from Technology & Learning
Science, Math, and Technology
A conversation with Jeremy Roschelle about technology in K-12 math and science education.
Jeremy Roschelle, director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International, Menlo Park, California.
SRI is a nonprofit scientific research institute that does work for government agencies, commercial businesses, foundations, and other organizations.
BACKGROUND: Roschelle has a doctorate in Education/Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley and credits his interest in technology and learning to his days as a computer science student at MIT.
Q. WHAT MAKES SENSE FOR K-12 DISTRICTS TO LOOK AT RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF TECHNOLOGY?
A. There are two really important uses of technology that districts could be focusing on.
One is interactive representation, where technology is used to visualize a math concept such as rate and proportionality, or simulate a scientific phenomenon such as how weather changes affect agriculture.
The second important use is to change the pattern of engagement in classrooms, getting kids more active and collaborative. The teacher is then able to provide more feedback and to adapt or to adjust instruction.
SRI is developing ways of using low-cost wireless handhelds to enable students to sketch the graph for a math function, for example. The sketches could be collected on a whiteboard, and then the student work is the focus of a classroom discussion.
Q. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MAIN TECHNOLOGICAL TRENDS IMPACTING K-12 DISTRICTS?
A. The most important trend is away from technology in the form of computer labs or something you pull out on special occasions, and toward technology that's ubiquitous, inexpensive, and as easy to use as a pencil. Examples are the trends toward $100 laptops, and handheld devices such as PDAs, whiteboards, and graphing calculators.
There is also an overarching trend toward integrating technology into the core curriculum, rather than using it as a supplement or an extra. In math class, students don't need MS Word or PowerPoint. In science class, they don't need Excel. Rather, we're looking at applications that integrate with the subject matter and that are based on what research tells us about how people learn.
Q. WHAT CHALLENGES DO DISTRICTS FACE IN MAKING TECHNOLOGY DECISIONS?
A. The biggest challenge is overcoming fads and hype, and focusing on uses of technology that research shows produce learning. In their rush to adopt wikis and blogs, schools may be neglecting powerful improvement approaches such as computer visualization, simulation, and modeling tools that have the backing of scientific evaluation.
Q. HOW DO SCHOOLS IN OTHER COUNTRIES COMPARE TECHWISE WITH U.S. SCHOOLS?
A. I'm invited to address conferences all over the world. When I go to places that are living in the future, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, they're preparing their teachers for a classroom in which every kid has a personal computing device and is wirelessly connected, and the teacher has an interactive whiteboard.
They have changed their assumption of what a classroom is.
It's not just Asia. I've also been to Chile and seen classrooms based on that model, where teachers are engaging students in a collaborative learning model, and every student has a wireless handheld.
We have to keep in mind that the educational future is happening—and it's not necessarily happening here first.
Q. WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT FOR DISTRICTS TO CONSIDER IN THE TECH PICTURE?
A. Districts need to know that there are nonprofit organizations such as SRI out there that stand ready to work with them to bring together what we each know.
School CIOs know a lot of on-the-ground stuff, and we know a lot about how to integrate technology, curriculum, and teacher professional development to increase learning. Let's work together to make sure all kids have a chance to learn really important math and science concepts.
For more information on SRI's Center for Technology in Learning, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-859-5866.
Sheila Riley is a San Franciscoâ€“based freelancer who also writes for EE Times and Investor's Business Daily.
Education research experts Eduventures released a report in February 2007 on where U.S. districts are headed with large system management. Following is an excerpt obtained for School CIO.
Trends in K-12 Enterprise Management: Are Districts Ready to Cross the Chasm? provides a detailed assessment of the themes and the trends that are driving the market for Kâ€“12 enterprise management systems. Selected key findings are included below:
1. THE SUPPLY SIDE OF THE MARKET IS CONVERGING, WITH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CONVERGENCE OCCURRING BETWEEN STUDENT DATA MANAGEMENT AND INSTRUCTIONAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS.
As companies add new modules in adjacent niches, traditional boundaries between enterprise systems are blurring. NCLB-fueled reporting demands have accelerated convergence among student data and instructional management systems and have exposed a classic chasm that exists between the academic and administrative halves of the Kâ€“12 enterprise. Because student data is the core of the enterprise, providers of student data management systems are well positioned to help bridge this academic-administrative chasm.
2. DISTRICTS SEE THE VALUE OF AN ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT APPROACH BUT ARE HESITANT TO ADOPT END-TO-END SOLUTIONS.
Ninety-one percent of district officials report that it is important "to integrate academic and administrative data from various district technology systems." Yet, collective industry wisdom suggests that the market is too dynamic and districts' needs are too complex for a single company to profitably deliver a comprehensive solution. Insufficient and unpredictable funding streams and district unwillingness to outsource core data-related functions help explain this finding.
3. IN A FIERCELY COMPETITIVE FUNDING ENVIRONMENT, PROVIDERS MUST CONSTANTLY DEFINE A CLEAR VALUE PROPOSITION.
Scarce dollars to support investments in enterprise management systems typically are in competition not only with other enterprise systems but also with every other strategic initiative under consideration by the district. This reinforces the importance for providers to clearly and continually demonstrate to district officials the value of an enterprise management approach in terms of increased efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness.
4. DISTRICTS PREFER VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS THAT BALANCE DISTRICT CONTROL WITH SUPPORT.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of districts prefer to assume greater responsibility in exchange for greater control but expect to rely on the vendor partner to play a significant role. In a forced-choice scenario, districts are five times more likely to opt for greater control over a fully outsourced solution.
5. MEDIUM-SIZED DISTRICTS MAY BE BEST POSITIONED TO BENEFIT FROM INTEROPERABILITY STANDARDS.
SIF is gaining momentum but has not yet reached critical mass. In the meantime, medium-sized districts may realize benefits sooner. These districts are big enough that they cannot manually manipulate the data in ways that efficiently meet their needs, but they may not enjoy the resources of larger districts, which can often afford custom integration of best-of-breed "point" solutions.
6. EDUVENTURES PREDICTS SIGNIFICANT GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE COMPANIES THAT CAN HELP DISTRICTS TRANSLATE ENTERPRISE DATA INTO MORE EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES.
Because school districts exist for the sole purpose of educating students, the link between investments in an enterprise approach and evidence of student success is paramount. The industry is still very early in an evolutionary process in which enterprise management systems are expected to play an increasingly critical role in the continuing transformation of the K-12 sector.
For further information about Eduventures, go to www.eduventures.com.
To contact Jay Delaune, director of Industry Solutions at Eduventures, call (617) 532-6094, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The Cyberbullying Challenge
The following is an excerpt from "Terror in the Classroom: What Can Be Done?"
by Ryan E. Winter and Dr. Robert J. Leneway
Imagine coming home from school and sitting at the computer to get away from the stress of the day. Within a few minutes you're bombarded with messages like, "You're ugly…We hate you…Why don't you make us all happy and end your miserable life." Welcome to a world too many teenagers are facing. A world where bullying no longer takes place in the hallways. Bullying is now more likely to take place in the murky, often anonymous world of the Internet. About one-third (31 percent) of all students ages 12â€“14 have been bullied online according to a 2006 study by Opinion Research Corporation.
WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
Bill Belsey, president of Bullying.org, says, "Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others."
For the full article, go to www.schoolcio.com.