Flickr: UTCI Library
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, have forced universities to reconsider their value in light of free high-quality education available online. Coursera, a private company founded by two Stanford professors has been at the forefront of that movement, actively courting new institutions of higher education to their portfolio and trying to monetize the effort by certifying courses for college credit. Now they’re expanding that model to K-12 teacher professional development.
The courses will be free to teachers, and for those who want a verified certificate, there will be a $50 fee. Coursera will verify that the teacher actually completed the course and participated fully along the way.
“In speaking to school administration leaders, I was hearing over and over that many districts today don’t have the resources to deliver good professional development,” said Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera. For teachers, Ng said offering professional development online gives them more choices and could save districts money.
“The important part is the interaction among the teachers which is something that’s very hard to replicate on a MOOC or any kind of online program.”
Coursera is partnering with schools of education at the University of Washington, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt University. In addition, the company is expanding its network of trainers beyond universities to include cultural institutions like the Exploratorium and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
“It was the most natural thing in the world,” said Deb Howes, director of digital learning at MOMA. Continue reading
Competency-based learning, which allows students to progress at their own pace after they’ve shown mastery of a subject, rather than by their age, is quickly gaining momentum. Already, a few states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon are moving towards implementing competency-based learning models throughout the entire state. What’s more, 40 states have at least district experimenting with the model. But despite this growth, its proponents say federal policies for accountability and assessment are holding the movement back.
KnowledgeWorks, an organization that supports three education-focused initiatives — New Tech Network, EDWorks and Strive — recently released a report highlighting the pain points between federal policy and a competency-based system. The report, Competency Education Series: Policy Brief One [PDF], points out that, although the federal government has supported some aspects of competency-based learning, implementing the new model can be difficult because of federal restrictions.
“The greatest conflict stems from disconnect with the work on the ground and federal accountability and assessment systems,” the report states. “Implementers faced with this disconnect have no choice but to juggle two systems: one required by federal law and one developed by the educators, students, parents, and community leaders committed to successful implementation of competency education.”
CLASHES OVER TIME
Time is the biggest point of contention between the two systems. The federal government measures school accountability as well as student achievement through time-based modules. Seat time and annual test results are the primary ways that the government keeps schools accountable, Continue reading
Design Learning Challenge
Creating a safe recreation space for teens; protoyping a recyclable lunch tray; setting up a water delivery system to guard against urban fires; building a public awareness campaign to combat hunger. These are just a few of examples of the types of tasks students are taking on when they participate in the Design Learning Challenge, an effort to get students to figure out how to solve real-world problems in their communities.
Combining project-based learning, with an emphasis on the arts and design thinking, this academic competition now in its third year — a partnership between the Industrial Designers Society of America, or IDSA, and the National Art Education Association, or NAEA — has more than 750 students participating this year.
Educators who enter the competition work with their students to identify a significant problem or challenge in their lives for which they can design a solution. Like most other project-based learning, the idea is that the process for designing an effective solution will get students to use Continue reading
How to praise kids: It’s a hot topic for many parents and educators. A lot of the conversation around it has stemmed from studies by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford who has been researching this specific topic for many years.
“My research shows that praise for intelligence or ability backfires,” said Dweck, who co-authored a seminal research paper on the effects of praise on motivation and performance. “What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.”
But what some might not know is that this paradox is strongest for girls.
Dweck’s research, which focuses on what makes people seek challenging tasks, persist through difficulty and do well over time, has shown that many girls believe their abilities are fixed, that individuals are born with gifts and can’t change. Her research finds that when girls think this way, they often give up, rather than persisting through difficulties. They don’t think they possess the ability to improve, and nowhere is the phenomenon stronger than in math. Continue reading
Paul Salopek and Ahmed Kabil
Writing will always be important, but weaving text, images, sound, and presentation together can give students more and different ways to express themselves. Easy-to-use online tools allow students the opportunity to create multimedia projects that demonstrate knowledge and develop useful skills. Check out these new three tools on the scene.
Launched less than a year ago, Meograph lets users create professional-looking multimedia presentations using video, audio, images, text, timelines, maps, and links.
Users create Meograph “moments” by uploading photos, videos, text and add voice narration to accompany the visuals. The moments can also be tagged with location, date, and time. Once all Continue reading
“Often mistaken, never in doubt.”
That wry phrase describes us all more than we’d like to admit. The psychological study of misconceptions shows that all of us possess many beliefs that are flawed or flat-out wrong—and also that we cling to these fallacies with remarkable tenacity. Although much of this research concerns misguided notions of how the physical world works, the techniques it has produced can be used to correct any sort of deficient understanding.
The most important thing to realize is that just telling isn’t enough. Most methods of instruction and training assume that if you provide students with the right information, it will replace any mistaken information they may already possess. But this just isn’t so. Especially when our previous beliefs (even though faulty) have proved useful to us, and when they appear to be confirmed by everyday experience, we are reluctant to let them go. Donna Alvermann, a language and literacy researcher at the University of Georgia, notes that in study after study, “students ignored correct textual information when it conflicted with their previously held concepts. On measures of free recall and recognition, the students consistently let their incorrect prior knowledge override incoming correct information.” It’s what our mothers called “in one ear and out the other.” Here, three ways to make that new information push out the old.
Highlight the mistaken notion. The simplest way to correct mistaken notions is to point them out as the accurate information is being presented. In a 2010 article in the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, researcher Christine Tippett offers an example from a science book for children: “Some people believe that a camel stores water in its hump. They think that the hump gets smaller as the camel uses up water. But this idea is not true. The hump stores fat and grows smaller only if the camel has not eaten for a long time. A camel can also live for days Continue reading