Can Video Games Alter Society.. in a Good Way?

via Huffington Post

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

When I’m talking to people about why video games matter, I like to quote one of Woody Allen’s finest pieces of advice: “Eighty percent of life is showing up.” More than almost anything else, showing up matters. You can’t find your talent for football if you never touch a ball. You can’t make friends if you avoid other people. You can’t get the job if you don’t apply. You’ll never write that screenplay if you don’t start typing.

Games are about everyone showing up. In classrooms full of students who range from brilliant to sullen disaffection, it’s games — and often games alone — that I’ve seen engage every single person in the room. For some, the right kind of play can spell the difference between becoming part of something, and the lifelong feeling that they’re not meant to take part.

Why is this? Video games are a special kind of play, but at root they’re about the same things as other games: embracing particular rules and restrictions in order to develop skills and experience rewards. When a game is well-designed, it’s the balance between these factors that engages people on a fundamental level. Play precedes civilization. It spans continents and generations. It’s how we naturally learn the most basic mechanical and social skills — and how, at its best, we can build a safe space for discovering more about ourselves.

In classrooms full of students who range from brilliant to sullen disaffection, it’s games — and often games alone — that I’ve seen engage every single person in the room.

During her talk, Jane McGonigal discusses the top five regrets that people express at the end of their lives. People don’t long for money, status or marble monuments. They wish they’d worked less hard, been better at staying in touch with friends, and more fully expressed their hopes and true selves. They wish they had shown up for more of the stuff that truly matters — and one of the things that games like Jane’s do is create structures and incentives to help people focus on these things while they still have time.

Some people are suspicious of any attempt to manufacture this kind of experience — and I can understand why. I spoke at TED Global 2010 about the ways that video games engage the brain, and in particular the idea of reward structures: how a challenge or task can be broken down and presented to make it as engaging as possible. This can seem a slightly sinister idea: a manipulation that replaces genuine experience with boxes to tick and hoops to jump through. At worst, you end up with a jumble of “badges” and “achievements” dumped on top of a task in a misguided effort to make it fun.

Yet the best games — and the lessons to be learned from them — are far more than this. The world is already full of systems aimed at measuring, motivating and engaging us. And most of them are, by the standards of great games, simply not good enough. From exam grading to health education to professional training to democratic participation, paths towards self-realization and success in the world are often daunting and obscure: journeys only the privileged feel confident setting off along.

If there’s one lesson we should take from games, it’s that we can make this first step vastly easier and more accessible — and can, given sufficient care, prompt people of all backgrounds and abilities towards richer living. This isn’t to say that it’s easy, obvious, or that games embody any royal road towards contentment. What modernity’s potent mix of play and technology does offer, though, is an unprecedented opportunity to know ourselves better — and, in doing so, to master our regrets before they become our destinies.

12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

via WizIQ

never tired of 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

You are never alone when teaching online. As a writer and teacher, I’m here to share my experiences and insights so that you will not hit the ground.

We all know there are a lot of great articles out there on the web that talk about what you should do when you teach online. But sometimes what a new online teacher really needs is a list of what NOT to do when teaching online.

Here are 12 things I recommend that online teachers do not do:

1. Do NOT Design Your Online Classroom like an Obstacle Course

special forces obstacle course 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

There are a number of things folks need to know when they log-in to your online course for the first time. Students need to be able to see immediately what the course entails: what it covers, how long it takes, how much it costs, and of course, what they need to do to get a good grade or the certificate of completion you’re offering.

Sometimes getting this information out of an online classroom is like running an obstacle course. Students shouldn’t have to leap hurdles to find out how to succeed in a course. Nor should they have to scroll around for a half hour and emerge totally confused. Make your course easy to navigate. If you’ve never put an online course together before, sign up friends and family to check it out before you start teaching. Tell them you’re counting on them to be honest. Then take their comments seriously and rework the course. Remember, student satisfaction—for good or ill—starts in moment one!

2. Do NOT Design Assessments That Are Guaranteed to Fail

Learning assessments, however they are put together, need to be relevant to the material at hand, and they need to move the learning process forward.

About 100 years ago when I was doing my masters in higher education, I took a course from the test construction Prof in my department. It was a required course or I probably would not have taken it. To my surprise I learned a lot from him. He taught us how to construct test items, how to set up checklists for essay grading, and lots of other necessary things. But mostly importantly,  he also taught us how to think of assessment as an important part of the ladder towards end-of-course student success.

Ladder of Success 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

To illustrate how easy it was to get seriously off track, he told us a story about a physics Prof who routinely tested his class on the next lesson and not on the one they had just finished. This physics Prof thought he had designed a great test because only the three folks who read ahead got As and everybody else flunked. My test construction Prof tried gently and then firmly to get this physics Prof to see that he hadn’t designed a great test, he had designed anunfair test. And, to add insult to injury, the physics Prof was guaranteeing that he would never know whether his lectures and activities had been effective on a week-by-week basis.

3. Do NOT Minimize Student Choice or Punish Student Interaction

There are two things that most online teachers know about providing students with the opportunity for productive online learning:

choice 2 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

  1. Feeling as if you have some choice in how you learn, and how you express your learning gives a student a sense of ownership over the process.
  2. Feeling as if you are not alone in the classroom framework, but the teacher and all the other students are part of a community to which you also belong helps a student commit to a shared journey towards a learning goal.

But some teachers build classrooms that are so rule-bound, so rigid that learning styles are not accommodated, creativity is not allowed, and collaboration is not encouraged or, even worse, is strictly forbidden.

But you don’t have to go to extremes to kill enthusiasm for your online course. Minimizing student choice can be as simple as refusing to let folks who hate to write film video or record audio responses instead. Punishing student interaction can be as simple as admonishing students every time they stray from course materials to personal experience in a discussion forum.

4. Do NOT Refuse to Answer Students’ Questions

Okay, so you’ve designed your course, and the students have signed up, and you think you have all the elements in place that the students need to get through your class, and then you get an email asking about something you think is clearly visible in the syllabi you uploaded to your classroom! It makes you want to gnash your teeth. I know: It’s frustrating. But should you growl at them and send them back to your classroom to figure it out for themselves? Well, no.

bond 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

The best thing to do is just take a deep breath and help the student out. Imagine what a bond can be formed between you and your students by pointing them patiently to the link where the information is hiding. Imagine how much better your classroom relationships would be if you just tell them what they need to know and then point them to the link so they can explore further the info you embedded there.

Infinite patience not only breeds well-being in your classroom community, it can also make you feel better in the long run. Instead of giving into your frustration, you helped them when they needed you. That’s a pretty great.

5.  Do NOT Make Your Students Feel Unwelcome in Your Classroom

This seems like a no-brainer. You’re glad they’ve signed up. You’re excited to meet them, and then you do something that makes them wish they’d never gotten involved in your course. Giving in to Pitfall #4 is probably the number one way you can make a student feel unwelcome, but if you do some of the following, well, they’re going to get that same message, maybe even louder.

So, here are some more things you shouldn’t do if you want everybody to feel welcome:

Rules 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

  1. Do NOT develop long lists of rules for the classroom that restrict the ways in which your students can interact with you and the other folks in the class unnecessarily.
  2. Do NOT turn off the chat box in the live class.
  3. Do NOT forget to set up a sharing forum or introduction discussion on the Coursefeed or in a forum on your Moodle or elsewhere on a social media site.
  4. Do NOT forget to include a slide welcoming them in the Virtual Classroom or the class will launch and all they’ll see is a blank screen.
  5. Do NOT be late to your own virtual class if you can possibly avoid it and especially if you do not have a welcoming slide.
  6. Do NOT forget to say hello to the latecomers even if the speed at which your chat box flies by requires that you issue a periodic generic “hello” to the late arrivals.
  7. Do NOT answer the folks who can’t hear you in the Virtual Classroom by talking instead of typing into the chat box because if you’re trying to tell them how to fix their problem verbally, well, uh, they can’t hear you.
  8. Do NOT grump at your students in public.
  9. And finally, as a wise Dean of Faculty once told me, when you have to criticize your students, do NOT fail to construct your criticism like a kind-hearted “sandwich” of feedback, that is, by preceding the correction or criticism with authentic praise and following it up with encouragement.

6. Do NOT Be Absent from Your Online Classroom

I once knew a very new online teacher who, when he was starting out, was just so busy that he forgot when his online class was supposed to start. Unfortunately half the students withdrew before one of the remaining students alerted the office that he was a “no show” in his own class. When the office got in touch with him and reminded him that his class had already started, he was mortified. Nonetheless, later on in the same semester, he lost track of time again. More than two weeks passed by the time the students alerted the office that he had disappeared again. Sheepishly he got into his classroom at once and did his best to make up for lost time for the rest of the semester. These days he’s not such an absent-minded professor.

Of course there are times when life intervenes unexpectedly and that can’t be helped—an “emergency” plan in place is a good idea to cover those times—but there are actually some online teachers who think it’s okay to set up an online course and then disappear for days, even weeks at a time. In reality, though, if an online teacher forgets that their first duty is to be there, the students start feeling very alone in the process. Most of them will pick up and leave, if they can, and that’s not a good thing for their learning, for the faculty member or for the school.

7. Do NOT Monopolize the Conversation

Other online teachers have the opposite problem; they seem to be in the online classroom 24/7, responding to every comment made by every student.

blahblahblah 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

Even the Virtual Classroom version of this hovering behavior can be very problematic. For example, if you have set up a live class for 60 minutes, you have a series of points that you need to get through so that students can complete their assignments. If, instead, you spend the entire hour starting and stopping your presentation so you can respond to absolutely everything in the chat, your students are likely to come out of the experience feeling like they’ve been watching a never-ending pretty-much-pointless tennis match. If they got up at 4am for the class, they’re going to be really unhappy.

In a course management system, on the other hand, whether you’re on the WizIQ Coursefeed page or in a Moodle discussion forum, not only will you wear yourself out trying to provide a substantive answer to every single question, you will, more than likely, scare your students away. They will feel the pressure to contribute as much as you do to the classroom, and become overwhelmed with the amount of communicating they think you expect them to do. Or, worse yet, they will wonder why they’re bothering to respond at all, when you’re going to be there seven seconds later correcting them and elaborating on their points ad infinitum.

A community is a community. It’s not a single voice with an audience who grows increasingly afraid to speak.

8. Do NOT Ignore the Stragglers

Life happens. Some of your students are going to get behind. In a really large course, it’s hard to tell who they are, but in a smaller course or in a course that includes a Moodle classroom or another CMS with reporting functions, it’s really important to keep track of how frequently your students are getting into the mix. Having regular assessments or assignments can help with this too.

Don’t write the stragglers though and say “well, where in the world have you been?” Ask if you can help. See what’s up. It could be that life has gotten complicated for them, and all they need is a welcoming word to get back on track. In a really big class, you can issue periodic encouragement to those who haven’t yet participated in one way or another. You can put up a poll in your next live class, and see what’s up. Is something too difficult? Is something not clear? Is there some way you can help?

The stragglers will feel grateful that you’re as worried about them personally as you are about their progress. If it’s a really big course with very little built-in reporting and you have to issue those periodic, generic encouragements, the students who are keeping up will the course will see that you really care about all the students in the classroom. If they know some of the stragglers, they may be inspired to help get them back on track. It’s a good thing all around.

9. Do NOT Drop Your Guest Speakers or Your Student Presenters Off the Deep End

“Dropping someone off the deep end” is an English-language metaphor for pushing someone into a task that you are pretty sure they are not ready to do. It comes from the description of what happens when you force somebody who doesn’t know how to swim into water that is much deeper than the person is tall.

In a live class this can be a real time-waster. I’ve seen this happen when some otherwise amazing online teachers fail to take the time to familiarize their guest speakers or their student presenters with the WizIQ Virtual Classroom.

In the case of guest speakers, what usually happens is that the first 10 minutes—or more—of the live class is totally taken up with the teacher training the guest speaker to use the system. Sometimes the difficulties in completing this training are so problematic that the class is terminated early and rescheduled, or worse yet, continues on while students are complaining mightily in the chat box about all the lost time. Some guest speakers just can’t find the time to do a practice session before their lecture, but it’s worth trying to keep the training out of the live class whenever possible.

For student presenters there’s really no excuse. You’re in the online classroom with them on a regular basis. It’s easier to schedule a training session if they feel they need one. If they have do something other than run their slideshow and give a talk in the live class—like make an audio or a video file and upload it to the classroom—make sure you provide them with the tutorials and the links to get them what they need to accomplish the task.

Teaching folks to swim instead of dropping them off the deep end really pays off. Not only are your guest speakers and student presenters happier about their experience, but you also let all your students know that you’re thinking ahead about what people need to be successful. That kind of attention to detail on your part can strengthen the learning community you’re trying to build.

The Final Three Pitfalls

Once your class is over there are three things you must not do or your next online course will not be better than the one you’ve just completed. They are:

Aaron 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online

10. Do NOT Ignore Feedback on Your Performance

11. Do NOT Assume Your Content Knowledge Needs No Refreshing

12. Do NOT Assume You Have Nothing to Learn from Some More Online Teacher Training

The first one can be a killer. Getting a course evaluation from your students is key to improvement. Make sure your students are asked specific questions about the structure and design of the course, your attention to detail, your teaching techniques, the depth and breadth of the content you provided, the assessments you built in, what they liked and what they did not like. If you’re teaching a series of live classes on WizIQ encourage your students to give feedback anonymously as the last live class ends. Not getting feedback on your course will seriously hamper your ability to improve the course the next time you teach it.

Similarly make sure you’re plugged into the subject matter area that you’re teaching and get out there and see what’s new. Sometimes that’s as easy as taking somebody else’s course on the subject, or spending a couple of days reading around in your favorite journals or watching YouTube videos from colleagues and experts to make sure you’ve got a handle on how things changed while you were teaching.

Check your brain OUT by TheComicFan 12 Things You Should Never Do When You Teach Online









As for making sure that you are also honing your craft as a teacher: Taking professional development courses is a wonderful way to maintain your own enthusiasm for what you are doing. Not only are you exposed to new technologies and techniques, or perhaps to new learning theory, but finding yourself in a learning community of your peers can help renew your commitment to what you’re doing. You can learn so much by just talking to folks even if what they’re doing is not quite the same as what you’re doing. There’s a lot of creativity out there.

And if you work to renew your commitment to your topic and your method after every class, you will find that your mastery of online teaching best practices will increase. Similarly, the likelihood that you will do any of the things on my list of things not to do will also decrease.

And Now You’re Ready for Best Practices …

For good advice on best practices, here are four sets of links to great discussions of how best to craft an online classroom. The first is put together in the form of a rubric for good teaching. The second one comes from theUniversity of Maryland-University College, an institution that has been in the distance education industry for a very long time. The third one comes from ane-learning course design site. And finally, the last one comes from a website called “Faculty Focus.”

I know you’ve got all those best practices in you! Happy teaching!

Dr. Nancy Zingrone

Dr. Nancy Zingrone has a PhD in psychology from the University of Edinburgh and an MSEd in Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. She is passionate about online education, having learned a significant amount of what she knows about teaching online from the incomparable Dr. Nellie Deutsch and the wonderful folks at WizIQ. Her work background includes more than twenty years in personal and individual differences research, publishing, higher education administration, and adult education.


Keep Calm and Tweet On: Creditors Have Been Sizing You Up Online for Years

via Digital Trends

Last week, reports surfaced that a number of startups have begun to factor in social media data, like who your friends are on Facebook, to determine your credit worthiness. The initial report, from CNN, made big news and spread around to countless publications, causing quite a stir on the social network.

Thing is, this story is not actually new. The idea that social-media connections and online activity can affect a person’s ability to get a loan has been around for years. Most of us just haven’t been paying attention.

Before we get into how your online activity can, and is, used in determining loan availability, we should clear up a few of the misleading, fear-mongery parts of the reports that have been flying around over the past week.

First, social media data does not affect your official credit score – as in, the one you receive when you request a credit report. The factors involved in figuring out that score, which is known as a FICO score, are highly, highly regulated under an extensive law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (pdf), or FCRA. Social-media connections and online activity may be used for determining credit worthiness, but they are not part of your FICO score just yet.

Second, CNN buried a key fact deep down in its article: Two of the startups the report mentions, Lenndo and Kreditech, are not U.S. companies, and do not do much (if any) business in the U.S. In fact, as CNN mentions, Lenndo only provides loans in Columbia, the Philippines, and Mexico.

OK, so now that we have what’s not happening, let’s dig into what is. Long story short: The long-respected FICO credit score is no longer the only factor that matters. And credit worthiness predictions are increasingly taking whom you know and what you say on social media into consideration.

For example, another credit-assessment startup, Neo, investigates whether a person has the job they say they have by looking at LinkedIn contacts, according to The Economist. Neo has also, as Time reports, begun investigating whether people who make racist statements online are less credit-worthy. Given that companies like Kreditech use some 8,000 data points in determining lending risk, we can safely assume there are a slew of unknown activities that we all do online that go into determining whether we should be allowed to get a mortgage or a car loan.

Credit worthiness is one area where what you say and do online can have major real-life consequences.

In other words, credit worthiness is one area where what you say and do online can have major real-life consequences.

This brings us to the most problematic part of this emerging system of risk assessment: Most of us have no idea what is being used against us. With FICO and other traditional credit ranking systems, the factors are fairly straight forward: Pay your bills on time, borrow a number of different loans and pay them all back, and keep low balances on the credit cards you have available. It’s more complicated than that, but not much.

As social factors come into it, however, it becomes virtually impossible to know how to behave properly. And there is little incentive for the companies calculating our risk assessments to divulge that information; if they tell us what not to do, they will have a more difficult time figuring out who is really a bad borrower.

Another reason that we don’t know what to do and not to do on social media is because the people calculating risk don’t know either. As Peter Fader of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Customer Service Initiative told Knowledge@Wharton in February, “”It’s going to take years to understand what measures are truly valid. It’s the Wild West … like the early days of FICO.”

In other words, our credit worthiness is now being subjected to countless experiments, and that’s a problem – one that we likely can’t avoid, or stop, until after things start to go terribly wrong.

As disconcerting as the current situation is, it’s not all bad. One problem with traditional credit scoring is that it works against people who have little or no credit history. You are considered “guilty until proven innocent,” which means plenty of people who might be worth lending to can’t get a loan. Factoring in other metrics, including social-media data, is being used to help these “underbanked” people.

In June of last year, for example, credit agency firm Experian launched a product called Extended View, which factors “non-credit bureau data assets” that can help lenders provide loans to the estimated 64 million people in the U.S. with little or no credit history. And ZeistFinance, founded by former Google CIO Douglas Merrill, uses “Google-style machine learning” to analyze “thousands of potential credit variables – everything from financial information to technology usage.” ZeistFinance claims its credit assessment model “leads to increased credit availability for borrowers and higher repayment rates for lenders.”

In short, it’s currently impossible to give any specific advice about what not to say, or who not to “friend” or “follow” online, to help you get a loan – the factors involved in that are still evolving. So for now, the best thing you can do is keep your social circles tight, your controversial opinions to yourself, and always pay your bills on time. Everything else is up in the air.


Playing Video Games Can Boost Brain Power

via Neuroscience News

Certain types of video games can help to train the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking, according to scientists from Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL).

The researchers recruited 72 volunteers and measured their ‘cognitive flexibility’ described as a person’s ability to adapt and switch between tasks, and think about multiple ideas at a given time to solve problems.

Two groups of volunteers were trained to play different versions of a real-time strategy game called StarCraft, a fast-paced game where players have to construct and organise armies to battle an enemy. A third of the group played a life simulation video game called The Sims, which does not require much memory or many tactics.

All the volunteers played the video games for 40 hours over six to eight weeks, and were subjected to a variety of psychological tests before and after. All the participants happened to be female as the study was unable to recruit a sufficient number of male volunteers who played video games for less than two hours a week.

This image shows a desktop screensaver based on the Starcraft game.

Participants who played Starcraft, a fast-paced strategy game, were more accurate and quicker in performing cognitive flexibility tasks than those who played the slower paced game, The Sims. This image shows a desktop screensaver based on the Starcraft game.

The researchers discovered that those who played StarCraft were quicker and more accurate in performing cognitive flexibility tasks, than those who played The Sims.

Dr Brian Glass from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: “Previous research has demonstrated that action video games, such as Halo, can speed up decision making but the current work finds that real-time strategy games can promote our ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes.

“Our paper shows that cognitive flexibility, a cornerstone of human intelligence, is not a static trait but can be trained and improved using fun learning tools like gaming.”

Professor Brad Love from UCL, said: “Cognitive flexibility varies across people and at different ages. For example, a fictional character like Sherlock Holmes has the ability to simultaneously engage in multiple aspects of thought and mentally shift in response to changing goals and environmental conditions.

“Creative problem solving and ‘thinking outside the box’ require cognitive flexibility. Perhaps in contrast to the repetitive nature of work in past centuries, the modern knowledge economy places a premium on cognitive flexibility.”

Dr Glass added: “The volunteers who played the most complex version of the video game performed the best in the post-game psychological tests. We need to understand now what exactly about these games is leading to these changes, and whether these cognitive boosts are permanent or if they dwindle over time. Once we have that understanding, it could become possible to develop clinical interventions for symptoms related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or traumatic brain injuries, for example.”

Notes about this neuroscience and neuropsychology research

This research was supported by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, US Army Research Laboratory, and National Institutes of Health and published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Contact: Neha Okhandiar – Queen Mary, University of London
Source: Queen Mary, University of London press release
Image Source: The Starcraft theme screensaver image is credited to Sam Marshall at Flickr. The image is licensed Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Original Research: Full open access research for “Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait” by Brian D. Glass, W. Todd Maddox and Bradley C. Love in PLOS ONE. Published online August 7 2013 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070350


Building Meaningful Assessments

via LearnDash

If you are implementing any form of learning program, be it for a company or in the educational sector, then you need to gather metrics on its effectiveness.  Unfortunately, metrics are often overlooked, or just not implemented properly. Within education, assessments play a critical role within a student’s learning journey. Through effective assessments, teachers gain insight into a students’ comprehension of the material, which in turn assists them in helping their students learn by modifying instruction, delivery methods, and how to allocate resources.

On the flip side, poor assessment methodology can actually be detrimental to a student’s growth and understanding of the material.  Ideally, any assessment used (education or for-profit industries) needs to be both reliable and valid.  If you can develop an assessment model that meets both of these criteria, then you are on your way to generating meaningful data.

When building out your assessment, there are four areas to consider, in addition to validity and reliability.  Detailed in the infographic below (provided by McGrawHill Education, and designed by Santosh Kushwaha), these areas include:

  • Assessment Types
  • Question Types
  • Delivery Methods
  • Scoring Methods

I could go into each one of these areas, but I believe the infographic provides a good explanation and overview of each.  I think the one overall takeaway for each of these items is that their use can vary by situation.  Certain content and contexts will favor different assessment types, questions, delivery, and scoring.  The important thing is to analyze the situation first before just throwing a bunch of multiple-choice questions together.  Doing so will result in much more reliable, and valid data.


Schools’ Test Focus Queried

via The New Zealand Herald

New Zealand’s children will lose out on jobs if the schooling system becomes too focused on tests and traditional measures of achievement, a visiting expert has warned.

Professor Yong Zhao, the presidential chair at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, said a focus on measuring traditional success risked producing homogenous, compliant workers ill-suited for a modern economy.

In the country as a guest of the NZEI education union, Professor Zhao told business leaders and academics that a focus on international test rankings was misguided.

When Shanghai, China ranked first in reading, writing and mathematics in the latest international standardised testing, it caused much angst in Western countries including the United States, Professor Zhao said.

The results were called a “Sputnik” moment, referencing the satellite which symbolised the Soviet Union’s lead in the space race.

New Zealand’s Education Minister Hekia Parata frequently refers to international rankings, and champions the use of student achievement data as a way to target support to where it is most needed.

Professor Zhao, who was born and educated in China and met Ms Parata yesterday afternoon, said it was wrong to equate the best test scores with the best education system.

He said that in China and other high performing countries there was much soul-searching about whether their education systems were producing graduates who could think for themselves and creatively – who might become the next Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple.

There was often an inverse relationship between high test scores and children’s enjoyment of, or confidence in, a subject. And it was precisely those measures that were important for entrepreneurship and creativity – essential traits for the jobs of tomorrow.

Professor Zhao said creative jobs had been on the rise since the 1970s, as manufacturing and other traditional roles were replaced by machines and technology. “Black collar” workers – a term named after Jobs’ turtleneck – were now needed.

“Schools have always been responsible for producing the traditional middle class … we are facing a new economy, it is an economical re-setting.

“I want to warn the New Zealand Government – you may be raising your test scores, but you may be losing something else, and that might be very important for the future.”

Bennett Medary, chairman of the New Zealand Information and Communication Technologies Group, told the meeting it reflected the fact there were 15,000 vacant jobs in the technology industry.

“What we lament is the lack of creativity, of empathy, of the ability to work in teams, resilience and ambition – those softer attributes.

“Yet on the other hand I understand that stakeholders, parents and so on, would be very concerned about allowing students simply to discover themselves through education through this kind of random pathway, of passion and interests.”

Professor Zhao said knowledge should still be the focus of school, but it would be better to enable students to seek out what interests them, so that they stay engaged.

What’s best for students?

* Zhao says obsession with test results ultimately hurts students’ employability.
* Countries that top international tests often churn out graduates with little creativity.
* Knowledge should still be the focus of school, but it would be better to enable students to seek out what interests them, so they stay engaged.

The Digital Lives of Teens: Turning “Do As I Say” into “Do As I Do”

via Edutopia

The old saying “Do as I say, not as I do” could not apply more to adults when dealing with kids and technology. Modeling is so important, and when it comes to digital life, adults set the bar pretty low for their kids.

Do As I Say

In a Time Magazine article titled “Parents are Digital Hypocrites,” Ruth Davis Konigsberg writes: “As recent research shows, nothing determines a child’s media use more than the media use of his or her parents.”

And parents are struggling to balance the demands of work with being present and available — device-free — at home. Whether it’s at the breakfast or dinner table, or in front of the TV while watching a family movie, being on one device at a time is challenging enough for adults, who are also modeling for kids. I know in my own home, my wife and I struggle with this, and our kids are the first to call us on it when we are checking our phones during a family movie. “Remember, one device at a time!” my youngest child will freely call out.

Konigsberg quotes Northwestern University researcher Vicky Rideout: “It’s the parents who determine the environment and set an example. The parents are the primary drivers of children’s media use.”

The irony is that, while parents have a difficult time unplugging in front of their kids, these same parents are at a loss as to how to guide their children in living a healthy digital life, given the breakneck speed with which kids migrate to new digital spaces.

Ruby Karp, a 13-year-old, writes a refreshingly honest perspectiveon Mashable: “Part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now [. . .] Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram.”

Facebook’s fight for teens’ attention has been going on for some time. But then along comes SnapChat or, on top of Instagram or another new network. For parents, it can be exhausting to keep up with the explosion of digital spaces.

Harvard researcher Catherine Steiner-Adair highlights the challenges for parents in a recent Salon article: “Parents feel hard-pressed to get up to speed in new ways as gatekeepers, screen monitors, tech support and cyberlife referees, in addition to the just plain human side of parenting.”

Do As I Do

Managing digital life as adults and then figuring out how to handle digital life with kids is a big challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. What can parents do to handle digital dualism – managing their own use and their child’s use?

  • Pull the plug. The first and most obvious, albeit difficult, step can be to shut it all down and take a break. Summer and holidays are great times for adults and kids to try this. If you have some time off, take time off from devices.
  • Park the device. The minute you walk in the door, coming home from work, park your devices. This is your living space. Leave the devices parked until your kids are asleep. Be fully present for the evening.
  • On the weekends, take a digital break. Leave your phone at home while you go out for a hike, a walk, or a movie. You won’t miss the phone for two or three hours.
  • Create designated digital time as a family. It might be on the weekends or in the evenings, but it’s for a set period of time — as little as 15 minutes or as much as an hour. That way, everyone gets it out of their system together, and then at the end of the time period, the devices turn off.
  • Make something together. Create a kooky, silly film or a photo collage after a family adventure. Turn the conversation to creation instead of consumption.
  • Acknowledge the difficulty of turning off devices. In some ways, coming clean for everyone brings a sense of relief. It’s OK for parents to admit to their kids that, given the ease and availability of technology, it’s hard to pull away.

The most important thing to remember is that your kids are always watching what you do. You might not think they’re looking at how often you’re on a device, but they know — and if you ask your kids, they will be brutally honest with you.

A good goal for the school year for parents is to try turning the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” into “Do as I do.”

What strategies do you have for modeling technology use for kids?



Internet Learning: Meeting Students Where They Live

This post first appeared on The Navigator Blog

Today’s students eat … breathe … sleep … study … play connected. So why not meet them, reach them, and teach them right where they live?

In fact, 21st century mediums like the Internet and social media sites are the ideal means to impart and develop 21st century skills. Encourage students to collaborate, communicate, be creative, think critically, and achieve technology fluency by incorporating the social Web into your teaching practices and professional development. Here’s how: images[7] (3)


  • Create a classroom blog so students (and parents) can stay up-to-date on upcoming projects, due dates, events, and other classroom happenings
  • Encourage students to start their own personal or public blogs
  • Require students to connect with elected officials (like on the White House blog), and industry leaders (via business blogs)
  • Publish student work on a blog, or have students set up their own blogs as online portfolios
  • Sign up to receive blogs like the CompassLearning Navigator and Getting Smart to stay sharp on the latest edtech topics
  • Make it mandatory for students to follow a certain number of bloggers in their area(s) of interest

images[7] (4)Facebook

  • Create a Facebook page for your class where you can schedule events, post notes, and remind students of assignment due dates
  • Post additional materials like links to articles and videos on Twitter so students can continue to learn even when class is over
  • Create Groups to: Collaborate with other teachers in your school, district, state, and beyond; connect with other teachers of the same grade/subject; and share information with parents
  • Create Events to invite students to extracurricular activities
  • Create Event Polls to collect student feedback to shape events and classroom projects



  • Create Hangouts with: Students across the state, country, or even the world’ authors, community leaders, and other role models; and college admissions counselors



  • Create a profile to promote your own skills and achievements (Make sure to include your technology skills!)
  • Join existing groups and/or start your own group to collaborate with educators across the state, country, and world
  • Help students get a head start on career mapping and networking by requiring them to create a profile



  • At the start of the school year ask students to pin images that represent their goals for the year and beyond
  • Have students pin images relevant to a recent lesson (ex. Healthy living: fruits, vegetables, exercise, etc.)
  • Utilize our “Printables” boards for educational and printable classroom décor
  • Search Pinterest for inspiring tips on how to organize and decorate your classroom
  • Allow students to use Pinterest for presentations and projects; and later, set up boards to showcase students’ final assignments



  • Create a Twitter feed for your classroom so you can tweet about upcoming assignments, events, and class news
  • Use hashtags for things like communal note taking during an in-service day or student Q&A during an assembly or presentation
  • Search hashtags to extend your reach and learning (Perfect example: Carl Hooker, Director of Instructional Technology at Eanes ISD in Texas used Storify to troll Twitter’s #ISTE13 hashtag to discover tidbits, resources, and tools that might be useful for his district)
  • Encourage students to follow local influencers (ex. mayor, library, newspaper, etc.)
  • Follow education leaders like your principal, superintendent, board of education members, state education agency commissioner, etc.
  • Follow our “EduBloggers“ list to connect with education thought leaders



  • Create tutorials, or short how-tos for students FAQs
  • Create announcements to share information with your parents
  • Promote and share news about upcoming events
  • Search for on-topic YouTube videos that you can use in the classroom to bring lessons to life
  • Curate organized playlists on YouTube so your students can easily find and watch all related videos on-topic


Google Apps (Not really social media, but certainly a good collaborative online tool)

  • Make notes and slide presentations available online in Drive
  • Provide feedback to students via comments feature in Docs
  • Group work collaboration in Docs
  • Share important deadlines and events, like state testing dates, on a shared Calendar

And remember – have the conversation — over and over again — about online safety and responsibility, so that these digital natives can coexist in and contribute to a harmonious online community.


This article was written by Stephanie Bruno, she  is a Social Media Specialist at Compass Learning. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies from The University of San Francisco.

The ‘Forward-looking’ CFO: Linking Financial Rigor with Leadership

Global organizations operating in the contemporary business landscape need to tightly link financial rigor and strategic insight. Increasingly, senior financial executives are playing influential roles in strategy development and implementation, working closely with the CEO and the board to creatively assess and design growth opportunities.


The question is: Are CFOs prepared to move beyond the number-crunching function to act and lead in this capacity? Wharton’s Jason Wingard and John Percival discuss this and other issues.

LA Will Give All 640,000 Students an iPad by End of 2014

I am optimistic that this will be a program that changes the way we look at technology in the classroom (on a large scale). It will also provide a model to replicate for our schools across the country. I look forward to seeing the documentation and data.

Links about the program:

via Electronista

Apple contract will kick off with 31,000 iPads, covers all K-12 students

A total of more than a half-million iPads will be given out by the Los Angeles Unified School District, covering 1,124 schools by the end of 2014 in a deal worth “hundreds of millions” to Apple — far larger than the $30 million contract initially reported. That contract covers only the first deployment of iPads, covering 49 schools and an estimated 31,000 students that will be given out by the end of the year. As reported earlier, Apple will be the sole vendor for the ambitious project, resulting in costs of nearly $415 million over the first two years for the iPads alone.

The schools covered including all grades from Kindergarten through high school, and target in particular students who otherwise would not have access to the technology. The bulk of the total cost is the $678 per iPad fixed cost, which will come pre-loaded with Pearson e-textbooks and other educational apps that make up the remainder of the money. Each iPad will also come with a full three-year warranty, and allow the district to keep its learning materials completely up-to-date. Indeed, despite the large sums involved, the LAUSD believes it will save money compared to the costs associated with providing traditional textbooks and other educational materials to the schools.

Other tablets were considered and rejected as being “lesser” than the iPad, despite pressure from other vendors (particularly Microsoft) to diversify the program to include a range of tablet models. The board voted unanimously to reject this approach and give iPads to all students, following (on a grander scale) programs across the nation that offer iPads as a replacement for most traditional school materials. Studies have supported the notion that the cutting-edge technology found in tablets helps students learn by being more flexible in approaches, and able to support apps to tailor the learning experience to each student’s needs.

Apple had said at the time the deal was announced that it was the first step of a larger rollout with LA schools, but the details and scale of the project were finally revealed by CITEworld, an educational journal. A number of colleges are now also requiring or providing iPads, acknowledging the “post-PC” scenario that is likely to be even more prominent for everyday computing use in the future.