Digital Learning & Technology

Overview

Digital Learning & Technology

Nichole Dobo, The Hechinger Report

Digital devices and speedy internet can transform classrooms by supporting and inspiring innovative teaching methods.

But simply filling a classroom with the latest and most expensive technology isn’t enough to improve outcomes for students. Training teachers, budgeting for expensive purchases, communicating with parents and effectively deploying the new tools to classrooms are key to success.

Nichole Dobo, The Hechinger Report

Digital devices and speedy internet can transform classrooms by supporting and inspiring innovative teaching methods.

But simply filling a classroom with the latest and most expensive technology isn’t enough to improve outcomes for students. Training teachers, budgeting for expensive purchases, communicating with parents and effectively deploying the new tools to classrooms are key to success.

When covering education technology, start with this question: What problem is the technology solving?

Be skeptical if the main goal of a technology initiative in a school is simply to give students a computer. Do not assume that flashy digital programs and devices are all that is needed to improve academic outcomes for students. High-quality teaching matters.

Giving all students equitable access to high-tech tools is a laudable goal, especially when low-income students are less likely to have technology at home. Students in rural areas and low-income urban areas often lack reliable access to the internet to complete homework and access educational tools.

Education technology is often promoted with buzzwords that confuse the general public – and even educators disagree about the meaning. When education officials, advocates and nonprofit organizations use terms such as “open educational resources,” “blended learning,” “personalized learning” and “student-centered learning,” reporters must ask them to explain what they mean with concrete examples.

In short, how will the school’s plans change teaching and learning? Reporters should visit classrooms to see how big plans are playing out on the ground level.

Classroom Matters

For technology to work in the classroom, teachers need training and reliable technology. When teachers worry about poor internet connections, for instance, they can’t be sure their lesson plans will work. As a result, they must have low-tech backup plans, which essentially doubles their workload.

Nonprofit organizations such as Digital Promise, a research initiative based in Washington, D.C., work to promote best practices in schools nationwide. The Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland provides an example of how school leaders worked to create equal access to technology in all schools in the district of more than 111,000 students.

The district found that schools with strong PTA organizations had access to better technology than other campuses because of independent fundraising. District leaders in various departments worked together to add resources to schools in need. They created 10 “lighthouse” schools where they could test-drive new programs before launching them districtwide.

Some charter schools have developed promising approaches that are being replicated by traditional public schools. For instance, Summit Public Schools, a charter network founded in California, uses technology to create custom-fit lessons and give students more control over the pace of their learning. 

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made available a team of engineers to work with the network, and he has pledged part of his fortune to advancing “personalized learning.” Summit’s educators are now working on a national effort to share what they are doing with schools outside of their network.

Follow the Money

Education technology can be expensive. School leaders and teachers are under pressure to choose the right tools for their local community’s needs. Schools spend billions of dollars on hardware and software, according to various market research estimates. Multiple government initiatives have promoted a massive infusion in cash in school internet connections. 

In 2013, President Barack Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, which had a goal of wiring 99 percent of schools with modern internet connections — defined by the federal government as at least 100Mbps of bandwidth per student — in five years. That year, just 19 percent of U.S. school districts reported that all of their schools had a sufficient internet connection, according to a survey of schools conducted by the Consortium for School Networking. CoSN's 2016 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey found one growing issue to be student demand for wireless internet. By 2016, 68 percent of districts surveyed hit that benchmark, according to the survey. Among the schools with improved internet connections is the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School in New York. It now has Wi-Fi throughout the school. A report from EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit organization that advocates for improved internet connections in schools, says that about nine out of 10 schools now have internet connections that meet the federal minimum standard for speed. But costs vary widely across the country and even between neighboring districts. EducationSuperHighway's recent estimates show 95% of schools are connected by fiber and 83% of schools report having sufficient Wi-Fi in their classrooms.

In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the E-Rate program, voted to spend $1.5 billion more per year to improve school internet connections. With the jump in federal spending, the FCC made available $3.9 billion annually for schools and libraries nationwide. The FCC also set new rules for the E-Rate program that increased reporting requirements for how the money is used locally. 

Reporters can use the online database  mandated by the FCC to see exactly what schools are buying. That information can help to inform reporting on how those tools are being used and the costs schools are paying. While some analysts say the new spending will fuel the use of tools  to improve academic outcomes for students, others question the effectiveness of this spending. 

Those who opposed increasing the federal E-Rate budget pointed to problems with improper spending and the massive bureaucracy that districts must navigate to obtain the money. Among the leading critics was FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican picked by President Donald Trump in January 2017 to lead the FCC. Pai voted against increasing the amount of money available under the E-Rate program.

Almost immediately after beginning his work as chairman, Pai took the unusual step of rescinding a FCC staff report about the E-Rate that summarized the work of the program. The report is still available on the commission’s website, but it is no longer part of the official public record regarding the program. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “every school ought to be worried” about the future of the program, according to Education Week.

Figuring out what to buy and finding the money to pay for it are not the only challenges. Negotiating contracts with technology vendors can be difficult for school leaders.

The Technology for Education Consortium, a nonprofit organization supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with schools to get better pricing on hardware such as iPads and Chromebooks. Apple, for instance, has a reputation with school districts for aggressive contract negotiations.

Reporters should ask to see contracts for technology purchases and ask district leaders questions about how they arrived at the price and device they selected. And don’t forget to ask about ongoing expenses, such as device replacement and software contracts. This information should be publicly available, since it details expenditures of taxpayer money.

Do the Tools Improve Learning?

Software and technological devices are often promoted with slick marketing campaigns. Be cautious with “research” published by the makers of education technology. Teachers and school leaders say it can be difficult to discern evidence of what works from flimflam. Research methods commonly used to gauge the effectiveness of curricular tools and programs are not always nimble enough because technology advances quickly.

This makes it hard for reporters to know if a program is a solution worth sharing or a disaster in the making. If technology in schools and at home is used for little more than electronic versions of worksheets – or if expensive devices go unused – then the potential of technology in the classroom is squandered.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is a high-profile example of what can go wrong. A $1.3 billion initiative to give every student in the nation’s second-largest school district a tablet computer failed not long after it started. The district was unable to deliver the devices to schools in an orderly fashion, teachers were not trained to use the new iPads, and the software was either nonfunctional or teachers were unable to use it effectively due to the lack of preparation.

Final Thoughts

Education technology is a dynamic field, and it can be challenging for school leaders and classroom teachers to keep up with the latest changes. Journalists must challenge sources who speak in jargon and claim that a program or digital device is an antidote that will revolutionize learning. When a district or school says it plans to give every student a laptop computer, for instance, ask questions that will elicit a clear explanation of how the technology will help improve teaching and learning.

Latest News

Under New Leadership, FCC Quashes Report on E-rate Program’s Success

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday rescinded its own report documenting the success of the E-rate program, a multi-billion dollar FCC-led initiative that has helped tens of thousands of schools and libraries obtain high-speed internet access.

The report will have “no legal or other effect or meaning going forward,” according to the commission’s order.

The move prompted sharp criticism from education and open-government groups.

EWA Radio

Students Can’t Recognize Fake News. That’s a Problem.
EWA Radio: Episode 103

Benjamin Herold of Education Week discusses why media literacy is in the spotlight in the wake of the presidential election, and the troubling findings of a new Stanford University study that showed the vast majority of students from middle school through college can’t identify “fake news.” Why are so many digital natives flunking when it comes to evaluating the reliability of material they encounter online? How are policymakers, researchers, and educators proposing that schools address this deficit in critical-thinking skills?

Member Stories

December 8-15
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel investigates how Orange County school board members spent $500,000 of taxpayer money over the last two years. “One board member paid $2,500 for a school mural that depicts herself,” she writes.

 

Starting in January, Portland Community College will teach a specially designed curriculum for nursing students left stranded by the closure of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute earlier this year, Andrew Theen reports for The Oregonian.

EWA Radio

Beyond Buzzwords: What Does “Student-Centered Learning” Look Like?
EWA Radio: Episode 100

Katrina Schwartz of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco joins the 100th episode of EWA Radio to discuss the growing interest in student-centered learning and  personalized instruction. What are promising examples of these approaches in action? Can personalization and efficiency co-exist? How is data — big and small — informing teachers and shaping individual student learning? And what are some big stories to watch for in the coming months?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

EWA Radio

Summer Reading List: Classroom Technology ‘Classic’ Still Informs
EWA Radio: Episode 83

Pixabay/April Bryant

Ben Herold of Education Week explains why “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom” is a smart read for reporters, even 13 years after Stanford Professor Larry Cuban wrote it. Herold and public editor Emily Richmond discuss the value of stepping back from day-to-day coverage of the latest education trends to evaluate just how “new” it really is. And Herold shares Cuban’s savvy advice for bringing a skeptical eye to classroom observations.

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Schools Bridge the Digital Divide?

Students work in a computer lab at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public school in the District of Columbia. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

As education becomes increasingly digital, it creates a world of opportunities for students, who can now visit world-famous museums or collaborate with other students without ever leaving the classroom.

But it also creates potential barriers for families lacking access to adequate devices or high-speed internet and can lead to a growing opportunity gap.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Progressives in Massachusetts Shortchange Poor Kids, Governor Says

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at EWA's National Seminar in Boston. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Massachusetts has long been the poster child for education.

For years now it’s ranked at the top in the country for math and reading achievement, boasted impressive graduation rates and made a significant financial investments over the last few decades to get there.

It’s no slouch when it comes to higher education either. Massachusetts harbors some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and it’s joining a growing number of states looking to make college more affordable.

Key Coverage

Teaching Kids: Henry County School Lets Students Set Own Pace

The school’s computer-based approach could be replicated across the state if education reformers appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal get their way. There’s no conclusive evidence that it works better than traditional methods, but there is a growing group of proponents in other states. Many wonder whether it will prove too expensive, widening the gap between schools that can and cannot afford it, but advocates say it doesn’t have to be costly.

Key Coverage

How Washington Created Some of the Worst Schools in America

Flash forward 46 more years. The network of schools for Native American children run by an obscure agency of the Interior Department remains arguably the worst school system in the United States, a disgrace the government has known about for eight decades and never successfully reformed. Earlier this fall, POLITICO asked President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, about perhaps the federal government’s longest-running problem: “It’s just the epitome of broken,” he said. “Just utterly bankrupt.” The epitome of broken looks like Crystal Boarding School.

Key Coverage

The Slowest Internet in Mississippi: Rural Schools Still Struggle to Get Connected

The 2,500 students in Calhoun County can’t do Internet research in school. Computerized state testing here last spring was a disaster. Teachers have given up on using online tools in the classroom. The district has given up on buying the new digital technologies that are transforming schools elsewhere.

 And the most outrageous part: For the privilege of being stuck with the slowest Internet service in all of Mississippi, the nine-school Calhoun County district is billed $9,275 each month.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Students Too Wired or Not Enough?

Flickr/Vancouver Film School

In Milwaukee, an epitaph for the classroom blackboard (courtesy of the Journal Sentinel), laid to rest by the so-called “smart board”:

Sitting idle is not on the next generation’s dance card. Now it’s all about touching, swiping, dragging and dropping.

EWA Radio

What Grit and Perseverance Could Look Like in the Classroom
EWA Radio: Episode 31

(Flickr/Steven Depolo)

Nestled within the new-agey sounding concept of “noncognitive factors” are fairly concrete examples of what parents and educators should and shouldn’t do to prepare students for the rigors of college and careers. Gleaned from research into brain development and human behavior, a toolkit is emerging on how to make the best of the scholarship focused on qualities like grit, persistence and learning from mistakes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is There Room for Games in Education?

Flickr/Games For Change

Allen Turner recently recalled the day his grade school teacher said it was time to learn about the U.S. Constitution, beginning with its famous preamble. But Turner, now a video game designer and professor at Chicago’s DePaul University, already knew it. So did all his classmates.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Video Games Good for Kids?

Riding the subway to work the other day, I glanced over at the commuter next to me, tapping away on his smartphone. But he was not texting. Clad in jacket and tie (and earbuds), he was engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat.

In the digital game, he was Spider-Man, battling some muscle-bound monster or alien — lots of kicking and punching, and finally K.O. flashed on the screen.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Protecting Student Data: Even Experts Are Just ‘Figuring It Out’

Protecting Student Data: Even Experts Are Just ‘Figuring It Out’

The last decade’s increasing reliance on data-driven education tools has policy leaders scrambling to safeguard personal information as Americans increasingly become concerned about their children’s digital footprints.

Chief among the challenges lawmakers face is juggling the extraordinary growth of an industry and the personal safety of students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Bringing the Learning Home on Snow Days

Kindergarten students at Atkinton Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. use their district-issued iPads. (Credit: Farmington Area Public Schools.)

As many states dig out from yet another winter storm, school districts are struggling to keep the academic calendar – and student learning – from being derailed as a result of record numbers of snow days.

But increasingly, educators are using technology to turn campus closures into opportunities for students to complete academic assignments on their own.

Webinar

EWA Hosts Sneak Preview of National Report on Early Childhood Indicators
Journalist Only Webinar

EWA Hosts Sneak Preview of National Report on Early Childhood Indicators

Journalists will get an early opportunity this week to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on early childhood education indicators. The report will evaluate states on their efforts to expand early childhood education and examine how new academic demands and accountability pressures are altering the learning environment for young children. Join EWA for a Jan. 7 webinar to learn more.

Webinar

Are Teachers Data-Savvy?
Webinar on Student Data

Are Teachers Data-Savvy?

As tools and data profiles of students become easier to use, are teachers sufficiently data literate to make sense of the information at their fingertips? Do teachers have the skills and access to data in useful formats, and are the school leaders and institutions responsible for their professional development providing them the training they need? The stakes are high: Teachers behind in data literacy may miss out on innovative ways to track student progress, personalize instruction, and improve their own practice.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Arne Duncan: Educational Equity Is Federal Priority

Sixty years after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, there’s still a wide gulf in educational opportunities for low-income and minority students and their more advantaged peers, including when it comes to access to rigorous coursework aimed at preparing students for college and the workforce, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the audience at the Education Writers Association’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville today. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making Worlds With STEM and Video Game Design

Greg Toppo (left) and Erin Reynolds

EWA recently held a seminar on STEM education and student skills at the University of Southern California. We asked some of the reporters who participated to contributes posts from the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Lindsay Whitehurst of the Salt Lake Tribune. You can find out more about STEM and classroom technology on EWA’s topic pages. 

It’s not easy to make a roomful of journalists gasp out loud and recoil in amazed horror, especially at the tail end of a conference.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

SXSWedu: Education Ideas ‘Big and Bright’ in Austin

I’m in Austin for the next few days at the SXSWedu conference, which will bring together big thinkers, educators, and entrepreneurs to talk about latest philosophies, approaches, and technology reshaping the business of schooling. I’ve packed my boots, my trendy glasses, and plenty of extra notebooks that I fully expect to fill up with Big Ideas. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

STEM and Student Skills: Join Our EWA Seminar in Los Angeles

Are you an education journalist? Do you want to know more about how schools are preparing students for future workforce, and what changes are coming to your local classrooms when it comes to computer science and math instruction? Are you familiar with the latest research on how students learn, and whether current instructional methods are aligned with those findings?  Would you like to be a more confident writer when it comes to reporting on student demographics?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Welcome to the New EWA Online

If you had bookmarked The Educated Reporter, you’ve probably noticed it now takes you to EWA’s brand-new (and, I might add, thoroughly fantastic) website. But don’t be fooled – the new site is about a lot more than just good looks: It’s also easy to navigate and search, and collects all of our first-rate content under one roof.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Gaming: The Future of School Assessments?

This week we’re catching up with sessions from EWA’s National Seminar, held at Stanford University. Today’s guest blogger is Caitlin Fertal of (Willoughby, Ohio) News-Herald.  Stream any session from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Higher Ed Beat: Ten Story Ideas on Technology and Innovation

It’s been a busy year for higher education reporters, and the New Year promises plenty of challenging — and important — stories to cover. I thought it would be a good time to revisit one of our most popular sessions from EWA’s National Seminar, held at Stanford University. Today’s guest blogger is Delece Smith-Barrow of U.S.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Innovations in Classroom Technology

With lawmakers on both sides of the aisle touting the value of a computer science education, and President Obama using a video message to urge every American to learn how to code, it seemed like the ideal time to revisit a session from EWA’s 66th National Seminar, which held at Stanford University in May. We asked some of the education reporters attending to contribute blog posts from the sessions

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Moving Beyond MOOCs

EWA held its annual Higher Education Seminar recently at Boston’s Northeastern University. We invited some of the education journalists in attendance to contribute posts from the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Carl Straumsheim of Inside Higher Ed.

Is it possible that two education company executives, a researcher and a reporter could spend an hour discussing technology in higher education without mentioning massive open online courses?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Online Education Means for College Classrooms

What Online Education Means for College Classrooms

Early registration is now open for EWA’s 2013 Higher Education Seminar, to be held Sept.28-29 at Northeastern University in Boston.This is a journalists-only  event, and you can register and apply for a scholarship here.In the meantime, EWA’s 66th National Seminar was recently held at Stanford University, and we asked some of the education reporters attending to contribute blog posts from the sessions.Today’s guest blogger is Mary Beth Marklein of USA Today.&

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New School of Thought on Back-To-Class Coverage

My inbox is filling up with back-to-school pitches, for everything from the latest vocabulary-building phone app to a microwave bag that will allow college students to cook ears of corn and whole potatoes. (The latter sounds like a potential starchy straight line to the Freshman 15.)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Using ‘Linked Learning’ to Prepare Students for College — And Career

We asked some of the journalists attending EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford University in May, to contribute posts from the sessions. Michelle Sokol of the State Journal in Frankfort, Ky. is today’s guest blogger. 

Students used to receive their technical education in one classroom and academic education in another — but it’s not your father’s shop class anymore.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 3

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 3

As the Q&A concludes, Khan fields questions on adapting lessons for an international audience, the MOOC model, and solving the problem of credentialing in online ed.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 2

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 2

During the Q&A, Khan discusses the history of distance learning, the structure and composition of his videos, and how Khan Academy is beginning to approach assessments.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Blended Learning Boom

Innovation Showcase: Blended Learning Boom

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. In this session, Marcie Bober-Michel, San Diego State University, interviewed by Kyla Calvert, KPBS, about a boom in courses that blend online and face-to-face learning. Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Grading Goes 2.0

Innovation Showcase: Grading Goes 2.0

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. In this session, Mark Shermis, University of Akron, is interviewed by Molly Bloom, WKSU, about the debate over computerized grading of student essays. Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Investing in Education

Innovation Showcase: Investing in Education

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. In this session, Trace Urdan, Wells Fargo Securities, is interviewed by Kim Clark, Money Magazine, about burgeoning investments in innovative education enterprises Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Digital Textbook Debate

Innovation Showcase: Digital Textbook Debate

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. In this session, Jay McPhail, Riverside Unified School District (Riverside, CA), is interviewed by Dayna Straehley, The Press-Enterprise, about digital instructional materials and mobile devices for students. Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Fostering Entrepreneurship in Higher Ed

Innovation Showcase: Fostering Entrepreneurship in Higher Ed

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education.

In this session, Kayvon Beykpour, Mobile Technologies Entrepreneur, is interviewed by Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, about how universities can encourage students to start companies.

Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Robots as Peer Learners

Innovation Showcase: Robots as Peer Learners

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education.

In this session, Sandra Okita, Columbia University, is interviewed by Greg Toppo, USA Today, about robots being used for instruction in K-12 classrooms.

Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Multimedia

Innovation Showcase: Lesson Plans Go Open Source

Innovation Showcase: Lesson Plans Go Open Source

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. Learn about experimental tools, offerings and practices being made possible by emerging digital technologies, and gather new ideas for covering innovation on your own beat.

In this session, Wanda Longoria, Northside Independent School District (San Antonio, TX), is interviewed by Kelsey Sheehy, U.S. News & World Report, about new ways for teachers to share lessons online.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 4: Information Overload, College Costs and Education as a Civil Right

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 4: Information Overload, College Costs and Education as a Civil Right

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

During the Q & A portion of his talk, Friedman fields questions on the pitfalls of online education, being overwhelmed by information, and how technology might offset rising tuition costs.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 3: Modern Career Opportunities, Fear of Technology and Reasons to Be Optimistic

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 3: Modern Career Opportunities, Fear of Technology and Reasons to Be Optimistic

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

In part 3, Friedman discusses how young people are faring in the job market and how U.S. schools compare with their international counterparts.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 2: Missing the Point on MOOCs, Cost vs. Value in Higher Ed and the ‘401(k) World’

A Conversation with Thomas Friedman, Part 2: Missing the Point on MOOCs, Cost vs. Value in Higher Ed and the ‘401(k) World’

From the Education Writers Association 2013 National Seminar, a discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tom Friedman (New York Times) and Stephanie Banchero (Wall Street Journal). Filmed at Stanford University.

In part 2, Friedman talks about the boom in Massive Open Online Courses, the role of teachers in increasingly tech-focused classrooms, and the importance of motivation in a world of defined contributions.

Report

Technology Counts 2013: Building the Digital District

Technology Counts 2013—the 16th edition of Education Week’s annual report on educational technology—tackles how school districts are working to incorporate more multimedia into classrooms, upgrade online professional development, and do a better job using data to improve student achievement.

Multimedia

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik talks to reporters about 10 stories he wants to see in 2013 (added bonus: three “don’ts” to observe while covering the higher ed beat).

This address was a part of “Degrees vs. Debt: Making College More Affordable,” EWA’s Nov. 2-3 2012 seminar for higher ed reporters at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

EWA Radio

Turning the Page on Textbooks: More Affordable Options

Plummeting prices for e-readers and tablet computers mean big changes for the textbook industry, as more students and professors clamor for digital versions of traditional paper editions. What does this shift in the publishing world mean for college costs, and how are universities getting e-textbooks into the hands of students? Panelists: Jeff Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education (moderator); Nicole Allen, U.S. PIRG; Bruce Hildebrand, Association of American Publishers; Mickey Levitan, Courseload.

Key Coverage

Why Johnny Can’t Add Without a Calculator

This shortfall in mathematical preparation for college-bound students has existed for a long time, but it is being exacerbated by the increased use of technology. College-level math classes almost never use graphing calculators, while high-school classes invariably do. College professors want their students to understand abstract concepts; technology advocates claim their products help teach students such abstractions, but in practice they simply don’t.

Organization

State Education Technology Directors Association

State Education Technology Directors Association was founded in 2001 as a professional organization for administrators who manage schools’ technology infrastructure. Its focus is how school systems can use technology to improve students’ educational performance while also curbing unnecessary costs.

Organization

The Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

The Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use was established by online safety expert Nancy Willard in 2004 as a resource for students and families. The center offer guidelines for monitoring and protecting youth as they use internet and other emerging media.

Organization

The Alliance for Excellent Education

The Alliance for Excellent Education “is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century.” With regard to NCLB, the Alliance says the law “has played an important role in highlighting achievement gaps, but it has steadily proven to be inadequate in providing sufficient remedies and flexibility.

Organization

Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

Consortium for School Networking’s Data-Driven Decision Making (3D) Initiative is a national effort to help school district technology leaders build and sustain a data culture within their districts.  It is designed to provide tools and resources to help districts implement and sustain data usage while providing a national forum on how data are being used to individualize the learning process. 

Key Coverage

Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents

Through Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and text messages sent in multiple languages, school staff members are giving parents instant updates, news, and information about their children’s schools. Not only that, but a number of districts are also providing parents access to Web portals where they can see everything from their children’s grades on school assignments to their locker combinations and what they’re served for lunch.

Key Coverage

Born as a Tribute but Faltering, a Bronx School Nears Its End

In the past few years, a quality education at Levin High School became harder to come by. Money for a college scholarship in Mr. Levin’s name dried up. A ball field that a Mets official helped pay for fell into disrepair. Computers sat untouched, applications to the school fell and the graduation rate sank to 31 percent, the fifth-lowest in the city.

Report

Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West

Our report, Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators, shows that while many digital products claim to teach reading, the app marketplace currently puts a heavy emphasis on teaching letters, sounds and phonics. A snapshot of the iTunes App Store’s most popular paid literacy apps showed that 45 percent targeted letters and sounds and half targeted phonics, but only 5 percent targeted vocabulary. And none of the iTunes paid apps in the scan focused on comprehension, grammar and the ability to understand and tell stories

Key Coverage

When Roll Calls Go High-Tech

John Jay Science and Engineering Academy started making students carry “smart ID” badges implanted with microchips this fall to ensure they are counted as present, since some state funding is tied to student attendance. But Andrea Hernandez, a 15-year old sophomore at the magnet school for exceptional students, filed a federal-court petition on Nov. 30 seeking to be excluded from the program.

Key Coverage

Classes a la carte: States Test a New School Model

Call it the a la carte school. The model, now in practice or under consideration in states including Louisiana, Michigan, Arizona and Utah, allows students to build a custom curriculum by selecting from hundreds of classes offered by public institutions and private vendors. A teenager in Louisiana, for instance, might study algebra online with a private tutor, business in a local entrepreneur’s living room, literature at a community college and test prep with the national firm Princeton Review – with taxpayers picking up the tab for it all.

Key Coverage

Smarter Balanced Updates Common-Core Tech. Requirements

The document makes five recommendations to prepare schools for the new assessments.

  1. Move away from Windows XP (which is currently used by more than half of schools today) to Windows 7. Windows 8 might be acceptable, but further testing is needed. However, the assessments will work with Windows XP.
  2. Upgrade computers to at least 1 GB of internal memory. Most schools have already implemented this recommendation (63 percent, to be exact.)
Key Coverage

Twitter Chats Beckon to Some Graduate Students

In olden, pre-Twitter days, graduate students traipsed around academic conferences meeting peers and mentors. But Twitter chats—or hashtags, the number signs indicating a topic of conversation—are the new networking spaces, at least according to a recent blog post on The Daily Muse, “10 Great Twitter chats for Grad Students.”

Key Coverage

Are You Tech-Ready for the Common Core?

School districts are raising concerns about their ability to be technologically ready to give Common Core State Standards assessments to students online in two years. Administrators say they remain uncertain about the types of devices to buy, the bandwidth they need, and the funding available for technology improvements.

Key Coverage

Evaluating What Works in Blended Learning

Blended learning—the mix of virtual education and face-to-face instruction—is evolving quickly in schools across the country, generating a variety of different models. This special report, the second in an ongoing series on virtual education, examines several of those approaches and aims to identify what is working and where improvements are needed.

Key Coverage

Competency-Based Schools Embrace Digital Learning

“Prior to kindergarten, everyone learns to talk at a different time,” he continues. “They get potty-trained at different times, but suddenly when you get to kindergarten, you’re placed in this box, and you’re given the kindergarten curriculum because you’re five, not because you’re ready for it, or even if you already know it all. Kids learn in different ways on different time frames.” National advocates for competency-based education echo those sentiments, pointing out economic and policy forces that are building momentum for such an approach.

Key Coverage

Startup Hopefuls Test Ideas With Educators

Many entrepreneurs in K-12 believe technology can solve education’s problems, but don’t work to understand those problems before prescribing technology to solve them. That frustrates educators and can be a recipe for failure for fledgling companies. The founders of Imagine K12—Tim Brady, Alan Louie, and Geoff Ralston—made their fortunes working for some of Silicon Valley’s star companies, like Yahoo and Google. But they’re trying to change that dynamic by helping people who start education businesses understand what educators truly need and then create products to meet those needs.

Key Coverage

Districts Require E-Courses for Graduation

In the 105,000-student Memphis city school system in Tennessee, officials were also concerned about making sure every student had the access needed when the district decided two years ago to require students to take an online course before graduation. The district got creative, said Cleon L. Franklin, the director of instructional technology. It provided computer-lab time before and after school and coordinated with community organizations, such as libraries, to make sure students could use computers there.

Key Coverage

2012: Virtual Shift Technology Counts 2012

Virtual Shift Technology Counts 2012—the 15th edition of Education Week’s annual report on educational technology—tackles the shift in the virtual education landscape, where the rise in popularity is intersecting with a call for greater accountability.

Key Coverage

How Computer Games Help Children Learn

As schools aim to prepare students for life outside of school, they need to realize that the world now values knowledge and skills that can be applied in creative ways. Epistemic games fit the learning requirements of today’s world because they allow students to role-play professions while learning skills that they apply in the game.

Key Coverage

Apple Unveils E-Textbook Strategy for K-12

Through a partnership with three major K-12 textbook publishers, Apple announces a plan to make interactive, multimedia textbooks more accessible to classrooms. Critics question whether the devices that play the textbooks are affordable for schools and students.

Report

The Digital Revolution and Higher Education

As online college courses have become increasingly prevalent, the general public and college presidents offer different assessments of their educational value. Just three-in-ten American adults (29%) say a course taken online provides an equal educational value to one taken in a classroom. By contrast, fully half of college presidents (51%) say online courses provide the same value.

Report

Online K-12 Schooling in the U.S.

This influential brief from the National Education Policy Center offer recommendations to legislators regarding how they should manage the costs, enrollment, and quality controls for virtual programs, which have expanded quickly over the past decade.

Key Coverage

Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens, according to a study,” this article reports. The news is especially noteworthy because of the emerging “app gap” between children from low-income households and those from affluent homes.

Key Coverage

Inflating the Software Report Card

“Amid a classroom-based software boom estimated at $2.2 billion a year, debate continues to rage over the effectiveness of technology on learning and how best to measure it,” according to this article. “But it is hard to tell that from technology companies’ promotional materials.”