Jim,How ready are we for this kind of shift?
You might very well be right. As I try to wrap my head around the implications of this Georgia Tech/Udacity deal, I keep bumping into the fact that they chose to offer a Master's Degree program first.
Can you imagine what will happen when a comparable UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM becomes available for this price and at this scale? It seems to me that the role of *public* K12 in preparing students for college would/will immediately shift - from helping students to acquire the SKILLS needed to succeed in college, to helping them acquire the SKILLS while also providing underprivileged students with ACCESS to *college*.
We all know there exists a percentage of students who are academically prepared for college while in their early years of high school. When we were in high school, we had little choice but to wait out our high school years (possibly earning AP credits along the way). Today's students are able to take concurrent enrollment courses - or also AP - earning their way to an Associate's Degree upon high school graduation. When quality undergrad MOOC programs become available, is it really that hard to envision our best high school students also leaving high school with their Bachelor's?
Twenty-four year old PhDs will become commonplace.
I remember the good ol' days, when teachers could actually tell when their students were using the Internet.
With Google Glass and now this Muse spinoff, it's hard to know exactly what students are focussing on. Man, I miss the days of Minecraft and Snapchat, 24/7! ;)
Really I don't miss the good ol' days; because think of the opportunities for learning these new technologies will bring! However, in only a few year's time, I can imagine even today's most hesitant teachers (put that cellphone away!) will long for simpler times, when kids brought only iPods to class.
Labels: 652ndplaceisnoplace , edreform , sweeptheleg , utpol
Based on our latest intel, the sweet spot for ideal high school staffing ratios hovers right around 16.41 students per teacher.
US News and World Report released their rankings this week of the "Best High Schools" in the country.* After evaluating more than 21,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia, schools were awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on "state proficiency standards and how well they prepare students for college." The American Institutes of Research (AIR) paired with US News to conduct much of the analysis.
The methodology used for selecting this year's cream of the crop included three steps:
- Determine whether "each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state."
- For those schools making it past Step 1, determine "whether the school's least-advantaged students (black, Hispanic and low-income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state."
- For those schools making it past Steps 1 and 2, judge schools nationally on "college-readiness performance – using Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success, depending on which program was largest at the school."
Nevertheless, this painful competition (for some) between schools and states can be an important learning experience for all. In spite of John Hattie's claim that class size has relatively little positive impact on student achievement, I continue to believe that large class sizes bring detrimental consequences that impede the success of schools. This year's display of "Best High School" rankings beautifully illustrates this fact.
Through my Utah-centric lens, I decided to dig a little deeper through the data published by the US News report. Upon analyzing the Student:Teacher ratios advertised for most schools in the report, interesting patterns emerged. Accordingly, in the US News report:
- The top scoring 2,290 schools were ranked. These schools earned Gold and/or Silver medals.
- The mean Student:Teacher ratio for Utah's twelve ranking schools was 23.
- The mean Student:Teacher ratio of the 651 schools scoring higher than Utah's top InTech Collegiate High was 16.41.
- Of those 651 higher-ranked schools, only 17 had Student:Teacher ratios higher than Utah's mean of 23.
To me, if second place is no place, then six hundred fifty-second is just that much worse.
* School Administrators should ACT NOW! If your high school is nationally ranked, you may display a "U.S. News ranked" badge on your school's website. The Best High Schools badges are available as FREE downloads!
Apparently, this whole "online badge" thing works now for credentialling schools, too!
** This methodology exemplifies the kind of scrutiny under which Utah schools will soon be subjected, given the contract recently negotiated between the Utah State Office of Education and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). I guess I'm ready if you are.
*** There were 49 states and the District of Columbia participating in the US News analysis. Why weren't any Utah schools in the top 50? Am I naïve to think we should be able to compete? Am I wrong to think that we'd even want to? The classroom teacher in me hates so much of this entire scenario that I'm sick that I've even written this post.
I jumped into an interesting Twitter conversation last night between Dean Shareski, Karl Fisch, Chris Lehmann, and several others about how and why schools might use Twitter. Dean kicked off the discussion with this:
If you're working a school/district twitter acct & rarely or never reply or engage in conversation u don't really get the "social"part of SM
— Dean Shareski (@shareski) April 24, 2013
@ the world - My 2 main points. 1) You shouldn't decide how others should use Twitter,etc. 2) Time/resources are an issue
— Karl Fisch (@karlfisch) April 24, 2013
@ the world 1) districts who broadcast only are wasting a chance to engage 2) if you can't engage you might be better off staying out of it
— Dean Shareski (@shareski) April 24, 2013
- Different people find different purposes and uses for Twitter.
- Districts (and schools) who use social media to only broadcast are missing out on a valuable opportunity to engage with their patrons.
- School (and district) time and resources are an issue.
- If organizations can't engage with other social media users, they may be better off not using social media at all.
@karlfisch I expect people to engage on Twitter. Especially vendors. I think many see schools the same way. @shareski @chrislehmann
— Darren E. Draper (@ddraper) April 24, 2013
@chrislehmann @karlfisch @shareski Isn't poor PR why we have so few resources?
— Darren E. Draper (@ddraper) April 24, 2013
@chrislehmann I saw that. Sad stuff. :( @karlfisch @technolibrary @shareski
— Darren E. Draper (@ddraper) April 24, 2013
I was catching up on my MacWorld reading the other day and I came across this gem.
Dave Wiskus, on Apple's approach to marketing and design:
Apple’s approach to the problem was to first connect with the human holding the device, then present you with neat things you could do with it. Advertisements for the iPhone and iPad never discuss features; they show human beings using the devices to enrich their lives.Technology Specialists and Coaches should take note. Most teachers don't care about what a technology can do until they see how well it can be integrated into the human, every-day instructional experience.
People first, then the potential of things.
- There are thousands of quality resources available on Teachers pay Teachers. We need more easy ways for teachers to share.
- Most teachers aren't paid what they're worth.
- Most teachers can't really raise a family on the salary they're given.
- Most teachers signed up for the job knowing both 1 and 2.
- Public school teachers are paid by the taxpayers - with public funds - to work during specific hours of the day.
- In many cases, the computer and other equipment used by public school teachers were
alllikely purchased by the taxpayers, using public funds.
- It is my belief that classroom activities, assessments, games, handouts, outlines, posters, printables, research, worksheets, and the like - that have been created by a public educator during work time or with school-owned equipment - belong to the public and should therefore be licensed with an appropriate, open license. Resources created with public funds should neither be bought nor sold by teachers because they were never the teacher's to sell in the first place. Because these resources were created with public funds, they belong to the public.
First, I appreciate the passion in the comments! Please rest assured that I know teachers work very hard. I also know that most of the resources sold on TpT were created on personal time. Like you, I've been no stranger to long work days (and nights!) throughout my career as a Teacher, Teacher Specialist, and Administrator.
At Jen and Sheri's request, I've done a little digging into the Administrative Code for my state (below, emphasis mine). The rules in your state may differ.
Utah Administrative Code R277-111-3. Educators Sharing Materials.At this time, I haven't yet found law specifying ownership of resources created with public funds. However, in the original post above I've given number seven as my opinion and nothing more. For me, it stands to reason that if something is produced using public funds, then that something should probably belong to the public.
A. Utah educators may share materials for noncommercial use that educators have developed primarily for use in their own classes, courses or assignments.
B. Utah educators may only share materials that they developed personally and may not unilaterally share materials that were purchased or developed by or on behalf of their public employer or the State.
C. Utah educators may only share materials that are consistent with R277-515 Utah Educator Professional Standards. For example, educators may not share materials that advocate illegal activities or that are inconsistent with their legal and role model responsibilities as public employees and licensed educators.
D. Utah educators may share materials under a Creative Commons License and shall be personally responsible for understanding and satisfying the requirements of a Creative Commons License.
E. The presumption of this rule is that materials may be shared. The presumption is that Utah educators need not seek permission from their employers to share personally-developed materials. However public school employers may provide notice to employees that materials developed with public school funds or during public school employment must be reviewed by the employer prior to sharing or distribution.
F. Public educators may not sell teacher curriculum materials developed in whole or in part with public education funds or developed within the employee's scope of employment to Utah educators.
To clarify, it has never been my intent to accuse TpT of any wrong-doing. Instead, I've pointed out an obvious dilemma. First, there are many quality resources on TpT. Second, teachers work hard and deserve to be paid more. Third, it may be easy for teachers to create resources on publicly-funded time and equipment - and then sell these resources to others in need. Fourth, if resources have been created on public time and equipment, then we probably have no right to turn around and sell them.
For the record:
- I appreciate Teach 4th's honesty, and suspect that most TpT users fall into the same category.
- I also appreciate Angela Watson's direct answer to my question. That said, how do we really know that the vast majority of sold resources are legit? How possible is it for TpT to even provide a system that guarantees that only privately-created resources are sold? Seems impossible to me, beyond a stern warning in their Terms of Service. (You all read those when you created your accounts, right?)
- I absolutely LOVE how Eric Johnson has answered my final question while also offering a true-to-form critique of my writing. I honestly never meant to let him down!
- Finally, extra credit goes to Jen for providing the most rational and constructive comment yet! We would all do well to think of this entire dilemma in terms of opportunities.
- Like Bill suggested yesterday, I no longer see the struggles I have with TpT to be dilemmas of openness. Although TpT may claim to support an "open marketplace," the implications of marketplace alone emphasize drastic differences in the philosophies of TpT and OER.
- That said, I included OER in the title and openness as a basis for my post because - as I mentioned in the comments below - I wish we could figure out mechanisms of motivation that might make OER sharing as successful as the sharing that takes place on TpT. To that end, I probably like the recommendations made by Bill the most (emphasis mine):
Creating and using open content approaches the same problem - how do I get the best possible material to my class - from a different place. Teachers can use open content exactly as they would use a textbook, or a piece of content purchased from TpT; for many people, that is where their understanding of open content ends. However, that vision of open content is incomplete, and rooted in our habits of using material with restrictive licensing.
There are different levels of using open content; teaching lessons that use open content is the starting point. Remixing material that incorporates two or more openly licensed sources is a next step. Releasing that remixed version is the next step. Collaborating with other people to edit and remix content is an additional level of involvement.
And, if you look at the trajectory of using open content, it resembles the trajectory of learning. It's not a transaction (go here, buy this) - it's a series of interactions of increasing complexity, each of which requires judgment and expertise. Over time, building and using open content develops a professional network and a collection of domain level experts to work with. Working with people to create open content is some of the best ongoing professional development out there, and districts would be wise to embrace and support this reality. Rather than make absurd claims over ownership of teacher IP, they could divert some professional development money into supporting teacher time in a facilitated authoring process that spanned the course of a year. The resulting material could be released under a Creative Commons license, ensuring that teachers and the district were given the appropriate credit for their role in creating and funding the work, and material created with public money would remain available for public use.
- At this point, I will be moderating all comments. Only comments that constructively add to the discussion of sharing resources created with public funds/time will be considered. At this point, I'm beyond acknowledging the less-than-civil commentary left by overworked/underpaid TpT sellers who are - for whatever reason - offended by what has been written.
Stephen Downes discusses a "great rebranding" that is apparently taking place with regard to the concept of MOOCs:
MOOCs were not designed to serve the missions of the elite colleges and universities. They were designed to undermine them, and make those missions obsolete.
Yes there has been a great rebranding and co-option of the concept of the MOOC over the last couple of years. The near-instant response from the elites, almost unprecedented in my experience, is a recognition of the deeply subversive intent and design of the original MOOCs (which they would like very much to erase from history).David Wiley responds:
Don’t mistake lust for fame with forethought. The current mania around MOOCs has nothing to do with strategic neutralization of a potential threat to higher education’s business model and everything to do with needing to be in the New York Times. Assuming the prior gives way too much credit where it isn’t due – twice. First, to the leadership of schools who have jumped speedily on the MOOC bandwagon. And second, to the creators of the MOOC approach who by implication have supposedly devised a method so brilliant as to be capable of destroying formal higher education (which, apparently, is to be lauded).
Let the record show, nonetheless, that there were explorers in the days of pre-MOOC open online learning who simply wanted another quality method for all people to learn.
The 4th Annual Canyons District Film Festival was held Thursday night at Eastmont Middle School.
Without question, the student work on display at the Film Festival was inspiring! Beyond the films themselves, the evidence of strong partnerships between students, parents, and schools brought a smile to my face from ear to ear. Even so, the best part about attending an event like this is seeing the faces of student winners as their videos are shown up on the big screen.
Whereas a comprehensive list of Festival entries, nominees, and winners can be found here, a few of my favorites are embedded below. If you've got a few minutes to watch, you'll be glad you did. I've included my takes in italics.
Elementary Animation Winner
"Skittles Magic" - Kyann Otterstrom - Canyon View Elementary
Fun! The creativity displayed in this fun stop-motion animation is fascinating to watch.
"Bullying" - Alicia Gallegos, Danean Imboden, Brianna Groesbeck, Kelsie Bush - Crescent View Middle
"Surviver Mans" - Forrest Kunz, Matthew Turner - Ridgecrest Elementary
"Fwd: FORWARD" - David Skorut, Marshall Blessing - Hillcrest High
David Skorut - Hillcrest High
I've said this before: let's have an academic decathlon... I would bet the house on my team [of privileged demographic], and I bet if you're being honest, you would too. Yet to accept that is to deny the basic assumption of the education reform movement, which is that student outcomes are a direct result of teacher quality.
In other words, Whitehurst assumes that there is a natural distribution of quality in any field, where some significant percentage of people are always going to be below a necessary level of ability. That's an interesting case to be made in this context, the context of No Child Left Behind and the typical assumption of education reform, which ludicrously asserts that all children are capable of meeting certain arbitrary quality standards. But perhaps that's the inevitable consequence of a movement in which the person whose voice is heard is the person who shouts the loudest, rather than the person who pays most attention to what is constructive, to what is achievable, and what is true. In that context, it becomes a crime to state the simple reality that in a system of massive entrenched inequality, we will always have educational failure.I think you should give deBoer's entire post a good read. He's done a nice job adding to the nauseating rhetoric in less than ten paragraphs.
How can we rise as a country if we choose not to rise AS A COUNTRY? bit.ly/YTagwI
— Darren E. Draper (@ddraper) March 31, 2013
Second, teacher quality is one of the few variables actually within our control. Therefore, if student outcomes can't be directly improved by improving teacher quality, then why would we ever make such an investment in teachers, at all? Surely nation-wide daycare can be procured at a much cheaper rate than the amount we're spending on pre-service endorsement programs and in-service professional learning.
Following deBoer's line of thinking, maybe our best solution really is to employ as educators "those" unteachable, poverty-stricken drop-outs such that they might too fail at improving student outcomes so clearly outside of their control. After all, in our "system of massive entrenched inequality," isn't failure the rightful destiny of all under-privileged students?
Teacher quality does make a difference, and educational failure is not an option. As educators, we have little control over what our students do when they aren't in school (and rightly so). However, when they are in school, we have the critical responsibility to make every minute count, every day, for every student - regardless of their demographic.
As educators in an imperfect world, ours is the responsibility to be our best; because for some of our students, receiving a quality education is the only chance they've got.
I currently serve as the Director of Education Technology in a mid-sized public school district. As such, I feel a keen duty to spend public funds responsibly and in a manner that would be pleasing to the vast majority of those tax-payers who provide for the students in our care.
Because my department is in the business of technology and because technology lives in constant flux, I receive my share of requests for technology purchases: by teachers, by staff members, and even by principals in the schools I serve.
What do you think would happen if I required that all requests for purchases be made with a publicly-viewable account on Twitter or other social network? (Even though school district spending records are already publicly available, I don't think they're frequently reviewed.)
- Do you think requiring openness when making purchase requests would be worthwhile?
- Would it potentially cause more issues than it might alleviate?
- Would it save money?
- Why I Struggle with Teachers pay Teachers #OER
- Social Media Use by (Public) Schools #edreform
- What "Best High Schools" in the U.S. Reveal About Ideal High School Class Size #utpol
- MOOCs and the Elite Edupunk Way
- The Educator's Guide to the Creative Commons
- It's All in How You Sell It
- I Remember the Good 'Ol Days #glassexplorer
- Twenty-four Year Old PhDs Will Become Commonplace
- Canyons District Film Festival - Incredible Display of Talent and Inspiration
- The National Ed Tech Plan: Online data systems use powered [and] transforming assessment resources
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Sandy, UT, USA
An avid educational technology enthusiast, I currently serve as the Director of Education Technology for the Canyons School District (although the views expressed herein are mine alone).
Husband, dad, leader, teacher, learner, presenter, tech-lover, tech-hater. Pedagogy first!