Colleges and universities are entering an era of global competition with k12 schools not far behind. While I think it is likely that lower grade levels that require face to face contact will require more in person schools, it is likely that online elearning platforms, particularly for students who are disciplined and can learn in this format, will increase. Language learning, history, and more will be transformed as classrooms flatten and merge in ways we cannot begin to understand. Schools that take steps to globalize and understand this new world of education are positioning themselves long term. With some districts spending more than 10,000 per student and running out of money, it could be understandable that buying a computer and internet access and paying an organization (one even out of country) would make sense -- if they only look at it from a cost perspective. This is, of course, not understanding the economic impact of having local schools and local teachers. There are more reasons than ever to support your local school, but also, for parents and school board members to insist that schools aren't just bricks but are clicks - how are they connecting online? How are they connecting with the world? The walled garden may not only be a mistake for kids, it may be a death sentence for schools unprepared for the global tidal wave of education that is rapidly moving online. No one knows what this is going to look like, only that online education is changing. "A new portal has been launched make the quickly growing European study options even more accessible for learners around the world: www.DistanceLearningPortal.eu. Funded by the European Union and developed by the European study choice platform Studyportals and EADTU, this central information source will support orienting learners worldwide to study abroad from home. On 27 September 2012 the portal was officially launched by Commissioner Vasiliou
Forty public universities, including Arizona State, Cleveland State, and the University of Arkansas, are planning to offer free online courses that carry full credit in an effort to entice potential students to sign up for a full degree program. The new initiative, know as MOOC2Degree (MOOC stands for massive open online course), is being run in a partnership between the universities and Academic Partnerships, a commercial company that helps universities move their courses online. As part of this initiative, Academic Partnerships will work with the universities to recruit for these courses and will receive a cut of any tuition from students who sign on for further study.
"Macmillan will begin their first ebook library lending program by the end of the Q1 2013. They plan to initially test the idea with 1,200 backlist titles from their Minotaur Books imprint. The ebooks will be available via Axis 360, OverDrive, and 3M Cloud Library. Once purchased by a library, the titles can be lent for either 2 years or 52 lends, whichever comes first. All of the books in the program will have the same digital list price."
New textbooks from Boundless are being released under the same license as Wikipedia. Read more on Stephen Downes website, but realize that textbooks -- free textbooks- are going to be proliferating and some may end up meeting needs quite nicely. Textbook companies are going to have to sell more than words on a page, but experiences, projects, connections, and apps to be worth the price and even then, educators will be able to cobble together their own in ways that may become very powerful. We talk about the evolution of the textbook some in Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds.
QR codes are very convenient and this article from Edutopia does a nice job of outlining some of the benefits of using QR codes in the classroom. If you get into this, I have a blog post on my blog called "QR Code Classroom Guide" to help you get started.
Sebastian Thrun's wife, Petra Dierkes-Thrun writes an article on HASTAC about what it is like being "married to the MOOC" including glimpses into how they filmed lectures in their basements. This MOOC made news when, after a New York Times article was written, over 160,000 people signed up for this MOOC about Artificial Intelligence run by two experts. It became the largest class taught up until that point with students from around the world. I found this a fascinating read about what happens when LEARNING -- yes, I said LEARNING goes viral. This is only the beginning - the first "viral course" of many to come. Wake up and be aware,
You can use Google Presentations offline now, a major reason many of us wouldn't consider using Google Presentations over Keynote or PowerPoint. It still doesn't have a lot of the flexibility of those two or even Prezi but for those heavily using Google Apps for Domains, it is a big plus. Hat tip to Richard Byrne at Free Tech for Teachers for this nice article.
While Google docs is great, when we had our conference in Beijing, China, we used etherpad installed on some servers out of Hong Kong. The original collaborative writing tool, Etherpad is very powerful. This in depth article teaches you how to set up etherpad on your own server and some of the benefits of using the tool. If Google Docs is blocked for you, this is a great alternative, although it does require a bit of tweaking or a lack of fear and ability to follow directions.
We should teach Computer Science because it is important to our future, but if you really need justification, Alfred Thompson shares the new alignments of Computer Science topics with all kinds of standards including Common Core.
I've been reading up on the "Drafts" app because of the useful new features I've been reading about. This article at the cult of mac on Drafts' new automation options, is the best article I've read on drafts and some of the more advanced features. If you don't understand it, it is worth trying. I'm just barely understanding the incredible things I can do with it, but many are just starting to use it for writing just about anything. Cool.
There's an interesting discussion going on over at lifehacker about the best ifttt "recipes." Ifttt is "if this then that" and is an automation program that does amazing, very cool things. I've integrated it with my wemo, for example, and have it turning off and on my lights in the den and logging when there is action or motion in the kitchen. This is one of those posts you'll want to look at the comments.
Drafts is a handy app for those who who use a variety of tools like Evernote and dropbox. For example, you can jot a note and click a button to send it to Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote and more -- (like if you want to save copies of certain tweets, etc. since it is so hard to get things out of Twitter.) I'm not entirely clear on the workflow automation piece of Drafts after watching this video on lifehacker but am going to learn more about this handy app.
Google image search is being redesigned. I hope that one of the big changes that the quote below means is that we'll have more transparency with copyright. So many times, when I ask a source, students say "Google Images." No. No. No. Google images isn't a source, it is a search engine. You must quote the original source!! Hopefully this will make it easier. From Google Webmaster central... "We now display detailed information about the image (the metadata) right underneath the image in the search results, instead of redirecting users to a separate landing page. We’re featuring some key information much more prominently next to the image: the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it comes from, and the image size."
A school in seattle has parents, students, teachers refusing to administer the MAP test. Teacher Tom clearly shares why this is happening and why it is a good idea (the margin of error in the test is broad and it is being used to unfairly evaluate teachers.) When tests are used to evaluate teachers, those tests should be accurate. Testing, also, should be the exception, not the rule, and overtesting is causing problems. At my school, while individual teachers have tests - everyone has just one standardized testing period a year - that is it. The students do very well and we move on. We have no pep rallies, we just let parents know to make sure their kids get rest and that's it.