It’s not about the Tablet
Or the app, or the device, or the learning platform.
In past years, the message at ISTE seemed to be, “Look at this latest product which is going to dramatically improve education.” While there was still a lot of that this year, there seemed to be a growing consensus that introducing the latest technology is not going to solve any major education problems, unless it was part of a well thought out plan that included change management.
The key is increasing student learning without adding to costs. Technology is a tool, but everyone seems to be arriving at the conclusion that it is part of the solution, not the entire solution.
Doing projects is not the same as project based learning
Ginger Lewman drove this home in her session on technology and projects to drive student learning. Projects that are done to show what students have learned are not the same as project based learning that inspires students to learn.
There are some incredibly engaging projects that students can do, and a good project hits a whole range of standards. For example, students can do onsite research (like taking water samples) enter their data on a spreadsheet, and then map the results using Google Fusion tables to create interactive maps. Then, using the maps, students can pose and answer meaningful questions like:
- Which locations had the saltiest water?
- Which locations had the most nitrogen in the water?
- Which locations had unsafe water?
A project like this can hit standards in science, math, social studies, reading, research, and writing.
For an example of an interactive map that hits close to home, look at a map of states by average starting teacher salary: http://bit.ly/14Kn4Du. This opens as data; click on the "Map of Geometry" tab to view as a map.
Jam'n in Blogger Cafe (Photo credit: Karin Beil)
Where would you rather teach, Idaho or Wyoming?
The Common Core standards start a dialog, they are not the curriculum
There is a huge difference between “aligned to the common core” and “designed for the common core,” and that applies to training teachers as well as offering products and services. The common core is meant to inspire creativity and deep thinking, which takes a lot more effort than marking a checklist for content covered.
If you are thinking of creating curriculum or lessons for the common core, Jared Wastler suggested starting with four questions for each standard:
- What does the standard ask for?
- What evidence proves mastery?
- How do we get there?
- What more do we need to know in order to facilitate this?
There is a lot of money being pumped into education
(Image at left by David Warlick)
The education environment is certainly changing as we move to digital content, new standards and assessments, extending learning outside of school, and using data to provide better learning and teaching feedback. And change brings opportunities.
On the other hand, for 10 years we’ve seen declining spending on education. Publishers and content providers need to keep their eyes out for funding streams and mandates. There are going to be winners and losers.
Companies wanting to be on the winning side should consider contacting Farimah and me at Academic Business Advisors. We help companies with good products navigate in these challenging times.