School administrators are a cautious group. But the pressure to adopt social networking in school settings is on, and it's forcing them to consider how to implement these potentially valuable educational tools with the privacy and "safety" needs of their underage constituents in mind. Christopher Wells, director of IT policies and communications for Gwinnett County Public Schools, looks at ways administrators can protect their students while continuing to move forward with technology. He also supplies six concrete tips for crafting an Internet policy.
- By Christopher Wells
Miami Public Schools in Oklahoma prides itself on being an early adopter of technology, thanks to a leadership team that truly values the benefits of technology as they relate to education and the future of individualized learning. As educators, we have a responsibility for creating a positive learning environment where all students have the opportunity to achieve academic success and become productive, responsible citizens. As such, our goal was to build a technology infrastructure that would support this mission.
- By Sandy Ankenman
Never before has it been more viable for educators to put instruction front and center of learning space design than now. Never before has collaboration with students and peers and with the world been more possible than now. So why are our learning spaces still so reminiscent of the past? Why are these spaces still so constrained?
The issue of assigning homework is controversial in terms of its purpose, what to assign, the amount of time needed to complete it, parental involvement, its actual affect on learning and achievement, and impact on family life and other valuable activities that occur outside of school hours. I have encountered all of those controversies in my years of teaching mathematics. Math homework is usually a daily event. Unfortunately, many teachers assign most homework from problem sets following the section of the text that was addressed that day. There is little differentiation. For the most part the entire class gets the same assignment. (In fairness, teachers do take into consideration the nature of those problems, which are often grouped by difficulty, deciding which to assign based on the general ability level of students in the class: below average, average, above average, or mixed.)
- By Patricia Deubel
Today every teacher needs to be in charge of his or her own professional development, if for no other reason than district budgets require everyone to be so much more creative. Here are a few ways teachers can better take advantage of formal and informal learning, the use of a back channel, and modeling life-long learning.
What do we know about interactive whiteboards? For some, they're indispensable teaching tools. For others, they're just IT waste. Either way, the research isn't really there yet to tell us whether they've resulted in any kind of academic gain for students in the years they've been in use in classrooms. Education consultant Patricia Deubel breaks down the issues and looks for some interim answers.
- By Patricia Deubel
The implications for HTML5 technologies on learning are profound. As technologies become more "intelligent" and requirements shift away from the manual skills needed to use them, teaching and learning can focus more clearly on the processes of thinking and application.
I just got off the phone with a colleague who had returned from a business trip. After visiting with various school districts, she presented remedial reading products to a school board in an affluent suburban school district. When she finished presenting the need for her product, the school board member asked, "Why are you bothering to build remedial reading products when there are so many kids who are performing in the middle of the pack?"
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2007), "Research shows that the single most important school-related factor in raising student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Today, in the era of high standards and increased accountability, boosting teacher quality is more crucial than ever before" (p. 4). The nature of the 21st-century classroom is rapidly changing. Online education in K-12, also called virtual schooling, is growing at about 30 percent annually (North American Council for Online Learning [NACOL], 2007). With this rise comes an increase in demand for experienced teachers to teach online, which adds another dimension to this issue of teacher quality.
- By Patricia Deubel
The federal government lately has been passing out lots of money through competitive programs by way of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Together, the grants represent a huge investment in education, while providing one more example of the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. What will those rules be going forward?
- By Geoffrey H. Fletcher