Expert Perspectives


Survival Tips for the New School Year

The start of any school year can be very stressful for a building- or district-level technology director. To deal with the pressure, here are a few tips to help you get through the first few weeks. Some of these suggestions are too late to implement this year; however, it’s never too early to start planning ahead for next year.

Moderating and Ethics for the Classroom Instructional Blog

If I still taught in K-12, would I use a blog? It's one of those new technology tools that some of us digital immigrants might struggle to appreciate.

Two Plans, One Vision

Changing Designs of Online Learning: The Evolution of Digital Learning Systems Through Customization

While the wider uses of technology have increased student awareness of what is possible, within teaching and learning technology use often remains quite stagnant and out of date based on notions of what good teaching looks like and how standards must drive the process rather than the process itself. This is most clearly seen in current course delivery software platforms, which remain supportive of teacher-driven instructional design and content production and delivery. But a tension now exists between the potential for individual customization that threatens the very essence of conventional wisdom in course design and delivery.

Why Wikis?

Most Web 2.0 tools are discussed at length in terms of their application to the learning process. While there is much that can be learned from using these tools in instruction, there are also principles upon which that use rests that have long been the goals of instruction at various levels. In other words, while the tools may change, the goals of teaching and learning remain much the same.

Controlling Social Media: Current Policy Trends in K-12 Education

As social media becomes ubiquitous, schools and districts should shift from trying to control its use and toward teaching faculty and students how to build successful learning communities.

Accountability, Yes. Teaching to the Test, No.

Since the 1950s, standardized test scores have been used to compare and rank schools, districts, states, and now nations, according to Rick Stiggins (2007), founder of the Educational Testing Service's Assessment Training Institute. In a commentary on assessment myths, he posed a question that has probably been discussed since standardized testing was chosen as the large-scale measure of effectiveness of schools: "Are we helping students and teachers with our assessment practices, or contributing to their problems?" (p. 28).

The Impact of Education Technology on the Future of Individualized Learning

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.

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.)

What's Online Education All About?

Unless you are directly involved with teaching online, have students taking courses online, or have taken an online course yourself, chances are that you find the concept of online education quite nebulous. You might not have any interest in it. Terms like distance education, fully online, blended courses, virtual courses, e-learning, hybrid courses, mixed-mode, asynchronous learning, distributed learning, Web-facilitated, and Web-enhanced learning add to the confusion. However, online learning is on the rise in K-12 education, and you should know some of the basics and issues surrounding it. It is adding flexibility to the traditional school experience, meeting the needs of specific groups of students, and increasing course offerings. If it has not already done so, it probably will affect your teaching scenario before too long. So, what's online education all about? Well ... it's all in who you ask or what resources you consult.

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