Friday, November 27, 2009

Cyber Monday!

It is so cool to see social networking actually work in a business. Our Cyber Monday promotion at ABCTE is already bringing in more business for us. We are twittering, facebooking, blogging and press releasing to get it out!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tipping Point for Digital Texts - Teacher Approval

At the VSS2009 conference this week someone asked Pearson if they, as a publisher, were really on board with the digital revolution in learning. Of course he answered yes - but also clearly stated that text book approvals at the state level happen every six years basically creating a huge barrier for innovation in the text book arena. At least Texas has begun the process of opening the door to digital textbooks.

So in order for innovation in digital texts to happen, text book approval has to decentralize. When I first started writing this, I was going to advocate for moving it to the district. But even that doesn't make sense as rapidly as technology is changing in education.

We will have true innovation when the teacher decides what text to use. We will truly serve each student when the teacher can pick chapters, or even pages, from the texts they want in order to meet the standards for that particular subject. Then student learning can really be customized. So if teachers know what has to be taught from solid state standards and have access to great digital content, they can put together some amazing lesson plans each year.

Instead, they are stuck with a text book that was approved 5 years ago by a state board that has no idea what is going on each classroom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Classroom Web Tools - Web 2.0

Here at the iNACOL Virtual Schools Symposium and it is THE highest energy education conference I have ever been to. These are the people that will transform education and it shows. Entrepreneurs working closely with outstanding educators with an incredible focus on students.

Yesterday I attended a Web 2.0 session and it was pretty cool. The number of tools available to teachers today is just outstanding. He demonstrated the following which can really bring any class to life:

GoAnimate.com - great way to animate
Xtranormal.com - text to video so cool
The Week in Rap - amazing current events
Moviestorm - 3D video
Wikispaces - great way for students to collaborate
LearnCentral - amazing teaching community

These are great ways to create improved learning – not just using technology for technology sake. And so very cool - -

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Education Technology Fail

The “coolest education map ever” award has to go to the Leaders and Laggards report on education innovation from AEI, Center for American Progress and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce. Besides being very slick, it presents some interesting information on education innovation. It will be really cool to see if the billions spent actually move any of the state grades on innovation.

We care about technology so it is good to some of the states with strong technology in use scoring high. They used four indicators to rate states on technology and assigned a grade. The first was students per high speed Internet connected computer with 3 being the highest grade – so still not all that great. The second was an established virtual school (oh yeah!). The third was computer based assessment for students and the final indicator was requiring teachers to demonstrate technology competence.

Only one technology fail which was Nevada. Sad as the requirements to pass were really low. A lot of states receiving a D including Washington and California - so the tech capitals of the US can’t put tech in their schools. Really sad. Other D states include Utah, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and DC.

Hopefully this is a wake up call to these states and with all the money floating around they can at least get to average. Wow – striving for a C – that just doesn’t feel right.

Note: ABCTE just received a grant to create a course for using technology in the classroom! So give them a call to boost your tech grade.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Distance Learning Week

Apparently it is National Distance Learning Week! A great way to recognize the millions of students in the US who are studying online. Also kind of a nice way to build the excitement for the other online learning group, iNACOL, as they kick off their annual meeting.

I find it interesting in light of this Washington Post article about pain trade associations are feeling this year. Here we have two associations with similar goals in tough economic times. People don't like to talk about it but during the flush times, there was a proliferation of associations for everything. There needs to be a thinning of the herd to bring some reality back into the association world and with travel and training budgets sharply cut, there will be a Darwinian effect very soon.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Learning Management Systems

Things are moving so fast in education technology right now that it is almost impossible to stay on top of everything. Here at ABCTE we just put out an RFP for an LMS - learning management system. We had a demo from one company and the low cost surprised us. So we decided to take a look as it would increase our ability to track our teachers and help us improve customer service to our school districts and our teachers.

We were pretty stunned to get 10 proposals. There are that many companies doing this now. One person told me that LMS is now a commodity and the only way to differentiate is to load it up with add-ons. With this much competition, I am looking forward to seeing what these companies have come up with.

This is an amazing time to be in education with so much technology hitting at the same time. More to come on others we have seen and who wins our RFP for the LMS.