EdSurge Articles / EdSurge is an independent information resource and community for everyone involved in education technology Copyright 2011-2019, EdSurge Inc. en hourly 1 Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:24:22 +0000 Fri, 20 Sep 2019 12:30:00 -0400 /assets/EdSurgeBoltIconSquare-ef80606f80fc8dae4e5befd16a00dfca47942d96220296a84c276ea2907e2a0b.png EdSurge Articles / Colleges Should Be Building Bridges to Careers, Not Stranded Piers /news/2019-09-20-colleges-should-be-building-bridges-to-careers-not-stranded-piers /news/2019-09-20-colleges-should-be-building-bridges-to-careers-not-stranded-piers#comments Ryan Craig Education Technology Jobs & Careers Future of Work Higher Education Fri, 20 Sep 2019 12:30:00 -0400 post-guid-1ed8fd2d In perhaps the greatest book in the English language, James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” following the famous rowdy opening where stately, plump Buck Mulligan ... <p>In perhaps the greatest book in the English language, James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” following the famous rowdy opening where stately, plump Buck Mulligan taunts and tests the moody brooding Stephen Dedalus, Joyce cuts to a quieter moment in a classroom. Here, teacher Stephen Dedalus is asking his young students about the Greek general Pyrrhus. One student isn’t paying attention and, when summoned by his teacher, thinks he’s being asked not about Pyrrhus, but about a pier. Dedalus pokes the boy’s shoulders with the book.</p><p>Dedalus: “Tell me now, what is a pier?”</p><p>Student: “A pier, sir… A thing out in the waves. A kind of a bridge. Kingstown pier, sir.”</p><p>Dedalus thinks for a moment and responds: “Kingstown pier… Yes, a disappointed bridge.”</p><p>Joyce chronicles the students’ reaction: “The words troubled their gaze.”</p><p>These days, more and more young students and professionals are troubled as a result of mistaking a pier for a bridge. The bridge they’re seeking is a bridge to a good first job—hopefully, in a sector they’re passionate about. If they don’t get a good first job, they’re much less likely to get a<a href="https://www.burning-glass.com/wp-content/uploads/permanent_detour_underemployment_report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> good second, third, fourth, and fifth job</a>. And with rising tuition and student loan debt, college doesn’t make sense for most students unless college completes this bridge.</p><p>There are several reasons why the bridge might be a pier. First and foremost, students may not complete their studies.<a href="https://nscresearchcenter.org/signaturereport10/#ExecutiveSummary" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Only about half</a> of all students who enroll in four-year colleges in the United States complete a degree within six years. While some do take longer, the overall completion rate isn’t higher than 55 percent, meaning 45 percent of students still hit the water. Many colleges and nonprofit organizations are rightly focused on providing the requisite additional support and services to meaningfully increase completion.</p><p>For students who do finish with a degree, many programs are still effectively piers because they fail to lead to an intended or desirable destination. The most popular major in the U.S. is now <a href="https://poetsandquantsforundergrads.com/2019/01/07/why-business-remains-the-most-popular-major/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">business</a>. The logic seems straightforward enough: the vast majority of good jobs are at businesses and, if nothing else, business majors must be qualified for jobs in businesses, right? </p><p>Unfortunately, many business majors consist of coursework that better reflect the faculty view of what businesses need, rather than what specific businesses actually need for entry-level jobs. Instead of training students on Salesforce, one of the most commonly used tools in American businesses today, most programs tend to focus on academic theories of consumer behavior and pricing strategies.</p><p>Business schools may be the most overlooked disappointed bridge. Each year, tens of thousands of students graduate each year with business degrees unprepared for any specific entry-level job in any specific business function. And following findings that business majors may<a href="https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo10327226.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> not be as rigorous as arts and sciences programs</a> (“the business major is for students who want a college degree without a college education”), critics are piling on, urging institutions to<a href="https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/2019-08-13-abolish-the-business-major?utm_source=pm&amp;utm_medium=en&amp;cid=pm" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> abolish the business major.</a></p><p>But business majors are the tip of the iceberg. In early August, EMSI, a provider of labor market analytics that is part of the Strada Education Network, released a<a href="https://www.economicmodeling.com/degrees-at-work/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> study</a> showing that colleges are not providing linear paths to good first jobs, but rather a<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/08/02/new-data-track-graduates-six-popular-majors-through-their-first-three-jobs" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> “crazy flow” or “swirl.”</a> Analyzing millions of graduates from six different majors, the report found that all the students were effectively going after the same jobs in sales, marketing, management, and financial analysis. If college majors are meant to be highways over bridges, they appear to be converging and causing an academic traffic jam.</p><p>A final barrier to completing the bridge is found at high schools—or rather, not found there. American high schools overburden guidance counselors with an<a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/08/14/the-troubling-student-to-counselor-ratio-that-doesnt-add.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> average caseload of 482 students</a> for every one counselor. This means few students are getting meaningful help in thinking about future careers, and that fewer students are selecting colleges and programs with a clear vision.</p><p>Career services are often divorced from academic programs and curriculum. But a new model is emerging, one that bridges youth and young professionals to careers while clearly demonstrating the relevance of specific coursework. New York University recently launched three such mini-bridges—in music, sports management, and hospitality—through self-paced online programs that introduce students to the industry, necessary skills, and topics of study in order to better understand the shape and direction of the bridge and destination towards a viable career.</p><p>For example, “Music Industry Essentials,” a program from NYU and Billboard done in conjunction with Yellowbrick (disclosure: a University Ventures portfolio company), exposes students to the music industry through leaders from major music labels. Seeing them put their skills in practice, at brands they can relate to, can help students get a better sense of direction and be more likely to select and complete their program of study with passion and purpose.</p><p>There’s no reason every college and university shouldn’t be reaching out to students with mini-bridges that highlight their distinctive programs of study. They must show students that their passions connect directly to coursework and then to good first jobs. Mini-bridges have the potential to be powerful marketing and enrollment engines. And if the connections are unclear, take advantage of the mini-bridge building exercise to better align top programs with the interests of students and employers.</p><p>Once students are better informed and on a path that they know is a bridge and not a pier, they’ll be more likely to enjoy reading “Ulysses” without worrying about their first job.</p> Colleges Should Be Building Bridges to Careers, Not Stranded Piers MJGraphics / Shutterstock What If No One Seeks Credit for a Credit-Eligible MOOC? /news/2019-09-19-what-if-no-one-seeks-credit-for-a-credit-eligible-mooc /news/2019-09-19-what-if-no-one-seeks-credit-for-a-credit-eligible-mooc#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Digital Learning in Higher Ed Higher Education MOOCs Thu, 19 Sep 2019 22:23:33 -0400 post-guid-99503470 News that Arizona State University and edX have archived 10 of their 14 Global Freshman Academy courses raises questions about the viability and ... <p>News that Arizona State University and edX have archived 10 of their 14 Global Freshman Academy courses raises questions about the viability and purpose of credit-eligible MOOCs. </p><p>When it launched in 2015, the Global Freshman Academy was marketed as a low-cost way for students to complete their first year of college by taking open online classes backed by the ASU brand. Yet only 1,750 out of 373,000 people who enrolled paid to receive college credit for finishing a course and fewer than 150 pursued full degrees at ASU, <a href="http://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/09/17/arizona-state-changes-course-global-freshman-academy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reports Inside Higher Ed</a>. </p><p>Now, only four Global Freshman Academy classes remain active, and ASU is shifting its focus to Earned Admission, a program designed to help transfer students and <a href="/news/2019-07-25-5-years-since-starbucks-offered-to-help-baristas-attend-college-how-many-have-graduated" target="_blank" rel="noopener">employees at Starbucks</a> and other partner companies qualify for admission to the university by passing online classes. </p><p>The lackluster credit procurement rate may be due to the fact that online courses are “not a good way to hook in” freshmen, says Marie Cini, president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. She suggests that first-year students may need more <a href="/news/2019-09-12-to-retain-college-students-look-to-academic-support-and-campus-activities-new-report-finds" target="_blank" rel="noopener">academic and social supports</a> and wraparound services than a la carte MOOCs provide. </p><p>It’s not the first time students seemingly have rejected opportunities to gain college credit for MOOCs. Yet some observers say it’s still too early to dismiss the value of credit-eligible MOOCs outright.</p><p>“They’re promising, but we’re still learning,” says Louis Soares, chief learning and innovation officer of the American Council on Education. “If there’s affordability with enough support provided and enough flexibility, it’s a lower-risk way to engage” with higher education. </p><h2>Mixed Record on MOOCs</h2><p>MOOC providers including edX, Study.com, Coursera and StraighterLine offer some classes that are eligible for college credit, either thanks to approval from a particular institution or entities such as the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service and the National College Credit Recommendation Service. </p><p>For example, edX has offered 28 credit-eligible undergraduate courses in partnership with ASU, Charter Oak College and North Shore Community College and 270 credit-eligible MicroMasters classes with 32 institutional partners.</p><p>Many such courses are available for free but charge fees to students who want to use them to earn credit. Through edX, nearly 200,000 people have completed a credit-eligible course, according to a spokesperson, but the organization is not able to provide information about what proportion of those students also paid for ID verification and credit. </p><p>Over the past decade, researchers have tried to figure out whether MOOCs are effective in helping people attain more access to higher education. In 2013, the American Council on Education <a href="https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-361349725/massive-open-online-for-credit-three-models-for" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recommended colleges accept for credit 12 specific MOOCs</a> offered by Coursera and Udacity. A pilot study of these “<a href="https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1100153.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">revealed a lack of student interest in applying for credit</a>,” with no students requesting it from participating institutions, according to a 2016 paper published in Models of Open Education in Higher Education.</p><p>Some education leaders speculated that the poor response rate was due to the barriers institutions created to conferring credit, like making students pass rigorous evaluations for their MOOC classes. In contrast, the Global Freshman Academy system was supposed to be simple and student-friendly. </p><p>And yet, only 0.47 percent of people who enrolled paid to receive college credit for completing a course. </p><p>Despite this figure and now having fewer classes available, the Global Freshman Academy “remains a core part of innovation strategy” for edX, says Nina Huntemann, senior director of academics and research at the nonprofit, who credits the partnership for helping spread the concept of credit-eligible MOOCs across the higher education ecosystem. </p><p>Arizona State University did not respond to requests for comments in time for publication. (See a statement submitted by ASU on Sept. 20 below.) </p><p>Not every edX user comes to the platform seeking college credit, Huntemann says, but some are interested in earning it, a fact that inspired the nonprofit to create its MicroMasters courses that some graduate programs accept for credit. </p><p>For other students, credit eligibility may serve primarily as an indicator of the value of a course, even if they don’t take advantage of the credit option. ASU’s endorsement may signal something important to users, just like it does to other colleges that accept Global Freshman Academy courses for transfer credit, Huntemann <a href="/news/2019-08-15-new-provider-offers-low-cost-online-courses-but-will-the-credit-transfer" target="_blank" rel="noopener">previously told EdSurge</a>. </p><p>“Coming from an accredited institution that is highly regarded, that points to quality,” she says. </p><h2>Measuring Success</h2><p>Can credit-eligibility accomplish more than simply distinguish one MOOC from another? </p><p>Soares, of the American Council on Education, thinks so, but more so at the graduate-degree level: “The master’s seems to be where demand and supply is coming together,” he says. Citing retention problems in online courses, he thinks MOOCs need to build in meaningful milestones that encourage students to persist. </p><p>Leah Belsky, senior vice president for enterprise at Coursera, also believes credit-eligible MOOCs have promise.</p><p>“This is actually going to be a significant future trend, largely because I think we’re entering into a world where sub-degree credentials can be meaningful,” she says.</p><p>For-credit MOOCs can serve as alternative admissions criteria, or “performance pathways,” for students who have unimpressive grades or test scores, like in the ASU Earned Admissions system, Belsky says. They can allow students to sample college-level work without committing large sums of tuition dollars to a full-time degree program. Universities can use them to <a href="/news/2018-09-27-moocs-find-a-new-audience-with-on-campus-students" target="_blank" rel="noopener">supplement their own offerings</a> even for traditional, residential students. </p><p>And they can provide job-skills training to people who may not have time, money or interest in more formal higher education while still keeping that option open for the future. For example, people who complete the Google IT Professional Support Certificate can get credit for it toward a bachelor’s degree from the University of London and Northeastern University. </p><p>“The way I would judge success is not, ‘Do people pay for credit?’" Belsky says. “It’s ‘Did it attract people to learn who may not have otherwise done so?'”</p> What If No One Seeks Credit for a Credit-Eligible MOOC? Alexander Limbach/Shutterstock How Choosing a College Is Like Buying a Milkshake /news/2019-09-19-how-choosing-a-college-is-like-buying-a-milkshake /news/2019-09-19-how-choosing-a-college-is-like-buying-a-milkshake#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology EdSurge Podcast Higher Education Thu, 19 Sep 2019 17:32:12 -0400 post-guid-4454d7d0 What if colleges applied the same kind of market research techniques that fast-food giants like McDonald’s use to improve their offerings? What might ... <p>What if colleges applied the same kind of market research techniques that fast-food giants like McDonald’s use to improve their offerings? What might they learn about what students really want that could help university officials improve the experience? And could it help students themselves better understand what they want out of higher ed?</p><p>Those are the questions guiding a new book by Michael Horn, called “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Choosing-College-Learning-Decisions-Throughout/dp/1119570115" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life</a>.” He starts with a framework popularized by a famous Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, that was used by McDonald’s to help improve its milkshakes (for one thing, they made them thicker, to last longer, after they found that one reason people bought milkshakes was <a href="https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/clay-christensens-milkshake-marketing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to kill time on a daily commute</a>). And Horn applies that theory to the process of selecting a college to see what happens.</p><p>This might seem like a strange mix, but it flows pretty naturally from Horn’s own career journey. He spent part of his career as a director for the Clayton Christensen Institute, where this framework emerged. One of his many roles today is serving as chief strategy officer for Entangled Solutions, a consulting and investing firm in the college sector. So he’s steeped in business language and theory.</p><p>EdSurge sat down with Horn last week at a summit for college innovation leaders called HAIL, or Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners, where Horn was a keynote speaker. While his presentation about the book won some fans, others at the meeting were skeptical about the idea of bringing this kind of corporate thinking to the academy. Some even suggested there might be a downside to comparing a college education to a milkshake.</p><p>Listen to the discussion on this week’s <a href="/research/guides/the-edsurge-on-air-podcast" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge On Air podcast</a>. You can follow the podcast on the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/edsurge-on-air/id972239500#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcast app</a>, <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/5Omg7s9kRYFgt4jEynpdoL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a>, <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/edsurge-on-air" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stitcher</a>, <a href="https://playmusic.app.goo.gl/?ibi=com.google.PlayMusic&amp;isi=691797987&amp;ius=googleplaymusic&amp;apn=com.google.android.music&amp;link=https://play.google.com/music/m/I7nkf7dakczcktkcfo7enioewc4?t=EdSurge_On_Air&amp;pcampaignid=MKT-na-all-co-pr-mu-pod-16" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Google Play Music</a> or wherever you listen. Or read a partial transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: Your new book takes the “jobs to be done” framework that has typically been used in the development of consumer products, and applies it to selecting a college. Can you quickly lay out what that framework is for those who aren’t familiar with it?</strong></p><p><strong>Michael Horn:</strong> Totally. So the “jobs to be done” framework is built out by a Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, and my co-author Bob Moesta, who developed this in the mid ’90s to explain why people do not adhere to what they’re supposed to buy, or don’t do things that they’re supposed to do, when companies create products and services that the market research shows that everyone will want.</p><p>Their basic conclusion was that companies and institutions ... tend to segment by demographic type or product category. But really, we as individuals are just trying to make progress in our lives in a given circumstance. And [by looking at what job a product is doing, it lets us better see how people actually make decisions about what to consume or use.]</p><p><strong>I heard a talk by Clayton Christensen once, and he explained this framework by giving the example of how it was used by a fast-food company to improve their milkshakes. Can you talk about this milkshake example?</strong></p><p>The milkshake story is the classic story of “jobs to be done.” And interestingly enough, Bob Moesta is the milkshake man in the story. But essentially in the mid ‘90s, this fast-food company wanted to improve the sale of milkshakes. They knew the exact market share they had relative to Burger King and Wendy’s and so forth. And so they called in the average demographic who were most likely to buy a milkshake into focus groups, and they basically said, “How should we improve this thing?” And they got clear feedback. And they made changes. And sales didn’t budge one bit.</p><p>So they called Bob in. And rather than ask people how to improve the milkshake, [Bob] stood in the back of the restaurant for several weeks for 18 hours a day, taking copious notes of any time someone came in and bought a milkshake. And he observed: What time of day was it? What else did they buy? Were they with anyone else? Did they buy anything else? Did they drink the milkshake in the restaurant or do they run off to their car and slurp it down as they were driving out? On and on.</p><p>And the end of the day, he saw a few interesting things. Eighty percent of milkshakes were sold at two times during the day—50 percent during the early morning rush hour commute and 30 percent in the late afternoon. Of the 50 percent in the early morning rush hour commute, every single one of them came in by themselves. They bought nothing but the milkshake, and every single one of them went off to their car and drove out off slurping down the milkshake.</p><p>So finally, after watching this for weeks on end, Bob had to know what they were doing, and so he confronted them this time as they were walking outside the restaurant. And he said, “Could you tell me, what are you trying to do right now with this milkshake in your hand? What’s going on in your life?” And they sort of stared at him puzzled. And he said, “Well, tell me the last time you were in this situation. What else have you bought to do whatever you’re doing right now?”</p><p>And they said, “Oh, I think I understand what you’re saying. You see, I have this 30-minute drive to work. I’m not starving right now—it’s early morning. But I know if I don’t put something in my stomach, I’ll be starving by, say, 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. Last week I hired bagels to do this job, and take it from me, bagels don’t do it well at all because they’re dry and tasteless. You’ve got to spread cream cheese and jam on them to make them taste good. I’ve hired donuts, but that was terrible because I had to lie to my wife about it. I hired bananas once, but that was actually the worst of all things because the stupid banana was gone in 30 seconds and I was starving by 9:30 a.m.”</p><p>“But it turns out when I come in here and buy the milkshake, it just does the job perfectly, because I have no idea what they put in that thing, if it’s healthy or not. But it’s so thick and viscous, it sinks to the bottom of my stomach and easily keeps me full until about 11:30 a.m. It’s so thick and viscous it takes me forever to suck up that tiny little straw, so it easily lasts through my 30-minute drive. It keeps me occupied while I’m driving."</p><p>And so it turns out that the milkshake did this morning rush hour commute job better than its competitors, which weren’t just milkshakes, but the bagels, donuts, coffee, Snickers bars, bananas—you name it. And that was sort of how the fruit smoothies, Jamba Juice and so forth got invented out of that process.</p><p><strong> So why apply this to something as big and life-changing and expensive as college choice? Wasn’t the model meant for dollar-menu items?</strong></p><p>Yeah. It’s funny. When people say, “Does the ’jobs to be done’ framework work with a big decision?” I always say it absolutely works with a big decision because you spend so much time thinking about it. With college, it’s actually enormously rich with detail. As we looked at these mini documentaries of a couple hundred students making the choice about whether and where to go to college, they all have different jobs to be done, different progress that they’re trying to make in their lives.</p><p><strong>In the book you’ve boiled it down to five jobs to be done by college. What are they?</strong></p><p>The first one is, “Help me get into my best school.” These are students who are looking to get into their best school because they’ve done their work, they want the best. It’s not necessarily the ranking’s best, but it’s as they define the best. </p><p>The second one is, “Help me do what’s expected of me.” These are students who are looking to do what someone else expects them to do, go to college. To please a parent, to please an educator, to do what their peers are doing just to go along with the flow. </p><p>The third one is, “Help me get away.” These are students who are running away from something—an abusive stepfather, a bad family situation, town, bad job, whatever it might be. Very little of why they are going to school is for the school or the education itself, but because societally or socially, they can say, “I’m going to college,” and that’s a socially acceptable answer. And so it’s a good answer to getting out of a really bad situation.</p><p>The fourth one we found, we’re calling, “Help me step it up.” These are students who are looking around [at their lives] and they’re like, “I like large parts of my life, but this, what I’m doing here right now, this job or whatever it might be, this isn’t who I am and it’s now or never. I’ve got to step it up and be someone better.” And so they’re very clear that they want a direct path to improve their lives in this way.</p><p>And then the fifth one is what we’re calling, “Help me extend myself.” These are people who are saying, “I now will make the time and money to tackle something that I’ve always wanted to learn. I’ve been yearning to do this and see if I can do it. And you know what, if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay also.” They’re at a place in their life generally where this is a relatively lower risk decision.</p><p>The one thing [that was absent] were people saying, “Help me launch my career,” or “Help me get my first job,” which [is what we had long guessed]. But that’s just not how real people actually live life or talk about the decision, which was fascinating.</p><p><strong>But isn’t getting a job still important to people going to college? </strong></p><p>Yeah. I would say a job to be done is made up of lots of different forces. So it’s not as simplistic as “Gee, if I get a job, I get more money, and boom.” We’re complicated human beings. We make decisions not just for functional reasons like that, but also social and emotional ones. And a job encapsulates all of those different forces that are going in. When you talk to students, what’s so interesting, particularly of the 17-, 18- and 19 year-old variety, they might check off on a survey that they want to work at a job out of college. They have no idea what work or job or career is. I mean, the teen labor force participation rate is the lowest it’s ever been really in the nation’s history right now.</p><p><strong>Why would this framework help a student?</strong></p><p>A lot of the jobs to be done that we have, we can’t see ourselves, and we can’t articulate it. And so what I hope this does is to make the unconscious [parts] of what’s going on in the background of your mind conscious for you, so that you can actually recognize where you are in life and not make some big missteps. If your job is “Help me get away,” you shouldn’t be choosing a four-year experience that costs a lot of money.</p> How Choosing a College Is Like Buying a Milkshake Henley Bailey / Shutterstock Can Putting Devices Away Build Character? /news/2019-09-19-can-putting-devices-away-build-character /news/2019-09-19-can-putting-devices-away-build-character#comments Stephen Noonoo Education Technology Digital and Media Literacy Social-Emotional Learning Thu, 19 Sep 2019 07:00:00 -0400 post-guid-37de02dd Every Saturday for the past ten years, author and director Tiffany Shlain turns off her phone and powers down her devices for what she calls “Tech ... <p>Every Saturday for the past ten years, author and director Tiffany Shlain turns off her phone and powers down her devices for what she calls “Tech Shabbats,” a reference to the Jewish sabbath. </p><p>“I love all the good the web can do to ignite a global conversation,” says Shlain, who is perhaps best known for founding the Webby Awards, which recognizes websites and works of digital media. “But it’s not good all the time.”</p><blockquote class="pullquote">We’re spending so much of our time expressing ourselves through our screens, and we thought that would be a really powerful question to look at: How do screens amplify our character strengths and when do they diminish them</blockquote>Tiffany Shlain<p>Now she’s merging her screen skepticism with another of her projects, <a href="http://www.letitripple.org/character-day/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Character Day</a>. Taking place on Sept. 27, the event focuses on building social-emotional traits such as empathy, perspective, curiosity and perseverance in students. </p><p>Founded six years ago, the day features short films and discussion questions for classrooms, culminating in a daylong live stream where schools can tune in to watch Q&amp;As with education luminaries on related topics. Last year, Shlain’s film studio, Let It Ripple, claimed that more than 15,000 schools and 200,000 groups across the world took part. </p><p>“We’re spending so much of our time expressing ourselves through our screens, and we thought that would be a really powerful question to look at: How do screens amplify our character strengths and when do they diminish them?” says Shlain. “And to ask questions about when is it good to be on our screens and when should we turn them off?”</p><p>The more time we spend online, the more our digital activities can define our character and how we treat others, Shlain says. “You can feel incredible empathy when you see a news event from far away,” she says. “But a lot of times on the comments section people start piling on and there’s not a lot of empathy because there are no faces attached to that.” Detaching from devices can also give us new perspective, she argues, as we take time to think critically about what we’ve just seen without being pulled in by other digital distractions.</p><p>The sweet spot for Character Day is really pegged at middle and high school, says Shlain, but partner groups such as Common Sense Media have added materials for students as young as kindergarten. Schools can also tap into a resource bank with thousands of related activities. (Participation requires free registration.) </p><p>Character Day isn’t just directed at students in classrooms, but to a wider array of groups shaping education. Beyond her “Dear Students” film, aimed at teens, she’s releasing other short films for parents, tech CEOs and even one for general audiences called “Dear Fellow Humans.” Each film runs about 2 minutes long. </p><p>During the live stream, Shlain will chat with participants including Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” as well as Refinery29 president, Amy Emmerich. Others include eighth grade TEDx speaker Indigo Mudbhary and Bolaji Oyejide, the author of the book series “Brave Young Heroes.”</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Unplugging is a good thing. Whether that leads to enduring changes in how we think, feel and act is an open question!</blockquote>Angela Duckworth<p>Duckworth’s portion promises to be especially thought-provoking. “I think unplugging is a good thing,” Duckworth says in an email to EdSurge, adding “whether that leads to enduring changes in how we think, feel and act is an open question!”</p><p>In the lead up to Sep. 27, Character Day’s official website is offering a series of weekly challenges related to the theme of technology and social-emotional behavior, echoing podcaster Manoush Zomorodi’s “<a href="/news/2019-06-25-why-science-says-boredom-is-good-for-the-brain" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Bored and Brilliant</a>” series. The first challenge asked participants to not look at their phones first thing in the morning and during meals. Last week, it was to put it down for 30 minutes. This week focuses on cultivating character online and recognizing integrity in digital spaces. It will lead up to asking participants to follow Shlain’s vaunted Tech Shabbat, an experience she chronicles in her new book, “<a href="http://24sixlife.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week</a>.”</p><p>“It puts me in a much better space to be online when I am during the other six days,” says Shlain. “It gives me the perspective and the critical thinking I need.” </p> Can Putting Devices Away Build Character? Let It Ripple Student-to-Counselor Ratios are Dangerously High. Here’s How Two Districts Are Tackling It. /news/2019-09-19-counselor-to-student-ratios-are-dangerously-high-here-s-how-two-districts-are-tackling-it /news/2019-09-19-counselor-to-student-ratios-are-dangerously-high-here-s-how-two-districts-are-tackling-it#comments Emily Tate Education Technology Social-Emotional Learning Learning Research Whole-Child Learning Thu, 19 Sep 2019 06:00:00 -0400 post-guid-3e4e3904 Students have always needed counseling services that go well beyond the college and career development that has become standard fare in American high ... <p>Students have always needed counseling services that go well beyond the college and career development that has become standard fare in American high schools. But today’s students—who <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/02/20/most-u-s-teens-see-anxiety-and-depression-as-a-major-problem-among-their-peers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increasingly</a> <a href="https://journals.lww.com/jrnldbp/Citation/2018/06000/Epidemiology_and_Impact_of_Health_Care.6.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">suffer</a> from depression, anxiety and various social pressures, even at a young age—demand more comprehensive support than ever before. </p><p>The trouble is, most of them aren’t getting it. Nationwide, there are about 111,000 school counselors serving 50.59 million students, or an <a href="https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/home/Ratios16-17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">average</a> of one counselor for every 455 K-12 students, according to the American School Counselor Association (<a href="https://www.schoolcounselor.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ASCA</a>), which draws on data from the U.S. Department of Education. Considering that most of those school counselors are disproportionately stationed in high schools and are oftentimes charged with helping students through the college admissions process, the ratio of counselors to students in elementary and middle schools becomes more bleak, notes Amanda Fitzgerald, ASCA’s director of public policy. </p><p>According to ASCA, counseling services fall into three critical domains: career development, academic counseling and social-emotional learning, the third of which has been in <a href="/news/2019-05-07-why-social-emotional-learning-is-suddenly-in-the-spotlight" target="_blank" rel="noopener">higher-than-usual demand</a> in recent years. In many schools, especially those that serve younger students, one person is able to cover all three domains, typically approaching the third by offering classroom guidance that covers bullying, how to ask for help and how to talk about your feelings. That person can also work more closely with specific students who have been identified as needing short-term intervention, often in response to trauma, such as the death of a family member or parents’ divorce, Fitzgerald says. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">If you have a 1:1000 ratio, you’re not getting into those classrooms. You’re just putting out fires.</blockquote>Amanda Fitzgerald, director of public policy at ASCA<p>“Just like reading and math, students should be taught about their feelings—how to identify them and how to articulate them,” Fitzgerald explains. </p><p>But that job can’t be done—and certainly it can’t be done well—by any single individual who is stretched thin across a large school. Fitzgerald puts it this way: “If you have a 1:1000 ratio, you’re not getting into those classrooms. You’re just putting out fires.” ASCA recommends counselor-to-student ratios not exceed 1:250, far from the national average, which is currently almost double that. Of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, only two meet that standard: New Hampshire and Vermont. Hawaii is not far off, but the others have a <a href="https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/home/Ratios16-17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">long way to go</a>. </p><p>Across the country, districts small and large are working to bring that ratio down and to bolster their counseling and support services for students. The need has become dire, with <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research</a> indicating that young people today are plagued by unprecedented rates of mental health issues.</p><p><strong>In Cobb County School District</strong>, the second-largest K-12 district in Georgia, with 112,000 students, Melisa Marsh oversees a 260-person counseling staff. A quick calculation will tell you that Cobb County performs slightly better than the national average, with one counselor for every 430 students, and significantly better than the <a href="https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/home/Ratios16-17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state average</a>, which is 1:466. </p><p>“We’re definitely not at 250, as ASCA recommends, but we’re below the national and state average,” Marsh says—and that’s something she hangs her hat on. </p><p>Each counselor in Cobb County provides support across all three ASCA domains, Marsh says. </p><p>“One person is trained in it all,” she explains. “The college counselor is also the grief counselor. The idea is they get to know you really well.”</p><p>When Cobb County hires a new school counselor, they provide training and orientation for how to be successful in the district, including how to collect data and how to effectively balance the caseload. But the best thing the district can do for a school counselor, new or experienced, Marsh says, is lower their caseload, even if it’s just by a few students. </p><p>“The smaller a counselor’s caseload is, the more personalized services they can provide,” Marsh adds. </p><p>But with one counselor serving more than 400 students each year, some students are bound to slip through the cracks. To address that, Cobb County created and filled two new district-wide positions this year for social-emotional learning specialists. “That is a huge support for students and staff,” Marsh shares. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">The mental health crisis is very different today than anything we’ve seen in the past.</blockquote>Melisa Marsh, supervisor of student counseling at Cobb County School District<p>The SEL specialists will spend this year training school leadership, including principals and assistant principals, on why social-emotional development is so important and what types of practices, programs and supports they can integrate into their schools to nurture it, in hopes of making SEL a district priority that starts at the top. </p><p>“Ideally, SEL is happening with every student all day long, not just during a 50-minute lesson from a counselor,” Marsh says. “It’s something teachers and administrators need to be doing every day, every minute they’re with students.” </p><p>Cobb County also has a full-time crisis coordinator on staff to work with students who are grieving from a death or tragedy. Maybe it’s a student whose parent was killed in a car accident. Or maybe it’s an entire classroom of students whose teacher was diagnosed with cancer. Whatever the event, she works with students through the grieving process and tries to support them in returning to a sense of normalcy. The crisis coordinator also holds suicide prevention trainings, restorative circles and leads events around team-building and repairing relationships. This year, the coordinator is focusing on staff self-care, in response to a needs assessment the district did last year. </p><p>District-wide, the counseling staff in Cobb County are paying close attention to the national conversation about young people and mental health, Marsh says, because it’s playing out locally for them, too. To address the increased mental health requests, the counselors are training teachers and administrators to look for signs of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation and learn how to talk about it with students.</p><p>Marsh suggests that one explanation for the uptick is that students feel more comfortable and confident discussing their mental health concerns than before. In other words, that the stigma has been reduced. But she also knows it runs deeper than that. </p><p>“Our students are now in an age we never had to experience,” she says. “When we went through a disappointing time—a breakup, rejection from college, a fight with a friend—we had time to process it before it was online, before 100 people commented on it. We could develop coping skills. But for students today, everything is immediate.”</p><p>Marsh adds: “I think the mental health crisis is very different today than anything we’ve seen in the past. But I am really hopeful that as we move forward, the more we talk about it, the less stigmatized it becomes.”</p><p><strong>Across the country, the Los Angeles Unified School District</strong>, one of the largest public school districts in the nation, has also made some recent changes to better address students’ social-emotional and mental health needs, says Pia Escudero, the executive director of LA Unified’s Division of Student Health and Human Services. </p><p>In her role, Escudero supervises a staff of 2,500 professionals, ranging from child psychologists, psychiatric social workers and mental health counselors to nurses, pediatricians and other support staff. Together, they serve the district’s approximately 600,000 students across 1,300 sites. If you’re keeping up with the math, that’s a ratio of about 1:240—well within the range ASCA recommends. </p><p>It wasn’t easy getting to this point, Escudero says, but it was made possible by a string of district superintendents who prioritized student support services, tapped into various local, state and federal funding and took advantage of local partnerships. </p><p>After 30 years with the district, starting in 1988 as a psychiatric social worker, Escudero says a few things have become clear. One is that for students to be successful, in any sense of the word, they need to be taken care of socially and emotionally. </p><p>“The investment in support services is critical to move the needle toward 100 percent graduation and our children being able to achieve,” she says, referring to studies that show students with mental health disorders drop out at much <a href="https://childmind.org/report/2016-childrens-mental-health-report/mental-health-impacts-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">higher rates</a> than their unafflicted peers. “Really, to address the needs of children, we have to acknowledge that these supports are necessary.”</p><p>LA Unified is fortunate; the district has far more resources and counseling services than most. But even so, Escudero sees gaps. For example, she wants to help adults in the district better understand and support child development. It shouldn’t just fall to specialized staff. One way she plans to address that is by training teachers, administrators, counselors and even parents about research-backed, trauma-informed practices. </p><p>For the first time this year, LA Unified is mandating a professional development course for all teachers about what it means to have a “resilient, trauma-informed” district and what it looks like to use strategies in the classroom that address trauma, Escudero says, noting that some students who have experienced trauma might present as “hyperactive, hypervigilant, hyperaroused.” The district is also working to create a mini credential that teachers can earn; the credential will explore restorative justice, social-emotional learning and trauma, among other things. </p><p>Another recent change, made last year, is a rather unusual initiative that pairs a mental health practitioner with a police officer (LA Unified has its own district police force). The officer and social worker are co-located together and dispatched to incidents on campus together. </p><p>“They’re actually working out of a police officer’s car,” Escudero describes, “traveling together, ending the day together and learning from each other. They spend every day together.” </p><p>The idea is that, with a mental health practitioner on hand, an incident can be assessed and triaged appropriately, oftentimes de-escalating a scenario. “They’re teaching [officers] how to react to the situation, to determine the level of threat and level of need … and determine if it warrants law enforcement,” Escudero says. “It’s a multidisciplinary approach.” In many cases, she adds, police have averted psychiatric hospitalizations by handling the situation on site. </p><p>“Our teachers and administrators have so much going on every day,” Escudero says. “Their top priority is education. We can’t expect them to be everything. That’s why we’re building capacity elsewhere.”</p> Student-to-Counselor Ratios are Dangerously High. Here’s How Two Districts Are Tackling It. Stock-Asso / Shutterstock What This Teacher Learned from Visiting 20 Schools Effectively Supporting Kids of Color /news/2019-09-18-what-this-teacher-learned-from-visiting-20-schools-effectively-supporting-kids-of-color /news/2019-09-18-what-this-teacher-learned-from-visiting-20-schools-effectively-supporting-kids-of-color#comments NyRee Clayton-Taylor Education Technology Learning Research Diversity and Equity Wed, 18 Sep 2019 17:00:00 -0400 post-guid-d89f6946 As I sat across from Tykia, a 17-year-old student from Success Academy in Lexington, Ky., I could feel her frustration as she detailed a recent ... <p>As I sat across from Tykia, a 17-year-old student from Success Academy in Lexington, Ky., I could feel her frustration as she detailed a recent argument with a substitute bus driver. Listening to her account, I was reminded of my own aggravations when dealing with adults as a young African American girl in middle school. </p><p>TyKia described how the events of the argument unfolded. “I was just tryin’ to help the man,” she said. “He didn’t know where he was going, so I was just tryin’ to tell him and that’s when he yelled at me.” TyKia needed to get home to take care of a few things for her family, but the bus driver was lost. She took out a piece of paper and wrote down everyone’s bus stop for him, but the bus driver didn’t appreciate the help. Instead, he was angry with her for getting involved. “Yes, I cussed, and I shouldn’t have done that,” TyKia admitted. “But he was driving all over the place and I had to get home.”</p><p>TyKia, who had already attended a previous high school and was in danger of not graduating because of a lack of credits, explained that this type of treatment wasn’t uncommon. From her perspective, her actions had been misunderstood by adults since elementary school. But she said that her outlook was changing because at her new school, Success Academy, she was able to build a strong relationship with her principal, Dr. Janice Wyatt-Ross.</p><p>She explained that since she’d started at Success Academy, she felt understood and loved. “I have relationships with Dr. Ross and my other teachers. They like me and if I don’t feel like someone likes me, I can’t work for them.” </p><p>Dr. Ross has built a strong community through the relationships she has developed with her students and teachers. As TyKia talked about her, I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the opportunity to meet her in person and observe her work. </p><p>In May 2018, I was named the 2019 Kentucky Elementary Teacher of the Year and was offered an opportunity to take a semester-long sabbatical working with the Kentucky Department of Education. I wondered how to make the most of my time. </p><p>I had been teaching in Jefferson County for 19 years, most recently teaching creative writing through hip-hop at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, located in the west end of Louisville, Ky., which serves a student population that is 99 percent African American. Given my experience, I understood the unique opportunities of teaching students of color and the necessity for developing strong relationships. Over time, I’ve developed my own strategies, but I wondered how other educators and school communities were supporting students of color, especially African American students. </p><p>I decided to use my sabbatical to travel the state and find out. </p><p>Strong teachers ask big questions and solve problems—sometimes by digging into our own practice or the learning outcomes of our students, other times by talking to our peers about their experiences or seeking out novel resources and ideas. Researchers do this too. </p><p>In the spirit of considering myself as a teacher <em>and</em> researcher, I decided to engage in some <a href="http://www.nea.org/tools/17289.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">action research</a> to gain insight into the experience of my peers, leverage their expertise and to reflect on how to incorporate what I learned into my practice to better support my own students.</p><p>Success Academy is one of 20 schools I visited in and around Kentucky. I identified practitioners sharing about practices they had found effective when supporting students of color and contacted them to see if I could come see their work in action, interview them and talk with their students. </p><p>Here’s what I learned from three innovative school leaders I encountered on my travels.</p><hr><h2>Success Academy, Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, Ky.</h2><p>Success Academy is an alternative public school that allows high school students over the age of 16 who are not on track to graduate to attend school during flexible hours. I learned about the school through the tweets of Dr. Ross, founder of the online community, Kentucky Educators of Color, and principal at Success Academy. During my visit, I asked Dr. Ross to share what contributes to the success of her students, who are overwhelmingly students of color from low-income families. According to Dr. Ross, it’s a combination of prioritizing relationships and developing relevant curriculum. </p><p>Here she describes her strategies in her own words:</p>Dr. Ross giving a student a “goody bag” of essentials. (Credit: NyRee Clayton-Taylor)<ul> <li> <strong>Provide students with the essentials they need: </strong>Many of my students come to school without their basic needs met. I talk to my students and ask them what they need and the next day, I make sure they have it. I make “goody bags” with the essentials they need and make sure the educators at my school understand that when kids don’t have their basic needs met, it’s difficult—if not impossible—to learn.</li> <li> <strong>Offer students a safe place that is free of judgment: </strong>I don’t argue with students about trivial matters because in my opinion, what’s most important is that my students made a conscious decision to come to school. Whether a student has on a hat, a hoodie or pajamas, I welcome them with open arms. I recognize that some students need that hat or hoodie because it makes them feel safe. Arguing about trivial issues like their dress hasn’t been helpful in my experience.</li> <li> <strong>Develop curriculum that resembles the real world:</strong> Curriculum has to change—to infuse engagement, higher learning practices and have components of self-actualization. We’ve developed curriculum that infuses high school graduation credits to real-life credit scores. For example, TyKia earns credits each week based on her attendance, the goals she accomplishes and the credits she earns toward graduation. At the end of the semester, we assess TyKia’s “credit score” and she can use her credit to spend money or open a business at Junior Achievement BizTown, a simulated school store. This approach allows TyKia and her classmates to understand the connection between school and the real world.</li> </ul><hr><h2>The Academy @ Shawnee Girls of Color Program, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.</h2><p>I learned about The Academy @ Shawnee Girls of Color program through a professional development session focused on the <a href="https://www.law.georgetown.edu/poverty-inequality-center/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/08/girlhood-interrupted.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">adultification of African American girls</a>—the idea that black girls in the classroom are seen as less innocent, less child-like and more sexual than white girls their same age. It was led by a group of high school students from the program who schooled us about their first-hand experiences being adultified and how they faced challenges and stereotypes by previous teachers. During my visit, I asked Dr. LaRhonda Mathies, leader of the program, how she ensures success for her girls. Mathies explained that she recognized that relationships are key to success for her girls so she designed the program to support relationships in a few ways:</p>Students from the Girls of Color Program during Sister Circles, presenting professional development for teachers, and visiting the Louisville Zoo. (Credit: NyRee Clayton-Taylor and LaRhonda Mathies)<br><ul> <li> <strong>Empowering girls in the program to build their own positive relationships through mentorship: </strong>Students in the program visit nearby middle and elementary schools in the district to lead “Sister Circles,” or healing circles in which younger African American girls openly discuss issues that affect them in the classroom.</li> <li> <strong>Developing a strong voice:</strong> Poetry circles allow my girls to use their voice and be heard without judgment. In the circles, girls recite poems by famous authors and share original poems that speak to their personal experiences and counter stereotypes that are witnessed in school, home, community or the world.</li> <li> <strong>Bonding outside of the classroom: </strong>To nurture relationships, we meet at different locations throughout the city. For example, recently we visited the Louisville Zoo and went for a meal. Sharing experiences outside of school helps us develop a community of trust and understanding.</li> <li> <strong>Forging authentic relationships with parents: </strong>Students see me as more than a teacher because I forge relationships with their parents. I also talk to parents and visit their families just to chill out with them so they understand that I care about them and enjoy engaging with their families.</li> </ul><hr><h2>Dr. Ahmad Washington, Assistant Professor, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.</h2><p>I found out about Dr. Washington’s work through some counselors who attended his professional development sessions and classes at the University of Louisville. As an assistant professor, Dr. Washington teaches practitioners how to use hip-hop as a medium to build empathetic relationships with and between African American male students. He also works directly with young African American males in elementary, middle and high schools across the state. While interviewing him, I asked how he ensures success for his African American male students. Dr. Washington says that he draws upon hip-hop based pedagogy and critical consciousness to help African American males develop authentic relationships. </p><p>In his own words, he said he does this by:</p>Dr. Washington mentoring students using beat making equipment. (Credit: Michelle Pinnex)<ul> <li> <strong>Building empathetic relationships through hip-hop pedagogy:</strong> I encourage students to analyze hip-hop songs that tell their story. This practice invites young males to explore their identity form relationships with themselves and one another through music. For example, during one lesson, a student brought in the rapper Meek Mill’s song, “Going Bad.” Students identified with <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/arts/music/meek-mill-free.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mill, who was incarcerated at 19 years old</a> and noticed connections between the prison industrial system and slavery. As we analyzed the song and the life of Meek Mill, students were able to challenge the negative narrative of their “hood”—rather than seeing it as being comprised of “bad people,” students considered it as a place where people were trying to exist under oppressive conditions. This realization allowed them to understand themselves in a new light. The song also opened up a conversation about forgiveness because Meek Mill is rapping with Drake and these two artists were once at odds with each other. Through hip-hop pedagogy, students analyzed how the rappers were able to forgive and collaborate.</li> <li> <strong>Working with counselors and teachers to build effective relationships through alternative interactions with males of color: </strong>Counselors and teachers can use hip-hop pedagogy to overcome stereotypes and inherent bias toward young males of color. I assign educators readings from hip-hop lyrics that allow them to learn and understand the experience of many of their African American students. This helps educators to learn about the effects of racism and poverty through the eyes of students.</li> </ul><hr><p>As I visited schools, every conversation was a learning experience that allowed me to gather wisdom from other educators. While each visit was unique, there was a clear thread that emerged, which is that the greatest contributor to student success across the board was developing relationships rooted in trust and understanding.</p><p>This doesn’t come as a surprise. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10888691.2017.1398650" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Academics</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/education/k12/relationships" target="_blank" rel="noopener">clinical experts</a> have long pointed toward the importance of student-teacher relationships and more broadly, the <a href="/news/2018-09-28-why-a-web-of-connections-not-a-single-relationship-should-surround-students" target="_blank" rel="noopener">web of relationships</a> young people grow with their family, teachers, mentors, and peers. And there are resources available that <a href="https://www.search-institute.org/developmental-relationships/developmental-relationships-framework/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">support educators in developing stronger relationships with their students</a>. </p><p>While the big lesson I learned was unsurprising, it’s been quite valuable for me. As I enter back into the school setting as a resource to students and educators, I plan to apply some of the strategies I've learned through my observations and interviews in my own practice. I’m hopeful that what I’ve learned from my peers will strengthen the relationships I build with my students and will empower me to support my colleagues. </p><p>This type of action research takes time and support from countless colleagues, but it was a privilege to have the semester to investigate one of my passions in this way. Observing peers is something everyone can do, even if it’s on a smaller scale. And all teachers can<a href="http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num34/toc.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> improve their practice through action research</a>. It just requires an open mind and a willingness to learn from the field.</p> What This Teacher Learned from Visiting 20 Schools Effectively Supporting Kids of Color NyRee Clayton-Taylor Coupling Recruitment With Retention Can Drive up Graduation Rates /news/2019-09-18-coupling-recruitment-with-retention-can-drive-up-graduation-rates /news/2019-09-18-coupling-recruitment-with-retention-can-drive-up-graduation-rates#comments Robert Ubell Education Technology Digital Learning in Higher Ed Higher Education Wed, 18 Sep 2019 06:00:00 -0400 post-guid-413b78f4 Colleges and universities are struggling to keep students focussed long enough to graduate within a reasonable amount of time after they first enroll. ... <p>Colleges and universities are struggling to keep students focussed long enough to graduate within a reasonable amount of time after they first enroll. In the U.S., only <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_ctr.asp" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about 60</a> percent of undergraduates earn their degrees in six years. The rest commonly face a blizzard of troubles—added debt, poor job prospects and, in some cases, lack of self worth. </p><p>While one of the biggest causes of dropping out is <a href="https://nonprofitquarterly.org/dropout-rate-for-college-students-driven-by-inequality" target="_blank" rel="noopener">money</a>—especially as the cost of college rises—that is not the only hurdle. It turns out that in ways that are not always well understood by the public, colleges themselves share a good deal of the blame.</p><p>Too often, colleges have adopted a division-of-labor approach with their recruitment and retention efforts. </p><p>There is an art and science, of course, to finding students on the internet. Recruitment officials are trained to exploit the remarkable firepower of social media, vast databases, and other highly effective digital tools. They can reach millions of prospective students just by clicking the right link and paying search engines enough cash. </p><p>But what happens when large numbers of new recruits enroll, only to trip and fall off their academic track.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Colleges should concentrate less on enrollment efforts and more on the student’s life cycle.</blockquote><p>A dozen years ago, when I first came to New York University as dean of online learning at the university’s engineering school, I found that a marketing vendor, hired by my predecessor, had been enrolling a surprising number of new online master’s students. Impressed, I turned to my staff, wondering how many who had signed-up had persisted. “Let’s look at the spreadsheets,” I proposed. Taken aback by results showing that of the dozens of new recruits the company had attracted, only a handful had returned for the next semester. The drop-off was shocking. </p><p>College recruiters focus on generating big sign-ups to achieve their targets. Concentrating solely on generating big numbers, recruiters tend to have little or no investment in what happens next. </p><p>Throwing everything you have at recruitment while neglecting ways of keeping students on the path to graduation is irresponsible, especially considering the debt students often take on to enter college.</p><h2>Holistic Alternative</h2><p>What if new recruits’ next steps were guided by the same staff who encouraged them to sign-up in the first place? What if recruiters stayed close to apprehensive newcomers, sticking with them through orientation, helping them untangle course selection, and shepherding them through the dozens of challenges that lay ahead? What if those who struggled with students from the start of their academic journey accompanied them all the way through to commencement? </p><p>Colleges should concentrate less on enrollment efforts and more on the student’s life cycle. Introducing a holistic strategy, recruiters are given a longer-term mission than just rounding-up freshmen. Colleges need to add a crucial set of competencies to recruiters’ job description—the skills of a retention specialist. </p><p>“Students get very close to those who recruit them,” said Lisa Bellantuono, director of graduate admissions at George Washington University School of Business, in a phone interview last week. “Then, suddenly, at most colleges, they’re cut-off from someone who knows them and passed on to others who don’t. They become just numbers in the system—totally disconnected.”</p><p>A pro at student support, Bellantuono worked closely with me at NYU’s engineering school. During her tenure there, her holistic method outperformed average retention and graduation rates at most engineering schools—on campus and online. Our students achieved a <a href="https://engineering.nyu.edu/news/us-news-and-world-report-ranks-nyu-online-graduate-engineering-program-among-top-10-nation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">92 percent retention rate</a> and graduation rates of nearly 80 percent. </p><p>“Those best at propelling student retention are terrific at customer service,” Bellantuono said. “No task is too small, no question out of bounds. Their priority is to help students achieve their goals.”</p><p>In Bellantuono’s approach, recruiters engage effectively with prospective learners, and then extend their involvement beyond enrollment, offering continuing support after they sign up. In this expanded role, they help learners navigate often treacherous academic waters, guiding them through mystifying curriculum requirements, baffling financial-aid bureaucracy and obscure rules that can quickly throw students off. </p><p>These hurdles can trip up 18-year-olds, for sure, and they can derail adult students as well. And they can be even worse for first-generation learners or online students without a face-to-face connection to campus.</p><p>“Faculty members are often the most direct way to help at-risk students,” says Carl J. Strikwerda, former president of Elizabethtown College, in a recent <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2019/09/04/faculty-must-play-bigger-role-student-retention-and-success-opinion" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opinion column</a>. “No matter what else colleges and universities do for students, success in the classroom is essential.” </p><p>The answer is not to rely on faculty members alone, though a sympathetic professor or trusted academic advisors may step in from time to time to help. But faculty members are not buddies. Surely, they have other pressing obligations, principally to make sure learners absorb their lessons. Other staff should be available to make sure students stay on track.</p><p>Retention and graduation rates will rise only when higher education softens, allowing a more student-centered approach rather than allowing students to sink or swim.</p><p>This is not merely a practical solution to the nation’s retention crisis, but a socially responsible way to run the university. </p> Coupling Recruitment With Retention Can Drive up Graduation Rates Are K-12 Curriculum Tools a Smart Investment? What Investors and Our Data Say /news/2019-09-17-are-k-12-curriculum-tools-a-smart-investment-what-investors-and-our-data-say /news/2019-09-17-are-k-12-curriculum-tools-a-smart-investment-what-investors-and-our-data-say#comments Alex Sigillo Education Technology Investors Market Trends Edtech Business Tue, 17 Sep 2019 19:21:25 -0400 post-guid-72ab2636 “Curriculum is becoming commoditized.”So says Jason Palmer, a general partner at New Markets Venture Partners. And he’s not alone.In conversations with ... <p>“Curriculum is becoming commoditized.”</p><p>So says Jason Palmer, a general partner at New Markets Venture Partners. And he’s not alone.</p><p>In conversations with edtech investors, some reported that the K-12 market has seen an influx of instructional content, particularly in the form of <a href="https://tech.ed.gov/open/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">open educational resources</a> (OERs). That can give them pause when it comes to investing in propriety K-12 curriculum products.</p><p>The increasing availability, accessibility and quality of OER materials offer districts the opportunity to move away from textbook publishers and develop their own curriculum. OERs are openly-licensed educational materials that can be downloaded, modified and shared with others to help support student learning.</p><p>The trend has won admirers in the upper echelon of the education system as well. Through the #GoOpen initiative, launched in 2015, the U.S. Department of Education has encouraged K-12 school districts to use OERs in the classroom, and free up funds typically spent on textbooks for other much-needed resources. With OERs, educators can become curriculum makers. Many tools give teachers the flexibility to <a href="/news/2017-09-13-teachers-can-now-use-ibm-s-watson-to-search-for-free-lesson-plans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">customize lesson plans</a> for their students by pulling in up-to-date content and activities, without waiting for the latest textbook versions to hit the market.</p><p>But many other investors are driven to invest in curriculum products because of their potential impact on student learning outcomes. They believe that schools and districts are better positioned to adopt digital curricula now than a few years ago. Investments in school technology infrastructure have made it possible to deploy online curriculum tools, as more schools <a href="/news/2019-04-04-mission-almost-accomplished-nonprofit-educationsuperhighway-prepares-to-sunset" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have access to high-speed internet</a> to <a href="https://www.cosn.org/Infrastructure" target="_blank" rel="noopener">support one-to-one devices</a>, and more administrators <a href="https://www.newschools.org/blog/2019/09/12/newschools-venture-fund-and-gallup-release-survey-findings-about-ed-tech-usage-in-u-s-prek-12-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opt to purchase digital instructional tools</a> that offer personalized instruction. </p><p>These investors acknowledge that curriculum products with personalized content pathways can differentiate themselves from OERs. Further, the inclusion of pre-built assessments, school-level analytics or data visualizations can provide additional value on top of the digital instructional content. </p><p>Yet edtech investors remain uncertain whether to invest in K-12 curriculum products. Some are hesitant, as they believe more schools will use OER materials for instructional content. Others are more optimistic about the adoption of proprietary digital curriculum tools.</p><p>To better understand their perspectives, we dug into the numbers. In a year-long study, the EdSurge Research team, in collaboration with NewSchools Venture Fund, investigated where investment capital has been flowing in the U.S. K-12 edtech market over the past three years, the factors that are driving shifts in the market, and how investment trends might change in the near future.</p><p>We collected both qualitative and quantitative data to understand these market complexities, utilizing data from three different sources: Ka’ching (our internal investment database), interviews with investors, and a survey. (<a href="https://www.stateofedtech2019.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Learn more about this EdSurge Research project here.</a>)</p><strong>Source</strong><strong>Description</strong><br>Ka’chingEdSurge tracks and reports on equity and debt investments in edtech companies across multiple education sectors and many countries. Each investment is collected in our Ka’ching database. (We do not track grants.)SurveyEdSurge developed a 33-question survey to understand investors’ perceptions of edtech funding trends in the U.S. K-12 market and for curriculum products in particular. There was a convenience sample of 81 survey respondents, 70 of which were valid. (Eleven respondents were disqualified because they did not invest in K-12 edtech companies.)InterviewsEdSurge conducted interviews to dive deep into the trends that emerged from the survey. We developed a standard interview protocol and used it to conduct one-hour phone interviews with 16 people who are involved in edtech investment decision-making from a diverse set of organizations.<h2>What the Data Tells Us</h2><p>From 2016 to 2018, funding for products that support K-12 educators and learners has remained relatively flat—at around $318 million. But breaking down K-12 investments into more distinct categories, funding for curriculum products dropped from about 50 percent of the K-12 sector to just 25 percent, while funding for tools that support classroom teachers and products that streamline school operations has grown.</p><p>This dip in funding is particularly shocking for the camp of investors who consider that using digital curriculum products might have a positive impact on students’ learning.</p>Source: EdSurge<p>Our analysis excludes mega deals, which refers to an investment that is $100 million or more. Because the deals are outliers that can skew analyses, we removed them in order to get a more accurate representation of trends in the edtech market. Within the past three years, three mega deals occurred in the curriculum space. In 2017, <a href="/news/2017-04-26-everfi-rocks-the-edtech-industry-with-190-million-fundraise" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EverFi raised a $190 million Series D round</a> and <a href="/news/2017-05-12-grammarly-nabs-110m-to-improve-writers-spelling-and-syntax-online" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Grammarly nabbed a $110 million investment</a>. <a href="/news/2018-07-31-k-8-math-program-dreambox-raises-130-million-from-the-rise-fund-adds-arne-duncan-to-board" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dreambox received $130 million</a> in 2018.</p><p>In terms of the volume of deals and their dollar totals, there have been fewer and fewer fundraises for K-12 curriculum—from 44 deals in 2016 to just 25 deals in 2018. That’s a 43 percent dip in the number of deals. By comparison, the average amount of dollars invested in each of these deals has remained relatively flat—at around $3.6 million—over the past three years. In other words, there have been fewer deals at similar average check sizes.</p>Source: EdSurge<p>In 2016, the amount of dollars invested in K-12 curriculum products was $150 million. Last year, it was $90 million. What has caused the edtech market to decrease over the past three years? And more importantly, with fewer dollars invested, where is the money going? Is it targeted at the curricular areas that teachers feel are most impactful for learners?</p><p>Products designed to teach coding, sequencing and programming languages have become the front runner when it comes to curriculum investments, even though funding in this area has been dropping since 2016. Investors see a greater potential return on investment with coding products, which is largely influenced by changes in both <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/25/white-house-commits-200-million-per-year-to-computer-science-education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">federal</a> and <a href="/news/2019-04-17-girls-who-code-helps-draft-landmark-legislation-aimed-at-closing-the-gender-gap" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state</a> policies.</p>Source: EdSurge. The above chart does not include arts or social studies products as the amount of venture capital invested in products that support instruction in these subject areas was too small to measure.<p>Funding for language arts products, by contrast, has seen a recent uptick. Products designed to teach reading, grammar and other English language knowledge and skills are likely to continue receiving investment, though we might expect to see the level of investment vary based on more specific content areas, such as <a href="/news/2018-08-22-investors-write-3-2-million-check-for-writing-startup-that-s-all-about-peer-feedback" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing</a> and <a href="/news/2016-06-15-flocabulary-raises-1-5m-round-after-12-years-of-bootstrapping" target="_blank" rel="noopener">vocabulary</a>. A focus on these specific content areas could be a “way in” for investors in an otherwise crowded English language arts market.</p><p>While philanthropic dollars are leading much of the support for social and emotional learning efforts, products that support the development of social-emotional competencies are <a href="/news/2019-03-15-move-this-world-raises-1-1m-to-bring-social-emotional-learning-to-schools" target="_blank" rel="noopener">just starting to see the first droplets of venture capital</a>. Products that support areas such as identity development, emotional regulation and relationship building are emerging, along with the opportunity to invest in those products.</p><p>We’ve mapped venture capital dollars for each subject area to identify where money is flowing and where funding gaps exist. And how investors view curriculum—as a commodity or valued tool—influences whether they invest. See what other factors signal a smart investment by diving into our <a href="https://www.stateofedtech2019.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">interactive website</a>.</p> Are K-12 Curriculum Tools a Smart Investment? What Investors and Our Data Say NosorogUA / Shutterstock The Fight to Preserve—and Teach—African-American History /news/2019-09-17-the-fight-to-preserve-and-teach-african-american-history /news/2019-09-17-the-fight-to-preserve-and-teach-african-american-history#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology EdSurge Podcast Higher Education Diversity and Equity Tue, 17 Sep 2019 09:00:00 -0400 post-guid-81975791 Hampton, Va—Toward the end of August in 1619, a ship carrying “20 and odd” Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, the first permanent English ... <p><em>Hampton, Va—</em>Toward the end of August in 1619, a ship carrying “<a href="https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/_20_and_odd_Negroes_an_excerpt_from_a_letter_from_John_Rolfe_to_Sir_Edwin_Sandys_1619_1620" target="_blank" rel="noopener">20 and odd</a>” Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, the first permanent English colony in North America, and were sold to the settlement’s leaders.</p><p>Last month, historians, officials and the public gathered at that same strip of land to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the occasion. With speeches, music and drumming, they mourned the long history of American slavery and racism that began on Virginia’s shores, but also celebrated the myriad cultural contributions African Americans have made to the nation. </p><p>“It is an emotional time because it is the culmination, at least for me, of many years of trying to bring attention to this through the realm of scholarship, [and] encouraging scholars to start having conversations,” said Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a history professor and dean of the college of liberal arts at Norfolk State University in Virginia. While getting the facts and focus of this commemoration right has been a priority, it’s part of a much longer struggle to get academics and the public to take seriously and accurately the study of black history and culture. </p><p>EdSurge sat down with Newby-Alexander and Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, a professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, to talk about one group leading the charge to preserve history and educate us all: the <a href="https://asalh.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Association for the Study of African American Life and History</a>. We met in the library at Hampton University, a historically black college just a few miles from where the first Africans landed four centuries ago. Hampton is where the association chose to host its commemoration symposium, titled “400 Years of Perseverance.”</p><p>Listen to the story on this week’s <a href="/research/guides/the-edsurge-on-air-podcast" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge On Air podcast</a>. You can follow the podcast on the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/edsurge-on-air/id972239500#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcast app</a>, <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/5Omg7s9kRYFgt4jEynpdoL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a>, <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/edsurge-on-air" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stitcher</a>, <a href="https://playmusic.app.goo.gl/?ibi=com.google.PlayMusic&amp;isi=691797987&amp;ius=googleplaymusic&amp;apn=com.google.android.music&amp;link=https://play.google.com/music/m/I7nkf7dakczcktkcfo7enioewc4?t=EdSurge_On_Air&amp;pcampaignid=MKT-na-all-co-pr-mu-pod-16" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Google Play Music</a> or wherever you listen. Or read a partial transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.</p><p><strong>Gloria J. Browne-Marshall: </strong>“Four hundred years of perseverance” is a phrase I coined a couple of years ago because I was tired of this sense of the enslavement and oppression of African Americans being the complete story when it is not. We would not be in this room, I would not be able to speak with you today, if there wasn’t perseverance, courage, creativity, intellectual development—all of these things that people of African descent have been and continue to be in this country, and the power of the spirit of African Americans is being celebrated today.</p><hr><a href="https://www.edgilityconsulting.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a><h2>This week’s podcast is brought to you by <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Edgility Consulting</a>:</h2><h2>A full service national executive search and talent consulting firm, Edgility helps clients find, hire and support the talent they need to make a difference in the lives of youth. Put us to work for you.</h2><h2>Learn more at <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.edgilityconsulting.com</a>.</h2><hr><p>Because that spirit itself pushed through with everything, the law—and my area is legal history—the law, the culture, the society itself all said that Africans were nothing, beneath contempt, could be murdered, their babies sold, all of this. And yet, these Africans kept alive a spirit of humanity that defied everything. That is what this 400-year anniversary is to me and that is what 400 years of perseverance is all about. </p><p><strong>EdSurge: One of the best-known researchers to make this case was a man named Dr. Carter G. Woodson, whom members of the association cite as a pioneer in the field of African American history.</strong></p><p><strong>Gloria J. Browne-Marshall:</strong> Dr. Carter G. Woodson graduated from Harvard, but he was not a person born to money at all. He was very poor. But he had an intellect of genius. About 50 years out of slavery or so, he’s seeing this country look at African Americans as having no history and no contributions. And he knew it wasn’t true. I knew it wasn’t true without even knowing that Dr. Woodson existed. But the rest of the world didn’t know it and our community didn’t know it as well as it should.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">"If your lens is only focused on your perception of black people, then you’re going to ignore all the different threads of that community. And so black scholars had been focusing on these things from the beginning."</blockquote>—<strong>Cassandra Newby-Alexander</strong><p>And so Dr. Woodson decided that he would make as a structured institution the historical scholarly discovery and research of African American history, and publish it. So he started the journal because it was thought in these white journals of scholarly research that there was nothing that African Americans had done that was worth publishing. And so we had to develop our own journals and we had to develop our own conferences in which we exchanged information with one another. And so this is how ASALH began and this is what we continue to do.</p><p><strong>Woodson’s goal was getting scholars to recognize African American history, and he also wanted to get broader recognition of this scholarly work.</strong></p><p><strong>Gloria J. Browne-Marshall: </strong>He began with Negro History Week that is now African American History Month. So you can see how pivotal his existence was in the work that he did back then to what we’re doing today, when we are commemorating 400 years of African American history. He got the world to see that this was a history worthy of research and there are so many PhDs, masters, so many people, so many books written about our history and so many books yet to write.</p><p><strong>So it sounds like there wasn’t much respect given though to black writers and scholars and the work they were doing to preserve black history.</strong></p><p><strong>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:</strong> There are white scholars today writing about African Americans and they never look in any of the black newspapers. So their viewpoint is skewed because it’s only from the perspective of how whites have viewed blacks, as opposed to how blacks view themselves in their own communities and what’s actually happening in that community. Because if your lens is only focused on your perception of black people, then you’re going to ignore all the different threads of that community. And so black scholars had been focusing on these things from the beginning.</p><p><strong>With white institutions, journals and scholars ignoring their work, black academics relied on their own institutions, especially black schools and colleges like Hampton, which traces its roots to efforts to educate enslaved people who escaped during the Civil War. Hampton later educated important figures like Booker T. Washington. These HBCUs didn’t just preserve scholarship around black life. They taught it to black students. And in passing along that knowledge, those colleges passed on cultural pride. And black history museums have served a role in this as well.</strong></p><p><strong>Gloria J. Browne-Marshall: </strong>The <a href="https://nmaahc.si.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National African American Museum</a> [in Washington, D.C.] and prior to that, the <a href="http://thewright.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Charles Wright Museum</a> in Detroit, were places where African Americans and others could go to see themselves in fine institutions. As was pointed out prior to that, it was HBCUs and maybe some institutes, maybe smaller ones, very small, that were created by personal funding in different cities across the country. </p><p>But as we began to build institutions, there was this whole sense that we are a people worthy of study, and that’s what Carter G. Woodson, who was also a graduate of Harvard, what he was thinking. A people without a history cannot be respected.</p><p><strong>Those themes were reflected throughout the weekend in renditions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the Black National Anthem. It’s not often that academic symposia feature singing, but this one did.</strong></p><p><strong>In the </strong><a href="https://soundcloud.com/edsurge/the-fight-to-preserve-african-american-history/s-rlM1c" target="_blank" rel="noopener">rest of the episode</a><strong>, a look at intellectual activism and how teachers have been the unsung heroes of black history.</strong></p><hr><h2>Resources mentioned in this episode:</h2><ul> <li><a href="https://asalh.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Association for the Study of African American Life and History</a></li> <li><a href="http://thewright.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Charles Wright Museum</a></li> <li><a href="https://nmaahc.si.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National African American Museum</a></li> <li>"First African Landing Commemoration" <a href="http://hamptonva2019.com/firstafricanlanding/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">event website</a>.</li> </ul> The Fight to Preserve—and Teach—African-American History Photo by Rebecca Koenig Classcraft Raises $7.5 Million to Turn Classrooms into Collaborative Adventure Games /news/2019-09-17-classcraft-raises-7-5-million-to-turn-classrooms-into-collaborative-adventure-games /news/2019-09-17-classcraft-raises-7-5-million-to-turn-classrooms-into-collaborative-adventure-games#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Social-Emotional Learning Financing Game-Based Learning Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:01:00 -0400 post-guid-ed92c9b0 Some days when Steve Isaacs’ students walk into his classroom, they might have to deal with an earthquake that costs them health points. Other days, he ... <p>Some days when Steve Isaacs’ students walk into his classroom, they might have to deal with an earthquake that costs them health points. Other days, he might start with a quiz where correct answers defeat a green-furred raccoon-looking beast called a “wazler.” </p><p>Isaacs’ unusual class structure comes courtesy of <a href="https://www.classcraft.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Classcraft</a>, a company based in New York and Sherbrooke, Quebec, that helps educators teach teamwork, good behavior and their regular classroom lessons through the guise of a school-yearlong fantasy game.</p><p>Helping Classcraft on its own adventure to reach more schools is a $7.5 million Series A funding round. Investissement Quebec led the round with participation from Whitecap Venture Partners, Brightspark Ventures and MaRS Catalyst Fund. The money will go toward sales efforts, improved storytelling and research and development. The company has raised a total of $11 million to date.</p><p>Isaacs teaches a video game design course, which seems ideal for trying out Classcraft’s classroom management platform, which can turn classes into a live action video game or a scholastic version of Dungeons and Dragons. But he says colleagues have also adapted the platform for other traditional subjects including science and social studies.</p><p>With Classcraft, students design their own fantastical characters, including mages and warriors, and embark on challenges that often require collaboration and teamwork. Educators design lesson plans as quests, with a digital map that marks progress points throughout the lesson.</p>The Classcraft dashboard.<p>Quest objectives include reading chapters in the textbook, and students can complete formative assessments in the form of “battles.” Students earn rewards for turning assignments in on time, like “experience points” toward leveling up their characters.</p><p>“It becomes relevant to them when you turn your class into a game,” says Isaacs, a 50-year-old teacher at William Annin Middle School and Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, N.J. “You’re taking out all the sterile school stuff.”</p><p>The company offers monthly new storylines and scenarios educators can use to engage students in class. In the first “episode,” which Classcraft released in April, students learn about the value of relationships through a story about about tribes in search of a mystery tower’s secrets. </p><p>Classcraft’s website also features a marketplace of authored lessons by teachers as examples of ways to use the platform. Educators have uploaded quests to teach history, art and even taxes and budgeting. A dashboard allows educators to see behavioral and academic analytics for students based on data collected from classroom activities. </p><p>A free version of the platform is available with basic classroom management tools. Additional features, including the formative assessments and analytics on absenteeism and behavior, are available with a paid version that starting Oct. 1 increases to $120 a teacher a year.</p>This map shows students' progress through the course, with lessons turned into quests fulfilled in exchange for points toward leveling up characters.<p>The company is a family affair, co-founded by brothers Shawn and Devin Young and their father, Lauren, the company’s chief financial officer. They would play adventure video games like the “Legend of Zelda” and “Myst” series. </p><p>School was a difficult time for both brothers. Devin Young, the older brother at 39 and Classcraft’s president, says he had trouble fitting in. Shawn Young, Classcraft’s CEO, recalls taking a six-week absence his senior year of high school due to boredom and feeling disengaged.</p><p>While the elder brother became a freelance creative director, Shawn Young worked as a teacher at a Catholic school in Sherbrooke for about nine years, determined to give students a better school experience than that from his own teachers growing up.</p><p>“There was some arrogance,” says Shawn Young, 36. “I definitely thought I could do better.” He programmed on the side, working with his brother on creative projects for clients like Chanel.</p><p>As a teacher, he sought ways to turn his class into a game, developing the foundations of Classcraft, founded in 2013. Today, the company has 50 full-time employees. It claims to have about six million users across 160 countries and 11 languages.</p><p>The company’s growth comes at a time when video games have become part of the cultural zeitgeist, the brothers say, in a way that’s different from when the puzzles and fighting games they played with their father.</p><p> <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/26/fortnites-30-million-world-cup-kicks-off.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Over 250 million</a> people play the shooting game “Fortnite,” with dance moves from the game seen at weddings and mimicked <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/09/10/the-dances-in-fortnite-have-become-nearly-as-contagious-as-the-game/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by professional athletes</a>. And “Minecraft” <a href="/news/2019-01-22-10-tips-to-start-teaching-with-minecraft" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has become a hit in classrooms</a>.</p><p>For Isaacs, the New Jersey video game design teacher, this is the first year he’s expanded use of the platform into high school classes in addition to his eighth grade classes. He says he likes that students can learn ahead or at their own pace through the Classcraft platform, even with all the classwide activities.</p><p>While most students can pick up the video game nomenclature used in Classcraft, parents sometimes need a hand. “My grading system is based on leveling up,” he says. “Once in a while, I have to re-explain experience points. Then they get it.” </p> Classcraft Raises $7.5 Million to Turn Classrooms into Collaborative Adventure Games Classcraft Can the Chinese Tutoring Bull Be Tamed? /news/2019-09-16-can-the-chinese-tutoring-bull-be-tamed /news/2019-09-16-can-the-chinese-tutoring-bull-be-tamed#comments Rajit Malhotra Education Technology Market Trends Investors Tutoring Mon, 16 Sep 2019 18:00:26 -0400 post-guid-91f0d236 Investors seeking to fund tutoring companies usually look for those that target massive markets, have scalable tech-enabled products and focus on ... <p>Investors seeking to fund tutoring companies usually look for those that target massive markets, have scalable tech-enabled products and focus on highly-sought skills. So it’s no surprise that China, India and the U.S., the three most populous nations in the world, are hotspots for investment activity. India and China also boast growing middle classes hungry for skills that propel them socioeconomically.</p><p>Since 2010, nearly 99 percent of disclosed investment capital in the tutoring space has gone to companies in these three countries. Based on the total amount of deals, the U.S. leads the pack at 41 deals, compared to 29 in China and 14 in India.</p><p>But when it comes to check sizes, investors have been much more bullish on the tutoring sector in China.</p>Source: EdSurge Intelligence<p>When looking at the total funding amount for tutoring companies in each of these countries, our analysis found that deployed investment in China is nearly 15 times that of the U.S., and 12 times that of India. The vast amount of investment in China is driven by the number of mega deals, with over one-third of them equal to or greater than $100 million. All of these mega deals are later-stage funding rounds, Series C or later. The biggest is a whopping $500 million round for VIPKid, which happened in 2018. </p><p>By contrast, the largest tutoring funding round in the U.S. goes to Varsity Tutors, which raised $50 million, and to Byju’s in India, which raised $150 million.</p>Source: EdSurge Intelligence<p>Most of these well-funded tutoring companies target PreK-12 students in China. They fit into two major categories: either a company assists with everyday homework problems spanning multiple subjects, or focuses on helping students learn English as a second language. </p><p>With a service that connects Chinese families with English tutors based in North America (many of them teachers), VIPKid pitches its tent squarely in the latter camp. The company’s $500 million fundraise last year constituted nearly 18 percent of all capital deployed to the tutoring sector in China since 2010. However, VIPKid is not the only big kid in town, as other well-funded companies such as DadaABC have also raised hundreds of million to claim their corner of the tutoring playground.</p><p>But how long will the big checks keep coming? In recent months, Beijing’s increased regulation of online education platforms has made investors more cautious. This July, the country’s Ministry of Education issued <a href="http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/15/c_138229055.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">guidelines</a> to regulate the content and duration of online education sessions, and to ensure that teachers have the right qualifications. Some of this oversight could well make investors wary. Last month, Reuters reported that Tencent Holdings has <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vipkid-fundraising-tencent/tencent-scraps-plan-to-invest-150-million-in-chinese-education-firm-vipkid-sources-idUSKCN1VJ143" target="_blank" rel="noopener">called off</a> plans for a new $150 million investment in VIPKid.</p><p>While the steady deal flow suggests that investors still see room for companies to gain additional market share in China, how many large ones can coexist in the space remains uncertain. The competitive landscape, paired with increasing regulatory pressures, may lead investors to consider the other billion-plus sized market: India. Some already are, with the Qatar Investment Authority and Owl Ventures having <a href="/news/2019-07-09-byju-s-receives-250-million-from-qatar-investment-branch" target="_blank" rel="noopener">invested</a> in Bangalore-based Byju earlier this year.</p> Can the Chinese Tutoring Bull Be Tamed? Ramziya Khusnullina / Shutterstock Inside the School Where Every Student Gets Their Own Teacher /news/2019-09-16-inside-the-school-where-every-student-gets-their-own-teacher /news/2019-09-16-inside-the-school-where-every-student-gets-their-own-teacher#comments Stephen Noonoo Education Technology School Models Education Research Personalized Learning Mon, 16 Sep 2019 16:15:36 -0400 post-guid-b464f66c NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — At the start of her introductory chemistry class, rising sophomore Olivia takes out her laptop and begins following along while ... <p>NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — At the start of her introductory chemistry class, rising sophomore Olivia takes out her laptop and begins following along while the teacher in front of her navigates a slideshare presentation. Today’s topic is figuring out how to convert atoms to moles, a measurement of matter used by scientists. Halfway through, Olivia asks a question and later demonstrates what she’s just learned on a whiteboard behind the teacher’s desk.</p><p>If it sounds like a typical chemistry lesson at any school in the country, in some ways it is. Except in this class, Olivia is the only student. </p><p>Olivia is currently enrolled part-time in one of the most unique high school models in the country. Where many schools struggle with ever-expanding student-teacher ratios, <a href="https://www.futures.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Futures Academy</a>, a California network of private schools serving middle- and high schoolers, follows a distinctly personalized model: Every class in every subject has one teacher and only one student. The model takes an eyebrow-raising twist on one-to-one instruction, which in many education circles has come to refer to one computer for every student. </p><p>The Newport Beach campus is one of 16 schools in the network, located on the ninth floor of an otherwise ordinary corporate office building with a plush lobby and sweeping views that stretch to the ocean. Inside the Futures suite, offices serve as classrooms and conference rooms host group study sessions around a glossy wood table. The open plan area in the center is a flexible learning space where kids can work independently or socialize at a school that can otherwise be pretty isolating. </p><p>“The challenging thing is the social aspect,” Olivia says of her school, before describing herself as a little shy. She attends her local public high school in the morning and takes a few classes at Futures in the afternoons. She’s made friends at Futures, but met most of her friends playing sports at public school. That’s one reason she wants to keep one foot in the door at her public school and continue taking a few classes at Futures. </p><p>It’s not only that social interaction is limited or nonexistent in classes without peers, but with individualized schedules, it’s tough for students to get together in groups for lunch or after-school clubs. Some students, like Olivia, only attend part time, shuttling from Futures to a traditional school. The majority are full time and spend anywhere from two to five hours at Futures, depending on course load or day of the week. (Overall, the school serves between 130 to 150 students depending on enrollment.)</p><p>Such variable schedules keep the administrative staff at Newport Beach busy and is one of the model’s greatest challenges. Take Advanced Placement classes for example. At Futures they run longer than regular courses—32 sessions versus 15 for a traditional class—meaning students sometimes have to take back-to-back sessions with teachers to finish on time. Likewise, when students fall behind the pace, they sometimes need extra sessions to keep up. </p><p>Generally, students have one or two classes a day with core classes occurring twice a week. Each class session lasts 50 minutes, and is usually followed by what’s known as a guided study session, during which students complete their homework. </p><p>“For every class, they'll have anywhere from one to three guided study sessions, which are 50 minutes long,” says Alicia Goodwin, the guided study instructor for the Newport Beach campus. During the sessions, students complete independent work, which in many schools would be assigned as homework. “The goal is that they leave at the end of the day with all of their homework finished and then they don’t have anything to worry about.” </p><blockquote class="pullquote">We have students who come here because the traditional, public or private school model has just not worked for them.</blockquote>Marcia Johnson<p>Experts have long been <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/homework-research-how-much/585889/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">divided on</a> the effectiveness of traditional homework. While Futures values independent practice, the network’s leadership team doesn’t believe the work should take place at home. That’s why there’s an intentional heavy focus on self-guided independent practice in school, where an educator like Goodwin is just steps away. The network uses a mastery-based learning model, and students must earn 80 percent or higher on independent work before teachers can move on in class. (There is no such requirement for tests and quizzes though—so overall grades can certainly be lower than a B.) </p>Teachers often get a chance to go more in-depth during one-on-one classes. (Image: Futures Academy)<p>Olivia and her peers will be the first to stress how daunting the independent workload can be initially. But she’s acclimated over time. “I figured out how to manage my time,” she says, “so that’s not an issue anymore.”</p><h2>Casting a Wide Net</h2><p>The one-to-one environment is demanding and it’s not for everyone, stresses Marcia Johnson, the campus director of Newport Beach, who functions as something of a co-principal for the campus, together with the school’s head of education. For one, it’s a private school with a tuition that runs between $24,000 to $29,000 a year for full time students, depending on factors like location. But mostly students must be willing to engage with the process. </p><p>“We have students who come here because the traditional, public or private school model has just not worked for them,” Johnson says. “And a lot of times it's that students are just unwilling to participate.” </p><p>Beyond that, Futures draws a wide cross section of students, including those who have struggled in traditional schools and need remediation to improve their grades. There are also students with special needs who do better with individualized support and come to Futures with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). </p><p>“We do not necessarily, as a private school, have to abide by the individualized education plan, but often times we do,” explains Lynna Martinez, the senior vice president of educational programs and services for the network. That’s because one-to-one learning is the most frequent accommodation in those plans, Martinez says. But by and large, Futures only admits students it thinks will be a good fit for the model. </p><p>Other students look to the model as a sort of opportunity to participate in private tutoring to boost their chances of scoring top grades on Advanced Placement exams or getting accepted to selective colleges. In fact, because of the rigor and flexible scheduling, Futures draws a lot of high achievers with hobbies and careers who need time to travel and train—including an accomplished race car driver, an equestrian, a pilot and a film actress. </p><p>Students come to the Newport Beach campus for a variety of reasons, observes David Barerra, a math and science teacher at the school. “We get students who need remediation and we get students who really want to advance really fast,” he says, adding that those who are getting by in traditional learning environments typically don’t seek out such a different model.</p><p>Despite the workload, students generally like it—for all the reasons one might expect. In some ways, it’s not unlike a typical high school. To boost student interaction, each campus is required to offer three clubs per year, though participation can be low because of students’ different schedules. At Newport, clubs include yearbook, robotics and a social-emotional circle called the Breakfast Club, in which students talk about pressing age-related difficulties like anxiety. The goal of the club—much like at Futures overall—is to provide opportunities for students to feel like they’re being heard. </p><p>“Everyone’s friendly here,” says Lola, a rising sophomore attending summer classes at Newport to retake courses she’d taken the previous year at a public school. “I don’t get stressed out asking questions. I like the amount of free time this school provides.” </p><p>That can be both a good and bad thing for teenagers like Lola, whose first few weeks at Futures were a rough adjustment. She wasn’t understanding the material and became frustrated at the amount of work assigned. She wondered whether the school was a good fit. After reviewing her records, however, members of the leadership team realized she wasn’t attending her guided study sessions—Lola thought of them as optional. After they called home, her attendance improved, as did her grades. Now she talks about transferring full time. </p><h2>The Learner-Centered Approach</h2><p>The one-to-one instructional model at Futures is hardly new. Its history stretches back to the 1980s when the school was called Halstrom Academy. For the first few years, Halstrom focused on tutoring in addition to core instruction, later dropping the tutoring angle. What started as a gut understanding that students do best when working in tutoring-like environments has now morphed to incorporate more intentional research-backed methodology. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">It’s a matter of whether [other schools] would be able to figure out the scheduling and teacher staffing for a model like ours</blockquote>Lynna Martinez<p>Futures rebranded late last year, which is when its name changed. This summer the network began working with Altitude Learning (previously known as AltSchool) to provide teacher training, professional development and coaching to its school leaders to help move to a model that draws upon research around the learner-centered approach. That approach dates back to research conducted by an American Psychological Association task force, convened in the early 1990s, which spelled out a <a href="https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&amp;as_sdt=0,29&amp;as_vis=1&amp;q=%22The+learner-centered+classroom+and+school%22&amp;btnG=" target="_blank" rel="noopener">series of education principles</a> that focus on how a learner thinks and remembers; how beliefs, emotions and motivation influence learners; and how capabilities for learning develop over time.</p><p>Given Futures' roots in one-to-one instruction and individualized schedules, implementing this type of model was a natural fit for the staff. The Futures Network developed a rubric that helps teachers work with students to demonstrate mastery in novel ways, co-construct their own projects, and pursue individual interests. Teachers are trained to move students into the <a href="/news/2017-08-01-let-learners-get-in-their-zone-of-proximal-development" target="_blank" rel="noopener">zone of proximal development</a>, or the idea that they should challenge students by meeting them just above where they’re ready to learn. </p>Part of the Futures EMPOWER rubric, designed to get teachers thinking in terms of research based strategies. (Image: Futures)<p>For each course, teachers receive a schedule of their classes online, including learning goals for each student. “If a student can’t handle all of that, then you're able to customize it for them. If they need more of a challenge, you’re able to seek it out,” Barrera explains, adding that he designed custom lessons to teach one student an advanced programming language called R. The rubric thus supports him and others in tailoring these learning experiences.</p><p>It’s effective but time consuming, he admits, and likely only possible because of the low teacher-student ratios, where teachers only see between 15 and 30 students per week on average. </p><p>The model is not impossible for others to replicate, says Martinez, the programs and services executive. Charter schools in particular have fewer restrictions and more opportunity for smaller class sizes. But it would be difficult, she adds, given the challenges that even a well-resourced network like Futures faces. </p><p>Martinez suggests that rather than replicating the model, perhaps the opportunity lies in drawing from it, and implementing opportunities for small-group learning along with one-to-one instruction. “It’s a matter of whether [the school] would be able to figure out the scheduling and teacher staffing for a model like ours,” she says. “That tends to be the complexity for us—the scheduling and the teachers.”</p> Inside the School Where Every Student Gets Their Own Teacher Futures Academy How to Encourage Your Students to Change Their World — Advice From a Student Changemaker /news/2019-09-16-how-to-encourage-your-students-to-change-their-world-advice-from-a-student-changemaker /news/2019-09-16-how-to-encourage-your-students-to-change-their-world-advice-from-a-student-changemaker#comments Wendy McMahon Education Technology 21st Century Skills Entrepreneurship Mon, 16 Sep 2019 12:01:05 -0400 post-guid-089d45a5 When Alexandria Brady-Mine walked into her junior year Advanced Placement exam her jaw dropped. There were more than 200 high schoolers there to take ... <p>When Alexandria Brady-Mine walked into her junior year Advanced Placement exam her jaw dropped. There were more than 200 high schoolers there to take the exam, but only two students were black and she was one of them. The scene was a stark reminder of the significant achievement gap between white and black students in her community of Alachua County, Florida.</p><p>Her heart sank that day, but her determination to be a changemaker soared.</p><p>A lifetime of similar experiences had already led Brady-Mine to become a volunteer, activist, speaker, and CEO of <a href="https://www.thehumanprojects.com/for-educators" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Human Projects</a>, a global youth run nonprofit that helps students address human rights issues in their own communities.</p><h5 class="aside-heading">How to Enter</h5><p>T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Foundation and Ashoka, (a leading organization in the field of social entrepreneurship) are looking for bold ideas focused on education, the environment, or technology for the <a href="https://www.t-mobile.com/responsibility/community/education/changemaker-challenge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2019 Changemaker Challenge</a>. </p><p>Top teams receive mentorship and up to $10,000 in funding.</p><p>Deadline is September 26, 2019</p><p><a href="https://www.t-mobile.com/responsibility/community/education/changemaker-challenge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Learn more or submit your idea today</a>!</p><p>But the AP experience told her she needed to do more. So she submitted an application and became one of the 30 winners of last year's first-ever <a href="https://www.t-mobile.com/news/changemaker-challenge-2019" target="_blank" rel="noopener">T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge</a>, a national contest that helps students aged 13-23 create or grow projects that promote impactful, sustainable changes in their communities.</p><p>With this year’s challenge having one category focused on improving education, Brady-Mine wants to encourage every student with a passion for helping others take part in it.</p><p>Here she shares all she gained from participating in the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge along with tips and advice for students who want to take part in this year’s challenge. She also shares the one simple step educators can take to encourage students to become changemakers in their communities.</p><h2>Tell us about your winning project?</h2><p>My submission was "Standing Tall," a service-learning program focused on empowering minority and low-income changemakers.</p><p>In my community, we have a significant achievement gap between black and white students. I noticed most programs strictly focused on getting students to pass classes. There weren't many programs thinking about, "How can we get them to pass classes and be prepared to enter the workforce or go to college?"</p><blockquote class="pullquote">We’re growing up in a world where the issues are very clear, but the solutions are not.</blockquote><p>My program was designed to give students real-world experience with entrepreneurial skills. Something they can put on their college application and say, "I led this community cause, and it helped this many people in our community."</p><p>We submitted the idea to the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge in 2018, and with the experience we gained, we were able to launch the program in the Spring of 2019.</p><p>Students in our program created projects that ranged from providing menstrual hygiene products to homeless women and school supplies to low-income students to raising awareness of modern slavery and human rights issues. Each student was paired with a university student mentor for six weeks to receive academic and career guidance.</p><p>Students learned entrepreneurial skills such as communication, budgeting, leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. Their projects directly impacted over a thousand people in our community.</p><p>This year we've changed the name of our program from Standing Tall to Young Human Rights Changemakers and made it an international program. So far, we've received 195 applications from educators in 45 countries. I run the program through my nonprofit organization, The Human Projects.</p>Alexandria Brady-Mine<h2>What did you learn from the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge?</h2><p>The Changemaker Challenge was a crash course in everything you need to know to take an idea, turn it into a program, and then grow it exponentially. The application process really pushed us to think through a step-by-step plan for our program. The plan changed quite a bit, but that process helped us solidify our idea.</p><p>Fundraising was a major issue for us in the beginning. But with the skills we learned, we were able to get funding from several companies and organizations, including the Jane Goodall Institute for the Fund II Foundation.</p><p>The other Changemaker Challenge winners were also an incredible resource that I still use a lot. They share grants we can apply to and contacts who can help us spread the word about our program. I still talk with them about issues they're having and how we can grow our organizations further.</p><h2>What advice would you give to other students who might be interested in the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge?</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">Putting in those personal details made the story more real than just listing statistics. Numbers are too abstract to fund.<br> </blockquote><p>I would say dive into what makes you a changemaker, It doesn't have to be something huge like starting a nonprofit or a program. It's just any way that you're working to make the world a better place. Because no matter how young you are, you have this incredible capacity to create change in your community.</p><p>Even something simple like planting a butterfly garden, running a food supply drive, or donating your clothes to help someone who's in need.</p><p>And the second is something I learned in a workshop we took through the Changemaker Challenge--learn to tell your story. Both the story of you the changemaker and the story of the program you're trying to build. When we began, our story was a bunch of statistics and saying, "Here is the problem, and this is why we need to fix it." But after that workshop, we started incorporating our stories. We talk about how I went to a school where I was the only black student and how there wasn't much racial diversity as I continued throughout school. </p><p>Putting in those personal details made the story more real than just listing statistics. Numbers are too abstract to fund.</p><h2>What do you think educators can do to encourage students to become changemakers?</h2><p>Think about and look at young people in a positive way that makes them think they can change the world. When I started running my first community project, I was very young and got a lot of pushback. People didn't think I could do it or even that I should be trying to do it. But that changes when you have just one adult in your life who says, "You can do this. I'm going to support you. I'm going to help you find the things you need to make this happen." That's really all it takes.</p><h5 class="aside-heading">Brady-Mine’s favorite resources for student changemakers</h5><ul> <li><a href="https://spirit.prudential.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Prudential Spirit of Community Awards</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.rootsandshoots.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/by/alex-hawgood" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Alex Hawgood, The New York Times</a></li> <li><a href="https://amysmartgirls.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Amy Poehler's Smart Girls</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.thehumanprojects.com/for-educators" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Human Projects Human Rights Education Resources</a></li> <li><a href="https://twitter.com/UNYouthEnvoy?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Es" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@UNYouthEnvoy</a></li> </ul><p>For me, that was my parents. When I was in elementary school, I learned there were students my age in classrooms all over the county who didn't have access to books, particularly books with minority characters or stories about different cultures. My first volunteer project was to go around to these schools with my mom. We would read stories about different cultures and people who were not the typical people you would see in books that were being shown to the class.</p><h2>What was it like to meet other students who are passionate about helping others?</h2><p>It was really energizing to be around so many people who got it. I do this because of the incredible feeling I get and because I feel a responsibility to make the world a better place. We’re growing up in a world where the issues are very clear, but the solutions are not. But with the Internet we have more tools. We have a better understanding of where there are global issues and how we can make a difference, whether it's by starting a nonprofit or signing an online petition. I Googled how to start a nonprofit! That's how I figured stuff out. </p><p>The Changemaker Challenge showed me there are a lot of people trying to create solutions and there are ways to create change.</p> How to Encourage Your Students to Change Their World — Advice From a Student Changemaker Young Human Rights Changemakers How to Keep Students at the Center of Your Digital Transformation /news/2019-09-16-how-to-keep-students-at-the-center-of-your-digital-transformation /news/2019-09-16-how-to-keep-students-at-the-center-of-your-digital-transformation#comments Lindsay Dixon Garcia Education Technology Practice and Implementation Strategies Student Success Student Voice Technology Tips Technology Trends Teaching & Learning Mon, 16 Sep 2019 12:00:00 -0400 post-guid-cd543215 While there’s no exact formula for a seamless digital transformation, certain school districts are providing examples of how to take this on while ... <p>While there’s no exact formula for a seamless digital transformation, certain school districts are providing examples of how to take this on while keeping learners at the center of everything. Student agency is a top priority at Frederick County Public Schools in Virginia, and it definitely shows in their approach to technology implementation.</p><h2>Intention and Purpose</h2><p>“If you don’t have a strong intention or purpose to use the technology, then don’t,” says Rod Carnill, Supervisor of Instructional Technology for Frederick County Public Schools. School district leaders are inundated with proposals and pitches for the hottest new trends in edtech on a regular basis—all promising to revolutionize learning and make it more student-friendly. Even with the best of intentions, you cannot force tech into a lesson. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">“If you don’t have a strong intention or purpose to use the technology, then don’t.” —Rod Carnill</blockquote><hr>Rod Carnill speaking (Source: Hapara)<hr><p>“I always start with the pedagogy,” says Amy Miller, a middle school tech coach in Frederick County. An 18-year classroom veteran, Miller works with teachers one-on-one to develop lessons and learning experiences. If a tech tool proves useful, it is incorporated—not the other way around. </p><p>When Frederick County Public Schools started the shift toward one-to-one learning, they first needed to know what kids were doing online. So, they looked for a way to monitor that activity. They selected Hapara Highlights for its focus on visible personalized learning, which aligned with their goals. </p><p>While Hapara Highlights does monitor online activity, the company stresses the importance of a model of gradual release to all of its customers: close monitoring at the beginning of an adoption—while teaching good digital citizenship skills—and over time, allowing the student to exercise more autonomy online in a safe and responsible way. Hapara has found that this promotes an environment of trust and respect between teachers and students. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">If a tech tool proves useful, it is incorporated—not the other way around.</blockquote><hr>Amy Miller's class working on their CoLab projects (Source: Hapara)<hr><h2>Observing the Process</h2><p>Process—and how it differs with each learner—is at the center of Frederick County’s educational philosophy. Learners have the opportunity to improve executive functioning skills such as time management and organization during every project or assignment. As a result, teachers and district leaders have seen students take more ownership of their learning, and common problems like lost assignments and chronically late work have dissipated. Students are encouraged to collaborate with peers, follow their own interests and demonstrate their learning in ways that they find engaging. Changing the way students perceive the work adds value to what they are doing and deepens their investment. </p><p>This emphasis on process translates to a more flexible learning environment. Tech leaders in Frederick County recognize that every learner is unique; this includes the way that each one uses technology, if at all. It’s never enforced as a requirement for projects. The district is also very flexible in terms of the types of technology a teacher may use in the classroom; they see teachers as learners, too, and understand that their needs are unique as well. </p><hr><h2>Hapara gathers learner assignments, notifications, resources and workspaces in one convenient location. <a href="https://hapara.com/student-dashboard/?utm_source=article1&amp;utm_medium=sidebar&amp;utm_campaign=edsurge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Learn more about how Student Dashboard drives student agency.</a> </h2><hr><h2>Choice and Voice</h2><p>When Rod Carnill considers which elements have contributed to the success of Frederick County’s technology transformation, he puts a lot of weight on freedom of choice, as well as student and teacher voice. He says it is just as important to listen to teachers—allowing them to lead the way in their own learning—as it is with students. This line of thinking has yielded positive results across the district.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">When school technology leaders provide opportunities to enrich learning with technology that is learner-centered, student agency is a natural byproduct.</blockquote><p>Tech leaders must stay connected and listen to teachers and students. Carnill says his team relies heavily on focus group data from all stakeholders and survey results. This has taught them a lot about which technology works in the classroom—or doesn’t—and why. It has also encouraged teachers to diversify the tech that they employ in the classroom. </p><h2>Leading the Way</h2><p>Frederick County Public Schools is a national leader in student-centered digital transformation. Every staff and faculty member—whether a district leader, a building administrator or a teacher—truly understands how to implement technology in a way that adds to the learning experience without diminishing what teachers are already doing and never forgetting about learner needs. </p><p>When school technology leaders provide opportunities to enrich learning with technology that is learner-centered, student agency is a natural byproduct. There are many moving parts and competing interests during a digital transformation. It’s essential to always keep the focus on doing what’s right for the student. </p><p>Digital transformation is no easy task, and there is no magic wand that you can wave to make it go smoothly. Clearly defined purpose, respect for the learning process and two-way communication provide opportunities for all involved to reflect on what’s best for each individual learning path. This is what drives the success of the tech transformation in Frederick County Public Schools. </p><hr><h5 class="aside-heading">Student Dashboard integrates:</h5><ul> <li>Google Classroom</li> <li>Hapara</li> <li>G Suite</li> </ul><p>Frederick County has embraced tools like Hapara Dashboard, Highlights and Workspace, becoming a trusted advisor when the company makes product updates, adds new features or releases new tools. At ISTE 2019, Hapara debuted its newest tool, <a href="https://hapara.com/student-dashboard/?utm_source=article1&amp;utm_medium=endnote&amp;utm_campaign=edsurge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Student Dashboard</a>, developed with a mission to empower learners and drive student agency by helping learners improve their executive functioning skills. Frederick County Public Schools will be among the first schools in North America to have access to this platform. Hapara and Frederick County will collaborate to ensure that Student Dashboard meets the unique needs of each learner, provides context and purpose for learning and facilitates the independent learner’s journey.</p> How to Keep Students at the Center of Your Digital Transformation Image Credit: MiniStocker / Shutterstock The Unexpected Benefit of Differentiation? Student Happiness /news/2019-09-16-the-unexpected-benefit-of-differentiation-student-happiness /news/2019-09-16-the-unexpected-benefit-of-differentiation-student-happiness#comments Wendy McMahon Education Technology Personalized Learning Teaching & Learning Practice and Implementation Strategies Technology Trends Student Success Student Achievement Student Engagement Mon, 16 Sep 2019 09:00:00 -0400 post-guid-1e60e0ee Her voice cracking with emotion, first-grade teacher Candy Mobley recalls the day in 2014 when her school district&#39;s one-to-one program launched. ... <p>Her voice cracking with emotion, first-grade teacher Candy Mobley recalls the day in 2014 when her school district's one-to-one program launched. "Their faces were so happy—it was like Christmas. I could have cried. Some of them had never seen an iPad or a laptop and probably wouldn't have without the program here."</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Their faces were so happy—it was like Christmas. I could have cried.</blockquote><p><a href="https://www.esparklearning.com/partner-stories/leveraging-technology-for-meaningful-growth-in-a-rural-district?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=piedmont_case_study" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Just five years earlier</a>, this scenario would have been unthinkable for Piedmont City Schools, a rural district in Alabama. But when district leaders launched <a href="http://www.piedmont.k12.al.us/?DivisionID=15592" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mPower Piedmont</a>—broadly integrating technology to empower their teachers—they were committed to seeing improved outcomes for each of the district’s 1,200 students. Now that effort is paying off in a big way. </p><p>In a candid chat, Mobley shares how embracing technology to personalize instruction and teaching with compassion helps students achieve success and find happiness, in the classroom and beyond.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: What role does happiness play in student learning, especially in a struggling community like Piedmont?</strong></p><p><strong>Candy Mobley:</strong> It plays a tremendous role. How can we have mindfulness and concentrate on what we're doing if we don't feel good? We were always taught, when I went through teachers' college, that you take care of students’ physical needs. But we also need to be happy. We need to feel confident we can learn, and we need to feel safe in how we learn, whatever level that is. If we're worried about what somebody thinks of us, or if we don't feel strong about ourselves, we're not going to learn as much as we could. </p><p>Our community struggles, and our students come to us with a lot of issues and not many life experiences. But that's no reason for our children not to do well. That's a challenge, not an excuse.</p><hr>Candy Mobley<h5 class="aside-heading">Where Mobley finds engaging ideas</h5><ul> <li><a href="https://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781681403281" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, K-2</a></li> <li><a href="https://code.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Code.org</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.weareteachers.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WeAreTeachers.com</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.commonsense.org/education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Common Sense Education</a></li> </ul>Students in Ms. Mobley's class (Source: Candy Mobley)<hr><p><strong>What are some ways you support students’ happiness and learning in your classroom?</strong></p><p>I use every tool and strategy I can think of to help students—devices, learning apps, getting to know students, finding fun and engaging projects—and so do all the educators in our district. There needs to be a mix of approaches to teaching and learning; what might work for student A is not going to work for student B. </p><p>We do a lot of talking and writing activities where I'm watching, seeing what they like, what they don't like. We read “<a href="https://kevinhenkes.com/mouse-books/chrysanthemum-book/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chrysanthemum</a>” and talk about our names—how we think we got our name, what meaning it has to us. Students create posters about themselves, the dynamics of their family, what they want to be when they grow up, favorite pastimes, favorite foods. I learn a lot about each student.</p><p>We have physical movement twice a day. We do group projects and hands-on learning. I'm getting Blue-Bot robots this year, so we can do coding in first grade! And when we look at sound and light waves, we'll make a banjo on our desk where we use rubber bands and listen to the noises that come from the vibrations. Kids love those types of hands-on projects.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Everyone is an individual, and not everybody fits in the same level. eSpark helps individualize learning for every student.</blockquote><p><strong>Do you use differentiation as a teaching strategy?</strong></p><p>Absolutely! One of the most impactful things we've done is to differentiate math and ELA learning to make it more personal for our kids.</p><p>We started using <a href="https://www.esparklearning.com/espark/edsurge-free-trial?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=trial_signup" target="_blank" rel="noopener">eSpark</a> in 2014 to differentiate reading and math, and it's been amazing. </p><p>Students are truly engaged, the videos are child friendly, students like the variety and choice in the apps they play. It's always changing, and students move on to new skills once they’ve mastered something. </p><p>What I really like is that students aren’t all doing the same thing, so there’s no sense of competition. Sometimes when we use digital curriculum, students will say things like, "I'm ahead of you. I'm on level 15." There's none of that because everyone is on their own learning path. </p><p>With 18 students in my classroom, I really have 18 different levels. Everyone is an individual, and not everybody fits in the same level. eSpark helps individualize learning for every student.</p><hr><h2>EdSurge readers can try eSpark for one year at no charge! Claim your free account <a href="https://www.esparklearning.com/espark/edsurge-free-trial?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=trial_signup" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</h2><hr><p><strong>How has differentiating with technology impacted learning? </strong></p><h5 class="aside-heading">Additional Resources</h5><ul> <li><a href="https://blog.esparklearning.com/building-a-happier-classroom-30-day-guide?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=happy_guide" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Download: Building a Happier Classroom</a></li> <li><a href="https://esparklearning.wistia.com/medias/r9kpn8c216?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=espark_video" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Watch: How does eSpark work?</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.esparklearning.com/partner-stories/leveraging-technology-for-meaningful-growth-in-a-rural-district?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=piedmont_case_study" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Read: Leveraging Technology for Meaningful Growth in Piedmont Classrooms</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.esparklearning.com/espark/edsurge-free-trial?utm_source=edsurge&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=sept_guest_post&amp;utm_content=trial_signup" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Try: eSpark in Your Classroom</a></li> </ul><p>Since we started differentiating with eSpark, our 2015-2016 annual <a href="https://www.nwea.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NWEA</a> state assessment gains were terrific. In math, students went from scoring in the 49th percentile to scoring in the 60th percentile. In reading, they went from the 48th percentile to the 57th. Even though we're a small school with a lot of challenges, we're the top-rated district in our county, which is unbelievable because there are large schools in our county. </p><p>And because these kids are successful, they're also happy. </p><p>The differentiation tool—and the data it provided—was a big part of that success. Of course, I have to do my job. I need to connect with my students and make learning fun and exciting for them, but this tool really helps me as a teacher. </p><hr>Students in Ms. Mobley's class (Source: Candy Mobley)<hr><p><strong>Why do you think differentiating has helped so much?</strong></p><blockquote class="pullquote">And because these kids are successful, they're also happy.</blockquote><p>My high-flyers can go ahead, learn new things and challenge themselves. For my strugglers, maybe they missed something in kindergarten, but I can go back and fill those gaps so they can move on, get to first-grade levels.</p><p>And it also helped me as a teacher. When we first started our one-to-one initiative, I was on board, but I was frustrated. I didn't know how to use technology to educate children effectively. I didn't know how to tell if I was doing it right, or if students were where they needed to be in their learning. We didn't have that data. But now I can see how students are doing and if they've improved. Now I can reach every student.</p> The Unexpected Benefit of Differentiation? Student Happiness Image Credit: NadzeyaShanchuk / Shutterstock ‘Back to School’ Hijinks and Lessons for the Education Industry /news/2019-09-13-golden-tickets-and-gaffes-from-bmo-where-the-education-industry-went-back-to-school /news/2019-09-13-golden-tickets-and-gaffes-from-bmo-where-the-education-industry-went-back-to-school#comments Betsy Corcoran Education Technology Events Investors Market Trends Fri, 13 Sep 2019 09:04:50 -0400 post-guid-1ad331bb About 1,200 adults in uniform went “Back to School” yesterday. No, not to their wooden desks, blue books and plastic seats. But to BMO’s annual ... <p>About 1,200 adults in uniform went “Back to School” yesterday. No, not to their wooden desks, blue books and plastic seats. But to BMO’s annual education industry conference, where company executives, investors, bankers and financiers of all stripes descended in their suits and slacks (but very few ties).</p><p>Now in its 19th year, the gathering attracts a growing audience of the “who’s-who” across the education sector—from childcare to healthcare providers, from K-12 to higher education and corporate employers. On the agenda were one-on-one interviews with company CEOs and panel discussions on opportunities and challenges in different markets. In rooms on the upper floors were private meetings to wheel and deal. Copious coffee and snacks lubricated conversations in the hall.</p><p>There were also noticeable gaffes that one might expect at conferences tailored for buttoned-up financiers, often involving stale, trite comments and a glaring lack of diversity in the speaker lineup. Nothing highlighted this more than the lunchtime keynote panel, which consisted entirely of men, who all solemnly concurred that they seek companies that are “really adding value to the ecosystem.” Wow, what a relief!</p><h2>He’s got a (golden) ticket to ride.</h2><p>A big deal announced this week was private equity firm KKR’s purchase of a majority stake in <a href="https://www.burning-glass.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Burning Glass</a>, a Boston-based data and analytics platform that serves up insights on changes in the workforce and available jobs.</p><p>The thing was, Burning Glass wasn’t seeking an investment. But a few months ago, its CEO, Matt Sigelman, hopped on the Amtrak Acela train from Washington, D.C. He was so absorbed in email that it took until Baltimore before Sigelman spotted KKR’s Richard Sarnoff, who chairs the firm’s media, entertainment and education group, across the aisle. “He’s one of the smartest guys I know,“ Sigelman says. So he grabbed a chance for a free consult. A few weeks later, Sarnoff suggested they talk in depth. Viva Amtrak!</p><h2>Old jobs, new expectations.</h2><p>In one of the first sessions of the conference, panelists from five different companies agreed that while the types of jobs available on the market are not necessarily changing, the nature of these jobs are. Roles such as marketing managers have existed before, but the required skills constantly evolve. Sigelman, of Burning Glass Technologies, captured this point succinctly: “40 percent of the skills required today for the same job are different than the skills required a decade ago.”</p><p>The verdict is still out about which is a more powerful lever in preparing workers for ever-changing roles: reform hiring practices or actively reskill employees? As noted in the panel, personal conviction and company mission buy-in are strong determinants of long-run employee success rather than skills alone. So recruitment may have a slight edge, which supports the increasing reliance on hiring tools such as Revature.</p><p>But both levers are important. Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster, commented that progressive companies align recruitment with training budgets rather than silo them to provide a comprehensive workforce solution.</p><h2>It’s a textbook toss-up.</h2><p>All the major K-12 traditional textbook publishers were present at the event but only one—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—got speaking time on stage. That may have worked out in favor of the smaller instructional content providers, who did not hold back on how the market has shifted in their favor.</p>From left: Kelly Fuller (BMO), John Rogers (The Rise Fund), Elizabeth Chou (Leeds Equity Partners), Waseem Alam (Weld North Education), Adriel Sanchez (Newsela)<p>“Before, you used to concede 90 percent of the market to the Big Three,” said Scott Kinney, president of K-12 Education at Discovery Education, referring to Pearson, McGraw-Hill and HMH. His fellow panelist, Carnegie Learning CEO Barry Malkin, noted that smaller players can win adoption through reliable, third-party efficacy studies. “<a href="https://www.edreports.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdReports</a> has become a real big deal in K-12 publishing,” he said, referring to the nonprofit that reviews textbooks for alignment to academic standards. “They have become a litmus test for many districts.”</p><p>Continuing a <a href="/news/2018-09-14-when-education-ceos-and-bigwig-financiers-go-back-to-school" target="_blank" rel="noopener">popular theme from last year’s conference</a>, companies also emphasized how the lines have blurred between core materials (like basic textbooks) and supplemental resources (like practice materials and formative assessment tools) in K-12. Districts typically allocate different funding sources for the two types of materials.</p><p>“Districts are looking for different ways to get to a good endgame for their students,” says Malkin, “It’s not about core or supplemental. Every district is buying what works for their culture, idiosyncrasies and specific needs.” </p><p>In an interview with EdSurge, Nick Gaehde, president of Lexia Learning (owned by Rosetta Stone) noted that “the only place where I think the core-supplemental distinction is meaningful is in funding sources. But I don’t think classroom teachers think that way. And over time, I think that purchases will skew toward what will best help students learn, and the rest of the industry is going to have to evolve along. I think the supplemental-core division is a construct of the publishing industry.”</p><h2>Privacy concerns may hinder efforts to decentralize purchasing.</h2><p>One of the prevailing concerns that often discouraged investors from the education technology industry is that K-12 purchasing requires a time-consuming, top-down process where a state or county office would hold sway—and the purse strings—over the products that their districts and schools would use.</p><p>Newsela’s chief marketing officer, Adrian Sanchez, noted that in recent years “states have been getting a bit looser on top-down directives, giving districts a little bit more autonomy in purchasing decisions.”</p><p>Yet that tilt may not last long, said Elizabeth Chou, who recently joined private equity firm Leeds Equity Partners. She noted a likely “clampdown” due to concerns over student data privacy, and central district offices are on the hook to make sure that edtech tools are secure. So while top-down purchasing decisions may be loosening, “I also think there is going to be a pullback because of student data privacy issues.”</p><h2>When it comes to data, which do you prefer: single or dating?</h2><p>Alan Taylor, senior vice president of corporate development at PowerSchool, shared that “97 percent of school IT departments use at least 12 different technology solutions, yet 70 percent of these same IT departments said they want a single-source of student data.”</p><p>At a session on school operations, panelists offered different approaches to this problem. PowerSchool and Finalsite offer multiple products that reduce the need for schools to rely on many different IT vendors, while Watermark offers tools that ingest and consolidate data from disparate technology solutions.</p><p>Gregg Scoresby, CEO of CampusLogic, pointed out that it doesn’t need to be an either-or scenario. Most successful products provide a system of records or a system of experience, and it is extremely difficult to accomplish both. An efficient education system that moves the needle closer to a “single-source of student data” will require both types of players.</p><p>The focus on data bubbled up concerns about privacy and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the U.S. federal law that mandates access to student information by public entities. Not only do these firms have to comply with data regulation, but they also have to think about how data moves across different systems and adhere to particular data standards. By the end of the session it was clear that a one-size approach was not a solution at all when it comes to school efficiency. As Gregg Scoresby noted: You wouldn’t want one app on your iPhone that does it all. So why would you want that in a school?</p>From left: Seth Reynolds (EY-Parthenon), Dave Goldberg (Cadence Education), David Evans (Childcare Network), Ricardo Campo (Endeavor Schools), Jean-Emmanuel Rodocanachi (Grandir), Mark Bierley (Learning Care Group)<br><h2>You’ll pry that test from my cold, ink-stained bubbles.</h2><p>Testing is controversial, especially how far the pendulum has swung toward tests for nearly every skill and subject. Panelists at a session on assessment and achievement, all representing assessment firms, seemed convinced there was a burgeoning move away from “endless subject testing,” as CEO Greg Watson of GL Education Group put it—not just in the U.S. and U.K. but even in China as well.</p><p>Of more interest now? Getting to the underlying reasons why a student has trouble learning. But don’t let the no-more-testing pendulum overcorrect, suggested an almost wistful Chris Minnich, CEO of the long-time assessment organization Northwest Evaluation Association, or NWEA: “I agree with what you said … [but] um, I still want to know if my kid can read.”</p><h2>It’s the Cadillac of parental privilege, too.</h2><p>A session on the potential of education-focused early childhood centers that go beyond “custodial care” (a.k.a. daylong babysitting) was upbeat for several reasons: A highly fragmented market, in which the top 50 providers have less than 10 percent of the market. A lot more working mothers and fathers. And a thirst, even with the threat of an economic downturn, for quality center-based care as parents may need day-care time to find new work or retrain.</p><p>While the panelists weren’t in full agreement on whether parents care more about the “brand” of an existing local center, versus a national brand name, brands did appear of outsized importance to one group: the well-off households. </p><p>Dave Goldberg, president and CEO of Cadence Education, noted that the more affluent the area, the better its branded schools did. “These are people who drive Mercedes, drink Starbucks, and wear Rolex,” he observed, perhaps wryly, “and their ego does not break down (for childcare) when it comes to brand.”</p><h2>What’s impact?</h2><p>Phil Alphonse, a senior partner at The Vistria Group, pointed to the “rise of impact investing” as a disruptive emerging trend in the edtech investment world. “Millennial families want to measure their investment funds responsibly,” he noted, adding another layer of accountability by nudging them to consider “outcomes” as well as financial returns.</p>From left: Doug Becker (Sterling Partners), Jason Brein (Francisco Partners), Ryan Hinkle (Insight Venture Partners), Richard Sarnoff (KKR), Phil Alphonse (The Vistria Group)<p>Certainly many investors referenced their social mission on panels and in hallway chatter. But measuring outcomes is still a work in progress. Early indicators include: employee engagement, the makeup of the workforce and racial balance.</p><h2>Don’t bet on these.</h2><p>Luncheon keynote panel moderator, Doug Becker, co-founder of Sterling Partners, asked panelists what would be a “no-go” signal in an edtech investment decision. They rattled off some measurable stats:</p><ul> <li>Phil Alphonse: No scale. (Company revenues should be above $10 million).</li> <li>Richard Sarnoff, of KKR: “People we don’t believe in.”</li> <li>Ryan Hinkle, managing director of Insight Venture Partners: Companies proposing to tackle hard-to-beat, core products.</li> <li>Jason Brein, a partner at Francisco Partners: Loss-making companies.</li> </ul><p>Not exactly rocket science.</p><h2>A slow-moving quote wreck.</h2><p>For all of the changes in the education investment landscape over the past decade, some truths appear eternal. Or at least are spoken eternally.</p><p>At the keynote luncheon panel, Sarnoff responded to a question about where to invest in education with the snappy, “It is a get-rich-slow scheme. You have to have patience, fortitude … and a kind of belief.” </p><p>The get-rich-slow part of the observation, though a guaranteed laugh-getter, is not original. It dates to investor chatter going back to <a href="https://www.geekwire.com/2012/coming-tech-bubble-education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">at least 2012</a>, even before the peaks of U.S. edtech funding this decade in 2015 and 2018. </p><p>But Sarnoff does get props for expanding upon it, and for his answer when asked whether data privacy was going to matter more as artificial intelligence (AI) enters education. His answered the question with another question: “Is data privacy going to matter when we’re all working for our AI overlords?”</p> ‘Back to School’ Hijinks and Lessons for the Education Industry Photo Credit: Tony Wan To Retain College Students, Look to Academic Support and Campus Activities, New Report Finds /news/2019-09-12-to-retain-college-students-look-to-academic-support-and-campus-activities-new-report-finds /news/2019-09-12-to-retain-college-students-look-to-academic-support-and-campus-activities-new-report-finds#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Higher Education Thu, 12 Sep 2019 18:07:07 -0400 post-guid-c38af7a1 What keeps college students coming back for more? A new report on the effects college programs have on student retention attempts to answer that ... <p>What keeps college students coming back for more? A new report on the effects college programs have on student retention attempts to answer that question. </p><p>Academic advising meetings, Greek life, supplemental instruction, scholarships and tutoring are the programs that correlate most with improved student retention rates, according to a <a href="https://www.civitaslearning.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">study of nearly 1,000 initiatives</a> at more than 55 colleges and universities conducted by Civitas Learning, which sells software that uses predictive modeling to help colleges to track and support student success. </p><p>“In the first few years, non-academic supports tend to be really important and have more impact. After the fourth or fifth term, academic supports tend to kick in,” says Mark Milliron, chief learning officer and co-founder of Civitas Learning.</p><p>To encourage students to take advantage of extracurricular activities that may improve their chances of staying enrolled and complement their classroom learning, the University of Central Oklahoma devised a system that awards digital badges for participation in events and clubs and also compiles evidence for interested future employers.</p><p><strong>Measuring Retention</strong></p><p>Sometimes called student success or persistence, retention rates of students who return from term to term or year to year is tricky for college leaders to predict and influence. Many institutions have room for improvement. </p><p>From fall 2016 to fall 2017, <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_ctr.asp" target="_blank" rel="noopener">retention rates</a> for first-time, full-time undergraduate students seeking degrees at four-year colleges was 81 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. At the most selective schools, retention was 96 percent. At public institutions with open admissions policies, it was 62 percent; at private nonprofit institutions with open admissions policies, it was 66 percent. At private for-profits, it was 54 percent. </p><p>Students who don’t return to the campus where they started as freshmen haven’t necessarily dropped out, however; nearly one in eight students who start college in any fall term <a href="https://nscresearchcenter.org/snapshotreport33-first-year-persistence-and-retention/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">transfer to a different institution by the next fall</a>, according to a 2018 report from NSC Research Center. </p><p>For its new report, Civitas dug into the data it helps colleges collect on students’ daily activities to figure out which programs most correlate with better retention from year to year. To do this, it compared students who participated in particular programs with a control group of non-participating students whose characteristics matched closely. </p><p>Overall, the programs associated with the highest percentage point increase in student retention over the control group were: </p><ul> <li>Advisor meetings: 5.80 percentage point increase</li> <li>Greek life: 3.79 percentage point increase</li> <li>Supplemental instruction: 3.43 percentage point increase</li> <li>Scholarships: 3.24 percentage point increase</li> <li>Tutoring: 3.02 percentage point increase</li> </ul><p>This means, for example, that students who participated in advisor meetings returned to campus the following term at a rate of 5.8 percentage points higher than would be expected had they not gone to those meetings. </p><p>Supplemental instruction is a <a href="https://info.umkc.edu/si/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">method of peer-led group study</a> developed in the 1970s at the University of Missouri at Kansas City that is now used at institutions throughout the world, says Julie Collins, executive director of The International Center for Supplemental Instruction at UMKC. Students who have been successful in particularly challenging courses, like organic chemistry or college algebra, are trained to guide other students through study sessions related to those courses. </p><p>Using the Civitas methodology, UMKC determined that students who participated in at least three supplemental instruction sessions on its campus were retained at a higher rate than students who didn’t, resulting in the retention of about 78 more students.</p><p>Early warning systems designed to <a href="/news/2018-03-08-when-student-success-efforts-backfire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tell students they’re headed toward academic trouble</a> actually correlate with drops in retention, Milliron says, noting that the way these interventions are worded may matter a lot. </p><p>Program effects vary by student characteristics. When broken down by race, only white students saw retention boosts associated with Greek life, while black and Hispanic students saw lifts associated with first-year seminars. Effects also vary by campus, Milliron cautions, which means some programs that showed a neutral correlation to retention for the overall set of students studied may be beneficial for some individuals. </p><p>“We have to be careful about one-size-fits-all,” he says. “What’s the right thing for the right student at the right time deployed in the right way? What’s the right recipe for which set of students?” </p><p>Still, Milliron hopes that the report findings will encourage college leaders to question their assumptions about what’s working on their own campuses and more thoroughly test strategies. Some of those may be behavioral science interventions, although “<a href="https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20190904-nudging-fail" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nudging” efforts have lately seen mixed results</a>. </p><p>Another tactic may simply be sharing results with students. </p><p>“I’m a big believer in telling students the truth,” Milliron says. “They’ll navigate a lot of things if you can tell them, ‘students who go to at least three events are more likely to succeed.’”</p><p> <strong>Social Ties that Bind</strong> </p><p>Convincing students that it’s important to take advantage of academic support services seems intuitive. Selling them on extracurricular events may be more difficult. And yet students who participate in clubs and activities, like fraternities and sororities, forge deeper ties to their institutions, Milliron says. </p><p>“We are assuming colleges are a collection of classes. Colleges at their best are a family of experiences that include classes,” he says. “Getting students to go to a club, those social connections are a big deal.” </p><p>Students who live on campus may have an easier time accessing meetings and events than their peers who commute, who often “don’t have time or don’t seek out these activities because they think they need to get home as quickly as possible,” says Jeff King, executive director of the Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Oklahoma. </p><p>That’s one reason why Central Oklahoma put in place a co-curricular transcript program called Student Transformative Learning Record, or STLR. It’s designed to encourage students at the mostly commuter school to participate in activities that teach cultural competency, health, creativity and scholarship, leadership and civic engagement by awarding them badges in each area. </p><p>To earn a basic “exposure” badge, a student signs in with a student ID to a campus event or club meeting, such as the fall musical or the Pasaporte al Mundo Latino Wednesday Lecture Series. Earning a higher-level badge requires students to create what King calls “a reflective artifact,” such as an essay or journal, which a faculty or staff member grades according to a rubric. When it’s time to think about finding a job, the STLR transcript can be used to show employers what students have accomplished outside of the classroom. </p><p>Central Oklahoma students who use STLR have 12 to 15 percent better retention rates than those that don’t, King says. School leaders especially hoped the tool would help shrink the retention gap between its first-generation, low-income and minority students and its general population, and “it just about has,” he’s found. “It’s a huge difference from where we were when we started.” Even students who only earn “exposure” level badges for swiping into extracurricular events have higher retention rates than their peers. </p><p>These STLR results have inspired copycat programs throughout the U.S. and even internationally, with colleges in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore creating their own co-curricular transcript systems, King says. To teach interested college leaders, Central Oklahoma runs a <a href="http://sites.uco.edu/central/tl/conference/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">STLR Institute</a> during its annual Transformative Learning conference. </p><p>Most importantly to Central Oklahoma, the program has caught on with its own students. Those who earn the highest level badge in one of the five categories can earn a colored cord to wear at graduation, and in spring 2018, the school had its first “rainbow grad”: a student who earned top honors in all the STLR areas. </p> To Retain College Students, Look to Academic Support and Campus Activities, New Report Finds Africa Studio/Shutterstock Layoffs, Deferred Tuition and More Transparency Among 2U Changes Since Stock Fall /news/2019-09-12-layoffs-deferred-tuition-and-more-transparency-among-2u-changes-since-stock-fall /news/2019-09-12-layoffs-deferred-tuition-and-more-transparency-among-2u-changes-since-stock-fall#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Digital Learning in Higher Ed Thu, 12 Sep 2019 16:05:14 -0400 post-guid-b2e0c508 2U CEO Chip Paucek came to New York this week in part to assuage concerns around his publicly traded online degree program provider. In July, the ... <p>2U CEO Chip Paucek came to New York this week in part to assuage concerns around his publicly traded online degree program provider. In July, the online education company’s stock <a href="/news/2019-07-31-2u-stock-tumbles-after-online-degree-company-lowers-growth-expectations-for-2019" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tumbled</a> more than 50 percent after Paucek announced that the company expects double the net loss for this fiscal year and it would debut fewer graduate programs in 2020.</p><p>“The stock has taken a hit, but the company is doing great,” Paucek said in an interview just before taking the stage at the annual Back to School conference hosted by the BMO Capital Markets investment bank.</p><p>The price of the stock has crept upward to $19.57 at the market’s open on Tuesday, up from $12.80 on July 30. Since then, the company has unveiled several updates to remain competitive with a changing online program management market.</p><p>On the morning of the conference, the company unveiled a <a href="https://www.simmons.edu/news/2u-inc-announces-zero-interest-deferred-tuition-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">deferred tuition payment plan</a>, where eligible students can defer up to 50 percent of total tuition until after graduation. They then pay no more than 10 percent of their annual income until they’ve paid back what they deferred. 2U partnered with education funding platform EdAid to offer the plan. Simmons University’s School of Nursing is the first 2U partner to offer students this option.</p><p>Paucek claims the payment plan differs from the <a href="/news/2019-02-15-so-you-want-to-offer-an-income-share-agreement-here-s-how-5-colleges-are-doing-it" target="_blank" rel="noopener">income-share agreements</a> popular with coding bootcamps. He says the 2U plan is a regulated credit agreement with no private investors whereas income-share agreements remain unregulated, funded by private investors targeting returns of 15 to 20 percent a year. </p><p>Unlike deferment plans, students who accept income-share agreements can sometimes pay back much more than the cost of upfront tuition, he notes. Purdue students who use the Indiana university’s income-share agreement, for example, pay <a href="https://www.purdue.edu/backaboiler/disclosure/application.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a maximum of 2.5 times</a> their funding amount over the payment term, regardless of earned income. </p><p>A day before, the company also <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2u-inc-announces-industry-leading-framework-for-transparency-300915759.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">committed</a> to publishing a transparency report in 2020, which will offer details on its programs. Data will include enrollment breakdowns by gender, race and age; retention and graduation; employment and license passage outcomes; ad and digital marketing spend; time to completion; average attendance rates, student satisfaction ratings and hour requirements. “We have nothing to hide,” Paucek says. </p><p>Paucek also announced the company merged its student admissions and student support teams and slashed 1.5 percent of its staff, which now numbers nearly 4,000 employees. </p><p>The cuts, he added, will save the company up to $3.5 million during the second half of the year and up to $12 million in annualized savings. The employees affected are mostly management-level.</p><p>And despite tempered expectations, 2U’s core business in online graduate programs continues to grow. The company is offering a new online master’s degree in social work program with Syracuse University. It has also <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2u-inc-and-keypath-education-join-emerson-college-to-deliver-online-ma-in-digital-marketing-and-data-analytics-300916984.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">partnered</a> with online program manager Keypath Education and Emerson College in Boston for an online master’s degree in digital marketing and analytics.</p><p>2U claims to serve over 150,000 students with over 250 digital and in-person education offerings, including graduate programs, certificates, bootcamps and short courses.</p><p>Paucek wasn’t part of a separate discussion on outsourced services for universities, but others in the industry debated whether 2U’s approach—offering bundled services in return for a large share of the school’s tuition revenue—is a viable business model. </p><p>John Katzman, a former 2U CEO and co-founder alongside Paucek, told the crowd 2U’s stock trouble is proof that revenue-share graduate programs are dead. Katzman’s current online program manager, Noodle Partners, offers its services a la carte instead of in 2U’s traditional bundled model. “Investors looking for a deus ex machina, it’s not coming,” he said.</p><p>Steve Fireng, CEO of online program manager Keypath Education, disagreed. Some universities still request the revenue-share graduate program model, he said. “The model isn’t dead,” he said. “It’s different.” </p> Layoffs, Deferred Tuition and More Transparency Among 2U Changes Since Stock Fall Wade Tyler Millward / EdSurge Not Just Classroom Supplies: Teachers Also Buy Edtech With Their Own Money /news/2019-09-11-not-just-classroom-supplies-teachers-also-buy-edtech-with-their-own-money /news/2019-09-11-not-just-classroom-supplies-teachers-also-buy-edtech-with-their-own-money#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Surveys Practice and Implementation Strategies Technology Tips Thu, 12 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0400 post-guid-35be60dd When new trends become the norm, report findings sometimes elicit more shrugs than surprise. That’s arguably the case for U.S. smartphone and Wi-Fi ... <p>When new trends become the norm, report findings sometimes elicit more shrugs than surprise. That’s arguably the case for U.S. smartphone and Wi-Fi adoption, which continues to grow unabated as evidenced in <a href="https://www.bondcap.com/pdf/Internet_Trends_2019.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">latest internet trends deck</a> from renowned investor Mary Meeker.</p><p>In education technology, a litany of surveys published this decade have touted the growing adoption of digital learning tools. Recent studies by <a href="https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/us-tmt-digital-education-survey.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Deloitte</a> and the <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/edtech-production/reports/Teachers-Know-Best_0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Gates Foundation</a> have shed light into how educators engage with edtech.</p><p>Now adding to that list is one of the most thorough efforts—a <a href="http://www.newschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Gallup-Ed-Tech-Use-in-Schools-2.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">new survey</a> from Gallup and <a href="https://www.newschools.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NewSchools Venture Fund</a>, a nonprofit that provides grants to education technology and innovation efforts.</p><p>Surveying 3,210 teachers, 1,163 principals, 1,219 district administrators and 2,696 students across the country, the report offers one of the most comprehensive looks at their attitudes toward digital learning tools and how they use them. </p><p>The bird’s-eye results: 65 percent of teachers say they use digital learning tools every day; 87 percent report using them at least a few days each week. And about 70 percent of students say that they use edtech tools outside of schools on a weekly basis.</p><p>Those numbers suggest edtech is steadily marching into schools and classrooms. That’s music to the ears of industry leaders who have funded and built many of these digital tools. It is also not too surprising, given that for much of this decade businesses and governments have laid the infrastructure needed to support online learning, through enabling <a href="/news/2019-04-04-mission-almost-accomplished-nonprofit-educationsuperhighway-prepares-to-sunset" target="_blank" rel="noopener">better broadband internet access</a> and providing cheap computing devices to schools.</p><p>But beyond the high-level numbers, the report also examines the factors that shape what educators choose to use, the supports and obstacles they encounter and the changes they want to see.</p><h2>A different ‘digital divide’ has emerged.</h2><p>The “digital divide” in education technology often refers to concerns over whether those from underprivileged backgrounds have access to instructional software and tools. But as the usage and positive perception of digital learning tools grow in U.S. schools, that term may be taking on a different meaning.</p><p>Two-thirds of teachers from high-poverty schools say they teach with edtech every day, which is on par with the response (62 percent) from their peers in low-poverty schools. A noticeably higher percentage of educators from high-poverty schools believe that digital tools are helpful for students, versus their peers in low-poverty environments (70 percent versus 48 percent).</p><p>“The question now is not ‘if,’ but ‘how’ digital learning tools are being used,” says Stephanie Marken, executive director of education research at Gallup.</p><p>An accompanying blog post published by NewSchools Venture Fund noted that “fewer teachers in high-poverty schools say they use ed tech for collaboration, creation and independent research” than their peers in low poverty areas. </p><p>“An individual tool is only as good as the educator who is implementing it,” says Marken. “Anything we introduce, whether it be a pencil, a piece of paper, textbook or technology, will fail if teachers are not prepared to use them effectively.”</p><p>To that point, the report found that a lack of training and professional development is the most highly cited reason that teachers give for not using digital learning tools. More than half of teachers and administrators, and 49 percent of principals, agree with this sentiment.</p>Source: Gallup / NewSchools Venture Fund<h2>More than 4 in 10 teachers report spending their own money to buy digital learning tools. Administrators believe the number is lower.</h2><p>Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that teachers spend out of pocket on classroom materials. Last year, a U.S. Department of Education <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018097" target="_blank" rel="noopener">survey</a> found that 94 percent of teachers do so, spending $479 on average.</p><p>It appears some of these purchases are moving into the digital realm as well. According to the survey, 43 percent of teachers say they purchase digital learning with their own money. By contrast, only about one-third of principals and administrators say their teachers are spending out of pocket; school leaders overwhelming report their schools and districts are the ones paying.</p>Source: Gallup / NewSchools Venture Fund<p>“Teachers are consistently buying their own resources, and for individual teachers who do this [for digital purchases], I can’t imagine how this doesn’t add to the list of reasons that they are frustrated. It’s a real problem,” says Marken. </p><p>Purchasing decisions about digital learning tools are often made, or at least informed, by school officials for several reasons, among which are ensuring that data privacy and security protocols are in place. Not all teachers are aware or knowledgeable about what to look for.</p><p>“There’s got to be a balance between making sure teachers have some autonomy in choosing and buying their tools, and effectively giving them the information they need to make those decisions responsibly,” Marken adds.</p><h2>Without reliable and accessible information about the effectiveness of digital learning tools, most educators consult one another to decide what to use.</h2><p>“One of the challenges we saw in this study is that teachers still feel like they don’t have sufficient information about effectiveness before choosing a tool,” says Marken. In the report, only about a quarter of teachers, principals and administrators say there is “a lot” of information available about the effectiveness of edtech products. </p><p>In the absence of such information, all three educator roles overwhelmingly listed “other teachers” as the among the most trustworthy sources that inform what digital tools they use in classrooms.</p>Source: Gallup / NewSchools Venture Fund<br><p>That’s not to say that case studies and efficacy reports don’t exist. A number of efforts from the nonprofits including Digital Promise and the Jefferson Education Exchange have been trying to make efficacy research more available, accessible and digestible for educators. But there’s still much room for improvement. For teachers especially, evidence-based reports and case studies ranked near the bottom of resources that they say they trust. (By contrast, principals and administrators view research more favorably.)</p><p>“That’s not necessarily a bad thing that teachers rely on each other, because they have the most practical insights into how tools can be used in the classroom,” observes Marken. At the same time, “this is a call to action to think about how we can scale existing research and information, and make them more widely accessible.”</p><p>Schools are not hesitant to pull the plug on duds, however. Sixty-five percent of administrators said that their district has stopped using an edtech product, with the most common reason being that it did not improve learning outcomes.</p><h2>What Teachers and Students Value Most</h2><p>When deciding what to use, teachers say they value tools that provide immediate and actionable data on students’ progress, followed by those that allow them to personalize their instruction based on students’ different needs and skill levels.</p><p>“Teachers want data that make it possible for them to adapt their instruction,” says Marken. “That should be an important factor for edtech developers to keep in mind as they consider how their products can help [teachers] in their work.”</p>Source: Gallup / NewSchools Venture Fund<p>As for the thousands of students who were also surveyed for this report? Many of them said they wished tools could be “more interesting” and “more fun.” Without more specificity, it’s unclear what developers could take away from these comments. But suffice it to say, kids expect that the tech they use in schools should resemble the tools they use at home or for fun, says Debbie Veney, director of communications and policy at NewSchools Venture Fund.</p><p>“From ordering a pizza to learning in school, today’s digital native kids expect a high-end user experience,” she says. “They believe that edtech should deliver not just instructional value, but should also be entertaining and attractive.”</p> Not Just Classroom Supplies: Teachers Also Buy Edtech With Their Own Money Shutterstock MIT Media Lab Funding Scandal Could Have Far-Reaching Impacts /news/2019-09-11-mit-media-lab-funding-scandal-could-have-far-reaching-impacts /news/2019-09-11-mit-media-lab-funding-scandal-could-have-far-reaching-impacts#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology Higher Education Wed, 11 Sep 2019 18:53:44 -0400 post-guid-9b8af429 As the MIT Media Lab continues a reckoning over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein, tech and innovation leaders at other campuses say the scandal will likely ... <p>As the MIT Media Lab continues a reckoning over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein, tech and innovation leaders at other campuses say the scandal will likely have ripple effects across higher education.</p><p>The lab’s director, Joi Ito, resigned over the weekend, just hours after The New Yorker published a <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-an-elite-university-research-center-concealed-its-relationship-with-jeffrey-epstein" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bombshell story</a> about how Ito and the Media Lab had taken more money from Epstein than previously disclosed, and that the the lab sought to keep the donations secret by marking them anonymous.</p><p>The saga has been unfolding as a highly public soap opera since late August, when a Media Lab professor, Ethan Zuckerman, <a href="https://medium.com/@EthanZ/on-me-and-the-media-lab-715bfc707f6f" target="_blank" rel="noopener">decided to cut ties with the Media Lab in protest</a> after he learned that the lab had accepted gifts from Epstein and allowed the disgraced financier to visit the lab even after Epstein had been convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. Epstein <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jeffrey-epstein-found-dead-nyc-jail-n1041081" target="_blank" rel="noopener">died in federal prison</a> in an apparent suicide last month while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.</p><p>Just yesterday, a <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/09/09/top-mit-officials-knew-epstein-ties-media-lab-mails-show/OFEzFtD0mgic2zzXOSPe9J/story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Boston Globe report</a> found that top MIT officials also knew of the Media Lab’s close ties with Epstein, even though the university had classified Epstein as “disqualified” as a donor. This week the university’s president, Rafael Reif, sent <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2019/letter-regarding-updates-media-lab-0910" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an email</a> to the MIT community announcing that the institute has hired an outside law firm, Goodwin Procter, to investigate Jeffrey Epstein’s interactions with MIT.</p><p>Just as the Varsity Blues admissions scandal raised broader questions about the fairness of the admissions process at selective colleges, the Media Lab scandal is sparking fresh scrutiny of the world of college fundraising, some officials say.</p><p>“I think this is not just about MIT—there are more shoes to drop,” says Michael Berman, chief innovation officer and deputy CIO at the California State University’s chancellor's office. “I expect we’re going to find a more pervasive culture of corruption around fundraising that’s going to be pretty disturbing.”</p><p>The questionable practices by the Media Lab will likely confirm the belief among many professors that colleges should remain cloistered from the world of business and finance, says Kristen Eshleman, director of digital learning, research and design at Davidson College. “It exposes that raw nerve that a lot of faculty and a lot of people have,” she adds. “For faculty who are already skeptical, it makes them dig in even deeper.”</p><p>Eshleman expects that it will make her job harder, since she has proposed that her college work on a project that involves private companies and a venture firm. “It makes it that much more difficult to do public-private partnerships when you have bad people doing bad things,” she says. </p><p>Colleges should be wary, and extra careful, when partnering with the corporate sector, where values and goals may be different, she insists. “It’s always riskier,” she says. But she believes there are ethical ways to structure the relationships and appropriate partners to work with.</p><p>“This just makes it harder—thanks, MIT,” she adds, with a sigh.</p><p>In the spirit of disclosure, I should note that I have audited classes at the Media Lab while I was a journalism fellow at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation and a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center on Internet and Society five years ago. One of the Media Lab classes I took was with Ethan Zuckerman. I also worked on an informal <a href="http://wearablediaries.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research project</a> with a doctoral student at the lab. The irony of this scandal is that all of the people I met and interacted seemed driven to create technology that would make a difference in people’s lives and address serious societal issues in a positive way. Which may be one reason the revelations about ties to Epstein are being met with such passion.</p><h2>An Unusual Funding Model</h2><p>While the Media Lab has long enjoyed a kind of celebrity status, in its earliest days it drew criticism for its unusual funding model, which has turned it into a kind of clubhouse where companies who support the lab can visit and interact with students and professors.</p><p>The Media Lab has 80 corporate “members” who contribute a subscription fee that pays the majority of the bills for the operation, which has an annual budget of <a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/about/funding-and-support/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about $75-million</a>. Those corporate members “range from electronics to entertainment, fashion to health care, and toys to telecommunications,” according to the lab’s website.</p><p>The member companies get little or no say in what research is conducted, but they are allowed to send representatives to visit the lab and talk to students and researchers about tech trends and get early access to research findings.</p><p>Those interactions with business leaders have apparently brought occasional tension within the lab. A 2015 email to the Media Lab community by Joi Ito notes reports of improper conduct by visiting business representatives. </p><p>“At last week's Lab Diversity Committee meeting we discussed the fact that some representatives of member companies, on occasion, have acted in a sexist, racist, or culturally insensitive manner with our students,” the email read. It went on to say that anyone experiencing such conduct should report it to officials immediately. “This behavior will not be tolerated. Period,” the email concluded. That email was one of many released to reporters this week by a former Media Lab staff member via the legal nonprofit Whistleblower Aid. The same batch of emails revealed that officials went to great lengths to make sure gifts from Epstein were kept anonymous.</p><p>Epstein visited the Media Lab that year, according to The New Yorker article, though staff were instructed to make sure that Zuckerman—who raised objections to the relationship back in 2013—be kept away from any glass-walled office where Epstein was meeting with people, and the visit was listed as simply as a “V.I.P. visit” on the official calendar.</p><p>Joi Ito was apparently conflicted about whether or not to accept money from Epstein, and turned to colleagues for advice on how to handle the situation. One friend he consulted was Lawrence Lessig, a prominent Harvard Law School professor, according to a <a href="https://medium.com/@lessig/on-joi-and-mit-3cb422fe5ae7" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Medium post</a> by Lessig this week. The professor argued that if Ito were to take money from Epstein, the only way to do so ethically was to do it anonymously, so that the donation would not “whitewash” the disgraced financier’s reputation.</p><p>“Since time immemorial, there have been people or families keen to wash away the stains of blood money. Or at least, to burnish the ambiguity of their reputation by leveraging the brand of great universities,” he wrote, citing the Rockefeller and Carnegie families. “I think that universities should not be the launderers of reputation. I think that they should not accept blood money. Or more precisely, I believe that if they are going to accept blood money ... or the money from people convicted of a crime... they should only ever accept that money anonymously.”</p><p>In his Medium post, Lessig goes on to say that he ended up giving his friend the wrong kind of advice. “I am ashamed—ashamed—that I did not do for my friend the one thing I was uniquely qualified to do: I am ashamed that I did not let him see just how hurtful it was to imagine slime like Epstein living within the walls of MIT, even if hidden by promises of anonymity.”</p> MIT Media Lab Funding Scandal Could Have Far-Reaching Impacts Photo by Jeffrey R. Young Amira Raises $5 Million to Boost Literacy Through Voice Recognition Product /news/2019-09-11-amira-raises-5-million-to-boost-literacy-through-voice-recognition-product /news/2019-09-11-amira-raises-5-million-to-boost-literacy-through-voice-recognition-product#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Literacy Artificial Intelligence Financing Wed, 11 Sep 2019 06:00:00 -0400 post-guid-38bde8e9 A digital model of a woman with short dark hair and a green jacket pictured in the corner of the computer screen stops a student mid-sentence. The ... <p>A digital model of a woman with short dark hair and a green jacket pictured in the corner of the computer screen stops a student mid-sentence. The student has mispronounced the word “stripes” as “strips.” </p><p>The model, Amira, states a word that rhymes with “stripes” to help the student. “Now you try reading this word,” Amira says in a robotic tone. “Strips,” the student says slowly. “Stripes.” </p><p>“Keep going,” Amira says, giving the student permission to continue reading the passage aloud.</p><p>Such is a typical interaction between readers in grades K-3 and Amira the computer model, part of a reading assessment tool created by startup Amira Learning. Currently used in about about 20 school districts nationwide, the San Francisco-based company hopes to dramatically grow that number with an injection of new capital.</p><p>Amira Learning has raised $5 million in a Series A round, bringing its total capital <a href="/news/2018-09-20-ai-reading-startup-led-by-former-renaissance-learning-execs-raises-3-million" target="_blank" rel="noopener">raised to $8 million</a>. Owl Ventures led this round with participation from GSV AcceleraTE, Rethink Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the textbook publisher and a distribution partner of Amira’s.</p>A demonstration of Amira from Amira Learning's YouTube channel.<p>The tool listens as students read passages aloud and through speech recognition technology determines how well they read. It even track any hints of learning disorders such as dyslexia, claims CEO Mark Angel, 61. Amira licensed the algorithms powering its tool from Carnegie Mellon University, and the assessment content is licensed from the University of Houston and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.</p><p>The professors who created the algorithms and content serve as advisers and consultants to Amira. Angel says those investments will keep Amira ahead of any competitors. “The IP in Amira is impossible to replicate at this point,” he claims.</p><p>Schools that currently use the tool include Stockton Unified School District in California and the St. Joachim Catholic School in Hayward, Calif.</p><p>Amira Assessment costs about $5 per student per year. Dyslexia Screener costs about $2.50 per student, and interactive Amira Practice costs about $10 per user. </p><p>Amira was originally created in March 2017 as Lexa Reading. Angel joined Amira as CEO in June 2018, having previously served as Renaissance Learning’s chief technology officer for over five years. Angel says he already foresees raising a future Series B that will put the company closer to $20 million in total capital raised. </p><p>The company has about 15 full-time employees. Angel hopes to grow the team with new data scientists and customer support specialists. He also plans to grow its footprint to international markets and create a direct-to-consumer product. Efforts are also underway to add Spanish language support to assist those who are learning English as a second language.</p> Amira Raises $5 Million to Boost Literacy Through Voice Recognition Product By Irina Levitskaya / Shutterstock A Bored Student Hacked His School’s Systems. Will the Edtech Industry Pay Attention? /news/2019-09-10-a-bored-student-hacked-his-school-s-systems-will-the-edtech-industry-pay-attention /news/2019-09-10-a-bored-student-hacked-his-school-s-systems-will-the-edtech-industry-pay-attention#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology EdSurge Podcast Cybersecurity Edtech Business Data Privacy Tue, 10 Sep 2019 10:25:54 -0400 post-guid-4fd5f86d This week on the podcast we’re talking about cybersecurity at schools—and how secure, or in some cases how vulnerable, the tech systems in school ... <p>This week on the podcast we’re talking about cybersecurity at schools—and how secure, or in some cases how vulnerable, the tech systems in school systems are these days. </p><p>We’re focusing on a pretty unusual story about Bill Demirkapi, who had a pretty odd hobby while he was in high school in Lexington, Massachusetts. While many kids might play video games or just goof around when they get bored, Demirkapi decided to go poke around in some of the computer systems that his school uses. </p><p>Specifically, he tried to get into the student information system built by Follett, and Blackboard’s communication tool, which are two of the most widely used edtech systems in the country. Essentially these are the tools used by his former school to store grades and student records, and manage communications.</p><p>He said he’s long been interested in computers, and thought it would be “cool” to be a hacker like he had seen in Hollywood movies. He even has a motto, posted prominently on his blog about security issues, that says he wants to break anything and everything.</p><p>So what was the student able to see when he tried out his hacking skills on his own school?</p><p>When he started poking around these systems built by Blackboard and Follett, he found that he was able to access millions of records, things from test grades to medical records, what they eat for lunch, all kinds of things. Some of what he was able to find actually surprised him.</p><p>Listen to the story on this week’s <a href="/research/guides/the-edsurge-on-air-podcast" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge On Air podcast</a>. You can follow the podcast on the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/edsurge-on-air/id972239500#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcast app</a>, <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/5Omg7s9kRYFgt4jEynpdoL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a>, <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/edsurge-on-air" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stitcher</a>, <a href="https://playmusic.app.goo.gl/?ibi=com.google.PlayMusic&amp;isi=691797987&amp;ius=googleplaymusic&amp;apn=com.google.android.music&amp;link=https://play.google.com/music/m/I7nkf7dakczcktkcfo7enioewc4?t=EdSurge_On_Air&amp;pcampaignid=MKT-na-all-co-pr-mu-pod-16" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Google Play Music</a> or wherever you listen. Or read a transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.</p><p><strong>Bill Demirkapi:</strong> I saw a little over 34,000 immunization records on Blackboard’s database, and it was concerning to see how much data the school had on a database, and what they trusted Blackboard with.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: The student reported the security holes to both companies. At least he tried to. In the case of Follett, Demirkapi didn't feel like he was heard when he sent his initial emails. So when he didn't hear anything back, he took things a little bit further.</strong></p><p><strong>Demirkapi:</strong> What I found was one of the improper access control vulnerabilities allowed me to add something called a “group resource.” A group resource is something that whenever you logged into [Follett’s] Aspen [student information system], there’d be a list of group resources. I think schools could use this to add useful links, like the student handbook or the school calendar. But I found out that I could actually add my own group resource as a student. So what I did was I added one of these group resources and said, “Hey, hello. My name is Bill Demirkapi.” And I said, “At Follett Corporation, there’s no security.”</p><hr><a href="https://www.edgilityconsulting.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a><h2>This week’s podcast is brought to you by <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Edgility Consulting</a>:</h2><h2>A full service national executive search and talent consulting firm, Edgility helps clients find, hire and support the talent they need to make a difference in the lives of youth. Put us to work for you.</h2><h2>Learn more at <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.edgilityconsulting.com</a>.</h2><hr><p>It turns out it actually got a little bit farther than I expected. Basically, whenever you logged in, you would see that if you’re in my district. The school administration wasn't that happy with it—understandably. And yeah, I did get suspended for two days for creating a major disturbance.</p><p><strong>Blackboard didn’t respond either, which also frustrated him.</strong></p>Bill Demirkapi<p><strong>Demirkapi:</strong> No vendor had ever just ignored me or left me on the spot. Although that’s actually a reality in the real world, I didn’t know that. So I felt a little bit disrespected, too. I said, “Your Blackboard security commitment says you’re going to do this, this and this. You’ve only done step one. You know, this is kind of disrespectful to me because I’m doing your IT department’s job for them and for free. I want to keep searching, but you’re not showing me the respect that I deserve. And this is absurd.” I even sent them a screenshot that I caught them red-handed.</p><p><strong>At some point, Demirkapi went to his school administration and they set up calls with the companies. And that’s when he got more of a response from company officials, since at that point it was a customer—the school officials—who were complaining.</strong></p><p><strong>Wired Magazine, which is <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/teen-hacker-school-software-blackboard-follett/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">where we first heard about the story</a>, reached out to both companies. Follett said they appreciated his help, but also stated that the security flaw that he found would not have given him access to the data of other students other than his own. But that’s not what Demirkapi says. He says he probably could have accessed more data.</strong></p><p><strong>Blackboard also downplayed the incident and said that there was no evidence that anyone other than Demirkapi had exploited the flaw that he had found, so no one else to their knowledge was able to see the data.</strong></p><p><strong>To understand how unusual or how common this all is, we reached out to Doug Levin, a K-12 cybersecurity researcher, to learn a little bit more about how common or common-place these incidents are. We first asked how often he finds security flaws in edtech products.</strong></p><p><strong>Doug Levin:</strong> I’m seeing a new incident reported about a public school at least every couple of days. Since I’ve been tracking from 2016 forward, I have identified nearly 600 incidents that have occurred of varying severity. An incident is not the same from place to place. Some involve thousands of students or teachers and others may affect a small number, but those are only the ones I know about. I strongly suspect there may be 10 to 20 times more incidents that are occurring that are not made publicly available.</p><p>As we look around the world today, we’re seeing major companies and governments involved in these conversations, talking about things like our election systems. Just now, we were talking about the CEO of Twitter [Jack Dorsey] who appears to have had his account compromised.</p><p>When major technology companies are having these issues, when the federal government is having these issues, it’s not surprising that schools are also affected by these issues. And schools have fewer resources to defend themselves. So it’s not surprising. It is common. Unfortunately, it appears to be becoming more common. At least, we’re talking about it more.</p><p><strong>One might think student data is something lots of people would care about—especially parents. So why hasn't this gotten more attention? </strong><strong>Levin says companies might actually do more if the schools that are their actual customers would push back and push harder on the issue.</strong></p><p><strong>Levin:</strong> The thing that’s challenging right now is there hasn’t been a strong enough market signal to suggest that those companies that [invest in security] are getting rewarded. It’s the right thing to do. People should have greater confidence in those companies. But buyers are making decisions about what platforms to use for all sorts of reasons. And security right now is not high enough up on the priority list for buyers.</p><p><strong>And we asked Levin what he thought of Demirkapi’s case in particular.</strong></p>Doug Levin<p><strong>Levin: </strong>There’s a couple of aspects of Bill's story that I think are interesting. One is this notion of student hackers and students applying their technology skills and expertise against their own school systems, or in some ways advocating on their behalf with the tools at their disposal.</p><p>Hacking is really about trying to figure out how things work, seeing if you can break them, seeing if you could make them behave the way that you want and to get what you want out of those systems. So it makes sense that students who are using more and more technology in schools want to understand how that technology works. If there are ways that it can work better for them, even if they’re sort of gaming the system, that makes all the sense in the world.</p><p>Students have varying degrees of maturity when they go after this. They do these sorts of things. Certainly I’ve covered a number of stories where students have successfully changed their grades or wiped out their lunch balances or defaced their school websites or social media accounts. But there are lots of ways that schools have been affected by students doing this.</p><p>The second aspect of Bill’s story that I thought was really interesting was his focus on school vendors and their security and that disclosure process. If you find a security vulnerability in an edtech product, what do you do? This is a big thorny question in the cybersecurity world writ large. So there’s a lot of conversation about what responsible disclosure looks like, and how companies that are treating security seriously should respond.</p><p><strong>Companies probably don’t want to encourage all these students out there to break into their systems. But Levin is saying they could do more to be open to this kind of tip from the outside.</strong></p><p><strong>It’s worth noting that even Bill himself, who just started college, admits that even when he was doing this, he wasn’t always the most mature in his approach.</strong></p><p><strong>Demirkapi: </strong>Well, believe it or not, I don’t think my school was entirely wrong in what they did. If I were a school official, I would have suspended me as well, to be honest. But there were a few things that I think they did wrong in the sense that they weren’t exactly following the student handbook themselves.</p><p>There are a few things that I think they went a little bit out of the lines there, but still I think that I definitely should have had some sort of punishment and I was ready for that before I did publish the group resource. I knew that there was no way the school was going to take this lightly.</p><p>But I think that the responsibility should be more on the education companies and that they have, for example, a security contact. Even if they’re not paying people to report bugs to them, there should be a way to get in touch with the right department and hopefully they don’t ignore people who report issues to them.</p><p>In my case, I’m not trying to be the evil person trying to steal people's information. But in reality, it can be hard for a school to tell my intent. Honestly, I don’t think I'm qualified to give an opinion on what school officials should do and what’s right for them to do, just because I'm a student. I’m what, 18 years old. I think that’s up to other people to decide. But I do think that there should be a little bit more flexibility.</p><p><strong>Maybe one day Demirkapi will be one of the people running security at a tech company. He’s currently studying cybersecurity and hopes to go into the field after he graduates.</strong></p> A Bored Student Hacked His School’s Systems. Will the Edtech Industry Pay Attention? Walnut Bird / Shutterstock Localized Raises $1.2M to Bridge Alumni and Career Networks Across the Globe /news/2019-09-10-localized-raises-1-2m-to-bridge-alumni-and-career-networks-across-the-globe /news/2019-09-10-localized-raises-1-2m-to-bridge-alumni-and-career-networks-across-the-globe#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Higher Education Financing Hiring & Recruiting Jobs & Careers Tue, 10 Sep 2019 07:30:00 -0400 post-guid-ad27ba1f At many U.S. colleges and universities, former graduates volunteer their time to give career advice and guidance to students at their alma mater. But ... <p>At many U.S. colleges and universities, former graduates volunteer their time to give career advice and guidance to students at their alma mater. But many higher-ed institutions elsewhere do not have such alumni networks and traditions, says Ronit Avni. And just as those students may lack access to career opportunities, employers also have little visibility into sources of local talent.</p><p>Having worked for more than a decade in the the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, she believes “there is fundamentally a massive, untapped talent pool that doesn’t have social capital.” So through her startup, Localized, Avni wants to bring the benefits of alumni and career networks to institutions across the globe. The company offers a mix of career advice and matchmaking tools that connect students with alumni and employers in their local communities and abroad.</p><p>To support her efforts, Avni has made some crucial connections herself. The Washington, D.C.-based company has raised $1.2 million in a seed round from investment firms including Bisk Ventures and Next Wave Impact. Also chipping in are a choir of angel investors including Esther Dyson, Jim Hornthal, Jacob Hsu and Sara Sutton, founder of two remote work companies.</p><p>Localized currently works with 70 universities and campus career centers to provide students with access to working professionals from across the world. The platform has the look, feel and features of a professional social network. Users create profiles where they indicate their interests and experience, and can sign up to follow channels where peers and mentors share tips, resources and employment opportunities related to the channel topic.</p><p>Mentors hail from local businesses and international professional networks, including the Arab Bankers Association of North America and <a href="https://techwadi.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Techwadi</a>, a nonprofit that connects entrepreneurs in MENA and the Silicon Valley. Some of them are based in the U.S. but “have a deep connection to their places of heritage,” says Avni. “There is a diaspora of professionals who want to give back,” she adds, to “communities that have connectivity but not a lot of social mobility.”</p><p>For a fee, Localized also lets educational organizations white label the platform, where they can create private channels and communities. The platform can also function as a sort of customer relationship management tool to help university officials manage donor communications and relationships. Other features, including reporting analytics, custom webinar setup and industry roundtable events are available at an additional cost.</p><p>The idea of a professional social network connecting students with alumni and industry professionals may not seem all that novel. But outside the U.S., and especially in emerging markets, higher-ed institutions often lack the infrastructure or culture of alumni communities and career services, according to Avni. That’s why she says her team has focused first on markets in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.</p><p>The MENA region boasts an unusually young demographic that could pose a strain—or opportunity—for local education systems and economies. According to the <a href="http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTMENA/Resources/EDU_03-Chap03-Education.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">World Bank</a>, 15-to-24 year olds make up 22 percent of the population, and another 45 percent is under 15 years old. More students than ever will attend college, yet university graduates currently make up <a href="http://web.worldbank.org/archive/website01418/WEB/0__C-301.HTM" target="_blank" rel="noopener">almost 30 percent</a> of those unemployed in the region. (By comparison, the average unemployment rate for postsecondary degree holders across all OECD countries is a little more than 4 percent.)</p><p>Currently the platform is only open to universities, students and mentors. Funding from the seed round will support the company’s efforts to bring companies onboard who will pay to access Localized’s network of students. Avni hopes to attract businesses that are expanding into MENA regions for the first time but have little to no experience with the local labor market. Some companies even fly in executives and delegations to establish liaisons with local university officials. Such trips should not be necessary, she believes.</p><p>The company also plans to expand its headcount from its current team of nine. Founded in 2017, Localized has participated in <a href="/news/2017-10-05-nyc-keeps-its-edtech-accelerator-revving-with-new-funders-and-markets" target="_blank" rel="noopener">StartEd</a>, a New York City-based accelerator program that provides mentorship and funding for education technology startups. It is now also a part of Village Capital’s mentorship and investment <a href="/news/2019-08-27-village-capital-s-newest-cohort-goes-to-work" target="_blank" rel="noopener">program</a> for companies aiming to bridge education and workforce opportunities.</p> Localized Raises $1.2M to Bridge Alumni and Career Networks Across the Globe MJGraphics / Shutterstock Colleges Reinforce Inequality Rather than Social Mobility, New Book Argues /news/2019-09-09-colleges-reinforce-inequality-rather-than-social-mobility-new-book-argues /news/2019-09-09-colleges-reinforce-inequality-rather-than-social-mobility-new-book-argues#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Diversity and Equity Higher Education Mon, 09 Sep 2019 22:31:11 -0400 post-guid-33403df6 Guidance counselors who only steer you toward community college. University recruiters who never visit your high school. Relatives who are ambivalent ... <p>Guidance counselors who only steer you toward community college. University recruiters who never visit your high school. Relatives who are ambivalent or even hostile about your goals. If you’re a poor, smart student who dreams of changing your circumstances through higher education, the resistance you often face may make you wonder whether the system is rigged against you. </p><p>“It felt like they were trying to hide education from me,” one poor Texan student, a child of immigrants, told journalist Paul Tough. </p><p>Who “they” are and why they’re hiding education are among the questions Tough tackles in his new book, “<a href="https://www.paultough.com/books/years-that-matter-most/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us</a>.” In the wake of the <a href="/news/2019-03-12-key-details-and-reactions-to-college-admissions-scandal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Varsity Blues scandal</a> and news of middle-class parents <a href="/news/2019-08-06-loophole-or-fraud-how-far-parents-go-to-save-on-college" target="_blank" rel="noopener">giving up custody to get their kids more financial aid</a>, it’s a timely reassessment of the promise that higher education offers everyone the same opportunity to move up in the world. </p><p>No big player escapes Tough’s critical eye, which gazes in turn on the SAT and the College Board, U.S. News &amp; World Report rankings and test-prep tutors who charge $400 an hour. But the author also examines the system’s hidden components, like the enrollment management analytics that colleges use to predict exactly how many poor students they can admit while still meeting their tuition budget goals. </p><p>Throughout the book, Tough presents evidence in support of what he calls (on page 169) the iron law of college admissions: “The colleges with high average SAT scores—which are also the highest-ranked colleges and the ones with the lowest acceptance rates and the largest endowments—admit very few low-income students and very few black and Latino students.” </p><p>The corollary? </p><p>“Elite college campuses are almost entirely populated by the students who benefit the least from the education they receive there: the ones who were already wealthy when they arrived on campus.” </p><p>The book never loses sight of the people most affected by this system: aspiring college students. It’s filled with candid interviews of both rich students facing intense pressure from their parents to boost their test scores and high-achieving teens from poor families who are counting on college to sate their intellectual cravings. Many have “heartfelt, optimistic faith in the American system of higher education,” Tough writes—faith that the book suggests is misplaced. </p><p>“There’s a lot that needs to change in higher education to make it mostly fair and more effective,” Tough said in an interview with EdSurge. “As a journalist, I feel like my goal is to change people’s minds. It felt like changing lots of people’s minds was necessary.” </p><h2>Questioning Social Mobility Efforts </h2><p>Social mobility is a hot topic in education research. Scholars like Raj Chetty have recently gained access to big datasets that allow them to find patterns in how a child’s financial circumstances affect <a href="http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/assets/documents/coll_mrc_summary.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">which college she attends</a>, which in turn affects her future earnings. Another book on the topic, “The Merit Myth,” is due out in May from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. </p><p>All this attention hasn’t been lost on the entities that hold significant sway over admissions, many of which have made changes in response to criticism. Colleges started to tout the number of Pell Grant recipients they admit. U.S. News cut college acceptance rates from its rankings methodology. The College Board teamed up with Khan Academy to offer free SAT test-prep classes designed to undercut the market for high-priced private tutoring. </p><p>Tough’s reporting suggests that such efforts have yielded positive PR, but not substantive improvements for disadvantaged students. For example, research shows some universities were “deliberately selecting the highest-income students they could find whose admission would still allow them to claim an impressive Pell percentage.” </p><p>Tough calls the College Board out in particular, claiming that it tried to deceive the public when some of its much-lauded efforts to help low-income students failed, perhaps to sustain its image. A College Board attempt to send college information packets to high-achieving students unlikely to apply to elite universities was quietly shelved, Tough writes. He accuses the organization of misrepresenting findings from the Khan Academy collaboration to make it seem like more disadvantaged students were using the tools than actually were. And he says it released misleading materials falsely suggesting that grade inflation, as opposed to tests like the SAT, disadvantages poor students and students of color. </p><p>The College Board declined an EdSurge interview request but offered a multiple-page rebuttal of Tough’s book, calling it a “one-sided narrative that badly misrepresents the College Board, our mission, and our impact.”</p><p>The organization says it did make the disappointing findings from the information packet study publicly available, but concedes the results were not shared “in a timely way along the way.” It also says that it shared findings that students whose parents are more highly educated spend on average more time using the Khan Academy practice videos. And the College Board defends its press materials about grade inflation. </p><p>Even genuine attempts to provide equal opportunity sometimes fail to yield equal outcomes. That’s partly due to the fact that teenagers—young, inexperienced, sometimes unpredictable—are the ones making the big education decisions that will shape their “years that matter most.” So institutions including the College Board and many colleges have tried to use behavioral science to “nudge” students in certain directions, to mixed results. </p><p>Still, Tough told EdSurge, it’s important to try. </p><p>“There’s a certain degree to which students need to take responsibility for themselves, but there’s an unequal education system starting early on. There are all kinds of ways the system can and should level that playing field,” Tough said. “It’s not enough just to have information out there. We need to go out and get education to low-income students.” </p><p>New efforts purporting to support poor students emerged this summer. The College Board unveiled Landscape, an effort that <a href="/news/2019-08-27-college-board-ditches-adversity-score-and-revamps-effort-to-give-context-to-sat-scores" target="_blank" rel="noopener">provides socio-economic context</a> for a student’s SAT scores. U.S. News on Monday published a new <a href="/news/2019-09-08-u-s-news-rankings-add-consideration-of-how-well-colleges-serve-first-generation-students" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ranking of colleges that excel in social mobility</a>. </p><p>“It’s good those institutions that have in the past contributed to inequities are doing something to try to moderate those inequities. I feel like we should take these things seriously but also look with a critical eye,” Tough said. “It’s important to look underneath the hood, look carefully at the data and how it affects things.” </p><h2>Race and Class </h2><p>In focusing on the economic implications of elite college admissions, the book largely avoids exploring whether the actual education that elite and other colleges offer differs substantially, although it does point out that elite colleges spend far more per student on instruction and advising. </p><p>The book’s suggestion is that what students learn in class is almost beside the point. Certainly learning to think critically, conduct research and craft sophisticated arguments will help Ivy League students succeed in the knowledge economy, Tough says, but his book argues that what differentiates elite campuses from others is the degree to which they confer cultural capital and connections. </p><p>This can be a confusing and disappointing realization for first-generation and poor students who believed their braininess alone would guarantee them success in college and beyond. Tough quotes students who resent expectations that they make small talk with professors and mingle in certain social circles because they want to earn their achievements the “right” way, through hard academic work. </p><p>Black students are underrepresented at elite schools, making up 8 percent of the student body at many Ivies despite accounting for 15 percent of high school graduates. It’s roughly <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/24/us/affirmative-action.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the same gap as in 1980</a>, a New York Times analysis found. The odd consistency of that figure leads Tough to consider a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcUkalvq0LA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">serious allegation articulated in 2017 by Shaun Harper</a> (minute 27:30), executive director of the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California: that elite institutions may be colluding to cap their numbers of black students. </p><p>“We’re definitely not going to get any colleges to admit this is a real quota,” Tough said. “The fact that it’s so consistent, I think indicates <em>something</em>—it’s not entirely clear what it indicates, but it indicates something.” </p><p>Whatever the cause, being underrepresented at top-tier schools limits black students’ social mobility. And even those who gain acceptance may feel uncomfortable at highly selective institutions, Tough reports, not because they can’t do the work, but because they’re alienated from the dominant culture. </p><p>The book does not discuss historically black colleges and universities, which research shows often have <a href="https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Are-Black-Colleges-Doing-/243119" target="_blank" rel="noopener">better graduation outcomes</a> and <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/28/survey-finds-big-differences-between-black-hbcu-graduates-those-who-attended-other" target="_blank" rel="noopener">more supportive environments</a> for black students. But it does point to Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, a new two-year institution that provides intensive social services to poor students of color, as a possible model to emulate. </p><p>Poor white students also have a harder time taking advantage of the social mobility that elite schools promise. A study by economists Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery found that high-achieving, low-income, white students, many from rural areas, are relatively unlikely to apply to or attend selective colleges. That could be because they lack information about these institutions, Tough says, or their decisions may be influenced by <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/essay/the-growing-partisan-divide-in-views-of-higher-education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increasingly negative attitudes Republicans have about colleges</a>. </p><p>“There’s really important questions about what is going on with rural white students not taking advantage of opportunities and why those ideas have changed so drastically,” Tough told EdSurge. </p><h2>Finding Solutions</h2><p>After all his reporting, Tough said he has concluded that “there is no one player, one silver bullet, who can change everything” wrong with college admissions. </p><p>But his book does offer some suggestions:</p><p>• Elite schools that don’t rely on tuition dollars (and therefore can afford it) should admit more poor students than they do. </p><p>• More institutions should make SAT and ACT test scores optional to give poor students a better shot at gaining entry. </p><p>• Governments should recommit tax dollars to public colleges and embrace the notion that “collective public education benefits us all.”</p><p>Even people who don’t normally get much say in admissions decisions can advocate effectively for change, Tough argues. </p><p>The book relates the story of what happened when Trinity College changed its practices to try to admit more high-achieving poor students: its U.S. News ranking dropped. Yet most of the faculty in the school’s English department responded by sending a letter to the Trinity board of trustees calling for continued support for the new admission standards. Why? Because they’d noticed their classes had better students, full of “intellectual curiosity, openness of mind and spirit, and genuine will to engage with their peers.” </p><p>“The main constituencies—students, faculty and alumni—when they can speak up about that, counteract the pressure,” said Tough, “I think that can play a huge role.”</p> Colleges Reinforce Inequality Rather than Social Mobility, New Book Argues stockphoto mania/Shutterstock Teach Students to Think Through Problems — Not Google Them /news/2019-09-09-teach-students-to-think-through-problems-not-google-them /news/2019-09-09-teach-students-to-think-through-problems-not-google-them#comments Reshan Richards Education Technology Teaching & Learning 21st Century Skills Instructional Trends Mon, 09 Sep 2019 07:15:00 -0400 post-guid-b16c79f2 Aswath Damodaran holds the Kerschner Family Chair in Finance Education and is Professor of Finance at New York University Stern School of Business. He ... <p>Aswath Damodaran holds the Kerschner Family Chair in Finance Education and is Professor of Finance at New York University Stern School of Business. He has published prodigiously, authoring several prominent textbooks on valuation, finance and investing, and he has frequently been named “Professor of the Year” by graduates of NYU’s M.B.A. class. </p><p>Those feats do not fully capture his impact, though. Outside academia, he is known as Wall Street’s “Dean of Valuation,” as his opinions about companies have a way of influencing the way the world sees them. Additionally, his insistence that videos of his teaching remain freely available allows him to serve students all over the world, at a scale rarely conceived or accomplished by most classroom teachers. </p><p>We reached out to him to learn about how he deploys his considerable talents. What we found was someone who does many things by doing one thing very well. His output, whether in the classroom or on his <a href="http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">blog</a>, begins with pure passion for teaching and ripples outward from there.</p>NYU Stern School of Business Professor Aswath Damodaran<p><strong>For Professor Damodaran, teaching is both a passion and a platform, a way of shaping others and sharing what he himself is learning, thinking, and solving. </strong></p><p><strong>Aswath Damodaran: </strong>I think each of us is put on the earth to do something that we can do well. For me, it was teaching. I discovered very early on, my very first session, that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.</p><p>Teaching is not really a profession; it’s a passion. You can’t walk away from it. I belong to a family of teachers; my wife’s a second-grade teacher, my daughter is a special ed teacher, and my daughter-in-law is a high school science teacher.</p><p>As we talk with each other, I realize that we might teach very different things—my wife teaches seven-year-olds how to write and add and multiply and divide, and I might teach an undergrad or a 60-year-old CEO. But it’s amazing how much there is in common in teaching. We get a chance to change the way people think, and that’s something that most people don’t get a chance to do. </p><p>Everything I do is an extension of teaching, whether I write on my blog or do a YouTube video. I don’t do traditional consulting, but I do informal consulting where people call me and say, "What should I do?" Then, I teach. Basically, everything I do is a platform of my teaching. </p><p><strong>Thinking of teaching as a platform allows Professor Damodaran to reach students well beyond the ones enrolled in his classes; also, in a more fundamental way, it heightens the importance of his planning. </strong></p><p><strong>Damodaran:</strong> Teaching is 95 percent preparation, 5 percent inspiration. For a class to go well, you better prepare for that class. Preparation has to become part of teaching. You can’t view it as the dirty work you do so that you can have fun in the classroom. To me, it’s all part of the same process. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">I think we live in a world where looking up things has become too easy. I call this the “Google Search Curse.”</blockquote><p>If you’re going to be a good teacher, you’ve got to work at it. And it’s incremental. What you see in my classes today are recipes from the very first class that I taught in 1984. Teaching is built up over time, because teaching is constantly a process of re-examining what you do, taking out things that don’t work, adding in things that do. </p><p>That’s why it never gets boring; I can teach the same subject for 50 years (or in my case, 36 years so far). But it’s never the same subject, because the subject matter keeps changing, the classes keep changing, the participants are different. Each time I teach it, it’s going to be a different experience.</p><p><strong>Beyond his subject matter, and like the very best teachers, Professor Damodaran seeks to instill in his students some basic principles about how a thoughtful and rational person might approach the world and think through problems. </strong></p><p><strong>Damodaran:</strong> I think we live in a world where looking up things has become too easy. I call this the “Google Search Curse,” which is when you want to know the answer to something, and rather than thinking through to the answer, you go into Google search, type in your question, and there are a thousand people who have delivered answers. </p><p>I find this to be a very, very destructive phenomenon because it means people don’t think for themselves. They don’t think things through. The way you learn how to solve a problem is by thinking through the problem and solving it for yourself. If you let somebody else give you the solution, it might be the right solution, but you have not figured out how to solve the problem.</p><p>If you look at an answer, it comes from a process. And to the extent that that process is set by somebody else, it’s not your answer, it’s their answer. So in problem solving, not only do you need to think about the question you need to ask, you also need to ask “what is the process by which I would try to answer the question?”</p><p>That takes work, it takes energy, it takes effort. The way we become intellectually nimble is by learning to think through answers to questions. Thirty years ago, you might have had no choice but to do it. But because we can look up the answers now, we’re losing that agility to look at a problem and solve it. </p><p>If Einstein had had Google search, would he have come up with the theory of relativity? I’ve seen very bright people kind of fall into the trap of thinking: “If it’s already been answered, why should I bother?” I tell them, “Look, you need to bother because the answer might not be the right answer.”</p><p>If it’s a fact-based question, it’s different. Then you can say, “Hey, go look up on Google search what the tallest mountain in the world is.” Reasoning your way into a factual answer is not going to give you a better answer. But if your question is more analytical, I think there is an advantage to taking a 30-minute break before you open up Google search and look for an answer. </p><p><strong>Doing the hard work of thinking through problems—even at the risk of being wrong—is an instructive process in itself. </strong></p><blockquote class="pullquote">We’re all so used to what we tell each other that nobody has any sense to step back and say, “that doesn’t make sense.”</blockquote><p><strong>Damodaran: </strong>I tell people in my class, I’d rather be transparently wrong than opaquely right. Part of the process of my teaching is to let students see my thought process when somebody asks me a question, rather than giving them the answer. Often, I lead them through my thought process of how I get an answer so that they can see that this isn’t something that comes instantaneously to anybody. I might be an expert on company valuations, but I still have to think through the questions and go through a process, and I want them to see the process. </p><p>Also, when I come up with the wrong answer, I want them to see what part of the process that I used that did not work. Students realize then that everybody’s fallible, that nothing comes easily to anybody.</p><p>They also realize that no matter who it is on the other side of the table, if they come up with an answer, it’s your job to still ask, “Is that the right answer?” and not take it as a given, simply because the person on the other side might be three levels more senior or somebody with a lot more pedigree. I think that’s part of what we’re risking losing because of the ease with which we can look up answers to questions.</p><p><strong>Professor Damodaran also pushes back against prevailing ideas about specialization. </strong></p><p><strong>Damodaran: </strong>The push towards specialization happens earlier and earlier in life now because we’re in a competitive world. You’re told, “Look, if you’re good with numbers, you better work on your number skills and get a good numbers degree and get a numbers job.”</p><p>It’s a society-wide problem. We’re creating a world of specialists, each of whom is told very early in life that you’ve got to choose. Are you going to go down the storytelling path and take literature and history, or are you going to go down the number path? Then on top of that, you’re going to get all kinds of pressures and people picking a path because they need to survive. They need to pay off that college loan.</p><p>I think we’re doing a disservice to both the children and to society by forcing them to do that because we’re creating one-dimensional people. That’s not good. It reminds me of David Epstein’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Range-Generalists-Triumph-Specialized-World/dp/0735214484" target="_blank" rel="noopener">book</a> about hedgehogs and foxes. If you get a chance, read it. Hedgehogs are specialists. They know everything about a topic, and foxes are scattered. They are a little bit of this, a little bit of that. He compares them in terms of forecasting accuracy and discovers that experts are terrible at forecasting their specialties.</p><p>Now, people who are generalists are much better at forecasting because they have skills in multiple disciplines. If you’ve ever been in Florence and you’ve seen Burleski’s Dome, it’s amazing. It was built by a guy who didn’t know any architecture, science, or construction. He taught himself just enough of everything to build the greatest freestanding dome in history. It wasn’t just him. Leonardo Da Vinci was a scientist, an artist and an engineer. There’s a reason renaissance men have the reputation they do. They dabbled in multiple things.</p><p>Even 40 years ago when I walked into an investment bank and I talked to an investment banker, there were more people who were well-versed in theater, in literature, in finance. They were very bright people, but they were also people who were very wide in their interests. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">We’re creating a world of specialists, each of whom is told very early in life that you’ve got to choose.</blockquote><p>Today, you walk into a consulting firm, an investment bank, a technology firm. You’ve got an expert who knows everything there is to know about a particular topic and very little outside of that topic because the topic has become so deep, they can’t afford to be generalists anymore.</p><p><strong>Specialization can sometimes lead to tribalization—doing society a disservice.</strong></p><p><strong>Damodaran:</strong> The point of my book “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Numbers-Business-Columbia-Publishing/dp/0231180489/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=numbers+and+narratives&amp;qid=1567792749&amp;s=books&amp;sr=1-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Numbers and Narrative</a>” is that we’ve created two tribes that can’t talk to each other. I spend time in Silicon Valley, talking with founders and venture capitalists, who are mostly storytellers. I spend time talking to bankers and investors, most of whom are just number crunchers. You put the two in the same room, and they’re talking different languages. They don’t even understand what the other side is saying.</p><p>As a consequence, what we do is we go back to what we’re comfortable with: hanging out with people who think just like us, who are trained just like us, and speak the same language we do. In a way, we’re setting ourselves up for the big mistakes we make. </p><p>We’re all so used to what we tell each other that nobody has any sense to step back and say, “that doesn’t make sense,” whether it’s mortgage-backed securities in the 2008 housing crisis, or whether it’s a venture capitalist paying based on the number of users. People have lost perspective because they talk to people who think just like they do.</p><p>What I was trying to convey in that book was that we need to take back both halves of our brain. We can’t be just left-brained or right-brained. But, the entire system works against that. </p><p>Increasingly, we’re putting our kids in positions where they have to make a choice of what they want to be. It’s happening when they’re 15, 16. Then we wonder why 15 to 20 years later, people collectively are making big mistakes. It’s because they’re hanging out with people that think just like them.</p> Teach Students to Think Through Problems — Not Google Them Marish / Shutterstock U.S. News Rankings Add Consideration of How Well Colleges Serve First-Generation Students /news/2019-09-08-u-s-news-rankings-add-consideration-of-how-well-colleges-serve-first-generation-students /news/2019-09-08-u-s-news-rankings-add-consideration-of-how-well-colleges-serve-first-generation-students#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology Higher Education Mon, 09 Sep 2019 00:03:18 -0400 post-guid-059e28a1 The rankings of the “best” colleges in America by U.S. News and World Report now take into account how well institutions serve first-generation ... <p>The <a href="https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges?src=usn_pr" target="_blank" rel="noopener">rankings</a> of the “best” colleges in America by U.S. News and World Report now take into account how well institutions serve first-generation students. Yet despite a few tweaks to how the magazine defines what makes a top college—iterations in methodology that have become routine—Princeton University is still the highest ranked (again), and there are few changes in the top 10 in the 2020 rankings, released Monday.</p><p>More variation can be found, however, on the many other sub-rankings that U.S. News includes in its college guide—it now has 50 different lists that it updates each year, such as “Best Value Schools,” “Most International Students” and “Best Undergraduate Business Programs.” New this year is a ranking of the “Top Performers on Social Mobility,” which looks at how well colleges serve students who receive federal Pell Grants, for which only the neediest students qualify.</p><p>University of California campuses dominated the top 10 of the new social mobility ranking among “national universities.” UC Riverside scored No. 1, followed by UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine in second and third. UC Merced placed seventh and UC Santa Barbara came up ninth.</p><p>This is the 35th year of the magazine’s ranking of colleges, which has become a powerful and controversial force shaping American higher education. Critics say that the rankings are overly reductionist and fuel an obsession by students and parents with prestige schools. Colleges that do well tout their status and some obsess about making changes to campus life in the hopes of moving up in the rankings. The magazine’s leaders, meanwhile, argue that they intend the list as objective consumer information that should be taken as one of many factors in choosing the right fit for a student.</p><p>This year’s list comes out amid ongoing criminal trials in the <a href="/news/2019-03-12-key-details-and-reactions-to-college-admissions-scandal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Varsity Blues</a> cases brought by federal prosecutors earlier this year, in which parents allegedly paid huge sums to get their kids into highly selective colleges by cheating on admissions tests or helping them pose as student athletes. The students and parents accused in the fraud ring were seeking admission to the most selective colleges in the country.</p><p>“What I really want to make clear is that we don’t include acceptance rate in our indicators,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor for education at U.S. News, in an interview with EdSurge. “We removed acceptance rate from our methodology last year, and before that, it was minimal. The U.S. News ‘Best Colleges’ rankings doesn’t include metrics that were impacted by the Varsity Blues scandal.”</p><p>She said the magazine added the list of colleges focused on social mobility this year because it can now get reliable data around Pell Grant recipients.</p><p>The graduation rate of first-generation students is now considered during analysis of the overall graduation rate in the rankings. The goal, Narayan said, is “to give more emphasis and give more credit to schools are doing more to help first-generation students,” adding that “we know that those are some of the students that face some of the biggest hurdles.”</p><p>While the rankings done by U.S. News were once novel, these days there is a crowded field of college rankings. In fact, while U.S. News is touting its list of social mobility rankings, the New York Times started a college ranking following a similar methodology a couple of years ago.</p><p>So what makes U.S. News stand out these days?</p><p>Narayan says that the magazine’s goal is to measure the academic quality of institutions and that its data team works year-round to collect and verify the details it uses to rank colleges.</p><p>And soon, there may be so many lists that just about every college can claim some U.S. News accolade. Among the eight new rankings this year (other than the one on social mobility) are a ranking of colleges with the best study abroad programs and one of the schools with the best co-op or internship program.</p> U.S. News Rankings Add Consideration of How Well Colleges Serve First-Generation Students Kit Leong / Shutterstock Charter Schools May Be the Answer, But What’s the Question? /news/2019-09-07-charter-schools-may-be-the-answer-but-what-s-the-question /news/2019-09-07-charter-schools-may-be-the-answer-but-what-s-the-question#comments Simon Rodberg Education Technology Charter Schools Sat, 07 Sep 2019 10:30:00 -0400 post-guid-435c0f24 Charter schools educate six percent of America’s children, but get an outsized amount of attention, pro and con. Partly because charter schools ... <p>Charter schools educate <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgb.asp" target="_blank" rel="noopener">six percent</a> of America’s children, but get an <a href="https://www.wlrn.org/post/chartered-floridas-first-private-takeover-public-school-system" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outsized</a> <a href="https://www.latimes.com/search?q=Charter%20Schools" target="_blank" rel="noopener">amount</a> <a href="http://www.startribune.com/be-wary-of-efforts-to-limit-on-charter-school-growth/509137822/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">of</a> <a href="/news/topics/charter-schools" target="_blank" rel="noopener">attention</a>, <a href="https://www.educationnext.org/school-choice-trump-era-results-2019-education-next-poll./" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pro</a> and <a href="https://www.salon.com/2019/07/20/why-wont-the-charter-school-industry-acknowledge-its-documented-failures-and-reform-itself_partner/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">con</a>. Partly because charter schools represent change: Charter schools have grown more than sevenfold in the last twenty years. Partly because charter schools educate an outsized, and concentrated, percentage of Black and Latinx students, and groups of Black and Latinx kids always draw a spotlight. But also because charter schools are concentrated where the media are. In Washington, D.C., home to the policy-industrial complex, <a href="https://www.dcpcsb.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">almost half</a> of the city’s students attend charter schools. If you’re an education wonk, you have an object of study in your own backyard.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.successacademies.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Success Academy</a> network in New York City is among the most controversial, and attention-getting, charters. Already the subject of media coverage including a <a href="https://gimletmedia.com/shows/startup/episodes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">podcast series,</a> a New Yorker <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/11/success-academys-radical-educational-experiment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">profile</a>, a <a href="https://smile.amazon.com/Education-Eva-Moskowitz-Memoir/dp/0062449796/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;qid=1566918999&amp;sr=1-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">memoir</a> by its founder and a New York Times <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">exposé</a>, it now gets book-length a-year-in-the-life treatment from a former classroom teacher, school choice advocate and certified wonk. Robert Pondiscio’s “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/How-Other-Half-Learns-excellence/dp/0525533737" target="_blank" rel="noopener">How The Other Half Learns: Equality, Excellence, and the Battle Over School Choice</a>” addresses the controversies, with clear explanations of New York’s charter school politics. But the book’s great value, and the pleasure in reading it, is in its careful, loving description of the daily life of an urban charter school. And it’s the small stuff of classrooms that raise the biggest questions: what we want schools to accomplish, and for which kids.</p><p>Pondiscio embedded in a South Bronx Success Academy elementary school for a year of close observation; as he says, for all the controversy, his main question was, “What do the kids do all day?” He notes their vocabulary lessons and emotional meltdowns, as well as the less-observed stuff of school life, like how hallways get cleaned and teachers get each other through their own meltdowns. Thanks to his storytelling, we come to care for the principal, for individual teachers and students, for the ups and downs of a day he describes as “Success Academy in microcosm: a gaudily expensive pep rally, angry tweets, a teacher’s faith in his students, test prep, joy, and vomit.” </p><p>Every classroom is an intense place for the people who spend most of their days there. That’s what happens when thirty small humans, and one or two big ones, are stuck in a room together trying to teach and learn. The intensity is heightened, at this school, by its signature behaviorist approach. “Success Academy is not merely a no-excuses school,” Pondiscio writes, “it is the <em>most</em> no excuses school.” We see a child turned away on the first day of school “for wearing the wrong color socks.” We see how the adults are trained to monitor and either praise or correct every student’s smallest actions, every single time. The priority on microscopically correct order is one of the two most striking things about Success Academy; both Pondiscio and the school argue for that priority’s direct relationship with the other most striking thing, which is the outstanding academic outcomes. Success Academy, with forty-five schools, performs higher than any school district in New York State; <a href="https://www.successacademies.org/app/uploads/2019/08/SA-2019-Test-Results.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the next four highest all have average household incomes three to six times higher</a> than Success’s students’. With its disciplinary intensity, Success Academy is creating the focused conditions for teaching and learning to thrive.</p><p>At least, as Pondiscio details, for some people’s children. As a parent, I like a disciplinary approach that makes space for teaching and learning. But I can’t imagine being told what socks my white, upper-middle-class son may wear to school. The parents at Success Academy know what they signed up for, and Pondiscio calls out more-privileged, self-proclaimed progressive critics of Success Academy’s behaviorism: “Those with resources who value safe and orderly schools and a culture of academic achievement have largely unfettered access to it. Those with the same priorities and values but without resources struggle to gain admittance.” These parents self-select into Success Academy, making it past the hurdles (from strict dress codes to many mandatory meetings) by which the school ensures parental matches for the “poor man’s private school,” as Pondiscio calls it. But of course, it isn’t a private school. My own white, upper-middle-class parents sent me to <a href="https://school.bankstreet.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Bank Street School for Children</a>, a private New York City elementary school that Success Academy’s founder has cited as a pedagogical model. We could wear whatever socks, along with whatever shirts, pants or (every day, for one of my kindergarten classmates) Superman capes we wanted. </p><p>The kind of inequality that animates Pondiscio is unequal access to choice. Rich parents, or parents rich enough to live in a district with schools they like, already have school choice. Charters offer choice to parents who can’t afford it otherwise. But that’s where their egalitarianism stops. Success Academy doesn’t work for all children or families, and it doesn’t pretend to. To his credit, Pondiscio doesn’t pretend either; he makes clear that his concern is for “receptive and motivated students,” and he wants parents who display receptivity and motivation to have a school made for them. He spends time on the story of Adama, a second-grade boy who struggled at Success and eventually is pushed out by, or pulled from, the school. He’s honest that Success Academy doesn’t work for everyone, and his seeming answer is more choice, rather than any more-systemic critique. </p><p>That’s the downside of sticking so closely to one school. He doesn’t analyze what makes one child seem “receptive and motivated” and another contrarian, just like he doesn’t seriously address why Success Academy feels it needs sock patrol and Bank Street allows capes. He doesn’t address what it means that a school network with 93 percent Black and Hispanic students has fewer than 40 percent faculty of color. A few years ago, Pondiscio wrote a provocative, widely shared blog post criticizing the <a href="https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/lefts-drive-push-conservatives-out-education-reform" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increasing leftism of the education reform movement:</a> “There is an unmistakable and increasingly aggressive orthodoxy in mainstream education reform thought regarding issues of race, class, and gender.” Pondiscio departs from this orthodoxy through ceaseless individualism: His question is how to help the chosen few overcome the odds, not how to change the odds themselves.</p><p>He also doesn’t address what it means for Success Academy to succeed. A couple of paragraphs ago, I referred to Success Academy as performing higher than any school district in New York State. That’s by test scores, of course, in English and math. It’s not college attendance or completion; it’s not future earned income; it’s not a measure of children’s happiness in the moment or flourishing long-term. We don’t yet know these outcomes for Success Academy, but when its <a href="https://www.successacademies.org/about/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mission</a> is to “prove children from all backgrounds can succeed in college and life,” surely the performance can only be judged in the long term. One recent study of Boston charter schools <a href="https://www.educationnext.org/boston-charter-study-tells-story-limits-test-scores/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that they led to higher college attendance for their students, but not to higher college completion. What if the students who don't graduate from college are worse off for having attended—that is, for instance, they have higher student loan debt because they were in a college-for-all culture, but no degree to show for it? What if they have lower self-esteem or community connections? What would make all the stress and upheaval of Success Academy worthwhile?</p><p>With skillful writing and warts-and-all honesty, Pondiscio shows the implications of parental choice in charter schools, and how much a unified cultural vision among parents and a school can drive student performance. But by defining student performance in test-driven terms, and focusing so heavily on the limited student population who make it in this school, Pondiscio raises questions we, as a society, haven’t answered about the purpose of public schooling. Is it to produce students who do well on tests? To open opportunity so that motivated students with hardcore parents can succeed? To model and mold healthy democratic citizenship? To leave no child behind and help them <em>all</em> achieve?</p><p>Which of these you think most important will determine whether you think Success Academy succeeds. As you judge this charter school, though, consider how any school, public or private, would do with the same scrutiny. </p> Charter Schools May Be the Answer, But What’s the Question? 053StudioSign / Shutterstock Knewton Was Acquired For Less Than $17M, and Former CEO Brian Kibby Has Left /news/2019-09-07-knewton-was-acquired-for-less-than-17m-and-former-ceo-brian-kibby-has-left /news/2019-09-07-knewton-was-acquired-for-less-than-17m-and-former-ceo-brian-kibby-has-left#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Mergers and Acquisitions Sat, 07 Sep 2019 06:45:00 -0400 post-guid-40ff519b When Wiley announced back in May that it had acquired Knewton, both companies kept mum on how much the deal was worth. Sources told EdSurge that it was ... <p>When <a href="https://www.wiley.com/en-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wiley</a> announced back in May that it <a href="/news/2019-05-06-wiley-to-acquire-knewton-s-assets-marking-an-end-to-an-expensive-startup-journey" target="_blank" rel="noopener">had acquired Knewton,</a> both companies kept mum on how much the deal was worth. Sources told EdSurge that it was in the $10 million range—and they were right. </p><p>In its most recent earnings <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190905005288/en/Wiley-Reports-Quarter-Fiscal-2020-Results" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, which covers the three months ended July 31, 2019, Wiley disclosed that it had “spent $73 million in total on acquisitions in the quarter, including zyBooks and Knewton.” Wiley had disclosed <a href="/news/2019-07-01-wiley-buys-zybooks-in-56m-cash-deal-to-bolster-courseware-offerings" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paying $56 million in cash</a> for zyBooks, a digital courseware provider for STEM and computer science subjects. In addition to those deals, Wiley said it also made “two immaterial acquisitions” for its research publishing division.</p><p>The math suggests that <a href="https://www.knewton.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Knewton</a> was acquired for less than $17 million. That’s a hard hit for investors in the New York-based company, which had raised more than $180 million since its founding in 2008. For most of its years as a startup, Knewton focused on building adaptive learning technologies that it would license to publishers, before <a href="/news/2017-11-30-hitting-reset-knewton-tries-new-strategy-competing-with-textbook-publishers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pivoting</a> to sell its own courseware in late 2017.</p><p>Brian Kibby, who took over from Knewton founder Jose Ferreira as CEO in July 2017, has also moved on. This week, Kibby was <a href="https://www.union-bulletin.com/news/national/n-growth-a-top-executive-search-firm-appoints-brian-kibby/article_7c8a2dd0-6cda-5650-b8f6-a7b033608517.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">named</a> Senior Partner and CEO of N2Growth, a firm that helps businesses recruit and hire executive leaders. Kibby was previously an executive at McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson. </p><p>For fiscal Q1 2020, ending July 31, 2019, Wiley reported $423.5 million in revenue, a 3 percent increase over the same period last year.</p><p>The education services group, which includes its online program management business, reported a 69 percent boost in revenue, which the company attributed to its Learning House business that it <a href="/news/2018-11-02-wiley-acquires-learning-house-for-200m" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bought for $200 million</a> in November 2018. The publishing and professional learning business dipped by 7 percent, “mainly due to declines in the books businesses and test prep,” according to the company. Revenue from the research and publishing platform business grew by 2 percent.</p> Knewton Was Acquired For Less Than $17M, and Former CEO Brian Kibby Has Left TheBlackRhino / Shutterstock How Our Summer Program Uses Deeper Learning to Reach Struggling Students /news/2019-09-06-how-our-summer-program-uses-deeper-learning-to-reach-struggling-students /news/2019-09-06-how-our-summer-program-uses-deeper-learning-to-reach-struggling-students#comments Donna M. Neary Education Technology 21st Century Skills Learning Research Project-Based Learning Practice and Implementation Strategies Fri, 06 Sep 2019 15:30:49 -0400 post-guid-e1a66821 Cristian watched with excitement across the picnic table as Chef Bruce formed blue balls of cornmeal and pressed them between two stainless steel ... <p>Cristian watched with excitement across the picnic table as Chef Bruce formed blue balls of cornmeal and pressed them between two stainless steel paddles. “I know how to do that!” he exclaimed with excitement. “He’s making tortillas. My Mom does that.” Cristian, a fourth grader originally from Mexico, speaks Spanish at home but struggles with his lessons at school. </p><p>Cristian and his classmates were spending a hot July day at an urban farm to work on improving their literacy and numeracy skills while learning about the Mayan culture. Cristian was one of 850 third through sixth graders taking part in an innovative summer program designed for learners like him called the Backpack League, hosted by my district, <a href="https://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jefferson County Public Schools</a>, or JCPS for short, in Louisville, Ky. </p><p>Modeled after a successful <a href="https://nam05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://bostonbeyond.org/summer-learning/&amp;data=02%7C01%7Cdonna.neary@jefferson.kyschools.us%7C0f70a2a0c19d41f92a0d08d72c0ef7ff%7C277d564c30a94bcea18dafc8e54540e5%7C1%7C0%7C637026315130313490&amp;sdata=Dal7pVvWgg7Dhuj5v2WQKEQwWR8JO37so0SDCEH4540=&amp;reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">summer learning program</a> in Boston, the Backpack League kicked-off its inaugural year as a pop-up school created to exist for one month. The experience sent students on field trips and classrooms hosted visitors from around the city including the Louisville City FC soccer team and members of a guinea pig rescue organization.</p><h2>A New Adventure</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">Teachers were asked to focus on a topic or subject that they would like to include during the regular school year but maybe couldn’t because of time constraints</blockquote><p>During the school year, I teach social studies to high school English learners, but I jumped at the chance to experience this innovative new summer program and to explore how the needs of these elementary students compared to those I traditionally serve. My partner-teacher Renee Wilson and I designed the “Mayan Adventure” project, combining Mayan math, art and culture with lessons focusing on numeracy and literacy. A highlight of our adventure was partnering with the <a href="https://foodliteracyproject.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Food Literacy Project</a> and a local restaurant, the <a href="https://themayancafe.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mayan Café</a>, who helped arrange for students to visit an urban farm to learn about corn, beans, and squash—all staple foods of the Mayan people—and to make corn tortillas with a Mayan chef. </p><p>To plan the Backpack League, educators were invited to propose two or four-week adventures (or learning units) and to commit to teaching from early July to August. Teachers were encouraged to push themselves, and to design adventures that allowed them to test-drive ideas for projects, or new research-based teaching strategies. Teachers were asked to focus on a topic or subject that they would like to include during the regular school year but maybe couldn’t because of time constraints. Proposals included programs on forensic science, geo-caching, storytelling, animals and ecosystems, art, music, community building and examining hunger and poverty in our community. But the adventures were much richer than a one or two word description could do justice to.</p>Students make tortillas with the help of a Mayan chef as part of the Backpack League summer program. (Image: JCPS)<p>Teacher Rachel Schwager and her partner from the Urban Design adventure offered an architecture-inspired program that let kids “use math to design projects in a real-world setting,” as she puts it. Students went through the full engineering process while learning skills like resilience, collaboration and the design revision process. Another adventure, co-planned by teacher Connie McKinley-Galdos, focused on the <a href="https://alicenter.org/about-us/muhammad-ali/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">six core principles of Muhmmad Ali</a>, a Louisville legend.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">We leaned on research-based practices for implementing deeper learning as a path to equity</blockquote><h2>Skills for Life</h2><p><a href="https://twitter.com/kids_inspire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Carmen Coleman</a>, the district’s chief academic officer envisioned the Backpack League as a space to promote learning for both students and educators during the summer. In particular, my district, JCPS, wanted to boost reading and math for students who were at least one year below the norm for their grade level, and give teachers an opportunity to try new approaches, such as project-based learning. Even though these students were behind their peers in some subject areas, we wanted them to be able to participate in meaningful ways. So we leaned on <a href="http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning_deeply/2018/01/a_pernicious_myth_basics_before_deeper_learning.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research-based practices</a> for implementing deeper learning as a path to equity by creating authentic lessons designed to immerse students in standards and skills they would find relevant. </p><p>The Backpack League was intentionally designed to compliment our <a href="https://nam05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://sites.google.com/jefferson.kyschools.us/jcpsbackpackinfo/home&amp;data=02%7C01%7Cdonna.neary@jefferson.kyschools.us%7C0f70a2a0c19d41f92a0d08d72c0ef7ff%7C277d564c30a94bcea18dafc8e54540e5%7C1%7C0%7C637026315130323486&amp;sdata=pL1VgnIK0cryUz/GJW9PC6eNN7AaO4J6PPIgv8/yT7U=&amp;reserved=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Backpack of Success Skills</a> initiative, which guides students to add evidence of learning to a “virtual backpack” or digital portfolio that stays with them from K-12. Students’ digital backpacks focus on a handful of what we call “Graduate Profile Success Skills:” becoming productive collaborators, emerging innovators, globally competent citizens, prepared and resilient learners, and effective communicators. As students complete parts of the summer program, they add material to their backpack that demonstrates learning in various skills.</p><p>Space was limited for the first year of the Backpack League initiative, so students were selected to participate from elementary schools whose math and reading scores need improvement. Students selected their adventures in advance from among dozens of choices. At the end of the summer, they wrote exit reflections as part of data collection for the project. </p><p>One sixth grade student, Erick, painted landscapes in his adventure and discovered that, “I like art a lot more after this [adventure].” A student named Isabella, wrote that she “learned a lot more about my favorite animals.” An important takeaway of the project for Payton, a sixth grader—and hopefully for other students—was the connection between the Backpack League and their digital portfolios. “I’ve learned what the five [Backpack of Success Skill] folders mean through this project,” she wrote. “This adventure is making me a globally competent citizen.”</p><p>JCPS is already hard at work making plans for next summer. Coleman, reflecting on the busy summer, echoed the thoughts of many of the educators who participated: “We believe these kinds of authentic learning experiences with high interest for students will lead to improved achievement.”</p><p>It’s a hunch we intend to explore more fully as the year progresses. Since the summer just ended, it’s still too early to tell whether the program improved academic performance for those who participated. But JCPS is gathering data—including attendance, behavior and academic achievement—on students and will continue to follow their progress throughout the school year. </p><p>As for Cristian, he is looking forward to signing-up for a new adventure next summer. In his wrap-up reflection, Cristian said he wants his next adventure to be “a little bit more fun” by including more field trips, especially a visit to a museum, and he wants to dance more. I believe that any teacher who reads Cristian’s feedback will be excited about his interest in learning over the summer, and will do their best to incorporate his voice and ideas for learning into designing an even better adventure next year. Maybe that teacher will be me.</p> How Our Summer Program Uses Deeper Learning to Reach Struggling Students sirtravelalot / Shutterstock Universities Look to Add More Support For First-Generation Graduate Students /news/2019-09-06-universities-look-to-add-more-support-for-first-generation-graduate-students /news/2019-09-06-universities-look-to-add-more-support-for-first-generation-graduate-students#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology Diversity and Equity Higher Education Fri, 06 Sep 2019 06:00:00 -0400 post-guid-50bbd953 Amy King was the first in her family to go to college, and she experienced firsthand the challenges of being a first-generation undergraduate. But when ... <p>Amy King was the first in her family to go to college, and she experienced firsthand the challenges of being a first-generation undergraduate. But when she got to graduate school, she found the adjustment even more difficult.</p><p>King is now a licensed psychologist, but she still remembers how hard it was to explain to her family things that everyone else around her seemed to take for granted. “For instance, they didn’t understand the internship process or why I wasn’t getting paid yet,” she says. “That causes some psychological distress. When you think, ‘Gosh, the important people in my life don’t really get it, and they aren’t able to appreciate it in the same way.’”</p><p>Meanwhile, she felt that professors and others around her assumed that because she made it through an undergraduate degree, she must have it all figured out. But there are “subtle barriers” that first-generation grad students face, she adds, because they don’t have role models and people to go to for advice and answers about the process.</p><p>“It leaves a lot of students doing a trial-and-error approach, and sometimes these errors are really expensive,” she says.</p><p>King ended up writing <a href="https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/challenges-faced-first-generation-graduate-students/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">her doctoral paper</a> on the challenges faced by first-generation graduate students in professional psychology, which argues that universities should do more to recognize and support these students. It cites research that shows that while first-generation college students are just as likely as other students to aspire to grad school, they are less likely to earn graduate degrees.</p><p>“Graduate programs committed to investing in first-generation students can implement changes to the existing, normative culture to be more responsive and inclusive of first-generation students’ needs,” she writes. “While these students have significant strengths, resilience, and academic ability, they have little guidance from external sources to support or understand their graduate endeavors, which requires more specialized knowledge.”</p><blockquote class="pullquote">“If you’re the first in your family to go to college, you’re typically the first in a lot of things. If your family may be skeptical or a little nervous or anxious about you going to college, then think of what they say when you tell them, ‘I’m going to stay longer and acquire more debt.’”<br> </blockquote>—La’Tonya Rease Miles, director of First Year Experience at UCLA<p>Among the specific changes that King recommends are:</p><ul> <li>Identify first-generation students at admission so that interventions can be targeted early.</li> <li>Help students build professional networks and provide mentorship and advising.</li> <li>Offer additional financial aid to first-generation students to help encourage more students from different social and ethnic backgrounds to attend.</li> <li>Provide multicultural training to faculty “which includes current literature and research related to first-generation students as an underrepresented group.</li> </ul><p>La’Tonya Rease Miles, director of First Year Experience at the University of California at Los Angeles, says that while there is a growing awareness at colleges and universities about the need to support first-generation undergrads, administrators have been slower to see the challenges faced by first-generation students at the graduate level.</p><p>“That identity continues, and in some ways can be compounded when you’re a graduate or professional student,” she says. “If you’re the first in your family to go to college, you’re typically the first in a lot of things. If your family may be skeptical or a little nervous or anxious about you going to college, then think of what they say when you tell them, ‘I’m going to stay longer and acquire more debt.’”</p><p>Miles is herself a first-generation student, but she says that she wasn’t even aware of the label while she was an undergraduate. It was not until she was in a PhD program that she felt the difference between herself and those whose parents had graduate or professional degrees.</p><p>“I’m reading books all day—that’s not really considered work in the family I come from,” she says. “The kind of work in graduate and professional school can feel really, really different than the work your family is doing. And you can feel like such an imposter.”</p><p>About four years ago she started a Facebook group called <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/1551187661810146/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Empowering First-Generation College Students</a> for those advocating for first-generation students, which now has more than 2,500 members.</p><p>At UCLA, she says that student groups have emerged to support first-generation graduate students. One of them is the First-Gen Grad Student Council, which holds community events for students across campus who are the first in their family to attend graduate school.</p><p>“We try to build a sense of community—a sense of belonging,” says Julio Fregoso, an incoming third-year PhD student in the Higher Education &amp; Organizational Change program at UCLA, who is active in the group. “A lot of social events are really catered to undergraduates,” he says, which makes the group even more crucial in the graduate setting. And, he says, many graduate student events are geared only for students in that specific program, where his group works to bring together students across different departments to share advice and support. </p><p>King, the psychologist, argues that if universities and professions are serious about diversifying their ranks, they need to do a better job of supporting students who are new to the culture of higher education. As she puts it, “You’ve got to make sure that you’re supporting them in the right way.”</p> Universities Look to Add More Support For First-Generation Graduate Students firstgengradbruins on Instagram A Faculty-Led Fund Gets Cash to Struggling Students, Fast /news/2019-09-05-a-faculty-led-fund-gets-cash-to-struggling-students-fast /news/2019-09-05-a-faculty-led-fund-gets-cash-to-struggling-students-fast#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Diversity and Equity Higher Education Thu, 05 Sep 2019 21:53:00 -0400 post-guid-20db0e96 The email arrived like a punch in the gut. You have exhausted your Pell Grant funds. In order to take this class, you will need to pay out of pocket. ... <p> The email arrived like a punch in the gut. <em>You have exhausted your Pell Grant funds. In order to take this class, you will need to pay out of pocket. </em></p><p>Jimmieka Mills was familiar with that feeling. When she’d shown up at the financial aid office of a Houston Community College campus at age 19, she was told she couldn’t receive tuition money without documentation from her parents—the same parents from whom she’d been estranged for three years. When she rode the bus to each of the system’s other campuses to seek support, she learned that she might qualify for aid in a few years, once she turned 24, got married or had a child of her own. </p><p>At age 22, Mills became pregnant, got financial aid and quickly signed up for classes. But she soon had to take time off of school to care for her son, and later to help her sister after their parents died. When Mills returned to community college, she often struggled to come up with enough cash for food and housing, let alone classes. </p><p>“I can’t afford to pay to park at the downtown campus. I can’t afford to pay for WiFi, so I can’t take this online class and save myself the gas,” she thought. “I don’t have these small things that are really a huge, huge barrier when you’re already living in poverty and struggling.” </p><p>Over nearly a decade, Mills slowly earned her degree. And then one day she opened her inbox to discover her aid was spent, and that $256, for one final math class, stood between her and her diploma. </p><p>“That was money out of my son’s mouth,” she says. “I could never have taken from him to do that.” </p><p>The scales that measure higher education costs are usually set in thousand-dollar increments. Yet much smaller sums that would barely register for some students weigh heavily on others. Fifty dollars for an extra textbook. Twenty dollars for gas to get to campus. A couple of bucks for a snack between classes. </p><p>Recognizing the significance of these modest-but-burdensome expenses, a few years ago Temple University professor and college affordability activist Sara Goldrick-Rab started the FAST Fund. The philanthropic program provides $5,000 grants to professors, who over the course of a school year give small amounts—with few questions asked—to college students who come forward with urgent financial needs. </p><p>So far, most of the recipients have been <a href="https://www.thefastfund.org/recipients" target="_blank" rel="noopener">professors at community colleges and institutions that primarily serve minority students</a>. This week, the FAST Fund named its 2019-2020 cohort: professors Ryan Gamba of California State University at East Bay, Karrȧ Shimabukuro at Elizabeth City State University, Lillie Kirsch at Marion Technical College and Jessica Dean at Western Wyoming Community College. </p><h2>Relying on Relationships</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">Your professor hears your stomach growling. They are the first ones to realize there is something wrong.”</blockquote><p>By giving professors, not colleges, control of donated dollars, the FAST Fund is designed to bypass the bureaucracy of institutional emergency aid funds, which often require students to fill out lengthy applications and document their need.</p><p>“What really bothers me about most college emergency aid funds is they’re the opposite of fast,” Goldrick-Rab says. “When money goes into the institution, it gets wrapped up in red tape. The whole point of this is to allow faculty to become ‘my rich uncle,’ ‘my rich aunt,’ who just support these students the way better-off students [are supported] every day.”</p><p>The process also recognizes that professors are front-line witnesses to student poverty. </p><p>“It can scream to a professor,” says Mills, who is now a consultant and writer and whom Goldrick-Rab recruited to serve as a board member for the FAST Fund. “Your professor hears your stomach growling, sees you sleep in the back of the class or if you’re late every day, or if, when you turn your work in, there are issues. They are the first ones to realize there is something wrong.”</p><p>Many faculty members who encounter struggling students already respond by making donations, but out of their own pockets. Goldrick-Rab hopes the FAST Fund encourages this kind of generosity while alleviating the burden on instructors, many of whom are themselves in precarious financial circumstances. </p><p>“Most faculty are making poverty wages now; adjunct faculty are the majority,” Goldrick-Rab says.</p><p>Beyond addressing immediate needs, aid coming from faculty may actually help retain students long-term by offering them evidence that someone at their college cares about their well-being, Goldrick-Rab says, citing research by <a href="https://www.nacadajournal.org/doi/pdf/10.12930/0271-9517-19.2.5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sociologist Vincent Tinto</a>. </p><h2>Believing in Students, and Faculty</h2><p>The FAST Fund is administered through a nonprofit that Goldrick-Rab started, called Believe in Students. In the spirit of that name, the program permits professor grant recipients to develop their own strategies for allocating their $5,000 without requiring much documentation in return. </p><p>Some have supported students in increments of $500; others, $25 to $75. One bought a bunch of Clif Bars and gave them out to other professors to distribute to hungry students. A few professors have leveraged their dollars against their college’s emergency funds, telling students to apply for that money first, then come back if their applications are rejected. The hope is that this approach will raise awareness among students about other support they might have access to and also raise awareness among college officials of the needs of those students.</p><p>“I love the differences,” Goldrick-Rab says. “I love that this has absolutely taught faculty, who have taught each other.” </p><p>One guideline: The funds are not intended to reward students who earn the best grades. That’s important to Mills, who remembers having to report her GPA on scholarship applications.</p><p>“Come on now. We have to look at the cause and effect. For you to tell me I have to be a stellar student to get help—it’s counterproductive,” she says. “When we think about barriers and what barriers actually do, if I don’t know where I’m going to sleep or what I’m going to eat, my schooling is going to be impacted.”</p><p>In 2017, Lauren Jones, then a professor of developmental writing and reading at Columbus State Community College, received a FAST Fund grant to help provide for her students, like the one who often left a morning class early to stand in line for lunch at a nearby food pantry. </p><p>Jones established a five-person faculty advisory committee to oversee the grant. Members decided to use the money to buy bus passes and Kroger grocery and gas gift cards to give out. They also covered occasional requests for parking money. </p><p>“We didn’t really ask anyone for permission,” Jones says. “There was a little bit of shock, that ‘they’re just doing this on their own.’” </p><p>The committee spread word of the resources within the developmental learning and student advocacy departments. Interested students filled out a brief form, and then committee members quickly weighed in via email or text message about how to proceed. Two “yes” votes meant a student got support. </p><p>The grant has helped 39 students so far, Jones says, and she has three bus passes and two or three Kroger gift cards left. </p><p>“It’s been nice as faculty to have something at your fingertips you could give out,” Jones says. “Instead of saying, ‘You’re not showing up to class,’ it was ‘Why aren’t you showing up to class, and do you need help?’ That’s a huge paradigm shift for faculty and students, to hear someone isn’t just upset that they’re not there, but offering to help.”</p><h2>Building Momentum</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">I am using every tool that I possibly can at this stage to get money to these students.”</blockquote><p>Goldrick-Rab has no illusions that the FAST Fund is a long-term solution to the problem of unequal access to higher education. And she’s involved in lots of other work that might be considered more systemic. </p><p>Still, she’s heartened by the momentum the fund, now in its fourth year, has generated since she seeded it herself with proceeds from sales of her book “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Paying-Price-Financial-Betrayal-American/dp/022640434X" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream</a>” and the $100,000 prize she won from the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education. About half of the sites that have received FAST Fund grants are trying to sustain their programs and have done their own fundraising. </p><p>Part of the appeal these efforts have for donors is the difference a college degree makes on a graduate’s earning potential, says Doug Webber, associate professor at Temple University who donates to FAST Fund and serves on its board.</p><p> “I’m an economist; I think a lot about the bang for your buck. If I’m going to give $1,000 or $5,000 to something, I want to give it to the place it’s going to have the biggest social impact. I think this at least has the potential to do that,” he says. </p><p>All money raised locally passes through Believe in Students, then goes right back without any cuts for administrative costs—a setup that might not be sustainable as the nonprofit grows, Goldrick-Rab admits, since currently she, her husband and kids take on much of the work as volunteers. And she does hope the organization grows, perhaps with a new program that gives aid directly to students themselves.</p><p>“I am using every tool that I possibly can at this stage to get money to these students,” Goldrick-Rab says. </p><p>In Columbus, Jones credits her FAST Fund grant with spurring her institution to develop a full-scale emergency fund to better serve its 46,000 students, incorporating the lessons she and her advisory committee learned. </p><p>“I think there was interest, but I think having this grant gave it more momentum,” she says. </p><p>Despite setbacks, Mills recently earned her associate degree, crossing the commencement stage with her nine-year-old son in the audience. </p><p>She’s been gratified to read through FAST Fund grant applications and help select the faculty members who will intervene on behalf of struggling students, with whom she can empathize personally.</p><p>“Had I been able to go directly to that college math professor and say, ‘Hey, I need to enroll in this class,’ and the professor says, ‘Don’t worry about it, here’s the emergency fund’—now I don’t have to take on credit card debt or possibly drop out,” Mills says. “That would have significantly changed my experience.” </p> A Faculty-Led Fund Gets Cash to Struggling Students, Fast Jamesbin/Shutterstock Mentor Collective Raises $3 Million to Connect College Students and Advisers /news/2019-09-05-mentor-collective-raises-3-million-to-connect-college-students-and-advisers /news/2019-09-05-mentor-collective-raises-3-million-to-connect-college-students-and-advisers#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Financing Higher Education Social-Emotional Learning Thu, 05 Sep 2019 08:30:00 -0400 post-guid-97bbecbd The warning message came to George White and his team from a college student’s mentor. The student might miss classes on account of a broken laptop. ... <p>The warning message came to George White and his team from a college student’s mentor. The student might miss classes on account of a broken laptop. White and his team acted quickly, connecting the student with Lehigh University staffers to secure a loaner computer. </p><p>“If we didn’t find that, a week or two weeks may have led to failing the class,” says White, 67, who at the time was managing director of student access and success at the private Pennsylvania school of 7,000 students.</p><p>This tool that White’s university has used since 2018 came from <a href="https://www.mentorcollective.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mentor Collective</a>, a Boston-based startup that has just secured a late seed funding round of $3 million. This brings the company’s total funding to date to $4.73 million. </p><p>Lumina Foundation led the round. IU Ventures, Strada Network, 10x Impact, EduLab Capital Partners and Emerge Education also participated. </p><p>Jackson Boyar and James Lu Morrissey founded Mentor Collective as a nonprofit in 2014. Mentor Collective is a graduate of the <a href="/news/2015-06-09-admithub-and-shearwater-international-part-of-2015-techstars-boston" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Techstars Boston</a> startup accelerator and today has 31 full-time employees. The company focuses on serving three audiences: adult and online learners, first-year students and those seeking career development.</p><p>Students register for the company’s platform, fill out their interests and match with a mentor, usually a more senior student, sometimes a recent graduate. The pair meet through video, phone or in person. “A million different solutions can impact retention, but mentoring is the best solution,” says Boyar, 29.</p>The dashboard of Lehigh University's version of Mentor Collective. Courtesy of Mentor Collective.<p>To date, Mentor Collective has onboarded over 10,000 peer and alumni mentors. Nearly all of the mentors have completed an online training, which includes a mentor trainer and coach webinar. Training programs vary based on the individual mentorship program’s target audience.</p><p>On its platform, Mentor Collective also provides tools for users to communicate with one another via text and email, as well as a library of guides around campus activities and resources. </p><p>Mentor Collective claims to have 30,000 mentor pairings at over 60 colleges nationwide, including Princeton University, Pennsylvania State University and Indiana University Bloomington. At Indiana, the company claims to have matched over 2,500 students with a mentor and enabled over 10,000 meetings and over 27,000 text messages. Mentor Collective hopes to create 100,000 mentorships by the end of 2020. </p><p>Pricing depends on the total number of students matched with a mentor as opposed to buying software licenses. The company is interested in expanding service to community colleges and partnering with employers to diversify employees. </p><p>White—the Lehigh college official and himself a first-generation student from a low-income background—says he learned about Mentor Collective while researching tools to help his university support students of color and from low-income backgrounds on campus. White hopes that by building institutional tools to support those students, the university diversifies its student population of nearly 60 percent white students and 30 percent white male students. </p><p>He signed a one-year contract with Mentor Collective in 2018. In January 2019, the university signed a three-year contract with the company. Over 400 students matched with a mentor in the first year and over 1,100 students have matched so far this year. </p><p>Lehigh is piloting a version of the program aimed at connecting more senior students of color with mentors in desired careers, something Mentor Collective has done at other universities. Lehigh’s pilot has 25 students enrolled at the moment. </p><p>While White and other Lehigh faculty members make themselves available to mentor students and answer questions, he says students will only share so much with faculty. The student-to-student relationship yields different benefits. “We’ve taken out that power dynamic, and it’s allowed for a deeper set of core relationships,” he says. “They feel like they have a connection and a link with an upperclassman."</p> Mentor Collective Raises $3 Million to Connect College Students and Advisers By Aleutie / Shutterstock.com How This Apprenticeship Helps Educators Achieve Once Out-of-Reach Career Goals /news/2019-09-05-how-this-apprenticeship-helps-educators-achieve-once-out-of-reach-career-goals /news/2019-09-05-how-this-apprenticeship-helps-educators-achieve-once-out-of-reach-career-goals#comments Emily Tate Education Technology Workforce Training Access and Affordability Professional Development Thu, 05 Sep 2019 06:00:00 -0400 post-guid-2f4b10b1 PHILADELPHIA — On most days at the Care-A-Lot Learning Center, Yaribel Mercedes-Perez’s first moments of calm come several hours in, when students are ... <p>PHILADELPHIA — On most days at the Care-A-Lot Learning Center, Yaribel Mercedes-Perez’s first moments of calm come several hours in, when students are settled in for naptime. </p><p>Until then, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, it’s a whirlwind of singing, dancing, playing, reading, diapering, feeding and, at points, wrangling the 13 toddlers she helps care for. It’s not for the faint of heart, though she manages to bring to it a great deal of attention and enthusiasm. </p><p>At 12 p.m., after all the children have eaten and are lying down during naptime, Mercedes-Perez and the two other teachers sit down to have their own lunch. By that time, they have collectively covered enough material—days of the week, seasons, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, animals, hand-washing and more, through songs, books and activities—to make anyone’s head spin. </p>Yaribel Mercedes-Perez, front, and her fellow teachers in the toddler classroom at Philadelphia's Care-A-Lot Learning Center use activities, songs and dancing to instruct the kids. (Emily Tate / EdSurge)<p>So when the kids are sprawled asleep on their mats and the silence has set in, the teachers are due for a respite. Only, for Mercedes-Perez, that sacred time is cut short. The 25-year-old teacher is herself a student—an apprentice, in fact—and must use that quiet period to crank through some homework, study for an exam, start drafting an essay or take a quiz. </p><p>Mercedes-Perez is one of 36 child care workers across Philadelphia accepted into the inaugural class of a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program for early childhood educators. Like the other apprentices in the program, Mercedes-Perez has a <a href="https://www.cdacouncil.org/about/cda-credential" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential</a>, the first step of career development and a requirement for early childhood educators in many states. Launched in 2017, the apprenticeship program puts teachers in the field with a CDA on a fast-track to earn their associate degree, with up to four pay raises delivered along the way. The program covers most tuition, books and transportation costs for educators as well. </p><a href="https://1199ctraining.org/docs/reptoolkit_finaldraft071018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a><p>Providing child care is a job that requires immense skill, patience and energy. But many cities lack the training or support to prepare people for the challenge. That’s why the Philadelphia apprenticeship program exists—to better prepare the city’s early childhood workforce to interact with young children, whose <a href="https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">brain development</a> from birth to age five is critical for long-term learning and success.</p><p>At the same time, the program aims to increase wages and diversity in a workforce beset by low pay and high <a href="https://buffettinstitute.nebraska.edu/-/media/beci/docs/early-childhood-teacher-turnover-in-nebraska-new.pdf?la=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener">turnover rates</a> that range from 26 to 40 percent every year.</p><p>To date, the program has graduated about 10 apprentices out of its initial cohort, with another 22 expected to graduate between December and fall 2020—Mercedes-Perez among them.</p><p><strong>As an apprentice</strong>, Mercedes-Perez participates in a model of training that provides on-the-job learning and instruction, culminating in a credential that is recognized nationally. For decades, apprenticeships have been a mainstay of trades such as plumbing and carpentry, and more recently in healthcare and IT. But the Philadelphia program is one of the first efforts to apply the model to early childhood education. </p><p>To do so, the program relies on a host of funding and programmatic partners, including employers themselves. </p><a href="https://1199ctraining.org/docs/reptoolkit_finaldraft071018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a><p>In the Philadelphia program, apprentices earn an associate degree in addition to a nationally recognized credential. The program awards nine credits for those who have a CDA credential and another nine credits from on-the-job learning, which, for Mercedes-Perez, is led and monitored by Cherry Bernardino, the lead teacher in Care-A-Lot’s toddler classroom and Mercedes-Perez’s designated coach. The remainder of her 62-credit degree comes from courses taken through the Community College of Philadelphia—either in-person classes held during the evenings or online whenever she can find the time. </p><p>Throughout the apprenticeship, Bernardino meets weekly with Mercedes-Perez to discuss and assess her progress toward the more than 220 competencies every apprentice must develop and master in the classroom. The competencies draw on those established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the premier professional association and accrediting organization for early childhood educators. These competencies include everything from providing space and materials for children to develop fine motor skills, to offering positive guidance such as listening and reinforcing. </p><p><strong>Located in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly</strong>, Care-A-Lot is licensed to serve up to 36 students, the vast majority of whom are from low-income families. In the toddler classroom, where Mercedes-Perez works with children who range in age from 12 to 35 months, the cost of care is $210 to $235 per week. In the preschool classroom, where children are 3 to 5 years old, the weekly rate is $195.</p><p>Of the 31 children currently enrolled at Care-A-Lot, all but two or three of their families are using child care subsidies from the government to send their kids to the center, says Lynda Calvano, director and owner of Care-A-Lot. Families must meet income and citizenship requirements to qualify for a subsidy. If a child care provider chooses to accept the subsidy, it can charge families the difference between the subsidy amount and the full rate. In Pennsylvania, families using subsidies must pay a weekly co-pay of $5 or more.</p><p>Calvano initially introduced Mercedes-Perez to the apprenticeship program in 2017, when Philadelphia’s 1199C Training &amp; Upgrading Fund was recruiting its first cohort, and has come to count on her as a reliable employee. More importantly, Calvano wants to ensure that the young teacher has the support she needs to remain in the field. “A skilled worker is important” in early learning, Calvano says. “Some people are just natural teachers, and Yaribel is a natural.” </p>Yaribel Mercedes-Perez, an assistant teacher at Care-A-Lot, works with children in the early learning center's toddler classroom. (Emily Tate / EdSurge)<p>Jameelah Jones, an apprentice and assistant teacher at the Parent Infant Center in West Philadelphia, has also been described as “a natural.” After many stops and starts over the course of 16 years, due to raising two children as well as battling breast cancer, Jones never got her associate degree—until the apprenticeship program came along. “It was a blessing,” Jones says, “because I’ve been working toward my associate degree for so long. If it wasn’t for the program, I don’t think I would’ve really seen an end in sight.”</p><p>Kharma Hicks, the infant/toddler program coordinator at the Parent Infant Center, had encouraged Jones, who is 52 years old, to apply for the program when it was first launching. “We’re investing in our teachers. We’re proud of them. We want them to be able to get their degrees,” Hicks says. “Some of them had stopped taking classes earlier, for whatever reasons—life happens—and this allowed them to get back in the program with a lot of support, tutors, compensation, and coming out debt-free.”</p><p><strong>Child care is mentally and physically demanding</strong>, but the compensation hardly reflects that. In Pennsylvania, the average wage for <a href="https://www.bls.gov/soc/2018/major_groups.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">child care workers</a> was <a href="https://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2018/06/2018-Index-Pennsylvania.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$9.71 per hour</a> in 2017. That’s slightly higher than the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but still only half of the state’s median wage overall, according to calculations performed by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">Our apprentices graduate debt-free, which is huge for this population that is underfunded and underpaid.</blockquote>Ta'Mora Jackson, early childhood education apprenticeship coordinator at Philadelphia's 1199C Training &amp; Upgrading Fund<p>To address this reality, the program guarantees apprentices up to four wage increases. Mercedes-Perez and her employer, Calvano, agreed to a $.50/hour incremental raise, for a total increase of $2.00 per hour by the time she graduates in spring 2020. Unlike the majority of offerings of the apprenticeship program, the wage increases are paid for by the employers. </p><p>At the same time, apprentices don’t have to take out loans to pay for their degrees. “Our apprentices graduate debt-free, which is huge for this population that is underfunded and underpaid,” says Ta’Mora Jackson, the early childhood education apprenticeship coordinator for the Training Fund, the organization that administers the program. </p><p>Without the program, Jackson adds, further credentialing is costly, laborious and, in some cases, downright unrealistic because of the time and resource demands it places on early childhood educators. But the apprenticeship program puts the goal of a degree and the possibility of career growth—and the higher pay that comes with it—well within reach. </p><p><strong>Upstairs at Care-A-Lot</strong><strong>, while the children are asleep</strong>, Bernardino pulls out a three-inch, three-ring binder filled with evaluations, notes and competency trackers from her meetings with Mercedes-Perez. Bernardino receives her own training and mentorship on how to be an effective coach in this program. Like all coaches, she receives a small stipend to compensate for the time she allots each week to her role. </p><p>Bernardino reflects on what she observed earlier that morning, recalling the teacher-guided story time Mercedes-Perez led. “She is so good with storytelling, she can become so animated,” Bernardino says. “She’s able to stretch the spoken words of this children’s book and explain what is happening in the story.” </p><p>She also points to the relationship Mercedes-Perez has developed with each of the children in her care. “That’s a big thing, that she’s able to establish that rapport,” Bernardino says, because she is then able to “see and foresee what’s going to happen next after a behavior.” </p>During story time, Mercedes-Perez reads to the children, who range in age from 12 to 35 months. She is developing more than 220 competencies as part of her apprenticeship. (Emily Tate / EdSurge)<br><p>Bernardino refers to an exhaustive list of competencies laid out in a spreadsheet that she made herself. One page in the binder includes two competencies that Mercedes-Perez was exhibiting with the children during story time: “Read books about animals and their adaptation to the changing seasons” and “Compare and contrast animals.” </p><p>Mercedes-Perez’s community college coursework often reinforces what she’s learning at work and from her coach. For one assignment, she observed her students and assessed their personality types. This fall, Mercedes-Perez is taking a course on special education, which she’ll be able to use in her classroom, particularly to support two students who require additional attention. </p><p><strong>It’s no small undertaking for employers to sponsor an apprentice</strong>. Employers must pay the agreed-upon salary increases. In addition, they must accommodate scheduling issues the program causes. Sometimes apprentices have to leave work up to an hour early to get to their night classes on time. In other cases, apprentices use their release time throughout the day for schoolwork, as Mercedes-Perez does with her lunch period and nap time. </p><p>That's difficult in an industry where being present is paramount for compliance and safety: If a teacher is not in the classroom, a director must often find someone else to take over to maintain required teacher-student ratios. If they fail to do so, they may face licensing violations, resulting in fines and other penalties.</p><p>“It’s definitely a heavy lift for an industry that is often always operating at a deficit, funding-wise,” Jackson says. “We were able to sell the program [to employers] as an investment in their workforce.”</p><p>Calvano, who recently agreed to sponsor a teacher in her center’s preschool classroom for the <a href="https://1199ctraining.org/ECEapprentice" target="_blank" rel="noopener">September 2019 apprentice cohort</a>, agrees.“You’re making an investment in the staff, in the hopes that you achieve less staff turnover,” she says. </p><p>But two apprentices is a big financial commitment, and Calvano acknowledges that. Would she continue to participate in the program indefinitely? “You know, you have to just see how things go,” she says. “This business is like a roller coaster. My enrollment and income fluctuates.” </p><p>For the apprentices, many of whom have either graduated or are counting down the weeks until graduation, the program has been a boon. And it may yet have more to offer: Five of the graduates have already enrolled in bachelor degree programs, at Drexel University or Arcadia University, which have both partnered with the Training Fund and agreed to accept all the credits apprentices bring from their associate degrees. “That is amazing,” Jackson says, “because previously, if you got an associate degree and tried to go to a four-year university, there were so many prerequisites you’d basically have to do it all over again.”</p><p>Mercedes-Perez, who is eagerly approaching her graduation in the spring, is one of the apprentices already eyeing the next step in her education. Jones, who walked in the graduation ceremony in May and has just one more course to pass, is another. </p><p>“Years ago, I didn’t have a goal to continue for my bachelor’s, but now I do,” Jones says, laughing. “So hopefully—I don’t know—maybe the master’s is next.”</p> How This Apprenticeship Helps Educators Achieve Once Out-of-Reach Career Goals Emily Tate / EdSurge Google Gets $170M Fine and Pledges to Protect Children on YouTube. Will It Matter? /news/2019-09-04-google-gets-170m-fine-and-pledges-to-protect-children-on-youtube-will-it-matter /news/2019-09-04-google-gets-170m-fine-and-pledges-to-protect-children-on-youtube-will-it-matter#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Data Privacy Enterprises Wed, 04 Sep 2019 21:37:50 -0400 post-guid-012c692a How much is $170 million? At first glance, it seems like a hefty fine—and it’s what the Federal Trade Commission ordered Google to pay as a settlement ... <p>How much is $170 million? At first glance, it seems like a hefty fine—and it’s what the Federal Trade Commission ordered Google to pay as a <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/09/google-youtube-will-pay-record-170-million-alleged-violations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">settlement</a> over complaints that YouTube had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, or COPPA. But is it really all that much?</p><p>In April 2018, privacy advocacy groups filed a <a href="http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/devel-generate/tiw/youtubecoppa.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complaint</a> stating that YouTube had been illegally collecting personal data about minors who use its service without their parents’ consent, and used that information for advertising purposes. The complaint charges that Google skirted COPPA compliance by claiming that YouTube does not have viewers under the age of 13 (even though it doesn’t take much effort to find content that is clearly directed at young children.)</p><p>According to a <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/1542922/simons_wilson_google_youtube_statement.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">statement</a> from FTC chairman Joseph Simons and commissioner Christine Wilson, the $170 million fine is “almost 30 times higher than the largest civil penalty previously imposed under COPPA.” That was a $5.7 million fine levied against TikTok, a social video app, in February 2019.</p><p>But for a company that reported generating $39 billion in the second quarter of 2019, the fine amounts to barely a slap on the wrist, <a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/9/4/20849143/youtube-google-ftc-kids-settlement-170-million-coppa-privacy-regulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote</a> Rohit Chopra, an FTC commissioner in his dissenting statement about the settlement: “The terms of the settlement were not even significant enough to make Google issue a warning to its investors.”</p><p>He later added: “In my view the Commission often makes a low opening bid for monetary relief … Financial penalties need to be meaningful or they will not deter misconduct.” (Recode’s Peter Kafka called the fine “<a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/9/4/20849143/youtube-google-ftc-kids-settlement-170-million-coppa-privacy-regulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a rounding error</a>.”)</p><p>Perhaps more materially meaningful are the actions that YouTube has pledged to take. In a <a href="https://youtube.googleblog.com/2019/09/an-update-on-kids.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">blog post</a>, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company will “treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user.” The company will also require video uploaders to self-report if their material is targeted for kids, and pledges to stop serving personalized ads and disable comments and notifications on children’s content. It will also establish a $100 million fund to support the creation of “thoughtful, original children’s content on YouTube and YouTube Kids globally.”</p><p>In addition to requiring users to flag their own content, Wojcicki noted that her team will also “use machine learning to find videos that clearly target young audiences.” That comment may well be intended as an additional safeguard, and what Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, another dissenting FTC member, <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/1542971/slaughter_google_youtube_statement.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is looking for</a>.</p><p>But privacy advocates are not sure whether such technology is accurate or reliable. “There are a lot of questions about whether machine learning today is sophisticated enough to identify children’s content,” says Amelia Vance, director of education policy at the Future of Privacy Forum. “It may be easy when you’re talking about nursery rhymes. But what about a video that, say, explores ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the context of Stockholm Syndrome?” she raises hypothetically.</p><p>While the fine may not amount to much, the ruling could portend important updates to federal laws that govern how internet companies are supposed to safeguard children’s privacy, Vance adds. No longer can content creators and media platforms feign ignorance about whether children access their materials, or how they may be tracked by third party advertising tools. </p><p>Vance says that the timing of the fine is also noteworthy in light of the FTC’s <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/07/ftc-seeks-comments-childrens-online-privacy-protection-act-rule" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent call</a> for public comments for updates to COPPA. The agency is hosting a public workshop in about a month, on Oct. 7, to consider changes to the law, which was last amended in 2013. Much has been discovered about data collection practices since then, thanks to revelations involving other large technology companies like Facebook.</p><p>“I don’t think the timing [of this fine] is a coincidence with the call that the FTC put out for comments about COPPA,” she says. “I think you will see potential significant changes from the workshop that will change how companies will interact with kids and parents.” According to Vance, among the proposals under consideration is raising the age for kids that are protected by COPPA. The rule currently only covers children up to age 13.</p> Google Gets $170M Fine and Pledges to Protect Children on YouTube. Will It Matter? Adult Learners Need Their Own EdTech Tools, Ed Department Report Finds /news/2019-09-04-adult-learners-need-their-own-edtech-tools-ed-department-report-finds /news/2019-09-04-adult-learners-need-their-own-edtech-tools-ed-department-report-finds#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Higher Education Adult Learning Workforce Training Digital Learning in Higher Ed Wed, 04 Sep 2019 19:03:14 -0400 post-guid-362dc0b4 To help adult learners, edtech tools should be designed for their needs and goals, support them in virtually communicating with instructors and ... <p> To help adult learners, edtech tools should be designed for their needs and goals, support them in virtually communicating with instructors and classmates and offer them a smooth mobile experience, according to a new report published on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. </p><p>Called “Changing the Equation: Empowering Adult Learners with Edtech,” it’s the <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/professional-development/resource-collections/profile-1163" target="_blank" rel="noopener">culmination of three years of research</a> commissioned by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education through its Power in Numbers initiative. </p><p>The goal of the project has been to better equip instructors with techniques, tools and open educational resources that will help them teach adults the <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/Advancing_Math_Market_Scan_1.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">advanced math skills needed for modern jobs</a>, says Christina Ward, engagement manager at Luminary Labs, a consulting firm the government hired to oversee Power in Numbers. </p><p>“People tend to have ‘math trauma,’” Ward says. “It’s a sticking point for a lot of adult learners that we elevate in the reports.” </p><p>Luminary Labs hosted summits, interviewed educators and reviewed more than 100 educational resources to inform its four reports, handouts and a <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/state-resources/federal-initiatives/power-in-numbers-videos" target="_blank" rel="noopener">video series</a> about making adult learning opportunities more effective and appealing. </p><p>Edtech developers have focused more on building tools for children than adults, according to the Power in Numbers research. While grown-ups may be able to adapt children’s resources, these may not adequately address adult circumstances, like the competing time demands of education, job duties and family obligations. </p><p>Many online classes and tools suffer from low student retention. The research suggests that participation is improved when digital education systems <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/advancing_math_market_scan_2_4-13-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">integrate communication tools</a> that help learners collaborate and get feedback from their instructors. The extent to which learning tools “<a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0091552111416227" target="_blank" rel="noopener">contextualize” instruction</a> with real-world and job-focused applications matters too. </p><h2>Case Studies</h2><p>The Power in Numbers final report highlights studies of two institutions that have used edtech interventions to improve outcomes for students—the University System of Georgia and Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina. Although the studies didn’t focus on adult learners or math education in particular, Luminary Labs researchers believe the results should be relevant to that population and subject. </p><p>The universities in Georgia have seen improved grades since the widespread adoption of open education resources, while Wake Technical saw better online course completion rates among minority students whose instructors communicated with them via text message and virtual meetings software. </p><p>The University System of Georgia has made textbook affordability a priority with its Affordable Learning Georgia initiative, which provides grants and training to help professors adopt open education resources for in-person and online classes and requires registration materials to flag which courses have low- or no-cost texts. </p><p>Not only has OER adoption saved the system’s students money (an estimated combined $55 million since 2014), a <a href="http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE3386.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">study</a> published in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education found that students, especially non-white and part-time students, who got free course materials at the beginning of a class performed better academically than those who didn’t. </p><p>“We’re not just looking to make costs go down in the USG. We’re looking at ways to increase equity in the classroom,” wrote Jeff Gallant, program manager of Affordable Learning Georgia, in the report. “This is very important as time goes on and vendors start coming up with solutions to reduce costs. Ask yourself, are these solutions in the best interest of all of your students?”</p><p>One lesson learned in Georgia is the importance of preserving academic freedom by encouraging instructors to select and adopt their own materials. For example, biology professor Peggy Brickman worked with OpenStax, a nonprofit OER publisher, to create a “UGA Concepts of Biology” textbook. Professors in the program also drew on the copyright and research expertise of librarians, which leaders say has been helpful in gaining widespread participation.. </p><p>Wake Technical Community College used a Department of Education’s First in the World Grant to run a pilot program intended to help students of color improve their academic performance and completion rates in online classes. </p><p>The courses were designed to be both “high-tech and high-touch,” in that they didn’t sacrifice interpersonal communication, despite the physical barriers inherent in remote education. For instance, instructors recorded high-quality videos designed to convey their facial cues to underline key material. They also made themselves available to converse with students via text messaging and virtual meetings software, and they participated in trainings to learn more about the needs of minority students. </p><p>Results from a randomized controlled trial of two popular classes, introduction to psychology and introduction to business, showed that the use of these strategies <a href="https://www.sree.org/conferences/2018s/program/download/abstract/2403_intro.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">improved minority student course completion</a> by 11 percent. The community college is now developing training and a professional development program to teach the model to more of its online instructors.</p> Adult Learners Need Their Own EdTech Tools, Ed Department Report Finds Grekov's/Shutterstock The Disappearing Department Chair: Why Administrators Should Be Inaccessible (Sometimes) /news/2019-09-04-the-disappearing-department-chair-why-administrators-should-be-inaccessible-sometimes /news/2019-09-04-the-disappearing-department-chair-why-administrators-should-be-inaccessible-sometimes#comments Robert Talbert Education Technology Higher Education Wed, 04 Sep 2019 16:19:27 -0400 post-guid-402ea5ca A version of this article first appeared on Robert Talbert’s blog.Getting into my rental car in Detroit last week, I decided to check my email before ... <p><em>A version of this article first appeared on Robert Talbert’s <a href="https://rtalbert.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">blog</a></em><em>.</em></p><hr><p>Getting into my rental car in Detroit last week, I decided to check my email before hitting the road to head home. It was Friday before the first day of classes, and as the <a href="https://rtalbert.org/being-department-chair-round-2/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">newly-installed chair of the Mathematics Department</a>, I'd taken a bit of a risk in spending the day away from the department, because the Friday before classes start is the witching hour: the time when major catastrophes-in-progress tend to come over the horizon. </p><p>So before I went off-grid for the three-hour drive, I peeked one more time into the tunnel for oncoming trains.</p><p>Curiously, there were six messages indicating missed voicemail messages from my office phone. That's weird because I rarely get office calls. Two of the messages were from one of our student workers—one from Thursday night, another from Friday morning. I emailed her back to ask what she needed. She replied that she was just running late for work and needed to call and let people know, and my name was the one listed on the department website as the contact person.</p><p>I froze when I read that last part. I was listed as the contact for the Math Department? I checked on the website, and sure enough, at the bottom of the page where it says "Contact," it listed my name, email and phone number. That meant that every student, every parent, every advisor who had any question whatsoever about mathematics at my university was going to be calling me about it first. No wonder I had all those voicemail messages.</p><p>As I thought about classes getting ready to start, and the sheer number of emails and calls that "the department" could be getting and how much time I needed to buckle down and just do my job— well, I began to question my life choices.</p><p>It was through this episode, and a few smaller ones similar to it that took place this past week, that I learned (perhaps rediscovered) a big lesson as department chair:</p><p>Effective work requires setting and defending boundaries, and being regularly inaccessible.</p><p>This seems strongly opposed to the usual narrative in higher education, that a person's dedication as a professor or administrator is directly proportional to their accessibility. The most beloved professors, so it goes, are the ones who are always available to their students; the most liked administrators are the ones whose "doors are always open." There's definitely a kernel of truth in this: Professors should be generous with their time with students, and good leadership does require transparency and a willingness to be with the people you are leading.</p><p>But accessibility can also be taken too far. </p><p>Consider a professor who puts in a full day of work, then comes back on campus at 7:00 p.m. to lead more study sessions or hold office hours several nights a week (or on the weekends). That prof is more accessible, yes; but she is also giving up time that she needs for other things that will make her effective as a professor—rest, recharging, and pursuit of other creative activities, to say nothing of spending time with family or friends. She is giving herself to her job to the point where there's nothing left over for her—or of her. What's the point of being accessible if you can't be a whole person?</p><p>And consider my situation with being listed as the department's contact. If that stood, I was likely to get phone calls at all times of the day. If I needed to work in a focused way on an important task—which I have to do all the time—that block of deep work can, and probably would, have holes poked into it like Swiss cheese if I made myself that accessible. This would cause me to be constantly distracted by the work I didn't have done and I'd be so accessible that I'd be useless when meeting with someone.</p><p>We all want to be open and accessible to our students and colleagues. The relationships we build with them are what define the best parts of higher education. But a professional life without boundaries is one where we are so diffused by the demands of that very accessibility that we can no longer be fully present with the people we say we are trying to serve.</p><p>As I was getting ready to step into the department chair role, one of the best resources I encountered was the book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/First-90-Days-Strategies-Expanded/dp/1422188612" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The First 90 Days</a>, by Michael Watkins. It's a book for leadership transitions in business, but works very well for higher ed. This quote resonated with me:</p><p>“If you fail to establish solid boundaries defining what you are willing and not willing to do, the people around you—bosses, peers, and direct reports—will take whatever you have to give. The more you give, the less they will respect you and the more they will ask of you—another vicious cycle. Eventually you will feel angry and resentful that you're being nibbled to death, but you will have no one to blame but yourself. If you cannot establish boundaries for yourself, you cannot expect others to do it for you.”</p><p>Being open and accessible is good. Being unreservedly open with no boundaries, and being constantly accessible, is unsustainable and unhealthy. In the end, we may be giving people a lot of ourselves, but the self we are giving them is impoverished and just plain tired. </p><p>The simple fact is that in order to serve people well, we have to make time to be apart from them.</p><h2>Avoiding a Time Crisis</h2><p>I've been employing three strategies and rules for myself to set boundaries and give myself time to focus on doing the work that really matters to the people I serve:</p><p><strong>1. </strong><strong>Schedule time boxes during the week during which you are not available, </strong>and manage expectations about your availability during those times. <a href="https://hbr.org/2018/12/how-timeboxing-works-and-why-it-will-make-you-more-productive" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Time boxing</a> is consistently ranked as one of the most effective productivity methods out there, and for good reasons. It just refers to the concept of blocking or "boxing" out time on one's calendar through the week and dedicating each box to a single task or project. </p><p>I started using time boxing while on <a href="http://rtalbert.org/sabbatical" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sabbatical</a> to add structure and focus to my work days. These days, as department chair, I've boxed off two hours in the mornings from Monday through Thursday for doing deep work, noting that at these times I am not available. During these times, I don't answer the door, the phone, or email. In fact, I put my phone in airplane mode, and I might not even be on campus. I've had a conversation with our administrative staff and emphasized that this is time for me to focus on important departmental tasks without any interruptions whatsoever—so please do not call, knock on the door, or text me. If that seems like a lot of time, remember that by sealing yourself off, you're getting things done more efficiently, so it saves time in the long run.</p><p><strong>2. Don't waste time during your "inaccessible" boxes.</strong> Carving out this kind of inaccessible time comes at a cost—you're giving up time with others to pay for it. So it's important to actually do focused work during these times and not fritter it away on daydreaming or off-task activities. View those focused, "inaccessible" times as a series of sprints, where you work flat-out with complete focus on one task for short periods of time, then take a short break, then do it again. </p><p><strong>3. Also schedule time boxes for when you are fully available</strong>. The point of being inaccessible from time to time is to be fully present with others when it is time to be accessible. So, schedule those times too. Generous student drop-in hours, dedicated times for appointment-making, times when your door really is open and when someone comes in, they know it's OK, and they know they're going to get the full attention of your best self.</p><h2>Meetings, with Borders</h2><p>Finally, a word about meetings: I have a lot of these nowadays, and there's no better place for setting boundaries. Conversely, the worst thing in the world is a meeting with no fixed ending time (or nobody willing to enforce it). If a student schedules an appointment to talk to me (as the chair) about one of their professors, they get 20 minutes; I promise that they will be heard during that meeting, and they get my absolute undivided attention in that meeting—for 20 minutes. </p><p>Likewise, if I call a meeting, then I'm making sure to give an agenda that has its own internal schedule. Boundaries can be a beautiful thing, especially when you think about how scarce time is.</p><p>So, what did I do about the website where my name was listed? </p><p>Simple: I emailed our administrative staff and had them remove any mention of my name, email and phone number from the top level of our website. I made myself a little less accessible. (<a href="https://www.gvsu.edu/math/department-chair-and-staff-37.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">There's another page</a> linked to the main page where that info resides anyway.) I didn't have to explain myself at all—the administrative staff immediately told me that I was way too busy to be handling phone calls for the department and changed it right away. </p><p>So I'm less accessible, but only because I want to be more effective.</p> The Disappearing Department Chair: Why Administrators Should Be Inaccessible (Sometimes) Brt / Shutterstock Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It. /news/2019-09-04-everyone-has-invisible-bias-this-lesson-shows-students-how-to-recognize-it /news/2019-09-04-everyone-has-invisible-bias-this-lesson-shows-students-how-to-recognize-it#comments Jacquelyn Whiting Education Technology Digital and Media Literacy Diversity and Equity 21st Century Skills Wed, 04 Sep 2019 15:00:36 -0400 post-guid-6548605a Last year, an English teacher at my school came to me with an all-too-common concern about an essay a student named Kyle had just turned in. The ... <p>Last year, an English teacher at my school came to me with an all-too-common concern about an essay a student named Kyle had just turned in. The teacher’s 10th grade class had just finished op-ed essays on a topic of their choice, and Kyle had chosen to examine the economic impact of illegal immigration on the U.S. economy. But in his submitted draft every source in his bibliography—and I do mean every—leaned toward one political bias, and sometimes quite heavily.</p><p>“It happened again,” lamented my colleague. </p><p>Despite directing the class to consult disparate points of view and guiding them to databases and websites constructed to provide point and counterpoint arguments, Kyle hadn’t shown any effort in entertaining other viewpoints. And while Kyle’s essay was the most egregious on this front, he was by no means the only one in this camp. Many students start the research process by proclaiming: “I know what I’m going to say!” and seek only sources that validate that pre-formed position. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">Students were failing the most central tenet of media literacy, and turning in another set of essays reinforcing bias confirmation. In some cases, they aren’t even aware they’re doing it.</blockquote><p>Students were failing the most central tenet of media literacy, and turning in another set of essays reinforcing bias confirmation. In some cases, they weren’t even aware they were doing it.</p><p>“How do we help them recognize when their bias is interfering with their understanding?” my colleague asked.</p><p>As a library media specialist, I thought I knew the answer. If we only react after the fact, students often meet us with defensiveness. But there is another path. “We need to get out ahead of it.” I responded. </p><h2>Confronting Invisible Bias</h2><p>Perhaps the biggest challenge we face when accessing information is confronting our biases before we are able to unpack the opinions and insights of other people. Often these biases are unconscious or implicit, meaning we might not even be aware we have them. </p><p>But these implicit biases have real implications, and educators are no less immune than students. Research has already shown, for instance, that adults see black girls <a href="https://www.law.georgetown.edu/poverty-inequality-center/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/08/girlhood-interrupted.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">as less innocent</a> than white peers, even before they meet them. Another study found that white teachers were 30 percent less likely than black teachers to predict a black student of theirs <a href="http://neatoday.org/2015/09/09/when-implicit-bias-shapes-teacher-expectations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">would graduate college</a>. </p><p>Until we become aware of our biases, and how these attitudes and opinions emerge through the language we use, we can fall into what’s known as the bias confirmation trap—we see opinion with which we agree as fact and information with which we disagree as false. </p><p>Nurturing self-awareness in our students and guiding them to see how their biases interact with their information acquisition is a fundamental element to helping them develop the media literacy and communication skills essential for civil discourse. Academics and educators like Robin DiAngelo, <a href="/news/2018-08-23-white-fragility-in-teaching-and-education-an-interview-with-dr-robin-diangelo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">author of “White Fragility,”</a> challenge us with their findings to grow the self-awareness necessary to promote cross-racial dialogue and foster socially just schools and communities.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Before we tackle the texts, we have to face ourselves.</blockquote><p>Sounds daunting, right? Maybe not. Bias is a part of any source of information; the issue is the degree of transparency. When a text is laden with super-charged words and images, the bias is obvious. When the language is more subtle, we are more inclined to miss it. So when working with my students, we tackle the subtle texts. The experience with Kyle and his classmates prompted a new realization for us. Before we tackle the texts, we have to face ourselves. So I developed a lesson I hoped would make that clearer. </p><h2>Creating Room for Debate</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">Rarely can I say that experiences I plan for my students go exactly how I anticipate. This one did.</blockquote><p>Since students were already working with op-ed essays, I curated some models of well-written ones on topics I thought would be meaningful to the class. To do that, I consulted one of my go-to resources for editorial content, the New York Times “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Room for Debate</a>” section and found a collection of short opinion essays on equity in education. I selected one by Prudence Carter. </p><p>From her essay I excerpted one paragraph that, to me, seemed particularly potent. From that paragraph I removed some of the descriptive words: verbs and adjectives, mostly. When I distributed the document to a class, a student immediately asked: </p><p>“Are we doing Mad Libs today?”</p><p>Here is what the exercise looked like:</p><p>Admittedly, it does look like Mad Libs, those fill-in-the-blank joke sheets we loved as kids. That was intentional—so that students would have a basic sense of what they were supposed to do. But this exercise is a little different. First, the goal is to make the paragraph cogent, to choose words that make sense in context. And second, they needed to do it alone, without discussion. (If you have a moment, feel free to follow along and add your own words.) </p><p>The class buzzed through the first two blanks, easily completing the ideas. With the third blank they started to slow down. Some started to struggle. They asked questions like, “Can I use a phrase instead of a word?” I said a short phrase was OK, but that all that had been removed in each blank space was one word. The goal, I told them, is to get the paragraph to make sense, not guess what the author said.</p><p>When most of them had finished, I said it was time to move to round two: partner work. I directed them to work in pairs or groups of three. This time they needed to discuss the task and agree on the words that filled each blank. Again, they cruised through the first few, easily agreeing about what the missing words could be. And then it got harder. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">The students were starting to see that language impacts meaning, and that their choice of words indicated subtle and even unconscious beliefs</blockquote><p>As students began to find differences in the words they were using, they started trying to convince each other why their word was better. When completing the statement: “Equitably funded schools run by ___ educators,” some students chose the adjective “qualified” and others chose “passionate” and still others chose “caring.” Organically, they were discussing the subtle connotations of language. Some groups got really stuck and had to skip some parts; others put two words in a spot and then discovered that how they completed the next blank was dependent on which word they chose for the previous one.</p><p>Rarely can I say that experiences I plan for my students go exactly how I anticipate. This one did. These students—many of whom had been classmates for years, who lived in similar neighborhoods and took multiple classes together—were starting to see that language impacts meaning, and that their choice of words indicated subtle and even unconscious beliefs. Those they may have presumed viewed the world just as they did actually had different points of view, and—this is important—things they thought were fact might actually be opinion. Students had picked up on all this and we hadn’t even gotten to the best part of the lesson.</p><p>Next, I asked the students to focus on one sentence from the paragraph:</p><blockquote>“they _____________ to keep up, while others are ____________ up on elevators.”</blockquote><p>and share how they completed it. Here are some examples from the students.</p><blockquote>they <em>struggle</em> to keep up, while others are <em>racing</em> up</blockquote><blockquote>they <em>try</em> to keep up, while others are <em>rising</em> up<br> </blockquote><blockquote>they <em>attempt</em> to keep up, while others are <em>moving</em> up</blockquote><p>We drilled into their words starting with “struggle,” “try” and “attempt.” “What do these words imply? What do these words say about the people doing the action?” I asked them. The students observed that these words insinuated difficulty, obstacles and likely failure. Some thought they conveyed a lack of will or commitment to the task. Ultimately, they agreed that these words implied a lack of agency.</p><p>Then we focused on the second words: “racing,” “rising,” “moving.” Here the students noted progress, accomplishment, success and action. Certainly the way the statement was completed gave the “others” power and agency that the “they” in the sentence did not have.</p><p>Of course the final step was to compare their word choice with the original author’s:</p><blockquote>“they <em>work</em> to keep up, while others are <em>zooming</em> up”</blockquote><p>“Whoa,” said one student.</p><p>“That’s really different,” said another.</p><p>I invited them to explain why.</p><p>Carter, the original author, actually gives agency to the people my students described as “struggling,” “attempting,” and “trying.” Not only did she give them agency but by saying “they work,” she implies that they have skill, purpose and goals. And by describing others as “zooming” she implies privilege. And there, in that one phrase, is material for a substantive and meaningful discussion of implicit bias.</p><p>Kyle and his class took home a lesson about how our place, our upbringing, our background and our media exposure contributes to our world view. Unless we confront the bias, we can not overcome it.</p><h2>Making a Conscious Choice</h2><blockquote class="pullquote">For everyone, what resonates is the implicit weight of words</blockquote><p>If we consider the language we have used to tell our history and we choose to use different words, we are inviting different points of view into our understanding of the world; we are broadening our perspective and gaining empathy with diverse people. </p><p>I have replicated this “Mad Libs” lesson many times with both students and adults. No one has ever completed the sentences the way Prudence Carter <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/09/14/is-school-reform-hopeless/poor-schools-need-to-encompass-more-than-instruction-to-succeed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">originally wrote them</a>. Every time I guide people through this lesson, the conversation about the role bias plays in our lives and our learning is deep and thoughtful. </p><p>Some people are struck by the need to read completely—not just skim a headline or abstract in a media feed. Others notice how limiting it is to describe an issue as binary, as in having only two sides. And still others realize that bias is inherent in all of us. For everyone, what resonates is the implicit weight of words.</p><p>The cool thing, to me, about this lesson is that the same people can do it over again with a different text and continue to learn about themselves and how their unconscious and implicit biases affect their worldview, slowly stripping out ingrained habits of bias confirmation. And then, they can consciously choose to expand their perspective.</p> Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It. Zhitkov Boris / Shutterstock Chegg to Buy Coding Bootcamp Thinkful for $80 Million /news/2019-09-04-chegg-to-buy-coding-bootcamp-thinkful-for-80-million /news/2019-09-04-chegg-to-buy-coding-bootcamp-thinkful-for-80-million#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Bootcamps Higher Education Coding Mergers and Acquisitions Wed, 04 Sep 2019 10:30:28 -0400 post-guid-e1730b0b Chegg, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based publicly traded student services company, plans to buy Thinkful, a Brooklyn-based online coding bootcamp. The ... <p><a href="https://www.chegg.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chegg</a>, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based publicly traded student services company, plans to buy <a href="https://www.thinkful.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Thinkful</a>, a Brooklyn-based online coding bootcamp. </p><p>The acquisition will cost Chegg about $80 million in cash for Thinkful, with possible additional payments of up to $20 million in cash or stock based on performance, <a href="https://investor.chegg.com/Press-Releases/press-release-details/2019/Chegg-to-Acquire-Online-Skills-Based-Learning-Platform-Thinkful-to-Help-Students-Accelerate-their-Path-from-Learning-to-Earning/default.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to a statement Wednesday</a>. Both companies’ boards of directors have approved the deal. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter. </p><p>Chegg had been holding onto <a href="/news/2019-08-21-edtech-earnings-roundup-how-2u-chegg-instructure-and-pluralsight-fared-in-q2-2019" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$1.1 billion in cash</a>, with executives saying some of the money would go toward acquisition. Last year, <a href="/news/2018-05-16-chegg-cuts-15-million-check-to-buy-ai-feedback-tool-writelab" target="_blank" rel="noopener">it bought WriteLab</a> for $15 million in cash.</p><p>The company had been interested in entering the bootcamp space for about two years, says Nathan Schultz, Chegg president of learning services. Chegg vetted about 40 bootcamps before Thinkful won Chegg over with its direct-to-consumer strategy and less reliance on university partnerships than its competitors. “Our DNA is direct to consumer, and there are not a lot of those out there,” Schultz says. “We got bit by the Thinkful bug.” </p><p>While Chegg and Thinkful users won’t see any immediate changes, Chegg tools including its Q-and-A database and Chegg Tutors chat system. Schultz declined to say whether the Thinkful employee count will change but did say Chegg itself is hiring. </p><p>For Chegg, founded in 2005, this latest acquisition will expand its direct-to-student learning platform and add more technology career courses. For Thinkful, the acquisition means faster course development, lower cost for students and increased reach. </p><p>In one of the more expensive Thinkful programs, students pay $18,500 in tuition and $250 in an upfront fee for an immersive data science program. The program comes with four different payment options including an interest-bearing loan and an income-share agreement. </p><p>Thinkful will contribute about $2 million to Chegg’s fourth-quarter revenue. Thinkful’s 2018 net revenue was about $14 million, an increase of about 30 percent over the previous year. </p><p>Chegg expects the acquisition will cause an adjusted earnings loss of about $4 million in the fourth quarter. As the service scales, the adjusted earnings should break even in 2020. </p><p>The publicly traded company has also adjusted guidance for its future performance. It expects total 2019 revenue of between $400 and $404 million, an increase from $398 million to $402 million <a href="https://investor.chegg.com/Press-Releases/press-release-details/2019/Chegg-Reports-Q2-2019-Financial-Results-and-Raises-Full-Year-2019-Guidance/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported in July.</a> It expects 2019 adjusted earnings of $117 million to $120 million, an increase from $121 million to $124 million reported in July. </p><p>Thinkful claims that 85 percent of its graduates get jobs in their field of study within six months of graduation. Courses include engineering, data science, data analytics and product design. The company offers income-share agreements and other payment options. </p><p>As of January 2018, Thinkful <a href="/news/2018-01-10-thinkful-raises-9-6m-to-grow-in-person-hubs-for-its-online-coding-bootcamp" target="_blank" rel="noopener">had raised about $16 million</a> in venture capital since its founding in 2012. In 2017 and 2018, Thinkful bought fellow online coding schools <a href="/news/2018-04-10-online-coding-bootcamp-thinkful-acquires-leading-competitor-bloc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Viking Code School and Bloc</a>, respectively. </p><p>Earlier this year, 2U purchased Trilogy Education Services, an education company that helps set up and run short-term coding programs at university extension schools, for $750 million. At the time, 2U reported <a href="/news/2019-04-08-2u-s-third-chapter-begins-with-a-750m-acquisition-of-trilogy-education" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trilogy would generate $135 million</a> in revenue for fiscal year 2019. </p> Chegg to Buy Coding Bootcamp Thinkful for $80 Million Michael Vi / Shutterstock Our Picture of School Innovation Is Incomplete. Can It Be Fixed? /news/2019-09-04-our-picture-of-school-innovation-is-incomplete-can-it-be-fixed /news/2019-09-04-our-picture-of-school-innovation-is-incomplete-can-it-be-fixed#comments Chelsea Waite Education Technology Education Research School Models Wed, 04 Sep 2019 07:00:00 -0400 post-guid-45bf4cec Call to mind some of the dominant narratives about school innovation and chances are a fairly predictable picture emerges. It’s not hard to conjure up ... <p>Call to mind some of the dominant narratives about school innovation and chances are a fairly predictable picture emerges. It’s not hard to conjure up a charter school launched anew in California or perhaps Chicago with students working through personalized learning playlists in colorful and modular furniture—and plenty of technology.</p><p>But that’s hardly the full story. For many educators, the landscape of school innovation is widely varied. All across the country, schools of all stripes are developing nontraditional approaches to teaching and learning to better serve students. Some are wrapping social and health services around academics to ensure students have the supports they need to focus on learning; some are redefining metrics of success to include social-emotional competencies; and others are finding ways to allow students to earn credit based on learning experiences outside the classroom. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">School innovation is living, dynamic and diverse—especially from the perspective of those engaged directly in it</blockquote><p>These schools are located all over the country and their demographics are often as varied as the approaches. School innovation is living, dynamic and diverse—especially from the perspective of those engaged directly in it. </p><p>Unfortunately, it can be hard to see exactly where and how these new approaches to teaching and learning are evolving, and too much of the diversity in school innovation gets lost in the education echo chamber. As a result, a limited number of schools and models tend to be highlighted as exemplars, time and again. Funders, researchers and intermediary organizations are eager to learn about where schools are bucking the traditional model. But currently, they tend to rely on word-of-mouth and other network-based strategies to discover schools. </p><p>In short, missing the diversity of innovative school practices also means missing models that have the potential to transform the learning experience and drive better outcomes for students. Clearly something needs to change. </p><p>Over the past year, the Christensen Institute, where I serve as a research fellow, has worked with a collective of partners and advisors to create a process that breaks school innovation out of the echo chamber and paints a more comprehensive, diverse picture of approaches across the country. We’re calling the project <a href="http://christenseninstitute.org/canopy-project" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the Canopy</a>, as a way to envision both the trees—individual schools as units of change—and the diversity of the whole “forest” of schools that are moving away from the traditional model.</p><h2>Casting a Wide Net</h2><p>To get beyond the well-known, word-of-mouth schools we’re already familiar with, we tested a crowdsourced school nomination process that deliberately included nominating organizations in every U.S. state. Before we identified individual schools, we began with a “snowball survey,” asking a select number of colleagues for their go-to organizations to learn about innovative schools. These organizations included over 300 regional coalitions, state agencies and national intermediaries—and 76 of them ultimately helped nominate the schools they thought were making a difference. (EdSurge was one of them.) Later, we asked the leaders of nominated schools to verify details. </p>Geographic distribution of nominated and confirmed schools in the Canopy. (Image: Christensen Institute)<p>Ultimately, this process succeeded in surfacing a number of under-the-radar schools: 72 percent of schools in the Canopy do not appear on other commonly-referenced lists and databases of innovative schools, such as Education Reimagined’s <a href="https://education-reimagined.org/map/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">map</a>, Getting Smart’s <a href="https://www.gettingsmart.com/high-schools-worth-visiting/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 list</a> of schools to visit, and Jobs for the Future’s Students @ the Center Hub <a href="https://studentsatthecenterhub.org/map/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">map</a>. </p><p>Here’s a little on how that process worked. </p><h2>Defining Innovation Broadly</h2><p>To ensure nominators understood that we were seeking to surface more diversity among schools that are innovating, we used a deliberately broad framing for what makes a school “innovative.” The nomination form asked organizations to consider schools that are making strides towards student-centered learning through personalization, new definitions of success and/or equity for historically marginalized students. Nominated schools could be newly launched schools or redesigns, but could also be traditional schools that are adopting coherent, leadership-backed approaches to student-centered learning. (To be clear, we focused on innovative approaches at this stage and not evidence or outcomes of success.)</p><p>In total, the data represents schools pursuing 88 practices linked to non-traditional school design, ranging from multi-age classrooms and restorative justice programs to competency-based education and project-based learning.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">While tags will never deliver a high-resolution view of what’s happening, they capture key design elements so that the dataset can be sorted, filtered and analyzed</blockquote><h2>Structuring School Design Data Consistently</h2><p>Because existing databases on school innovation often use inconsistent terminology to describe similar things—i.e., project-based learning versus real-world learning—data on school practice is fragmented. This project tests a consistent data lexicon to enable researchers to analyze national data and see trends and patterns over time. Building from work that other organizations have done (including EdSurge) we developed a set of “tags,” or keywords and phrases representing aspects of school design that nominators and school leaders applied to each school’s nomination to describe elements of the school’s model.</p><p>While tags will never deliver a high-resolution view of what’s happening, they capture key design elements so that the dataset can be sorted, filtered and analyzed, making it much more than just a list of schools. </p><p>For example, this tagging system, which is currently available for <a href="https://www.christenseninstitute.org/canopy-project/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">download</a>, helped uncover that the three most commonly-cited approaches among schools in the Canopy were learner agency, social-emotional learning and project-based learning. However, learner agency and social-emotional learning were indicated at far lower rates among schools serving predominantly Black students. While findings like these are not fully representative and do not reveal the cause behind these patterns, they offer a glimpse into important questions worthy of further investigation.</p><p>This initial stage of the project has not single-handedly painted a comprehensive picture of school innovation, but it could, over time, as additional researchers build upon its research methodology and living lexicon. It is a compelling proof-of-concept for how a process designed to advance collective knowledge—both in terms of where that knowledge comes from, and how it is structured—could reliably surface a more diverse set of schools and unearth trends and patterns in how schools are reimagining teaching and learning. </p> Our Picture of School Innovation Is Incomplete. Can It Be Fixed? Art studio / Shutterstock Teaching Strategies Buys ReadyRosie to Reach Parents and Children With Video Lessons /news/2019-09-03-teaching-strategies-buys-readyrosie-to-reach-parents-and-children-with-video-lessons /news/2019-09-03-teaching-strategies-buys-readyrosie-to-reach-parents-and-children-with-video-lessons#comments Wade Tyler Millward Education Technology Video Instruction Mergers and Acquisitions Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:04:00 -0400 post-guid-56afdbfb In one of the 1,000-plus videos that ReadyRosie can text or email parents, a preschool-aged boy describes an item on a kitchen counter while a mother ... <p>In one of the 1,000-plus videos that <a href="https://www.readyrosie.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ReadyRosie</a> can text or email parents, a preschool-aged boy describes an item on a kitchen counter while a mother figure stands next to him, eyes closed, guesses the item. “It’s smooth and in the pantry,” the boy says slowly. “It’s soft and smooth.” Peanut butter? she asks. “Uh-huh,” the boy replies.</p><p>The video’s simplicity and accessibility is the point for ReadyRosie, which offers parents ways to turn a chore like putting away groceries into vocabulary practice. ReadyRosie’s goal with its platform is to provide these videos, usually two minutes in length, to parents as instructions for games and activities to continue learning after preschool. </p><p>The Denton, Texas-based company is also growing up itself. Today, it celebrates a new milestone with its purchase by <a href="https://teachingstrategies.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teaching Strategies</a>, a Bethesda, Md.-based early childhood technology and services developer best known for its GOLD observation-based assessment system and its Creative Curriculum product lines for infants, preschoolers and kindergarteners. Terms of the deal were not released. </p><p>ReadyRosie founder and CEO Emily Roden says helping children by engaging their parents has helped her company grow to serve 6,500 Head Start programs, childcare centers and elementary schools. Head Start is a federal program to support school readiness in children 5 and younger from low-income families. </p><p>The platform’s videos are in English and Spanish and includes tools for educators to measure engagement from children’s parents. Educators see how much of a video parents watched and how that video connects back to lessons from the day. “Our content is what people fall in love with,” says Roden, 41. “But our data gets people to continue to use it.”</p><p>Roden worked as an elementary school teacher and in sales for Pearson before founding ReadyRosie in 2012. For her, it’s a family affair: Her husband also works at the company, which is named after their oldest daughter. The company has raised no outside capital since its start. </p><p>The company has about 15 full-time employees today. Its platform costs between $200 and $350 a year per classroom, with lower prices if several classrooms sign up. The minimum order is usually $1,750 and families never pay. The paying customers are schools, organizations and government agencies.</p>An example of a ReadyRosie video lesson for parents.<p>While most of the educators and families served are in the U.S., the company also has customers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. ReadyRosie hopes to continue to grow internationally after the acquisition, she says. </p><p>Back in her home state, Roden says what helped her company grow was <a href="http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter102/ch102aa.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legislation passed by Texas</a> in 2015 requiring school districts and charter schools to implement family engagement plans to help schools involve families and improve family attitudes toward education. “That ended up throwing gas on our little fire,” she says. “Districts all over Texas had to implement high-quality family engagement plans.”</p><p>But ReadyRosie’s growth also comes as a result of growing smartphone use among lower-income families. Pew Research Center found that the share of lower-income Americans who rely on smartphones to go online instead of a broadband connection <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/07/digital-divide-persists-even-as-lower-income-americans-make-gains-in-tech-adoption/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has nearly doubled</a> from 2013 to 2019. “Any serious engagement of this demographic with educational technology tools must have a mobile-first strategy in place,” Roden says.</p><p>ReadyRosie is currently involved in a study with University of Pittsburgh researchers to find the impact of its platform on children and families, which is expected to publish by the end of the year at the earliest, she says.</p><p><a href="https://assets.readyrosie.com/ReadyRosie-and-Penn-State-Research.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Pennsylvania State University evaluation</a> of families who used ReadyRosie for three weeks found that their total number of used words increased by 80 percent; that children’s responses increased 60 percent and that the total number and complexity of utterances increased 40 percent.</p><p>This acquisition will help new parent company Teaching Strategies, founded in 1988, add a division to interact directly with parents and improve learning outcomes with tools used outside of the classroom, says John Olsen, who <a href="https://teachingstrategies.com/teaching-strategies-announces-kai-lee-berke-to-vice-chair-john-olsen-to-chief-executive-officer/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">became its CEO in July</a>. “When we talked to these folks, it felt like talking to a brother from another mother,” Olsen says.</p><p>Teaching Strategies provides curriculum, assessment, professional development and family connection resources to programs for children in grade three and younger. It claims to have about 220 full-time employees, thousands of early childhood program partners in the U.S. and service over two million children a year.</p><p>In 2015, <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/teaching-strategies-acquires-tadpoles-a-leading-provider-of-child-management-solutions-to-the-private-childcare-market-300032093.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">it purchased Tadpoles</a>, another company focused on communication between parents and early childcare educators. L Squared Capital Partners, the investment firm that used to own Teaching Strategies, <a href="http://www.lsquaredcap.com/teachingstrategies/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sold the company in May 2018</a> to Boston-based private equity firm Summit Partners.</p><p>Other recent education-related investments by Summit include <a href="/news/2019-04-30-austin-based-cloud-training-platform-raises-33-million" target="_blank" rel="noopener">leading a $33 million </a>investment in A Cloud Puru, a training platform for cloud computing professionals, earlier this year.</p><p>Olsen previously worked at Duke Street Advisors, a firm that advised on mergers and acquisitions. That experience may well come in handy, as the company has the means to make more purchases, he says. The company is interested in how new technology like machine learning and voice recognition might impact early childcare learning outcomes. He also plans to hire more employees to help ReadyRosie grow.</p><p>Both companies cite bipartisan interest in improving universal access to preschool as an encouraging force behind their growth. The National Institute for Early Education Research’s <a href="http://nieer.org/state-preschool-yearbooks/2018-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2018 annual report</a> on the state of preschool found nine states that have committed to improving access, funding or quality standards.</p><p>The report also found that preschool enrollment nationwide grew slowly. “States added only 21,292 three-year-olds and 33,827 four-year-olds over the prior year totals,” it stated. “These small increases amount to only half a percentage point for 3-year-olds and less than a percentage point for 4-year-olds. Although these increases were larger than last year, the difference is small, and there has been little progress towards increased enrollment for several years.”</p><p>Martha Strickland, state director for the kindergarten program for 4-year-olds at the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness early childhood agency, stumbled across ReadyRosie at a conference while in need of a tool to better engage the families she works with.</p><p>The problem Strickland heard over and over from parents was how little time they had to continue children’s lessons at home. “We didn’t want to just send newsletters home,” Strickland says. “Most of our parents are working parents."</p><p>ReadyRosie breaks through that barrier with its short videos and simple activities for parents to engage with their children academically, she says. The company currently serves about 2,400 families in Strickland’s program, double year over year. She says she plans to renew her annual licenses with ReadyRosie. </p> Teaching Strategies Buys ReadyRosie to Reach Parents and Children With Video Lessons By Olaf Holland / Shutterstock Edly, a Marketplace for Income Share Agreements, Secures Seed Funding /news/2019-09-03-edly-a-marketplace-for-income-share-agreements-secures-seed-funding /news/2019-09-03-edly-a-marketplace-for-income-share-agreements-secures-seed-funding#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Access and Affordability Financing Tue, 03 Sep 2019 16:45:53 -0400 post-guid-57cd1bf2 From state universities to coding bootcamps, an increasing number of education providers now offer income share agreements, more commonly known as ... <p>From state universities to coding bootcamps, an increasing number of education providers now offer <a href="/news/2017-05-28-a-basic-glossary-to-income-share-agreements-a-new-approach-to-student-finance" target="_blank" rel="noopener">income share agreements</a>, more commonly known as ISAs. These arrangements allow students to put off paying for their education until after they land a job. That also means schools don’t receive any money until years down the line.</p><p>To get capital, some schools have taken to selling ISAs to private investors. Enter <a href="https://edly.info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">edly</a>, which provides an online marketplace to facilitate these transactions. What the New York-based company offers is essentially a way for schools to sell the rights to future ISA repayments to accredited investors in return for money upfront. (Some bootcamp companies, including Lambda School,<a href="https://www.wired.com/story/how-we-learn-lambda-income-sharing-agreements/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> already do this</a>.)</p><p>Today, edly announced it has raised a seed round from Mistral Venture Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; Code Cubitt and Pablo Srugo, respectively managing partner and principal of Mistral, will join edly’s board of directors.</p><p>On edly, participating schools share how much they are looking to raise, along with other details about their programs—including historical graduation rates, how long it takes for graduates to land a job and the salaries they make. Other financial details, including repayment terms, are worked out between the school and the edly team. “Investors typically don’t want to negotiate individual deals with individual schools,” says Charles Trafton, co-founder and president of edly. “They want a place where they can point and click to invest in these programs.”</p><p>Interested investors can then buy shares of an ISA pool offered by the school, and their returns are proportional to the percentage they put in. (For example, let’s say a school is offering $2 million worth of ISAs. If an investor puts in $500,000, the funder is entitled to 25 percent of the future repayment from the students supported in that pool.) The company takes a small cut of each investment, and also charges schools a fee to list their ISAs on the platform.</p><p>So far, six schools including Bottega, Holberton School and V School have listed ISAs on the edly platform, according to Trafton. Holberton was the first,<a href="https://blog.edly.info/news/edly-holberton" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> netting $2 million</a> from six investors. And there’s growing demand to broker more transactions, he adds, saying that his team is currently signing on a couple of new schools each month. Advanced Welding School, American Diesel Training Centers and Sabio, a coding school, are also expected to list on the platform.</p><p>“Schools love it when investors can come in and participate in funding their programs,” he says. It can be expensive for them to keep their programs running while offering ISAs if they are not getting any tuition, Trafton notes. That’s why startups like Lambda School and Thinkful have raised tens of millions of venture capital dollars to support their operations. </p><p>Income share agreements stipulate that graduates pay back a percentage of their incomes for some time after landing a job. For private providers like coding bootcamps, repayment terms typically last for 2 to 4 years, during which graduates pay 15 to 20 percent of their monthly paychecks. (For public universities, the<a href="/news/2019-02-15-so-you-want-to-offer-an-income-share-agreement-here-s-how-5-colleges-are-doing-it" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> percentages are generally lower</a> but the repayment windows are longer.) There is also usually a minimum salary that graduates must earn before they repay their ISAs, and a cap on the total amount they pay back.</p><p>Popular among nontraditional education providers, ISAs are also offered at a few large public institutions including Purdue University and the University of Utah. The California legislature is currently <a href="/news/2019-03-20-bill-to-regulate-income-share-agreements-moves-through-the-california-legislature-again" target="_blank" rel="noopener">considering a bill</a> to allow its state university systems to pilot ISAs starting in 2021.</p><p>Income share agreements have also made their way to Capitol Hill, as lawmakers have proposed ways to both support and regulate their use. A <a href="https://www.young.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SIL19815.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bipartisan bill</a> is under consideration in the Senate, and a U.S. Department of Education official has <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/04/12/education-department-may-offer-income-share-plans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">expressed interest</a> in launching a federal experiment to offer ISAs.</p><p><a href="/news/2019-04-05-wall-street-wants-in-on-income-share-agreements" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Critics say</a> ISAs are yet another instrument of student debt, prone to deceptive marketing and predatory lending terms. Some point out that students may actually end up paying more through an ISA than if they had paid upfront.</p><p>Financiers and federal regulators don’t often see eye to eye. But Trafton says he is in favor of instituting federal regulations on ISAs, so that “investors, schools and students all know the rules of the road.”</p><p>According to his logic, regulation could also make ISAs more mainstream, which works in favor of his long-term vision for their potential as attractive financial assets. He hopes that as ISAs catch on, in a couple of years “we’ll be able to package them up in larger sizes, much like mortgages and student-loan debt, which can be traded as securitized assets.”</p><p>Any new financial assets that can be swapped and traded will face regulatory scrutiny, and the team behind edly should be well aware of the risks. Its CEO is Christopher Ricciardi, who The Wall Street Journal once dubbed the “<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/grandfather-of-cdos-trying-to-do-for-higher-education-what-he-did-for-mortgages-1526652000" target="_blank" rel="noopener">grandfather</a>” of collateralized debt obligations, a financial instrument that was involved in the 2008 mortgage crisis.</p> Edly, a Marketplace for Income Share Agreements, Secures Seed Funding FabrikaSimf / Shutterstock Satirical Takes on Higher Ed and Why They Matter /news/2019-09-03-satirical-takes-on-higher-ed-and-why-they-matter /news/2019-09-03-satirical-takes-on-higher-ed-and-why-they-matter#comments Jeffrey R. Young Education Technology Higher Education EdSurge Podcast Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:11:40 -0400 post-guid-a162f670 Scroll to the end to see a list of campus satires recommended by our guests this week.What is your favorite satirical take on higher education? Maybe ... <p><em>Scroll to the end to see a list of campus satires recommended by our guests this week.</em></p><hr><p>What is your favorite satirical take on higher education? Maybe Jane Smiley’s “Moo.” Or Don DeLillo’s “White Noise”? Or it could be the movie “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield. Let’s face it, there are almost endless works of fiction poking fun at academic life.</p><p>As the summer ends and we head into the fall semester, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate this rich tradition of parody of academic life and look at what these works say about the big challenges facing higher education today. Because maybe one of the best ways to call broader attention to the serious issues we talk about each week on this podcast is through a bit of humor.</p><p>Today we’re going to talk to three different writing professors with something to say about satire. One is the author of an acclaimed academic satire. Another did an unusual work of satire on Twitter to call attention to the plight of adjuncts. And the third has a suggestion for the academic satire that he wishes someone out there would write.</p><p>Listen to the discussion on this week’s <a href="/research/guides/the-edsurge-on-air-podcast" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge On Air podcast</a>. You can follow the podcast on the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/edsurge-on-air/id972239500#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcast app</a>, <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/5Omg7s9kRYFgt4jEynpdoL" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a>, <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/edsurge-on-air" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stitcher</a>, <a href="https://playmusic.app.goo.gl/?ibi=com.google.PlayMusic&amp;isi=691797987&amp;ius=googleplaymusic&amp;apn=com.google.android.music&amp;link=https://play.google.com/music/m/I7nkf7dakczcktkcfo7enioewc4?t=EdSurge_On_Air&amp;pcampaignid=MKT-na-all-co-pr-mu-pod-16" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Google Play Music</a> or wherever you listen. Or read a transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.</p><p>We start with Julie Schumacher. Her most recent book, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-Requirement-Novel-Julie-Schumacher/dp/0525432612/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=CjwKCAjwkqPrBRA3EiwAKdtwk27PpdP4oJXVc0P8MnDCpH-kNCzEGyhuBM8d2jQnAT0OibtbNJvXYBoCc5UQAvD_BwE&amp;hvadid=255826801806&amp;hvdev=c&amp;hvlocphy=9019540&amp;hvnetw=g&amp;hvpos=1t1&amp;hvqmt=e&amp;hvrand=14942268943162431415&amp;hvtargid=kwd-445174224876&amp;hydadcr=10027_10352774&amp;keywords=the+shakespeare+requirement&amp;qid=1567196954&amp;s=gateway&amp;sr=8-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Shakespeare Requirement</a>,” was first published last year and recently came out in paperback. It was one of the Washington Post’s most notable works of fiction in 2018, and the New Yorker magazine said the book “burns with moral anger” about the real-life woes of the academy. </p><p>The novel is set at a fictional liberal arts college in the midwest, Payne University, where the English department is falling apart, both literally and in spirit. Its offices are underheated, full of rodents or wasps, and it doesn’t have a budget because the faculty can’t agree on a one-page statement of vision for why they even exist. And that’s largely because its professors are locked in a dispute over whether or not to require Shakespeare. Meanwhile, the economics department, which shares a building with English, just got renovated thanks to private gifts and is led by a cut-throat, metrics-loving chair looking to kick English out of the building and expand the economics department’s power.</p><hr><a href="https://www.edgilityconsulting.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a><h2>This week's podcast is brought to you by <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Edgility Consulting</a>:</h2><h2>A full service national executive search and talent consulting firm, Edgility helps clients find, hire and support the talent they need to make a difference in the lives of youth. Put us to work for you.</h2><h2>Learn more at <a href="http://www.edgilityconsulting.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.edgilityconsulting.com</a>.</h2><hr><p>"The Shakespeare Requirement" is actually a sequel to an even more inventive book by Schumacher, called “Dear Committee Members,” which won Schumacher the Thurber Prize for American Humor, making her the first woman ever to win that honor. That one centers on the very same English department and its cast of characters, but it’s written entirely in the form of letters of recommendation that one English professor writes, endlessly, for his students and colleagues, and you quickly get the sense that writing all these form letters leaves this professor no time to think much about his teaching or his own writing. </p><p>I was able to sit down with Julie Schumacher in her faculty office at the University of Minnesota, where she is a professor of English and creative writing. It’s actually a pretty nice office—though she says she used to be in a crummier space in a basement that helped inspire parts of the novel. </p><p>My biggest surprise in talking with Schumacher is that she does not see herself as a comic writer and didn’t start out with any intention of writing a work of satire. </p><p><strong>Julie Schumacher:</strong> I started writing “Dear Committee Members” because during an undergraduate class I was talking about form and telling the students, "You can start a short story based on a form. You can choose recipes from a grandparent or a series of emails between friends." One of the students said to me, "Well, what would your form be if you were to start with a form?" And I said, being kind of facetious, "I would start with a letter of recommendation because I write so many of them." And I told that to a colleague who said, "You know that's an interesting idea." It hadn't really occurred to me. I never considered myself a humor writer, or a satirist, or either those things, but I decided if I were going to write something in the form of a letter of recommendation, it would naturally lead to some fun about academia.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: Still the books are so full of life and energy that I asked her if it came from any pent up frustration with how much bureaucracy was involved in her own job as a professor.</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher: </strong>Well in both books the main character is Jason Fitger. He's a professor of English at Payne University in the Midwest. And it is amazing how quickly his voice came to me. I very much hope I am not Jason Fitger. On the other hand, there are things that he says that have crossed my mind and I thought, "OK, I would never say that. That would be rude, that would be inappropriate, that would be ridiculous or absurd." And I just let Jason Fitger say whatever those things were, whatever came into my head that I would squelch quickly because it would not be the right thing to say. He was able to say them. It was great to make a sort of evil little version of myself and let him say what he liked.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: So, what does this evil little version of Schumacher end up saying? Well, the letters in “Dear Committee Members” are constantly making fun of the act of writing letters of recommendation as you might guess, and they're often full of social commentary on things like how different the work going on in an English class is from the jobs that some of this professor's students apply for after they leave college. Take this example, where Fitger writes to a grocery store on behalf of a student applying for a job there.</strong></p><p>“Dear Ms. Ingersoll, this letter is intended to bolster the application to Wexler Foods of my former student, John Lesinski, who completed the junior senior creative writing workshop three months ago. Mr. Lesinski received a final grade of B, primarily on the basis of an 11-page short story about an inebriated man who tumbles into a cave and surfaces from an alcoholic stupor to find that a tentacled monster, a sort of fanged and copiously salivating octopus if memory serves, is gnawing through the flesh of his lower legs. The monsters spittle burbling ever closer to the victim's groin. Though chaotic and improbable even within the fantasy horror genre, the story was solidly constructed. Dialogue consisted primarily of agonized groans and screaming. The chronology was relentlessly clear. Mr. Lesinski attended class faithfully, arriving on time and rarely succumbed to the undergraduate impulse to check his cell phone for messages, or relentlessly zip and unzip his backpack in the final minutes of class. Whether punctuality and an enthusiasm for flesh eating cephalopods are the main attributes of the ideal Wexler employee, I have no idea, but Mr. Luzinski is an affable young man, reliable in his habits and reasonably bright. You might start him off in produce rather than seafood or meats. Whimsically Jason T. Fitger, professor of creative writing English, Payne University.”</p><p><strong>Schumacher:</strong> At one point I wanted to see if I could make him talk about his sex life in a letter written for the benefit of a colleague and that was a fun challenge. I did get him to do that.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: One of the things that struck me in reading “The Shakespeare Requirement” is how much when the perspective shifts—from a professor to a student as it does, or to the chair of the economics department—that their perspectives are so different and that they really don't understand the other at all. It feels like they are just so isolated in there with their blinders and they just can't see each other, even though they're in this very small world.</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher: </strong>Yeah, there's a real myopia, I think. And I wanted in “The Shakespeare Requirement” for people to be diametrically opposed about certain things, but no one is necessarily wrong in their view. There's Professor Casavan, who's a Shakespeare scholar, who's adamant that Shakespeare must be taught and must be required for undergrad English majors. And then there's Jason Fitger, the chair of the department, who doesn't particularly care whether Shakespeare is taught or not. He just needs to get a decision made in his department so that he can have a budget. And it's interesting to look at universities that do or no longer have a requirement that undergrad English majors study Shakespeare. That's where the novel, the second one came from was was thinking about that issue, Shakespeare or no.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: And yet it's funny how little that actually is being discussed by the characters because they're caught up in this Kafkaesque story like you said, about whether they have a budget or not.</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher: </strong>Yeah, Kafkaesque is the right word for it.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: One of the defining traits of Fitger, this fictional English professor, is his aversion to technology. He refuses to use things like P-Cal, the university's scheduling app, or to check his voicemail. And that constantly hinders his character's efforts, since he keeps it missing required meetings and doesn't get a chance to defend his department in the campus newspaper because he's always unavailable for comment, since he doesn't check his messages. So, I had to ask Schumacher about her views on tech in higher ed.</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher:</strong> I'm kind of a Luddite, as Fitger is, and you look around here in my office, I have, for example, a paper planner. I do not keep my schedule on a computer or on a phone. I rarely use a cell phone. If you look over here, my telephone it's probably from the early '80s, I like that phone. They keep offering to update me with a new phone and I resist as much as possible. They always want to bring me updated computer system. No, no, no, no, no, I use a WordPerfect, I write by hand and then I type onto WordPerfect. So, I'm very old school.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: Why is that?</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher:</strong> All this technology is supposed to make our lives easier, it really doesn't. Let's just admit that. Like email, when it first came out, it was so convenient. Now I think most of us spend our lives trying to get through email, that's become a massive task every day is how do I get through email? I don't want to spend my life thinking that way. Every time I get time to write, I leave the phone and the computer behind, and I sit in a room by myself with no technological devices of any kind and it's terrific. It is just wonderful.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: What have you found in being able to become this Jason Fitger voice and explore these other things? What do you think you've learned maybe about this world, you're using that tool to look into, that surprised you or that you've kind of come to learn through the process of writing these two books?</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher:</strong> Well, I think at some point we've got to stop spending money at universities and colleges on glorification of student facilities, like climbing walls. And I saw in some article somewhere that at LSU they have a lazy river shaped in the letters of LSU. And I thought, "How many student dollars are going to stuff like that?" One of my kids went to a school in Iowa, Cornell College, which was a terrific little school. They didn't have loads of amenities, particularly in the athletics. And that place was a lovely educational institution and economically a bargain. It was a great place.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: But all of this talk of satire reminded me of another writing professor who uses tech to invite his students and colleagues to get in on the joke. His name is Mark Marino, a professor of English at the University of Southern California. He and a colleague organized online writing challenges that they call netprovs or network improvisations. Just to get a sense of it, in one of them called Cooking With Anger, he said the professors gave each participating student a randomly generated basket of ingredients as he put it, a father, a bus, an apple, a piece of lettuce, and then a packet of emotions, like a half pinch of jealousy or a quarter dollop of anger. And then they would have to write a short story that used all those ingredients. It's all a little hard to picture and even Marino struggles with how to define netprov. Here's the definition he told me:</strong></p><p><strong>Mark Marino:</strong> It’s often a creative role playing with others in an emergent creation that helps you think back, in a satirical way or playful way, on the folly of our culture. So, we've had projects like “One Week No Tech,” which was an imaginary technology detox or fast, where people imagine giving up technology for a week and then tweeting about every moment of it as it happened. So, inspired by those people who take those photographs of themselves out in nature and they say, "Look, I finally have gotten offline." And then they post that to Instagram instantly.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: So, a couple of years ago, while the Occupy Wall Street protests were going on, Marino helped organize a very public kind of netprov using a Twitter account called Occupy MLA. The MLA in this case refers to the Modern Language Association, the powerful scholarly association for college English professors.</strong></p><p><strong>Marino: </strong>And they began with a series of tweets. And sort of self-deprecating remarks about having cash bars or the anxiety of people who have to sit through all these panels, or people make a statement instead of asking a question, that sort of thing. So at first, I think we seemed very much like yet another one of those good-natured ribbing towards the MLA. One of our first slogans was something like, "Only the Oxford comma divides us," or something like that. So, you could sort of get the flavor of those.</p><p>But I must say that I had been really in my teaching career, I mean I'm not tenured now, I'm not even tenure track. So, I've been an adjunct or contingent faculty for my entire teaching career and I've definitely had time where I've gotten to see the way people can be exploited by the system. And certainly the adjunctification of universities, but also the move away from tenure and things like that. I've seen the way that that's affected real people's lives who have to teach it three and four colleges, or they teach seven classes a semester or whatever it may be. Because of the lack of tenure jobs and the increasing reliance of universities on faculty who are, again, either adjuncts, or part-timers or who are contingent in some way.</p><p>They're a clinical faculty who can never get tenure, but they're probably going to be around maybe, hopefully. Anyway, so Occupy MLA became this movement that took up that question of adjuncts’ rights, but it was a satire. And so, the characters were kind of faulty. Their leader was a medievalist named Charles, who was, just as precarious as he was, he was equally condescending and snide. And he wanted to teach medieval literature, but he always had to teach these composition classes. There was another woman, Hazel, who kept getting strung along by various departments. She ended up having, in the second season, if I could call it, the second year we did it or the second run of Occupy MLA, she gets led on by a character that she calls Prof Darcy, or that's the name we get him.</p><p>So, she has kind of a “Pride and Prejudice” realm where he's leading her on romantically as the school is leading her on with her possibility of one day hiring her. And again, that's something that I've lived through and seen a lot of people go through where again, you take these awful schedules and these horribly high enrollment giant class assignments so that you're working as many classes as you could teach, plus taking every volunteer opportunity you can to prove yourself to this college that really has no intention necessarily of hiring you. So anyways, we had that go on for however long and really are our target I think was, we called it a requiem for the dream of a tenure track position.</p><p>And certainly I was probably working through my own things at that point, but at the same time we got involved with the real adjuncts and the real part-time faculty movement, the labor union movement. And we supported them as much as a satirical account can and without ever revealing to those people who we were. I mean we didn't want to reveal to anyone who we were because we were worried about retribution against us, if anybody knew who was behind this.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: Not everyone thought the use of a satirical Twitter account was the best way to help the cause of adjuncts. And apparently some readers did not understand that these characters who were tweeting were fictional.</strong></p><p><strong>Marino:</strong> I always tell my students that sarcasm is like a rusty saw and it's something that your kid brother can use when they don't like something you're doing right? They put on an exaggerated voice. But satire is something you to tend to do with a straight face and it's more like a really sharp scalpel or an X-ACTO Knife. And it's just as likely to cut you as to cut the thing you're trying to cut out of ... the cancer you're trying to go after.</p><p>So, yeah, there were people who were very critical of that and I mean we're talking about a literary project that was engaged with a literary community. So yeah, I mean am I surprised there are lots of interpretations or that people could interpret it different ways? I'm not surprised, that that comes with the territory.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: A bigger question I had was whether works of satire, like the novels of Julie Schumacher, could wind up unintentionally providing ammo to those on the political right or others who are criticizing higher ed as being too liberal or too dysfunctional? I put that question to John Warner, author of “Why They Can't Write” and a former editor at the online humor site, <a href="https://www.mcsweeneys.net/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">McSweeney's Internet Tendency</a>.</strong></p><p><strong>John Warner: </strong>Yeah, I hadn't really considered that. I think it's possible. I mean Julie Schumacher's books really are sort of loving. Her characters are flawed, they're human, but ultimately they reflect what I think goes on on most campuses, which is people trying to do the right thing often under difficult circumstances. There's always a villain or two, in these books they're usually an administrator who is operating and maybe from different motives and in “The Shakespeare Requirement,” as I recall, there's an administrator who is simply absent. Nobody can ever find this person. The provost never appears in the flesh, to me representing a kind of attitude like where we can always blame something on a provost like, "Oh, it's the provost’s problem." But in this case the provost is totally absent.</p><p>I think it's possible the novels could be used this way, but it would be only through a kind of deliberate misreading of them. And I think that's probably true of a lot of what you correctly note is this now sort of partisan divide over views of higher education. A lot of what is criticized about higher education in terms of politics or partisanship I think is a fundamental misreading of what's actually going on. The professoriate, it is quite obviously tilted towards liberals politically, but the number who are in engaged in active indoctrination of their students is vanishingly small. I've never met one of them.</p><p>The joke is like, I can't get them to read the syllabus. How could I possibly get them to read Marx or something like that? Right? So, it's just not the work that faculty do. It wouldn't be consistent with the values most of them hold to try to make a bunch of Mini-Mes. Are there some out there? Probably, but I've never met them. So, I feel like a lot of these novels come from a loving place, but that love is tinted with some measure of disappointment. We wish these spaces that we think are so important could be better and should be better. And writing a satire of them is a way to honor them and to prod them at the same time without doing too much lasting damage.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: Yeah. The last question is, do you think this is a moment with all the kind of challenges facing higher ed, and everything from costs to the access issues, and not to mention this political kind of culture war, but do you think this is a time where satire might actually be more needed, so to speak, or helpful?</strong></p><p><strong>Warner: </strong>Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think a campus novel that comes fundamentally at the problems of debt would be a fascinating book. Not just for students particularly, but I know many, many college faculty who are still paying off their loans for their education, people with PhDs and tenure. So, to apply that sort of lens to the world of campus and see all of the ways that that is hindering. Maybe I should write this book. I could envision a scene where a professor and a student are co-workers at one of the local restaurants because they both need to earn extra money to pay off their loans and what would that dynamic be? What if the student has actually been there much longer and is now the professor's supervisor because the professor needs extra money, or something like that.</p><p>So yeah, I think more. Anything that can sort of shine a light on what's happening in the culture, and I think that's what these novels fundamentally do, is absolutely welcome, at least by me.</p><p><strong>EdSurge: I asked something similar to Julie Schumacher, but she didn't really buy it that somehow the academy deserved or needed more satire than any other part of society just now.</strong></p><p><strong>Schumacher: </strong>Every discipline has to have its wacky side. I think people who work at the post office, or hair salon, or at UPS, there's got to be really wacky stuff associated with what they do. And lots of us are characters, human beings are eccentric, but you see more academic satires than other types of satires because in academia you find people who write books. And particularly in English departments, you find people who write novels and I think there's probably as much wackiness going on at UPS and at the local hair salon, but those people aren't writing novels about them.</p><hr><h2>Works of Campus Satire Suggested by This Week’s Guests:</h2><p><strong>Julie Schumacher recommends:</strong></p><ul> <li>Don DeLillo, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/White-Noise-Don-DeLillo/dp/0143105981" target="_blank" rel="noopener">White Noise</a>”</li> <li>David Lodge, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/nov/27/david-lodge-campus-trilogy-review" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Campus Trilogy</a> </li> <li>Lan Samantha Chang, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/All-Forgotten-Nothing-Lost-Novel/dp/0393340562" target="_blank" rel="noopener">All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost</a>”</li> <li>Richard Russo, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Straight-Man-Novel-Richard-Russo/dp/0375701907" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Straight Man</a>”</li> </ul><p><strong>John Warner recommends:</strong></p><ul> <li>David Lodge, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/nov/27/david-lodge-campus-trilogy-review" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Campus Trilogy</a> (his favorites are the first two, “Changing Places” and “Small World”)</li> <li>Richard Russo, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Straight-Man-Novel-Richard-Russo/dp/0375701907" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Straight Man</a>”</li> <li>Francine Prose, “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Angel-Novel-Francine-Prose/dp/0060882034" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Blue Angel</a>”</li> </ul><p><strong>Mark Marino recommends:</strong></p><ul> <li>"Back to School" with Rodney Dangerfield</li> <li>Vladimir Nabakov, "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pale-Fire-Vladimir-Nabokov/dp/0679723420" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pale Fire</a>"</li> </ul><p><strong>Readers/listeners recommend:</strong></p><ul><li>Julie Schumacher, "<a href="https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/D/bo26114344.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Doodling for Academics</a>"</li></ul> Satirical Takes on Higher Ed and Why They Matter Practical Tips to Foster a Love of Reading Across the Curriculum /news/2019-09-03-practical-tips-to-foster-a-love-of-reading-across-the-curriculum /news/2019-09-03-practical-tips-to-foster-a-love-of-reading-across-the-curriculum#comments Kelli Anderson Education Technology Literacy English Language Learning Whole-Child Learning Professional Development Arts and Humanities Digital and Media Literacy Tue, 03 Sep 2019 13:17:00 -0400 post-guid-f2beefc0 When Southeastern University education professor and associate provost Dr. Amy Bratten was teaching 9th-grade English, she had a sure-fire scheme for ... <p>When Southeastern University education professor and associate provost Dr. Amy Bratten was teaching 9th-grade English, she had a sure-fire scheme for getting her students excited about reading Shakespeare. Citing a number of hot topics among teens, she’d say to her class, “Anybody here want to read about gangs? Or drug use? Or suicide?”</p><blockquote class="pullquote">Having fun with literature is one of my greatest passions.</blockquote>Dr. Janet Deck<p>Titillated and half-scandalized, her students would gasp, “How is the principal going to let us do that?”</p><p>That’s when Bratten would introduce them to the feuding Montagues and Capulets and the adolescent tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. “That's me understanding child development and children’s interests,” says Bratten, “and aligning required curriculum to what those interests are.”</p><p>Creating savvy strategies for instilling a love of reading in students is foundational to many of the classes taught by Bratten and other faculty in the <a href="https://online.seu.edu/online-degrees/med-master-education-literacy-education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">master’s degree in literacy education online program</a> offered at Southeastern (SEU), a faith-based institution located in Lakeland, FL. “Having fun with literature is one of my greatest passions,” says the program’s creator, Dr. Janet Deck, who is also the chair of SEU’s Department of Doctoral Studies of Education. “I read aloud to my students a lot. I tell my students, ‘You can read aloud anything and make it work for any content or strategy. Have fun with it and make your voice playful. Use different voices and do actions.’”</p><p>In addition to having fun with reading strategies, SEU’s online MEd in Literacy Education emphasizes <a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/teaching-reading-strategies/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">teaching reading strategies</a> across the curriculum, whether the subject is language arts, math or science. The program is both practical—students, most of whom are already classroom teachers, implement what they learn in real time—and dynamic. “We pull in experts and practitioners from the field to find out what they are doing right now,” says Bratten. They ask the students, “‘What is the school district asking you to do? What's the curriculum you're using and why?’ Then our faculty researches to validate—or not—what’s happening in the field and integrate that into our program.” Adds Bratten, “We’ve updated the program multiple times to reflect those current practices. That, to me, sets us a little bit apart—ours is not a canned curriculum.”</p><hr><h2>Teachers play a significant role in how children approach reading and literacy. Make a lasting impact through an <a href="https://online.seu.edu/online-degrees/med-master-education-literacy-education/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">online MEd in Literacy Education</a> from Southeastern University.</h2><hr><p>Another program distinction? SEU is rooted in the Christian faith. “But it is also rooted in the understanding that public schools have that separation of church and state,” explains Bratten. “We educate our students through both lenses.” And although the program is strongly aligned to Florida’s requirements for teacher training, Deck’s students say it also aligns with many other states’ requirements as well.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">. . . ours is not a canned curriculum.</blockquote>Dr. Amy Bratten<p>According to Bratten, the SEU Education faculty are trailblazers on a number of literacy education fronts, including the area of trauma-informed teaching. “Let's say a student in second grade has witnessed domestic violence in their home,” she says. “Maybe they are acting out.” With trauma-informed teaching, says Bratten, a teacher “can read the expressions and behaviors of that child when they come to class the next day . . . and react in a way that makes that child know that they are valued and supported.” The teacher might choose to read a story about a child who found success despite a tough life, for example. “It’s that ‘whole-child’ approach,” she adds. “It’s not just about developing lessons based on a child's Lexile and knowing what level they're reading at. It's picking a book that matches the whole child. What are their interests? What are their triggers?” </p><p>The program has also integrated the theories of ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) into the curriculum. As a classroom K-12 teacher, Bratten, an ESOL specialist, would foster literacy in her non-native English-speaking students by allowing them to read books in their native languages. She would then have those students do something non-testy to demonstrate their comprehension of the story—sum it up verbally, perhaps, or draw a picture and explain it to her in English—even broken English. “That validates the value of their home language,” she says. “And research shows that the better they are in their home language, the better learners they're going to be in the new language.”</p><p>SEU Literacy masters students are taught “withitness”—that is, to be agile and prepared for anything: kids who don’t read English; kids whose vocabulary doesn’t match their reading level; kids who, for any number of reasons, interrupt your brilliant lesson plan. “‘Withitness’ is not just writing a lesson and delivering a lesson,” says Deck. “It's allowing the interruptions without losing your task. You plan a great lesson. It could be going well and then there’s an unexpected interruption, such as a child getting sick. It's maintaining classroom management, taking care of a sick child, not losing the momentum of instruction, and going on with your day instead of allowing it to mess everything up.”</p><h5 class="aside-heading">More from SEU</h5><ul> <li><a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/phonemic-awareness-strategies-for-building-literacy-skills/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Phonemic Awareness Strategies for Building Literacy Skills</a></li> <li><a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/reading-activities-for-kids/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reading Activities for Kids: A Teacher’s Guide</a></li> <li><a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/teaching-reading-strategies/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Key to Comprehension: Teaching Reading Strategies</a></li> <li><a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/supporting-new-teachers/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Why Is Supporting New Teachers So Important?</a></li> <li><a href="https://online.seu.edu/articles/empowering-students/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Empowering Students: 6 Proven Strategies</a></li> </ul><p>Withitness also comes into play with parents who aren’t very involved in building their children’s literacy. “A lot of parents don't want to do homework with their kids because maybe they don't understand the concepts themselves,” says Deck. She and Bratten suggest giving kids “home fun” activities, like reading a poem about moms to mom. Parents can also help boost literacy by reading everyday items together. When they see license plates, Bratten explains, parents can ask kids to come up with a phrase that incorporates all the letters and numbers. “Or have a child make the grocery list,” says Deck, writing “milk, cheese, and bread.” Then the child can “take the list into the store and find the best price so that they’re incorporating some math skills. It gives parents a little bit of buy-in without infringing on their day.”</p><p>Deck is proud of her creative, caring and, yes, with-it faculty, all of whom have backgrounds as classroom K-12 teachers—and many of whom frequently receive emails from former students asking for advice on a tough classroom or student situation. Deck particularly likes emails that report things like: “Hey, Dr. Deck. I just wanted you to know that I was named Teacher of the Year in my state.” One year, adds Deck, five of her former students were teacher of the year in their schools. “Isn’t that cool?”</p><hr><h2>Janet Deck’s Favorite Children’s Lit Resources</h2><ul> <li>Mo Willems is one of my favorite children's authors; his <a href="http://mowillems.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> has great resources for both teachers and parents.</li> <li>At <a href="https://www.storylineonline.net/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Storyline Online</a>, members of the Screen Actors' Guild read aloud popular children's literature.</li> <li>Another one of my favorite children's literature series is by Eric Litwin, whose <a href="https://www.ericlitwin.com/resources" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> offers resources for educators.</li> <li> <a href="http://readwritethink.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ReadWriteThink.org</a> is not solely about children’s lit, but it has tremendous teacher resources for literacy.</li> </ul><h2>Amy Bratten’s Favorite Podcasts and Books</h2><ul> <li> <a href="https://teachinginhighered.com/episodes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Teaching in Higher Ed</a> podcast</li> <li> <a href="https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks/ted-talks-audio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TED Talks Daily</a> podcast</li> <li><a href="https://www.tonyrobbins.com/podcasts/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Tony Robbins Podcast</a></li> <li>Gallup’s <a href="https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/home/en-us/strengthsfinder?utm_source=strengthsfinder&amp;utm_campaign=coming_soon&amp;utm_medium=redirect" target="_blank" rel="noopener">StrengthsFinder 2.0</a> </li> <li> <a href="https://www.chickensoup.com/books" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chicken Soup for the Soul</a> book series</li> <li> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26484803-future-diary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Future Diary</a>, by Mark Victor Hansen</li> <li> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/206309.Fish_" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results</a>, by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen</li> <li> <a href="http://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/leadership/book254875" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Leadership Theory and Practice (8th edition)</a>, by Peter Northouse</li> </ul> Practical Tips to Foster a Love of Reading Across the Curriculum Image Credit: Cienpies Design How to Celebrate Creativity and Caring on International Dot Day /news/2019-09-03-how-to-celebrate-creativity-and-caring-on-international-dot-day /news/2019-09-03-how-to-celebrate-creativity-and-caring-on-international-dot-day#comments Kimberly Rues Education Technology Literacy 21st Century Skills Tue, 03 Sep 2019 12:21:26 -0400 post-guid-57d035e7 Making the world a better place—it’s not officially on the to-do list as a stand-alone item, but it’s part of why we do what we do every day. To that ... <p>Making the world a better place—it’s not officially on the to-do list as a stand-alone item, but it’s part of why we do what we do every day. To that end, I’m always on the lookout for the projects and collaborations that bring depth and substance to my work, the projects that create memories for kids, the celebrations that have meaning. And one of the celebrations I most look forward to every year is International Dot Day. </p><p>If you’re not familiar with Peter Reynolds, stop reading right now (I’ll wait) and go to the library and check out any of his books. They’re the kind of stories that make me say, “Awww….” and “Wow, profound!” all at the same time. My faves (other than “The Dot”) include “Say Something” and “The Word Collector.” As an added bonus, Reynolds delivers illustrations that mirror our classrooms—wonderfully diverse faces. It’s a detail that is no doubt deliberate, but comes across as effortlessly natural in his work. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">Just make a mark and see where it takes you<br> </blockquote>Peter Reynolds, “The Dot”<p>In “The Dot,” Reynolds introduces us to Vashti, a girl who does not see herself as an artist. She’s been gently encouraged by her art teacher to make her mark, but the blank page continues to intimidate her, until, in a fit of frustration, she makes one angry dot. Her teacher, a wise and compassionate person, insists that Vashti sign it. After all, it’s her art.</p><p>Vashti returns to school the next day to see her dot framed and on display. Seeing her dot, she admits, “I can make a better dot than that.” One better dot leads to another and yet another until Vashti discovers that she is indeed an artist. But the magic doesn’t stop there… Vashti encounters a boy who thinks he can’t draw a straight line, and she uses her art teacher’s strategy to help him find his own inner artist. </p><p>International Dot Day is proof that even the smallest positive action has ripple effects that change our planet and the lives of the people on it. In September 2009, an Iowa teacher decided to commemorate the sixth birthday of Peter Reynolds’ “The Dot” by celebrating its message with his students. <a href="https://www.reynoldstlc.org/blog1/2018/8/14/dot-day-flashback-to-2009" target="_blank" rel="noopener">He sent a tweet inviting others to join him</a>, and Dot Day was born. </p><p>What started in a single Iowa classroom has grown to be an international event each year on (or about) September 15. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a book (and its message) and make an indelible mark (or, if you prefer, a dot) upon the memory of a child—a message of courage and confidence, creativity and collaboration. It’s a moment to impress upon kids the creative power they hold, the beauty of their unique gifts and that each day we have the chance to lift others up. </p><p>Of course, Peter Reynolds, who is all about things that make the world a better place, has championed International Dot Day, formed The Dot Club, and created <a href="http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">an entire website to promote and support its growth</a>. </p><p>At its most simple, Dot Day is an opportunity to share Reynolds’ incredible book and open kids’ minds to his message that we can each make our mark. Taking it to the next step and giving children a chance to be creative as a way to respond to his book is great (and there’s an educator’s guide to help in the lesson planning), but the ultimate goal is to collaborate with others, to make the world not only a better place, but a smaller one as well. </p><p>Of course, there’s an active Twitter account with nearly 10,000 followers (<a href="https://twitter.com/DotClubConnect" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@DotClubConnect</a>) and a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/InternationalDotDay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Facebook community</a> of almost 15,000. This year, September 15 falls on a Sunday, so the “official” Dot Day is Friday, September 13. But Reynolds would be quick to remind you that it’s really September 13ish, recognizing that the exact date is not the essential part of the celebration. It’s all about the message. So, if it doesn’t fit in your world on September 13, then the 12th will do or even the 16th. </p><p>This year, International Dot Day will also include a Facebook Live session with twins Peter and Paul Reynolds on September 13 at 11 a.m. EDT. The International Dot Day Facebook page has captured some of the magic of years past: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/InternationalDotDay/videos/1275625255807777/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dot Day from Borneo</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/InternationalDotDay/videos/883766418326998/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dot Day in Nepal</a>, and <a href="https://youtu.be/6PdeII7cylI" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this out-of-the-box way to celebrate dots from Portugal</a>. As you can see, the possibilities are virtually endless. </p><p>With my kiddos in the library, I’ve shared “The Dot” in September, but this year, I’m upping my game and inviting collaboration from both of my school buildings. While we haven’t quite got it all scheduled yet, one of my art teachers and I have committed to collaboration, and I’m excited to see what may evolve. <a href="http://twitter.com/@KimRues" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Follow me</a> on Twitter to see what we cook up or share your own projects on social media with the hashtags #DotDay and #Makeyourmark.</p><p>As part of the inspiration, I love <a href="https://youtu.be/XDqSZXV13dQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this video</a> of Peter Reynolds showing us just how easy it can be to make our mark starting with just one dot. As a child, my art instruction consisted of a nun handing each of us a coloring sheet and insisting we stay inside the lines. When high school came and I had more options, I already didn’t see myself as an artist. I adore how Peter Reynolds opens the gates of creativity, simplifying what “art” really is, and gently coaching us to make a dot and see where our imagination takes us. With a little bit of Dot Day magic, I think I might be able to see myself as an artist after all. </p><p>Let’s make a mark and see where it takes us! Let’s help kids feel empowered to make their own unique and confident mark. Let’s be change agents, one dot at a time. </p> How to Celebrate Creativity and Caring on International Dot Day Candlewick Differentiation Is Hard But Necessary. (Don’t Worry, There’s Help.) /news/2019-09-03-differentiation-is-hard-but-necessary-don-t-worry-there-s-help /news/2019-09-03-differentiation-is-hard-but-necessary-don-t-worry-there-s-help#comments Wendy McMahon Education Technology Personalized Learning Student Success Instructional Trends Practice and Implementation Strategies Teaching & Learning Student Achievement Tue, 03 Sep 2019 09:00:00 -0400 post-guid-d15faa5c Teachers and administrators don&#39;t always see eye to eye, but a recent report from Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) shows they&#39;re aligned on one very ... <p>Teachers and administrators don't always see eye to eye, but a recent<a href="https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:5e832371-c258-4790-982b-e6d5b10ec1c2" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> report from Teachers Pay Teachers</a> (<a href="http://teacherspayteachers.com/?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TpT</a>) shows they're aligned on one very important point: differentiation is essential for student achievement. </p><p>Survey respondents included 601 teachers and 206 principals. Of those, 95 percent of teachers and 100 percent of administrators agreed that differentiation is an important instructional strategy.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">95 percent of teachers and 100 percent of administrators agreed that differentiation is an important instructional strategy.</blockquote><p>And it's widely-used, with 98 percent of teachers saying they differentiate weekly and 53 percent differentiating daily. Adding to those positive results, 86 percent of teachers say differentiation is either extremely or very effective, and 89 percent of principals report the same.</p><p>A well-used strategy that teachers and principals agree is important and impactful—winner winner chicken dinner, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple.</p><h2>No One Said It Would Be Easy</h2><p>Teachers report two significant barriers to differentiation: lack of time and insufficient resources.</p><p>But that's not all; teachers say there are additional roadblocks:</p><ul> <li>limited access to differentiated materials</li> <li>no time to collaborate</li> <li>difficulty creating resources</li> <li>ineffective training/PD</li> </ul><hr>Why Differentiation Is Difficult (Source: TpT)<hr><p>And these responses aren’t novel. According to a report by the Fordham Institute, 83 percent of teachers in the U.S. reported that differentiation is "somewhat" or "very" difficult to implement. Finding resources and planning ways to differentiate in classrooms that are often filled to the brim with students is just plain hard. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">Finding resources and planning ways to differentiate in classrooms that are often filled to the brim with students is just plain hard.</blockquote><p><a href="https://minds-in-bloom.com/about-me/?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rachel Lynette</a>, a curriculum developer and former K-8 gifted education teacher, captures the dichotomy perfectly. </p><p>"Differentiation is so important, and yet, it's a lot to ask of a classroom teacher who's already so overwhelmed," says Lynette. "To say to a teacher, 'On top of paperwork, meetings, expectations and IEPs, you also need to develop lesson extensions for low performers and higher performers and maybe even ELL students,' it's too much."</p><hr>Educators review student data and discuss appropriate resources. (Source: TpT)<hr><h2>Making It Work</h2><p>Difficult as it may be, teachers persist. </p><p>"If we don't differentiate, no one is going to learn anything, except the swath of kids that happen to hit the middle," says Lynette. "The kids that just aren't getting it and end up at the bottom of the class eventually may quit school because it's so hard and humiliating. The gifted kids that are bored miss out on perhaps becoming a writer who writes the next American novel."</p><p>That sentiment is what pushes educators to challenge students at their level, gives them ownership in their learning and provides lessons and activities that fit their interests and background.</p><p>The TpT report uncovers a few approaches to differentiation that teachers find most effective: </p><blockquote class="pullquote">Difficult as it may be, teachers persist.</blockquote><ul> <li>88 percent use individual or small group instruction</li> <li>76 percent provide lessons at varying degrees of difficulty</li> <li>65 percent offer scaffolded lessons or activities</li> </ul><hr>Top Three Approaches to Differentiation (Source: TpT)<hr><h2>Differentiation Goodies: Practical Resources and Unique Approaches</h2><p>And of course, as educators tend to do, many have found resources and strategies that make the work less taxing. </p><p>TpT’s report found that 98 percent of the teachers who completed the survey use TpT to differentiate at least once a month, 67 percent at least once a <em>week</em>. </p><p>And remember the teachers’ top three most effective approaches to differentiation? According to Melissa Fredericks, Education Research Specialist from TpT, the report found that TpT resources are often used to support the very same:</p><ul> <li>71 percent for leveled activities</li> <li>66 percent for individual/small group instruction</li> <li>48 percent for scaffolded lessons</li> </ul><hr>Top Three Ways Teachers Use TpT to Differentiate (Source: TpT)<hr><h2>Dig Deeper Without Getting Overwhelmed</h2><h5 class="aside-heading">Differentiation Inspiration from Lynette and Tabb</h5><ul> <li>Blog: <a href="https://differentiationdaily.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Differentiation Daily</a> </li> <li>Video : <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLzCqoPFxRw" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Differentiation and The Brain: A discussion with Carol-Ann Tomlinson</a> </li> <li>Book Excerpt: <a href="http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100216/chapters/Understanding-Differentiated-Instruction@-Building-a-Foundation-for-Leadership.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Leadership for Differentiating Schools &amp; Classrooms by Carol Ann Tomlinson </a> </li> <li>Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/PrincipalKafele" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Principal Kafele</a> </li> </ul><p><a href="https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Education-With-An-Apron?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">LaNesha Tabb</a>, a teacher in Indiana's Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, has been teaching kindergarten to grade two for 11 years. She uses TpT's resources but also creates tools that support her unique approach to differentiation, an approach she says saves loads of time. </p><p>"Instead of the usual strategy of moving students on to new skills once they've mastered something," explains Tabb, "I keep my kids on the same skills, but ask them to go deeper."</p><p>"Some primary teachers think, if students already know their letters, then they've got to move on to sounds, and then on to words. That's how you end up managing three to four different sets of lesson plans."</p><p>Staying on the letters and sounds example, students still learning those skills will do an appropriate but lower cognitive level activity, such as matching a picture with a letter. For students who are ready to move on, Tabb takes the taxonomy of the task into consideration, asking "How can I get them to take that exact skill and apply it at a higher cognitive level (comprehension, analysis or knowledge utilization)?" Sometimes that means sorting or building exercises, but it can also mean asking students to create a game that teaches other students letters and sounds, helping push students to analyze and use the knowledge they have.</p><hr>LaNesha Tabb's Game Makers<h5 class="aside-heading">More from TpT</h5><ul> <li><a href="https://schools.teacherspayteachers.com/differentiation-report/?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Get the Differentiation Report</a></li> <li>Bonus: <a href="https://schools.teacherspayteachers.com/?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Three Instructional Priorities for 2020 from TpT</a> </li> </ul><hr><h2>Stop the "Soul-Crushing" Worksheets</h2><p>Jump back to Lynette, who worked with gifted students for years. She says differentiating goes both ways. "You need to support struggling students, but also challenge gifted kids." More of the same is not the answer. “‘You finished this worksheet? Here's another one just like it.’ Or ‘Help Timmy because he's struggling.’ That's not differentiation," she explains. Instead, students need their own challenges, to go deeper into the topic or follow their own interests. </p><p>In a language arts lesson, for example, Lynette would give gifted students choices for how they can explore a book further. That might be a journal written from a main character's perspective, creating a new character and outlining how that addition would change the story or writing a new ending. These could be projects done using a computer, a worksheet or even by creating a hanging book report mobile.</p><p>Lynette who creates resources for <a href="http://teacherspayteachers.com/?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">teacherspayteachers.com</a>, says one of her most popular resources for differentiating naturally is <a href="https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Paragraph-Writing-Prompts-for-Paragraph-of-the-Week-and-How-to-Write-a-Paragraph-2827947?utm_source=Edsurge&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=Differentiation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">I ♥ Paragraph Writing</a> because, within the structure provided, each student can write at his or her own level. She’s also created task cards that she says are ideal for differentiation. Students who are struggling with math word problems could complete a few task cards instead of facing, what Lynette calls "a soul-crushing sheet full of story problems." They can also answer questions verbally, or only use cards with multiple choice answers. Task cards can also be used in games, which is a great way to motivate reluctant learners.</p><hr><blockquote class="pullquote">This all adds up to TpT being a place where teachers can turn for support with challenges they face in the classroom, particularly when it comes to differentiation.</blockquote>Rachel Lynette's student works on task cards. (Source: Adam Calabrese)<hr><p>This all adds up to TpT being a place where teachers can turn for support with challenges they face in the classroom, particularly when it comes to differentiation. As Fredericks explains, “I think this is an awesome opportunity for us to acknowledge and celebrate the expertise of our teacher-authors who are creating these wonderful resources. Teachers are working to make differentiation more plausible and less time-consuming, and we’re happy to be a platform for that support." </p> Differentiation Is Hard But Necessary. (Don’t Worry, There’s Help.) Image Credit: Inspiring / Shutterstock Using Storytelling to Forge Unbreakable Bonds Between Teachers and Students /news/2019-09-02-using-storytelling-to-forge-unbreakable-bonds-between-teachers-and-students /news/2019-09-02-using-storytelling-to-forge-unbreakable-bonds-between-teachers-and-students#comments Mary Jo Madda Education Technology Diversity and Equity Identity Development Practice and Implementation Strategies Student Engagement Mon, 02 Sep 2019 10:00:00 -0400 post-guid-cf0f0d22 Kristin Leong is the definition of a multi-faceted educator. She’s held a variety of roles in which she “educated” her audiences—from her stint as a ... <p>Kristin Leong is the definition of a multi-faceted educator. She’s held a variety of roles in which she “educated” her audiences—from her stint as a middle school humanities teacher, to her days as Town Hall Seattle’s Community Programs Curator and Residency Program Lead, to her work as the founder of a storytelling project that aims to close the cultural gaps that often separate students and teachers. </p><p>And yes, even her years as a nightclub bartender—which she spoke about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l71vXFDqygA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">during an Ignite talk</a> in Seattle—had some teachable moments in them. “Being able to communicate really clearly with people who are drinking a lot is super similar to being able to communicate really clearly with people who are going through puberty,” she says.</p><p>But throughout all of these roles, one theme has stayed consistent, no matter the audience: her passion for storytelling as a medium for solving some of the biggest problems in education.</p><p>So, what can others gather from her experiences? Leong, who will be keynoting the <a href="https://fusion.edsurge.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge Fusion conference</a> this November, recently shared with us a teaser of all teachers can capture—and share—the powerful magic of storytelling. </p><h2>The Job of Teacher as Story Facilitator</h2>Kristin Leong<p>Currently, Leong is a storyteller through KUOW Public Radio, where she serves as Community Engagement Producer. Her job is to make sure that “public radio is, here at KUOW, is a two-dimensional conversation,” she says. “We’re not just putting out reliable information and great stories into the world, but actually, it is a two-way interaction.”</p><p>In many ways, that idea of “two-way interaction” is a lesson that Leong has been honing since her teaching days. </p><p>Back when Leong was a middle school teacher, she developed a keen interest in understanding how coaxing out students’ stories could give them a sense of agency. “My job is to facilitate students being able to tell their own story,” she says. “I can’t imagine actually any job where empathizing with others and encouraging other people to be their best selves (which is what teachers do) wouldn’t serve your work.”</p><p>But it wasn’t just about student agency. Her interest in classroom storytelling, and the role of the teacher as a storyteller, came down to that unfortunate cultural gap that sometimes exists between a teacher and a student. After all, when a <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28" target="_blank" rel="noopener">large majority</a> of the teaching force is white and/or female, in classrooms that are often much more diverse, those differences can exacerbate those gaps.</p><p>“When I was a teacher, my students were mixed race. My students were queer,” Leong recalls. “I was just wondering, there are so many great teachers all around me. But, how are they also connecting with kids that for the most part don’t look like them, and don't come from where they come from?”</p><p>That was the impetus behind <a href="http://www.rollcallproject.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Roll Call</a>, which Leong started in 2017 as her innovation project for TED-Ed, the youth and education initiative affiliated with TED. </p><h2>The Most Powerful Stories She’s Heard</h2><p>What do you have in common with your students/teachers?</p><p>Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?</p><p>Those two simple questions that Leong asks of all Roll Call subjects help her understand and share stories about how students and teachers connect, despite whatever differences they have. “I started actually talking to students and teachers about these questions, my own students included, my own colleagues included,” Leong says. </p><blockquote class="pullquote">What I’ve learned through all of these storytelling projects is that everybody feels like a misfit.</blockquote>Kristin Leong<p>And the result? Kids, she said, were hungry to connect not only with each other, but with their teachers. She explains:</p><p>“People think about kids and think, ‘Oh, they’re so rebellious and so challenging’... I saw kids who wanted relationships and deep interactions with the adults and peers in their lives. And so, the project evolved really quickly into not just a critique (although it’s still that) of the [education] system, but also a celebration of the ways that students and teachers are connecting across these divides.”</p><p>This especially hit close to home for Leong, given that the most powerful Roll Call story she heard came from one of her own students—an Asian sixth grader who was well-behaved but extremely quiet. Leong, who is half-Asian herself, learned just how connected this student felt to her as a teacher of color.</p><p>“In her story, she wrote about how I was the first Asian teacher that she had had. She was in sixth grade, and before that she had never had a teacher who spoke her home language. She’d never had a teacher that looked like her,” Leong remembers. “Her response was almost like a poem.”</p><h2>The Ultimate Role of Storytelling in Education</h2><p>Leong believes there is a student like her sixth grader for every teacher—a story left unsaid or waiting to be told.</p><p>But she’s also emphatic about the fact that anyone can tell or listen to a story—it’s something that any teacher, administrator, or general education enthusiast can do immediately. And in today’s day and age, when the digital world can oftentimes drive folks further apart rather than bringing them together, storytelling can be a powerful antidote to those feelings of isolation and conflict. </p><p>“What I’ve learned through all of these storytelling projects is that everybody feels like a misfit. Everybody feels like they’re just faking it ‘till they make it. Everybody’s afraid they’re going to be found out to be this big imposter.”</p><p>“But that’s the human condition,” she says with a smile, adding that “I’m a misfit, too.”</p><p><em>Curious to learn more from Leong, and hear more of her tactics for storytelling in education? Join us for <a href="https://fusion.edsurge.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge Fusion on November 4-6</a> to see her speak!</em></p> Using Storytelling to Forge Unbreakable Bonds Between Teachers and Students Blackspring / Shutterstock Why ‘Poor’ Should Never Be a Report Card Grade /news/2019-09-01-why-poor-should-never-be-a-report-card-grade /news/2019-09-01-why-poor-should-never-be-a-report-card-grade#comments Rebecca Sadwick Shaddix Education Technology Diversity and Equity Identity Development Sun, 01 Sep 2019 09:30:00 -0400 post-guid-d7089f04 “Grandma, are we poor?” 4-year-old Angelica (not her real name) asked, with a twinge of anxiety. “No baby, we are blessed,” her 53-year-old grandmother ... <p>“Grandma, are we poor?” 4-year-old Angelica (not her real name) asked, with a twinge of anxiety. “No baby, we are blessed,” her 53-year-old grandmother replied, with an exhausted half-smile.</p><p>At a city-sponsored early childhood education fair where we met, mental health resources, classes, and after-school programs were on display for enrollment. Organizations like First 5 have a strong presence, and there are multiple subsidized preschool and early childhood extracurricular resources represented. Angelica is fortunate to have a familial caretaker who actively seeks out and utilizes these resources for her and her siblings—a family of beautiful, well-behaved, and inquisitive kids.</p><p>Angelica and her three older siblings, ages 5 to 12, are well below the poverty line in one of the most diverse counties in the United States: Los Angeles. They live in Compton, one of its poorest neighborhoods, with a poverty rate that is <a href="http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Compton-California.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">almost double California’s average</a>. Eighty-six percent of its K-12 students <a href="http://www.ed-data.org/district/Los-Angeles/Compton-Unified" target="_blank" rel="noopener">qualify for free or reduced lunch</a>.</p><blockquote class="pullquote">If the opposite of “good” in school is “poor,” how do we expect children who hear their parents called “poor” to develop positive self-identity?</blockquote><p>Although Compton has made remarkable advancements in recent years with the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Education—the city council and independent school district now allocate more funding to extracurricular, mental health, and community enrichment than ever—fewer than 10 percent of adults hold a bachelor’s degree. Nearly <a href="https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/comptoncitycalifornia/EDU635217#EDU635217" target="_blank" rel="noopener">40 percent</a> of residents over the age of 25 have not graduated from high school.</p><p>In an environment that is considered low-income by California’s diverse standards, the word “poor” has permeated Angelica’s conscious and vocabulary. It has definitive, fear-inducing connotations for the rising kindergartener. Her grandmother didn’t attempt to convince her that there was nothing wrong with being poor, opting instead to dispel the idea that the term applied to them. This instinct to protect Angelica’s self-identity and sense of security exemplified just how damaging the term “poor” can be.</p>Common grading scale for a typical report card<p>Which is why I find it striking that on progress updates and report cards, many K-12 schools still use “poor” in one of the most potentially destructive ways—to imply that a child isn’t meeting expectations. If the opposite of “good” in school is “poor,” how do we expect children who hear their parents called “poor” to develop positive self-identity? Do we expect them to understand the drastically different connotation of this term, when it is applied to their parents’ incomes or codified on a school report card?</p><p>Those who spend time with children in elementary grades definitely reply “no”. Homonyms and synonyms are not taught immediately, as they are relatively advanced language concepts.</p><p>Because many children will not grasp the difference of how “poor” can be used in different contexts, it is likely that they’ll hear this same term as an indictment of their parents—potentially the first of many times in their lives—as they struggle with systemic poverty that is often cyclical within families. Many children impacted in this way feel personal shame about their perceived shortcomings or wrongdoings, and are not able to articulate the cause or impact to their teachers or parents.</p><p>As students learn and memorize vocabulary, the context in which new words are introduced shapes the definitions that stick in their minds. For young learners, “poor” in either context—as a measure of poor performance, or socioeconomic status—should never be conflated with the other meaning. Young children aren’t able to separate the definitions.</p>Example of an alternative grading scale<p>If there were a dearth of acceptable synonyms, I may feel less strongly. Yet there are ample, and many schools have already adopted them. “Unsatisfactory,” “needs improvement,” or even numbered or color-labeled scales all convey the same information to parents without the potential trauma that the label “poor” can have on students in poverty. For parents whose native language is not English, these gradient scales are also more useful: parents themselves may be learning to translate the terms on their students’ report cards. </p><p>It took me years to write this article, because I assumed that it was only a matter of time before “poor” would be phased out of use. I believed that educators nationwide would make similar realizations and soon replace the term altogether. Sadly, three years after the encounter with Angelica, I see this word misused as commonly now as it was then.</p><p>It’s time that school leaders and districts nationwide stop using the label “poor” to report on a child’s behavior or academic performance. There are many more effective alternatives that are less potentially damaging. </p> Why ‘Poor’ Should Never Be a Report Card Grade Kataryna Lanskaya / Shutterstock The One Thing You Must Have to Compete in Today’s Edtech Market /news/2019-08-30-the-one-thing-you-must-have-to-compete-in-today-s-edtech-market /news/2019-08-30-the-one-thing-you-must-have-to-compete-in-today-s-edtech-market#comments Molly Levitt Education Technology Startups Interoperability Fri, 30 Aug 2019 08:40:00 -0400 post-guid-481162ad Is your product interoperable? Meaning, does it sync with other tools that a school or district is using, and make it easy for educators and school ... <p>Is your product interoperable? Meaning, does it sync with other tools that a school or district is using, and make it easy for educators and school leaders to turn data into insights and action? </p><p>For some startups, the idea of dealing with interoperability sounds just as daunting as the word is itself to pronounce. But Erin Mote, a <a href="https://immersion.edsurge.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">coach at EdSurge Immersion NYC on Sep. 13</a> and founder of the Brooklyn Lab Charter School and InnovateEDU, says early stage companies should prioritize this if they want to get an edge on the bigger competitors.</p><p>“Sometimes young entrepreneurs have a hard time competing with well-known brands or the big publishers,” says Mote. “But the reality is that the big publishers are so cobbled right now by tech debt around interoperability and building to a standard. This is a place where young entrepreneurs and nimble companies can actually slide in, and gain market share in places where they might not traditionally be able to get that foothold.”</p><p>In fact, according to Mote, school districts in cities such as San Francisco, Boston or Providence will not even consider companies that have not taken the <a href="https://www.projectunicorn.org/pledge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Project Unicorn Pledge</a>, a commitment for companies to “increase secure access, privacy, and interoperability in their products.”</p><p>A quick primer on <a href="/research/guides/what-does-it-take-to-make-interoperability-work-in-k-12-education" target="_blank" rel="noopener">interoperability</a>: It is the seamless, secure and controlled exchange of data between different applications. It enables many of the conveniences that are largely invisible in our everyday lives. It allows, for instance, pharmacists to verify and prepare your medications after your doctor’s visit. It allows companies to pay employees via direct deposit, and for you to pay others via mobile apps or online banking services.</p><p>In education, however, interoperability has lagged behind other industries. Data is fragmented across different systems, which means records are not easily transferable between tools used within the same school or district. Many times, products don’t even record student or achievement data in the same format, which can make it difficult for educators and school leaders to know how well a student is doing. </p><p>Interoperability is an easy sell in theory. Making it happen is not. With different types of data and changing data standards, many entrepreneurs understandably find it daunting to know where to start. Mote advises startups to refrain from trying to tackle everything at once.</p><p>One of the simpler, but most important, tasks to start with is rostering, which deals with how user accounts for your tool are provisioned, and how they are updated as students and teachers move between classes and grade levels. “There is not a single superintendent I talk to anymore that does not expect rostering” in education software, says Mote.</p><p>Rostering solutions no longer need to be built in-house. There are companies that can help such as Clever or Classlink. Clever helps you to do rostering for any school but you will have to pay for the integration. Classlink is free for companies but you’ll need to ensure that the schools you are working with are Classlink customers. Early-stage entrepreneurs should do a cost analysis of whether to develop it yourself or use one of these providers.</p><p>Next, talk to schools to get a sense of what types of data educators and administrators want from the product. Maybe they want information about attendance or test scores. Or perhaps they want to see how long students engage with content and work through the activities. In any case, don’t build something you think users might want. Spend time talking to them to understand what they can’t live without.</p><p>Giving access to the right data isn’t the endgame, though. Mote says that it’s just as important for companies to help educators know how to make use of that information. From her experience, she says, “most products die on the vine because of implementation failures.” Providing professional development resources and training support goes a long way in helping educators know how to effectively integrate new tools into their everyday practice.</p><p>After all, building a successful education product doesn’t end with the first sale. It’s also about ensuring the renewal.</p><p><em>Want to hear more advice from Mote? Join us at <a href="https://immersion.edsurge.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">EdSurge Immersion NYC on Sept 13</a>!</em></p> The One Thing You Must Have to Compete in Today’s Edtech Market Laralova / Shutterstock Report: Declining Community College Enrollment Worries Workforce Experts /news/2019-08-29-report-declining-community-college-enrollment-worries-workforce-experts /news/2019-08-29-report-declining-community-college-enrollment-worries-workforce-experts#comments Rebecca Koenig Education Technology Future of Work Workforce Training Higher Education Thu, 29 Aug 2019 21:22:13 -0400 post-guid-8ab2ad45 Community college enrollment declined 11 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2017, according to new research from the Southern Regional Education ... <p> Community college enrollment declined 11 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2017, according to <a href="https://www.sreb.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/3_2019fb_college_part.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">new research</a> from the Southern Regional Education Board, a drop that may signal workforce trouble ahead as more jobs require advanced skills and credentials. </p><p>“The institutions most likely to prepare students for the types of jobs coming down the pike are probably two-year institutions,” says Susan Lounsbury, director of education data services for SREB. “To see them declining causes us some worry.” </p><p>In a period during which enrollment at four-year institutions <a href="https://www.sreb.org/fact-book-higher-education-0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">remained nearly flat</a>, falling figures at community colleges may represent a paradox. Thanks to the recent strong economy and low unemployment rate, many potential students likely sought paid work rather than invest in advancing their education in two-year programs, Lounsbury explains. But these same workers may soon suffer as the economy evolves and the types of positions they’re qualified for become increasingly threatened by automation. </p><p>“For a lot of low-skill jobs currently held by individuals who have only a high-school diploma, the simple reality is they’re not going to be there much longer,” says Stephen Pruitt, SREB president. “Robots aren’t kicking people out of their jobs, they’re going to create new jobs—but at a higher level.”</p><p>The Southern Regional Education Board is an interstate compact supported by 16 states in the Southeastern U.S. It publishes a higher education fact book every two years, analyzing national and regional data on college enrollment, completion and affordability.</p><p>Workforce readiness is a priority nationwide and a top concern among governors in southern states, Pruitt says. SREB research suggests there’s some reason for them to worry. The region has a <a href="https://www.sreb.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/ecomomic_impact_brief_0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">higher percentage of low-skilled workers</a> than elsewhere in the country, according to an economic outlook policy brief published in June, making it less attractive to businesses looking to hire for positions that require more advanced technical abilities. </p><p>These roles don’t necessarily require bachelor’s degrees, however—just skills that exceed what most high school educations provide. Sometimes called “<a href="https://money.usnews.com/money/careers/applying-for-a-job/articles/2018-04-04/hot-new-collar-jobs-and-the-skills-you-need-to-get-them" target="_blank" rel="noopener">new-collar jobs</a>,” many of these occupations are in the health care and technology sectors. They include physical therapy and medical assistant, renewable energy technician, web developer and computer support specialist. </p><p>Community colleges are well-equipped to train people for these careers, and some have <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2018/12/05/community-college-tech-jobs-training-job-search-degree/2217206002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">embraced opportunities to partner with employers</a> to prepare students by offering certifications and associate degrees that correspond with hiring demands. </p><p>Recent research predicts that all kinds of colleges will soon have to <a href="https://hechingerreport.org/college-students-predicted-to-fall-by-more-than-15-after-the-year-2025/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">adjust to demographic changes</a> that will lead to decreased enrollments. Partly in response, some states are trying to lift community college enrollment by offering <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/28/us/california-free-community-college-tuition-trnd/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">free or reduced tuition</a>. A few programs, like one found in Arkansas, focus specifically on regional economic needs by <a href="https://scholarships.adhe.edu/scholarships/detail/arfutures" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pushing students to study STEM</a> and other subjects that teach in-demand skills. </p><p>Other efforts to boost community college participation, and therefore strengthen the workforce, include targeting adults who have <a href="https://mhec.maryland.gov/Pages/NEAR-COMPLETERS-GRANT-INFORMATION.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noopener">completed some coursework</a> but never earned degrees and <a href="https://hechingerreport.org/college-students-increasingly-caught-in-remedial-education-trap/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">new approaches to remedial education</a> that offer college credit, Lounsbury says. </p><p>Ultimately, Pruitt believes, getting more students into community college and ready for the jobs of the future will require improving access for people traditionally underserved by the education system. </p> Report: Declining Community College Enrollment Worries Workforce Experts Zenzen/Shutterstock The Surprisingly Low-Tech Way Schools Are Keeping Students Off Tech /news/2019-08-29-the-surprisingly-low-tech-way-schools-are-keeping-students-off-tech /news/2019-08-29-the-surprisingly-low-tech-way-schools-are-keeping-students-off-tech#comments Tony Wan Education Technology Teaching & Learning Technology Trends Thu, 29 Aug 2019 06:50:00 -0400 post-guid-37f92de1 What do Dave Chapelle shows and a growing number of schools have in common?You can’t use your cell phone in either place.A growing number of ... <p>What do Dave Chapelle shows and a growing number of schools have in common?</p><p>You can’t use your cell phone in either place.</p><p>A growing number of entertainers, including Chapelle and musicians Jack White and John Mayer, prohibit the use of mobile devices during their performances. They want people to enjoy the moment, not just capture it. Many worry about how widely their original materials are shared online.</p><p>In a similar vein, educators say they want students to pay attention in class, something they can’t do if they’re fixated on Instagram, Fortnite or the app <em>du jour</em>. “Some of them have no idea how many times they check their phones,” says Yvonne Shiu, the principal of San Mateo High School in California. “For them, the device has become like an extra appendage.”</p><p>Performing artists and educators alike have been turning to a low-tech, no-frills method to keep devices out of sight and out of mind. Developed by <a href="https://www.overyondr.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yondr</a>, it’s a small, green pouch with a magnetic lock that can only be unlocked with a special device. The idea is mind-numbingly simple: People lock up their phones before school—or the show—starts, and can only unlock it afterward. </p><p>Founded in 2014, the San Francisco-based company says that it has leased pouches to more than 1,000 schools across the country, including a handful of colleges and universities. This month, San Mateo High School became the largest public school to deploy them for all 1,700 of its students. Each Yondr pouch costs $12 for a one-year lease, which puts the tab at over $20,000. The funding comes from the San Mateo High School Foundation, made up of the school’s alumni, parents and community donors.</p><p>Before the start of this school year, every parent and student had to sign a <a href="https://www.smuhsd.org/cms/lib/CA02206192/Centricity/Domain/1184/Cell%20Phone%20Free%20Environment.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">policy</a> outlining the terms of the new cell phone ban, which forbids any use of the devices during the school day, even between classes.</p>Yondr pouch and unlocking device (Source: Yondr)<p>For most adults, the idea of being separated from a smartphone for just one hour can stir anxiety. So it’s understandable that some students were unhappy about the new policy (to put it mildly). “Imagine the typical teenager’s response when you tell them they can’t do something,” says Isabelle Bushman, whose daughter attends the high school. The initial reaction, she recalls, went something like: “‘This sucks. Why are they taking away my rights and my phone?’”</p><p>Such a drastic measure was not taken without prior consultation, assures Shiu. Earlier this spring, the school piloted pouches with 13 teachers, who locked up students’ phones for the duration of their classes. Another 25 students volunteered to lock up their phones throughout the school day.</p><p>“Teachers reported that [the pouches] helped increase attention and engagement in class, since students weren’t constantly distracted by checking their phones,” says Shiu. In between classes, students who tried the pouches told her they had more—<em>gasp</em>—face-to-face conversations with their peers.</p><p>When school officials shared plans for the broader rollout of Yondr pouches, some parents expressed reservations. Most were centered on how they would contact their children in cases of school emergencies. Others asked how the school would communicate last-minute schedule changes for sports matches.</p><p>Those concerns are hardly surprising to Dr. Devorah Heitner, who researches the impact of digital device on children’s wellbeing and is the author of “<a href="https://www.raisingdigitalnatives.com/screenwise/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Screenwise</a>,” a book on the subject. “Parents today are very accustomed to being able to reach their kids—or anyone—at any time. Any time you interrupt that, that will cause a certain level of anxiety,” she says.</p><p>Shiu says her staff has made contingency plans to assuage parents’ concerns. And if students really do need to contact their parents during the school day, they can use the office phone. That’s already happened, says Shiu, who adds that she’s glad most of her students can still remember their parents’ numbers.</p><p>Without smartphones, students are also “using a little bit more brain power,” quips Shiu. “They used to take a picture of their class schedule on their phones to know where to go. Or they would take a picture of their locker combinations and never have to remember their code.” </p><h2>Do Bans Work?</h2><p>There are drawbacks to blanket bans on cell phones, which—believe it or not—can be used for productive, even educational purposes. Many students use popular apps like Quizlet for last-minute cramming before a test, for instance.</p><p>But some studies suggest there’s a correlation between cell phone bans and better learning outcomes. One <a href="http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1350.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">study</a> of high schools in England found that those that introduced a mobile phone ban saw an improvement in student performance on a year-end test. Another <a href="https://www.kent.edu/kent/news/frequent-cell-phone-use-linked-anxiety-lower-grades-and-reduced-happiness-students-kent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, involving college students, associated frequent cell phone use with anxiety and lower grades.</p><p>“I’m in favor of cell phone bans in high schools, not just for their potential impact on academics and social interaction, but also for the mental health benefits to students,” says Paul Weigle, an advisory board member of Children and Screens, an interdisciplinary research organization.</p><p>Weigle, who is also a child and adolescent psychiatrist based in Connecticut, says he has “seen a pattern of young people whose obsessive social media use becomes impairing, where they’re checking their phones hundreds of times a day, so much that it becomes hard to concentrate on what they need to do to be successful socially and academically.” Even teenagers themselves say they spend too much time on cell phones, according to a recent Pew Research <a href="https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions/pi_2018-08-22_teens-screentime_0-01/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">survey</a>.</p>Source: <a href="https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions/pi_2018-08-22_teens-screentime_0-01/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pew Research Center</a><p>Other countries are banning mobile phones on a much grander scale. France set the bar last year with a new <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/05/french-school-cellphone-ban-students-return-class-without-devices/1199937002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">law</a> that prohibits students under the age of 15 from using phones, tablets and smart watches in schools. Similarly, the state of Victoria in Australia is <a href="https://www.zdnet.com/article/digital-un-transformation-commonwealth-backs-victorias-school-phone-ban/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">planning</a> to ban the use of mobile phones in all primary and secondary schools next year.</p><p>But Heitner cautions school officials against going with cellphone bans as a first resort. School leaders ought to consider providing teachers with additional professional development around appropriate tech usage before considering more drastic measures, she says. </p><p>At San Mateo, the initial shock of the ban policy seems to have worn off. Bushman says her daughter has stopped complaining about it. And it’s made her more self-aware of her attachment to her cell phone as well. </p><p>“I look at it as a learning opportunity about a habit. I know myself—I look at my phone even when I don’t need or want to. I think it’s growing on people.”</p> The Surprisingly Low-Tech Way Schools Are Keeping Students Off Tech Iryna Bezianova / Shutterstock