Category: Achieve Written by Jeffrey R. Young, chronicleofhighereducation
Textbook publishers argue that their newest digital products shouldn't even be called "textbooks." They're really software programs built to deliver a mix of text, videos, and homework assignments. But delivering them is just the beginning. No old-school textbook was able to be customized for each student in the classroom. The books never graded the homework. And while they contain sample exam questions, they couldn't administer the test themselves.
One publisher calls its products "personalized learning experiences," another "courseware," and one insists on using its own brand name, "MindTap." For now, this new product could be called "the object formerly known as the textbook."
"In the early days of TV, the first things you saw on TV were radio shows, and only over time did the next format evolve for that medium," says Don Kilburn, chief executive of Pearson Learning Solutions. "I think we're at that stage right now" with textbooks, he says.
Major publishers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years buying up software companies and building new digital divisions, betting that the future will bring an expanded role for publishers in higher education.
So far publishers produce only a limited number of titles in these born-digital formats, and the number of professors assigning them is relatively small. Only about 2 percent of textbooks sold at college bookstores are fully digital titles, according to a survey of 940 bookstores run by Follett Higher Education Group.
But if these new kinds of textbooks catch on, they raise questions about how much control publishers have over curriculum and the teaching process, as online education expands.
"It's not a textbook, it is an entire course," says Jean Wisuri, director of distance education at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, describing a product called Course360, from Cengage Learning. "It has activities built right into the textbook itself."
A professor could essentially rely on a Course360 title as the full curriculum in an online course, letting students loose in the system and having them teach themselves. The Course360 titles connect to the university's learning-management system, linking them directly into an institution's existing virtual classroom.
But Ms. Wisuri says she is not worried about the software's replacing professors. "The 'course in the box,' if you will, should only be a jumping-off point for faculty members," she says. "Our faculty has the freedom to pick and choose what they want from the materials."
As these "courses in a box" continue to improve, though, they could shift the professors' role to be more like pilots on modern commercial planes, who let the autopilot do the flying except when they have to step in.
Last Updated on Monday, 28 January 2013 01:47
Category: Achieve Written by Todd Johnson, theGrio
As President Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of office for a second time, the country is once again examining his impact as a leader. In some schools across the country, educators still look to Obama as a role model for their young students to look up to.
At Friendship Woodridge Elementary and Middle School in Northeast D.C., eighth grader Parker Wilson remembers Obama’s first victory in 2008.
“On his first term when he first got elected, honestly, I did care but I didn’t know the importance,” Wilson said of his time as a fourth grader. “I thought there were other black presidents. But over the course of the years, I realized ‘Wow, he’s the first black president,’ and that motivated me a lot in school.”
Wilson and some of his classmates spoke to theGrio’s Todd Johnson about growing up with an African-American as president.
“My teachers would just always tell me ‘if [Obama] can, you can,’” said Heniaya Moton. “If [Obama] can be a risk taker and want to run for president, you can be an astronaut or do whatever you want to do.”
The student’s eighth grade english and social studies teacher Langston Tingling-Clemmons said he often references the president when he is trying to encourage his students to behave in the classroom or to strengthen their focus on assignments.
It’s a luxury he enjoys and something he didn’t think would be possible as a “teaching tool.”
“It was more like, ‘if Martin Luther King was alive, maybe he’d be president,’” Tingling-Clemmons said of what he heard from his teachers when he was growing up. “Today, we can’t expect Obama to change everything in the world, but it’s great to be able to point to someone who is real and tangible to my students.”
The ‘boost’ Obama’s presidency may or may not give students in the classroom is far from scientific. The ‘research’ is more tangential than anything – students claiming they’re motivated by a black president could certainly be motivated by a variety of other things or other people.
The ‘achievement gap’ for students of color persists and education experts consistently point to both socioeconomic and under-resourced schools as factors to explain why. The question of Obama’s impact on young students achievement levels is a complicated one – but worth exploring says Carlos McCray, an associate professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.
“We can observe what’s going on with black students over the last four years and even eight years…but what about an entire generation of African-American students who did their schooling under an an administration headed by a black man?,” McCray asks. “I think not only do we need to ask how our students perceive this moment, but we also need to ask how this moment has changed the perceptions of those who are educating Black students. I think it is a crucial question on a symbolic and substantive level.”
Hard work and respect are two words you’ll hear a lot from teachers and staff at Friendship’s Woodridge school. And there’s a consistent effort to reference Obama as an example for leadership.
“I think them hearing that here at Woodridge everyday and then seeing that from a president and seeing that the harder he works, the better it gets,” said Rictor Craig, Woodridge’s principal. said. “I think that definitely resonates and it just makes sense and ties in what we’re trying to establish here at school on a day to day basis.”
Obama’s second inauguration coincides this year with the Martin Luther King national holiday.
Last Updated on Sunday, 20 January 2013 17:57
Category: Achieve Written by Benjamin Todd Jealous, theroot
(Special to The Root) -- Continuing their historical practice of working together to address issues of concern to the African-American community, the NAACP, National Urban League, United Negro College Fund and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are working cooperatively to improve educational opportunities for all students. This week we will run op-eds by the leaders of each organization, to address a crucial aspect of what it will take to prepare our young people to succeed in life. First up: The president of the NAACP addresses early-childhood education.
This month we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which set our nation on the path to the end of slavery.
Upon receiving their freedom, our ancestors' first priority was to get an education for themselves and their children. In Georgia it was illegal for slaves to read, yet schools for slaves and freedmen had been operating in secret for years. When teachers publicly opened their classroom doors in 1865, they were met with an overflow of students. With scarce federal support but a true understanding of the value of education, they built dozens of schools using their own resources and their bare hands.
My grandmother is 96. Her grandfather was a slave until the end of the Civil War. She was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Virginia that he helped build, and at a college he helped found.
In 2013, the Year of the Black Student, our desire for generational progress is as urgent as ever. As parents, we still demand that our children have better opportunities than we did. And we are still willing to sacrifice to make that a reality.
Yet our children are growing up in states that spend more and more on prisons and less and less on public higher education. They grow up in a nation that leads the world in incarceration but can no longer claim to lead it in job creation.
If we are going to deliver on our ambitions, we must do what our ancestors did: build a better America for our children with our own hands. We will need two things: a collective plan of action and an individual commitment to do whatever we must to ensure that our children get what they need to succeed.
A new NAACP action plan, "Finding Our Way Back to First," sets out to empower communities with that plan.
One of the report's key findings is that our children's and our nation's path to greatness begins well before kindergarten.
If you want to find the root of America's intranational inequities and international decline, stop by your local elementary school. Decades of research show that the kindergarten classroom is the point on the graph where lines start to diverge based on race, class and socioeconomic status and, thus, where our nation's educational performance starts to trail those of other countries.
From 1999 to 2007, the National Center for Education Statistics followed a geographically and ethnically diverse group of students, tracking their progress from kindergarten to middle school. They found that by the third grade, a low-income student who is reading below grade level is already 13 times less likely to graduate on time than a reading-proficient, wealthier peer.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:20
Category: Achieve Written by Ellis Booker, informationweek
At the start of 2012, at its January Education Event in New York City, Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller was widely quoted as saying, "Education is in Apple's DNA."
That now seems an understatement, considering the company's performance this year. In 2012, Apple broke its own sales records in the education market.
In the third quarter, not only were Mac sales to education at an all-time high, twice as many iPads as Macs were purchased. (It was the second consecutive quarter in which this happened.)
Specifically regarding iPad sales in the U.S. education market, Apple said its third quarter saw nearly a doubling year over year, to just under one million units.
"The adoption rate of iPad in education is something I'd never seen from any technology product in history," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the third-quarter earnings call.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 January 2013 11:31
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