Changing Education through VR

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Have you ever tried to teach plate tectonics to kids? I have. I used lots of different ways to explain it. Children would yawn. I used movies, I used my hands to simulate the movement of the plates.. I used movies.

I went to the Keck Hall of Science at the Smithsonian and there was Science on a Sphere.I wanted to sit near the globe and see the program , but the kids were not moving. They sat as if they were enraptured watching the display on the globe. Wow, I thought. And then they bounced to the exhibit but many sat and sat and looked and looked.

I used to try to share this information, but ..I was never sure that kids understood it.

From the deepest ocean trench to the tallest mountain, plate tectonics explains the features and movement of Earth’s surface in the present and the past.

Plate tectonics is the theory that Earth’s outer shell is divided into several plates that glide over the mantle, the rocky inner layer above the core. The plates act like a hard and rigid shell compared to Earth’s mantle. This strong outer layer is called the lithosphere

That is how you know technology works.

This is the Science on a Sphere installation in the new Global Ocean Systems exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History. The sphere uses four projectors to wrap images around a six-foot diameter sphere.  There were four short videos on ocean system science that seemed to hold the audience’s attention. The small theater containing the sphere is a beautiful space – somewhat intimate but still connected to the broader exhibit. Lots of luck getting kids to move so you can sit down under the globe.iu

It is a beautiful learning space.cur

The exhibit answers these questions in visualization.
What best describes the ocean?
Ever-moving body of water?
Dramatic, yet hidden and slowly changing landscape?
Source of at least half of Earth’s oxygen?
Chemical mix of every element?
The ocean is all this and more.

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The multi-media experience—“Science on a Sphere”—includes four programs that highlight complex aspects of the ocean.

This huge, interconnected system comes to life on a six-foot sphere at the center of the Global Ocean Systems gallery. The multi-media experience includes six programs that highlight complex aspects of the ocean. Data from global ocean observations play on the sphere’s surface, providing a space-age perspective on the ocean.
ocean.si.edu/ocean_hall/Galleries/global_ocean_systems.html
Immersive , virtual reality based programs like this are yours to share on the desktop now. You can do a flat screen projection of this program.

Science on a Sphere Explorer is now available for download.

It is a program that you can load onto a PC or Mac, and then manipulate a 3-D view of the earth with the same kinds of weather, geological, environmental, geographical and astronomical visualizations, some with interactive displays, that are used on the spheres in museums around the world. Articles about the new program do alert us that it is a big download (it’ll require around 15 GB on your hard drive), so if you’re interested do make sure there’s plenty of space on your system.

I’ve included links here to a brief news article about the program, which includes several still and animated examples of the kinds of data you can display with it, and to NOAA’s “SOS Explorer” home page, where there’s more info and a link to download and install the program.

For folks who got super-excited when Google Earth came out, here’s another 3-D model of the world with similarly awesome potential. It’s called the Science on a Sphere Explorer, and it lets you view tons of animated planetary data, from the age of the sea floor to the airborne migration of CO2 to hurricane tracks dating back to 1950.

Science on a Sphere is a NOAA tool that projects different layers on a huge ball, creating a virtual earth you can walk around in museums and classrooms. It’s now available as a desktop program for Windows and Mac, so you can probe natural (and unnatural) phenomena from home in popping, 1920×1080 resolution. Be warned it’s a huge download that eats up to 15 gigs of hard-drive space, though those willing to be patient will reap fantastic rewards.

Here are a few of the ways you can explore the planet. Note you can rotate the screen to find and zoom in on any spot on earth. This is the basic Blue Marble view with real-time clouds—peep all those hurricanes in the Pacific:

Go here to see all of these remarkable graphics.
Hurricane tracks from 1950 to 2005 color-coded by strength, red being the strongest and blue being tropical storms and depressions:
Density of cropland:
The atmospheric transport in 2006 of various aerosols like dust (red-orange), carbon (green), sulfates (white), and sea salt (blue):
Satellites and space trash circling earth (this one’s really fun to zoom in and out of):

A nearly real-time map of earthquakes:d7dcde951

Need more?

The educational material created to support SOS is available here, including scripts, lessons plans, and evaluations.

 

 

Virtual , or Real..Augmenting Learning

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Learning has new ways of introducing ideas and ideational scaffolding. Virtual reality is one way of changing the learning.

“virtual reality”
noun
Simple Definition of virtual reality

: an artificial world that consists of images and sounds created by a computer and that is affected by the actions of a person who is experiencing it.

The internet of things renders this simple definition to be limited.

Here is a Virtual Reality Site that gives nuances to the definition. We will start with the definition and then go from the research to simple projects.

“The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.”

“We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.”

“Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.”

So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.

At the University of Illinois, I encountered , the Cave.

The Cave

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This shows the hardware. The CAVE was immersive.

The term “CAVE” refers to any virtual reality system that uses multiple walls with multiple projectors to immerse users in a virtual world. The first CAVE was built in 1992 as a method of showing of scientific visualizations. Now, many universities have their own CAVE systems. The CAVE is used for visualizing data, for demonstrating 3D environments, and for virtually testing component parts of newly developed engineering

. The examples I saw were one walking tour of Florence, a Roller Coaster Ride, a Walk in a Garden, and a program that shows children how to cross a street. There was also a farm scene but what I remember about that was touching a flower and hearing a bee coming at me. That was fun.

Another iteration of it was the “Cube”

You can explore some projects of the cube online at this site.

The ISL Cube is an immersive, stereo-capable (true 3-D) visualization chamber manufactured by TAN Projektionstechnologie of Dusseldorf, Germany.

It is located in a specially-constructed wing of the ISL building. The six surfaces of the Cube are 3-meter-square acrylic panels coated with a dark rear-projection screen material. The walls are 10mm thick and the floor and ceiling are 35mm thick. The front wall slides open to permit access and closes completely to ensure immersion of the user in the space.

You can’t take this example home, but it is amazing to explore. There are high school installations of the cube.

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At Wayne City High School in downstate Illinois, the students have downloaded the Syzygy source code and are developing Cube applications in their school’s computer lab. In 2003, they coded a visualization of the dynamics of the lorenz attractor.

But that is high level immersion. As a school teacher I could just visit and hope to be invited to learn at the University of Illinois. It was a great introduction to VR.

The Internet of Things, IOT has some examples to share. It did not matter that I knew about these things, I had no tools to share them with students except through NASA and the University of Illinois . Here is the video of the Internet of Things.

The ultimate gift is this online link to ESRI

Instructional Materials

A variety of subject-focused, standards-based instructional materials is available to enhance inquiry-based learning with students. All activities are free and completely online. The instructional materials require no installations or logins and are device neutral.

– See more at: http://www.esri.com/connected#sthash.acu6xMIF.dpuf

This is the first of a two page sharing.

 

Creating Opportunity for All

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 CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. By some estimates, just one quarter of all the K-12 schools in the United States offer CS with programming and coding, and only 28 states allow CS courses to count towards high-school graduation, even as other advanced economies are making CS available for all of their students. The White House aims to change that. There is a new initiative.

Why?

The Opportunity

Providing access to CS is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity. Last year, there were over 600,000 tech jobs open across the United States, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in CS-related fields. The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals, and the private sector needs many more. CS is not only important for the tech sector, but also for a growing number of industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services, that are using software to transform their products and services. In fact, more than two-thirds of all tech jobs are outside the tech sector.

How Do We Prepare Students? Teachers ? The Community?

One of the problems is the lack of access, interest and the knowledge of computational thinking and learning and math. There also has been a limited supply of well trained teachers for all. Most of us are aware that there are teachers in rural, urban, tribal, minority based poor communities who don’t have a computer teacher anywhere near a school. There may be teachers who are available in after school program. The Coding week also gives some impetus to making a change but sadly , it may be only for that week. It is an excellent start. It is a way to get things rolling.

Computational thinking and cyber learning and math… we must start at the lower levels to be able to graduate those with the skills that they will need to meet a high school computer teacher.

Coding?Coding in the Classroom: What is Coding and Why is it so Important?

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Computational Thinking?
“Computational Thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent.”

Cuny, Snyder, Wing

Say it again? What was that?

Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. To flourish in today’s world, computational thinking has to be a fundamental part of the way people think and understand the world.

Computational thinking means creating and making use of different levels of abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.

Computational thinking means thinking algorithmically and with the ability to apply mathematical concepts such as induction to develop more efficient, fair, and secure solutions.

Computational thinking means understanding the consequences of scale, not only for reasons of efficiency but also for economic and social reasons.

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There have been people working in this field for a very long time with limited success.  One must thank people like Henry Neeman, R.N. Panoff , Concord.org and those who sought to broaden engagement to all with limited resources. Scott Lathrop has certainly impacted broadening engagement.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement being led by parents, teachers, states, districts, and the private sector to expand CS education. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative builds on these efforts by:

Providing $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million directly for districts in his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. The funding will allow more states and districts to offer hands-on CS courses across all of their public high schools, get students involved early by creating high-quality CS learning opportunities in elementary and middle schools, expand overall access to rigorous science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework, and ensure all students have the chance to participate, including girls and underrepresented minorities.
Starting the effort this year, with more than $135 million in investments by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train CS teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering CS education in schools. The agencies will make these investments over five years using existing funds.

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Early exposure and interest

Calling on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved. Today, Delaware, Hawaii and more than 30 school districts are committing to expand CS opportunities; Cartoon Network, Google and Salesforce.org are announcing more than $60 million in new philanthropic investments, and Microsoft is announcing a fifty-state campaign to expand CS; and Code.org is announcing plans to offer CS training to an additional 25,000 teachers this year.

We still need parents and the communities to grasp the important of this project and to sign on. The initiatives mean nothing if schools don’t step up to the challenge. Has your school accepted Connect.Ed?IMG_0078

Kudos to Rafranz Davis.. Opening the Conversation

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A must read if you are a minority in education is to read

The Missing Voices in EdTech: Bringing Diversity Into EdTech 

 

The real question is who is gating the inclusion of diverse educational leaders in technology?And why?

Martin Luther King Jr.
“But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world – wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.

We must work passionately and indefatigably to bridge the gulf between our scientific progress and our moral progress. One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Man without identity programing in technology enviroment with cy

This is an important book. It may be that the struggle of those of us who are minorities and leaders in education has gone on without the knowledge of the general public. We are missing by design. On his resignation from the Dept. of Education, Dr. Richard Culatta shot a parting shot sharing his concern about digital equity. Some of what he said

“Yes, students can learn without them. Yes, it’s possible to do great teaching without a digital device. Yes, going overboard with computers is a real and pressing problem. But kids who are forced to make do with decade-old computers and slow Internet networks aren’t growing up in an environment that will spark an interest in computers. That matters.”

                                              Illustrating Now . and Then
Sadly, many children are left outside of the loop of Ed Tech. Many have never purposefully
used technology. Rural, urban, tribal, distant and poor groups including many types of minorities are not being included in the use of technology. Many of us who are minorities have tried to intervene to educate teachers and to involve communities.
There are advisory boards, and influencers, and politicians who can make things happen.
What would happen if we focused on content in education? Just a thought.

PIONEERING DIVERSITY

Early in the Ed Tech world, Dr. Frank Withrow and Jennelle Leonard helped teachers to explore the uses of technology. He spoke of inclusion for all.
Dr. Withrow was the Executive Director of Presidents Johnson and Nixon’s Presidential National Committee for the Handicapped and was the Chief Technologist for the US Department of Education for a number of years.

Frank Withrow asked ,”How can we change the educational system? What is the Challenge and Charge?

1. Enlist media as an agent of change.
2. Develop town meetings across the nation that explore and foster better learning environments.
3. Recruit corporate support for this campaign.
4. Create a public relations campaign for better learning environments
5. Develop a consortium of national associations
6. Establish in USED an Assistant Secretary for Reform in the Digital Age
The USA should lead the world in education. The greatest resource for peace in the world is an educated population.  In 1990 161 nations at Jomtiem, Thailand agreed to at least six years of education for all children around the world.
Why not make this a reality? ”

Education for All
”    We fall short of our mission if we fail to include all children in our universal learning systems. The United States of America pioneered the concept of universal education for all children.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s we opened a new high school almost every day across this nation.  Horace Mann established that public schools benefit all people within a society; therefore all people should share in the costs of public education.  Not only has the USA created a great K-12 education system we developed under the federal land grant college program a network of outstanding higher education opportunities for all that can qualify.  Too often we separate K-12 from higher education but in reality the system is one from preschool to graduate school. ”

“The struggle for universal education has not been easy. Each generation has had to fight for the right to enter the schoolhouse door.  For years many children of color were provided separate and unequal educations.  It was not until 1954 that the Supreme Court in its most important decision unanimously struck down segregated schools. Unfortunately, there are those who still fight this decision and send their children to charter, church and/or private schools.”

       We do not like to admit our racial biases but they remain. Dr. Frank Withrow

Here is a way to get there for teachers.

Tpack-contexts

Jennelle Leonard. Pioneer

Jenelle Leonard served nearly a year and a half (1997-1998) as an Expert Consultant at the U. S. Department of Education in the Office of Educational Technology. She consulted and advised on issues related to the development and implementation of technology initiatives and national goals, such as professional development, telecommunications technologies, curriculum integration, and instructional applications. She participated in developing long-range, short-term plans, and strategies for implementing Department programs and initiatives including the evaluation of the effect and impact of the use technology in instruction.

Jenelle Leonard has held supervisory and technology related positions in Prince William County Public Schools, Manassas, VA, at BDM Education Technologies Group, a K-12 systems integrator and consulting company, Center for Instructional Technology and Training in the District of Columbia Public Schools and at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The TEA position provided her the opportunity to work with over a thousand school districts to implement the state’s Technology Initiatives as mandated by the Texas Legislature.

Jenelle Leonard has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator. She has been a public school teacher and administrator, technology implementation and training consultant, college professor, and a regional and state education department administrator.

Her background also includes designing and developing graduate-level instructional technology courses, technology and software procurement and installation oversight in over 400 hundred schools, and software development. Additionally, she has served on numerous technology advisory boards, and served as a contributing editor for an educational technology magazine. Her most important digital inclusion work in my eyes was this.

 

Jenelle Leonard served at the U.S. Department of Education as Leader of the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Program (TICG). In addition to managing the TICG Program, which included developing national guideline materials and policies, reviewing and issuing grants, program monitoring, and program evaluation, she served as an agency expert and authoritative consultant, and provided leadership and guidance within Department of Education as well as to State, and local organizations, institutions, and agencies.

She was in a position to understand the challenge of providing for all.All together

“There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today . . . that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation . . . . Now, whenever anything new comes into history it brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. . . . [T]he geographical oneness of this age has come into being to a large extent through modern man’s scientific ingenuity. Modern man through his scientific genius has been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. . . . Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this.”

That was Rev. Martin Luther King, March 31, 1968.

There has been great political change. The revolution in education for all is still to come.

 

 

digital age

 

Larry Irving  when at NTIA,helped us to understand this problem with the initiation of the idea of the E-rate.

That helps to provide the technology architecture and learning landscape that is needed.

He further said,” Our efforts are needed in at least three areas: what I call “access,” “aptitude,” and “attitude.” It’s a triple-A plan, and we need to begin work in each of these areas immediately if our students are going to win straight As in technological literacy.

 

StarStuff, StarWars, StarPupils

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A friend recently posted a picture of her boy, reading. He was invited by the movie “Star Wars” to read. I loved it seeing that science fiction, the story, has become of interest to students. The Challenger Center , NASA and The Planetary Society have resources to share.

I would start using the Star Wars coding. This is the link, with choices of language and maybe later a bunch of video films. It is fun to build your own game.

The Challenger Center is located in various geographical areas. The curriculum is awesome. I like to teach the curriculum pieces that feature Mars. The movie, The Martian is of interest too, to build on interest. In case you have not seen it , this is a quick synopsis.

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission. It’s a story.

Build your own Moon

An online game that allows players to build their own moon and sculpt its features has won big praise in science art competition.

The game, called “Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME,” measures how and when players learn as they discover more about how the Earth’s moon formed and, by extension, the solar system. It received an honorable mention in the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, the journal Science announced today (Jan. 31).

As players experiment with the game, they learn more about one of the easiest heavenly bodies they can study, Selene developers said.

Here is the game.

http://selene.cet.edu/default.aspx?page=Selene

Group Activities?

As the students explores there are these other sets of information. The Mars Survival Kit 

The kit is for lower grades, …and then there is Marsville . This was so fascinating , a principal who was not in love with hands on science, .. could not resist and joined us in exploring building Marsville. What is Marsville?

Marsville (Grades 5-6) challenges students to create a colony of habitats as they prepare for a simulated mission to Mars.  Academic content including mathematics, science, engineering, communication and the arts is incorporated into a series of individual and group activities as students work through a series of tasks to solve specific biological and social problems in order to design life support systems.

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A Marsville Village.

This is project based learning. You can add it as a special activity to your curriculum.I like the innovation , the problem solving and the building of habitats. I taught it as a Gifted and Talented unit, but the students decided to share it with the neighborhood. It is a fun  learning activity.315827867_432c1f761b_o

During Marsville Link-Up Day, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are emphasized during the final culminating activity where students physically create their Marsville Habitat.  The crews convene at “Mars” (hosting NJ colleges and/or schools) wearing their uniforms and packing lunches according to specific guidelines.  Teams work within their habitat to cooperatively erect their “bubble” which is made of construction plastic and duct tape and inflated by the air pressure from a floor fan.  Team members share their life systems with other team members within their habitat along with solutions to a crisis to their colony and then, complete a Celestial Questial traveling to other habitats to learn how those life systems operate.  Finally, the teams end the day completing their mission logs and receiving “Astronaut-Candidate” certificates of recognition for their efforts.

If this seems too daunting to you , and you just want to please and have an individual student learn. You can have a student construct a moon habitat.

If you never studied space science education, you can start with students here.

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Mars City Alpha is a upper grade event that is great to do, if you have a class to do it with.

 

Ways to Integrate The Topic Of Mars In Your Classroom ( from NASA)

Use a Mars Mission as a Current Event
Typically, the information sources for current events are printed materials, television, radio, and the Web. Occasionally, teachers are able to schedule presentations by people familiar with or involved in an event, and sometimes students can conduct interviews with such people. Formats to share information include bulletin boards, oral reports, student reports, and current event notebooks. Each of these methods involves students in different ways and at different levels of intensity. Below are several ways the Pathfinder mission could be used in a current events context:

  • The mission’s data and images will be used for decades by scientists researching Mars. Check newspapers and magazines for articles on the science resulting from their work.
  • There is an enormous amount of information about the mission the Pathfinder Web site, everything from the people involved to the current weather conditions on Mars to the latest results based on Pathfinder data and images to the latest images themselves. The Web site will also link you to other sites related to the mission.
  • Shows about Mars air on television or radio, and NASA’s cable and satellite channel, NASA Select, has frequent updates about its various missions. Students can take notes on a show and prepare a report based on the information presented.
  • A bulletin board is a convenient way to organize and prominently display information. You might organize a bulletin board by topics such as:
Mars Pathfinder
Life on Mars
Robotics
Mars Global Surveyor
Water on Mars
Questions About Mars
Other Space Missions
Human Missions to Mars
Future Missions to Mars

 

SOURCE: http://mars.nasa.gov/education/modules/webpages/integrationideas.htm

 

I have done all of these things.So can you!!

I was a Challenger Center Teacher.

My last visit was to the Manea Kea Visitor Center.

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Invisible Students

 

Students at SITE

This article made me think of all of the people in education who have muted voices or no voices at all. It is probably because they don’t have technology, training, money, or time to make the difference that students need. They also can’t answer the experts , or share their sorrows in education. I think of them often. When I propose a workshop or a symposium, people start to tell me about the latest , hottest trend in education. Invisible students and teachers have no power. Even visible bad assed teachers can be shut out of the conversation and shut up.

Why are teachers cloaked in invisibility? Perhaps because we only ask the professors about research and not the working teachers. There are teachers and students in the world, in the US who are still not connected, and the way to get connected in their communities is difficult to find. We talk about the Internet of Things, and they have hardly the understanding of the uses of technology that are beneficial to them. I was told that sponsors don’t really care about digital equity, I don’t believe that.

I think it is difficult to walk in the shoes of those who work in rural, distant, urban, multilingual , and minority areas, but the work is necessary to lift all boats.

Teachers?

The public perception of the job is one thing. Being a good teacher is hard work.

The recent onslaught of attacks on teachers makes some of us like turtles. We withdraw and do our magic in the classroom as we can with what we have. The attacks make us insecure, and gives us feelings of unworthiness, sadness. Joy in the eyes of a child helps to take away the pain, or the discovery that some foundation, some credible agency understands how you feel makes for a quiet smile.

I like it that Richard Cullatta resigned and was not shy in his parting shots. The article is one that most people will never see or understand. But we in tribal. rural, distant, urban, and poor, the communities of those without the access, resources, savvy grant writers, technology trained teachers, and community support know exactly what he is talking about.

In his final public remarks as director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, Richard Cullatta had a few requests.

Please don’t scan in the same old worksheets.

Please don’t record boring lectures and put them online.

Please don’t forget the needs of low-income and minority students, many of whom don’t have easy access to digital devices, speedy Internet service and advanced classes in computer science.

*I would add please don’t forget that there are many students with reading difficulty  who think problem solving is a pain.

Culatta delivered his plea last week at National Education Week, an annual conference that was held this year at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The outgoing federal leader spoke on a panel about teaching coding in schools, and he used most of his time in the spotlight to talk about equality. We must ensure that the rapid march of innovation does not leave certain groups of people behind, Culatta said.

He said    ‘Women and minorities are underrepresented in computer science courses in high school and college. For instance, girls make up 56 percent of all test-takers in Advanced Placement courses, but just 18 percent of students taking computer science tests, Culatta said. It doesn’t get much better in college, where women make up about 57 percent of all undergraduates, but just 14 percent of them major in computer science. ‘

“And the inequality is even more stunning for people of color. In 12 states, zero students of color took the computer science Advanced Placement exam, Culatta said. And a mere 10 percent of people majoring in computer science are black.

“That’s an incredible problem that we need to solve,” Culatta said.

There are a lot of us who are not computer science teachers. But we have had support from the Supercomputing Conference which had an education section and we learned what we could in that precious space. For a while we also learned in the conference and at Shodor.org.  Then I had a remarkable experience in the Atlas Institute , learning with Dr. Alex Repenning. We were learning scalable game design. He knows how to teach teachers who are NOT computer science teachers.  ”

Sadly in the infrastructure of boards, and meetings , and groups who decide what goes on in education and who present in education we are an invisible force if present at all in the education  groups.

ADVOCACY

 

IMG_0078I learned as many others did at NASA, with the National Geographic Education Institute and alliances, with Earthwatch and the Jason Project. We teachers got to meet  Bob Ballard, Bill Nye, and a number of astronauts and scientists .

 

I had the power of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. When people were talking about Star Wars , they did not know that Edutopia is and has been a force in education for all.

We teachers also had the power of the NEA and its advocacies for diversity. McAuliffe, selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in NASA’s The Teacher in Space Project, had made plans to provide lessons from the shuttle on the benefits of space travel. Christa McAuliffe was a gifted social science teacher who was dedicated to her students and to the teaching profession.

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Many of the projects in coding are absolutely wonderful. I loved weaving the Star Wars coding with reading of the books, and sharing science fiction, and NASA photographs and  art and the movies in a mashup that few children could not be attracted to.

I am pretty savvy, so I did not even break a sweat. I walked into a lab and sat down with children I had never seen. We had a great time coding. We did not limit our time to an hour. We did various things in about 4 hours, and the kids wanted to stay longer.

*I am not in a classroom because I am a very experienced in technology and was asked to leave or give up technology during NCLB. So I left and became a consultant.

 

And then there is Cyberlearning.   But, but.. without regular access how do we develop the skills, and deep learning. How sad it must be to understand the Internet of  Things and to not have a learning landscape that is even good access.

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Some of the teachers need their job so badly that they just go with the flow no matter how terrible it is. It is taken for granted that the experts in the silos of higher ed know the answers. Well, some of those experts are very isolated from the people who really teach.

 

 

The Ugly Truth .. Education and the Digital Chasm

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You often wonder , if you are a professional, if the reporters who work in Washington know the ugly truth about education and the digital divide. You wait for someone to say things. But they don’t. Education in the Nation’s Capital is a horrible chasm. There are charter schools, some good , some bad. There are private and parochial schools. But the ugly truth about DC Schools has come out finally. Perhaps it took the death of NCLB to make people think?

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I am a teacher. I worked overseas in DODDS Schools. I thought, well I will go help Washington DC .. a decade or more ago. That did not work for me.The job was bigger than me in the school that I worked in. I went back , across the river to Arlington , Va. schools.There were many reasons.

Who runs DC Schools? The Congress has oversight.. and Rhee has come and gone and left people of her like mind here to carry on her legacy. Does the Mayor know education? Is big data fooling her and others?

In the Washington Post .

In D.C. schools, the racial gap is a chasm, not a crack

Opinion writer January 1

“The final page has been turned on D.C. Public Schools’ 2015 calendar. But 2016 begins with the same uncompromising problem: the school system’s huge racial achievement gap.” He writes.

“Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson called the results of last year’s standardized tests “sobering.” ”

How about painful? How about awful? How about inadequate? How about heartbreaking to parents?

How about .. sigh.. not serving the kids who need education the most.

Colbert goes on to say “The tests, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams, or PARCC,showed that just 25 percent of D.C. students in the third through eighth grades met or exceeded expectations on new standardized tests in English.

Only 24 percent met a new math benchmark.”

And that was the good news.

Were it not for white test-takers in this majority-minority school system, the results would have been even worse.

 Overall English and math proficiency rates reached 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively, only because white students, who make up 12 percent of the school system, scored proficiency rates of 79 percent in English and 70 percent in math.

And that was the good news.

Were it not for white test-takers in this majority-minority school system, the results would have been even worse.

No matter which initiative I was prepared to help schools and teachers with I was told testing, is the most important thing and that there was NO time for inserting anything new.

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Overall English and math proficiency rates reached 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively, only because white students, who make up 12 percent of the school system, scored proficiency rates of 79 percent in English and 70 percent in math.

 

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Should we talk about STEM?  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math?

No, because the reading skills of most of the students are a main difficulty. Testing tethered technology except in a few schools.

Even the director of the projects for geography at National Geographic said to me, ” Our teachers have to worry about the tests, we don’t have time for ESRI Connects..

In 2014, There were some unsettling data points: Proficiency rates among students learning English as a second language declined in both subjects and in both traditional and charter schools. Latino students’ reading proficiency rates also dropped in both sectors, while the traditional school system saw reading proficiency fall among its economically disadvantaged students.

The Facts from Wikipedia

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) consists of 111[1][2] of the 238 public elementary and secondary schools and learning centers located in Washington, D.C. These schools have a grade span of prekindergarten to twelfth grade and, as of 2000, a kindergarten entrance age of 5 years old.[3] School is compulsory for DCPS students between the ages of 5 and 18.[4] DCPS schools typically start the last Monday in August. The school day is generally approximately six hours.[citation needed]

The ethnic breakdown of students enrolled in 2012 was 72% Black, 14% Hispanic (of any race), 10% non-Hispanic White, and 4% of other races. The District itself has a population that is 42% non-Hispanic White, 51% Black and 10% Hispanic (of any race).[5] Gentrification and demographic changes in many DC neighborhoods has increased the White and Hispanic populations in the city, while reducing the Black population. In 2008, DCPS was 84.4% Black, 9.4% Hispanic (of any race), 4.6% non-Hispanic White, and 1.6% of other races.[6]

Facilities reform legislation in DC has led to many school openings and closings.

Can you see where this is going?

Think of all the museums, the learning institutes, the teaching initiatives like. Connect Ed  … do you really think those programs were enacted?

https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/connected

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Every kid in a park? Did the schools respond to this program? I did go on a program with teachers from the National Geographic Alliance. We toured DC parks.

What do you think?Washington is full of parks and places to learn.Many of the students have never been to a lot of these places. There are wonderful teacher workshops.

When I was observing education in Russia,  I learned that there are after school initiatives that are a part of the school program.

CODING ?

Did the students code? I hope there were classes that did.

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A few groups of people who did coding and who do more every Saturday, but they are not allowed to work in the schools. Again, the basic skills levels and testing  may create a problem. One thing I was able to do was to work all day, and several Saturdays with groups that worked with Dr. Jesse Bemley. Dr.Bemley works with the support of Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) is the central technology organization of the District of Columbia Government. OCTO develops, implements, and maintains the District’s technology infrastructure; develops and implements major enterprise applications; establishes and oversees technology policies and standards for the District; provides technology services and support for District agencies, and develops technology solutions to improve services to businesses, residents and visitors in all areas of District government.

Dr. Bemley reaches out to the students. and provides supercomputer connectivity in a basement.

Bemley is  helping with those students to close the equity gap.

There should be more opportunities using technology to enhance the curriculum for students.

Culatta identified five opportunities to close the equity gap with technology. They include:

Opportunity #1: Equitable access to high-quality digital learning materials

The Learning Registry, which Culatta called “the human genome project” for open educational resources, is an online information network designed to organize and vet academic content for educators. It can be tapped into through various websites, such asfree.ed.gov, the Illinois shared learning resources site, or MyDigitalChalkboard from California.

Opportunity #2: Equitable access to expertise

“Too many of our students are disadvantaged purely based on the ZIP code they live in,” he said, referring to a community that had a math teacher opening for five years because it couldn’t attract anyone to the town for that job. Ed tech can fill the gap, he said.

Meanwhile, in Sunnyside, Ariz., a high school bioengineering class was able to capture the genomes of all indigenous plant life in their region, by using technology to work with a local university.

Opportunity #3: Personalized learning

“One of the least equitable things we do is to treat all students the same,” he said. Adjusting the pace and path of learning can be transformationall, he said.

Some schools are personalizing a student’s learning to the extent that his or her schedule changes each day based on what was achieved the day before, he said.

Opportunity #4 – Support planning for higher education

“There are very few tools to help [students] make that transition,” said Culatta, who touted the January Datapalooza sponsored by the White House and the Education Department, in which open data was provided to developers who created and showcased products to help with post-secondary education planning.

Opportunity #5 – Supporting accessibility

To illustrate this opportunity, Culatta showed a video of a student who is being treated for lymphoma, and attends school remotely via a robot. Students at David Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, Fla., raised money to buy a robot for Kyle, and produced a video explaining the experience.

http://”//www.youtube.com/embed/Dd-LMvkpjsM”

Tech Equity: A Civil Rights Issue

Culatta pointed out that equity in technology was part of a recent “Dear Colleague” letterfrom the Office for Civil Rights. This was the first guidance on the issue of resource equity released during the Obama administration, and it included references to equal access to laptops, tablets, the Internet, and instructional materials.

“We consider the number of devices, the type, and their age,” Culatta said.

He called technology an accelerator that can change the world.

 

 

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