Here were some of the driving questions at the State Ed Tech Directors Association (SETDA) 2014 Leadership Forum in Arlington Virginia last week.
Greg Toppo, education writer for USA Today keynoted about the capacity of games to inspire learning.
Games involve measurable goals, (low stakes) rewards and punishments, challenges, and story to spur players to continue playing and refine their skills. Look at the level of interest in fantasy football. There are myriad examples of teachers and schools using games to motivate and engage students; let’s scale these efforts.
One interesting point: do you know the entire set of instructions for the 70’s video game Pong? “Avoid missing ball for high score.” I spent many hours improving that skill; but what if I’d found a computer programming game that was just as engaging?
Along these lines, ABA is working with a number of participants in the education games space to ease and promote the transition to game based learning in schools. If you are interested in being part of the conversation, please contact us.
There are very real concerns about security and data privacy of student data.
And there are also legitimate uses of student data; indeed, the whole premise of individualizing instruction is based on analysis of student information.
If an organization needs access to student data to drive student outcomes, they need to:
- Provide a roadmap of what data they will require
- Describe how they will safeguard that data
- Detail how they will and will not use the data and how long and where they will store the data
- Clearly articulate what measurable benefits will accrue to students and districts from making that data available. And the timeframe for delivering those benefits needs to be in the 6 month to 18 month range.
The whole discussion of privacy and security is often muddled with society wide concerns about Common Core, mistrust of government, lower test scores, and pundits who are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ignite fear, uncertainty, and doubt through digestible sound bites.
I am hoping to work with SETDA and other organizations to help formulate communications strategies to encourage reasoned discourse around privacy and security in student data.
One response has been the Student Privacy Pledge which has been advanced by the SIIA, and which commits organizations to “safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.”
Historically, professional development meant training, either in curriculum, software, or pedagogy.
We are seeing a broader use of the term: to use whatever means is available to improve the effectiveness of educators with their students.
This can include face to face training, online training, the use of professional learning networks (PLNs) or professional learning communities (PLCs), social learning, coaching, or any other resource that helps teachers, administrators, and other educators further their skills to help students.
Interestingly, teachers in the US spend more time teaching than teachers in any other country in the world (Source is NCTAF, Melinda George). Does this mean the US system is more efficient? Maybe US student test scores are so good, that we should just conclude things are going well, so we do not need to give teachers more time to plan, learn, refresh, and coach.
One of the best quotes, from one of the student presenters: “Here is our school, built in 1961. It hasn’t changed much since. And neither did our teachers’ teaching. Until about 3 years ago.”
Check out Edchat Interactive for one new initiative in this area.
While everyone can bemoan the lack of money, we still spend more money per student than virtually any other country on the planet.
Before devising a budget, though, leaders should articulate clear policy goals, and then build the budget around those goals.
It was also pointed out that interest rates are at historically low levels. Local and state education authorities should borrow money now to get what they need. On the other hand, they should not be borrowing long term to support short term purchases, such as devices or software. Borrowing should drive long term benefit, like infrastructure.