Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sun at NECC I am in the heart of ed tech advertising at the NECC! My first impression this morning was a copy of something called the EdTech Show daily. It reminds me of those envelopes full of coupons you don't need that you get at your home. I was hoping for more than in infomercial when I awoke.

I'll update the blog over the next few days and let you know some of my impressions.

So far they are... it's hot in Atlanta, our hotel is frighteningly tall with an atrium that looks like a scene out of the Star Wars senate chamber (Episode 2), and I am ready to be enlightened!

jim :-)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Is there an upside to having less access to computers?

**This posting is not an attack on the great Ms. Bracey as I respect her work and know that her heart is always in the right place. I also don't disagree that a digital divide exists.

Read this blog posting from Bonnie Bracey of the Thornburg Center. She points to severals groups who are touting the importance of the STEM initiatives and that there is still a digital divide that needs to be addressed.

Click here to read it.

There are studies out there that suggest that increased contact with computers at home actually correlates to lower standardized test scores. Many studies that look hard at computing in schools and standardized test scores show no significant correlation. This, btw, after major monetary investments in ed tech. When you consider these facts, you have to wonder whether additional computing resources will have the desired effect. My point is I think that initiative should be StEM with a little T. Let's get more SEM going on.

I know, I know, you'll now send me the handful of meta-studies that show that tech can this and that, but look at data at the local school district level. Look at the pernicious achievement gap. For the cost of ed tech it should be worth it's salt.

You're going to hate me, but why not funnel the money to StEM things like, working science labs in middle schools and high schools? Maybe increasing the funds for math and science staff development would be a better use? Why not institute classes in logic and programming rather than teaching word processing and powerpoint? Why not use the money for after school programs for mentoring and tutoring kids?

You must know by now that all of this crud about "preparing kids for a digital society" drives me crazy. What any society needs is a generation of people who can think! Until there is a clear and statistically significant correlation between the ways technology is being used in a typical (i.e. not a NASA sponsored school or one that is located the campus of an Ivy League university) inner city school and an increase in a kids ability to think I am going to continue to cringe at these catch phrases.

Go to an average school and see how technology is being used. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Does this represent a higher order use of the technology?
2) Does this lesson integrate with the curriculum?
3) Would I want my child or grandchild sitting in this classroom right now?

Honestly, if you give me a well prepared student I'll teach them most of Microsoft office in a very short period of time. Don't EVEN get me started on the whole touch typing thing. I can't wait until voice recognition turns that into the buggy whip, that it already is. Also, if I see another PowerPoint presentation with watered down knowledge on it I'm gonna hurl!

OK, OK, I agree that when ed tech is used well it can make a difference but way too often it doesn't. IMHO, this is generally due to a lack of local ed tech leadership or to the application of a pitiful set of lower order thinking skills tools to a group of students. (usually due to some district level deal from some corporate boheamoth.)

I have had way too much coffee, but, I am particularly sensitive to these issues as the father of a 15 and 10 year old. Believe me, I know of what I speak. I actually spend time in real schools and have a real investment in seeing things done right...and soon!

My gosh it is 2007! We've been saying these things since HyperCard was hip!!!

Have at me on this one.

Jim :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Waitin' on the world to change?

If so...stop! Be the change you want to see in the world!

Go to this posting on the Dangeroualy Irrelevant blog and follow the many links offered for more ideas on change!

Click Here!

jim :-)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Videos on the future of education

Here are a couple of videos on the future of education distributed on

As much as I enjoyed them, I started to get annoyed by the first one about mid-way through. Here are some "ranty" observations.

First of all, I am tired of people telling how great China and India are. Yes, they are powerful countries with lots of people who sort their kids well. I still say that freedom and creativity will define success in the next 100 years and the U. S. will continue to retain the edge. Why else would those two countries be sending so many of their kids to U. S. universities? What country has one the most Nobel Prizes? Don't even get me started on the environmental disaster that China represents and the issues they face with things as simple as providing clean water for their people. Also, there are those little things called FREEDOM and TOLERANCE to consider.

Secondly, cue the dramatic dark music, I was moved by the vision of the future represented by the end of the first video but I still think that educational technologies aren't dramatically affecting the bottom line. This is defined by most communities as test scores. This makes it too easy to slash these programs when things get tight. Don't scowl at me! If you work in a real school, in a real school district, and not in some ed tech ivory tower, you know what I'm talking about! I, Personally, believe in the power of constructivist learning and in the integration of technology into the curriculum, but many times we have caved in the face of the bottom line. This resulted in less powerful applicatons of these amazing learning tools. (think touch typing) We need to be able to prove, with metrics (which seems to be the coin of the realm these days) that ed tech is making a difference. Enough with the emotional speechs and moving music, give them what they want, data from the local level.

OK...have at me.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

2 cents on the NETS

Hi All,

Here is a great posting on the new NETS from David Warlick's @cents worth blog. While the posting is valuable the follow-up comments are evn more valuable!

Click Here!

Jim :-)

Video use and the classroom.

I enjoyed this posting on the Pulse by Gary Stager. Sadly, it rang true in my experience. It also was a nice reminder of the copyright laws associated with vcr/dvd movie use in schools.

Click here.

I hope you enjoy it.

Jim :-)

Monday, June 04, 2007

DA article on ISTE standards

Hi All,

I've been away for a few months due to family demands. But I'm baaack!

Here is a link to a a conversation with Don Knezek concerning the new ISTE standards.

You also get Stager's perspective for no added cost!

Jim :-)