Our results were not 100 percent determined by how hard or long we worked—there were also the conditions in which we worked. We had classes with 35-plus students. Some teachers didn’t have their own classrooms. We often didn’t have books. Our students faced every challenge imaginable. We needed smaller class sizes, money for books and materials, money to renovate the crumbling school building. We needed more professional development, more time to collaborate, more support staff. We needed our students to have safe communities, nice homes, and food on their tables. Our students’ parents needed jobs that paid a living wage. We needed the police to stop profiling and imprisoning the young men in our community. We needed the War on Drugs to come to an end. We needed all these problems addressed. Corporate reform of public schools, as Diane Ravitch has tirelessly pointed out, seeks to address exactly none of these problems.
I agree with the above, but I’m not so sure I agree with a point later on in her essay.
Instead of writing letters of recommendation for TFA, I encourage my students to apply to graduate programs in education.
I don’t know if racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt before stepping foot in the classroom is the right approach either.
Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education:
Schools buy stuff badly. This spells trouble for education technology. Schools will buy the wrong things, at bad prices and for the wrong students. The result: schools will implement edtech more slowly, results will improve minimally if at all, the wrong technology will prosper and money will be diverted from more effective goods and services. If we want to avoid this future, we need to fix the procurement process now before it’s too late.
Similar to Google’s new Web Designer tool, Apple has had something similar for close to a year now. Curiously, though, it’s called iAd Producer and you need a free developer account to even view the page on it.
The potential for cool sensors like iBeacons and the M7 motion processor make the prospect of developing for iOS exciting, but the unlikelihood of making money except using In-App Purchases and the fact that using In-App Purchases paints a big red target on your back, strongly dissuades me from wanting to invest the development time.
In this case, Steve Jobs demonstrated the rubber-banding technology at the launch of the iPhone in January of 2007 and Apple applied for the German patent on the technology after that date. As a result, Apple’s patent was dismissed because of its own prior art.
This is ridiculous for two reasons:
You should not be able to patent a rubber band effect.
Your own prior art should not invalidate the effect you patented just because you showed it off before you patented it.
Schools will now be able to assign apps to users wirelessly while keeping full ownership and control over the app licenses. It’s flexible, too: Apps can be revoked at will and reassigned to other students. (Apple’s new volume purchasing program also supports the purchase of Mac apps and books, so its impact stretches beyond iOS devices.)
I got out of the iPad management business a few months ago, but—if this works—it’s a total game changer and would have made my life an order of magnitude easier. As it stands, it’s probably just going to make my successor look incredibly competent, but that’s life.
Also, bundling Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and iPhoto with each new iOS device is great for making it easy for students to create content on their devices. I wish Apple would make these apps available to schools who already purchased their iPads for this school year.
The emerging research communities in educational data mining and learning analytics are developing methods for mining and modeling the increasing amounts of fine-grained data becoming available about learners. In this class, you will learn about these methods, and their strengths and weaknesses for different applications. You will learn how to use each method to answer education research questions and to drive intervention and improvement in educational software and systems. Methods will be covered both at a theoretical level, and in terms of how to apply and execute them using standard software tools. Issues of validity and generalizability will also be covered, towards learning to establish how trustworthy and applicable the results of an analysis are.
This course seems pretty awesome. I might have to break my tradition of signing up for MOOCs and never actually completing them.
That’s ironic, because the point of iBeacons is to help you find things — or, rather, to help your iOS device to find itself. iBeacons is the general name for a set of additions to the Core Location framework that developers can use when designing apps: it isn’t a new piece of hardware, nor a new app, but a capability. Apps can use iBeacons to answer the question “Where am I?” not in terms of a location on a map, like GPS does, but in terms of where the device is relative to another device. Specifically, where it is relative to another device acting as an iBeacon.
Think of an iBeacon as a tiny radio you can put almost anywhere. When your iPhone or other iOS device gets within range (a few dozen feet or so), it detects the iBeacon and can estimate how far away it is. Each iBeacon has its own identifier, too, so if your iPhone is within range of more than one iBeacon, it can tell them apart.
It’s all of the cool sensors in iOS devices that is beginning to attract me to the platform. I think you can do some really cool stuff in the classroom with iBeacons.
[Kim] Bankston is frank: we need more talent, and the girls of this generation need to be a part of it. Showing them that information technology is a cool field—and one not to fear—is key, especially since technology figures significantly into just about every industry.
Jessica has decided not to return to TFA for a second year. She said she was so unsupported that she felt justified reneging on her two-year commitment. “Yes a commitment matters,” she wrote, “but staying isn’t necessarily helpful to your kids or anybody.” Jessica said that after she notified local TFA leadership of her decision, the reaction was severe. “They chewed out my character and made personal allegations,” she said. She was told, she recalls, that she would “personally have to deal with remorse and regret.”
How do we resolve this paradox that college is a sound financial investment, yet an increasing number of students find themselves unable to pay back their loans?
College may still be, on average, a worthwhile investment. But for American higher education, a ‘D’ is still a passing grade.
According to a chart included in the article entitled “Best and Worst Median Salaries Ranked By College Major”, one of the least lucrative investments is early childhood education—and that’s a shame.
When today’s K-12 students enter college and embark in their careers, they will most likely encounter a wide array of game-like elements, such as badge systems. In June, Blackboard Learn, a learning management system for higher education, announced a partnership with Mozilla to support digital badges. In the corporate world, badge systems are also used to increase employee productivity. Mozilla’s Open Badges Backpack serves as a virtual resume to display one’s mastered skills.
I want one of those Github merit badges in the photograph above the article.
A Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement,” kaizen is a main ingredient in Toyota’s business model and a key to its success, the company says. It is an effort to optimize flow and quality by constantly searching for ways to streamline and enhance performance. Put more simply, it is about thinking outside the box and making small changes to generate big results.
I know of another sector that could use healthy dose of kaizen.
That one new feature you added? That sparkly, Techcrunchable, awesome feature? What did it cost your user? If the result of your work consumes someone’s cognitive resources, they can’t use those resources for other things that truly, deeply matter. This is NOT about consuming their time and attention while they’re using your app. This is about draining their ability for logical thinking, problem-solving, and willpower after the clicking/swiping/gesturing is done.
I wonder if many schools have arbitrary policies in place that drain teachers cognitive resources and prevent them for doing great work.
When Arnecia Hawkins enrolled at Arizona State University last fall, she did not realize she was volunteering as a test subject in an experimental reinvention of American higher education. Yet here she was, near the end of her spring semester, learning math from a machine.
Yours truly was asked to speak at the press conference with New York City Department of Education’s Chancellor, Dennis Walcott.
Anika Anand writing for Gotham Schools:
“There’s a lot of tools that have come and gone over the last decade that it felt like they didn’t talk to a teacher,” said Steve Kinney, a middle and high school programming teacher from Scholars Academy in Rockaway Park who served as one of the judges in the competition.
“This is the first time where it’s very explicit that we’re involving teachers in the process and we’re looking for apps that get back to the core of why anyone became a teacher, things that allow them to leverage technology, to work faster and more efficiently so they can focus their time on creating great lessons,” Kinney said.
And so the president goes on television telling us that the big issue of our time is jobs, jobs, jobs — as if the reason to build high-speed rails and fix bridges is to put people back to work. But it seems to me there’s something backwards in that logic. I find myself wondering if we may be accepting a premise that deserves to be questioned.
The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I Think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.
Just for fun: think about this as if you were the principal of a school.
What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.
I always chuckle when people tell me they’re excellent multitaskers.
When we got language, we didn’t just learn how to listen, but how to speak. When we got text, we didn’t just learn how to read, but how to write. Now that we have computers, we’re learning how to use them — but not how to program them.
Technology isn’t going anywhere and it’s a little ridiculous that basic programming skills aren’t a mandatory part of the curriculum—even if we only covered the finer points of working with spreadsheets.
If as few as 20 percent of students finishing an online course is considered a wild success and 10 percent and lower is standard, then it would appear that MOOCs are still more of a hobby than a viable alternative to traditional classroom education.
I wonder, however, if the high drop-out rate for most MOOCs is due to the fact that most of them are free. It doesn’t cost anything to enroll so why not? Then, when life intervenes, there is no cost to drop out.
The problem, [Paul Tough, a journalist and former editor at the New York Times Magazine,] writes, is that academic success is believed to be a product of cognitive skills—the kind of intelligence that gets measured in IQ tests. This view has spawned a vibrant market for brain-building baby toys, and an education-reform movement that sweats over test scores. But new research from a spate of economists, psychologists, neuroscientists and educators has found that the skills that see a student through college and beyond have less to do with smarts than with more ordinary personality traits, like an ability to stay focused and control impulses.
Oddly, there was no author attribution on the page as of this writing. ↩
Last week, we moved back in to our school in Rockaway Beach. This is awesome for a number of reasons (my new commute not being one of them), but I am excited to get back to teaching mobile and web development. Over the next week, I will be putting together a number of Donors Choose campaigns to help us purchase a set of test devices so that students can touch and feel their apps.
The link above will help us get a latest generation iPad. We had about 80 or so iPads stolen during the cleanup process and 30 more destroyed by the flood. I am also putting together a campaign for a pair of Nexus 7 tablets, but the website ate my write-up.
Here is the important part:
Even better: our Board of Directors wants to kick start your project! For the next 7 days, when someone donates to your project and enters the code INSPIRE, we’ll match their donation dollar for dollar.
The Hurricane and the Little Boy Who Saved My Life
I grew up in and around New York City. We’ve had hurricanes in the past. As a child, a tropical weather system meant an amusing evening of watching my father set up pumps in our basement while I spent the evening gawking at the inch or so of water that managed to make it past him despite his best efforts. Our floors were tile and clean-up involved a mop and some towels, at the most.
A little over a year ago, Hurricane Irene made her way toward the City of New York. At the time, we lived in a basement apartment. Despite that, we didn’t think much of the approaching storm. Not wanting to risk dehydration, we purchased a gallon of Poland Spring, a bottle of wine, and some beer. We lit some candles and enjoyed each other’s company. The water survived; the beer and wine did not.
On a Friday afternoon, my principal made an announcement asking us to please make sure that all of our windows were closed securely as there supposed to be a hurricane over the weekend. I obliged and headed home. This was the first I had heard it. Wasn’t a bit late in the season for a hurricane? Sandy? That’s a bit late in the alphabet, don’t you think?
If this was a year ago, we would have stayed put. I would have pulled out the ceremonial mop and towels and headed out to the beach to admire the waves before it started to rain. But, something was different this time around. Six weeks ago, we had a son. Since my son was born, I had been working three jobs and—even when I had a little bit of time off—was burnt out and distant. My wife was discovering the fact that motherhood is truly a full-time job and that her boss was incredibly demanding. At the very least, we would have a little of time to reconnect as a couple if the power went out.
We moved out to Rockaway to start a family. It was both affordable and safe—a rare combination for New York City. My wife had grown up by the ocean and wanted to give our son the same access. We spent our days and nights planning out our future lives together on this beautiful peninsula.
But, as first-time parents, paranoia and anxiety is part of daily life. We decided to heed the warnings. Logan and Wes went off to her mother’s place in Central Jersey and I stayed behind. Climbing into her aunt’s car with an obese cat, a dog with separation anxiety, and a newborn wasn’t her idea of the quiet weekend we had planned. She dropped and smashed her new iPhone in the process and was beginning to resent me for potentially overreacting and shipping her off to New Jersey. Given the information at the time, she was right. No one we knew was leaving and everyone else was treating this like business as usual.
At the last minute before public transportation shut down, I decided that I missed the two of them. Leaving Rockaway was not an easy decision. I battled with the choice for the duration of the trip and almost turned back on several occasions. If a little bit of water creeped in under my poorly-installed door and I was there to mop it up, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But, if I let it sit there for a few days, it might wreck my floor. What about looters? An evacuated neighborhood is a gold mine for someone with questionable ethics and a crowbar. At the time, leaving Rockaway could have been a potentially bad decision for my family.
Gauntlet: dropped. I work for the largest school district in the United States of America. I would love to see a sea change in organizational culture where things like this happen. Imagine the potential of 80,000 teachers hacking away at education.
A decade ago, an economist at Harvard, Ronald Ferguson, wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who see them every day—their students. The idea—as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses—was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. Even among kindergarten students. A growing number of school systems are administering the surveys—and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions.
I actually like this idea—although, I can definitely see the counterarguments. Opponents can—correctly—argue that teachers will spend more time trying to be popular than effective. I’m sure it would be a bureaucratic mess to implement and the unions would never buy in.
In my experience, however, students tend to be fair in their judgement of their teachers. Charismatic, but ineffective, teachers fall from grace quickly. A hard, over-demanding teacher can end up being one of the most widely respected teachers in the building.
While I do wish education was more of a meritocracy—I have a family to feed these days—it’s not a potential link to salaries and promotions that interests me. At the end of the day, your students are your customers and it’s worth getting an honest opinion of their assessment of your teaching—even if that assessment is a sobering one.
I think I might integrate some kind of evaluation system for myself in the near future. I’ll report back on how that works out.
Our school has 10 iPads, and we are thinking of starting to use configurator. All the iPads are in griffin defender cases, and we are thinking of buying a bretford syncing tray, but don't think the ipads will fit in their cases. How do you connect multiple ipads at once? We're going to buy either a macbook pro 13" of a 13" air to run configurator on.
I used a cheap 10-port USB hub for a while that cost me around $12. These days, I have a syncing cart that holds up to 32 iPads that costed significantly more. I can’t say that the cart is much better than the USB hub was.
Just make sure that the hub is powered—or you won’t be able to connect more than one or two iPads. Also, I don’t know if your iPads will fit with their cases on, but you should consider getting a dish drying rack to hold them while you are syncing them.
Our school is using iPad carts and Configurator. We want apps located on specific iPad pages, and in some cases, specific folders on that page. We also want to add apps incrementally as teachers request them; and when we do, we want the app organization to stay as it is on the iPads and simply organize the new apps into that structure. IT has iPads as Supervised, and when they try to add apps, the ones already there are deleted. Ideas?
The short answer is to set up an iPad exactly the way that you want it. Put the apps in the right folders and tweak the settings to your heart’s content. Once you have everything the way you want it, create a backup of that iPad using the Apple Configurator and use it to restore the rest of your fleet.
I’m not sure how well this will work for the incremental rollout of apps, but it should get you off the ground while you investigate further.
When we did our first rollout a year ago, the Apple Configurator did not exist. I used it in small batches, but this year is my first major rollout using the tool. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with any and all tricks and tips I pick up along the way!
“If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you’re trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you’re even considering the other is laziness.”—Paul Graham, “How to Make Wealth” (via timoni)
Steve - I have started to look at Apple configurator for 12 iPads for an Infant class ( Newcastle Australia). Are you able to do just the wireless settings ( not the apps etc) ? I have already done the apps and don't really want to manually do them into configurator. I would just like to be able to deploy wireless settings. Is this possible ? Secondly - does this also mean that any work done on them (iMovie, photos , etc ) won't be able to be taken off a non sync computer ?
In Apple Configurator, Mac OS X Server, or even the poorly named iPhone Configuration Utility, you can create configuration profiles. In these profiles, you can set up all of your wireless networks and even some restrictions and other miscellany.
Once you’ve created the profile, you can load it on to the device through Apple Configurator or by downloading it from the web or through email. You’ll need to confirm a few things and it will be loaded in and the settings will be applied. The chicken and the egg with the wireless settings is that if you plan to use the web or email, they need to be online first. That said, you can push out the profiles through the Configurator.
To answer your second question: the only time that you lose access to the camera roll and whatnot is when you flip on supervision. If you choose not to supervise the devices in Apple Configurator, then it’s business as usual.
Dropbox recently added to feature to pull of photos and videos off your iOS device every time it connects. This may be a good option for you because it will allow your to keep a shared folder full of media.
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of other schools are going to be piloting iPads this year and I thought it would be nice to offer a helping hand. So, I’m willing to do a group discussion about iPads in the classroom for anyone interested. The link above leads to a Google form where you can tell me a little about yourself so I can do the preparatory work necessary to make it a good use of your time and my own.
Now, in studies that threaten to shake the foundation of high-stakes test-based accountability, Mr. Stroup and two other researchers said they believe they have found the reason: a glitch embedded in the DNA of the state exams that, as a result of a statistical method used to assemble them, suggests they are virtually useless at measuring the effects of classroom instruction.
How Can College and Career Readiness Not Include Programming?
Standards are important. Along those lines, standards-based lesson plan is important. Standards are an agreement about what we, as a society, think that our children should be learning over the course of their education. In addition, I think standards are helpful. They serve as a guideline and the foundation on which to build a solid curriculum.
Granted, all of that above assumes that you’re using educational standards in some kind of even remotely sane manner. More often than not, standards are an excuse to throw out all your textbooks and by brand-new ones.
My wife found herself in an interesting predicament last year. She was asked by her administration to make sure that her math lessons aligned to the new Common Core Standards and clearly document their alignment their lesson plans. That seems reasonable, right? The problem was that she didn’t write those lessons and had no control over whether or not they met the Common Core Standards. They were part of the Everyday Math curriculum that she was mandated to use. The result was that she had to find arbitrary and capricious connections to the new standards to appease her bosses because the textbook publishers had not yet done so. She faced a bad evaluation if she failed to do so.
This is similar to how I feel about the whole college and career readiness shtick. Schools—and therefore, teachers—are assessed on how well they prepare their students for college and the careers of the 21st-century. At the same time, ask any teacher why they don’t embark on more ambitious projects with her students and the first thing that they will tell you is because they have to prepare their kids for the high-stakes state tests. Furthermore, the common core standards—despite their pride—pay only lip service to technology and education.
I don’t think that everyone should be a programmer. But considering Apple and the App Store have created a billion-dollar economy in the midst of an economic recession and the fact that most technology companies are clamoring for talented software engineers, wouldn’t it make sense to include basic programming and web design courses alongside chemistry, history, geometry, and other academic subjects?
The Common Core Standards just ask that technology be included in the curriculum and make no suggestions on what that would look like—especially what it would look like to compare students for the careers of the modern economy. Frankly, it’s irresponsible. How do we have a new set of standards that completely ignore the prospect of at least introducing students to such an in demand field?
Instead, we stymie the integration of technology into education. We disallow students to bring in laptops and handheld devices to aid in their learning despite using them ourselves on a regular basis. The necessity to understand how to complete advanced tasks and solve hard problems using a computer is weaseling his way into every field—not just technology—and it’s important that we be there to help our students build that understanding.
I get asked from time to time whether or not I think Apple cares about the education market. Apple, in specific, comes up because we’re knee deep in implementing a one-to-one iPad pilot in the seventh and eighth grade and also because education was Apple’s thing back in the 1990s.
My answer is yes and no. On one hand, they obviously still care. In his biography, Walter Isaacson described a conversation with Steve Jobs, where he talked specifically about revolutionizing the textbook market. In addition, Apple did have a big event for education last January. At this event they announce partnerships major textbook publishers and—more importantly—released the free iBooks author software to anyone and everyone interested in creating rich, multimedia textbooks for their students. At the same event, they also rolled out a major overhaul of iTunes U. The expanded service allows universities to get a full course materials for interested autodidacts who want to play along from home.
At the same time, if you compare Apple over the last decade to the 1990s, it’s clear that they’ve lost some of that fire and passion for the education market. I should point out, that I think that this has nothing to do with the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. NeXT, Steve’s company while in exile from Apple, was exclusively focused on the education market. And part of the reason Mac OS X is so easy to manage in a school environment is because it is based off of the NeXTStep operating system.
My argument is that it’s not that Apple doesn’t care about education as much anymore; it’s that education doesn’t care about integrating technology as much. In the 90s, very few people had computers at home. You went to university computer lab or used the Mac in your classroom if you needed to use a computer. Getting computers into the classroom was a way for Apple to expose students to their potential. Now, the opposite is true. Most adults have exclusive access to a least one computer at their workplace and many have access to more than one. Adult as well as students carry computers in their pocket with them on a day-to-day basis.
The situation is much more dismal in schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (2010), the ratio of students to computers in the classroom in 2009—the most recent year that data was available for—was 5.3 to 1. In addition, even if students do have powerful computers in their pockets, most school district policy forbids them from using them in their schools.
Apple sells more devices through just one of their New York City retail stores in a month than they sell to the entire year to the New York City Department of Education—the nation’s largest school district—an entire year. In addition, most large school districts are known for being notoriously hard to work with. To this day, the New York City Department of Education still has not found a way to allow its schools and teachers purchase apps for school-owned iOS devices. Word on the street is that they’re demanding their own App Store despite the fact that Apple has Volume Purchasing Program in place.
The point is this: if Apple or any other technology company wants to get their devices into the hands of the artists, scientists, writers, thinkers, and creators of tomorrow, then going through the education market is the absolute least efficient way of doing that. Why cut through the red tape when you can bypass the middleman? There needs to be a shift in our priorities. And there needs to be a drastic reduction in the amount of bureaucracy involved in deploying technology in schools.
This is important, because while a lot of students and families have computers at home, a lot more don’t. For those that do, is not uncommon for that one computer to be shared by the entire family. Part of the point of schools, is to provide an equitable opportunity and access to education and part of an education in the 21st century is to be able to use and solve hard problems with the tools of 21st-century. And until that happens for all students, we’re doing them a disservice.