Education & Tech

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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Education Nation: "NBC Really Knew Very Little About the Topic They Decided to Cover"

The following is a very thoughtful post by Stephen Lazar, a Bronx teacher who had the privilege to participate in NBC’s Education Nation event.

Over the past few days, I have had the unbelievably depressing and deflating experience of being part of NBC’s Education Nation. I was one of the first teachers on stage for Sunday’s Teacher Town Hall, and I returned on Monday for a panel entitled "Good Apples," taking up a so-called "Oprah Seat" which promised the chance to respond to the panelists, who included the Waiting for Superman Three: Randi Weingarten, Geoffrey Canada, and Michelle Rhee, moderated by Times reporter Steven Brill.

Unlike nearly all of the other teachers involved who either worked for charters or had some previous national education recognition or involvement, I was there randomly. I got a call last Tuesday from a friend of my wife’s who works at Scholastic, which seems to have had the primary responsibility for getting teachers to the events. My wife’s friend knew I taught at a Bronx public school and thought I could speak well about my experiences there. She did not know that I was my school’s UFT Chapter Leader or a National Board Certified Teacher. I told her I would not turn down an opportunity to talk on behalf of good teachers everywhere. On Thursday, I got a call from someone at NBC, who briefly interviewed me about my views on teaching, accountability, recruitment, and retention. I was then invited to be on stage with Brian Williams at the Town Hall.

Read more.

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American Teachers Can't Compare to Counterparts in China

More money to teachers, adding length to the school year and implementing new methods are changes that will take time and funds to make into reality, Mr. President.

President Obama learned from Shanghai mayor, China, that teaching is one of the most prestigious professions in this country and teachers are paid on par with engineers.

What if teachers made as much money as engineers?

Money wouldn't make wonders by itself. What we need to change is the culture of the education sector, supported by politicians in Washington and from there all the way down.

Schools that don't have a system of expelling bad teachers are bringing the entire profession down, said the President this morning in Education Nation. Sort of Mr. Obama. To do that we just need to re-write law and apply it.

Charter schools and other experimental schools can be 'laboratories of excellence' where best practices can be learned, and then spread. Can be, but not necessarily are the only ones. Why is it that boarding schools succeed having the same teachers working in the public sector?

The administration would like to close the lowest-performing five percent of schools, turning them over to charter school operators or sending them to other schools. Closing down a business takes the intervention of many people. Who is going to audit those closings so Americans don't lose human resources and money.

Yes, all of that MAY BE done. Are city and county voters prepared to approve or reject school funding measures? Sounds like a nice rhetoric but education can't be changed overnight without the participation if not all, at least, of most actors, among them the best qualified teachers.

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Speed Up Your Web Surfing With These Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts in the #newtwitter

Yesterday in the morning when I decided to log in on my Twitter account, the first notification that noticed was the option to try its new version. As any new user, I started to browse around and there are two things I already dislike: Half of the window is now used to show up your time line. I don't feel comfortable at all, it seems like somebody is pushing you aside when they have plenty of space. And the second, the time consuming new way to thank for RTs. Before, you could stack up all names giving you a RT, and reply in a shot, right now it is simply impossible.

That said, there is a bunch of things that I also like. The mini biographies of each tweeter, the possibility of retweet a Follow Friday very easily, the conversation threads and the smarter suggestions to people I should follow.

But it is the new look in general that struck me. As @drewb points out, it feels more like Gmail or Tweetdeck than a stream of updates. There is also the keyboard shortcuts navigation, sort of Google Reader, which makes it a delight for the geek community.

Enjoy the speedier surfing with these pro keyboard shortcuts for the new Twitter:

1. J - moves the highlighted tweet down one tweet
2. K - moves up a tweet
3. Space - moves screen down
4. Shift-Space - moves screen up
5. Shift H - top of screen
6. Shift R - replies to the tweet you're hovering over
7. Shift F - favorites the tweet you're hovering over
8. Shift T - retwets the tweet you're hovering over
9. Enter - opens tweet to the right hand panel
10. F - favorites that tweet (star)
11. R - replies to that tweet
12. T - retweets that tweet
13. Enter again - closes opened tweet
14. M - opens 'Message' in a pop-up window
15. Esc - closes 'Message' pop-up window
16. N - opens new tweet in pop-up window (Esc closes again)
17. / - goes to search
18. Shift H - goes to home
19. . - refreshes tweets
20. g then m - go to inbox
21. g then r - go to replies
22. g then f - go to favourites
23. g then p - go to your profile
24. g then u - go to a person's profile
25. g then h - go to home

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10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started Teaching.

I have been teaching for many year and this list really struck me. It was aimed to new teachers but after you read the list you will accept all that description applies to you, too.

Every teacher has a wide range of experiences during his/her career , this compendium will refresh your memory, if does not help you in the classroom.

We would love to copy the whole text but Miss Brave hasn't liberated her contents under Creative Commons, yet. So in place, I'll transfer, at least the main ideas.

The following are the 10 Things Every Teacher Must Remember:

1. Don't sweat the small stuff - First week of classes is a mess.

2. If you can put off until tomorrow what you planned on doing might want to think about it - Do your school stuff and then think of YOURSELF.

3. You can only plan what you can plan - Planning doesn't have to be a wreck.

4. There is no such thing as empty time - Even when you have it, use it to your own benefit.

5. Be prepared for anything. Really: anything - Do not pay us for do everything, but we have to.

6. Improvise - Have you ever made a mistake? You know how to get out of it.

7. Use resources from your sources - Is not always bad to overlook what your colleagues are doing.

8. Never assume. Speak up! - It never hurts to ask. Make sure all parties understand the point.

9. Some days, you have to be brave and hold your own hand - Loneliness may play against every teacher, but you still have family and friends.

10. Your moment will come to you - The best reform ever, cannot give a path for success. You are always in charge.

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Computer Use Does Not Hurt a Child's Academic Performance

The Washington Post:

It looks like the kids are alright, after all. A new study from the University of Maryland shows that more time spent in front of a computer doesn't hurt a child's academic performance, and, in some cases, actually improves test scores. Led by family science professor Sandra L. Hofferth, the six-year study followed a group of 1,000 children, who were between the ages of six and 12 in 1997, and continued through 2003. As the students spent more time on computers, their test scores didn't suffer significantly, even if they spent most of their time playing games on their PCs.

Read the original article written by Donna St. George

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Be Precise About What the Problems in American Education Really Are.

A lengthy article completely worth reading if you happen to be among those crying for and education reform in the American system. From The New Yorker:

...By the fundamental test of attractiveness to students and their families, the system—which is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and decentralized—is, as a whole, succeeding. Enrollment in charter schools is growing rapidly, but so is enrollment in old-fashioned public schools, and enrollments are rising at all levels. Those who complete a higher education still do better economically. Measures of how much American students are learning—compared to the past, and compared to students in other countries—are holding steady, for the most part, even as more people are going to school.


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Laughs Are Good, Not So Schooliness And Blackboards

I wish every teacher who evangelize about social media and self-publishing has an opening paragraph like Clay Burell did in this blog post.

How the teacher is to avoid, at all costs, schooliness and focus on success of learning. The teacher does not have to present the contents under their own name, his creativity will go beyond the literal description of the matter of a determined subject. For some this is was called motivation while in college education, for Burell it is a plain belly-laugh:

    ...The sooner students learn that laughter is okay when they’re presenting, the sooner they ascend from boring to interesting, from droning automaton to spirited human being. And maybe, just maybe, that discovery leads them to learn that designing and giving a presentation can be one of life’s highest pleasures.

The thesis is supported by two videos: Why Hores Are so Great and How to Teach Presentation Zen in Eight Minutes.

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WWC Research: On Adolescent Literacy, Elementary School Math, and English Language

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released nine new reports this week that review the research on education programs, curricula, and strategies. Here three of the most important to us:

The WWC has reviewed 129 studies and examined the effects of Corrective Reading on adolescent learners' alphabetics, reading fluency, and comprehension. Full report.

Accelerated Math™ is a software tool used to customize assignments and monitor progress in mathematics for k-12 students. The WWC checked out 32 studies that investigated the effects of Accelerated Math™ on elementary school students. Full report.

ClassWide Peer Tutoring is a teaching strategy that uses a team-focused game format to engage students in the learning process. For this review of the research, the WWC identified eight studies that examined the effects of ClassWide Peer Tutoring on English language learners. Full report.

For commentaries of the other six reports, please visit Education Research Report.

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School Principals and Social Networking in Education: Practices, Policies, and Realities in 2010

This report was conducted by, IESD, Inc., MMS Education, and MCH Strategic Data. Research was performed during fall of 2009 when an online survey was sent to a cross section of educators across the U.S., followed by an in-depth EDRoom online discussion with 12 principals all of them using social networking in their professional lives.

This are the key findings:

» Most principals who responded to the survey believe that social networking sites can provide value in education because they provide a way for educators to share information and resources with an extended community of educators, create professional learning communities, and improve school-wide communications with students and staff. About half of the surveyed principals felt that social networking is very valuable for these purposes.

» Most of the principals in the discussion group thought that social networking and online collaboration tools would make a substantive change in students' educational experience.

» None of the responding principals in the discussion group had school/district policies in place on social networking that were deemed adequate, suggesting the need for conversations and collaboration on establishing policies that can facilitate appropriate use of social networking in schools for educational purposes.

To get a copy of the study visit or click here.

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Education & Tech: News for Educators 09/11/2010

8 Awesome Tools to Quickly Take Notes and Annotate Webpage.
This article lists eight such note taking and web page annotation tools to help you in capturing and organizing information productively. Check them out.

“Twitter track on steroids” announced by TweetMeme founder.
It is in final stages of development, and will be available to developers in the next month. Twitter worked with Datasift on its development and it sounds exciting.

Internet Killed Blockbuster. Who’s Next?
Overwhelmed by debt and losses amounting to over $1 billion since 2008, the video rental chain is yet another of the world’s most famous names to join the long list of once successful companies that have not been able to adapt their business to the radical changes in the market introduced by the Internet

Plixi: Photo Sharing for Twitter and Facebook.
Allows users to instantly share their photos to popular social networks through mobile devices and on the web.

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Four Ways To Maximize Your Tech Resources In The Classroom

One of the primary jobs of educators is to develop teaching techniques that shape students in ways that translate well into the future job market. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to introduce current and cutting-edge technology into the classroom whenever it is appropriate to do so. Students can use this knowledge base to enhance their future careers.

Determining the best way to make use of technology in the classroom can be a challenge. Financial limitations, time restrictions, and practical concerns can limit potential positive effects. Here are four guidelines for maximizing your technology resources:

1. Don’t fall for gimmicks.

Technology companies are always on the looking for ways to break into the education market. While their offers of reduced-price tech toys and services might be just the thing your classroom needs, they can also be a huge waste of resources. In other words, if you don’t have a clear idea of how students will be using their new iPad in the classroom, it’s probably not worth the extra cost to write it into the lesson plans.

2. Stay current.

Nothing changes quite as quickly as technology. What was in favor six months ago might be passé with younger students. Further, some companies will sell unsuspecting teachers tech-based teaching aids and programs that are outdated. Staying current will help you avoid investing your resources in second rate, passé, or downright archaic products.

3. Foster creativity, not dependency.

Technology simplifies our lives. In doing so, however, it can create an environment that encourages minimal effort and creativity. Don’t be afraid to ask students to create a presentation using something other than PowerPoint. They will be forced to think outside the box, and you won’t have to see the same slide template recycled thirty times over.

4. Avoid "busywork".

Every assignment should have a clear, designated goal. Assigning a project using a new piece of equipment simply because you have that resource at your disposal wastes student effort. Make it a point to showcase the real-world applications of technology. From an education perspective, technology is only as valuable as it is functional.

This is a guest post by Alexis Bonari. She is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Twitter as a Human Laboratory

Photo thanks to user '~Ilse' on Flickr

Sylvia Martinez says it all:

I’m thinking about Twitter as a human laboratory — as a metaphor for learning. Twitter is what it is. How people react to it is a mirror of how they manage their own experience and their own needs.

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Understanding What the Act of Writing Really Is Among Students

Beyond School

Institutional schooling has perverted the understanding of far too many students of what the act of writing is — and the word “Act” is key: Writing is performance. This makes writers performers.

Performers know they have an unspoken but powerful contract with their audience: I must respect the time you’ve given to my performance. If they break this contract, the audience has ways of letting them know: no return visit. Boos. Bad reviews. Tomatoes flung at the time-waster on the stage

For more of the thought provoking article written by Clay Burell click here.

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Technology Tools for the New School Year

Photo credit: 'zappowbang' on FlickrThere is nothing as important as technology today, and if you don't make use of it to complement your education, you are missing out big time. There is a plethora of options to choose from, so much so that you feel like buying every new gadget that is invented and downloading every new application that is written. However, technology is only as good as the way you use it, so invest in gizmos and applications that will come in handy for the new school year. I am sure you already have your own notebook computer (or netbook) and a smartphone, so I’m going to focus on a few applications that can be downloaded from the Internet and which you can use on a regular basis for free (within a certain storage limit. Here they are, a few tools that could come in handy as you go back to school this year:

  • Dropbox: If you keep toting around a pen drive or a portable hard disk wherever you go, or if you cannot leave town without your notebook because all your files are on it and you cannot get any work done without them, then this is the perfect application for you. It is an online file storage utility that you can download for free from the Internet and install on your system. All you need to do then is to store your files in folders inside the Dropbox folder, and every time you are connected to the Internet, your files are synchronized and stored online. If you are using a friend's computer or one at a public facility, just install Dropbox onto the system, log in with your username and password, and download all your files or just the ones you need to work on currently. Dropbox makes it easy for you to forget about your files, because you can access them no matter where you are.
  • It is the perfect tool for collaborating on word documents with your classmates and colleagues – they can watch changes being made in real time, they can make changes if they are allowed to by the owner of the document, and it is easy to make remarks or comments as the text is being modified. Use this to work on MS Word files, PDF documents, and even HTML pages.
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus: It is the first antivirus software available from the cloud, and if you are like me and have had horrible experiences with the much-touted antivirus packages from Norton and the other big guns, you are bound to make the switch in a trice. The problem with some security suites is that they literally take over your hard disk and permeate to almost every nook and corner of it; so even if you uninstall them, stray files remain and corrupt other antivirus installations and even your browser configurations at times. With your antivirus package on the cloud, your hard disk is left free of clutter; with Panda, you are protected even if you are offline.
So check out these great tools today, and enjoy the convenience they add to your academic efforts.

This guest post is contributed by Debbie Owen, she writes on the topic of online doctoral degree programs. She welcomes your comments at her email id:

Education & Tech News for Educators 09/06/2010

Does a text box limits your creativity? You can compose a long text with photos an videos you want to share and paste the URL of your post to the text box.

A new technological “culture of light” will transfer both visual perception and communication. - Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Make your note, save it and share it with friends. The created pages contain only what you have typed. There are no irrelevant elements. Only text and media content. And this is just a small part of what you can do!

allows developers to embed videos, images and rich media from 111 services through one API. Visit the documentation to learn more.

Tripline is a way for you to tell a story by putting places on a map. It player gives you an animated line moving across the map with a soundtrack.

The rest of my favorite links are here.

A Modeling Method to Improve Behaviour in the Classroom

Management of classroom is by far the most intricate activity when you are a teacher in the lower levels. By experience I can say that the one thing you need is knowledge and patience. But what do you do when when you have a group of students that either disrupt your class or simply don't want to do their work?

Some colleagues will call for motivation. We call it an strategy. Michael Linsin comes with an interesting proposal we think is helpful and might solve a problem for many of us, k-12 teachers. This modeling method receives the name of Power of One

How the Power of One works.

After giving directions for whatever it is you want your students to do, follow these five steps, writes Linsin at Smart Classroom Management:

    1. Pause. A pause creates anticipation, drawing more attention to you and interest in whatever comes next.

    2. Choose one. Choose one student to do whatever it is you want your entire class to do. Who you choose only matters in that it must be someone you’re confident will perform the task correctly.

    3. Student performs. Don’t say a word while the chosen student is performing the task. When the student finishes, be sure to offer a small gesture of praise.

    4. Allow for questions. Allow questions if there is any. Then ask if there is anyone who, for any reason, will not be able to perform the task as modeled.

    5. The rest of the class performs. Ask for repetition. The rest of your students will then perform the task exactly how you want.

This strategy well may be called micromanaging for the time and space it takes, but definitely you will exercise control on a determined student and the task can be performed by any ordinary student, so the rest of the class would love to reflect on him.

What kind of resource of strategy are you going to use this new year with your disruptive students?

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10 Social Networks for People Involved in Education

Credit goes to Schröder+Schömbs PR on FlickrDavid Kapuler of Technology Tidbits came up with a list of the Top 10 Social Networks for Education. If you are an experienced person handling Internet tools you don't need to read this, but if you thinks you still can learn something new every time you visit this blog, then pay attention to it.

Of course you can read the description for each one at Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero:

1. Twitter -
2. Classroom 2.0 -
3. Facebook -
4. Plurk -
5. Educator's PLN -
6. Learn Central -
7. ISTE Community -
8. Edutopia -
9. Collaborative Translation -
10. IT4ALL -

Hope you enjoy them and we could add other sources, but I'll hold them for a new post. Stay tuned.

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Is the Value-Added Modeling a Solution to Education Reform?

The New York Times picked the issue on a national view of the standards to judge what teacher is better than another. As hard as this question seems to be answered, the value-added modeling calculates the value teachers add to their students’ achievement, based on changes in test scores from year to year and how the students perform compared with others in their grades.

But as the NYT points out, no every teacher agrees on this topic and most are opposed to take tests as a parameter to determine effectiveness. Teacher accountability continues to be iceberg point to Secretary Duncan and President Obama on education reform. While people outside the faculty groups claims for an evaluation of teachers, they do their homework and explain why setting up a method to measure teacher accountability is not something easy to be done.

Edward Haertel, a Stanford professor co-author of Problems With the Use of Students Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers says that in the value-added modeling, "People are going to treat these scores as if they were reflections on the effectiveness of the teachers without any appreciation of how unstable they are."

On the other hand William L. Sanders, a senior research manager for SAS, a company that does value-added estimates for districts in North Carolina, Tennessee and other states, added "if you use rigorous, robust methods and surround them with safeguards, you can reliably distinguish highly effective teachers from average teachers and from ineffective teachers."

Whatever the method is, one thing is for sure, America needs a better education and a new curricular design so community can catch up with speedy changes that are happening thanks to technology.

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