Finally, someone publicly reframes what has been typically labeled cheating. I have been making the contention for years that empowering your resources is a higher level skill set and therefore more impressive than being able vomit from memory an answer. This is a great complimentary article to my earlier post regarding what employers want from employees. They want someone who can find solutions, answers, and be autonomous within their environment! Great point to start a discussion about antiquated education practice.
Last week I read the New York Times article, How to Get a Job. My first reaction was that it was “spot on.” My second reaction was “do I add value?” My third reaction was “what is really broken in our society?”
Two important statements sum up the entire thought process.
“It is best summed up by the mantra from the Harvard education expert Tony Wagner that the world doesn’t care anymore what you know; all it cares “is what you can do with what you know.””
They [employers] just want to know one thing: Can you add value?
I can remember exactly where I was when I took the “list all 50 states and their capitols” test in second grade. It was at Tracey Elementary School outside of Tatamy, PA in the afternoon on a very hot day. I sweat for hours before that test hoping that I would remember at least a fair amount of them. I also remember memorizing geography map after map labeling countries, states, and the like. I would spend hours memorizing formulas in algebra, chemistry, and biology. When I was able to remember these facts…I was deemed smart. If not, my grade would reflect my perceived efforts.
Is vomiting facts what we consider intelligence today? Is that what 21st century skill sets are all about? Is that what the Common Core State Standards initiative identifies as its goal? Is any job today successfully accomplished by simply memorizing a series of facts? Every sentence can be answered with “NO”. Today’s knowledge workers need to be able to effectively communicate, think creatively, collaborate, and think critically with no exceptions in order to be successful now and in the future. Employers are speaking out and this time they are spot on! They need employees who, on a daily basis, add value to knowledge pool. They also need people who can take that knowledge and apply it on actionable items.
These questions remain. Are we giving our students employable skill sets? Are students getting a return on their bloated college debt? Is education resting on long held traditions that do not meet the needs of the modern job market? Could the educational institutions currently in place be that broken?
As always…my perspectives and mine alone.
Google has not been a stranger to the education sector. Google Apps for Education has been around for years and many educational organizations, K12 and high ed alike, have drank the Kool-Aid. As one who has worked in the field of public education for almost 15 years, Google’s way of live was always a strong contender, but never a complete solution. There was always the…apps are limited in functionality…files are stored where?…how does this fit with FERPA regulations?…how do we transfer all our files?…what do you do fo a video solution?…you mean I have to create an account for all my students AND teachers?… The questions were seemingly endless and as with many of Google’s solutions, where not all that elegant.
The result was that many avoided Google’s attempt at fully penetrating the education market. You could liken it to a dating couple. IT administrators and power users within schools many times used Google’s tools, but only as an add-on. They were never the goto solution or backbone suite of applications. Schools were willing to “hang out at a movie” with Google, but were never willing to make a full commitment. Marriage was just too much of a risk.
Google’s I/O 2013 keynote flirted with a marriage proposal to education. They touted statistics for Google Apps like
- 25 million users in over 200 countries
- 74 out of 100 of the top universities are using Google Apps For Education
- 7 out of the 8 Ivy League universities are using GAFE
My reaction to every company that throws out usage numbers is so what. Convince me that I should care. Are really trying to peer pressure me into your world. I am not in middle school where “Come on…everyone else is doing it” is an aceptable argument. Unfortunately, the world of public education is highly peer influence and does care immensely about the school down the street. We also have been conditioned to read research and on a minutes notice quote seminal studies like an evangelist quoting lines from the Bible. We have been made to believe that if the district with large amounts of success is using “X” then we should use “X” and all bliss will follow for us as well. The ultimate truth with educational technology is exactly what Chris Yerga said during his presentation.
“…When I go visit my kid’s classroom, it looks pretty much exactly like it did when I went to school…”
Yerga also quoted teachers who said:
“…Teachers told us that in education there is a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical, especially with mobile technology…”
Semantically, education has changed. At its core, it has not. Google definitely wants a role in evolving educational practice. They have put the proposal on the table not only in words, but also in product. What did they reveal? For starters, Google Play for Education. This will be a game changer in app acquisition and deployment. Anyone who has completed a VPP purchase from Apple and the App Store will identify with this much more palatable process. They have also indicated a serious attempt to merge both Chrome and Android Apps. Because Google has invested in software and not hardware, the hardware options are plentiful and most importantly economical. The management piece has always been a feature, but Yerga emphasized a true “out-of-the-box”, plug-n-play scenario for tech directors. What no Summer re-imaging?
There are so many other smaller facets to Google’s proposal to education. I may have begun to sip the Kool-Aid. I may even feel a little pressured. That said, logic is a strong influence on me and Google is making very good sense now. Will they ultimately deliver? I and many IT directors hope so.`
I will start this post by saying that I am not generally a fan of Adobe. They DO make great industry standard products, but in a wrapper of annoyances. Their software updater is absolutely that door to door salesman that will not quit, the interfaces are less than productive, the applications are resource intense and hog all power out of any system…the list goes on and on. I just find the modern trends of “less is more” a very positive move in the software space. Adobe seems to find ways to simply create software that everyone needs, but hates to use.
That all said, I had the opportunity to explore Adobe’s Captivate 6 software this weekend. I must say WOW! This is a product that I have been wanting to look at for some time and never had the need or time to really engage. I am very sorry that I did not do this earlier and would suggest anyone in the eLearning space to look seriously at its potential applications. It is a capable tool that truly makes the chore of tutorial development more efficient.
Say what you would like about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative…It’s the Federal government messing with decisions that should be made at the state/local level…or…What does everyone else know about MY students?…or…Another unfunded mandate that will have very little effect on students….or on the other side…Is it awesome that the Nation is finally working together on a consistent set of educational expectations…etc. This post was not intended to stir emotions or perspectives on the movement. What I intend to conjure up in your mind how this commonality between 46 states will be influenced by social media.
If you have not dove into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, edmodo, or [insert the newest member here], then you may be missing some of the most collaborative environments available to educational professionals. Yes, believe it or not, many people are using these services for more than sharing pictures of their dinner, showing a friend getting kicked in a very sensitive area, or wishing a friend they haven’t actually seen in 30 years a happy birthday. Teachers, administrators, educational professionals in general, and stakeholders from all surrounding entities within school communities are engaging in conversations intended to foster innovation, the development of the community brain, and a sense of professional commitment to improvement. If you have not experienced this information overload, then go ahead now and see what you have been missing. It’s a virtual world worth exposing your brain to. I would not be the professional today without social media and the free flow of information that it provides.
How is this a complementary piece to the CCSS? Let’s just say that with the mass adoption of these expectations across a huge audience, it begins conversations between professionals much more easily. Think about it. I’m making lesson plans for the following day, it’s late, and I’m drawing an instructional blank about how to accomplish a certain task. Enter social media and the power of the community brain. In a very short time, there will be thousands of people ready and waiting to lend a helping hand with advice and resources.This will be especially true for the thousands who are in remote locations that don’t always have the opportunities to attend conferences, collaborate with more than their inner circle of daily contacts, or find like minded individuals to express their thoughts. A common cause or task equals a large army of people ready to tackle cause.
It is really as simple as that. CCSS equals a common focus, task, and overwhelmingly large community brain to foster innovations and solutions that are challenging modern education. It may be that the negatives of a common set of standards truly do overshadow the positives, but this is definitely one positive to be identified and celebrated.
Don Tapscott is a notable author and speaker on the influence of the Internet revolution. In other words, he discusses concepts like Web 2.0, Web 3.0 or the semantic web, and (this phrase just makes me cringe at the very thought of having to type it) digital natives and immigrants. I cannot believe how much those words have been abused and turned into excuses for ignorance. I will leave that rant for another day and post. That said, Tapscott has several published books on theses topics and has, at the very least, brought these ideas to the general masses. He has brought the Internet’s influence to center stage. I have to say that I am not overly fond or in agreement of his general assertions, but this TED video is absolutely spot on. In the wake of the Apple vs. Samsung calamity…you know the recent court case that will not ever help the consumer’s pocket or any company that even attempts to be innovative…, I cannot imagine a more appropriate attitude for our modern corporations to adopt. Tapscott explains the four principles of openness which are
A few phrases also stood out to me. I won’t comment on them specifically other than to note that they made me think. They where:
“Age of networked intelligence”
“There’s leadership, but no one leader”
“Humanity is building a machine”
“Understanding the new power of the commons”
What inspires you about his contentions? What got you thinking? Here’s the link to the Tapscott’s TED talk. Let’s start a conversation here!
A few months back, I referenced a great iOS app iRecorder Pro. I cannot say enough about this app. It records for hours without a hitch even when the device goes to sleep allowing for great battery life. I have had staff members record meetings for up to five hours and not have issues. It records in .m4a formats and does it economically with regards to both data size and quality.
The people at SimpleTouch Software made this app even better. The app will automatically “chunck” longer recordings for emailing so that it will meet the data caps imposed by most email servers. They added an audio meter during recording to ensure you are not peeking. The app will now employ integration into the stock media controls on the device…meaning that you can see transport controls in the lock screen. The developers have even improved the recording quality. Don’t forget the original features as well. The app has a simple interface, web server feature for easy transfer of files, will sync with iTunes if you want to, and great noise rejection.
The verdict: If you need an audio recording app that is a goto and does what it should time and time again, this is the one to get even at the price of $2.99. You may see nicer, more full featured apps that look like a pro audio solution, but why waste the effort or extra money. For the classroom, it doesn’t get more reliable.