Saturday, December 29, 2007

The DIGITAL GENIE is OUT of the BOTTLE!



Friends and Colleagues:

Please visit the blog-site Students 2.0 http://students2oh.org/ and witness the beginning of something extraordinary......the World of Education as WE knew it will never quite be the same. AND this is a GREAT THING!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Putting DIGITAL LEARNING in the ONE-D STEM Initiative!



From the Trenches

« The Kids Are Alright | Main | Come Eavesdrop on Some Great Conversations! »

It's the Technology, Stupid...

OK, I don't even let my own kids use the word "stupid" around the house (if my 9-year old says that someone used the "s"-word, she means "stupid"), but for those of us who remember the 1992 presidential campaign, the phrase reminds us of the importance of focusing on what really matters.

For the last year or two, I've been in an internal dilemma over the importance of technology versus pedagogy, and I think I've just reached a breaking point. There is just no question in my mind now that we are witnessing the initial phases of a social, cultural, and scientific change that will rival--and likely eclipse--the advent of the printing press. And it is not because of the pedagogy. While this change confirms some core beliefs that many of us have with regard to teaching and learning, and reopens the door to implementing them, the cause of this dramatic change is technological, specifically the read/write Web (or Web 2.0). It is the use of the Web as a contributor as much as a consumer of information.

Last week I was in Denver, attending a KnowledgeWorks Foundation small-group brainstorm "Re-imagining Teaching for the Future." Through a series of exercises intended to construct scenarios about future forces that would affect the roles of teachers, we tried to imagine what teaching and learning will be like in 10 - 15 years. I suggested that the depth of integration of technology into formal education would be a significant factor in teachers' roles, but was told that in this particular kind of scenario building, that technology is almost never considered a critical force, because it can be assumed it will be adopted.

I beg to differ. I'm not sure we can make that assumption. Mike Huffman from Indiana calculated that his state had spent a billion dollars on computer technology over ten years, with the less-that-stunning result that each student had access to a computer for 35 minutes a week. Using a bottom-line approach to computing, with the goal of actual classroom and curricular integration, Mike and his colleague Laura Taylor have been helping to provide low-cost immersive computing in Indiana--but I get the feeling they still fight every day to keep their program. Our inability in our own small worlds to see the larger picture of dramatic change taking place because of the Internet and the read/write Web threatens to keep us on a path of continuing to see computers as an accessory in the classroom. I'm personally not convinced that schools are ready to adopt the computer as the new learning medium. They should, however, and the longer it takes us to recognize this important reality, the more we will wonder why we didn't act sooner.

I'm unsuccessfully trying to remind myself to be patient. Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the blog (see CelebrateBlogging.com). It's actually the 10th anniversary of the word "weblog," as there have been forms of communication that were blog-like that preceded that day in 1997 when Jorn Barger coined the word. However, I think we can all agree that the blog has only recently burst upon our collective consciousness, and many of the other Web 2.0 tools can only be categorized as being in their infancy. But for anyone participating in Twitter, or Ning Networks, or any of a hundred other social technologies that create dialog and conversation, there is an amazing sense that we are in the middle of something of huge human significance. Ten years may not be that long, but if we have to go through ten more years of debating the value of computers in education, we're in trouble.

Yesterday I interviewed Lindsea (16), Sean (16), and Kevin (17), three of the youth bloggers who have started Students 2.0 (see David Jakes recent post). Sean was in Scotland, Lindsea in Hawaii, and Kevin in Illinois--all on Skype. I've posted the 25 minute interview on my EdTechLive.com site (along with a previous one by "Arthus" that generated quite a comment firestorm at InfiniteThinking.org), and it's well worth the listen; but here I'm fascinated by the role of technology, in this case, in promoting student voices and their perspective on education.

From Sean: "What's happened over the past few years, and in society, with technology and the web becoming a lot more important, I'd say that the stuff I'm doing at home [rather than at school] is right now a bit more relevant, in terms of the skills I will need later in life.... At the stage at which we are at school, I would say that we are not dumb, we've matured a bit, and I think we should have some form of say in what's happening... "

From Kevin: "It's an interesting model, the way school continues to operate, as opposed to the infinitely more learning that we can do outside of the classroom... I think that technology is a very important part of education today, and because of that the shift from the traditional student-teacher model is creating a whole bunch of new possibilities. The web is not the only method by which that will happen, but it is a very important one as well... At the core of everything else, all the technology usage, it's all about creating learners, not just students who are able to interpret the facts that the teachers just preach to them in the classroom... There are 300 - 400 teachers in my school district, maybe only a a handful, I can probably count on one hand, who actually read blogs, let alone write them." -Kevin, 17 years old, Illinois, USA

(Lindsea had less to say because she had to leave the interview early to get to class. She was on a world-wide Skype interview from her computer at school, cool as a cucumber, with all of the noise of a school campus in the background.)

Kids like Kevin and Lindsea and Sean are flying metaphorical jet planes overhead, while we're largely using computers in schools as the equivalent of earth-bound tricycles. And then we're wondering why the computer hasn't transformed or improved education. As Connie Weber has written about an encounter with another teacher in an amazing series of notes about the evolution of her homeroom class, "I got the feeling she thinks 'computers' are a 'subject' and that there should be a lesson on 'computer use' with a beginning, a middle, and an end, then perhaps a test on topic coverage. Oh dear." (Connie's candid notes about her journey into a new paradigm of teaching that started with a social network for her class are on my must-read list for anyone interested in the future of education and learning.)

For some reason that my wife has never understood, I saved every paper I wrote in high school and college. They are still in a box in my attic. "Why?" my wife keeps asking. In my heart, I think I know why. Because I had something significant to say, and I could never bear to throw them away because I never really felt that what I had to say was heard. (Chalk one up to profound insights while blogging.) Most of them only had one other reader than me: my teacher at the time. When our youth write today, their audience can be so much broader and so much more real. It may not be a huge audience, but even if it's a few others scattered around the country or the globe, their writing is much more about communicating effectively with others than mine was. As content producers as well as consumers, their relationship with information is so much richer than mine ever was at their age. I don't want my children to be attic-box writers. I want them passionately, actively engaged in learning and communicating--like they are more and more in their use of the Web, which takes place largely outside of any formal educational setting.

Do I feel shy about advocating increased use of technology in education because of curricular, administrative, teaching, safety, and financial impediments to adoption? Yes, a little. But when I re-frame the context, and ask if I am willing to devote my passion and energy to a complete rethinking of education in light of the impending read/write renaissance brought about by the Internet, it's an unqualified yes. Bring on the revolution.


Comments

The members of Students 2.0 are a stellar example of what could happen when motivated young adults are allowed to articulate their ideas to a broad readership.

Unfortunately many (most?) of their peers are not as motivated as Lindsea, Sean, Kevin and crew. If we can't offer them some guided practice as part of their school experience, all of their voices will be lost.

Learning need to expand to fit the needs of the learners.

Absolutely, Diane. Part of the difficulty for me is seeing how we get to where we want to be from where we are--within existing frameworks and mindsets. I'm just not sure there's a clear path between the two--that the new world will be so radically different than the old that we can't migrate from one to the other seamlessly, as though we're just implementing one more program. It's hard for me to imagine my own kids getting much guided practice in these technologies at school, even if I extend out some years. I feel we need a bold new vision, a clarion call to get a "man on the moon" in education--something that will so galvanize us that we're willing to go through radical change.

This is so refreshing! We are on the verge of something so big I hope we are able to keep the vision. To the unknown.

Great post and great interview, Steve. It's nice to see somebody taking "the kids" (sorry, but I'll continue opposing that label, even though well-intended, as one for the dustbin until I end up in that dustbin myself) seriously.

Diane's point about motivation and the need for guidance is well-taken, but to me points to the need to create more authentic publications spaces, with more authentic audiences for students that, like Students 2.0, require quality to reach that audience.

There are obviously other possibilities for such spaces, besides a student edublog, that might motivate students to "embrace the revolution" in their own education.

Music, film, photography, and writings on a broader range of subjects than education are a case in point.

In my own senior classroom, I've been pursuing an "authentic blogging pedagogy" (no html allowed here, so: http://tinyurl.com/2pvljb) that throws out prescribed curriculum altogether, and requires only that my students identify a passion-based path of inquiry and/or production, and pursue that through connective reading-and-writing, and through showcasing their own creative pursuits on their blogs.

After a few frustrating months of watching them flounder, I'm finally seeing signs that give me hope. One student had a "mission moment" in which he identified that his blog would henceforth be the space in which he published and discussed his own musical compositions, with the aim of producing a full CD by the end of the senior year.

Others have similarly chosen photography and design as their missions, and are advancing down their own paths in those directions.

I started Students 2.0 out of frustration with all the excuses we read for not pushing authentic learning with web 2.0 forward in education. Sean's old English teacher in Scotland, "Mr. Winton (http://tinyurl.com/333gaz)," put his finger on my ultimate hope for this enterprise when he wrote,

"This attempt to give students a genuine forum where they can give an end-users view of Education2.0 is, I hope, the thin end of the wedge."

The "thin end of the wedge" indeed. We can, all of us, create more spaces that students want to earn their way into. The less "schooly" and egalitarian, the better - because maybe those unmotivated students Diane mentions are not motivated precisely because the types of publication they are offered online, in the end, still feel as inauthentic as the hallway displays of yore.

Thanks for taking these young people seriously, and not just giving them a pat on the head. I know I've been snarky on a couple occasions in comments on other posts about s2oh, but it's precisely because those posts seemed to both miss the weight of the moment, and to coopt the revolution by taming it into a lower level of status in the edublogging caste system. It's nice to see you and Ryan Bretag (he wrote about s2oh on TL first, as far as I know) avoiding that tone.

It's early days for s2oh, and they have a learning curve ahead of them, but trust me: for engagement and motivation, and care for their work, they get an A+ for their work so far.

Or would, if this had anything at all to do with grades. The amazing thing, of course, is that it doesn't.

Clay:

Thanks so much for adding your voice. I was very keen to see how you'd react to the interview.


I guess the bottom line for me is that I believe the technology is going to open some doors that pedagogy can't right now. Which I hope is different than saying that pedagogy is not as important as technology, but just more powerful (I'm struck by how many good things are done in education that don't lead to larger change.)

I also think that new pedagogies are going to arise because of the changes in how we communicate, collaborate, and create in the new medium of the read/write web--so maybe the bonus for me is that my belief that technology is going to create some dramatic changes also leads me to believe that we are going to be forced by this moment in histsory to have some really important discussions about learning and education, discussions that an entrenched system tends to resist.

Steve:

Simply OUTSTANDING! Passionatley frames the issue and should serve as the "clarion call" to educators of every ilk.

The outside of the classroom experiences (Kudo's to the digitally enlightened students among us!) signal the identification of a significant trend with regard to the familiar educational "rigor, RELEVANCE, relationships" factors. In other words students will seek relevance where THEY find it. And if not in the classroom, so be it (see students testamonials)!

This is the seminal driving issue with regards to the current work of the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning initiative.

Every champion of evolved digital education and true 21st Century Digital Learning Environments should become familiar with this emerging body of work.

Additionally, we are developing a small "pilot" study program to research, investigate and create technological pedagogically DESIGNED digital learning environments (sorry for the mouthful) composed of some of the issues you have so artfully articulated, within the context of an NSF ITEST STEM GRANT beginning January 2008. The baseline research element of this granting intention addresses the American Competitiveness initiative and attendant follow-on K-12 STEM IT based solutions.

Your patience is to be admired and your anxiety is shared and understood.

With regards to the "BIG PICTURE" here are three words that have served well in several similar social/cultural, industry technological disruptions (Graphic Arts, Industrial Design, Film & Video, Corporate America IT, etc.), of the past couple of decades. CHEAPER, BETTER, FASTER! I believe in combination they are the catalyst and the "great-leveler" of all playing fields if you will, AND they are on the immediate U.S. educational horizon.

Please stay your impassioned course, you are not alone and are spot-on!

Best,

Jim

Friday, December 21, 2007

SHOCKING!



Future School: Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up

Alvin Toffler tells us what's wrong -- and right -- with public education.

published 1/24/2007

Forty years after he and his wife Heidi set the world alight with Future Shock, Alvin Toffler remains a tough assessor of our nation's social and technological prospects. Though he's best known for his work discussing the myriad ramifications of the digital revolution, he also loves to speak about the education system that is shaping the hearts and minds of America's future. We met with him near his office in Los Angeles, where the celebrated septuagenarian remains a clear and radical thinker.

alvin toffler
Credit: Getty Images

You've been writing about our educational system for decades. What's the most pressing need in public education right now?

Shut down the public education system.

That's pretty radical.

I'm roughly quoting [Microsoft chairman] Bill Gates, who said, "We don't need to reform the system; we need to replace the system."

Why not just readjust what we have in place now? Do we really need to start from the ground up?

We should be thinking from the ground up. That's different from changing everything. However, we first have to understand how we got the education system that we now have. Teachers are wonderful, and there are hundreds of thousands of them who are creative and terrific, but they are operating in a system that is completely out of time. It is a system designed to produce industrial workers.

Let's look back at the history of public education in the United States. You have to go back a little over a century. For many years, there was a debate about whether we should even have public education. Some parents wanted kids to go to school and get an education; others said, "We can't afford that. We need them to work. They have to work in the field, because otherwise we starve." There was a big debate. Late in the 1800s, during the Industrial Revolution, business leaders began complaining about all these rural kids who were pouring into the cities and going to work in our factories. Business leaders said that these kids were no good, and that what they needed was an educational system that would produce "industrial discipline."

What is industrial discipline?

Well, first of all, you've got to show up on time. Out in the fields, on the farms, if you go out with your family to pick a crop, and you come ten minutes late, your uncle covers for you and it's no big deal. But if you're on an assembly line and you're late, you mess up the work of 10,000 people down the line. Very expensive. So punctuality suddenly becomes important.

You don't want to be tardy.

Yes. In school, bells ring and you mustn't be tardy. And you march from class to class when the bells ring again. And many people take a yellow bus to school. What is the yellow bus? A preparation for commuting. And you do rote and repetitive work as you would do on an assembly line.

alvin toffler

Alvin Toffler appears on a television monitor as he testifies before a Congressional Economic Committee in June on Capitol Hill. This is the first time that interactive video and teleconferencing technology has been used during congressional hearings.

Credit: Getty Images

How does that system fit into a world where assembly lines have gone away?

It doesn't. The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there. And therefore, with all the best intentions in the world, we're stealing the kids' future.

Do I have all the answers for how to replace it? No. But it seems to me that before we can get serious about creating an appropriate education system for the world that's coming and that these kids will have to operate within, we have to ask some really fundamental questions. And some of these questions are scary. For example: Should education be compulsory? And, if so, for who? Why does everybody have to start at age five? Maybe some kids should start at age eight and work fast. Or vice versa. Why is everything massified in the system, rather than individualized in the system? New technologies make possible customization in a way that the old system -- everybody reading the same textbook at the same time -- did not offer.

You're talking about customizing the educational experience.

Exactly. Any form of diversity that we can introduce into the schools is a plus. Today, we have a big controversy about all the charter schools that are springing up. The school system people hate them because they're taking money from them. I say we should radically multiply charter schools, because they begin to provide a degree of diversity in the system that has not been present. Diversify the system.

In our book Revolutionary Wealth, we play a game. We say, imagine that you're a policeman, and you've got a radar gun, and you're measuring the speed of cars going by. Each car represents an American institution. The first one car is going by at 100 miles per hour. It's called business. Businesses have to change at 100 miles per hour because if they don't, they die. Competition just puts them out of the game. So they're traveling very, very fast. Then comes another car. And it's going 10 miles per hour. That's the public education system. Schools are supposed to be preparing kids for the business world of tomorrow, to take jobs, to make our economy functional. The schools are changing, if anything, at 10 miles per hour. So, how do you match an economy that requires 100 miles per hour with an institution like public education? A system that changes, if at all, at 10 miles per hour?

It's a tough juxtaposition. So, what to do? Suppose you were made head of the U.S. Department of Education. What would be the first items on your agenda?

The first thing I'd say: "I want to hear something I haven't heard before." I just hear the same ideas over and over and over again. I meet teachers who are good and well intentioned and smart, but they can't try new things, because there are too many rules. They tell me that "the bureaucratic rules make it impossible for me to do what you're suggesting." So, how do we bust up that? It is easy to develop the world's best technologies compared with how hard it is to bust up a big bureaucracy like the public education system with the enormous numbers of jobs dependent on it and industries that feed it.

Here's a complaint you often hear: We spend a lot of money on education, so why isn't all that money having a better result?

It's because we're doing the same thing over and over again. We're holding 40 or 50 million kids prisoner for x hours a week. And the teacher is given a set of rules as to what you're going to say to the students, how you're going to treat them, what you want the output to be, and let no child be left behind. But there's a very narrow set of outcomes. I think you have to open the system to new ideas.

When I was a student, I went through all the same rote repetitive stuff that kids go through today. And I did lousy in any number of things. The only thing I ever did any good in was English. It's what I love. You need to find out what each student loves. If you want kids to really learn, they've got to love something. For example, kids may love sports. If I were putting together a school, I might create a course, or a group of courses, on sports. But that would include the business of sports, the culture of sports, the history of sports -- and once you get into the history of sports, you then get into history more broadly.

alvin toffler

Scene Setter:

Portrait of the young man as an artist, circa 1970.
Credit: Getty Images

Integrate the curricula.

Yeah -- the culture, the technology, all these things.

Like real life.

Like real life, yes! And, like in real life, there is an enormous, enormous bank of knowledge in the community that we can tap into. So, why shouldn't a kid who's interested in mechanical things or engines or technology meet people from the community who do that kind of stuff, and who are excited about what they are doing and where it's going? But at the rate of change, the actual skills that we teach, or that they learn by themselves, about how to use this gizmo or that gizmo, that's going to be obsolete -- who knows? -- in five years or in five minutes.

So, that's another thing: Much of what we're transmitting is doomed to obsolescence at a far more rapid rate than ever before. And that knowledge becomes what we call obsoledge: obsolete knowledge. We have this enormous bank of obsolete knowledge in our heads, in our books, and in our culture. When change was slower, obsoledge didn't pile up as quickly. Now, because everything is in rapid change, the amount of obsolete knowledge that we have -- and that we teach -- is greater and greater and greater. We're drowning in obsolete information. We make big decisions -- personal decisions -- based on it, and public and political decisions based on it.

Is the idea of a textbook in the classroom obsolete?

I'm a wordsmith. I write books. I love books. So I don't want to be an accomplice to their death. But clearly, they're not enough. The textbooks are the same for every child; every child gets the same textbook. Why should that be? Why shouldn't some kids get a textbook -- and you can do this online a lot more easily than you can in print -- why shouldn't a kid who's interested in one particular thing, whether it's painting or drama, or this or that, get a different version of the textbook than the kid sitting in the next seat, who is interested in engineering?

Let's have a little exercise. Walk me through this school you'd create. What do the classrooms look like? What are the class sizes? What are the hours?

It's open twenty-four hours a day. Different kids arrive at different times. They don't all come at the same time, like an army. They don't just ring the bells at the same time. They're different kids. They have different potentials. Now, in practice, we're not going to be able to get down to the micro level with all of this, I grant you, but in fact, I would be running a twenty-four-hour school, I would have nonteachers working with teachers in that school, I would have the kids coming and going at different times that make sense for them.

The schools of today are essentially custodial: They're taking care of kids in work hours that are essentially nine to five -- when the whole society was assumed to work. Clearly, that's changing in our society. So should the timing. We're individualizing time; we're personalizing time. We're not having everyone arrive at the same time, leave at the same time. Why should kids arrive at the same time and leave at the same time?

And when do kids begin their formalized education?

Maybe some start at two or three, and some start at seven or eight -- I don't know. Every kid is different.

What else?

I think that schools have to be completely integrated into the community, to take advantage of the skills in the community. So, there ought to be business offices in the school, from various kinds of business in the community.

The name of your publication is Edutopia, and utopia is three-quarters of that title. I'm giving a utopian picture, perhaps. I don't know how to solve all those problems and how to make that happen. But what it all boils down to is, get the current system out of your head.

How does the role of the teacher change?

I think (and this is not going to sit very well with the union) that maybe teaching shouldn't be a lifetime career. Maybe it's important for teachers to quit for three or four years and go do something else and come back. They'll come back with better ideas. They'll come back with ideas about how the outside world works, in ways that would not have been available to them if they were in the classroom the whole time. So, let's sit down as a culture, as a society, and say, "Teachers, parents, people outside, how do we completely rethink this? We're going to create a new system from ground zero, and what new ideas have you got?" And collect those new ideas. That would be a very healthy thing for the country to do.

You're advocating for fundamental radical changes. Are you an optimist when it comes to public education?

I just feel it's inevitable that there will have to be change. The only question is whether we're going to do it starting now, or whether we're going to wait for catastrophe.


The following Web sites appeared in this article:

  • www.alvintoffler.net: www.alvintoffler.net

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Keeping our "EYES PEELED" and our "EARS and MINDS OPEN!"
























Podcast: MacArthur Foundation "Digital Media and Learning" event Wednesday, December 12, 2007
http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.3750815/

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Case of the Solution being the Problem! (In more ways then one)

Educating 21st Century Engineers

Posted on 12/13/2007 6:31:23 PM

Kettering University's Jim Gover, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is co-author of a new e-book published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers on "Educating 21st Century Engineers."

The book, written with Paul Huray of the University of South Carolina, offers explicit examples of why the United States is being overtaken in the innovation game and how we can systematically address this problem and maintain our prominence in the global economy as the world’s innovator.

The authors note in their foreword that due to the importance of engineering on economic growth and the pressures of the global economy, “it is time for the federal government to declare engineering a public good. And it is time for U.S. corporations to fill a major role in engineering education.”

Gover, an IEEE fellow, and Huray note that some of the most critical issues regarding the lack of innovation from U.S. firms are clearly rooted in corporate engineering hiring strategies, which the authors describe as seriously flawed.

Because there is a decrease in the number of U.S. citizens studying engineering, companies have lobbied Congress to increase the number of H-1b work visas from 65,000 a year to 180,000.

Furthermore, since many American students cannot afford the cost of an engineering education, foreign students fill classroom seats and U.S. taxpayers foot the bill. With American firms hiring foreign engineers at an increasing rate, these professionals often gain the necessary experience in engineering they need, then leave for their home countries, where they can earn higher incomes when measured in terms of purchasing power.

In fact, much of the economic boom in India is due in to successful nationals who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, then returned to India to help modernize the country. The result is a loss of experienced engineers for companies in the U.S. Added to this is the issue of outsourcing, which negatively impacts a company’s R & D development: many overseas corporate partners of American companies often develop knock-off products and sell them to niche markets at low costs, a practice that violates patent protection laws but which is difficult for U.S. firms and the federal government to police.

Gover and Huray also explain in their book that economists link economic growth to increases in labor productivity, which is primarily driven by technology innovation. Unfortunately, the U.S., according to university presidents and industry executives from prestigious companies, have claimed for years now that there is a shortage of engineers graduating from American colleges and universities.

However, a closer look at this situation gets to the real heart of the matter: there is a shortage of highly innovative U.S. born engineering graduates ready to enter the work force immediately and make innovative contributions. Simply put, high school students are not enrolling in engineering or science-related fields and many critics suggest that this is because U.S. K-12 math and science education is weak. But Gover and Huray argue that an increase in engineering enrollment may not result from improved K-12 math and science education.

Instead, they say there are other specific reasons for the continuing decline in engineering enrollment:

* Some U.S. firms spend more on lawyers or MBAs than on research and development: students could interpret this data to mean there are more career opportunities in law and business than in science and engineering. * Engineering employment doesn’t provide the stability that it did when engineering enrollments were increasing; the Big Three's problems have resulted in engineering job cuts.

* Most corporate human resources departments do not understand that a degree in engineering provides graduates a logical approach that is applicable to problems students have yet to encounter. Corporate HR departments often treat engineering education similar to training programs for routine tasks. As a result, companies often turn away qualified engineers because their work experience does not exactly fit the job the company is seeking to fill.

Undergraduate engineering education is costly and the expense continues to increase. State funded schools typically charge on average roughly $15,000 or more for in-state tuition for undergraduate engineering education. The cost of tuition for other high profile institutions can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 a year. As a result, more and more engineering students often graduate with student loan debts exceeding $40,000.

Historically, most of the nation’s engineers came from veterans and students from farming families. Veterans learned about technological advances through their military training and experiences, and as the farming industry began to dwindle, students from farming environments turned to engineering. For veterans, they often received tuition support through the GI Program.

The number of students from farming environments has diminished due to the mechanization of agriculture. And since American corporations have limited experience in working with cooperative education students from U.S. colleges, U.S. industry continues to miss out on opportunities to grow their own engineers who could develop new innovations.

Additionally, females and minorities represent a small portion of engineering professionals, the authors report, even though there have been considerable efforts on the part of institutions and organizations to increase interest among these groups.

So how does the U.S. combat the lack of interest in engineering among today’s high school students and thereby encourage a new generation of engineering leaders and innovators?

The authors feel that cooperative education jobs with corporations could in many ways eradicate the issues noted above. Specifically, if companies were to pay the college tuition of these students, four major effects would result: undergraduate enrollment of U.S. born students would increase; engineering graduate school enrollment would increase; more universities would create cooperative education programs for undergraduate and graduate levels; and higher quality, innovative students would be interested in these programs and perhaps choose engineering and the sciences as possible career fields.

But for these results to occur, two critically important breakthroughs are necessary, Gover and Huray explain. First, there needs to be a national recognition of engineering as a public good, since technology engineering does indeed drive economic growth. Second, with engineering deemed a public good, tax incentives must be available to U.S. firms to hire undergraduate and graduate co-op engineering students and pay for their tuition.

The authors also stress that for this to work, the passing of legislation permitting a company to pay for co-op student tuition, pay students an appropriate salary and deduct the full tuition cost from the company’s federal tax payments, are necessary.

And the benefit? Gover and Huray state that if this legislation is indeed passed and fails to attract more students to engineering education, no reduction in federal revenues will occur. And if it is successful and significantly more students do indeed enroll in engineering-related college programs, the revenue that accrues from their salaries and innovations should compensate for reducing a corporation’s federal tax revenues. This clearly represents a win-win situation no matter how one looks at it.

The e-book, titled “Educating 21st Century Engineers,” is available through the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers by visiting http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ebooks/default.asp.

Gover will also present a paper on this book at the November 2007 IEEE conference in Munich, Germany, titled “Meeting the Growing Demand for Engineers and Their Educators 2010-2020.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ADD: Asset Inventory (Sustainable Energy)

Detroit Community Development Efforts 12-12-2007

Location Scouting for Additonal Assets (Partners)

Congressman goes Y2B Presidential Debates ONE Better!













Dec 12, 11:47 AM EST

Virtual Congressman Speaks at Summit


By ANDREW MIGA
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Edward Markey couldn't make it to Bali for the United Nations climate change summit, so he sent along the next best thing: an animated version of himself.

Relying on computer technology, Markey, D-Mass., addressed the global climate change meeting Tuesday night using a virtual likeness of himself, known as an "avatar."

Markey's 3-D computerized likeness wore a dark blue suit, a green tie and a white shirt. He used the online community Second Life to speak in front of a computerized image of the Bali conference setting.

"I have teleported here over the Internet," he told the audience.

Markey wanted to attend the Bali conference, but he is involved in talks on the energy bill in Congress this week.

"I had to stay here in Washington to pass a clean energy bill that will make a down payment on the global warming cuts needed to save the planet," Markey said in a statement before his virtual appearance. "But it was critical to show the leaders gathered in Bali that they have partners here in America who are deeply concerned about solving global warming and re-engaging the United States on the global stage."

Markey spoke in front of a computer at a staffer's home on Capitol Hill audiences in Bali and on the Internet viewed his avatar.

"This is my first foray into Second Life, but it won't be my last," he said.

Markey is chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He is also chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Care to Dance?

An IMPORTANT Ingredient in any SUCCESSFUL Recipe!


Emotional Intelligence: The Missing Piece

Social and emotional learning can help students successfully resolve conflict, communicate clearly, solve problems, and much more.

published 2/22/2001

VIDEO: Emotional Intelligence Overview

Running Time: 8 min.

Whether it's in the boardroom or the classroom, individuals need the skills to communicate, work in teams, and let go of the personal and family issues that get in the way of working and learning. Such skills add up to what is known as emotional intelligence, and they are even more important as educators realize that these skills are critical to academic achievement.

Emotionally intelligent individuals stand out. Their ability to empathize, persevere, control impulses, communicate clearly, make thoughtful decisions, solve problems, and work with others earns them friends and success. They tend to lead happier lives, with more satisfying relationships. At work, they are more productive, and they spur productivity in others. At school, they do better on standardized tests and help create a safe, comfortable classroom atmosphere that makes it easier to learn.

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman popularized the term "emotional intelligence" in his landmark 1995 best-selling book of the same name. What emotional intelligence is, says Goleman, "is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships." Or, as Maurice Elias, Rutgers University psychology professor, puts it, "It's the set of abilities that helps us get along in life with other people in all kinds of life situations." He calls it the "missing piece" in American education.


emotional intelligence

Students in Sarah Button’s fifth-grade class at P.S. 15 in Brooklyn learn how to defuse potentially volatile incidents.

Credit: GLEF

Self-Awareness and Empathy

Jonathan Cohen, president of the Center for Social and Emotional Education in New York, argues that attributes like self-awareness and empathy play a huge role in every aspect of life. "We all know that how we feel about ourselves and others can profoundly affect our ability to concentrate, to remember, to think, and to express ourselves," he says. Kids without emotional intelligence "don't follow directions, continually go off-task, can't pay attention, and have difficulty working cooperatively.

Social and emotional learning, the increasingly common term for emotional intelligence instruction, can be a lesson on the hurtfulness of put-downs followed by discussions on ways to communicate "put-ups." It can be a regular morning meeting, in which students share such personal feelings as the pain of their pet dying or the joy of a family outing. It can be an analysis of a conflict in great literature and a discussion about different paths the characters might have taken. It can be a common plan to take a moment to think, rather than react automatically, and often aggressively, to distress. It can be a districtwide commitment to community service. It can be a software program that lets students get a clearer idea of their reactions to risky situations.


emotional intelligence

At Ben Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, social and emotional instruction is a top priority.

Credit: GLEF

Miraculous Transformations

Many educators say they are gratified by the results of such instruction in their schools because of its effect on both the school environment and academics. Fifth-grade teacher Grace Wiesner calls the transformation in her Waldport, Oregon, classroom "miraculous." "Disruptions due to acting out, arguing, or talking back have been significantly reduced," she says. Tina Valentine, a fourth-grade teacher at Kensington Avenue School in Springfield, Massachusetts, agrees. "I find I'm not spending as much time with behavioral management issues, so I actually have more time to spend with academics." A number of studies also have found a correlation between social skills and academic achievement.

Instruction in emotional intelligence is not a quick fix or a one-time lesson. The best programs, says Elias, "take no less than three years" to get to a place where teachers are comfortable and students are showing the benefits. Cohen adds that while a growing number of school programs include elements of instruction aimed at a child's emotional needs, too many of those programs are fragmented, short-term, and not well-integrated into the regular curriculum or school structure. "Just as we don't expect kids to learn a language in a year, we don't expect kids to learn social and emotional skills in one year," he says.


Skills More Than Values

Parents need not fear that emotional intelligence translates to a set of values that may be affiliated with religion. "We're not really teaching values. We're actually teaching skills," says Linda Lantieri, co-founder of the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, one of the longest-running conflict resolution and social and emotional learning programs. "They're almost like tools in a toolbox. I remember one parent saying to me, 'You know, in my place of worship, I teach my kid to be honest. But you give the child the skills to be that way.'" The character education movement, which promotes universal values like respect, honesty, justice, and compassion, is also closely aligned to social and emotional learning.

Social and emotional learning programs work best when parents and teachers are partners, and that means schools need to train both parents and teachers in ways to promote behavior that improves communication, empathy, self-awareness, decision-making, and problem-solving. Parents, educators, policymakers, and business people all have a role to play in supporting the social and emotional learning of schoolchildren.

"We're talking about a whole new vision of education that says that educating the heart is as important as educating the mind," says Lantieri. Rutgers' Elias puts it another way. He says that parents don't just want SAT-smart kids. They want kids who are also responsible, non-violent, and caring: "We want the whole package."

The program profiled in this article is also featured on the Edutopia videocassette Teaching in the Digital Age: Emotional Intelligence.

A Global Perspective


Global Nomads: At-Risk Students Connect with Peers Worldwide

An ambitious videoconferencing program brings together teens from all over -- and wakes them up to the world at large.

published 12/11/2006

Take a group of kids -- let's say they're at-risk high school students -- and give them the opportunity to not only participate in but also design and direct a worldwide videoconference with other teens in remote or war-torn or poverty-stricken locales. Then sit back and see what happens.

photo
Credit: Christoph Schmitz

"Usually, I have to make sure the kids are awake in class," says Shirley Herrin, a social studies teacher at ALPHA Academy, in Magnolia, Texas, outside Houston. "Here, they were on the edge of their seats, interested." Herrin's students dove into the Global Nomads Group videoconferencing program in fall 2005, and they haven't been the same since.

The GNG's Currents program brought kids from countries such as Brazil and Japan into American classrooms (such as Magnolia's) to talk about HIV/AIDS. "My kids assumed they knew it all," says Herrin, when in fact they understood very little about the global AIDS situation. Working on their own, they decided to bring their newfound knowledge to the rest of the school by organizing an assembly at which the district nurse came and spoke about HIV. "This was a group of kids who had never done anything on their own, and they went after this with such a passion."

GNG, whose mission is to bring young people face-to-face across spatial, cultural, and national boundaries through videoconferencing, has been doing so since its founding in 1998. Though the open dialogues have a theme and structured content (designed by the students), the conversation also includes what music they listen to and how they get along with their parents -- in other words, teenagers talking to teenagers about teenage issues. One goal of the interaction is to get rid of some of the ignorance that exists simply because we live in different places. GNG has broadcast from many countries, including Brazil, China, Honduras, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, the Sudan, and Vietnam, while meeting and speaking directly with the young people living in those locations.

The ALPHA students have responded to the GNG message enthusiastically. Distance-learning coordinator Charlie Brown said these kids -- not "your usual motivated crowd" -- "soared" when they began preparing for the videoconferences. At a school where 84 percent of the population is designated at-risk, the upturn in academic achievement has been notable and, it turns out, long lasting. Along with lessons in social studies, geography, culture, politics, religion, the military, the government, and resources, the students learned a little diplomacy, which, Herrin says, is a "huge lesson for our kids."

Most of these students have never ventured outside of Magnolia; the GNG programs brought them some perspective as well. After the Mozambique program in spring 2006, Herrin's students decided they didn't have it so bad after all. They held a fund-raiser (again, all on their own initiative) and sent the $170 they collected to Mozambique, where, they had learned, it costs $130 to feed, clothe, and educate a child for a year.

"It doesn't sound like a lot of money," Herrin admits, "but this school had never held a fund-raising event before. There's not a lot of money floating around our school."

That feeling of being able to effect change has spilled over into other aspects of the students' lives. "They are part of something so special, they get to do something not a lot of people get to do," says Herrin, and that factor has improved self-esteem as well as grades.

"They represented our country in a positive way, and maybe changed how people think of Americans," she adds. Herrin says she experienced "the highest high you can get as a teacher, seeing your kids want to know more, asking thought-provoking questions, and then wanting to know even more."

The GNG programs at ALPHA would not be possible without the school district's commitment to videoconferencing technology. In 2000, Magnolia director of technology Rob Miller installed camera systems in every school and administrative building. "We just put in fiber optics," says Brown. "And we have a VirtualLAN for videoconferencing, which keeps things fast and clear because there's no other traffic." In a district with 8 to 10 percent growth per year, investment in technology is a necessity.

When Brown was hired, he was given the task of finding interesting applications for the videoconferencing system, which, up to that point, had been used only for professional development. He followed up on a Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) advertisement for GNG and ran a trial at Magnolia. The 2004 GNG program, filmed from a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan, was enough to convince him that his videoconferencing system could become a GNG hub. "I liked what happened in that classroom," Brown says.

It isn't enough to have the students watch a video or take a virtual tour of a place, though. A videoconference has to have academic content, and it has to be interactive. "We do no conference where we are not interactive," Brown insists. In an ordinary class, he says, he usually feels he has reached or changed one, maybe two kids by the end of the year. He believes that, after the GNG conferences, every student was affected.

GNG got them out of the classroom and into another part of the world without taking them away from their home. "It has had an impact on their lives," he says. One student decided to graduate early and become an intern with GNG in New York. When her parents balked, she compromised by attending a Texas university, majoring in communications and media. "This is a kid who had trouble just being in school," Brown recalls, and, all of a sudden, she was on fire, graduated early, and is now working toward a college degree -- thanks to GNG's window on the world.

Elizabeth Crane is a freelance writer in San Francisco who writes about many things, including education, parenting, technology, and food.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Originating Partner and Intention (Continue to Build Capacity)

photo

EDUCATION CHALLENGE


Success in learning


International Academy plans to expand with site in Troy


December 6, 2007

BY PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI

FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER

The success of students at Oakland County's International Academy can be measured a variety of ways -- from test scores to the colleges its graduates attend to its repeated recognition as one of the top public high schools in the country.

It's also apparent in the increasing number of students applying for spots in the school, and the number of schools across Michigan considering similar offerings.

Already, 10 other schools in the state offer International Baccalaureate curriculum -- rigorous courses that challenge students' analytical and critical-thinking skills -- and 19 others have applied to add the program.

The International Academy is planning to expand from about 700 students now to 1,400 students over the next four years, which would make it the second-largest IB school in the world.

Macomb County's school districts will open an IB school in fall 2008, similar to the one in Oakland County. And Grosse Pointe Public Schools are expecting a report this month about adding an IB program.

"What IB is actually training you to do is step in the shoes of a practitioner," said Bert Okma, principal and founder of the International Academy in Oakland County, an IB school that's been ranked by Newsweek magazine as one of the top 10 high schools in the country since 2002. "It's not just asking you to know biology, it's asking you to think like a biologist."

IB programs use a comprehensive approach to determine if students are learning the material, with assessments that include oral and written reports, traditional testing and community-service projects. Educators say they are more rigorous than most other college prep programs, stressing an interdisciplinary approach to the subjects covered.

The International Academy is run by a consortium of Oakland County school districts, on campuses in Bloomfield Hills and White Lake Township. A third site is to open next fall in the Troy School District, in the former Baker Middle School, which is currently being remodeled to house the high school students.

The Troy district elected to open the branch in order to increase the number of seats available for its own students from 25 to 75. The school will open with ninth-graders and will add another ninth-grade class each year until it has all four high school grades. When it's fully opened, it will double the size of the International Academy.

"I have a coworker; his daughter is going to the International Academy and he's really pleased about it," said Margaret Estes, whose son, Michael, 13, has applied for the Troy school. She likes the international aspect and the rigor of the curriculum. "I heard the program will be more focused on science and mathematics, more so than in regular schools."

Unlike the other two campuses, the Troy campus likely will take students from neighboring counties to fill spaces not claimed by Oakland County students, said Troy spokesman Tim McAvoy.

Macomb County's school is to open next fall in Clinton Township, with admission open to students from any county school district.

It will share the former Seneca Middle School with Chippewa Valley High School's ninth-grade academy, which is only expected to need about half of the building's 1,100-student capacity. Like the Troy school, it will open with ninth-graders in the fall, adding a grade each year until the high school is complete.

"It's not for all kids, but it's a wonderful opportunity for the ones that want to step up and get challenged," said Gayle Green, assistant superintendent for instruction and special projects with the Macomb Intermediate School District. "We've been talking about it for a year and a half, but have really gone full steam on it for the last six or eight months."

An IB program doesn't guarantee college admission.

"Anytime a student goes beyond the regular college preparatory curriculum, it's certainly value added," said Jim Cotter, director of admissions at Michigan State University.

But IB students can get college credit for their high school classes. Exactly how much credit depends on the test, their score and the college or university's policy.

Getting credit "depends a great deal on the level of examination they take and the subject area in which they take the examination," Cotter said.

Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI at 586-469-4681.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

URGENCY!

Published Online: December 4, 2007

Education Week

U.S. Students Fall Short in Math and Science

New results from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, released today, show U.S. students ranking lower, on average, than their peers in 16 other countries in science, out of 30 developed nations taking part in the exam.

The test measures the performance of 15-year-old students, regardless of grade level, examining the skills they pick up both in the classroom and outside school, as well as their ability to apply that knowledge to a variety of situations.

In science—the main subject tested on the 2006 PISA—American students scored an average of 489, below the international average among industrialized nations of 500, on a scale of 1 to 1,000. Finland, which has shone in worldwide comparisons in recent years, notched the top science score of 563, followed by Canada, Japan, and New Zealand.

While the United States’ science score on PISA lagged statistically behind more than half the developed nations’, it ranked in the same statistical category as eight other industrialized countries, including Poland, Denmark, France, and Iceland. The United States outperformed such nations as Italy, Greece, and Mexico.

In 2003, the last time PISA measured performance in science, U.S. students tallied an average of 491, 9 points lower than the average of 500 in industrialized countries.

In math, which was tested in less depth on this PISA, American teenagers fared even worse, producing an average score of 474, 24 points below the international average of 498 among the 30 participating industrialized countries. Finland also landed on top in math.

The top-scoring American students’ averages were statistically worse than those for 23 of those nations, and equal to only those of Spain and Portugal. Just four countries—Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico scored lower than the United States.

As in science, U.S. teenagers’ math performance was roughly the same as in 2003, the last time PISA was administered. The United States was 17 points behind the average score for industrialized nations then, meaning the score gap has since widened slightly.

Twenty-seven nonindustrialized nations also took part in the 2006 PISA. U.S. scores in both math and science ranked below those of several countries considered nonindustrialized, including Estonia and Slovenia.

Science Understanding Questioned

Unlike some national and international tests, which examine knowledge and skills that students are supposed to have picked up in school, PISA takes into account learning that may occur outside formal academic settings.

The test measures science literacy, as defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, which oversees PISA. That literacy on PISA is defined as the ability to think scientifically and identify questions, gain new knowledge, explain scientific phenomena, and draw evidence-based conclusions about issues in science.

When compared with their peers from other developed nations, U.S. students scored best—meaning only 7 points lower than the international average—on questions that asked them to identify scientific issues. They were at their worst—scoring 14 points below the international norm—in “explaining phenomena scientifically,” which testing officials defined as interpreting science and predicting changes, and identifying the correct descriptions, explanations, and predictions.

Many American elected officials and policymakers in recent years have repeatedly voiced worries that the United States will gradually lose its international economic edge if students’ math and science skills do not improve, given the flourishing school systems and growing economies in a number of other countries. Business and technology leaders have argued that more U.S. students need to be encouraged to acquire, and be provided with, the necessary academic skills to enter math- and science-related professions.

Senta Raizen, who helped direct a recent revision of the science version of the National Assessment of Educational Progess, a federally sponsored testing program, said those concerns would likely echo once again with the latest PISA results. But Ms. Raizen said an equally important concern—particularly given the broad science skills PISA measures—was that U.S. students lack a strong grasp of the overall nature of science, and by extension, an understanding of its role in society.

The scores call into question American students’ “support for the enterprise of science—their understanding of the importance of the field,” Ms. Raizen said.

“It’s not just about having more people go into those fields,” Ms. Raizen said. “Can kids apply the science knowledge to problems that confront them as citizens?”

Gerald F. Wheeler, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, in Arlington, Va., said recent test results have carried the same message: Science is not being emphasized strongly enough in U.S. classrooms, and teachers need more resources and skills to deliver sound lessons to students.

“Why are we surprised?” Mr. Wheeler said of the scores. “It’s a sad state to be in.”

The NSTA official said he was encouraged by the urgent tone adopted by members of Congress and business leaders recently in talking about U.S. students’ science and math shortcomings. But there is far too much apathy among members of the public at large—especially parents—who can stir a passion for science among students of all ages, he said, citing recent polls.

“The policymakers do get it,” Mr. Wheeler said. The challenge, he said, is presenting the issue so that “the public gets it.”

In addition to its science and math scores, the United States was supposed to receive PISA scores in reading. But the reading results were invalidated by printing errors in the testing booklets given to U.S. students, which both American and OECD officials determined would have skewed the results. Officials at the National Center for Education Statistics, while taking partial responsibility for the mishap, said it was the primary duty of the contractor, RTI International, of North Carolina, to make sure the reading exams were printed correctly. ("Printing Errors Invalidate U.S. Reading Scores on PISA," Nov. 28, 2007.)

A Washington-based advocacy organization, the Alliance for Excellent Education, called last month for U.S. officials to readminister the reading test. But NCES Commissioner Mark S. Schneider, in a conference call with reporters this week, said that option was not feasible, considering the length of time it takes to arrange and give a PISA test.

PISA groups student test results in six categories, or proficiency levels. The United States had larger shares of students in the lowest-scoring category in science, at 8 percent, and the second-lowest group, at 17 percent, than the average for the 30 participating industrialized countries, at 5 percent and 14 percent.

Among high-achieving students, 10 percent of American 15-year-olds scored in the top two proficiency levels in science, roughly the same as the average for the other developed nations. Some nations, however, produced a far greater proportion of teenagers in the two highest categories, such as Finland, which had 21 percent reach those heights.

Monday, December 3, 2007

PlayAnywhere

Variations on a THEME!

Cell Phone Projector Coming Soon

Smaller Becomes Bigger Which Begets Better!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Get SMART! Go DIGITAL!

Friday, November 30, 2007

High-tech schools pilot program puts kids in charge

BY CARRIE MELAGODAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, November 25th 2007, 4:00 AM
Barnuevo For News

Alyssa Deonarian uses a laptop to participate in a class assignment.

A Giant outline of the human body is projected onto a 72-inch screen inside Middle School 202, next to a jumble of organs and bones that belong inside it.

One by one, eighth-graders in the Queens classroom walk to the special screen. The kids - a mix of new English speakers and general and special-ed students - touch a body part and drag it toward the empty outline.

The traditional skeleton propped up in the classroom looks downright antiquated as it stands next to the interactive teaching tool called a "SMARTboard."

"It's awesome," said 15-year-old Joseph Guerra, who correctly placed the esophagus. Nodding toward his teacher, he added, "You can learn a lot more than if they're just talking."

The Ozone Park middle school is one of 22 across the city participating in a pilot program designed to create and test-drive the 21st century classroom.

About $13.4 million in capital funds, along with federal grants, have been invested into the so-called iTeach-iLearn schools over the past two years.

The pilot program outfits classrooms in the 22 schools with devices including SMARTboards, laptops, wireless Internet access and special lockers to keep all the technology safe when the school is closed.

Teachers receive training so they feel comfortable with the new technology, officials said, and each school has a specialist so technical difficulties don't derail lessons for days on end.

"It's teachers giving students the opportunity to take control of their learning," said Troy Fischer, director of the city's Office of Instructional Technology, which will evaluate the program at the end of the school year. "Students begin to bring more to the classes."

The pilot comes as other school districts across the nation debate the effectiveness of using similar technology in the classroom. Some schools that rushed to equip kids with laptops have since backed off, citing mounting costs and questionable results.

A study released by the federal Department of Education this year also showed that educational computer software made no significant difference in student achievement.

But teachers at MS 202 are sold on the new technology.

In her second-floor classroom, sixth-grade teacher Dana Matorella uses the newest gadgets to teach kids about ancient Egypt.

The students use laptops to research hieroglyphics, filling in their answers on work sheets. Then Matorella gives them a pop quiz - but instead of pencils, they pull out remote controls.

A question about hieroglyphics is projected onto the SMARTboard, and the kids enter their answers using the remotes, similar to how audiences are polled on TV game shows.

Instantly, Matorella can see that all but one child answered correctly - and only she knows who got it wrong. "It's anonymous and they feel free," she said. "They love when I say, 'Get out the remotes.'"

Principal William Moore was an early advocate of technology in the classroom, teaching astronomy courses online when he worked as a professor at the New School in Manhattan.

When he came to MS 202 several years ago, he put WiFi Internet access in the school and bought laptops for every floor. But he never imagined the changes he's seeing now. "We're lightyears ahead of what I ever thought I'd have here," Moore said. "It totally transforms the school."

In Joseph Birgeles' seventh-grade social studies class, students played an interactive game about the old Jamestown colony called "17th Century Survivor."

Afterward, they were asked to justify their decisions on a work sheet.
"They have lunch right now," Moore said, "and they don't want to leave."

Students at MS 202 said they preferred their high-tech classrooms to the ones in their former elementary schools - and particularly like the SMARTboards more than blackboards.

"It's easier to see and learn," said Kimara Davis, 12, who also doesn't miss using chalk. "It doesn't mess up your hands."

cmelago@nydailynews.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: On Two Fronts (U of M-Dearborn and the City of Detroit)






















U-M might tap Detroit as a living classroom


November 29, 2007

BY DREW PHILIP

FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER

Instead of studying abroad in England, Taiwan or Chile next year, University of Michigan students might spend a semester living, learning and working in downtown Detroit.

The program, expected to begin in fall 2008, would have students hold internships with community organizations, take classes taught by U-M professors at the school's Detroit Center and participate in community service and events.

Organizers of the program, who believe it would be the first of such a scope in Detroit, say it would immerse students in the life and culture of Detroit while fostering relationships between community organizations and the university.

The program would allow students to experience Detroit with city residents and leaders, not simply read about the city while in classrooms.

"It was conceived and is being created with the idea of being mutually beneficial to the city and the university," faculty adviser Stephen Ward said last month.

Local planners are creating the model for this in-depth type of service, but it draws from similar programs elsewhere in the country. Louisiana State University routinely sends students and faculty to rebuild hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, and the University of California, Los Angeles offers students service learning opportunities and internships in Los Angeles.

But the U-M program would be unique because students would forgo the societal comfort of a college campus and go home blocks, not miles, from where they work.

A budget has not been set, and the plan is working its way through channels to formalize it as a sustainable program, but U-M Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Lester Monts said the program is "a sure thing."

Organizers say they hope the program will open channels between the university and the Detroit community to help further the revitalization of downtown.

The program also has been pitched as a way to promote diversity at U-M after the passage of Proposal 2, the statewide affirmative action ban that bars the use of race and gender in admissions and financial aid decisions by public universities.

Ward said the program is a manifestation of a larger movement in the university and the nation to stop looking at inner cities as laboratories for study and to begin to partner with citizens and organizations for social change.

Alumna Rachael Tanner, 21, of Kalamazoo, a former student in Ward's Urban and Community Studies class, proposed the idea of a Semester in Detroit as a final class project. Fellow students formed a planning committee in January. Professors and administrative staff helped put the program into motion.

"We have a semester in Washington, D.C. Why not have a semester in Detroit?" Tanner asked. "The culture is so rich, but students spend so little time there."

The program would support 20 to 30 students and cost about the same as a semester at the Ann Arbor campus. Students would take 15 to 18 liberal arts credit hours studying subjects including the development of urban areas and grassroots responses to urban challenges.

Nick Tobier, a professor in the School of Art and Design who takes university students into Detroit elementary classes, plans to teach in the program.

Tobier said he thinks of Detroit as among the "most productive cultural ecosystems" and wants to bring more students into that atmosphere.

Students would spend the bulk of their time earning class credits at internships with community organizations. Guided by faculty, these students would be expected to secure the internships themselves. In preparation, a student planning committee is working with the university's Ginsberg Center to contact community groups that might be willing to host internships.

Tim Duperron, interim chief executive officer of Focus: HOPE, said the university's relationship with his organization has always been positive, and he would love to have Semester in Detroit's students intern there.

"They certainly have the right mind-set and the right spirit," he said. "I'm encouraged by this, because it will be done well, not superficially."

Classes would take place at and internships would be coordinated through the university's Detroit Center at Woodward Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard. The center serves as a university base in the city to conduct research and meet with community partners.

Organizers expect to buy a home near Wayne State University, where students in the program would live.

Western Michigan University has programs sending students to study internships in major U.S. cities, and Michigan State University sends students to Washington, D.C., in a program with internships and class time. None has programs of this scope in Detroit.

"That's something we're going to strongly consider in the future," said Karen Reiff, director of experiential learning at MSU.

Some see this as a way to bridge two disparate communities.

"Having a program would make a big statement that the university is committed to investing in the city," said senior Megan Hanner, 21, of Whitehall. "I have no doubt that the program would teach students the appropriate way to be invested in a city they're not from."

If he weren't graduating, senior Tom Szczesny, 20, of Bloomfield Township said he would want to spend a semester in Detroit.

"It makes a lot of sense because we're connected geographically, but there's a big disconnect between the university and Detroit," he said. "If you have something like Semester in Detroit, it brings a new awareness of the city."

Monday, November 26, 2007

21st Century Digital Learning Environments


TECHNOLOGY CLICKS WITH KIDS

Raising the Bar: What a difference a decade of "digital discourse" makes.

Computers transform classrooms

Gadgets get students excited to learn


November 26, 2007

BY LORI HIGGINS

FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER

The kids grab small voting devices on their desks, then punch in their answer to a question posed on the screen above them: "¿Cual es verde? "

In an instant, teacher Nancy Conn pushes a button and up pops a chart showing the correct answer -- the green square -- among six squares of varying colors.

All of this is happening on a large interactive white board -- a cross between a blackboard, computer screen and projector -- that Conn uses in her Spanish classroom at Hickory Grove Elementary School in Bloomfield Township.

The boards -- which will be in every classroom in the Bloomfield Hills Schools district by the beginning of next year -- are among the ways schools in metro Detroit are using technology to teach and capture the minds of a generation growing up in a digital age.

At Lottie Schmidt Elementary School in New Baltimore, students in Jim Alvaro's fifth-grade class create podcasts of their lessons, broadcast for anyone on the Web to hear. Rob McClelland, a teacher at the Oakland Technical Center campus in Wixom, has created computer games that help solidify students' understanding of key lessons.

And at Fisher Elementary School in the South Redford School District, students are learning Chinese and interacting with pen pals in China via a webcam, computer, projector and software.

"You always learn something new by using technology," said Natalie Joniec, 10, a Fisher fifth-grader.

Technology boosts performance

While some schools are pushing forward with plans to fully integrate technology, others struggle to do so in ways that engage kids and help them learn, said Ledong Li, an assistant professor of education at Oakland University.

And that's a problem, he said.

"If we deliver information like we used to do in the traditional way, kids are bored in the classroom," said Li, who organized a workshop in June on using video games in the classroom. "They don't feel they are engaged."

Li said technology can be intimidating to teachers who aren't familiar with how to use it, or how it can benefit their lessons. And so much is focused today on improving test scores that it's easy to see technology as an extra. Yet, Li said research shows technology can improve student performance.

Still, some teachers "look at the requirements for raising test scores as the kind of signal that they have to do things in a traditional way," Li said.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has announced proposed changes to teacher preparation programs, and he's making the integration of technology into teaching practices a priority. Last year, Michigan became the first, and still the only, state in the nation that will require students to take an online class or have online experience to graduate high school.

Ric Wiltse, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning, said budget crunches have impacted how schools integrate technology.

But, Wiltse said, "teachers are getting more and more creative about how they use the technology tools students have these days."

That includes Alvaro, whose classroom has a blog called the Skinny as well as the podcasts. The students worked on a project that had them research and write about when their ancestors arrived in the United States.

Games that teach

Today's kids are steps ahead of their teachers, in many cases. They instant message, text message, play video games, blog and use social Web sites like MySpace and YouTube.

"Everything we do is about technology," said Kala Kottman of Commerce Township, a senior at Walled Lake Western High School and the Oakland Technical Center campus in Wixom. "It's a big deal."

Kala, 17, is enrolled in the culinary arts program at the technical center. She was among a group of students in a computer lab playing a game created by McClelland, who provides support to fellow teachers.

There are about 100 culinary tools students must memorize, and while they still use rote memorization tricks, McClelland's game gives them a fun way to test their knowledge. McClelland has produced a similar game for two other technical center programs.

In the game, which is timed, students must quickly match a picture of a tool with its correct name.

McClelland programmed the game using popular phrases familiar to kids. For instance, if they click on the wrong answer, they're likely to hear the "D'oh!" popularized by Homer Simpson. If they get it right, they might hear a "Woo hoo."

Instant feedback

The Bloomfield Hills district is making a significant investment in the Promethean white boards. About $2.1 million has been committed to put them in all of its classrooms.

Conn was among the first to try them, and she said they make a difference in the classroom. The screen is connected to a computer, and it takes just a few clicks for her to call up lessons. The board also is interactive, allowing students to manipulate it.

The voting system allows Conn to constantly assess students, asking them to record correct answers on the hand-held device.

The instantaneous feedback means that instead of waiting until she grades a quiz to see who is struggling and which concepts students aren't getting, Conn finds out "just like that," she said with a sharp snap of her fingers.

It also means she can do some re-teaching on the fly if she sees many students answering a question wrong.

Mitchell Shults and Destiny Lynch, both 8-year-old third-graders, said the boards make classes more fun.

"You can play games on it and learn a lot of stuff," Mitchell said.

The voting, Destiny said, gets kids excited, especially when the whole class records the correct answer.

Technology makes it possible

At 7:45 on a Tuesday morning at Fisher Elementary, Deborah Reichman and her students were sitting around a table in a small conference room learning to speak the Chinese language. Reichman, the school's intervention specialist, doesn't know how -- she's learning with her students.

They go over a worksheet, practicing saying words and numbers in Chinese. When they get to a word they're unfamiliar with, Reichman has a plan.

"We may have to change or alter how we pronounce it when Mr. Nemo gets online," she said.

Nemo Ma is a teacher at the Nanao School in Guangzhou, China, and he is usually online when the kids meet to provide assistance and give them a chance to interact with a native Chinese speaker. Often, he places his mouth close to the lens of his camera and slowly enunciates the words so the students in Redford Township can see how his mouth moves. His image is projected on a large screen in the conference room.

The two schools are partnered through a program they call A Classroom Without Walls. The idea here isn't to create fluent Chinese speakers, Fisher Principal Brian Galdes said.

"Our goal is for the students ... to be global citizens, to interact with students from another culture one-on-one," Galdes said.

About 30 kids are involved in the program, in which they also use an online program to learn the language. And they have pen pals at the school in China. They chat with their e-pals, exchanging stories about their lives. But they also work on projects together.

Without technology, "we wouldn't be able to communicate," said Bradford Thomas, 10, a fifth-grader. "We'd have to write letters. And it'd probably take too long for them to reply."

Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or lhiggins@freepress.com.