Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Today You Will Hit Against the World"

Logan Eades...doing what he does best!
Those are the words of my son's hitting coach and they have really hit home for me. Not in the baseball sense, but in the analogy between baseball, education, and life.

Like the hitting coach told my son as we stood on a baseball field covered in snow in the middle of winter, "Your local high school may be easy for you, the state may be easy for you, but while other kids are playing video games, you are practicing against the players in Arizona, California, Florida, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Today you hit against the world."

Some of you may think it seems harsh to have a young teenager hitting baseballs out in the snow, but that is where he wanted to be. That was his choice. As I walked around in the outfield picking up baseballs with snow and ice stuck to them I thought these two guys (hitting coach and son) were a few bricks short of a full load (if you know what I mean). The weather was so bad that we did not see a single car drive by the ball field in the two hours I was freezing and shivering. Honestly, I was the only miserable one as they were laughing and having fun throughout the ordeal and I suffered alone and kept wishing that I was back home sitting next to the fireplace. The thought of hot chocolate persistently invaded my thoughts with every baseball I picked out of the snow.

However, when I returned home, cranked up the heat, and had my hot chocolate, it dawned on me that I had the wrong attitude about the day's activity. I was totally wrong because what the hitting coach was really pointing out to my son, at an early age, is that competition occurs not just locally, but internationally as well. You should always think about the big picture, not only in baseball, but in education, business, and life.

Technology has created a global world and our educators must also remember that we are training our students to compete in the global marketplace. The sooner our children figure this out, the better off they will be as well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Spring Art Festival and Education

Artwork provided by Cameron Eades
I recently attended our local art festival and, as usual, I really liked some of the artist’s work and I’m not so thrilled with a few others. I do admire all of their talents, but some appeal to me and some never will. It makes you realize how people are so amazing when left uninhibited to create with different mediums. It’s also intriguing how artists can interpret an object in so many ways and create something so different from each other. The patrons all interpret that same piece of artwork in so many different ways and that, I believe, is based upon personal experiences in life and many other factors. I’m definitely not an art critic and I don’t pretend to be, but I know what I like and I think that can be said for all of us.

Could the same be said for education and how we learn?

I understand the history of education and the institutional means for educating the masses. It’s scalable and we need the population educated as quickly as possible. It’s a system that has worked in an efficient manner for generations, but it may not have been the best method for many of us.  
Artwork provided by Cameron Eades

Can we do a better job of educating students by allowing them to learn in ways that are best for them?

I truly believe that technology is beginning to allow us to customize education to the individual and a hybrid model of learning is something that you should be considering if you haven’t already. There is the “flipped classroom,” the “flat classroom,” etc. but as MichaelHorn and Clayton Christensen explored in “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns” (McGraw-Hill) we need to concentrate on transforming America’s education system from its current factory-based model into a student-centric one in which every student can realize his or her human potential.

Technology has drastically changed our personal and professional lives in the last generation and I believe the time is upon us for technology to transform our educational system.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Problem, Performance and Program in the A-Model

John Kleeman, the founder of Questionmark, poses the following question:
"How do you evaluate the effectiveness of training?"
Kleeman explains:
"Around 50 years ago, Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick wrote about what became known as the Kirkpatrick model – where you evaluate training in four levels: reaction, learning, behavior and results. His model has been hugely influential in the evaluation of workplace learning and the use of assessment.

This year, Dr Bruce C. Aaron, whose career spans the Florida Department of Education and working in evaluation at Accenture as well as volunteering at the chapter and national level with ASTD, has written about the A-model, a new way of thinking about assessment and evaluation of workplace learning.

The A-model does not start with the question: “How do you evaluate the effectiveness of training?” Instead, it puts the training in context, by starting with the 3 P’s: Problem, Performance and Program.

The basic concept is that in order to make sense of evaluating something, you have to start with the business Problem that you are trying to solve. Problems need to be important for the business purpose and they must be measurable – for example a need for increased production, improved quality, revenue increase, higher customer satisfaction.

Once you have a clear definition of the Problem (and how you will measure if it is solved), you need to define the human Performance that will solve the Problem. Performance itself will typically be behavior that is directly tied to important accomplishment or results in the workplace. To get performance, you use Performance Enablers – new learning of knowledge, new skills, changed attitude, feedback or incentives, performance support or new equipment. For example, you might identify that people need to be more skilled with a computer program to solve the Problem, or else to have better product knowledge.

Only after defining the Problem and the Performance, should you define the Program. The Program consists of the intervention or solution to the problem, and might be a training course, some other kind of learning or improvement or performance support.

Just as in the picture below, the Program is just the tip of the iceberg, underpinned by the Performance and the Problem. Without them, evaluation of the Program is not meaningful or useful.
Thus if your Program is a training course or learning intervention, you evaluate its effectiveness by measuring not only the delivery of Program itself but also determining whether it achieves the human performance improvement you are looking for and has a positive impact on the Problem it is there to solve.

A key difference between the Kirkpatrick model and the A-model is that the Kirkpatrick model starts out with the training course and goes on to tie it into results, whereas the A-model starts with a business problem and helps you define how to improve performance to solve the problem, and then measure training or other performance support in that context.

In Kleeman's next post on this topic, he’ll talk about how the A-model informs the processes of analysis, design and evaluation and where assessments fit in. In the meantime, you may want to listen to this 8-minute podcast from Dr. Aaron or read his thought-provoking A-model white paper available here (free with registration)."
I'll be posting more about the A-Model in the near future...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Caine's Arcade - A 9 Year Old's Dream and the Best Video You Will Watch Today!

Caine Monroy and his famous arcade.
Caine’s Arcade is a short film about a 9 year old boy who spent his summer building an elaborate do-it-yourself cardboard arcade, located in his dad’s used auto parts store in East LA.

Caine dreamed of the day he would have lots of customers visit his arcade, and he spent months preparing everything, perfecting the game design, making displays for the prizes, designing elaborate security systems, and hand labeling paper-lunch-gift-bags. However, his dad’s autoparts store (located in an industrial part of East LA) gets almost zero foot traffic, so Caine’s chances of getting a customer were very small, and the few walk in customers that came through were always in too much of a hurry to get their auto part to play Caine’s Arcade. But Caine never gave up.

One day, by chance, Nirvan Mullick walked into Smart Parts Auto looking for a used door handle for his ’96 Corolla. What he found was an elaborate handmade cardboard arcade manned by a young boy who asked if he would like to play. He asked Caine how it worked and he told Mullick that for $1 he could get two turns, or for $2 he could get a Fun Pass with 500 turns. Mullick got the Fun Pass and created much more as the Fun Pass spawned an idea for him to make a video about Caine's Arcade. Mullick began the project, the flash mob ensued, and Caine's Arcade was forever changed.

This short film tells the story of Caine’s Arcade. It could be the best 11 minutes that you spend today!

Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

There are a lot of things you can take from Caine's story such as his imagination, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, his math ability (using square roots to validate the PIN numbers on each Fun Pass), and his sense of business.

What I think I like best about Caine is how he creates what he is passionate about and there are no obstacles for him, just new challenges that he can overcome (the crane game for example). Would you agree that Caine wasn't just creating an arcade, but he was creating his own version of art?

Due to the very nature of social media, the video went viral and Caine has now created a college fund of approximately $164,000+ (and growing) at this time. We should all take a lesson from a 9 year old and follow our passion which is where we will find our greatest success.

To me, it's kind of what education should be about anyway... providing the skills to follow our passion.

Check out Caine's story on his own website by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do Smart Phones Lead to Rampant Cheating on Tests?

  • Overall, 35 percent of students said they had used their phones to cheat during school.
  • Twenty-six percent of high school students saved information from their notes and textbooks in their phone and accessed those digital files during exams, and more than half of student respondents said their classmates did the same.
  • Seventeen percent of students said they had used their smart phones to take pictures of test questions and answers and sent those images to classmates.
  • One in five students said they had used their phones to search the internet for test answers.
  • And even after using web-accessible smart phones to share tips and answers with friends during tests and quizzes, one in four students said they didn’t consider it cheating.
The preceding data was published by academics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and by the education technology website Common Sense Media and reported in eCampusNews by Dennis Carter.

It's disturbing to me that 25 percent of students don't consider the use of smart phones during a test or quiz as cheating. Do they not think they have an unfair advantage over the other 75 percent of test takers? What reasons would make them think this isn't cheating? At first glance, I thought of laziness and even fear of failure (ultra-competetiveness), but those are probably the reasons behind the eleven percent who cheat and know they are cheating and just don't care.

Why has the definition of cheating been "blurred" for the teenage population?

So what is it about the 25 percent? Is it lack of ethics or have we sold some students on the fact that knowledge is always at their finger tips because of technology so why commit something to memory if it is that easy to access the information? I've had the latter discussion with a colleague and I can see the point, but I'm not sold on this argument on its' own merit. I really wish the study could have questioned the reasoning behind their thoughts and I think this would have made the study even more enlightening.

Now that we have identified the problem with smart phones and cheating, I hope that we can start identifying the reasons for this behavior and then the solution(s). In the meantime, I hope you will follow the the CareerTech Testing Center's recommendation to ban the use of all smartphones and mobile technology during the testing process.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why Do 50 Percent of New Teachers Leave the Profession After Five Years?

Teacher job satisfaction has declined by 15 percent since 2009 and 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession after five years... What are the reasons? Budget cuts (the economy)? Education reform? Salaries? Job security? Teacher evaluation (and/or state-mandated testing)? All of the above? Additional reasons???

An eSchool News article entitled, "Survey: Teacher morale at its lowest in decades" takes a closer look and reports findings from an annual MetLife survey, "MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy" that suggests the effect on budget cuts on U.S. public education and points to the need for a new approach on teacher development and support.

Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, states, "The nation depends on its teachers more than ever to help all students graduate with the high-level skills necessary to succeed in college and a career, but teacher job satisfaction has fallen to the lowest level in more than 20 years. If you believe as I do that the best economic stimulus is a diploma, then the best job creator is a well-prepared, well-equipped, highly effective teacher. Job satisfaction is linked with adequate opportunities for professional development, time to collaborate with other teachers, more preparation and supports to engage parents effectively, job security, and feelings of respect as a professional.”

To find out more about the "Survey: Teacher morale at its lowest in decades" click HERE.
To read the eSchool News article in its entirety click HERE.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Have You Always Wanted to Build Your Own Mobile App? Try Yapp!

Photo appears courtesy of Mashable
 Do you love apps for your mobile device? Have you always wanted to design an app for your conference, wedding or party?

If so, I want to introduce you to a new app builder called Yapp. It's great to have a website for an event, but when you go to an event you are mobile. Yapp helps you stay connected to the event by offering addresses, schedules, news feeds (to chat or upload photos), and bio pages. It allows users to build an app within minutes and you can even choose a template.

According to Sarah Kessler at Mashable:
On Wednesday, Yapp launched a free private beta version of its event-focused app builder.

In exchange for the inflexibility of the platform, users get prettier apps and a builder interface that is about as easy to use as a Tumblr blog. When they’re done, they can publish to the app store and mobile web for free (eventually Yapp will charge to add some app features).

Yapp is the most basic app builder we’ve seen. You’re not going to build the next Angry Birds or even tout your small business’s brand using the platform, but ... there’s still plenty of potential for generic apps.

“[With web pages], tools came into the market that made it really easy for people to create a blog or a website for the PTA,” Maria Seidman  (Yapp co-founder) says. “We think the same thing will happen with apps, but at a much more rapid rate.”
As mentioned above, Yapp is currently in beta, but you can request a beta code to get access to this new service. Please read the Mashable article in its entirety be clicking HERE.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Fractions" - the Newest Curriculum Release from CIMC

What are the different parts of a fraction and the different kinds of fractions? What are some of the best methods to teach how to convert, reduce, add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions?

"Fractions," the newest curriculum release from CIMC, provides an understanding of fractions for students aged middle school and up. The teacher edition contains 210 pages, 8 units, 35 objectives, 25 assignment sheets and 24 illustrations that cover proper, improper, mixed and equivalent fractions, converting and reducing fractions, additions, subtraction, multiplication, and division (a student edition is also available).

Did I mention that "Fractions" contains supporting links to many Khan Academy videos?

Contact the Customer Service Division online or at 800.654.4502 to place your order today!
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