Seeing as there will be no newsletter next week, I packed this one fuller than most. I hope you find some of these items interesting. Enjoy the festive season and may you steal some moments to relax and recuperate.
Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
For the festive season, here are five curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.
Year in Search 2016 – Google Trends (2 minute video & a wormhole)
Outside of Apple, Google might be the cleverest company at marketing themselves there is. No matter what you think about them, they are awfully good at creating things that seem cool. The page that they have developed to document The Year in Search is clever in how the information is presented as much as the information itself. The two-minute video is exceptionally well-made and will no doubt make anyone think, “Oh, yeah. I already forgot that happened this year.” It is a remarkable visual narrative of the biggest stories of the year which in turn would have sparked searches which are displayed in enough ways to suck you into a timeless vortex of clicking, something that Google is also very good at doing. I especially love how the color coding of the Breakout Searches work.
Education Research Highlights From 2016 – Edutopia – Youki Terada (7 minute read)
This collection is for the wonkier types who actually like education research, as Edutopia has collected their top 15 studies from the year. Some of these look more interesting than others. I read number two, the one about Kindergartners when it was released. It was sadly sobering. Numbers six and seven, on stress levels among teachers and students, look like potentially interesting takes on the subject. I am certain I will read number eight about the benefits of racially diverse schools and number 15 about one-to-one programs. To think, Google funded a study on “84 percent of parents believe computer science is just as important as math, science, and English.” No self-interest involved there.
Technology Should Replace Basic Teaching Tasks, a New Paper Says – Teaching Now blog @ EdWeek – Madeline Will (11 minute read)
This is a piece highlighting a new white paper published by the Clayton Christensen Institute at Harvard University. These findings remind me a whole lot of when there was a groundswell of thinking that schools would be able to use television for basic instruction. That hype did not exactly live up to the promise. Again and again, phrases like “adaptive learning software” and “personalized learning” are co-opted by forces that advance this notion that education is to be done to students. Learning is not simply about accumulating content knowledge or a set of skills. The most ominous line in the article is the last, “Fortunately, innovations that commoditize some elements of teacher expertise also supply the tools to raise the effectiveness of both non-experts and expert teachers to new heights.” Keywords “commoditize” and “non-experts” in connection with “expert teachers” this Thomas Arnett says is fortunate.
PARCC Undertakes a Major Restructuring (Again) – Curriculum Matters blog @ EdWeek – Catherine Gewertz (11 minute read)
There are a whole lot of questions about PARCC, Common Core, NCLB’s replacement Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the new federal administration. While there may not be nearly as many answers about all of these things one thing can be certain, the virulence of entities like PARCC and the efforts to which they will go to remain alive. Also, watch just how much copyright will be used as a big stick to hammer things into a desired shape in future. That will be telling. This is particular interest to Massachusetts, considering their plan to produce MCAS 2.0 and what that is likely to look like.
Crash Course: College Board faces rocky path after CEO pushes new vision for SAT – Reuters Investigates – Renee Dudley (23 minute read)
As someone who has followed David Coleman’s rise from co-architect of the Common Core to the CEO of the College Board with keen interest and a number of ethical questions, this is a fascinating read. I have always thought that there was an inherent conflict of interests in one of the principal designers of the Common Core taking over the College Board. Even if it is not an actual legal issue, it always just seemed very seedy. Plus, this article also highlights just how healthy their bottom line is for a not-for-profit. I’m not sure that students and their families benefit nearly as much from Advanced Placement as does the College Board. By the way, none of the problems raised in this article are terribly surprising, knowing more about Coleman’s record, and they should be a clarion call for putting too many eggs in any one basket.