#ukedchat Class room displays

Last night the topic for the #ukedchat discussion was “Classroom displays? Who are they for?”. Some techie-based snippets of inspiration:

  • screen saver displays
  • desktop background on student machines
  • cheap photo frames
  • QR codes for more information (check school policy on mobile phone use)
  • wireless webcam to display work on white board as it happens (and related: taking pictures of work with a portable device (iPad or similar) and displaying to class on projector using Evernote)


The summary of the discussion is available on the ukedchat site.

If the USA doesn’t rank highest in education league tables what does that tell us about education?

Gregory Ferenstein writing in TechCrunch asserts that:

The United States is the “dominant economic and innovative force in the world”.

and that:

During that time the United States has never ranked at the top of international education comparisons.


“schools don’t prepare students for the real world”

I couldn’t get my head around that at first but then I realised I was reading it as “schools fail at preparing students for the real world” but it was written as “it’s not schools that prepare students for the real world”.

That’s a big mind flip.

Before going further, there’s an obvious but implicit caveat to Ferenstein’s comments: he is talking about ‘the real world’ as tech-focused industry in the USA.

How could it be that the USA has dominated if this is the case? Ferenstein notes a couple of things, including the reliance of the tech industry in the USA on overseas educated talent (like me…) and the relatively high performance of the best students.

Maybe it’s also that the things measured for the international comparisons aren’t the same as the things that are needed to build and sustain a vibrant science and technology sector?

Worth a  read; and a ponder.

OECD on supporting new teachers

The OECD EducationToday has a post on supporting new teachers. They looked at the relatively high attrition rate for new teachers (around 10% leave the profession within the first three years of teaching) and found the new teachers confidence in their own abilities was likely to be a major contributing factor.

The full Teaching in Focus brief is available from OECD as is the survey data on which the findings were based.


Why Software Is Eating The World

Although from last year, this WSJ piece by Marc Andreessen, is still very relevant.

Marc (co-author of the first widely using web browser and Facebook board member among other tings) argues that software will become the foundation of all successful businesses. Either by forming the foundation on which they run, or through software services that deliver to customers. Marc cites some (often US-centric) examples of this trend:

  • Book retail with Borders disappearing while Amazon soared
  • Video rental with Netflix eclipsing Blockbusters
  • Media and music companies reinventing themselves as services – from iTunes to Pandora & Disney buying Pixar
  • Video games as the fastest growing entertainment category
  • Photography – just look at Kodak
  • Telecoms where Skype is the fastest growing company in the sector
  • Recruitment moving to services like LinkedIn

Increasingly, he agues, industries based on physical products (those, like food, that we haven’t yet figured out how to turn into digital bits) rely on software to power their businesses.

One of the areas that Marc calls out as yet to be impacted by this change is education:

Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries. We believe both of these industries, which historically have been highly resistant to entrepreneurial change, are primed for tipping by great new software-centric entrepreneurs.

The view of education as an industry expressed in the quote above got me wondering about which aspects of education are most likely to follow this shift soonest. Looking at the objectives for education below (from Stop Stealing Dreams) which areas are more likely to benefit from entrepreneurial software-led change?

To create a society that’s culturally coordinated.

To further science and knowledge and pursue information for its own sake.

To enhance civilization while giving people the tools to make informed

To train people to become productive workers.

EdSurge on Edmodo

EdSurge comments on the new features in Edmodo released last week – with some interesting observations on the Edmodo business model:

It’s business model is also still a bit opaque. So far, Edmodo, which reaches close to 1 million teachers and 10 million users overall, continues to offer all its tools and resources to teachers for free. It charges companies that offer their products through its platform: Crystal Hutter, Edmodo’s COO, says that more than 250 publishers are offering free or premium apps through the Edmodo platform.

More from EdSurge.

The new features look…. okay. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of the students I use Edmodo with pick up on Insights (I don’t plan to flag it to them just yet). Right now, I’d settle for some decent resources management functionality in the Edmodo Library.