Archive for the ‘education’ tag
In a recent TED Talk, Bill Gates shares this compelling statistic: “Until recently 98% of teachers got one word of feedback: satisfactory.”
We all need feedback. With no feedback, says Gates, no coaching, there’s just no way to improve. Learning is as important as teaching, if not more. As he says in the talk, even great teachers can get better with smart
Teaching doesn’t happen only in the classroom
Mentors, coaches, and peers who are willing to provide constructive feedback enrich our opportunities to learn more about what works. In the absence of deliberate feedback, I recommend signing up and volunteering to work with people and teams you look up to.
For example, on the agency side, one of the main ways in which you can learn what works and what can be improved is by working on pitches. In a short period of time, you will gain feedback both from the rest of the team, and the prospect.
The key is to observe, take note, and be available to incorporating what we learn.
Learning does not have an expiration date
It is a continuous process of seeking both quantitative and qualitative input to get better. Getting and giving feedback is not easy, yet it pays dividends in the long run. Taken and given through the lens of learning blunts the emotional sting.
There is a difference between the abstract of how we see ourselves and our practice and the pragmatic and actual output we provide, how it works in real life.
Whenever I am invited to keynote a conference, or to moderate a panel, in addition to preparing visuals and an abstract of key take aways, I use a Flip camera to tape myself giving the talk.
This accomplishes three main goals:
- shows me where to improve — by getting to see how you do vs. how you think you do
- highlights gaps in thinking — usually that’s where you get stuck
- acts as dispassionate feedback mechanism — no emotion involved
It’s the best method to do a dry run I’ve found. In many instances, it’s enough to be aware of something to improve it.
[hat tip Shane Parrish]
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More than 20 million students currently use Google Apps, and another 10 million are soon to join, thanks to a deal with Malaysia.
As students and schools are increasingly storing more of their data and documents in clouds of Google’s servers, Backupify recently announced that it has tripled its education user base, with more than 40,000 new education users since January of this year. Schools are using the cloud-based backup service to ensure critical data is archived and safe, even if it would be accidentally deleted or lost on Google’s servers.
Education is a notoriously slow adopter of technology, but Google Apps is growing quickly, if not virally, doubling over the last two years. And the current 20 million users include seven million inside the U.S. alone — led by Oregon that adopted Google Apps in all K-12 classrooms in 2010.
And sometimes, they’re using Backupify because they have to:
“Millions of students and educators around the world are currently using Google Apps to enhance collaborative learning,” Backupify CEO Rob May said in a statement. “The education sector is ahead of other industries in this regard, but faces unique compliance requirements for data privacy and retention that demand an effective backup strategy.”
To celebrate the recent growth of Google Apps for Education — and their own growth — Backupify put this infographic together:
Image credit: John Koetsier/Venturebeat
Have you thought about education lately?
When you say the word "education," most people run in the opposite direction. I dropped out of university (and, if I am to be candid, I was dragged – kicking and screaming – through both elementary and high school). But, I still never allowed my school to get in the way of a good education. I always had sparks of curiosity and the desire to be creative in whatever work I was trying to accomplish. I always had a deep passion to learn, read, write and create (regardless of how bored I was in classrooms). Now, many places in the world have an educational system that is in crisis. We are still training people for an industrial work environment that is quickly fading. We are teaching the children of today for a world of tomorrow that will look very different. Nobody knows this better than Sir Ken Robinson. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Sir Ken on multiple occasions and have been fortunate enough to have significant one on one time to discuss education, the work that the we do and what kind of world we’re preparing our young people for with him. Recently, TED published a new TED Talk featuring Sir Ken Robinson that you should watch. If you have kids, if you care about your own education, and if you think about the future, please spend 18 minutes watching this… and make sure to share it.
How to escape education’s death valley…
And, if case you missed his first talk, watch this too…
Thanks to technology, we’re watching a revolution happen in education right now.
From the explosion in popularity of language learning apps like Mindsnacks to the media furor about the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs), companies are being built around the idea that technology can radically reshape our relationship with education.
Educating the well-educated
MOOCs have attracted more attention than any other edtech category, and with good reason. Imagine being able to take a physics class with Stephen Hawking without having to enroll at Cambridge, or learn poetry with Helen Vendler, and explore the solar system with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The possibilities are seemingly endless — especially for the hyper-literate, hyper-educated communities of bloggers and journalists who typically write about this technology. These platforms started as experiments in distributing high quality education for single classes, and blossomed into fully-fledged companies on the strength of early, massive enrollments.
There’s an amazing amount of potential embedded in the idea of MOOCs, but for now, they are only struggling experiments aimed at the outer edge of enthusiasts of esoteric learning.
Enrollment figures point squarely at largely unfulfilled promises. Katy Jordan, an educational researcher, pulled together published stats, largely from Coursera, and plotted enrollment and completion rates for various popular MOOCs.
Harvard’s computer science class CS50x on edX had an amazing 150,349 enrolled students, of which 0.9 percent completed the course. Attrition rates on that level would instantly doom a college. While MOOC proponents argue that these completion rates are irrelevant because of varied interest levels of participating students at the outset, they’ve set the stage for their own measurement by using enrollment factors as their topline metric in interview after interview.
Education for the rest of us
But let’s say you ignore the massive discrepancy between enrollment and completion. Let’s say you focus, instead, on the stated mission of these companies. Each company states that its mission is access to education. So who is getting that access? Certainly not the millions of elementary and high school students struggling with a crumbling K-12 system in the U.S. Even if these kids have access to computers and broadband at home (which is a big “if”), they don’t necessarily have the skills to teach themselves the material with little or no human interaction.
Educating these kids in the subjects, and with the methods that they need to learn are not directly tied to jobs or expensive credentialing systems — the emerging business models of the biggest players in edtech. These kids are in the thick of the learning bell curve, not the autodidactic wunderkinds taking symbolic systems courses at the age of 12.
Many of the students that we work with at my company Tutorspree fall into this category. They are kids who are still learning to learn. Some are hugely advanced for their age, some need extra help — all want something more than the purely digital options being pushed by media and many government agencies.
These kids and their parents tell us every day that they need a real person to teach them, to learn with them, to react in real time to errors and successes, and to provide the kind of personal warmth and encouragement that computers cannot provide.
The power of people
We’re not the only ones noticing the importance of having real people interact with one another to make education work better. The MOOCs are beginning to hire teaching assistants and tutors to create emotional buy-in and attachment with students.
Sal Khan isn’t pushing for his videos to be the final say in teaching. They are meant as a gateway to unlock significantly higher rates of one-to-one teacher student interaction in the flipped classroom. Codecademy may use a carefully structured system to help people start learning to code, but they also encourage meetups and high school groups to get together to support one another through the really hard stuff.
The media likes to talk about how technology is creating radical shifts in education. Journalists talk about increases in access, tracking, and new mediums for delivery. But none of that is enough.
The real test of edtech is still to come. Companies will have to prove that they are able to actually teach students, not just put lessons in front of them.
We need teachers if we want a system that is effective for the students who really need help, and want real progress.
Follow him on Twitter @Harris.
Filed under: Entrepreneur
We’ve already seen Amabam use the subscription model to help adults pursue a new hobby with monthly learning boxes, so surely the same could be done for kids? genius.box has answered that question, with the aim to get children completing projects related to STEM subjects on a regular basis.
Aimed at children aged eight to 12, the boxes will be themed by each of the four STEM areas – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to reports, the startup has already demonstrated two of the boxes, featuring a ‘kitchen chemistry’ set that gets kids growing crystals and an electronics kit that teaches them how to build an electromagnet to power an LED. The concept has already won second place at the Husky Startup Challenge and once launched, the monthly boxes are set to be sold at around USD 20 each.
genius.box hopes to use regular deliveries to keep kids engaged with subjects that are currently experiencing a lack of students wanting to pursue a career in those industries. Is there an end to the possible applications of the subscription model?
Spotted by: Murray Orange
“It’s time to stop thinking of computer programming as a specialty subject. Schools should respect it…”
“It’s time to stop thinking of computer programming as a specialty subject. Schools should respect it as a fundamental skill.”
– Why High Schools Should Treat Computer Programming Like Algebra – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic (via infoneer-pulse)
Google released a major new education program today that organizes and manages the way teachers push apps, books, and other learning content to student tablets.
Technology changed the way we socialize, find new things to do, get directions, play games, date, work, read news, take pictures, and so much more. But some feel it hasn’t done enough for education. We’ve seen attempts to get new PCs in classrooms, and now there’s a big push for tablets in the hands of every student. But device costs along with theft and content management cause schools to shy away. Google’s Play for Education program may dramatically change all of this.
“When I go visit my kids’ classrooms, it looks pretty much exactly like it did when I went to school,” said Chris Yerga, Google’s engineering director at Google I/O. “Teachers told us that in education, there’s a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical, especially with mobile technology. And then they told us it was Google’s job to fix this.”
He explained that teachers said Google should make an affordable Android tablet, content management tools, and app discovery tools. So Google is starting with the last two.
Google Play for Education is like an app store designed especially for teachers with some powerful management tools built-in. Teachers will be able to visit this app store and search by categories such as age-range and subject matter. If you are trying to teach math to a bunch of first graders, you can plug in those refinements and get back a list of apps made specifically for that group.
Teachers will also be able to see reviews from other teachers. After instructors select an app, Google Play for Education will push it out automatically to all the tablets associated with a defined Google Group of students.
That’s the catch — you’ll need to set up your entire classroom on Google Apps, buy Android tablets for all the students, and create a Google Group with the tablets hooked up. The only real issue here might be cost, as Google Apps are fairly easy to set up and many education institutions are already using them.
Schools are able to load accounts with funds for the app store, so a teacher can automatically deduct from that balance if they wish to license a classroom-amount of paid apps. Teachers will also be able to push out YouTube videos and books in the same way they do apps.
Apple over the last year has put a lot of emphasis on the role of iPads in schools. It has tested a number of different markets, and developers have created some very beautiful apps for interactive books and other learning software. But the program is lacking structure and, of course, iPads are also cost prohibitive for many schools.
Google Play for Education could have the right kind of management capabilities to make Apple step up its game, but only if it’s actually as easy to use as it seems.
The program will be available this fall, but app developers can start submitting apps by this summer.
Educators, we would love to hear your thoughts on whether Google Play for Educations is what you wanted from Google. Send us an e-mail!
Chris Yerda image via Google I/O livestream
Top 10 Engineering College Teams Up With Udacity, AT&T To Offer $6K Master’s Degree In Computer Science, Entirely Online
If there was any question as to Sebastian Thrun and Udacity’s resolve to re-imagine higher education in a more affordable, accessible virtual classroom — or their ability to actually make any real headway among the Ivory Towers of academia — we should probably just go ahead and put that to bed. This morning, Udacity continues to push forward with its plans to bring higher education online — and not just in bits, pieces and homework assignments. Following 2U’s lead, which set the ball rolling by pioneering the approach of partnering with graduate programs to go beyond asynchronous video learning to create custom, accredited full-service web and mobile-compatible graduate degree programs.
To date, 2U has worked with graduate programs in nursing, education, law, business and international, and today, Udacity took the next step — in what could mark an important moment for STEM education — announcing that it has partnered with Georgia Tech to jointly offer an accredited master’s degree in computer science, completely online. Not only that, but thanks to support from AT&T, the program will be offered for less than $7,000. So, really, this could be not just an important moment for STEM, but for MOOCs and online education as a whole.
The other point of note here is that Georgia Tech ain’t no safety school. According to U.S. News’ rankings of the best engineering schools in the U.S., Georgia Tech is tied for fifth place with Carnegie Mellon. So, it looks like Coursera and EdX aren’t the only ones providing online educational experiences with content from elite universities.
Furthermore, tuition (full-time, out of state) for Georgia Tech is $26,860 — which makes Udacity’s online degree look more than a little appealing in comparison. However, while anyone will be able to sign up and take Udacity’s Computer Science courses for free, only those actually enrolled at Georgia Tech will be able to earn credits towards a degree. The companies plan to launch a pilot of the program in the fall of 2014, beginning with a couple hundred students.
As for AT&T, it’s not exactly crystal clear what the company’s role in the partnership is, other than providing what the announcement calls “generous” support. Naturally, of course, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson thinks the partnership has transformative potential. He said:
We believe that high-quality and 100 percent online degrees can be on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings, and that this program could be a blueprint for helping the United States address the shortage of people with STEM degrees, as well as exponentially expand access to computer science education for students around the world.
Again, while the idea itself isn’t new, and Udacity isn’t the first to partner with an elite graduate program to provide quality education and an actual, graduate-level degree to students online, the quality of the academic program (and presumably its content), its focus on Computer Science, combined with its relative affordability and the ability to receive credit and complete a full, graduate-level degree online, is absolutely huge. Sure, the launch is still quite a ways off, which is at once makes the announcement perhaps a little bit premature, but is also evidence that they’re taking the development of this program seriously. No status quo.
This is also refreshing news, because, over the last year, there’s been a huge amount of buzz around massive open online course (MOOC) platforms, particularly around Udacity, Coursera, EdX and 2U, among a few others. With how much play MOOCs have gotten in education and in the media, it’s as if MOOCs are expected to employ some kind of techno-voodoo magic to totally “save” higher education from collapsing under its own weight.
Of course, since online courses are far from being new, some questioned just how innovative, effective (and collaborative) MOOC platforms actually are at the end of the day. And for good reason. Porting a lecture hall to YouTube or putting your professor in a Google Hangout probably won’t end higher education. At least, not on its own.
Is accessibility important? Yes, of course. But even in the traditionally offline world of higher education, “scalable” and “cloud” can only act as stand-ins for real “innovation” for so long before schools will want to see more. There still needs to be substantial proof that MOOC platforms offer a better learning experience (improve outcomes and retention rates), before higher ed simply turns over the keys to the kingdom.
Reservations aside, what Thrun and Udacity have done in a relatively short amount of time is impressive and everyone — not just teachers — should be keeping tabs. In January, Udacity already played a part in a potentially key symbolic moment for higher ed, as California Governor Jerry Brown approved a partnership with San Jose State University to create Udacity-powered, low-cost and lower-division online classes.
This was significant because it was really the first time a MOOC platform has been tapped to build a complete, automated (remedial) class experience online — let alone state-wide at the largest university system in the world.
As of April, the pilot had seen 85 percent retention going into midterms. At time time, EdSurge noted that it’s not the 100 percent retention rate Thrun has boasted about previously, but it’s not a bad start.
In the big picture, it may not seem important, but retention rates are critical for online courses and course platforms. If entire remedial classes are being automated/flipped, they need to be more effective than their offline counterparts. (Un)fortunately, our current education system has set the bar pretty low on this one, which will hopefully make it easy to leap over it.
But, on the other hand, universities have limited resources, and class sizes continue to grow as more and more people go (or return) to universities, community colleges and continuing education programs. Online platforms take the scale issue out of the equation, but droves of students now matriculate with little to no grasp of fundamental concepts, San Jose State Provost and Vice President Ellen Junn told TechCrunch in January.
If technology and online education are going to truly transform education, maintaining the status quo isn’t acceptable, especially if these automated courses replace or curb the need for real, live human teachers. So, not to be party pooper or anything, but while this program has significant implications, it’s still all about quality content/presentation, improving retention, outcomes and ye olde learning experience. Without that, scale and affordability don’t mean quite as much.
The STEAM Carnival is your typical geeked-out carny attraction, with fire, lasers, robots, and LED lights. Just another night at Burning Man or the Maker Faire, right?
But this carnival has a mission: To get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — the STEM disciplines that many educators feel are especially critical — as well as art.
Better yet, it may be coming to a school near you.
STEAM Carnival is the brainchild of two Los Angeles-based engineers and entertainers, Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman, who do business as Two Bit Circus. The pair were involved with Syyn Labs, a collective that produced an enormous, complicated, amazingly fun Rube Goldberg contraption for an OK Go video a couple of years ago. Together, they’ve been spending several years putting on shows with their inventions, which combine LEDs and Arduino chips into interactive entertainment and education experiences. Now they’re about halfway towards a $100,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter, and with 20 days to go, I’m pretty confident they’ll hit that target.
By dropping an A for “art” into STEM, you get STEAM, which is not only a cooler word, but also a more inclusive, all-embracing concept. The STEAM notion comes from John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Once they heard about it, Bushnell and Gradman latched right on.
“As someone with a strong engineering background, I was starting to burn out on engineering, until I discovered I could also make art with it,” said Gradman, during a recent phone interview. ”Discovering that I could use science, tech, engineering, and math to make art transformed my life.”
What’s more, art is suffering from many of the same problems as STEM education is: Lack of funding and the absence of strong champions in many school districts. As a result, it’s hard to get kids excited about it.
The STEAM Carnival hopes to tackle that with a clever, interactive approach to the old-fashioned carnival. A few months before the carnival arrives in town, they’ll send project kits to participating schools. Kits might include parts for children to make musical robots, or perhaps battlebots. Students will spend the next few months building things based on the kits.
Meanwhile, Gradman and Bushnell will be putting the finishing touches on an array of modernized carnival attractions, from ring-the-bottle games with fire effects to a Tesla-coil-enhanced strength test, where instead of a puck ringing a bell after you slam down a sledgehammer, you get to see a blue spark rising up. They’ll load the carnival onto a boxcar and put it on the rails.
Once it arrives in town, the STEAM Carnival will include games and attractions you can play, but it will also include shows that incorporate the kids’ projects.
“You put a bunch of musical robots on stage, and that’s a concert. You put a bunch of combat robots on stage, and it’s a sporting event,” Bushnell told me. (Side note: Bushnell’s father is Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s, who knows a things or two about musical robots. The elder Bushnell is also backing the project.)
With the $100,000 funding, the duo will be able to put on a preview show, ship out kits to selected schools in L.A. and San Francisco this coming Fall, then put on the full carnival in the Spring of 2014, first in L.A., then in San Francisco.
See their Kickstarter video below.
Top photo: A child playing with an interactive display by Two Bit Circus. Source: Two Bit Circus.
Filed under: Business
Learning a language is never easy. One thing that’s usually missing in the way students learn a new language is the ability to use their new skills while talking to a native speaker. LanguageTwin, a startup I met at the Willamette Angel Conference in Corvallis, Ore., last week, aims to do just that. The service brings together language learners for peer-to-peer interactions to give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom while having a conversation or acting out real-life scenarios.
It’s worth noting that this is not a freemium service. LanguageTwin only plans to work with colleges and K-12 schools right now and will charge these schools a $10-$25 fee per term (or a slightly discounted price per year). The idea here is that the service will pair students from two different countries and then allow them to talk to each other over video chat. Right now, the team is focusing on students who want to learn Spanish (with French, German, Mandarin and other languages on the roadmap) and has run a number of tests with 5,000 students from over 100 universities in the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Costa Rica and a number of other countries.
As the name implies, the original idea behind LanguageTwin was to assign a “twin” to every student in the system. Say you are learning Spanish. LanguageTwin would set you up with a student in a Spanish-speaking country who is trying to learn English. The problem with this, as the founders told me, is that it’s not easy to coordinate the schedules of two students living in different parts of the world, and students shouldn’t be penalized if their twin decides to forget about a meeting or turns out to be flaky. The system the team now uses is more flexible than the original scheme and allows users to find new ‘twins’ every time they use the system.
The twist here is that teachers can use the system to assign students to use LanguageTwin for a set number of minutes every day or week. All of the chats are recorded and teachers can play them back at their leisure. Some teachers who have used the system, the company’s co-founder Michael Lucia told me, also pick one random LanguageTwin session from their students in place of an oral exam.
The video chat, which is at the core of the service’s platform, also features text chat capabilities, a translation tool and, most importantly, a folder with assignments and a few ice-breaker questions to get less-structured conversations going. Professors can, of course, upload their own content to the service.
As Lucia told me, it’s this framework around the chats (plus the ability to record them) that makes LanguageTwin very different from just using Skype to start a conversation.