2012年11月30日 星期五

Some of the News Fit to Print 東海觀察



Some of the News Fit to Print
A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that as students of color and diverse ethnicities become the leading population of public school systems in numerous states, closing achievement gaps can secure the country's future prosperity. Given that two-thirds of our economy is driven by consumer spending, the report makes the case that raising individual education levels will boost purchasing power and by extension, the national economy. Students of color make up more than half of the K–12 population in 12 states and between 40 and 50 percent of students in an additional ten states. Yet the high school graduation rates of students of color trail whites' by an average of 20 percentage points. Disparities continue into higher education where in 2011, 31 percent of whites age 25 and older held at least a bachelor's degree, compared to just 20 percent of blacks and 14 percent of Hispanics. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show dropouts more than three times as likely to be unemployed, and when employed and at the peak of earning capacity averaging only $9 per hour compared to high school graduates and those with bachelor's degrees, who earn $13 and $25 per hour, respectively. The report notes that if every state had graduated 90 percent of its students for just the Class of 2011, America would have more than 750,000 additional high school graduates -- many of whom would have pursued postsecondary education – who would have earned an additional $9 billion each year. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
Salman Khan’s dream college looks very different from the typical four-year institution. The founder of Khan Academy, a popular site that offers free online video lectures about a variety of subjects, lays out his thoughts on the future of education in his book, The One World School House: Education Re-imagined, released last month. Though most of the work describes Mr. Khan’s experiences with Khan Academy and his suggestions for changing elementary- and secondary-school systems, he does devote a few chapters to higher education. The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog.
A $10,000 PLATFORM
With state budgets still constrained, college costs are a growing concern for the electorate, Republicans holding 30 governor’s offices, and many of these lawmakers poised for higher profile in the next four years as they contemplate higher office, it seems likely that the proposals seen in places such as Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin will spread, and could even form the backbone of a Republican agenda for higher education from the states up through the national government. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
CEOs of the companies listed on the Inc. Magazine 500 have one wish this Christmas: They want Santa to bring them more tech workers. It has been nearly 8 years since the National Academy of Engineering published a report – titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm – about the ongoing shortage of STEM graduates, yet not only have American schools not made any strides to catch up with the demand for tech-savvy professionals, but they’ve actually dropped even further behind. The article is in EducationNews.org.

posted Nov 30, 2012 10:02 am

Carnegie Board Members In the News [In the News]

For at least twenty-five years now, reformers in the United States and other developed countries have attempted a variety of strategies to ramp up the quality of teaching and learning. Yet little of it has had the desired effect. Tracking these efforts for just as long has been David Cohen, one of the most thoughtful, and dogged, education scholars in the country. In this episode of the Education Next Book Club podcast, Ed Next talks with Professor Cohen about this depressing track record, what went wrong, and also why he’s hopeful that we might finally get it right—topics addressed in his latest book, Teaching and its Predicaments.
As the two consortia developing assessments around the Common Core State Standards move closer to the tests' adoption, for the 2014-15 school year, they are starting to award contracts that will shape how the assessments look and operate. On Wednesday, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced that the software used to report and analyze results from its assessments will be developed by Wireless Generation, the education software company. Wireless Generation will partner with Educational Testing Service (ETS) on the contract. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Request for Proposal stipulated the project could not exceed $4.9 million. Smarter Balanced's projects are funded through a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. (Larry Berger, a co-founder and executive chairman of Wireless Generation, serves on the board of the Carnegie Foundation.) The article is in Education Week.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continued to lay out his priorities for the next four years in a speech today, emphasizing that he thinks teacher preparation is broken and that the best educators need to be teaching the highest-need children. In remarks at the two-day forum in Washington of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Duncan said he has an "ambitious" second-term agenda that includes holding the line on initiatives he started during his first four years. He cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. "Do we have the courage to stay the course there?" he asked during his 30 minutes of remarks, which included a question-and-answer session. The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
A first look at how effective teachers are across the state provides a clear picture of just how far school districts must go to have strong evaluation systems in place that give teachers the kind of feedback they need to improve. The new state data find that about 97% of the state's 96,000 teachers were rated effective or highly effective during the 2011-12 school year—the first year districts had to assign one of four ratings to teachers. Those ratings were: highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective. The article is in Education Week.
In 2014, the United States will take a bold step toward improving the learning of all students: 46 states and the District of Columbia will begin to implement the Common Core State Standards, the rigorous new benchmarks aimed at raising achievement in English language arts and mathematics. While most scholars, policymakers, and educators embrace the higher standards and their commitment to deeper learning, many have also raised concerns about the fairness of raising the academic bar for students who are struggling to meet the standards that already exist. Because these students are often poor and attending subpar schools, it is reasonable to worry that they will suffer disproportionately when the new standards take effect. The analysis is from Education Sector.
An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online charter schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating. The primary and high schools -- operated online by for-profit companies but with local taxpayer support -- are buying TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads to attract students, even as brick-and-mortar public schools in the districts they serve face budget crunches. Virtual schools have become lightning rods for critics who say their operators are profiting from students' dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, but don't produce better results. Supporters say the schools, operating in more than 30 states, are giving kids and families second chances.
College-completion rates for minority students tend to lag behind overall averages, and a report released on Wednesday by the American Council on Education examines why. The report—"The Education Gap: Understanding African-American and Hispanic Attainment Disparities in Higher Education," the first in a series on diversity and inclusion—explores some well-documented patterns, including in academic preparation, and points to entrenched discrepancies in access. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The University of Wisconsin System on Wednesday released details about its new competency-based degree offerings, an effort the system first announced in July. Next year campuses will offer degree and certificate programs that are grounded in a series of assessments designed to test student mastery. And the UW Colleges, which are the system's two-year institutions, will offer general education courses in the new competency-based "UW Flexible Option" format. Students will be able to take assessments based not just on self-paced coursework, but on knowledge gained through military and on-the-job training as well as other learning experiences, including MOOCs, the system said.  The information is from Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes.

2012年11月28日 星期三


Twenty-five states that are part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have drafted an initial college-readiness definition and the descriptors of achievement on each level of the shared test connected to the Common Core standards. Smarter Balanced is soliciting public feedback on the documents with an eye toward final adoption in March.  The article is in Education Week.
A newly ratified teachers’ contract in Newark creates several firsts for New Jersey. Some teachers will have the opportunity to earn up to $12,500 extra for getting a superior performance rating on evaluations, teaching in a low-performing school, or teaching a high-need subject. Also for the first time, peer reviews will become a formal part of the evaluation process. Under the three-year contract, approved by the city’s teaching force this month, all new hires and teachers with bachelor’s degrees will be placed on a new “universal” salary schedule that replaces premiums for holding advanced degrees with the opportunity to win the bonuses. Other teachers can choose to stay on a more traditional schedule. The article is in Education Week.
Nearly half of all Americans think the U.S. higher education is not only too expensive but also only a fair or poor return on their investment, according to a new survey. Most of those surveyed agree that U.S. higher education must change to remain globally competitive, though not everyone is convinced that increasingly popular online courses are as effective as conventional ones.  The article is in the Hechinger Report.
Apprenticeships, those close connections between industry and academe, in which students simultaneously train and study, are gaining ground in the United States. Modeled after apprenticeship programs common in Northern Europe, most notably in Germany, they offer a possible solution to a problem that continues to vex the United States: a mismatch between what students are learning in the classroom and what employers say they need. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2012年11月27日 星期二

A School Distanced From Technology Faces Its Intrusion



Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

佛蒙特州韋肖爾——穿過養雞場,佛蒙特州韋肖爾山區學校(Mountain School)就在山上。有一塊地方有時會收到一格或兩格手機信號,相比學校的木製建築群,那裡似乎離新罕布殊爾州西部的群山更近。
這個“信號點”介於馬鈴薯田和一頭名叫奈傑爾的駱駝之間,在這個位於佛蒙特州的偏僻一隅、崇尚簡約多過於科技的學校里,這已經成為一個公開的秘密。“我們處在文明的邊緣。”一名叫道格·奧斯汀(Doug Austin)的老師說道。
這所學校為很多來自於精英私立學校的高二學生提供一個與大自然親密接觸的學期。學生們可以去附近的山區獨自露營一天或兩天進行冥思,以及在沒有全球 定位設備的條件下練習野外定向技能。在上英語課和環境科學課的間歇,他們照看農場牲畜、劈柴、閱讀羅伯特·弗羅斯特(Robert Frost)的作品。很多人表示,在此期間,他們不再為了搜手機信號而尋遍校園,也不是一有機會就登錄Facebook頁面了。
今年秋天,技術人員們將開始鋪設光纖電纜,為這個小鎮帶來高速互聯網。預計不久之後手機信號也會全面覆蓋。“現在我們是佛蒙特州的第三世界國家,”小鎮文書吉恩·克拉夫特(Gene Craft)說,“我們想要和外界聯繫。”
很多學生、校友和教師都請求校長奧爾登·史密斯(Alden Smith)宣布禁令。但是校長說,學校始終相信學生能夠做出正確的選擇,他說:“我們必須要在保留我們的價值觀的過程中尋求平衡,但是我傾向於相信,青 少年,尤其是我們招收的青少年,在經過引導後,如果我們相信他們能真正負起責任,他們就能夠應對挑戰。”
在這300英畝的校園中,如果想打電話,學生們要輪流在每幢宿舍樓的小電話隔間使用預付費的電話卡。根據校友的建議,宿舍里不提供互聯網服務,只有 教學樓里才可以上網;學校強烈反對新生帶DVD來或在自己的筆記本電腦上播放視頻。(即使在能上網的地方,任何需要大量帶寬的網絡活動——比如在 YouTube上看視頻,都會導致其他人無法聯網,因為鎮上的公平接入政策限制了學校的帶寬。)
安迪·夏普(Andy Sharp)今年17歲,來自附近的塞特福德學校(Thetford Academy)。剛來的時候,他非常懷念跟朋友們一起玩聯機遊戲《夢幻橄欖球聯賽》(fantasy football league)。但是在學校度過了大半個學期之後,他說他現在用筆記本電腦是單純做作業,只會偶爾登錄一下Facebook。“我沒想過這會發生在我身 上,但是它確實發生了,”他說,“你將注意力轉移到了眼前的事物上。”
這並不是說學生完全切斷了和外界的聯繫。很多學生都在聽時下最新的音樂,包括來自西雅圖湖濱學校(Lakeside School)的16歲的茱莉亞·克里斯坦森(Julia Christensen)。最近有一天,她在早上7點前起了床,為的是趕在上網高峰期之前下載泰勒·斯威夫特(Taylor Swift)的新專輯。但那是一次例外。
“在這裡,如果你在電腦前花太長時間,人們會覺得這挺蠢的,”來自菲利普斯·埃克塞特學院(Phillips Exeter Academy)的17歲的加萊·拉爾森(Calais Larson)這樣說道,他還認為在校園裡不應該使用手機。
上個月學校放了個短假,有幾個學生表示在回到山區學校之後感到如釋重負,因為現在他們不再需要立刻回別人的短訊,也不會因為無法決定參加哪個派對而 憂心。有了劈柴和挖馬鈴薯的經歷之後,他們討論的話題變成了去花園山(Garden Hill)看星星,或者讀弗羅斯特的書,以及去新英格蘭的鄉下徒步旅行。

A School Distanced From Technology Faces Its Intrusion

VERSHIRE, Vt. — Past the chicken coop and up a hill, in a spot on campus where the wooden buildings of the Mountain School can seem farther away than the mountains of western New Hampshire, there sometimes can be found a single bar, sometimes two, of cellphone reception.
The spot, between the potato patch and a llama named Nigel, is something of an open secret at the school in this remote corner of Vermont where simplicity is valued over technology. “We’re at the periphery of civilization here,” said Doug Austin, a teacher.
But that is about to change.
The school offers high school juniors, many from elite private institutions in the Northeast, a semester to immerse themselves in nature. The students make solo camping trips to a nearby mountain for a day or two of reflection, and practice orienteering skills without a GPS device. Between English and environmental science classes, they care for farm animals, chop wood and read the works of Robert Frost. And in the process, many say, they stop scouring the campus for its sparse bars of reception and lose the habit of checking their Facebook pages at every opportunity.
As the rest of the country has gotten high-speed Internet, Vershire (population 730) has lagged, relying on land lines shared among neighbors, with dial-up and (for homes that face the right way) satellite Internet service that cuts out when the weather is rough. But cellphone signals have been seeping in, and soon there will be more.
This fall, technicians will start laying fiber-optic cable to bring high-speed Internet to the town. Cellphone coverage is expected soon after. “Right now we’re the third-world country of Vermont,” said Gene Craft, the town clerk. “We’d like to be in touch.”
That presents a challenge for the Mountain School: how to regulate the use of smartphones and other devices that serve as a constant distraction for 21st-century teenagers, who are here to engage with the rural setting and with one another.
True to its mission of encouraging “collaborative learning and shared work,” the school asked its students and alumni to develop a technology policy that will determine whether to ban phones, allow them in a limited way or leave the decision whether to disconnect to students.
Many students, alumni and teachers have asked Alden Smith, the school’s director, to declare a ban. But the school has always held that its students can be trusted to make good choices, he said. “We have to figure out the balance between how to preserve the values we have,” Mr. Smith said. “But I tend to think that adolescents, particularly the ones we get here, when mentored, will rise to the occasion when trusted with real responsibility.”
To make phone calls from the 300-acre campus, students must take turns, using prepaid calling cards, at small phone closets in each dormitory. At the recommendation of alumni, there is no Internet service in the dorms, only in the academic building, and incoming students are strongly discouraged from bringing DVDs or loading videos on their laptops. (Even where there is Internet service, any online activity that requires significant bandwidth — watching a video on YouTube, for example — means a loss of signal to others because the town’s fair access policy limits bandwidth to the school.)
At first, Andy Sharp, 17, from nearby Thetford Academy, missed participating in his friends’ fantasy football league online. But after most of a semester at the school, he said, he uses his laptop only for doing homework and checking Facebook occasionally. “I didn’t think that was going to happen to me, but it did,” he said. “Your focus shifts to things that are in front of you.”
That is not to say that students cut themselves off from the outside world altogether. Many were keeping up with new music, including Julia Christensen, a 16-year-old from the Lakeside School in Seattle. She planned to wake up before 7 a.m. recently to download Taylor Swift’s new album before the morning Internet rush hour. But that was an exception.
“Here, if you spent a lot of time on your computer, people would think that’s lame,” said Calais Larson, 17, of Phillips Exeter Academy, who believes that cellphones should not be used on campus.
Students say they are ambivalent about returning to a world where they can be reached at any moment.
After a short break last month, several students said it was a relief when they returned and were not expected to respond immediately to text messages or did not have to worry about which party to attend. As they split firewood and dug potatoes, the discussion was instead about heading to Garden Hill to watch the stars, or reading Frost and hiking in the New England countryside.
The school says students have agreed on a draft policy: students will hand over their phones to the faculty when they arrive and will get them back on off-campus trips; they can also choose to get them back a month into the semester.
Mr. Smith and other longtime teachers say their goal is not to encourage their students to live without technology, but to make them think more carefully about their use of it.
“The idea is not to be going back to a time where things were better,” Mr. Smith said, “but where the richness of each day is defined by the food you eat, the company you keep, the work you do.”

**** Some of the News Fit to Print
IQ, the time-honored predictor of school success, has a new rival: “character.” As described by Paul Tough, who initially popularized these ideas in a New York Times Magazine article last year, character consists of a set of traits: self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity, and, most especially, grit. If teachers devote themselves to enhancing these qualities, Tough writes in more detail in his new book, How Children Succeed, Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, students will have an improved shot at success. The thesis seems to have legs: One flagship charter-management organization, KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program), has embraced it; others will undoubtedly follow. While the benefits of such qualities as self-control and grit are not to be dismissed, three cautionary concerns should be factored into any serious consideration of this new movement. The commentary is in Education Week.
With state and national policymakers eyeing ways to improve teacher preparation, a handful of education programs are becoming more intentional about how such “cooperating” teachers—as they’re known in the lingo of teacher preparation¬—are selected and trained. That interest could grow as programs wrestle with the finer points of how to transform student-teaching from a haphazard, sometimes hastily tacked-on experience to the central component of preparation. The quandary of cooperating teachers is “an issue of qualifications, training, and support in the context of a strong partnership with a district,” said James G. Cibulka, the president of the Washington-based National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which commissioned a 2010 report calling for programs to significantly expand and improve their student-teaching. The article is in Education Week.
The Department of Education has released a first-ever list detailing state-by-state four-year high school graduation rates. The data reflect figures from the 2010-2011 academic year, the first year for which all states used a common, more rigorous measure. Iowa had the highest graduation rate at 88%. The data also show significant graduation rate gaps among student demographic groups. The article is from the Huffington Post.
The Criterion Referenced Tests most Utah students take will soon be replaced with a new $39 million testing system designed to better pinpoint students' needs, state education officials announced. A committee has decided to accept a bid from the American Institutes for Research to build a new computer-adaptive assessment system, which will test students on the Common Core standards. The article is in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is investigating two more institutions over their use of accelerated courses, The Chronicle has learned. The commission sent letters this month to Cloud County Community College, in Kansas, and Adams State University, in Colorado, requiring those institutions to prepare detailed reports describing their shortened-format courses, which have helped many athletes stay eligible for sports. Earlier this month, the commission announced an investigation into Western Oklahoma State College, which was the focus of a Chronicle of Higher Education article detailing how thousands of college athletes have used its 10-day classes to help maintain NCAA eligibility. The American Association of Community Colleges has also raised concerns. The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Players blog.
Ozarks Technical Community College is naming names in a marketing campaign that touts how its tuition stacks up against for-profits. A TV commercial the college unveiled last week compares the $3,300 annual cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies at Ozarks to $32,000 at Bryan College, a small Christian for-profit, $18,000 at ITT Tech and roughly $14,000 at Everest College and Vatterott College. A pugnacious ad from a community college is rare. The sector generally avoids duking it out directly with for-profits, which have much bigger marketing budgets. But that may change as community colleges, like the rest of higher education, seek to demonstrate return on investment to an increasingly skeptical public. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
Ohio will drop its high-school graduation test and replace it with a tougher college-readiness exam and a series of end-of-course tests, state officials announced. The new assessments will gauge whether students are prepared for college or ready for careers, benchmarks that the Ohio Graduation Test doesn't measure.  The article is in the Columbus Dispatch.
Finance policy plays an important role in supporting success in higher education. Most state finance policies have been developed primarily to address selective research and flagship universities, not broad-access schools. A new policy brief from the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University identifies fiscal policies that provide disincentives for broad-access schools to improve student success, as well as opportunities to encourage improved performance at these schools going forward.
The tight hold American colleges and universities have on academic credit—what it is worth and who awards it—is about to undergo a well overdue stress test. Two announcements in as many months have the potential to perhaps finally better define the value of credits in higher education. The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Next blog.
Nearly six million factory jobs, almost a third of the entire manufacturing industry, have disappeared since 2000. And while many of these jobs were lost to competition with low-wage countries, even more vanished because of computer-driven machinery that can do the work of 10, or in some cases, 100 workers. Those jobs are not coming back, but many believe that the industry’s future (and, to some extent, the future of the American economy) lies in training a new generation for highly skilled manufacturing jobs — the ones that require people who know how to run the computer that runs the machine. The article was in The New York Times Magazine.
Throughout California, 260,000 recent college grads under the age of 30 are working on the front lines of food service and retail industries where historically those jobs have gone to workers without a degree. "We're seeing graduates in humanities and some of the arts fields struggling because perhaps what their degree is in doesn't translate well to the global current economy," said Ian Moats, a staffing consultant. Currently, the healthcare and technology sectors are growing. The article is in the Santa Barbara Key.

2012年11月24日 星期六

Digital Education (Technology Review)

The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years

Students anywhere are being offered free instruction online. What will that do to the trillion-dollar education business?

If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years, you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford’s Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on.
Now answer this one: what’s been the single biggest innovation in education?
Don’t worry if you come up blank. You’re supposed to. The question is a gambit used by Anant Agarwal, the computer scientist named this year to head edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, to anyone who wants one. His point: it’s rare to see major technological advances in how people learn.
Agarwal believes that education is about to change dramatically. The reason is the power of the Web and its associated data-crunching technologies. Thanks to these changes, it’s now possible to stream video classes with sophisticated interactive elements, and researchers can scoop up student data that could help them make teaching more effective. The technology is powerful, fairly cheap, and global in its reach. EdX has said it hopes to teach a billion students.
Online education isn’t new—in the United States more than 700,000 students now study in full-time "distance learning" programs. What’s different is the scale of technology being applied by leaders who mix high-minded goals with sharp-elbowed, low-priced Internet business models. In the stories that will follow in this month’s business report, MIT Technology Review will chart the impact of free online education, particularly the “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered by new education ventures like edX, Coursera, and Udacity, to name the most prominent (see “The Crisis in Higher Education”).
These ideas affect markets so large that their value is difficult to quantify. Just consider that a quarter of the American population, 80 million people, is enrolled in K–12 education, college, or graduate school. Direct expenditures by government exceed $800 billion. Add to that figure private education and corporate training.
Because education is economically important yet appears inefficient and static with respect to technology, it’s often cited (along with health care) as the next industry ripe for a major “disruption.” This belief has been promoted by Clayton Christensen, the influential Harvard Business School professor who coined the term “disruptive technology.” In two books on education, he laid a blueprint for online learning: it will continue to spread and get better, and eventually it will topple many ideas about how we teach—and possibly some institutions as well.
In Christensen’s view, disruptive technologies find success initially in markets “where the alternative is nothing.” This accounts for why online learning is already important in the adult education market (think low-end MBAs and nursing degrees). It also explains the sudden rise of organizations such as Khan Academy, the nonprofit whose free online math videos have won funding from Bill Gates and adoring attention from the media. Khan gained its first foothold among parents who couldn’t afford $125 an hour for a private math tutor. For them, Salman Khan, the charming narrator of the videos, was a plausible substitute.
Khan’s simple videos aren’t without their critics, who wonder whether his tutorials really teach math so well. “We agree 100 percent we aren’t going to solve education’s problems,” Khan responds. But he says the point to keep in mind is that technology-wise, “we’re in the top of the first inning.” He’ll be pouring about $10 million a year into making his videos better—already there are embedded exercises and analytics that let teachers track 50 or 100 students at once. Pretty soon, Khan told me, his free stuff “will be as good or better than anything anyone is charging money for.”
Digital instruction faces limits. Online, you will never smell a burning resistor or get your hands wet in a biology lab. Yet the economics of distributing instruction over the Web are so favorable that they seem to threaten anyone building a campus or hiring teachers. At edX, Agarwal says, the same three-person team of a professor plus assistants that used to teach analog circuit design to 400 students at MIT now handles 10,000 online and could take a hundred times more.

So where are we on the online education curve? According to a study from Babson College, the number of U.S. college students who took at least one online course increased from 1.6 million in 2002 to 6.1 million, or about a third of all college students, in 2010. The researchers, I. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, found signs that the growth rate of online classes might be starting to slow. But their study didn’t anticipate the sudden entry of premier universities into online education this year. Coursera, an alliance between Stanford and two dozen other schools, claims that it had 1.5 million students sign up.
Even though only a small fraction of those will actually complete a class, the rise of the MOOCs means we can begin thinking about how free, top-quality education could change the world. Khan’s videos are popular in India, and the MOOC purveyors have found that 60 percent of their sign-ups are self-starters from knowledge-hungry nations like Brazil and China. Nobody knows what a liberal application of high-octane educational propellant might do. Will it supersize innovation globally by knocking away barriers to good instruction? Will frightened governments censor teachers as they have the Web?
Technology will define where online education goes next. All those millions of students clicking online can have their progress tracked, logged, studied, and probably influenced, too. Talk to Khan or anyone behind the MOOCs (which largely sprang from university departments interested in computer intelligence) and they’ll all say their eventual goal isn’t to stream videos but to perfect education through the scientific use of data. Just imagine, they say, software that maps an individual’s knowledge and offers a lesson plan unique to him or her.
Will they succeed and create something truly different? If they do, we’ll have the answer to our question: online learning will be the most important innovation in education in the last 200 years.

Swedish School’s Big Lesson Begins With Dropping Personal Pronouns



Casper Hedberg for The New York Times

斯德哥爾摩——在斯德哥爾摩老城鎮道邊的一個赭色外觀的幼兒園裡,老師不再使用人稱代詞 “他”或“她”,而將115名蹣跚學步的小孩們簡單地稱呼為“朋友”。專門指代男性或女性的用語成為了禁忌,通常被代詞“hen”取代,這是一個由人們生 造的無性別差異的詞語,雖然它並不為多數瑞典人接受,但在一些同性戀和女權主義人群中,這一詞卻十分受歡迎。


瑞典的平等主義可能和它的肉丸子或宜家(Ikea)家居那樣享有盛名。這家由納稅人資助的幼兒園叫Nicolaigarden,是以一位聖徒的名字 命名的,他的小禮拜室曾設在這座有300年歷史的建築里。瑞典為淡化性別界限——同時從更深層次來說,讓女性和男性享有同等機會——做出了許多努力,這家 幼兒園強有力地說明了這一點。

畫廊僱員馬琳·英格里森(Malin Engleson)在去接她15個月大的女兒漢娜(Hanna)時說,學校教孩子們“不僅女孩可以哭,男孩也可以。”



該中心和其他三家幼兒園園長羅塔·瑞嘉林(Lotta Rajalin)表示,“我們可以發現很大的不同。例如,在對待男孩和女孩方面。”她每天騎單車奔波於這幾家幼兒園之間。她說,“如果一個男孩子因為弄疼 自己而哭起來,會有人去安慰他,但安慰的時間會比較短。而女孩被抱和被哄的時間要長得多。男孩得到的答覆通常是,‘不要緊,沒什麼大不了的。’”


在進行大量的討論之後,幼兒園制定了一個包含七項要點的計劃來糾正這些行為。53歲的瑞嘉林說,“我們避免使用像男孩或女孩這類詞,並不是因為它不 好,而是因為他們代表着定式思維。我們只用名字——皮特,薩利——或‘加油,小朋友!’”我們在之前全是女性的教員隊伍中增加了男性教員。除了 Egalia之外,Nicolaigarden還從一個為同性戀和雙性戀人設立的機構那裡獲得了認證,該機構的員工對這些問題十分敏感。


譚雅·伯格維斯特(Tanja Bergkvist)便是一個堅定的批判者。她是烏普薩拉大學(Uppsala University)的數學家,時常在博客上攻擊瑞典的這種“性別瘋狂”。在她為《瑞典日報》(Svenska Dagbladet)所撰寫的一篇文章里,她質問孩子們是否“在3個月大的時候就已經被父母洗腦”。她還諷刺道,在郊遊中,“如果一個女孩去摘花,而男孩 去撿石頭,他們該怎麼辦?”
在Nicolaigarden工作了一年半的 36歲的卡爾-喬森·諾曼(Carl-Johan Norrman)說,這種批判“源於這樣一種錯誤的想法:我們希望把小男孩變成小女孩。這種流言蜚語像滾雪球一樣越滾越大。”
除了嘲弄聲之外,有人將這些舉措看作是北歐特有的理念,而且值得稱道。29歲的卡米拉·弗洛丁(Camilla Flodin)說,“我覺得這種方式很瑞典化,很好。”卡米拉是倫敦人,在斯德哥爾摩居住了兩年半。她說,如果她男朋友妹妹的女兒收到了非常女性化的禮 物,做母親的會不高興。

36歲的麻醉師皮特·魯德伯格(Peter Rudberg)有一個3歲的兒子,名叫哈爾瑪(Hjalmar),在上幼兒園。皮特將性別中立的做法稱之為“恩典”。然而,他跟很多瑞典人一樣認為這個 國家已經不存在這一問題。他說,“在現在的瑞典,性別平等已經不是什麼問題。”然而他並不贊成那些極端的做法,例如“禁止男孩玩男孩的遊戲。”

在斯德哥爾摩巨大的磚砌市政廳,較為保守的聯合政府完全支持性別政策。主管學校的副市長羅塔·艾德爾摩(Lotta Edholm)說,“重要的一點在於,孩子們,無論性別,都擁有同等的機遇。問題在於自由度。”


Stockholm Journal

Swedish School’s Big Lesson Begins With Dropping Personal Pronouns



STOCKHOLM — At an ocher-color preschool along a lane in Stockholm’s Old Town, the teachers avoid the pronouns “him” and “her,” instead calling their 115 toddlers simply “friends.” Masculine and feminine references are taboo, often replaced by the pronoun “hen,” an artificial and genderless word that most Swedes avoid but is popular in some gay and feminist circles.
斯德哥尔摩——在斯德哥尔摩老城镇道边的一个赭色外观的幼儿园里,老师 不再使用人称代词“他”或“她”,而将115名蹒跚学步的小孩们简单地称呼为“朋友”。专门指代男性或女性的用语成为了禁忌,通常被代词“hen”取代, 这是一个由人们生造的无性别差异的词语,虽然它并不为多数瑞典人接受,但在一些同性恋和女权主义人群中,这一词却十分受欢迎。
In the little library, with its throw pillows where children sit to be read to, there are few classic fairy tales, like “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” with their heavy male and female stereotypes, but there are many stories that deal with single parents, adopted children or same-sex couples.
Girls are not urged to play with toy kitchens, and wooden or Lego blocks are not considered toys for boys. And when boys hurt themselves, teachers are taught to give them every bit as much comforting as they would girls. Everyone gets to play with dolls, and while most are anatomically correct, some are also black.

Casper Hedberg for The New York Times
Sweden is perhaps as renowned for an egalitarian mind-set as it is for meatballs or Ikea furnishings. But this taxpayer-financed preschool, known as the Nicolaigarden for a saint whose chapel was once in the 300-year-old building that houses it, is perhaps one of the more compelling examples of the country’s efforts to blur gender lines and, theoretically, cement opportunities for both women and men.
瑞典的平等主义可能和它的肉丸子或宜家(Ikea)家居那样享有盛名。 这家由纳税人资助的幼儿园叫Nicolaigarden,是以一位圣徒的名字命名的,他的小礼拜室曾设在这座有300年历史的建筑里。瑞典为淡化性别界限 ——同时从更深层次来说,让女性和男性享有同等机会——做出了许多努力,这家幼儿园强有力地说明了这一点。
What the children are taught, said Malin Engleson, an art gallery employee, as she fetched her 15-month-old daughter Hanna from the school, “shows that girls can cry, but boys too.”
画廊雇员马琳·英格里森(Malin Engleson)在去接她15个月大的女儿汉娜(Hanna)时说,学校教孩子们“不仅女孩可以哭,男孩也可以。”
“That’s why we chose it,” she said. “It’s so important to start at an early age.”
The model has been so successful that two years ago three of its teachers opened an offshoot, which now has almost 40 children. That school, named Egalia to suggest equality, is in a 1960s housing project in the Sodermalm neighborhood.
What has become a passionate undertaking for its teachers actually began with a nudge from Swedish legislators, who in 1998 passed a bill requiring that schools, including day care centers, assure equal opportunities for girls and boys.
Spurred by the law, the teachers at Nicolaigarden took the unusual step of filming one another, capturing their behavior while playing with, eating with or just being with the center’s infants to 6-year-olds.
“We could see lots of differences, for example, in the handling of boys and girls,” said Lotta Rajalin, who directs the center and three others, which she visits by bicycle. “If a boy was crying because he hurt himself, he was consoled, but for a shorter time, while girls were held and soothed much longer,” she said. “With a boy it was, ‘Go on, it’s not so bad!’ ”
该中心和其他三家幼儿园园长罗塔·瑞嘉林(Lotta Rajalin)表示,“我们可以发现很大的不同。例如,在对待男孩和女孩方面。”她每天骑自行车奔波于这几家幼儿园之间。她说,“如果一个男孩子因为弄 疼自己而哭起来,会有人去安慰他,但安慰的时间会比较短。而女孩被抱和被哄的时间要长得多。男孩得到的答复通常是,‘不要紧,没什么大不了的。’”
The filming, she said, also showed that staff members tended to talk more with girls than with boys, perhaps explaining girls’ later superior language skills. If boys were boisterous, that was accepted, Ms. Rajalin said; a girl trying to climb a tree on an outing in the country was stopped.
The result, after much discussion, was a seven-point program to alter such behavior. “We avoid using words like boy or girl, not because it’s bad, but because they represent stereotypes,” said Ms. Rajalin, 53. “We just use the name — Peter, Sally — or ‘Come on, friends!’ ” Men were added to the all-female staff. With Egalia, Nicolaigarden sought and obtained certification from an organization for gay and bisexual people that its staff is sensitive to their problems.
在进行大量的讨论之后,幼儿园制定了一个包含七项要点的计划来纠正这些 行为。53岁的瑞嘉林说,“我们避免使用像男孩或女孩这类词,并不是因为它不好,而是因为他们代表着定式思维。我们只用名字——皮特,萨利——或‘加油, 小朋友!’”我们在之前全是女性的教员队伍中增加了男性教员。除了Egalia之外,Nicolaigarden还从一个为同性恋和双性恋人设立的机构那 里获得了认证,该机构的员工对这些问题十分敏感。
Criticism was not long in arriving. “There are a lot of letters, mail, blogs,” Ms. Rajalin said. “But it’s not so much arguments; it’s anger, basically.”
A persistent critic has been Tanja Bergkvist, a mathematician at Uppsala University whose blog consistently attacks Sweden’s “gender madness.” In an article for the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, she questioned whether children were not being “brainwashed by our parents already at the age of 3 months.” On outings, she mocked, “what do they do when a girl is picking flowers, while a boy collects rocks?”
谭雅·伯格维斯特(Tanja Bergkvist)便是一个坚定的批判者。她是乌普萨拉大学(Uppsala University)的数学家,时常在博客上攻击瑞典的这种“性别疯狂”。在她为《瑞典日报》(Svenska Dagbladet)所撰写的一篇文章里,她质问孩子们是否“在3个月大的时候就已经被父母洗脑”。她还讽刺道,在郊游中,“如果一个女孩去摘花,而男孩 去捡石头,他们该怎么办?”
Such criticism, said Carl-Johan Norrman, 36, who has worked at Nicolaigarden for 18 months, “starts from misconceptions: we want to turn little boys into little girls. It’s a whispering game that snowballs.”
在Nicolaigarden工作了一年半的 36岁的卡尔-乔森·诺曼(Carl-Johan Norrman)说,这种批判“源于这样一种错误的想法:我们希望把小男孩变成小女孩。这种流言蜚语像滚雪球一样越滚越大。”
Despite such gibes, others see the efforts as somehow peculiarly Nordic, and admirable. “I think it’s quite Swedish, it’s good,” said Camilla Flodin, 29, a native of London who has lived in Stockholm for two and a half years. Her boyfriend’s sister gets annoyed, she said, if you give her daughter a gift that is overly feminine.
除了嘲弄声之外,有人将这些举措看作是北欧特有的理念,而且值得称道。 29岁的卡米拉·弗洛丁(Camilla Flodin)说,“我觉得这种方式很瑞典化,很好。”卡米拉是伦敦人,在斯德哥尔摩居住了两年半。她说,如果她男朋友妹妹的女儿收到了非常女性化的礼 物,做母亲的会不高兴。
Peter Rudberg, 36, an anesthesiologist whose 3-year-old son, Hjalmar, attends the kindergarten, called its gender-neutral approach “a boon,” though, like many Swedes, he believes the country has moved beyond the problem. “In modern Sweden, gender equality is a nonissue,” he said. Yet he cautioned against extremes, like “boys prohibited from playing boys’ games.”
36岁的麻醉师皮特·鲁德伯格(Peter Rudberg)有一个3岁的儿子,名叫哈尔玛(Hjalmar),在上幼儿园。皮特将性别中立的做法称之为“恩典”。然而,他跟很多瑞典人一样认为这个 国家已经不存在这一问题。他说,“在现在的瑞典,性别平等已经不是什么问题。”然而他并不赞成那些极端的做法,例如“禁止男孩玩男孩的游戏。”
At Stockholm’s immense brick town hall, the moderate-conservative coalition government fully supports the gender policy. “The important thing is that children, regardless of their sex, have the same opportunities,” said Lotta Edholm, the deputy mayor responsible for schools. “It’s a question of freedom.”
在斯德哥尔摩巨大的砖砌市政厅,较为保守的联合政府完全支持性别政策。主管学校的副市长罗塔·艾德尔摩(Lotta Edholm)说,“重要的一点在于,孩子们,无论性别,都拥有同等的机遇。问题在于自由度。”
On the other hand, she said, parents will always play a larger role in children’s development than day care or school. “Preschool is a couple of hours a day,” said Ms. Edholm, who has a 16-year-old son. “Most of the time, children are with their parents, and the values parents impart to their children tend to be the values they adopt.”
As the Christmas season approaches, Swedes are preparing for the Feast of Lucia, on Dec. 13, when children march in processions accompanying St. Lucia, traditionally portrayed by a teenage girl in white robes and crowned with a wreath of lighted candles.
Could a boy now portray Lucia?
In fact, Ms. Edholm said, in recent years in a town outside Stockholm a teenage boy did seek the role, but was refused. Evidently, she said, women in modern Sweden can more readily slip into male roles than vice versa.
“The interesting thing is that it’s not a problem for a girl to be Santa Claus,” she said. “But it is a problem for a boy to be Lucia.”

2012年11月22日 星期四

中國處處腐敗 學校不例外,所有的一切都有價錢


Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

北京——在中國孩子和一心為了孩子的家長看來,教育一直是在競爭激烈的社會中開啟上升之 門的鑰匙。但是,正如金錢和權力是商場成交和官場晉陞的潤滑劑一樣,中國的學業競賽也越來越受到操縱,偏向於富人和關係硬的人,這些人會花費大筆金錢,利 用各種關係讓孩子在公立學校里獲得優勢。
來自河北的趙華(音譯)在北京開了一個小電器店。她說,為了讓女兒入讀一所北京小學,她被迫給一個銀行賬戶存了4800美元(約合人民幣2.8萬 元)。她說,讓她大吃一驚的是,她在銀行里遇到了區教委的官員,官員們拿着一張學生名單,上面寫着每個家庭得付多少錢。他們還讓她簽了一份文件,表明這筆 錢是自願的“捐款”。
清華大學潔華幼兒園是名校清華大學的附屬幼兒園,坐落在這所大學位於北京的精緻校園之內。每年春天,這所幼兒園會收到潮水般的家長申請。家長們把入 讀潔華看做孩子將來進入中國頂級高校之一的通道。按照規定,學校只對清華教職工的孩子開放。但是,據一位幼兒園工作人員稱,花大約15萬元(約合2.4萬 美元),就可以說服一位清華教授來“支持”一名申請者。為了避免報復,這位工作人員要求匿名。
數以百萬計的民工來到遠離家鄉的城市,生活艱辛,對他們而言,這些不合理的費用特別沉重。自2005年以來,教育部和中國國務院已先後五次發佈正式 禁令,禁止收取“擇校”費和其他不正當費用,但學校領導和相關政府部門卻不斷想出各種巧妙的招數來繞過禁令,讓錢流進自己的腰包。在一些排名靠前的高中, 入學考試成績低的學生可以“買”到關鍵的幾分,由此把成績提高到錄取分數線以上。在北京的一所精英高中,根據不成文但卻眾所周知的政策,家長每為學校貢獻 4800美元,學生就能多得一分。“我班上的同學都知道,” 一名15歲的王姓學生說。為避免引起反響,她要求不提學校的名字。
9月的教師節是一個全國性節日。在此期間,各年齡段的所有學生照例都會給老師帶來禮物,溜須拍馬的文化由此變成了一種代價不菲的競爭。一束花或一個 果籃就夠了的日子已經一去不復返。根據中國新聞媒體的報道,如今許多老師希望收到的是設計師名表、昂貴的茶葉、禮品卡甚至度假游。一些家長稱,在內蒙古, 更敢要的老師喜歡收到借記卡,這些借記卡關聯的銀行賬戶全年都可以充值。

2012年11月19日 星期一


Some of the News Fit to Print

The use of testing in school accountability systems may hamstring the development of tests that can actually transform teaching and learning, experts from a national assessment commission warn. Members of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, speaking at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Education here Nov. 1-3, said that technological innovations may soon allow much more in-depth data collection on students, but that current testing policy calls for the same test to fill too many different and often contradictory roles. The nation's drive to develop standards-based accountability for schools has led to tests that, "with only few exceptions, systematically overrepresent basic skills and knowledge and omit the complex knowledge and reasoning we are seeking for college and career readiness," the commission writes in one of several interim reports discussed at the Academy of Education meeting. The article is in Education Week.
For educators who teach subjects outside the state’s longstanding testing system, like foreign language, music, and art, the adjustment to the new teacher evaluation system has been particularly jarring. They are unaccustomed to worrying about high-stakes testing, much less having the results determine whether they can keep their jobs. In English, math, science, and social studies, teachers will be measured on their students’ progress on existing state tests. But Louisiana school districts have broad latitude when selecting the exams that will be used in subjects without standard state tests. In some cases, district officials are letting teachers choose or design the assessments on which they will be judged. In other cases, school boards, superintendents, or principals are picking the exams without consulting or even notifying teachers. The article is in The Hechinger Report.
Since New Jersey first started talking about revamping teacher evaluations, the biggest point of contention has always been the use of student performance in the equation. The argument goes that so many factors go into a student’s grade on a test or other assessment that it is an unreliable gauge of a teacher’s effectiveness. Conversely, those pushing for the greater use of student data maintain that ultimately the goal of every teacher must be improved student learning and that schools have been remiss in not counting it enough. That debate came to the fore in NJ Spotlight’s Roundtable on Saturday during discussion of New Jersey’s new teacher-tenure law and the development of a statewide teacher-evaluation system. In a panel discussion held at Rutgers-Newark, state policy-makers, district administrators and school staff weighed in balancing student performance and teacher performance. Several of the panelists work in districts that are now piloting the new evaluations, the testing ground for when the systems will go into effect statewide in 2013-14. The article is in the NJ Spotlight.

Brian C. Mitchell, Director of the Edvance Foundation, writes this commentary in The Huffington Post: College access is a national imperative. Once first in the world, the United States now ranks 12th among 36 developed nations in the percentage of the population with a college degree. Projections indicate that by 2018, as many as sixty million Americans will lack the skills and credentials to join the knowledge economy. Meanwhile the pool of applicants to four-year colleges and universities in America continues to shrink, largely because of rising tuition costs. The cost barrier, combined with shifting demographic needs, has increased the attractiveness of community colleges -two-year public and private institutions - for students wishing to continue their education beyond high school. Enrollment at these schools as of 2009 represented 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. As enrollment at two-year colleges is on the rise - and often becoming over-subscribed -there is a pool of talent from these institutions yet to be fully utilized. The vast majority of community college students enter with the intention of transferring to a four-year school. Despite that intention, just 29 percent ultimately transfer - and only 16 percent of students who began their education at two-year colleges go on to earn a bachelor's degree or higher. Compare that with the average 60 percent graduation rate among students who originally matriculate at four-year institutions. We can quickly see how the dream of advancement through higher education remains elusive for many.
Educator Larry Cuban writes in his blog, Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice: MOOCs have soared in popularity as the “disruptive innovation” that will revolutionize higher education. Called the “Most Important Educational Technology in 200 Years” by the head of a new consortium of Harvard and MIT offering MOOCs, forecasts of fundamental changes in higher education are as common as iPads in a Starbucks. Stanford University President John Hennessey says “there’s a tsunami coming.” Right before our eyes we are experiencing the very beginning of the hype cycle. For many academic entrepreneurs deeply dissatisfied with the cost of higher education and the traditional teaching that occurs, the onset of MOOCs is exhilarating. It is an unexplored frontier where plunging into the unknown and taking risks could lead to exciting  returns. The promise of a college education taught by stellar teachers delivered free to anyone in the world who has the smarts and grit drives higher education reformers.  In 2012. MOOCs are at the very beginning of the Hype Cycle.

In How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough argues that “non-cognitive” skills are just as—if not more—important than IQ in determining a child’s success. Armed with a litany of academic research from fields as diverse as economics and psychology along with vivid storytelling, Tough makes a convincing case that before we invest in Baby Einstein products, we might want to focus on teaching our kids how to cope with stress, how to secure healthy relationships, and how to persevere past failure. It’s a message that should be fascinating to parents, educators, and students alike. In the following interview with The Santa Barbara Independent, Tough discusses his new book.
In a presentation filmed at a locally organized TEDx conference in Costa Mesa, Calif., last month, former Los Angeles teacher Nigel Nisbet explains how he turned chocolate bars into geometry problems to get kids hooked on math. Nisbet says he spent his first few years as a teacher struggling to engage students who "had switched off to math." While standing in a supermarket checkout line, it hit him that he might be able to capture students' interest by creating problems based on more relatable (and even universally loved) topics—such as chocolate. He then picked up several chocolate bars in the Toblerone-style packaging and devised a lesson around a single question: "Why make a chocolate bar in the shape of a triangular prism?" Forced to think critically, the kids eventually joined forces to investigate the shape, and discovered that manufacturers used it to get a package that looked large but contained little chocolate. "The kids realized they were paying more but getting less—and that got their attention. I hadn't told them how to find the answer," Nisbet says. The article is in Education Week Teacher’s Teaching Now blog.

Louisiana’s plan to intensify teacher job reviews to focus on better identifying top-notch instructors and ushering out nonstarters is causing a lot of heartache, particularly for those who teach subjects, such as drama, in which student achievement is difficult to quantify. The change has three main prongs: principals making more frequent and rigorous classroom observations; teachers in core subjects like math and English receiving ratings based on how their students perform on standardized tests; and teachers in grades and subjects where those tests don't apply devising other ways to chart student growth. The formula is a half-and-half mix of principals' evaluations and student progress, each meant to balance the other. So if testing data fail to reflect a teacher's energy and dedication, for example, the principal's review is a chance to give the teacher more credit. And if a principal's assessment is too rosy or harsh, the data could counter it. The article is in The Times-Picayune.
The new teacher evaluation system Louisiana launched this fall may be too simplistic, according to the architect of one of the most widely used evaluation systems in the country – and the one on which Louisiana’s new system is based. Charlotte Danielson is the creator of a method of observing and rating teachers based on their performance in the classroom known as the Framework for Teaching. Louisiana has adopted part, but not all, of her framework for use in classroom observations, which will factor into a teacher’s annual score and which will ultimately determine whether educators can keep their jobs. Although Danielson helped the state create a shortened version of her system at its request, she’s worried her truncated observation checklist could create problems for teachers and evaluators. The article is in The Hechinger Report.
Today, several prescriptions exist for enabling schools and districts to effectively fulfill their missions to systemically improve outcomes for students. Systems thinking helps organizations identify the inter-relationship of the factors that impinge most directly on success and failure, and learning organization structures and processes help organizations to adapt in the face of evolving influences or exigencies. Our newest Issue Brief, "High Performing School Systems to Close Achievement Gaps in NEA Foundation-Funded Communities," highlights several of these processes in two NEA Foundation-funded sites—Columbus, OH and Seattle, WA. The report is available from the NEA Foundation.

William H. Weitzer writes this commentary for Inside Higher Ed’s Higher Ed Mash Up blog: Today more than ever, Inside Higher Ed and other daily higher education reports are replete with new ways of using technology that purportedly will transform colleges and universities.  Truth be told, many are not so new, others are not really scalable, and most are not transformative. As Alexandra Logue argues in her recent essay in Inside Higher Ed, “it is not the existence of the latest technology or its potential uses that will help us to maximize student learning, but using what we know and have.” To be sure, there will be major technological innovations that contribute to the shape of higher education.  The expanded use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) may rise to the top of the new ideas and have a very significant impact on higher education.This rapid rise of MOOCs and their endorsement by the most prestigious institutions in the country suggest that all institutions of higher education need to examine whether and how this innovation will change the way they operate. The question for Mash Up is: what impact does the growth and broad institutional acceptance of MOOCs have on institutions which blend the liberal arts with professional training?
Teaching Introduction to Sociology is almost second nature to Mitchell Duneier, a professor at Princeton: he has taught it 30 times, and a textbook he co-wrote is in its eighth edition. But last summer, as he transformed the class into a free online course, he had to grapple with some brand-new questions: Where should he focus his gaze while a camera recorded the lectures? How could the 40,000 students who enrolled online share their ideas? And how would he know what they were learning? In many ways, the arc of Professor Duneier’s evolution, from professor in a lecture hall to online instructor of tens of thousands, reflects a larger movement, one with the potential to transform higher education. Already, a handful of companies are offering elite college-level instruction — once available to only a select few, on campus, at great cost — free, to anyone with an Internet connection. The article is in The New York Times.

Arthur L. Costa, Robert J. Garmston, and Diane P. Zimmerman write this commentary for Education Week: Spurred by awards of federal funding under the Race to the Top competition, many states are adopting teacher-evaluation systems with student achievement as the ultimate goal. This drive to create robust evaluation systems places far too much emphasis on inspecting and testing. A system of quality control founded on the belief that inspection and multiple-choice tests are valid measures of effectiveness is flawed. The investment in external measures hides our most valuable assets—the cognitive resources of teachers. Too often, standards are the basis for inspection, with minimal dialogue and little attention to teachers' intellect, wisdom, intuition, and creativity. Quality matters. How we assess it is important. However, the idea that the complex processes of teaching can be easily inspected or measured by answers on a bubble test is erroneous. As educators, we are puzzled that more people are not voicing concerns about this trend toward an oversimplified system of quality control. A few in the field have become outspoken and urge a more thoughtful approach. Policymakers ought to heed the collective wisdom of these thought leaders.
Teachers in Louisiana have all but lost the tenure rules that once protected their jobs. Beginning this year, all 50,000 of them will be evaluated and ranked on an annual basis, often with test scores factoring in heavily. Soon, consistently "ineffective" teachers will no longer be welcome in the classroom. This, depending on one's point of view, is either the latest assault on Louisiana's educators or an urgent step toward modernizing the teaching profession and lifting the state out of academic mediocrity. Either way, the new evaluation system and its consequences are redefining the roles of teacher and principal in school buildings across Louisiana this year, as have similar efforts in school systems across the country. The article is in The Times-Picayune.
In the past several years, many states have extensively invested in building up systems to collect and analyze substantial amounts of education-related data. Everything from student performance to teacher assessment is collected, sifted and stored, yet while states have made impressive strides in using the collected data to inform education policy, according to the Data Quality Campaign, they have yet to make serious progress in training teachers and parents in how to use the information effectively to help students learn. In their annual state-by-state analysis of data gathering efforts – Data for Action 2012 – the DQC provides several suggestions on how the rich datasets collected by states could be used to improve the quality of their education systems. One recommendation points out that while legislatures provide the state with the authority to collect information, they frequently fail to provide them with permission to share this information with those who need access to it most. People in the best position to assure that students remain on track to graduate and prepare to enter colleges and universities are denied tools to determine that it is so. The article is in EducationNews.

Joshua Kim, director of learning and technology for the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program at Dartmouth College, writes this commentary for the U.S.News & World Report’s blog, Economic Intelligence: Clay Christensen's theory of disruptive innovation has captured the imagination of educational technology higher circles in which I travel. For example, at the recent EDUCAUSE conference, the largest gathering of academic technology professionals, the emergence of massively open online courses, or MOOCs, was largely framed as a disruptive innovation. But is that true? Disruptive innovations challenge existing models by offering a service or product (education, credentials) that is not the result of linear or incremental improvements. This new service or product is often appealing to nonconsumers, as initially the service/product is both of lower quality and of much lower costs than that offered by the incumbent. Today's free MOOCs from Harvard/MIT's edX division cannot compete with a Harvard or MIT educational experience or degree, but edX allows the vast numbers of learners unable to access a Harvard or MIT education to do so for no cost (the classes) or very low cost (the future edX credential).

Newark and its teachers’ union deserve praise for the groundbreaking contract that the two sides have hammered out. The relatively calm negotiations that led up to the union’s ratification vote this week stood in sharp contrast to the vitriol that surrounded a similar agreement earlier this year in Chicago that led to a polarizing strike. The need to improve teacher performance has long been evident in Newark, whose perennially troubled schools do a particularly poor job of preparing its 37,000 students for higher education. According to the district, for example, the graduation rate is nearly 62 percent. But almost 90 percent of Newark Public School students who enter Essex County College, a community college, need remedial help in English and nearly all need remedial help in math. Despite this grim picture, school officials say, the current teacher evaluation system — based on haphazard observations by administrators — rates 95 percent of the district’s teachers as “effective.” The new contract, which raises starting and midlevel salaries, includes a rigorous evaluation process that takes student achievement into account. The editorial is inThe New York Times.
What's the reason so many new teachers quit the profession or move to a different school? The heavy workload? Low salary? A paucity of classroom resources? An absence of autonomy? The "always-on," continually demanding nature of the work? None of the above. The main reason is their principals. To find out what factors influence novice teachers' decisions to leave the teaching profession, Peter Youngs, associate professor of educational policy at Michigan State University and Ben Pogodzinski of Wayne State University, working with two other colleagues at Michigan State, surveyed 184 beginning teachers of grades one through eight in eleven large school districts in Michigan and Indiana. Their study was recently published in Elementary School Journal.  The researchers found that the most important factor influencing commitment was the beginning teacher's perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger factor than the adequacy of resources, the extent of a teacher's administrative duties, the manageability of his or her workload, or the frequency of professional-development opportunities. The article is in The Atlantic.
Approximately one-third of all new teachers in the United States leave the profession within five years, and veteran teachers are leaving at ever higher rates. Teacher attrition, which has grown by 50 percent in the past 15 years, costs the nation roughly $7 billion a year for recruiting, hiring, and inducting new teachers. With this revolving door of teachers and the resulting hemorrhage of resources, schools suffer from instability and students lose out on the opportunity to learn from high-quality teachers. Among the factors behind this high turnover are outdated teacher compensation systems and narrow career options for professional growth, according to a new report by Accomplished California Teachers (ACT), a teacher-leadership network based at Stanford. The report, Promoting Quality Teaching: New Approaches to Compensation and Career Pathways, is written by a group of master California teachers and draws from current research and best practices in the field to make recommendations on how to improve teaching quality by improving the systems that compensate them. The report is from the Accomplished California Teachers blog, InterACT.

A consortium of 10 top-tier universities will soon offer fully online, credit-bearing undergraduate courses through a partnership with 2U, a company that facilitates online learning. Any students enrolled at an “undergraduate experience anywhere in the world” will be eligible to take the courses, according to Chip Paucek, the CEO of 2U, which until recently was called 2tor. The first courses are slated to make their debut in the fall. After a year in which the top universities in the world have clambered to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for no credit, this new project marks yet another turning point in online education. It is the first known example of top universities offering fully online, credit-bearing courses to undergraduates who are not actually enrolled at the institutions that are offering them. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

The 4 Professors of the Year Advise Their Peers: Keep Learning and Adapting [In the News]

Learn from students. Embrace technology. Adapt as needed. Love what you do.
That's the key advice from the national winners of this year's U.S. Professors of the Year awards, presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
The four winners will receive $5,000 each. The organizations are also recognizing winners from 30 states and the District of Columbia.
Read more from The Chronicle of Higher Education »
posted Nov 15, 2012 10:31 am

Professors of the Year [In the News]

They come from fields as different as creative writing and mechanical engineering, and they teach in distinct settings, but the winners of this year’s Professors of the Year awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have one thing in common: they care deeply about students and about transforming the learning experience.
CASE’s annual awards, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, recognize exceptional professors for their ability to engage and influence students. This year’s winners, selected from a pool of more than 300 nominees, are:
  • Autar Kaw (doctoral and research universities), professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida.
  • Todd Pagano (master’s universities and colleges), associate professor of science and mathematics and director of the laboratory science program at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
  • Christy Price (baccalaureate colleges), professor of psychology at Dalton State College.
  • Lois Roma-Deeley (community colleges), professor of creative writing and poet-in-residence at Paradise Valley Community College.
posted Nov 15, 2012 10:29 am

Daily News Roundup, November 15, 2012

Some of the News Fit to Print
For many months, there's been an active discussion in the press, on the campaign trail, and over plenty of dinner tables about the cost of education -- about the frightening growth of student loans, about jobless grads being crushed by their debts. And as Bill Gates noted in a talk about higher education today at the Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute, and the Newseum, those are real, pressing issues, especially as the federal government considers deficit reduction measures that could cut education funding. We need to fix college financing and to make sure the system doesn't deteriorate further.  But at most colleges, and for most students -- the ones who don't go to schools covered in ivy -- the real problem isn't necessarily cost; it's completion. It's our country's abysmal graduation rates -- less than sixty percent of undergraduates finish a bachelor's degree within six years; less than 30 percent finish two-year programs on time -- which have fallen well behind much of the industrialized world. We're on pace to produce millions fewer college graduates than our economy will need in the coming decades, Gates argued, and a big part of that is our inability to get students already enrolled in college to graduation day. The article is in The Atlantic.

Starting next fall, 10 prominent universities, including Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northwestern, will form a consortium called Semester Online, offering about 30 online courses to both their students — for whom the classes will be covered by their regular tuition — and to students elsewhere who would have to apply and be accepted and pay tuition of more than $4,000 a course. Unlike the increasingly popular massive open online courses, or MOOCs, free classes offered by universities like Harvard, M.I.T. and Stanford, Semester Online classes will be small — and will offer credit. The article is in The New York Times.

In Los Angeles Unified, novice teachers tend to be assigned students who are academically farther behind those assigned to experienced teachers. Before they depart, usually after only two years, Teach for America teachers have a bigger impact on students than that of other new teachers. And National Board Certified teachers significantly outperform other teachers in LAUSD. These are among the findings of an extensive seven-year study of about a third of teachers in LAUSD by the Strategic Data Project, which is affiliated with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Researchers have conducted similar analyses of teacher recruitment, development and retention patterns in three dozen school districts and charter organizations nationwide, under work funded by the Gates Foundation. LAUSD’s report, which was released Wednesday, could become a key resource as the district and United Teachers Los Angeles negotiate changes to teacher evaluations and other parts of the teachers’ contract. The article is from EdSource.

Teacher-leadership programs generally differ from traditional educational-administration or -leadership master's programs in focusing more on instructional practice and less on organizational supervision and the business and management of schools. The course offerings in teacher-leadership programs vary from school to school, but tend to emphasize inquiry-based instruction, coaching and mentoring, cultural responsiveness, professional development design, curriculum development, and technological understanding. Most programs also require degree candidates to complete an internship or capstone project involving collaborative work with school leaders or a practice-based research project. School of education professors and administrators involved in teacher-leadership degree programs say such offerings fill an important need in K-12 education today by giving teachers the capacity to expand their roles and exert greater influence in schools. The article is in Education Week.