Having Fun Yet?
For those who doubt the words "serious" and "game" belong in the same sentence, maybe it's time to think again. Kicking off the packed Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last March was a two-day Serious Games Summit. With a targeted mission to "cover the intersection of games, learning, policy, and management," the program included sessions on simulations in schools, developing for the education market, and increasing communication between academia and gaming. Although not aimed directly at a K-12 audience, the summit — which is produced by our parent company CMP Media — earned kudos from T&L editors for reminding everyone that fun and passion are key ingredients of the learning process.
Rethinking Leader Education
Arthur Levine has been causing quite a stir with his Educating School Leaders report. In it Levine, president of Teacher's College, Columbia University, recommends schools of education do away with the doctor of education degree and replace it with the educational equivalent of an M.B.A. The Ed.D. "is a watered-down doctorate that diminishes the field of educational administration and provides a back door for weak education schools to gain doctoral granting authority," writes Levine. "[It's] unnecessary for any job in school administration and creates a meaningless and burdensome obstacle to people who want to enter senior levels of school leadership." Levine's proposed new degree would cover a wide range of management and educational issues, including finance, organizational leadership, educational technology, child development, and assessment. www.edschools.org
SAT prep "to go" has gone one big step further with the unveiling of an application designed to work on smart phones. Handmark, whose 2003 release of Road Scholar for the Palm broke ground with mobile test prep, is now partnering with Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions to provide SAT, PSAT, and ACT tutorials for the all-in-one devices. Now, students can e-mail, surf, instant message, play music, chat, and prepare for college all at the same time.
The Impact of EETT
The President's proposal to cut the Title II Enhancing Education Through Technology program, which accounts for $500 million of ed tech block grants per year, portends a funding conundrum for schools. How many will be affected if the program is eliminated? An online InstantPoll revealed a preponderance of districts — 87 percent — use EETT monies in varying degrees. While many readers implored the administration to keep Title II, others felt schools should be responsible for tech funding. "It's time for schools to step up to the plate," said one commentator.
Given this information, we then examined the potential consequences for districts — namely, would they be forced to make staff cuts? 71 percent of educators responding to our online poll said the elimination of EETT would translate into a loss of jobs. 28 percent reported head counts would not be affected. Here, some comments we received.
"I've already had my job cut back as we know what's coming."
"I work for a large, urban district. This is the total funding source for all of our instructional technology resource teachers."
"We have 14 technology coordinators who are currently being paid out of these funds."
"Could we handle layoffs? Yes. Would it be prudent and beneficial? Probably."
"Government subsidizing these programs is a horrible waste. The programs need to go away completely."