- Bo Yang lives and works as a software engineer in British Columbia, Canada, and previously finished first in Kaggle's photo quality prediction contest.
- Vik Paruchuri is a data modeling and predictive modeling consultant expert who is currently writing a book about statistical programming. He served overseas as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for the State Department. Unlike most data experts, Vik got his degree in American History.
- Justin Fister's educational background in psychology and computer science fueled his interest in the ASAP competition. He has worked in the software industry for more than ten years.
Impressive people and results!
Dr. Steve Rappaport, VP Business Development at RedRock Reports, will be married this weekend on Saturday, May 20th, with the ceremony and dinner to be held at a neighborhood venue where the couple had their first date. Steve said they are being married five years to the day after they first met. Then next week, they are off to Paris for the honeymoon. Join me in wishing Steve and his new bride best wishes on their happy news at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And the bells still ring for our friend Ferdi Serim, Learning Community Technologies Director at Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations and owner of CLARO Consulting, and his lovely wife Joey. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary this month. Joey will still be teaching till the end of May, and then they will continue the celebration in Kauai. That sounds lovely! Join me in wishing Ferdi and Joey continued happiness at email@example.com.
That wraps up the week, friends! I hope you have a lovely weekend. Till next week....Vicki, the Snoop