Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Education Week: What Do School Rankings Really Mean?

Education Week: What Do School Rankings Really Mean?
Funny that I should come across this article right when we are trying to argue a case for why FGCS should not have to conform solely to the school district's and broader dominant educational standard of 'best' school rankings based on test scores.

The article critiques the popular approach to listing top ranked schools based on indicators such as high SAT scores. Burney states, Attainment of “top” status can render schools complacent at best, and negligent at worst, regarding the learning of individual students...indicators such as high SAT scores are misleading as a key indicator of a school’s educational quality, because students from advantaged backgrounds tend to do relatively well, in part because they have access to hours of expensive test preparation, and ongoing intellectual enrichment from home.She questions how these schools can be considered the 'best' when their focus is on teaching to the test, excessive seatwork and perpetuating a culture that squelches students' love of learning and fails to teach skills to pursue productive & satisfying lives.

eSN Special Report: Small-group collaboration

eSN Special Report: Small-group collaboration

We teach the value of constructivist approaches and collaborative work in educational psychology, but as this article points out the reality of today's world requires that students be able to work with others both face-to-face and in a global digital context. Collaboration is "authentic learning," Hobson said, and it is "transformational in that kids see their work is valued beyond the teacher. We're so very connected now, it's critical that kids have the ability to collaborate even when they're not in the same physical space."

Though the article focuses on using technology tools to support group work, those of us with limited technology in the classroom can still use its ideas - along with some creative thinking - to create a rich learning environment that encorporates a variety of learning styles...

'Plano's curriculum stresses multitasking in classrooms, which means some students might be working in groups, while others are working individually or listening to the teacher. "To get the most personalized learning," Hirsch said, "everyone shouldn't be working on the same thing at the same time." He believes mini-projectors could be a "key component of multitasking in the classroom."'

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Roles of Schools; The Place of Education

Egan, K (1992) The Roles of Schools: The Place of Education. Teachers College Record Vol.93 No.4 pp. 641-655.

Egan writes on what he calls the messy concept of education.
"All societies have procedures for initiating the young into sharing the norms, values, and commitments that govern social life and determine the distive identity for both the group and the individual within it"

In oral cultures these procedures place a significant emphasis on memory as the method of preserving knowledge, lore, and customs.. and they discovered:
- information can be made more easily and reliably memorable by encoding it verbally in vivid images
- lore coded into stories was much more easily remembered than if conveyed by other medium.

- engage intellectually + affectively
- communicate information/values/norms of behaviour while engaging a commitment to them

Invention and spread of literacy has resulted in
- less reliance on memory
- 'loss of the intensity of participatory experience in an immediate life-world in which ones' store of knowledge & lore was profoundly & vitally meaningful'

The Incompatible Modern Conceptions of Education

- Socialization = the process of initiating the young into the norms & values of the adult society
- education consists of a methodical socialization & inculcation of homogeneity of the young generation into society
- Rhetoric = technique of oral language & art of pursuasion -> finishing school 
-  Critical rationality
- Education = process of learning various forms of knowledge to cultivate a better informed understanding of the world & human experience [vs making students fit dominant norms]
- knowledge drives the educational process & its stages are recognized by the amount & kind of knowledge that has been acquired
- knowledge determines educational development
- Natural development 'fix your eyes on nature, follow the path traced by her'
- Individual Differences
- natural development drives the educational process & the acquisition of knowledge is subject to that process
- development determines what knowledge is meaningful

"The challenge for a curriculum that tries to implement such a concept of education is to make people more alike while making them more distinct, and to use knowledge to shape the nature of the individual while letting the nature of the individual determine what knowledge is relevant"

Factory Model Instructional Design
Planning a Unit/Lesson [informed by 19th century Western industrial institutions]
  1. articulate objective clearly & precisely [design in detail intended product]
  2. select content to attain objectives [supply materials necessary to build it]
  3. decide on methods most appropriate for teaching that content to attain those objectives [arrange skills to put components together]
  4. evaluate the degree to which they have successfully attained objectives [test to ensure it works as planned]
State's interest in schools is largely confined to socialization [Durkheim]
- reducing cultural diversity & expanding social homogenization

Dewey - progressivist shaping of schools
- concern to humanize the experience of schooling, to encourage students' activity & inquiry [critical thinking] and to imbue in them the values of democratic social life.

"The centrality of the story form &; image formation have been largely displaced by discursive prose, theory & the concept. The latter set encourages literal, practical & productive thinking; the former set encourages affective & imaginative thinking."

"..we have seen a distinct tilt in favor of a modern, centralized state-required form of socialization, along with, somewhat incidentally, a largely ineffective industry of pseudo-scientific research that is supposed to fine-tune the educational process. We have seen a depreciation of the Platonic program and of the role of emotion & imagination in schooling."

What Causes Education?
2 major contenders - education is caused by:
Plato - the individual's learning appropriate knowledge that gives a privleges view of reality, freed from teh illusions & confusions due to personal interests, social circumstances & so on.
Rousseau - the individual's successfully attaining increasingly sophisticated cognitive skills, enabling critical thinking, problem solving & the autonomous pursuit of self-determined goals.

Imagination in Education
Early education recapitulates a kind of understanding evident in early cutlural history [young chidren coming to school live in an oral culture]
- to teach concrete contnet utied to powerful abstractions is to starve the imagination
TS Eliot 'It is only at the end of our exploring that we come to the place where we started and know it for the first time.'

"The dominant concept of education that currently shapes our schools in incoherent...the cause, I have argued,lies in the concept of education that dominates thinking about such things as management procedures, teaching techniques, student learning, the curriculum and so on...with the educational system, the problem is the theoretical incoherence, and its most disturbing symptom is that it disempowers all those who work within it"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Can Web 2.0 Save Teacher Professional Development? Webinar
Barbara Treacy, director, EdTech Leaders Online, Education Development Center
Christopher Sessums,  College of Education at the University of Florida
Moderator: Anthony Rebora, managing editor,, Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook Themes: Online PD, teacher social networking, collaborative
Opening questions: what's happening? what are the opportunities & issues?

I. TREACY: Elements of effective PD? Which Tools Support Elements? Some Examples
PD needs to be well designed & delivered and to be better respected in its role for the educator.
Web 2.0 can support effective PD

  • be intensive, ongoing, connected to practice
  • focus on student learning
  • address teaching of spec content
  • alignt school prop
  • build strong working relationships among teachers.

Succeeding with Web 2.0

Classroom 2.0 Live webinar 11-21-09 with Terry Freedman
Classroom 2.0 resources for Freedman:

Elluminate features needed for attendees [approx 79+]
- what was cool here was clicking on a map & seeing where all attendees were from
Attendee Survey
- poll 1: experience using Web 2.0 -> 50/79 = Yes; 12/79 = No
- poll 2: googleform w/ 2 checkbox answer questions

Case Study: E13 Learning Community

Every Child Matters
  • be healthy
  • stay safe
  • enjoy & achieve
  • make a positive contribution
  • achieve economic well being

TEAM - Together Everyone Achieves More
School Logo - worldle of places students are from + representative flags

Personal Learning; Thinking Skills
  • team work
  • independent engquiry
  • self management
  • reflective learning
  • effective participation
  • creative thinking
Anatomy of a Successful Project
  • get key decision-makers on board
  • agree ot teachiing and learning aims
  • measuring success [criteria[
  • importance of the community
  • project managment
  • getting the equipement [supplier]
  • working within the current framework
  • senior leadership
  • unintended consequences
Terry's Slideshow

Other References Shared by Webinar Attendees
Creative Projects for the 6th Grade Classroom
Parents as Partners
Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum
Ideas & Thoughts
Open Thinking
Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency
Teachers Connecting
Customizable Whiteboard Widgets
Innovative use of technology in learning
Web 2.0 Projects Book:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Educational Practice

[11:41 mins] In this talk from RSA Animate, Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools' dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. An important, timely talk for parents and teachers.

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

recent stuff

a few things have been happening on the technology front. first of all i'm looking forward to the class getting started on their action research projects this saturday. it's always fun to see what people choose to work on. on a personal front i got some great news this week that a chapter proposal i submitted has been accepted. i'm still waiting to hear more details but it will go in an edited book on personalized learning and personal learning environments. this is a topic we explored a bit in my last class through iGoogle and i feel is a fascinating area of study. the other fun news is that i get to present the work i've been doing with colleagues at george fox on second life at the eLearn conference in vancouver canada next week.

Friday, October 9, 2009

workin' the web conferencing

i dont know if it's because i had such a useful meeting with the connect pro guy, but i really got into preparing my meeting room for tomorrow's class. i started playing with the different layouts and pods, and even created a little poll that i hope to try out tomorrow. as the man said - and how many times have i said the same to my own students - you just need to get in and play with it. looking forward to see how the students find it all tomorrow

Cool tools


Also here is another tool for Firefox browsers for downloading videos to your desktop and it can reformat too

The Learning Society

Continual acquisition and sharing of knowledge and skill to cope with our changing environment defines homo sapiens.  Learning to survive and gain partial control of our environment has involved the invention of powerful mediating tools and the social constructions of complex systems of language and culture.  Learning to use these tools and language systems has been intimately linked with the work of developing them through most of human history .D. W.,  . . but the quest for knowledge has been the most distinctive intrinsic feature in the origin of our species. In this respect human societies have always been learning societies.  (Livingstone, 2004, p. 2)

Livingstone's statement presents learning societies as an inherent component of the human experience; others maintain that the learning society is a modern day myth that has neither been realized nor is close to existing (Smith, 2000). Reality or myth, a common theme in the literature is that the concept of a learning society helps us to make sense of the profound social and economic changes that are occurring in this era of globalization.  Further to this, it has been proposed that the importance of the learning society is that our future survival depends on our ability to adopt the habit of mind of lifelong learning as well as the intentional action towards its realization.
The learning society model put forth by Keating and Hertzman in Developmental Health and the Wealth of Nations contributes a theoretical framework of understanding based on deep consideration of the social, biological, and educational dynamics of developmental health and the promotion of a future healthy and prosperous global society by ensuring quality developmental experiences in the early years. 
A most compelling reason stated for understanding the significance of a learning society concept is in relation to the global momentum toward innovation-based knowledge economies.  As human resources are a key component to innovation, societies that do not invest in their human resources stand to limit their chances to prosper in future growth economies. 
Keating points out that it is not only the availability of human resources that matter to well-functioning societies and economies, but also how those resources are organized:

adobe connect pro web conferencing

had a meeting with the adobe guy today. i had a bunch of questions and learned some interesting things.

* new release 7.5 will allow capturing phone conferencing through third party
* VOIP works better with headsets and in particular USB headsets as they dont just rely on the sound card. so technically the hands-free should work for everyone but built-in mics are more likely to have problems with feedback, echo etc.
* i learned how to change 'enhanced participants rights' so that everyone who has a camera can share their video

most of all i enjoyed getting into connect and playing around. i wish i could do it more...i need to find people who want to play in there with me

Another class, more to learn

here i am teaching another technology course and what i love about that is that it gives me an excuse to take time to pick up the playing with technology. i'm looking forward to playing more with web conferencing, google tools, blogs, and of course seeing what projects the students decide to work on.