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Web 2.0 in Education: Trends for 2008

While the technologies collectively known as Web 2.0 have penetrated the consumer sector rapidly over the last four years or so, the process has been much slower and more measured in education. There were some breakthroughs in 2007, with upward trends in the adoption--or at least availability--of Web 2.0 technologies in the areas of teacher professional development and supplemental instructional technologies, such as podcasting, streaming media, and blogging.

K-12 Online Teaching Endorsements: Are They Needed?

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.

Planning for the Next Disaster: Pandemic

The experts tell us that a pandemic is inevitable. The only question is when it will happen. Is your organization ready? Can you keep essential IT functions running? What can you do to be prepared?

The Great Debate: Effectiveness of Technology in Education

I sometimes wonder why there is debate on the effectiveness of technology in education. The whole point of a debate is to examine issues in such a way that decisions can be made. However, in this case, we can hardly say, "Remove all technology from education!" Or, "Don't add any more because we are not getting an adequate return on our current investment--technology is not improving the quality of education." What would we put in its place?

Getting Started with Videogame Development

In the first segment in this series, we covered the pedagogy behind student videogame development.  We addressed how learning as doing, collaborative & peer learning, tutoring, ownership, and publication are critical components to game development.  We also addressed benefits of videogame making, including content area knowledge acquisition, students as producers of information, and the potential of game-making for encouraging STEM-related careers for women and minorities. 

Can Game Development Impact Academic Achievement?

Electronic gaming has recently been hailed as the great new potential for transforming education. A growing body of research and practice suggests videogames can motivate as well as teach and help users learn. Fewer scientific studies, but just as much potential, exist within the area of student game development. In part 1 of this two-part article series, we look at the foundational reasons for why game development matters in the K-12 curriculum, both inside and outside of school.

Homework: A Math Dilemma and What To Do About It

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.)

Test Prep and Math Realities

As another school year is getting well under way, educators are faced with starting the process all over again for preparing students for standardized testing. It's not something that can be put off until the last moment. Failure to pass "the test" sometimes prevents high school students from receiving their graduation diplomas. Elementary students might be retained in a grade. There is the usual dilemma of teaching to the test versus incorporating activities that help students develop 21st century skills valued in the real world.

Second Life: Do You Need One? (Part 2)

Second Life is a 3D digital world, imagined, created, and owned by its residents, which number more than 7 million from over 100 countries at the time of this writing. It has generated excitement for entertainment, business, and education. And the number of colleges and universities, libraries, museums, and organizations exploring its possibilities is growing. In part 1 of this three-part series, I introduced some resources to help you learn about SL, join, and get the basics about navigation and communication. I also alerted you to some frustrations that you might experience getting your feet wet. Hmm ... did it happen to you when you stopped flying?

Can IT Turn Around Teacher Turnover?

Teacher turnover (also known to some as "teachers quitting their jobs") is becoming a critical concern for school and district administrators. Not only can it have a negative impact on student learning, especially in troubled districts, but it's emerging as a fairly major financial drain on districts in all regions, according to findings released last month by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF). So is there anything school and district technology leaders can do about it? According to the NCTAF report, there is.

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