Monday, January 31, 2011

Twitter Book Club: Raymond E. Callahan (1962) Education and the Cult of Efficiency - Ch 10

An American Tragedy in Education

"when all the strands in the story were woven together, it is clear that the essence of the tragedy was in adopting... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The younger men coming into administration, say after 1818, accepted the prevailing conceptions and training as na... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Unfortunately the influence of powerful social movements can never be stopped so quickly and permanently even by v... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Since 1957, for example, superintendents have been under great pressure to emphasize science, mathematics, and for... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"But we are willing to spend money and go into debt, if necessary, without excessive anxiety only for consumer good... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"This condition of private opulence and public squalor has always led to the fall of empires." Raymond E. Callahanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Americans who are concerned about their schools and who understand the future of our free society depends upon the... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"we must realize that there is no easy path to genuine professional competence, A's the medical profession will con... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Job satisfaction is just as important as salary in attracting excellent teachers and there is little job satisfact... than a minute ago via Twittelator

Twitter Book Club: Raymond E. Callahan (1962) Education and the Cult of Efficiency - Ch 9

Efficiency's Progeny

"For despite the fact that school administrators had adopted many business and industrial values and practices and ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"With more children in school for a longer time, and with a public placing increasing demands upon administrators i... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"[In the 1920s] It was true that a business philosophy dominated the country and this meant that schoolmen were fac... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Thus, as early as 1913 one superintendent told his colleagues at the N.E.A. that 'Since the school is maintained a... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"As the material on dusting was being solemnly presented to educators, Hitler was annexing Austria and humiliating ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

Twitter Book Club: Raymond E. Callahan (1962) Education and the Cult of Efficiency - Ch 8

A New Profession Takes Form

"a careful reading of these widely used texts also indicates that Cubberly was not businesslike in the sense of bei... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"In his research Newton had a content analysis made of eighteen textbooks on educational administration. The result... than a minute ago via Twittelator

@anderscj Remind me again what book you're reading/tweeting from?less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

@JSW_EdTech Raymond E. Callahan (1962) Education and the Cult of Efficiencyless than a minute ago via Twittelator

My last tweeted quote should have read Newlon, not Newton. Blasted auto correct.less than a minute ago via Twittelator

"In 1925, while President of the N.E.A. and Superintendent at Denver, [Newlon] had warned his colleagues that 'the ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Later in the speech he told his audience that administrators must be 'students of the social sciences, of all that... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Unfortunately for American education Jesse Newlon's point of view did not prevail. This was clearly illustrated wh... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"What they did was to use the business-industrial analogy to strengthen their position and defend themselves by arg... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"In the past the ability to administer schools was acquired by experience alone; today there is a demand for men wh... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The quick of public interest in education is touched instantly when inquiry penetrates to the question of results ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Much nonsense is uttered as to the desirable qualifications of the superintendent of schools. At the same time it ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The superintendent said Cubberley, was potentially at least 'the most important officer in the employ of any munic... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"True, an unkind critic might have questioned whether the study of the mechanical and financial aspects of educatio... than a minute ago via Twittelator

Twitter Book Club: Raymond E. Callahan (1962) Education and the Cult of Efficiency - Ch 7

Instruction Follows Accounting

"Many school administrators believed, and frequently asserted, that manufacturers, merchants, and bankers made the ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The evidence indicates that these educators (Cubberley & Hines) got what they wanted and school board positions we... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Thus if one school superintendent eliminated the teaching of Greek, or increased the size of his classes, or incre... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"What was surprising was the eager way some administrators embraced and fostered the notion that educators were ser... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Despite the fact that this system not only converted the simplest act (e.g. ordering a box of chalk) into a major,... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The Journal reported that the system, which had been in use for several months, had 'been found to cut down the or... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Although education is not a business and schools are not factories, no reasonable man can deny the advisability of... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Cutting costs and providing an inferior 'product' is not efficient in business or education." Raymond E. Callahanless than a minute ago via Twittelator

The Real Disruptive Innovation - Presentation Slidedeck & Questions

I'll be presenting two sessions later this month (February 18th) at the Minnesota Online Educator's Association (MNOLA) conference. One of them is a session I call "The Real Disruptive Innovation" which questions whether Clayton Christensen, Mike Horn, and Curtis Johnson are right in their assessment that the disruptive innovation in education is individualized instruction. Or rather, whether it is the individualization done by the teacher or that done by the student through choice that is innovative and disruptive. I hope in this presentation to raise questions and spark discussion weaving in ideas of the theory of disruptive innovation in schools, the purpose of school, and how to build community and capitalize on student interests.

Here is my slide deck for this talk:

So, if families and students are not choosing online schooling for individualized learning, what are they choosing online schools for?

If the purpose a family or student chooses your school is something other than individualized instruction, should the school work to address this/these reasons?

If a student is choosing online schooling so they can let other interests take priority over school, how do you as a teacher draw upon those other priorities to improve the quality of that student's schooling?

What do you think? I would love to share your input at my presentation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The health benefits of low hanging fruit.

I have a confession to make. When it comes to cell phones and driving I am not always the best role model. I have an eighty minute commute to and from work and most of that time is spent on a rural highway. When driving conditions are good I often, even though when I bought my current phone I said I wouldn't...tweet. I know, I know, it is bad for me, it's not safe, I need to pay attention to the road, etc. etc.

One of the other dangers of tweeting from my phone is the limitation it puts on my ability to communicate. I run the risk of posting something or getting into a conversation that really requires a longer format to make myself understood by others. I ran into this problem today with this tweet:

@garystager @djakes I'm thinking sometimes eating the low-hanging fruit is good for you.less than a minute ago via Mobile Web

to which Jakes replied:

@anderscj Not sure what you mean.less than a minute ago via web

I believe I owe David an Gary an explanation.

"Low hanging fruit" is a reference to a part of Gary Stager's talk from Tuesday with Steve Hargadon on his Future of Education series. In that talk Stager describes the "edtech" stuff regarding Web 2.0 as "low hanging fruit" and calls for educators to go beyond that and discover how technology can truly have a transformational impact on learning and schools (Gary, I am with you on this). He then announced his new project, The Daily Papert, which attempts to draw attention to some of the fruit higher up on the tree.

In the car on my way home I began to reflect on Gary's talk and started to think back to two blog posts I read this week: David Jakes' post Change Change and Deven Black's post The Worst Words in Education, and to the State of the Union Address Obama gave on Tuesday.

In his post, Black does a wonderful job of describing the problem we have with our nation's current mindset regarding education and how it is harmful for children. That same mindset we all heard Tuesday night immediately following Stager's talk when the president spent a considerable portion of his state of the union speech on education. The wrong-headed conception of education as something that is competitive and that, as Gary pointed out, it is "a scarce resource" was clearly on display. This view of education and schooling is clear from the namesake of programs like Race to the Top and from the following statements given Tuesday:

If we want to win the future—if we want innovation to produce jobs in America—then we also have to win the race to educate our kids. #SOTUless than a minute ago via HootSuite


"We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated but the winner of the science fair"less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

And as Heidi from New Jersey pointed out from the speech,

this is all particularly important and relevant bc reformers cite models of military as models for education. Teachers are "Nation builders"less than a minute ago via web

All of which beautifully describes the situation we are up against that David Jakes responds/reacts to in his post. That which creates conditions and mandates that "are real and you have to respond." In that post Jakes also explains:

If you face these initiatives, you don’t really worry about Facebook, you don’t worry about social media, you don’t worry about the “conversation,” and you certainly could care less about a disjointed, abstract set of tweets on a Tuesday night in Twitter, all centered around a hashtag.

You don’t even have time for listening to presentations from a “reform” conference. That’s on a Saturday, and I think I’ll spend it with my family, thank you very much. I already know about social bookmarking.

Both Jakes and Stager are addressing the same issue albeit in rather different ways. And both are classifying things like the Reform Symposium and the #edchat conversations that happen as "low hanging fruit." I too have felt this frustration as I believe anyone who has had a deeper experience with how technology can change the nature of learning both for themselves and for their students. I even wrote about it last summer: #edchat You Ain't Got No Pancake Mix!

Today Gary announced his new project, The Daily Papert, and solicited people to send him their favorite Seymour Papert quotes. While not necessarily my favorite, one that has stuck with me because I believe it addresses this issue perfectly comes from chapter 3 of The Children's Machine:

"From an administrator's point of view, it made more sense to put the computers together in one room--misleadingly named "computer lab"--under the control of a specialized computer teacher. Now all the children could come together and study computers for an hour a week. By an inexorable logic the next step was to introduce a curriculum for the computer. Thus, little by little, the subversive features of the computer were eroded away."
That erosion has so fully damaged our school system that today even the "low hanging fruit" has a subversive effect. At the end of the day, after being exhausted and beaten down by the mandates and initiatives forced upon teachers that Jakes and Black describe, the low hanging fruit is often all there is energy left to reach. I know we should strive for more and we absolutely should set higher expectations than just learning about the latest web 2.0 tool but low hanging fruit is still fruit and fruit is still good for you. And, eating the low-hanging fruit will likely make people hungry for what is a little harder to reach.

So, while driving and away from access to a more dynamic way of expressing my thoughts, this is what was going through my head when I posted that tweet about low-hanging fruit.

Is it "online learning" or "online schooling?"

I work part time for an online k-12 school. I also often teach graduate school courses in online or blended format. I have no problem with online schools, I think they are a great option to have but the phrase "online learning" has never really set well with me even though I have often used it.

What bothers me about "online learning" is strictly a nit picky issue. Is learning really different online than off? How does the cognitive act of learning differ for the self online as opposed face-to-face or self-guided with non-connected stimuli? I doubt it's difference is very significant yet we use the term "online learning" to describe something supposedly very different than what happens in other learning environments.

Pay emphasis to the content (online content), environment (online learning environment), the institution (online school), or anything else that really is different but I really do not think we have sufficient ground to claim that the act of learning is significantly different enough when online to use the phrase if we are refering to the learning of an individual.

However, if we take this term and consider how it might be more accurately used we end up with it describing some form of artificial intelligence. If this is what we mean by "online learning" that by connecting people, content, and sensory input devices together in a way where some kind of collective intelligence is emerging (as in the theory of Connectivism) or by some miracle a new life emerges out of these connections then the term "online learning" has a sufficient meaning. However, this is not how it is usually used. In fact I rarely hear people use the phrase to describe what I have just proposed. Instead, "online learning" is usually used as a misplaced synonym for "online schooling." I suspect the common use of the term stems from a general misconception that schooling and education are the same thing and that schooling is necessarily about learning. That is the ideal and it is what we should strive for but the reality is that they are different. Therefore, I have to add "online learning" to my list of words I am beginning to have a real problem with.

This post is tenth in my "war on words" series. Other terms in this series are: "best practices," "child-centered," "value added," accountability, "data-driven decisions," "learning objectives," "21st Century," "personalized learning," and "accomplishment/achievement."

Weekly Tech Tip - "Hey, look over there!"

Weekly Tech Tip:

These past couple weeks there has been a flood of fantastic free online professional development resources for educators published. Rather than create my own Weekly Tech Tip this week I would like to point your attention to a broad range of high quality and valuable online professional development resources. With both live and interactive and recorded workshops, sessions, and discussions on a broad variety of topics related to education there is bound to be something here that addresses the unique needs of each educator.

Live Events:
  • January 28–30, 2011 - EduCon 2.3 - EduCon is an unConference held annually at the Science and Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. I am profoundly jealous and regretful that I have yet to be able to attend. The unConference format means that people don't go to this event to hear keynotes and attend sessions, they go to attend and participate in conversations about education. The event is extremely popular and draws some really awesome people. They stream all their conversation sessions online via Elluminate and most do their best to be interactive both with their face-to-face guests and their online guests.
  • Ongoing Weekly - The Future of Education- Each week Steve Hargadon hosts a conversation with a leading voice in education in Elluminate. These sessions are live and very interactive.
  • The Future of Education - Usually not more than one day following the session Steve Hargadon posts a recording of the sessions in this series both as Elluminate recordings and as podcasts.
  • Reform Symposium Archives - The Reform Symposium is a live online conference but all their sessions have been recorded and are available to watch online for free. These are sessions presented mostly by teachers about innovative and creative uses of technology in the classroom.
Video Festival:

Link Stew:

Blog Carnival:
Retweetable Tweets:

this is all particularly important and relevant bc reformers cite models of military as models for education. Teachers are "Nation builders"less than a minute ago via web

Reminder: Only dead fish go with the flow.less than a minute ago via web

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Declaring the end of major operations of "Student Achievement"

Steve Johnson left a comment a few days ago on Doug Johnson's blog post about this "War on Words" series I am doing that addresses a term I have been meaning to get to on this list but wasn't quite sure how to frame it. Steve writes:
I'll offer another that I think has been twisted beyond recognition lately: achievement. Used to be that achievement meant you actually....achieved something.
Steve's comment got me reflecting on just what has become of the term "Achievement" and how it might have come to change meaning. When I was growing up an achievement was something that was real special. The term was reserved for attaining high levels of something. Becoming an Eagle Scout was a real achievement, getting into your first choice college was a real achievement, winning the spelling bee was a real achievement (ok, this one is questionable), building your own house or rebuilding an engine for a classic car was a real achievement, performing a challenging piece of music in front of a large audience was a real achievement, etc. But today in education the term is most commonly used to describe scores on basic skills tests. "Student achievement" has become synonymous with mastering basic proficiencies.

Unlike the other terms I've addressed in this series so far whose meanings were changed through repetitive misuse over time I think I might be able to pinpoint precisely where this one's meaning was degraded. Now, this is just a hypothesis and I really have not researched this so please do not take this as fact but just an idea to consider. To pinpoint just where this term lost it's value we have to understand it's conceptual relationship to another term that has become equally problematic: "Accomplishment."

The verb forms of these two words are what have always separated them conceptually. To accomplish something is to finish it and to achieve something is to reach a certain rank in doing so. But, the noun forms have always been nearly identical. "Achievement" and "Accomplishment" are extremely closely related ideas. They both describe what a person has done. Therefore, to do something that defaces the meaning of one term could easily have a residual effect on the other.

When I was in high school, college, and the first few years of my teaching career I don't remember "Student Achievement" as having the same association with basic skills tests as it does today. It really has only been sometime within this past decade that this has happened. And, what I propose is that this deflation occurred single-handedly in an event not at all related to educational discourse and by a prominent U.S. figure who was famous for his butchering of the English language. When George W. Bush landed on that air craft carrier flying the banner "Mission Accomplished" declaring the end of major operations in a war that was waged arguably for reasons stemming from a poor "data-driven decision," and leaving U.S. troops to fight for many years afterwords the same battle that was implied was "Accomplished" it degraded the term forever. Now anything could be legitimately called an accomplishment, even things that didn't end well.

It was around that same time that I started hearing the term "Student Achievement" to refer to the accomplishment of the mastery of basic skills. Interesting, W. was also the president who made famous the phrase, "soft bigotry of low expectations." Draw your own conclusions.

This post is ninth in my "war on words" series. Other terms in this series are: "best practices," "child-centered," "value added," accountability, "data-driven decisions," "learning objectives," "21st Century," and "personalized learning."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who is learning personalized for?

This is a hard term for me to included in my ongoing list of problematic terms simply because I have been such a supporter of the concept it represents. Nonetheless, I fear that "personalized learning" is a flawed term. It is flawed not because the idea of crafting a plan with the educational and motivational needs of an individual in mind is a bad idea, it is the idea that what is being personalized is learning. Let me explain.

Aside from the popular theory that learning is social (which I a little more than partially buy into), isn't for the individual and their acquisition of new understandings really always a personal endeavor? Can one person really personalize the learning of someone else? Or can this only be done by the individual? And, how can such an act be done consciously without foreknowledge of the content of said learning? Don't I personalize my learning when I choose what books to read, which videos to watch, what classes to take, or what places to go for myself? If these things are done for me is what the person putting together my agenda doing really personalizing my learning or are they personalizing my agenda? Isn't it up to me as a learner to decide whether or not to accept that agenda?

Don't get me wrong, I know there are times when a person really needs, and sometimes will willingly submit to, a plan laid out for them. But, as far as education goes, that custom-made plan is not personalized learning, it is really a customized agenda. For there to really be personalized learning the learner has to have the agency to decide what it is that they are doing, what it is they are paying attention to, what it is that they are busying their mental faculties with. In fact, no matter what kind of path we lay down for the learner, be it customized, individualized, standardized, or scripted they will always personalize their own learning because no teacher, curriculum developer, lecturer, or programmer can dictate the course of the integral organ involved in the process of learning. No one can grab the attention of a learner without their choice to pay attention, no one can make a learner think without the learner choosing to do so, no one can make someone reflect on something without the learner choosing to reflect on their own, and unless you employ the kind of inhumane contraption used in the film A Clockwork Orange no one can force another to open their eyes and see something they do not choose to.

Regardless of posters hung in some schools stating that "failure is not an option," failure is always an option. It is always a choice. So is learning. We choose what we pay attention to and in so doing we personalize our own learning. We also personalize our own learning through differing experiences. Every student comes to a classroom with different experiences, memories, and backgrounds. These things are what makeup a person's prior knowledge and that prior knowledge will further act to personalize the learning of students in any classroom. We often learn different things from the same stimuli because we all approach it with different background knowledge and therefore our learning is always personalized.

We really need a new term to describe what we mean when we say "personalized learning."

This post is eight in my "war on words" series. Other terms in this series are: "best practices," "child-centered," "value added," accountability, "data-driven decisions," "learning objectives," and "21st Century."

New Additions to the Digital Backpack

  • - Map and historical image mashup (both for web and iPhone)
  • - Explore the world through webcams
  • - Online virtual planetarium
  • - Search engine that searches deeper than most common search engines go.
  • - Searches over 70,000+ searchable databases and specialty search engines
  • - Search Scholarly Databases and Resources
  • - Travel Film Archive - Huge collection of vintage travel films.
  • - Upload a picture file and this tool generates hexadecimal color codes that match it.
  • - Archives your digital history in an interactive timeline
  • - Blog with a built in count-down timer meant for blogs about an upcoming event.
  • - a group storytelling game.
  • collaborative environment where anyone can pick up a narrative thread and weave a prequel or sequel.
  • - Choose your own adventure stories that you can add to and change with your own writing.
  • - RSS Search Engine
  • - RSS Search Engine
  • Search 4 RSS - RSS Search Engine
  • - QR Code Creator
  • - Blog Publishing platform
  • - Blog Publishing platform
  • - Online Sketchpad/Paint Program
  • - Create simple video chatrooms for web conferences
  • - Search and read any NYTimes article dating back to their first issue.
  • - Upload a lot of photos and generate a blindingly fast video slideshow.
  • - Surf the web simultaneously with someone else.
Twitter Apps:
  • - Sort and organize the people you follow on Twitter
  • - real-time twitter wall for conferences, events, cafe and classrooms.
  • - Search beyond Twitter's history
  • - Fun way to display a Twitter stream.
  • - This tool displays one tweet at a time from a search stream really big on your screen.
  • - share files on Twitter