Digital Learning

While having a very interesting conversation over at my post about The Digital Divide and the Knowledge Deficit (about the recent MacArthur sponsored conference at Hechinger), I noticed a fascinating story by Sharon Begley at Newsweek called ?I can't think!? that deserves special mention.? There seems to be new evidence to suggest that information overload is just that ? and the bombardment harms our decision-making faculties. Writes Begley:

The research should give pause to anyone addicted to incoming texts and tweets. The booming science of decision making has shown that more information can lead to objectively poorer choices, and to choices that people come to regret. It has shown that an unconscious system guides many of our decisions, and that it can be sidelined by too much information. And it has shown that decisions requiring creativity benefit from letting the problem incubate below the level of awareness?something that becomes ever-more difficult when information never stops arriving.

Decision science, as the new field is called, would seem to raise many questions for educators, since the emphasis on "critical thinking" and "self-expression" has a great deal to do with the interchange between information and decision-making.? "[D]ecision science," writes Begley,...

Fordham gives its advice to Governor-elect Kasich and the incoming leaders of the Ohio House and Senate as it relates to the future of K-12 education policy in the Buckeye State. To move Ohio forward in education, while spending less, we outline seven policy recommendations. 1) Strengthen results-based accountability for schools and those who work in them. 2) Replace the so-called “Evidence-Based Model” of school funding with a rational allocation of available resources in ways that empower families, schools, and districts to get the most bang for these bucks. 3) Invest in high-yield programs and activities while pursuing smart savings. 4) Improve teacher quality, reform teacher compensation, and reduce barriers to entering the profession. 5) Expand access to quality schools of choice of every kind. 6) Turn around or close persistently low-performing schools. 7) Develop modern, versatile instructional-delivery systems that both improve and go beyond traditional schools.

In this volume, a diverse group of experts—scholars, educators, journalists, and entrepreneurs—offer wisdom and advice on how schools and districts can cut costs, eliminate inefficient spending, and better manage their funds in order to free up resources to drive school reform.

Edited by Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, and Eric Osberg of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Stretching the School Dollar (Harvard Education Press, 2010) proposes immediate, short-term cost cutting solutions as well as long-term, structural changes that will improve the efficiency of the entire system. The book serves as a valuable guide in an era where every dollar matters.

Buy the book from Harvard Education Press

America brims with education data and these days it seems everyone in education claims--or at least wants--to be guided by data. In A Byte at the Apple, leaders and scholars map the landscape of data providers and users and explores why what's supplied by the former too often fails to meet the needs of the latter. It documents the barriers to collecting good information, including well-meaning privacy laws and the maze of overlapping government units and agencies. Most important, it explores potential solutions--including a future system where a "backpack" of achievement information would accompany every student from place to place.

Among the book's main points:

America has made significant gains in education data.
No Child Left Behind, while much-criticized, has led to important strides in the creation of and demand for student achievement data. New technologies are making data entry, collection, analysis and dissemination vastly easier.

Yet many education-data systems remain archaic, cumbersome and non-comparable.
For instance, higher ed data typically don't align with elementary-secondary. Students who change schools get lost. Finance data are a mess. And some information, such as which pupils are taught by which teachers, isn't even gathered. Key definitions, such as "dropout" and "graduate" remain unsettled....

At the request of Ohio's top government and education leaders, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools have issued a report seeking to strengthen the state's charter school program. Among its 17 recommendations are calls for closing low-performing charter schools and holding sponsors more accountable for oversight of the growing charter movement while also helping more high-performance schools to open and succeed in Ohio. In return for sharply stepped-up accountability, restrictions on the formation of high-quality charters should be removed, and charter schools should receive more equitable funding.

Turning the Corner to Quality bases its findings on research and analysis of Ohio school performance data; a review of best practices in other states; input from experts in charter school finance, sponsorship, accountability and policy; and evaluation of dozens of policy options.

Education policy leaders from across the political spectrum flesh out and evaluate several forms that national standards and testing could take.

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