The secrets to why students need recess

Posted by Jeff Hersh

Think back to your school days as a child. What part of your day gave you the most joy? Long division? World History Pre-1800?

Just Kidding.

There are plenty of math lovers out there, who most certainly did look forward to arithmetic and plenty of history buffs who got a twinkle in their eye just before entering the time-traveler’s classroom.

WITS Coach Rob Sanders leading students in a fun and interactive game on the recess yard

U.S. Department of Agriculture. CC Attribution 2.0. Some rights reserved.

Maybe it’s hard to remember, because in adult life and the working world we typically don’t have a set time to play.


Even just the word should create an electricity within, as you remember the glorious freedom that was given to you as a student. Recess is an essential part of a student’s school experience, even today.


Here are the 5 reasons students need recess.

1 – Socialization

While students interact with each other in the classroom, recess allows them to  discuss more than just the assignments and work at hand. This is an opportunity for children to create friendships and learn how to interact with others. Some shyer students may keep to themselves, but at least the opportunity is there for them.


2 – Explore Interests

This is a time in the school day where students have something they aren’t usually given:  autonomy. Maybe it’s controlled by teachers and assistant aides, but it’s still autonomy. It’s important for children to explore their personal interests. Recess gives students the time to make choices about how they want to use their free time. Whether it’s sports, reading, computers, or chatting with friends, the power to choose is a huge confidence builder and helps students begin to understand themselves better.


3 – Exercise

While Physical Education teaches students how to how to live healthy and stay active, recess is a chance to get some much needed exercise during the day. Chances are, students spend most of the day at their desk, so even a little bit of time to engage in sports or run around will do wonders for that pent up energy. This will also teach them lifelong habits to always find time be active in their day.


4 – Recharge

Children, like adults, need breaks. Expecting them to achieve in the classroom takes a lot of mental energy, and a break in the day will help them recharge.  It kind of makes you want to suggest adding a recess time for teachers too, right? Everyone needs a short break to rest and recharge to be able to focus sharply again.


5 – Makes School Fun

Finally, recess is fun. While other parts of the day may contain a fun component, recess is theepitome of fun. This is a time to play; to not be cooped up at one’s desk; to not feel the pressures of achievement. Children of all ages are looking for some joy, and recesscan feel like a reward for a hard day’s work, or just a personal gift of some free time. This is something even teachers and administrators could use in their day.


Kickball anyone?    🙂

It’s Time For Personalized Learning In Education

by Michael Horn, Executive Director of Education at Innosight Institute and co-author of Disrupting ClassIn March, Tom Loveless, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, took an outdated swipe at the logic behind moving toward a student-centered learning system. He in essence suggested that because the curriculum wars have been decided more or less empirically, that people bent on disrupting the classroom and the factory-model education system were doing so under faulty assumptions about how students learn.

In his piece, he attacked the logic of teaching around multiple intelligences and pointed to some of the research that shows that tailoring learning opportunities to common assumptions around visual, auditory, and other such supposed learning styles are not good ways of teaching different students.

A problem with Loveless’s argument is that many of my fellow “disruptors” and I who think that it is important to disrupt the education system think this way not under the mindset that it will—or should—help with multiple intelligences or learning styles, but instead because of a simpler and more rigorously tested notion that is far less ideological than Loveless assumes.

Today’s factory-model education system, which was built to standardize the way we teach, falls short in educating successfully each child for the simple reason that just because two children are the same age, it does not mean they learn at the same pace or should follow the same pathway. Each child has different learning needs at different times.

Although academics, including cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, and education researchers, have waged fierce debates about what these different needs are—some talk about multiple intelligences and learning styles whereas others point to research that undermines these notions—what no one disputes is that each student learns at a different pace. Some students learn quickly. Others learn more slowly. And each student’s pace tends to vary based on the subject or even concept one is learning. The reason for these differences, in short, is twofold.

First, everyone has a different aptitude—or what cognitive scientists refer to as “working memory” capacity, meaning the ability to absorb and work actively with a given amount of information from a variety of sources, including visual and auditory. Second, everyone has different levels of background knowledge—or what cognitive scientists refer to as “long-term memory.” What this means is that people bring different experiences or prior knowledge into any learning experience, which impacts how they will learn a concept. If a teacher assumes that everyone in a class is familiar with an example from history that is only ancillary to the point of a particular lesson, for example, but uses that example to illustrate a particular point, then the students who are unfamiliar with the example or who have misconceptions about that example, may just miss the point of the lesson or develop misconceptions about the point of the lesson itself. This isn’t under dispute.

There is also widespread agreement that, as a result, targeting learning just above a student’s level such that it is not too easy or hard is critical to helping students be successful (Daniel Willingham, who Loveless cites in his discussion debunking the learning-style theory, writes extensively about this in his book Why Don’t Students Like School—in the first chapter). If Loveless had kept up with our writing (not that I blame him for not) or read Disrupting Class with a bit more of a nuanced eye, he would have seen that we didn’t pin our argument on multiple intelligences or learning styles per se—we were quite up front that we are not experts in the learning sciences by any means. Instead, we asserted broadly that students had varying learning needs and used learning styles as a device to illustrate the point. Mea culpa on using that example, as I’ve written more extensively here, but at the same time, it doesn’t refute the fundamental point of our argument that customization—or personalization—is needed if we are to help every child reach his or her fullest potential.

Understanding this helps us understand the logic of personalizing learning and moving away from the current system that mandates the amount of time students spend in class, but does not expect each child to master learning. Because our education system is built to standardize, not personalize, transforming it through disruptive innovation is critical.

This seems to play into one of Loveless’s core worries though, as he seems to have a love for some of the assumptions embedded in the factory model of education. As he wrote, “Moreover, individualized instructional programs, whether delivered exclusively online or through ‘blended’ regimes, are antithetical to the goal that all students learn a common body of knowledge and skills at approximately the same time.” The challenge, of course, with his argument is that today students do not in fact learn or master a common body of knowledge and skills at approximately the same time; they are merely taught them—which is far different from truly learning them.

Why is Loveless concerned about students learning the same thing at the same time? First, because learning some things in common, he says, are important. I agree. Learning some things in common—of course not all things, but a strong foundation—is important. Again, although I am no expert, the research suggests that a strong foundation of knowledge is critical for future learning and meaningful participation in and contribution to society (but it’s also not sufficient, which is why developing deeper skills and dispositions are so important—a false either-or from which we need to move away). This isn’t antithetical to blended or student-centered learning; if Loveless thinks it is, I recommend he visit one of the KIPP LA elementary schools. What he sees might surprise.

Second, Loveless assumes that because students may learn these things at different times in a blended-learning world, that it will exacerbate the achievement gap—a legitimate worry. We need more research here, but the evidence seems to suggest that the achievement gap is exacerbated in the factory-model system when a student does not master a concept, develops holes in her learning, and the teacher just moves on to the next concept the next day. Instead, what we’ve seen in Chugach, Alaska and elsewhere, is that when we move to a competency-based learning system concerned with rigor—in which students move on to new concepts only upon mastery (and there exists the notion of a minimum pace so students who are falling behind get more attention and gaps don’t grow too big)—that students who would typically be left behind and see their gaps grow bigger and bigger, instead experience a sea change when misconceptions are corrected, they master foundational knowledge and skills, and they can then accelerate much faster than anyone would have expected.

Different students also struggle at different points. Who struggles and where is often unpredictable ahead of time—in other words, “the smart kids” group and “the slow kids” group aren’t fixed. Will competency-based learning exacerbate some gaps? Certainly. The most talented students—who we under-serve and hold back today—will be able to accelerate even faster. The hope though is that these gaps will have less to do with race and wealth than they do today, but we don’t know for sure. We do know though that the status quo factory-model system—in my mind the opposite of a student-centered one—is failing along this dimension.

I’ve also heard Loveless attack personalized learning, one of the two components of what I think of as making up a student-centered education system (the other being competency-based education). Loveless looked up studies that purported to be implementing “personalized” learning and found that the approaches weren’t necessarily effective.

The challenge though is in assuming once again that everyone means the same thing by the term or did the same sorts of interventions; simply looking up personalized learning in the peer-reviewed research is too simplistic.

There are lots of notions and differing definitions of what personalized learning is, but when I, and many other disruptors use the phrase, we mean learning that is tailored to an individual student’s particular needs—in other words, it is customized or individualized to help each individual succeed. The power of personalized learning, understood in this way, is intuitive. When students receive one-on-one help from a tutor instead of mass-group instruction, the results are generally far superior. This makes sense, given that tutors can do everything from adjusting if they are going too fast or too slow to rephrasing something a different way or providing a different example or approach to make a topic come to life for a student.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Studies show the power of this kind of personalized learning for maximizing student success. Benjamin Bloom’s classic “2 Sigma Problem” study, published in 1984, measured the effects of students learning with a tutor to deliver personal, just-in-time, customized help. The striking finding was that by the end of three weeks, the average student under tutoring was about two standard deviations above the average of the control class. That means that the average tutored student scored higher than 98 percent of the students in the control class.

Furthermore, 90 percent of the tutored students attained the level of summative achievement reached by only the highest 20 percent of the students under conventional instructional conditions. A more recent meta-analysis by Kurt VanLehn that revisits Bloom’s conclusion suggests that the effect size of human tutoring seems to be more around 0.79 standard deviations than the widely publicized 2 standard deviation figure. But even with this revision, the impact is hugely significant. The problem is that having a human tutor for each student is prohibitively expensive; so to educate large numbers of students in the early 1900s, we adopted the factory model of education we have today. The logic behind blended learning is that we can gain the benefits of mass customization—many of the effects of a personal tutor in other words—without the costs.

Now, of course, as we implement blended learning, we may learn new things about how learning works. The opportunity to collect empirical data in near real time will be far greater, so we can test out different approaches for different students and see what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. And as we do so, perhaps we’ll learn that learning styles—not the simplistic notion we have today, but, as Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton wrote, “that different ways of learning certain concepts are more or less productive for certain students”—do indeed exist.

But we don’t have to believe that will happen for us to believe in personalized, competency-based, blended, or student-centered learning. Of course, perhaps we do need a better vocabulary to express what we mean.

Michael Horn is Executive Director of Education at The Clayton Christensen Institute, the co-author of “Disrupting Class.” He’s a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School. This post first appeared on and Wired AcademicImage attribution flickr user flickeringbrad

Disabled children ‘shut out of playgrounds’

Disabled boy
Image copyrightThinkstock
Image captionChildren with disabilities are often excluded from playgrounds

Disabled children are prevented from making friends and enjoying playtime because playgrounds and playgroups are not accessible, a charity report warns.

The Sense report says most parents of disabled children also find negative attitudes from other parents a key barrier to accessing mainstream play.

Disabled children and their parents end up being excluded from communities in England and Wales as a result, it adds.

The government says disabled children must not be discriminated against.

‘Vitally important’

The three-month Case for Play inquiry into the issue, chaired by former Education Secretary Lord Blunkett, found disabled children were missing out on play opportunities vital to their emotional, social and physical development.

It says insufficient funding at a local level, and negative attitudes to disabled children and their families are significant barriers.

Lord Blunkett said: “We know that play is vitally important for children with multiple needs and their families, bringing a wide range of developmental and emotional benefits.

“However, our inquiry found that all too often the parents of children with multiple needs point to barriers they face in accessing and enjoying play.

“It means that disabled children don’t have the same chance to form friendships, and parents are prevented from taking a break from caring.

“Both disabled children and their parents are excluded from their own communities.”

‘Turned away’

The inquiry heard from the families of 175 disabled children, with multiple needs, and received a further 175 pieces of evidence.

A snapshot survey of the families revealed nine out of 10 felt their child did not have the same chances to play as other children.

Two-thirds said they did not have enough information on accessible play opportunities in their area, while just over half had been turned away from play settings that had failed to meet their duties under the Equality Act.

The report also highlighted a lack of a strategic approach to funding play for children with multiple needs at a local or a national level across England.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring disabled children can access early years education and that play opportunities are accessible to disabled children.

“We don’t want to see any children discriminated against and to help this we have introduced the biggest reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disability system in a generation, focusing support on individual needs and aspirations.”

6 Emerging Technologies in Education


December 29, 2014 Educational technology is a dynamic field of research and study. This dynamism stems mainly from the constant flow of new educational web technologies and the emergence of novel Ed Tech concepts that provide theoretical underpinnings for these technologies. The challenge for teachers is not only in keeping up with this fast moving trend but also with understanding the basic foundational…



Our 100 Most Popular Student Questions for Debate and Persuasive Writing

In anticipation of our third annual Student Editorial Contest (to be announced on Feb. 25), we’ve done the math, and below you’ll find the 100 most-commented-upon questions we’ve ever asked that call for persuasive writing.

Many of them are, of course, on topics teenagers care about — technology, video games, sports and gender issues. Others are classic debate issues like government regulation and gun violence.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the broad topic that seems to engage students the most? School — from questions about homework to cheating, bad report cards, bullying and gym class.

So skim the list and pick issues that interest you. Each question is linked to a related Times article, which you can access free, and includes additional subquestions to help you flesh out your ideas.

Our 100 Most Popular Student Questions for Debate and Argumentative Writing

“I Forgot My Phone” | Does technology make us more alone?
Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?
Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card?
Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?
Is Cheating Getting Worse?
Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life?
Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers?
Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?
If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It?
Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
Do Teachers Assign Too Much Homework?
Does Technology Get in the Way of Learning?
What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security?
Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?
Is a Healthier School Lunch Program a Lost Cause?
How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone?
Is Cheerleading a Sport?
Should the School Day Start Later?
Should Racial Epithets Be Removed From ‘Huck Finn’?
Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores?
Can Money Buy You Happiness?
Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Lines Alongside Men? And, Should They Be Required to Register for the Draft?
Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies?
Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits?
Is School Teaching You the Skills You’ll Need to Succeed in Life?
What Current Musicians Will Stand the Test of Time?
What Words or Phrases Are Overused and Should Go Away?
Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools?
Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys?
Do Kids Need Recess?
What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start?
Do Photoshopped Images Promote Unrealistic Expectations of Beauty and Body Image?
What Should Be Done to Stop Cyberbullying?
When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies?
How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings?
Is It Unethical for Zoos to Kill Healthy Animals Under Their Care?
Is a Longer School Calendar a Good Idea?
Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work?
Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?
Is Home-Schooling Better Than a Traditional Education?
Is Prom Worth It?
Do Students Learn Best When They Direct Their Own Education?
Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too?
Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment?
How Young Is Too Young to Date? (Or, Is Dating a Thing of the Past?)
Do You Trust Your Government?
Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education?
Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks?
Has Facebook Lost Its Edge?
Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class?
How Necessary Is a College Education?
How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
Should Texting While Driving Be Illegal in Every State?
Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?
Whose Fault Is It if a Child Is Failing in School?
Should the Dropout Age Be Raised?
Should a College Education Be Free?
Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online?
Does Class Size Matter?
Should Marijuana Be Legal?
Should You Feel Guilty About Killing Spiders, Ants or Other Bugs?
Does Classroom Technology Enhance What and How Students Learn? Or, Does It Get in the Way of Learning?
Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football?
When Is the Use of Military Force Justified?
Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters?
Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations?
Should All Police Officers Wear Body Cameras?
Does Separating Boys and Girls Help Students Perform Better in School?
Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?
Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers?
Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place?
Is TV Too White? And, What About Movies?
Is It O.K. to Refuse to Serve Same-Sex Couples Based on Religious Beliefs?
Should Parents Limit How Much Time Children Spend on Tech Devices?
Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School?
Should You Go to Jail for Kicking a Cat?
Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports?
Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots?
Should Students Be Barred From Taking Cellphones to School?
How Important Is Arts Education?
Should the United States Stop Using the Death Penalty?
Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?
Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School?
Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions?
Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value?
Should College Football Players Get Paid?
Are High School Students Being Worked Too Hard?
When Do You Become an Adult?
Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes? Or, Does It Ever Actually Do Some Good?
Should Colleges Find a Better Way to Admit Students?
How Should Parents Address Internet Pornography?
Can You Be Good Without God?
Do Our Neighborhoods Define Who We Are?
Does Life Exist — or Has It Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth?
Should Computer Games Be Used for Classroom Instruction?
Should Companies Collect Information About Us?
Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing?
Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School?

Who Are You Teaching, And Why?

One thing leads to another.

A love for words (and the funny sounds they made) led me to write. A love for the craft of writing led me to write even when I wasn’t told to or didn’t have an assignment due, which (somehow) led me to think teaching writing might be a good idea, which led me to having a look-see for myself at the classroom from the other side of the desk, which led me to TeachThought.And by some impossibly chaotic by still entirely functional collection of digital possibility, you’ve turned on something electronic and ended up here, reading this. Things connect.

Teaching English

And so it was for me as a teacher. Being an English teacher—that is, a teacher of literature, the writing process, grammar, critical thinking, close reading, decoding, digital media, speaking and listening, and well you get the idea—was a very plaid experience—all divergent and striped and blocked and geometric but still somehow stitched together.

Oddly, elegantly unified.

As curriculum and content, “English” is really a matter of understanding communication—who said what, how did they say it, and how can you use similar patterns to say things yourself? Diction, tone, grammar, theme, thesis statements, mood, structure, idea organization, supporting details, main idea, literary devices, and dozens of other things are all pieces in service of communication—both sending and receiving.

For some reason, once you get to college, communication is chunked into a matter of public speaking, but that’s like teaching “shapes” independent of geometry. Speaking is first a matter of knowing.

So traditionally in English you take a close look at dead people that said noteworthy things, literature being “news that stays news.” You take apart what they said, try to understand why they said it, and write a paper or take a test on it. Franz Kafka, Robert Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Emily Dickinson, and countless other people that have lived but not anymore at one point were moved to say something, wrote it down, and here we are centuries later bubbling in scantrons about it all. It’s a bit weird.

But studying their poetry and speeches and novels and other recorded and highly formatted musings led me to see it all as a matter of purpose and audience. Every time we study a piece of literature, or the concept of writing, it was the same pattern.

What was said, and to whom?

The Order Of Thinking

This came in handy when I started taking a look at digital media and other technology in service of the study of English-Language Arts curriculum. A YouTube video, like a poem, has the same fundamental characteristics, just different modalities–word choice, structure, idea organization, tone, and the other bits that connote academic study. But each also has an audience and a purpose—and without understanding the audience and purpose, none of the other stuff makes sense.

You can’t evaluate the word choice of a poem until you have some kind of idea why it was written—and who it was written for (if anyone). The context. You can speculate all day long about what he or she said and how he or she said it, but you’re only speculating. You weren’t there.

You can analyze the meter or count the lines, but the poem itself is a conjuring born of audience and purpose—which makes it a nearly human thing itself. Something was said to someone for some reason, and everything works backwards from there.

Audience and purpose are primal. They have to come first or none of it makes any sense. And so it goes with pedagogy. Who are you teaching, and why? Who exactly, and why exactly?

When students start on projects for project-based learning, have them start with audience and purpose. What are you doing and why are you doing it? And for whom?

The same with ed reform. How can we revise a school or iterate education until we know what a school is supposed to do or what an “education” is? That’s purpose.

And most critically, who we’re doing this all for. Who is the “audience” of education? We don’t do this for curriculum or standards or test makers or corporations or universities or even ourselves. We can say it’s the students—so then let’s check that. Let’s look at all of our systems and parts and practices and see if they point to the audience. Or we can start with our audience and work backwards from there.

Understanding audience and purpose is critical for reading and writing. And project-based learning. And digital media. And ed reform. And pretty much everything else. The sequence of education itself begins with audience and purpose. So let’s start there, too.

Who are you teaching, and why?

This article was written by Terry Heick for edutopia, and updated for TeachThought; Audience And Purpose: Who Are You Teaching, And Why? image attribution flickr user tulanepublicrelations

Ultimate Guide to #hashtags

March 6, 2015 Hashtags are social networking phenomena par excellence. They originated in Twitter a around 2008 and since then they adopted and integrated into many other popular social platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus, and Instagram. We have already shared several posts covering the educational potential of hashtags, most popular among them all is teachers’ simple guide on the use of hashtags. Today…


Steve Jobs is a name which is synonymous with cutting edge, innovative and groundbreaking technology.

So it may come as something as a surprise to learn Apple’s former CEO didn’t believe in letting his kids use some of his company’s greatest products – the iPhone and the iPad.

And it’s not because the Apple godhead was a closet Samsung fan either.

Jobs, who died in 2011, may have had an instinctive flair for technology but he was a low tech parent who firmly believed in restricting his children’s access to electronic devices.

“We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” said Jobs way back in 2010, expressing growing concerns about his children’s gadget use.

As all modern parents know, iPhones and iPads are extremely appealing to children. These little hand-held devices are state-of-the-art toys. Surrogate parents almost, capable of entertaining, distracting, and pacifying children during school holidays and on long car journeys when mom and dad’s attentions are focused elsewhere.

Yet instead of thanking Apple for these extremely convenient parent assistants, should we actually be concerned about the potential harm they may be inflicting upon our youngsters?

Steve Jobs certainly appeared to think so. In a New York Times article published this week, journalist Nick Bilton recalls how he once put it to Jobs that his kids must love the iPod, but to his surprise Jobs replied, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

“I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow. Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”

And Jobs wasn’t the only technological guru who had substantial concerns about the long-term effects of kids engaging with touch-screen technology for hours on end.

Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, also believes in setting strict time limits and parental controls on every device at home.

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists. They say that none of their friends have the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology first hand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles recently published a study which demonstrated that just a few days after abstaining from using electronic gadgets, children’s social skills improved immediately.

Which is definitely food for thought considering recent research showed that an average American child spends more than seven and a half hours a day using smart-phones and other electronic screens.

Jobs was undoubtedly a genius but he didn’t get that way through staring at screens and playing Angry Birds until the early hours or constantly updating his Facebook account.

Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, spent a lot of time at the Apple co-founder’s home and confirmed that face-to-face family interaction always came before screentime for Jobs.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

So the next time the advertising department at Apple, Samsung, or any other major technological corporation attempt to sublimely convince you that life is somehow lacking without their latest little device, remember that the man who started it all, believed somewhat differently.

ReSchool Colorado…

What is it and why is the Donnell-Kay Foundation taking it on?

Donnell-Kay announces a game changing, multi-year effort to create a new state public education system where learning is reimagined and students graduate energized and equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

ReSchool Colorado intends to improve the experience of education in order to better match and keep pace with the needs and expectations of students living in the 21st century.

Needed: Education Designed for Today

Back when public education was first formalized, our lives and economy were more industrialized, based on a model characterized by repetitive routine and infrequent change.

Today, change is the norm and technology’s influence is significant. Digitally, we have access to just about any information, right in our pockets. Kids create music playlists or communicate instantly with the swipe of a finger.

And, it all happens anytime, anywhere.

It’s Time for a Mega-Leap Forward

It is no surprise the educational expectations of students and families have changed—dramatically.

To excel in today’s highly technical world, students require an educational system that adapts quickly to the fluid expectations of society and enables schooling to transcend time and place to better fit the learner.

For our centuries-old system to make this mega-leap forward, we need a game change—a fresh start, rich with new ways of learning.

The Road to Redesign Starts Here

To enable this much-needed fresh start for Colorado’s education system, the Donnell-Kay Foundation initiated ReSchool Colorado.

ReSchool Colorado’s ultimate goal is to design and implement an education system that pushes the boundaries of current thought and practice to provide an exceptional education for students living in this century, not the 20th century.

At full build-out, the system will serve students statewide and eliminate barriers between the key transition points of early childhood, K-12, higher education, and the workforce.

To do this, we will start small and grow over time. But, the system will not replace the existing Colorado educational system. Instead, it will be developed and operate in parallel with the current systems serving students in ECE, K-12, and higher education. Students and educators will choose to enter the new system at various points: some will migrate from their current path; others will start their education or career within it.

In addition, we hope ReSchool Colorado will inspire others, outside of Colorado, to take similar bold steps to envision their own new system and take action.

New, Relevant & Radically Different

This transformation calls for learning and schooling to be reimagined, current policies redesigned, and infrastructure repurposed. Critical attributes of the new system that are beginning to take shape can be seen here. Our goals for the new system are:

  • Ignite a love of learning through mastery of academic, personal, and professional competencies measured against international benchmarks.
  • Encourage a marketplace of dynamic educational opportunities that provide families and educators with more customized options.
  • Exist free from burdensome and layered statutes, rules, policies, and regulations that plague our existing education systems.
  • Be designed for today, adaptable to tomorrow, and never ‘finished.’ The system will evolve to meet societal demands and changes. It will nurture what works and discard what does not.
  • Minimize barriers to entry and enable diverse people to benefit. To ensure active participation and ownership, the new system will be co-designed with citizens and leaders who will be a part of it.
  • Be funded through a mix of private and public resources at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Design Process: Framework & Timeline

The Donnell-Kay Foundation kicked off ReSchool Colorado in 2013, with a Request for Information (RFI) that generated compelling ideas and identified experts suited to help plan the path forward.

Additional input from a variety of sources has resulted in a vision, strategy and timeline beginning to take shape.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, we will invite citizens and experts to inform the design of the new education system, including:

  • Policy design: System goals and policies
  • Learning Design: Student goals and opportunities
  • Communication: Information, inspiration, and engagement

We anticipate completion of the design process by the end of 2015, with policy and implementation strategy starting in 2016.

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12 Principles Of Mobile Learning

12 Principles Of Mobile Learning


Ed note: This post has been updated and republished from a 2012 post by Terry Heick

Mobile Learning is about self-actuated personalization.

As learning practices and technology tools change, mobile learning itself will continue to evolve. For 2016, the focus is on a variety of challenges, from how learners access content to how the idea of a “curriculum” is defined. Technology like tablets PCs, apps, and access to broadband internet are lubricating the shift to mobile learning, but a truly immersive mobile learning environment goes beyond the tools for learning to the lives and communities valued by each individual learner.

It is only within these communities that the native context of each learner can be fully understood. Here, in these communities that are both local and digital, a “need to know” is born, knowledge accrues incrementally, progress resonates naturally, and a full picture of each learner as a human being fully emerges.

1. Access

A mobile learning environment is about access to content, peers, experts, portfolio artifacts, credible sources, and previous thinking on relevant topics. It can be actuated via a smartphone or iPad, laptop or in-person, but access is constant–which in turn shifts a unique burden to learn on the shoulders of the student.

2. Metrics

As mobile learning is a blend of the digital and physical, diverse metrics (i.e., measures) of understanding and “performance of knowledge” will be available.

3. Cloud

The cloud is the enabler of “smart” mobility. With access to the cloud, all data sources and project materials are constantly available, allowing for previously inaccessible levels and styles of revision and collaboration.

4. Transparent

Transparency is the natural byproduct of connectivity, mobility, and collaboration. As planning, thinking, performance, and reflection are both mobile and digital, they gain an immediate audience with both local and global communities through social media platforms from twitter to facebook, edmodo to instagram.

5. Play

Play is one of the primary characteristics of authentic, progressive learning, both a cause and effect of an engaged mind. In a mobile learning environment learners are encountering a dynamic and often unplanned set of data, domains, and collaborators, changing the tone of learning from academic and compliant to personal and playful.

6. Asynchronous 

Among the most powerful principles of mobile learning is asynchronous access. This unbolts an educational environment from a school floor and allows it to move anywhere, anytime in pursuit of truly entrepreneurial learning. It also enables a learning experience that is increasingly personalized: just in time, just enough, just for me.

7. Self-Actuated

With asynchronous access to content, peers, and experts comes the potential for self-actuation. Here, learners plan topic, sequence, audience, and application via facilitation of teachers who now act as experts of resource and assessment.

8. Diverse

With mobility comes diversity. As learning environments change constantly, that fluidity becomes a norm that provides a stream of new ideas, unexpected challenges, and constant opportunities for revision and application of thinking. Audiences are diverse, as are the environments data is being gleaned from and delivered to.

9. Curation

Apps and mobile devices can not only support curation, but can do so better than even the most caffeine-laced teacher might hope to. By design, these technologies adapt to learners, store files, publish thinking, and connect learners, making curation a matter of process rather than ability.

10. Blending

A mobile learning environment will always represent a blending of sorts–physical movement, personal communication, and digital interaction.

11. Always-On

Always-on learning is self-actuated, spontaneous, iterative, and recursive. There is a persistent need for information access, cognitive reflection, and interdependent function through mobile devices. It is also embedded in communities capable of intimate and natural interaction with students.

12. Authentic

All of the previous 11 principles yield an authenticity to learning that is impossible to reproduce in a classroom. They also ultimately converge to enable experiences that are truly personalized.