Will this sort of device be the breakthrough to move schools from a paper bound environment to a digital one? With Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein involved, it has a shot.
For sale only to schools for now, the Amplify tablet comes pre-loaded with virtually everything a student will encounter during the school day, including all the textbooks, lessons, tests and e-books she might be assigned.
What's perhaps more significant, Amplify will give teachers the ability to both monitor and control what students do with the device. Teachers can conduct lessons with an entire class or small group and can instantly see what websites or lesson areas students are visiting. A teacher dashboard allows them to take instant polls, ask kids to "raise their hands" virtually and, if things get out of hand, redirect the entire class with an "Eyes on Teacher" button that instantly pushes the message out to every screen.
Thomas Friedman's column on "The Professors' Big State" after attending a conference with Harvard and MIT entitled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education”.
¶Therefore, we have to get beyond the current system of information and delivery — the professorial “sage on the stage” and students taking notes, followed by a superficial assessment, to one in which students are asked and empowered to master more basic material online at their own pace, and the classroom becomes a place where the application of that knowledge can be honed through lab experiments and discussions with the professor. There seemed to be a strong consensus that this “blended model” combining online lectures with a teacher-led classroom experience was the ideal. Last fall, San Jose State used the online lectures and interactive exercises of M.I.T.’s introductory online Circuits and Electronics course. Students would watch the M.I.T. lectures and do the exercises at home, and then come to class, where the first 15 minutes were reserved for questions and answers with the San Jose State professor, and the last 45 were devoted to problem solving and discussion. Preliminary numbers indicate that those passing the class went from nearly 60 percent to about 90 percent. And since this course was the first step to a degree in science and technology, it meant that one-third more students potentially moved on toward a degree and career in that field.
The national survey of 1,000 students in Grades 6 through 8 found that:
39 percent use smartphones for homework.
26 percent use smartphones at least weekly for homework.
31 percent use tablets for homework.
29 percent of those with household incomes under $25,000 use smartphones for homework.
Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely than whites to use smartphones for homework, at 49 percent, 42 percent, and 36 percent, respectively.
With an agenda that Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has described as a “quiet revolution,” the Obama administration has pushed rigorous new standards for a majority of the nation’s public schools as well as requirements that states and districts evaluate not just schools but individual teachers, in part by assessing their ability to improve student scores on standardized tests.
But some critics suggest that at the same time the administration has gotten tough on teachers and set higher standards, it could be allowing states to set new, unambitious goals for how quickly students must reach those standards, particularly poor and minority students.
Obviously the secretary isn't a dystopian and an optimist about this happening given the huge national debt.
The transition to digital involves much more than scanning books and uploading them to computers, tablet devices or e-readers. Proponents describe a comprehensive shift to immersive, online learning experiences that engage students in a way a textbook never could.
Because of technological advances — among them, the greatly improved quality of online delivery platforms, the ability to personalize material and the capacity to analyze huge numbers of student experiences to see which approach works best — MOOCs are likely to be a game-changer, opening higher education to hundreds of millions of people.
Dramatic spending cuts, calls from taxpayers for greater efficiency, and rapidly evolving technology are propelling such ideas forward and causing more people to question the seemingly immutable norms of traditional schooling:
Why are classes still largely structured around lecturing, when research shows learners often retain information better through writing about it or explaining it, with feedback?
Why do schools largely group children by similar age instead of similar ability?
Why is memorization and fact-regurgitation so heavily valued when school leaders and employers say they want greater problem solving and critical thinking skills from graduates?
"Higher Education's Online Revolution" in May 31st Wall Street Journal details the possibility of allowing millions of students to obtain a world class education from top professors via online education. Authors John Chubb and Terry Moe say that the obstacles - underwriting or monetizing the process, reaching and meeting students' needs are doable.
This challenge can be met. Over the long term, online technology promises historic improvements in the quality of and access to higher education. The fact is, students do not need to be on campus at Harvard or MIT to experience some of the key benefits of an elite education. Moreover, colleges and universities, whatever their status, do not need to put a professor in every classroom. One Nobel laureate can literally teach a million students, and for a very reasonable tuition price. Online education will lead to the substitution of technology (which is cheap) for labor (which is expensive)—as has happened in every other industry—making schools much more productive.
President Obama honored the National Teacher of the Year and the other finalists at the White House on April 24th.
President Obama honors Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th-grade English teacher in California's Luther Burbank High School, as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, and thanks all the finalists for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom. April 24, 2012.