Archives for category: Technology

Requirements set forth by the Smart Schools Bond Act Guidance 04.27.15:

…the district must certify in its Smart Schools Investment Plan submission that the following required steps have taken place:

  • A Preliminary Plan has been posted on the district website for at least 30 days. The district must include an address to which any written comments on the Plan should be sent. [No….The link to the plan takes you to a meeting notification with no further information.]
  • Board has conducted a hearing that will enable stakeholders to respond to the Preliminary Plan. This hearing may occur as part of a normal Board meeting, but adequate notice of the event must be provided through local media and the district website for at least two weeks prior to the meeting. [Adequate notice via local media has not been provided.]
  • The district included an address to which any written comments on the plan should be sent. [No: since the plan was not available on the website, no public comments could be made.]
  • Review will examine evidence provided in the Smart Schools Investment Plan that the devices/platforms chosen will be linked to a coherent instructional plan and will enhance teaching and learning on a sustainable basis. [No mention of academic or learning goals in IUFSD Smart Schools Investment Plan]

An additional issue: the state requires that district technology purchases be “sustainable.”

To date, mobile devices have been donated, but the existence of these donated devices is cited by IUFSD as the rationale for installing wireless connectivity in Dows Lane and Main Street School.

Have the donating organizations contracted to fund all purchases of mobile devices going forward? (see: Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of Its Laptops)

Irvington UFSD Preliminary Smart Schools Investment Plan

Currently, we have several types of mobile access devices in our district including Chromebooks, iPads, and laptops. Once Wifi access is put into place at our elementary buildings, we will have the opportunity to collect information on what types of mobile devices work best for our teachers and students. Based on those findings, we will be able to use Smart Schools funds to acquire additional devices for our students to use.

Wireless in Dows Lane and the Main Street School will be used to replace traditional textbooks and programs with materials students find on Google the the process of “exploring” and “pondering” “essential questions.” 

Materials found on Google are the opposite of a coherent, sequenced curriculum, which is what children need to understand content and store it in long-term memory.

Installing wireless facilitates the move to “thinking” and away from learning that is the hallmark of Kris & Raina’s many changes.

Irvington UFSD Preliminary Smart Schools Investment Plan 2015
Smart_Schools_Bond_Act_Guidance_04.27.15_Final
SSIP_Template_9_10_15

Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Education Results, OECD Says

. . . students who spend an above-average amount of time in front of a computer at school performed worse than other students, including those who might not use them at all.

In mathematics tests, the survey found that almost any time spent on the computer led to poorer performance on both written and digital tests.

Researchers found much the same results when students used computers for homework. They also found that students who used computers excessively were more likely to feel isolated or alone.

Cross-posted at the Irvington Parents Form

The school board has posted its “District Technology Plan 2014-2018.”

College preparation isn’t on it.

The only goal of “technology,” here in IUFSD, is the propagation of “21st century skills.”

That is a grave mistake, not least because 21st century skills don’t exist.

The phrase “21st century skills” is a marketing slogan developed by the “Partnership for 21st Century Skills,” a lobbying outfit created by the NEA and tech companies that sell to schools.

“21st century skills” are win-win for unions and tech companies.

The union wins because no teacher can be held accountable for teaching 21st century skills.

Tech companies win because schools buy more devices.

You don’t need Chromebooks and iPads to prepare students for college (or law school, or business school, or medical school).

Change the mission to “21st century skills,” and every student needs a mobile device.

Bob Grados, Maria Kashkin, and Phil Whitney have decided that this is our path.

Three people have the power to make this decision for all district children.

Theory of Action

If we provide students with rigorous, authentic learning experiences rooted in a comprehensive curriculum, then they will acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions of successful 21st Century learners that will prepare them to thrive in a rapidly evolving global society.”

That’s another thing: we don’t live in a “rapidly evolving global society.”

“Rapidly evolving global society” is a slogan created by unions and tech companies.

When you look at the actual data, or live in the actual world, you know that: a) we don’t live in an exciting, fast-paced “global society” (not unless you think Charlie Hebdo and ISIS offer our kids fabulous opportunities for advancement; and b) to the extent that we do live in a “global society,” it’s not “rapidly evolving.” 

The quote-unquote global society is no different today than it was 20 years ago, except that it’s worse in every respect. More financial trauma, more terror.

The simple truth is that our central administrators are completely unmoored from reality, and they are supported by 3 people who know it’s all nonsense but have chosen to impose the will of the central administrators they’ve hired and tenured on the rest of us.

Since the words “comprehensive curriculum” are plugged into the “theory of action” above, I will concede that, yes, of course, the district will continue to “offer” state-required college preparatory courses.

But our central administrators have zero interest in college preparation or in liberal education.

When that is the case, when you’re “offering” liberal education only because the state requires it, you’re not going to do it well.

Time to opt out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

All of this ties in directly with the hours-long interrogation of middle school children who accessed the teacher’s portion of the district website.

Kris, Raina, and Jesse fetishize technology.

They light up when they talk about technology; the delivery of PowerPoint talks and “Think Tank” manifestos on the subject of technology is the only time you hear real excitement in their voices, and see real excitement in their faces. For our central administrators, technology is magic.

If the three (five?) middle school boys who have been treated so harshly had done what they did without touching a computer, they would have been given lunchtime detention and that would have been the end of it.

But these boys broke a rule that involved a computer.

Breaking a rule involving a computer triggers automatic notification of the police. The Code of Conduct says so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Even worse: reading through the Code, I learned that the punishment for bringing a gun to school is a one-year suspension.

Not expulsion. Suspension. For bringing a real gun in school.

One of the boys was threatened with permanent expulsion for a first computer infraction.

That tells you everything you need to know about our plight.

Catherine

Do we want to be a constructivist district?
21st-century skills, the document Kris & Raina are using to transform the district

Abstract
The idea that a new generation of students is entering the education system has excited recent attention among educators and education commentators. Termed ‘digital natives’ or the ‘Net generation’, these young people are said to have been immersed in technology all their lives, imbuing them with sophisticated technical skills and learning preferences for which traditional education is unprepared. Grand claims are being made about the nature of this generational change and about the urgent necessity for educational reform in response.Asense of impending crisis pervades this debate. However, the actual situation is far from clear. In this paper, the authors draw on the fields of education and sociology to analyse the digital natives debate. The paper presents and questions the main claims made about digital natives and analyses the nature of the debate itself. We argue that rather than being empirically and theoretically informed, the debate can be likened to an academic form of a ‘moral panic’. We propose that a more measured and disinterested approach is now required to investigate ‘digital natives’ and their implications for education.

The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence by Sue Bennett, Karl Maton, and Lisa Kervin | British Journal of Educational Technology | Volume 39 Number 5 | 2008 | 775-786

Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right. By Michael S. Rosenwald February 22, 2015 | WAPO

Answer: yes

More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea. But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it.

In the early 2000s, the Duke University economists Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The researchers assessed the students’ math and reading skills annually for five years, and recorded how they spent their time. The news was not good.

“Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,” the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

In fact, the students’ academic scores dropped and remained depressed for as long as the researchers kept tabs on them. What’s worse, the weaker students (boys, African-Americans) were more adversely affected than the rest. When their computers arrived, their reading scores fell off a cliff.

[snip]

An unquestioned belief in the power of gadgetry has already led to educational snafus. Beginning in 2006, the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child project envisioned a digital utopia in which all students over 6 years old, worldwide, would own their own laptops. Impoverished children would thus have the power to go online and educate themselves — no school or teacher required. With laptops for poor children initially priced at $400, donations poured in.

But the program didn’t live up to the ballyhoo. For one thing, the machines were buggy and often broke down. And when they did work, the impoverished students who received free laptops spent more time on games and chat rooms and less time on their homework than before, according to the education researchers Mark Warschauer and Morgan Ames.

Can Students Have Too Much Tech? By SUSAN PINKER JAN. 30, 2015

AND SEE:

The district’s new technology policies could be a model for schools across the country. Serious, intelligent, careful, real.

Beautiful.

The district’s starting point:

While perhaps not all members of the community will prefer the first pair of documents to the second, if you put the question to a vote, a large majority would choose Door Number #1.

School boards often face a conflict between what administrators want and what the people want. I think this is the first time (or one of the few times) I personally have seen a school board — any school board — make a decisive choice in favor of the citizens they represent.

Our board has done a brilliant job.

L.A. Unified survey finds little use of iPads’ curriculum

The iPad experiment in LA Unified has been a saga.

From the story:

The review, conducted by a nine-member team from the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research, offers a sharp contrast to early pronouncements from the school district on the $1.3-billion effort. In particular, Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy labeled the project “an astonishing success” and officials faulted media reports for suggesting otherwise.

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. [emphasis added] We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking Pam A. Mueller1 Daniel M. Oppenheimer2 Published online before print April 23, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581 Psychological Science

This study was done at Princeton.

Here’s the Science Daily summary:

Dust off those Bic ballpoints and college-ruled notebooks: research shows that taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term.

Take notes by hand for better long-term comprehension

From a constructivist perspective knowledge is not acquired through “memorization” but constructed by assimilating information based on our perceptions and agreed conventions (Bates & Poole, 2003).

An authentic learning framework for integrating one-to-one laptop usage in Hong Kong Schools by Kathryn Reed and Matt Bower

This is completely wrong.

“Constructing” knowledge has almost nothing to do with, later on, actually remembering the knowledge you’ve constructed.

That’s why writers keep notebooks. If you don’t write down the knowledge you’ve just constructed, you won’t remember it the next day.

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

[snip]

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute By Matt Richtel  | October 22, 2011 | New York Times

Speaking of “fast trends,” the superintendent hopes to establish a new “BYOD” policy this fall.

UPDATE 7/8/2014: I gather that the idea isn’t for parents to purchase devices, but for taxpayers to do so.

Laptops in the classroom have been shown actually to reduce learning, but public school administrators have rejected peer-reviewed research for many years.

Abstract
Recently, a debate has begun over whether in-class laptops aid or hinder learning. While some research demonstrates that laptops can be an important learning tool, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more faculty are banning laptops from their classrooms because of perceptions that they distract students and detract from learning. The current research examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how that use is related to student learning. Students completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. Results showed that stu- dents who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the laptop use posed a signiWcant distraction to both users and fellow students. Most importantly, the level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.
In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning by Carrie B. Fried | Computers and Education | 2007

There is tremendous pressure, inside the ed world, to transform public schools into make-believe start-ups.

Inside the”student-centered” class of the 21st century, students move purposefully about the room, poking their devices and working in teams to…innovate.

From a typical report in Education Week:

The fast trends:

Schools are rethinking the roles of teachers, as pressure increases for digital-learning integration in classrooms, including a shift to “student-centered” learning and flipped classrooms. The report states that in ideal class settings, the teacher will function as the mentor, guiding groups and individual learners through technology-based lessons.

[snip]

Trends expected in five years or more:

Overall changes in the structure of schools are aimed to create innovative school designs and restructuring school schedules to allow more flexibility and cultivate student creativity. The report notes that the multi-disciplinary nature of project-based learning and other models requires subjects to be linked to one another, without the restriction of bell schedules and classrooms. Students at Venture Academy in Minneapolis go to school in a repurposed printing plant without structured classrooms and at High Tech High in San Diego students work freely throughout the school building, designing structures and producing multimedia.

This is where IUFSD is headed.

SUPERINTENDENT: Curriculum should be infused with technology
CURRICULUM: I am a child-centered professional
TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR: Jesse Lubinsky, Technology Director,
..Twitter feed
|  NY Tech Ed blog

In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning by Carrie B. Fried

Abstract

Recently, a debate has begun over whether in-class laptops aid or hinder learning. While some research demonstrates that laptops can be an important learning tool, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more faculty are banning laptops from their classrooms because of perceptions that they distract students and detract from learning. The current research examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how that use is related to student learning. Students completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. Results showed that students who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the laptop use posed a significant distraction to both users and fellow students. Most importantly, the level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance. The practical implications of these Wndings are discussed.

Computers and Education (2007)

Since our district looks likely to adopt “one-to-one” computing in the not too distant future (see: Creating the Vision for Technology), I’ve taken a look at some white papers and reports discussing its effectiveness.

Interestingly, several of them openly report that issuing laptops to all students helps change traditional teachers into constructivists — I say “openly” because the word constructivism is actually used. Normally constructivist practices are promoted sans the label, which isn’t a draw for parents. But not in this case.

Of course, few parents are going to see white papers extolling the transformative wonders of laptops in the classroom, so that may account for the frank celebration of guide-on-the-sidery.

From a report on Microsoft’s Anytime Anywhere Learning Program :

IMPACT ON TEACHING
Laptop teachers show significant movement toward constructivist teaching practices. When we asked teachers to reflect on their practices three years ago and currently, only the Laptop teachers showed statistically significant change toward more constructivist teaching practices. These changes included more frequent uses of student-led inquiry and collaborative work, and also included departures from traditional classroom roles and changes in activity structures. Data from Non-Laptop teachers did not show any significant changes in their practice from three years ago. In a measure of more traditional teaching, Non-Laptop teachers report they employ direct instruction (a traditional practice defined on our questionnaire as the sequence “review, teach, guided practice, individual practice”) almost every day, and that this has not changed at all over the last three years. In contrast, Laptop teachers have moved from employing direct instruction almost every day to about once a week in the current year. However, differences in current practices for Laptop and Non-Laptop teachers on most measures were not statistically significant, though directionally Laptop teachers were slightly more constructivist. The laptop program itself, then, may be acting as a catalyst for change.

[snip]

For both groups, the large majority of teachers who indicated a change toward more constructivist pedagogy also indicated that computers played a role in that change. When we asked teachers to reflect on changing practice, we also asked them to indicate whether computers had played a role in particular changes, such as using more authentic assessment, allowing themselves to be taught by students, encouraging students to choose their own research areas or explore topics independently, or moving away from direct instruction. In each case, more than four out of five teachers who made a change in such practices indicated that computers played a role in this change; in some cases, one hundred percent indicated a computer role. Computers themselves, then, may be acting as a catalyst for change for both Laptop and Non-Laptop teachers.

AND SEE:
Teachers sing about becoming guides on the side

Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education:

Imagine an educational system in which pupils master vital skills and critical thinking in a collaborative manner, social media and digital libraries connect learners to a wide range of informational resources, student and teacher assessment is embedded in the curriculum, and parents and policymakers have comparative data on school performance. Teachers take on the role of coaches, students learn at their own pace through real-life projects, software programs track student progress, and schools are judged by the outcomes they produce.4 Rather than being limited to six hours a day for half the year, this kind of education moves toward 24/7 engagement and full-time learning.5
Darrell West | Brookings | 2012
Chapter 1: New Models in Education

So I guess in the brave new world, spring break is going to be a thing of the past.

Makes sense.

Once technology has transformed education, kids won’t care about spring break. They’ll be having too much fun mastering vital skills and critical thinking at their own pace in a collaborative manner through real-life projects to care about going on vacation.

And see:
Consulting the Google machine
Our goal
Response to superintendent technology memo

At HuffPo:

10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12

I haven’t read the literature on handheld devices and exposure to blue light after dark myself, so I don’t have an informed opinion one way or the other.

What concerns me greatly, however, is the fact that our superintendent has not read the literature, either, yet he has established a goal of making technology in the classroom as “ubiquitous” as pencil and paper.

From what I can see, the board of education is not enthusiastic about technology for the sake of technology; to the best of my knowledge, the board has not voted to make technology “ubiquitous.”

Unfortunately, the fact that the board has not established a formal goal of making technology ubiquitous is neither here nor there.

Seeking board approval for a policy change is not a strength of our current superintendent.

AND SEE:
Response to administrator technology memo
Buying technology – business v. schools
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

Where technology enthusiasts see schools going:

The proliferation of computer-based instruction and online schooling has many observers excited by the promise of technology to fundamentally reshape education. Terry Moe and John Chubb [1] argue that once students are no longer dependent on brick-and-mortar schooling, the mammoth institutions built to deliver traditional instruction—and the entrenched interest groups (e.g., unions) that benefit from current institutional arrangements—will wither away. Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson argue in Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns that technology will “change how the world learns.” [2] They foresee a digital storehouse of modular online learning activities that can be customized to each student.
The Curriculum Wars Live On: Two Contemporary Flash Points By Tom Loveless 03/05/2014

Irvington is working toward creating a modular curriculum, which will live on Atlas Rubicon software.

Once we have our new modular curriculum typed into Atlas Rubicon, admin says, the district will be able to swap modules in and out any time the state decrees a change.

The infusing of technology into the curriculum proceeds apace.

Atlas Rubicon

The vendors are circling, part one

UPDATE 3/2/2014: Come to find out, our vendor is actually a member of the district’s Technology Think Tank. Edu Tek doesn’t have to circle; it’s in the circle.

The Think Tank includes no one who does not have a child currently attending Irvington schools (so I’ve been told by administrators), and membership is closed. If you do not have children in the schools, you can pay for technology, but you cannot have a voice in determining what technology will be bought, when, or why.

The vendor gets a say, the people writing the checks do not.

AND SEE:
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

Steve Nesbitt · Top Commenter commenting on Flipped Classroom Post

I have two apprehensions concerning the flipped classroom. As a skilled instructor presents material, he does not merely recite information in an identical format to each of his classes nor do so in an exclusively one-way communication. He is constantly observing his students – the glazed stares of some, their facial expressions and their body language – and he allows his students the opportunity to interject pertinent questions. He is not merely a purveyor of knowledge, but a receptor of stimuli, all of which he allows to guide and modify his presentation in real time to facilitate understanding, adapting this presentation to the students’ responses to it and from class to class. The flipped classroom would seem to rob the instructor of this ability while simultaneously robbing the students of time beyond the school walls during which they could be enriching their lives and refreshing their spirits with non-academic experiences. I appreciate the five to seven-minute video limitation mentioned above, but fear that such brevity will not be the rule for many instructors.

November 3, 2013 at 11:51pm

AND SEE:
Why educationists want to flip the classroom

Why Minimally Guided Teaching Techniques Do Not Work:
A Reply to Commentaries

Chloe McCune (no direct link)

I am an AP student who is living through this “experiment” and I have yet to encounter one of my peers who actually likes this system. While they may tout wonderful ideas like doing “learning activities” in reality its just busywork. Few times are we ever given lecture videos and when they are given they rarely help us understand the information. Students cant ask the teacher questions and we never have chat rooms with our peers or teachers for help. We are left reading everything from outdated and poorly written textbooks, teachimg ourselves the material and finding that when the test comes around we know nothing about the topic. Watch out Bergman and Sams… you made thousands of teengagers rather unhappy.

October 7, 2013 at 1:11am

Sharon Curran Preston · Manager, Service Delivery at Facebook (no direct link)

As a parent of a 16 year old boy who has a flipped math class I can tell you first hand that the flipped classroom is horrible. Why actually teach when you can record a video once and then sit at your desk for the rest of the year and blame the kids who aren’t asking you enough questions during the “classwork” time in class? Or better yet, tell them to ask their equally lost peers. My very social son sits in class and talks to his buddies for the entire period while the teacher helps one, yes one, of his classmates. How the hell is this teaching? Yes it is my son’s fault for not “applying” himself but come on people. What do you expect of high school kids?! If you leave them in an unstructured environment all year they aren’t going to learn anything. The flipped classroom is a joke.

February 20 at 12:19pm

AND SEE:
Email from an NYU student on his experience with a flipped classroom
The digital natives are restless (Tweets from the front)
Tweets from high school students in flipped classrooms
“Our goal”
Wrong track
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD

Improving students’ long-term knowledge through personalized review Lindsey Shroyer Pashler Mozer 2013

John D’s questions:

  • What was the human and financial cost for this gain?
  • Was this gain course specific?
  • If it was course specific, was a useful gain?
  • Was it useful in using the language or was it useful in getting multiple choice questions correct on a computerized test?

Definitely the right questions to ask for any district considering adopting personalized review software (or any other educational software).

What I glean from a quick skim is that prior to this study students had already been using a software flash-card program, so the ‘personalized’ software flash cards were simply swapped in while the non-personalized flash cards were swapped out. Nothing else appears to have changed. (I think students still took their final exams via paper-and-pencil, though I’m not sure.)

Looks to me as if the gains students made would have been no more or less useful than the gains they were making with the previous software.

No consideration is given to the question of how well knowledge gained via any form of software flash card transfers to Spanish conversation, reading, and writing.

Excerpts from the study

“Literacy and mathematics are the foundation to all facets of learning,” he said. “Curriculum (should be) very skill-based, rich and infused with technology.”
Irvington schools pick N.J. educator as next superintendent

On Google: 39,100 hits for “infusing technology into the classroom

Whether it’s a mom-and-pop coffee shop, a Fortune 500 firm, or a health care nonprofit, well-run organizations employ technology as a way to improve their performance. These businesses and organizations think of digital technology as part of larger efforts to boost productivity and improve outcomes. For American companies, leveraging digital solutions has long been a way of doing business, and over the past sixty years, the approach has resulted in average worker productivity climbing by more than 2 percent a year due in large measure to improvements in equipment, computers, and other high-tech solutions.

Educators, however, generally do not take this approach to technology. Far too often, school leaders fail to consider how technology might dramatically improve teaching and learning, and schools frequently acquire digital devices without discrete learning goals and ultimately use these devices in ways that fail to adequately serve students, schools, or taxpayers.

Are Schools Getting a Big Enough Bang for Their Education Technology Buck?
By Ulrich Boser | June 14, 2013
Center for American Progress

AND SEE:
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

2/6/2014

Dear Kris, Raina, and Jesse:

I’m writing to share my response to the “Technology Think Tank” memo discussed at last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting (1/28/2014).

I’d like to begin by saying that my comments are directed to our administrative team, not to volunteers who’ve given their time and energy to the task of thinking through the role of technology in our district. Their efforts are freely given and much appreciated.


The memo delivered to the board last Tuesday is, in my view, problematic in three areas:

  • Evidence and argument
  • Consideration of costs, including effects of “technology” on health
  • The memo’s use of an “inputs” model of educational quality

Evidence and argument

Ironically, Tuesday night’s Common Core presentation included discussion of the Common-Core requirement that middle-school students “acknowledge alternate or opposing claims.”

This standard is not met by the Think Tank memo, which makes no mention of alternate claims or of peer-reviewed research contradicting the memo’s assertions. Indeed, the memo reads very much like a manifesto, not a reasoned analysis.

No mention is made of the long and disappointing history of “technology” in the schools, documented by Stanford education professor Larry Cuban in Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom.

No mention is made of research showing the drawbacks of reading on screen. (A good place to start: You won’t remember this article, or anything else you read online, unless you print it out).

And no consideration is given to the district’s own recent experience with “infusing” technology into the classroom, which is directly relevant to any new technology initiatives we might undertake.

As you know, shortly after the district completed construction of a new middle school equipped with built-in computer projector systems in every classroom, the administration scrapped the projector systems and commenced installation of Smart Boards—which performed exactly the same tasks the computer-projector systems performed but at many times the cost. e.g.: I recall, at the time, Smart Board light bulbs going for $400 apiece, compared to perhaps forty dollars for projector light bulbs.

The selling point for Smart Boards was that they had touch screens. But the touch screens failed so frequently that my son’s Earth Science teacher was forced to halt her class repeatedly in order to recalibrate the screen. Finally she gave up and used the Smart Board as a very expensive computer projector system.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an optimal solution, either, because the Smart Boards crashed a lot. One of my son’s teachers took to telling his students that the “Smart Board gods” determined whether and when his classroom Smart Board would actually work.

Needless to say, the time teachers spent rebooting the Smart Board and recalibrating the Smart Board screen was time they could not spend teaching.

None of this recent history is acknowledged in the memo, and no thought is given to making sure it doesn’t happen again.

No consideration of costs, including negative effects on health

There are very few unalloyed positives in life. Hence the pro-and-con list.

This principle may be especially true of technological advances, which seem always to create new problems in the process of solving old ones. The industrial revolution brought pollution and global warming; the internet brought cyberbullying and the NSA. As far as I can tell, this is to be expected.

The potential costs, including the financial costs, of making iPads and Chromebooks as ubiquitous in our classrooms as paper and pencil are not considered or even acknowledged in the memo.

Perhaps most troubling, the memo does not address the health effects of increased exposure to blue light in the evening, which I think we should assume would result from a movement away from textbooks to iPads and Chromebooks. (See: “‘Blue Light’ May Impair Students’ Sleep” by Sarah Sparks, Education Week Vol. 33 Issue 14.)

Blue light is a significant health issue. New research finds that blue light affects even the blind. (Blue Light Stimulates Cognitive Brain Activity in Visually Blind Individuals, Gilles Vandewalle, et al).

Inputs, not outputs

Finally, the memo hews strictly to an “inputs” model of educational quality: quality is defined in terms of the things we do and buy, not in terms of the things students learn and achieve.

No consideration is given to what the “outputs” of making computer technology ubiquitous in our classrooms are likely to be.

Will students learn more?

Learn more quickly?

Will teachers’ lives be made easier?

Speaking as an instructor myself, I can tell you that educational technology often makes life harder for teachers, not easier, as the leaked email from a former IUFSD union president attested a couple of years ago (in reference to the time-consuming task of entering data to e-schools, as I recall).

The memo’s unblinking focus on inputs must count as a missed opportunity, because in fact “technology” may have an important role to play both in increasing student learning and in making teacher’s lives easier (making teachers’ work more efficient, that is to say).

Neither better learning nor greater efficiency will result from a bulk purchase of iPads and Chromebooks, however. We know this from the results of other districts’ bulk purchases of iPads and laptops, which have produced no gains in achievement or apparent efficiency. (A representative headline in the Times: “In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores” | Matt Richtel | 9/3/2011. The accompanying photograph shows four children clustered in front of a Smart Board. And see: Are Schools Getting a Big Enough Bang for Their Education Technology Buck? by Ulrich Boser | June 14, 2013 | Center for American Progress.)

Ignoring the “technology” that actually shows potential

At present, the most promising use of technology in the schools appears to be its capacity to serve as an automated homework assigner and assessor. Stuart S. Yeh’s Raising Student Achievement Through Rapid Assessment And Test Reform is an important book here, one that I hope the Think Tank will read and consider.

My family has experienced this form of educational technology firsthand. At Fordham Prep, our son’s physics teacher created a homework system using Moodle, a platform  free of charge to educators. Students did their homework in the customary manner, using paper and pencil (a superb technology that has endured to this day precisely because it is so simple and reliable).

But they accessed the daily problem sets from their teacher’s Moodle site, which graded each problem the instant they entered their answers. If an answer was wrong, students could be given the first one or two steps of the solution and go from there; they could also ask for and be provided as many extra-practice problems of the same type as they wished to do. The program included a dashboard that allowed the teacher to see at a glance who had done the homework and how each student had fared. If numerous students missed a problem, the teacher could re-teach the next day.

Our son liked the system very much, and we never heard a complaint from his friends. The teacher was happy with the set-up, too. (We had a long conversation with him on the subject.)

There are today numerous programs of this type on the market—including programs that can recognize and respond to certain aspects of grammar and writing. (I would dearly love to have access to the latter for my own teaching.) I don’t know whether any of these programs would in fact increase learning or decrease demands on teacher time, but Yeh’s research gives us reason to believe they might. Certainly, ‘rapid assessment’ software makes sense in a way further hardware purchases do not.

Moreover, because few IUFSD teachers collect and correct homework (at least in my experience), rapid-assessment software potentially fills a significant gap in our educational programs.

But on this subject, too, the memo is silent, making no mention of rapid-assessment software or of the research supporting its use. Because the memo focuses exclusively on inputs, the potential value of rapid-assessment software to Irvington teachers and students is given no consideration.

I hope that task will be taken up soon.

Thank you for listening –

Catherine

AND SEE:
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom
IEF #25 Off Cycle Grant Request – Expanding the Possibilites of
..Learning Through Technology Rich Classrooms – 2013-14

AND: 
• SUPERINTENDENT: Curriculum should be infused with technology
• CURRICULUM: I am a child-centered professional
• TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR: Jesse Lubinsky, Technology Director, Twitter feed
• TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR: Jesse Lubinsky, NY ETech Ed blog

If the student is watching a video, there can be no interaction. This generation already has enough problems with face-to-face communication. Also, how well constructed can the lesson be if a student can have a question in the beginning of the video that doesn’t get answered until the next day? This sounds like a way of forcing technology into education instead of using it as a tool to enhance learning. This is a dangerous slope to go down and clearly one that the BOE (which is responsible for policy creation), must be well aware of before implementation.
John D – Teacher and former member of IUFSD BOE

AND SEE:
Tweets from high school students in flipped classrooms
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom
Math teacher (and member of CC development team) Vern Williams on
flipped classrooms

AND SEE:
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

Our goal and expectation is for the integration of technology to become as ubiquitous as pencil and paper in our classrooms.
Creating the Vision for Technology

The vendors are circling.

UPDATE 3/2/2014: No they’re not. The vendors are circling, part 2

AND SEE:
Are flipped classrooms the most exciting thing happening here?
Creating an IUFSD Technology Vision
Creating an IUFSD Technology Vision – ANNOTATED – 1.2.2014
Response to administrator technology memo
IEF #25 Off Cycle Grant Request – Expanding the Possibilites of
..Learning Through Technology Rich Classrooms – 2013-14

“Our goal”
Wrong track
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Buying technology – business v. schools

Students and flipped classrooms
The digital natives are restless
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

Health and screens
Education Week | ‘Blue Light’ May Impair Students’ Sleep, Studies Say
Blue Light Stimulates Cognitive Activity in Visually Blind
Ten reasons why handheld devices are unsafe for children

“Digital natives”
So-Called “Digital Natives” Not Media Savvy, New Study Shows
Digital natives (London School of Economics)
Jakob Nielsen, 2005: Usability of Websites for Teenagers Scroll down
for “Misconceptions About Teenagers.”
Jakob Nielsen, 2013: Teenage Usability: Designing Teen-Targeted
Websites
 by HOA LORANGER and JAKOB NIELSEN on February 4,
2013

AND SEE:
Technology

Flipped classrooms
1-to-1 computing

Tweets from the front

AND SEE:
Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

AND SEE: