Thursday, November 3, 2011

Goodbye Newsweek

Dear Newsweek –
For many years you carried me through – informed me, entertained me, and made me feel like I belonged.

I counted on you and trusted you to inform me of a smattering of things happening around the world and in our own country. I could read Newsweek and hold my own at pub trivia, make small talk in the elevator, or follow along while listening to Wait, Wait. I relied on your Conventional Wisdom. I trusted you to walk me through complex issues and help me get a grasp of the unknown. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You educated me.

Things have changes. I just don’t understand you anymore. Oh, on occasion we connect and things are good and I feel loved and wanted. But it is brief. I feel like I’m coming in in the middle of a conversation that you are having with someone else. Like there is a code word that I just don’t know, an inside joke that I’m not part of. (I especially feel like this when you don't caption photos.)

Goodbye. I will never forget the good times.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Moneyball" and Education #change11

Dear Education,
Why are we last? Why is it that innovation used to come from our higher learning institutions and now we don’t even try to use the “newest and latest”? Business (and even sports) has been using new approaches for decades. Please help us by helping yourself.

A parent, citizen, and fan.

I am once again inspired. I just saw “Moneyball”, the new movie based on Michael Lewis’ book about the Oakland A’s baseball team. “Its focus is the team's modernized, analytical, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland's disadvantaged revenue situation.” Wikipedia contributors, "Moneyball," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, // (accessed September 27, 2011).

I want to compare the movie to the current situation in education – as I see it.

All quotes below are from the same Wikipedia resource.
"Several themes Lewis explored in the book include: insiders vs. outsiders (established traditionalists vs. upstart proponents of sabermetrics), the democratization of information causing a flattening of hierarchies, and the ruthless drive for efficiency that capitalism demands. The book also touches on Oakland's underlying economic need to stay ahead of the curve; as other teams begin mirroring Beane's strategies to evaluate offensive talent, diminishing the Athletics' advantage, Oakland begins looking for other undervalued baseball skills such as defensive capabilities.”

Traditionalists in education – I’ve seen ‘em, and I’ve worked with ‘em. They serve on the board with me and they scare me.

Upstart proponents – often ignored and I do love them so. These are the ones who shine so brightly at meetings and conferences and then … poof!

Democratization of information – it’s here but still just in the early adoption stage. Examples include the work done by David Wiley, and the folks at (including my long-lost cousin John Wilbanks

Another thing pushing this is the perfect storm created by the state of budgets, the cost journals, and the dire need for progress in the sciences. Granting sources should insist on openness as too much money is spent reinventing the wheel. We should all stand on the shoulders of giants.

The drive for efficiency – again, the budgets will push this, but so will the American Graduation Initiative’s goal: by 2020, this nation will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world (

One of the most startling presentations I ever saw was The Challenge of Higher Expectations & Constrained Resources by David Longanecker at the WCET annual meeting in Denver, Colorado in 2009. His data heavy presentation showed the gap between expectation and reality. See - slide 8 is particularly intriguing.

Staying ahead of the curve – There is a fight for the student in higher education especially with “for profit” vs. public institutions, but it is also in K-12 education – we currently have school districts actively promoting their schools and encouraging inter-district transfers.

“The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time. The book argues that the Oakland A's' front office took advantage of more empirical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball.

Rigorous statistical analysis had demonstrated that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better indicators of offensive success, and the A's became convinced that these qualities were cheaper to obtain on the open market than more historically valued qualities such as speed and contact. These observations often flew in the face of conventional baseball wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives.”

So, do test scores (ACT or SAT) or high school GPA really provide a good measure of success in college, or do we need to look at more? One of my earlier careers was in banking, and at one time I was the Marketing Director. I spent about two years initiating, implementing, and refining data mining for the bank – and that was in the early 90s. A decade later “Data Mining” appeared on the cover of a leading education publication.

Why are we so slow? Are we just mired in tradition, or is it the machine is too big and we are on the Titanic? Cuba Gooding, Jr. used the line “Show me the money” in the movie Jerry Maguire. Maybe it’s time education embraced “Show me the data.”

In the movie Boston Red Sox Owner John Henry is credited with saying, "The first one through the wall always gets bloody". Let's get bloody.

I wonder if, in ten years, there will be a movie made about analytics in higher education.

For more fun you might want to read

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 #change11

Looking forward to being challenged and learning with #change11.

First presentation with Zoraini Wati Abas (slides at had some technical difficulties and it was interesting to watch the group adapt. Kind of shocked at lack of initiative by some ... they add to Twitter #change11 but don't follow? I don't understand. Through Twitter #change11 there were clear instructions on how to adjust to the change and connect for both visual and audio. At once a pleasure to use technology to trump technology, and perplexing to watch human behavior. Reminded that this is what happens to students and why some are left in the dust.

Another example of Stop, Evaluate, Plan, and Proceed. And cooperation and problem-solving and communication... and tenacity and trust.

I must go back and read:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NETP 2010 - briefing SETDA/CCSSO

For a good overview see: for a briefing. I don’t know how long this will be available. (National Press Club) Sponsored by Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) & State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

Susan Gendron( Maine Commissioner of Education) does the welcome - and Jeff Mao – Vice Chair, State Education talks about Maine’s progress within the last 8 years. Broadband – 2001 e-rate fund – state paid for broadband – did not leave it to the schools to decide. Also, schools are ’required’ to spend x per student on ed tech. “As goes Maine, so goes the nation.” Is YouTube banned because of content or bandwidth?

Doug Levin – SETDA – looking forward to dramatic reform, improvement via technology. State Education Technology Trends: rising student expectations supported by the forward momentum of state led Common Course Standards movement. Must raise expectations and add new skills, too. Technology can help students to excel, or remediate. Teachers/leaders/teacherLeaders. Online Communities of Practice. Classroom based formative assessment. Learner centered personalized system in education.
1. Online and blended learning.
2. Online computer based assessment.
3. Digital and open content.
4. Share info, data, resources.

Needs: Support, Data and accountability, Infrastructure, Vision and leadership (funding)

Karen Cator, Dept of Ed, This is the forth National plan since 1996
25:40 “gaming” “Education is a knowledge industry”,
-five goals w/ recommendations:
Learning, Assessment (of what counts), Teaching (connecting), Infrastructure (24/7), Productivity (financial system proves output … ha! This is a big deal because at AAC&U there were whispers of funding based on graduation rates…not number of students enrolled.)

Steve Midgley – FCC – Gaps include insufficient connectivity, Regulations inhibiting online learning, Seat time vs outcomes, and Digital literacy (a solvable problem). Proposed recommendations will go to Congress March 17th: upgrade e-rate, teacher certification should go across state lines, capabilities based learning (vs. butts in seats), open licensing. Unlocking the power of data…move data. Not fax, not FedEx. Share financial strategies for online/effective learning. Digital standards to share this info. RFP network – to connect buyers/sellers.

NETP March 2010

I just read the draft of the National Education Technology Plan (aka NETP), dated March 5, 2010. It’s available at .

Okay, truth be known, I’ve only read the Executive Summary. (The Executive Summary is only ten and a half pages of tiny type. The whole is 80+ pages.) While I don’t know what version this is, I love reading drafts – the earlier the better. Just like I loved reading Margaret Spellings August 8, 2006 draft of “The Commission on the Future of Higher Education” this gives a rather unvarnished view of what they (the current administration) would REALLY like to see. Somewhere along the way it will be watered down, yet if we get even a quarter of the way to their vision great strides will be made in education.

In these times of budget cuts, it takes a lot of guts to start the report with:
“Education is the key to America’s economic growth and prosperity and to our ability to compete in the global economy.”
4700 teachers in LA received lay-off notices, Kansas City is closing almost half their schools, and on a local note one of my city’s two middle schools is closing.

Just in the first page these other statements caught my eye:
“Specifically, we must embrace innovation, prompt implementation, regular evaluation, and continuous improvement.”

"To shorten our learning curve, we can learn from other kinds of enterprises that have used technology to improve outcomes while increasing productivity.”
(Didn’t business and government used to turn to education for innovation?)

Basically there are five areas of interest: Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity.

Learning – engage and empower the learner – let learning be available 24/7 – personalize learning. They seem to recognize that learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom and ‘educators’ include many. They give a nod to online social networks (wikis, blogs and digital content), recognize “limitless, borderless and instantaneous” opportunities, and mention “life-long and life-wide” learning.

“All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and outside of school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.”

Assessment – measure what matters, diagnose during the course of learning, and aim for continuous improvement. We need “21st century competencies” (who knows what that means?) and systems that will capture and collect evidence of students knowledge. Systems will ‘learn’ and provide appropriate support.

“Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement.”

Teaching –shift to a model of ‘connected teaching’. Teams will teach, not individuals. Teaching is a team activity; educators will build online learning communities encouraging collaborative, coherent, and continuous learning.
“Clearly, more teachers will need to be expert at providing online instruction.”

“Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that enable and inspire more effective teaching for all learners.”

Infrastructure –Resources when and where they are needed – people, processes, learning resources, policies, and sustainable models. This includes broadband, servers, software, management systems, and admin tools.

“All students and educators will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning when and where they need it.”

Productivity – Getting more out of each dollar we spend by leveraging technology. Learn from other sectors. Seat-time vs. competence based learning. Age-determined groups, with specific pace are questioned.

"Our education system at all levels will redesign processes and structures to take advantage of the power of technology to improve learning outcomes while making more efficient use of time, money, and staff.”

The paper closes with a list of Grand Challenge Problems, which appear to be classified “R&D” however, I would venture to say many of these ‘problems’ have solutions that exist. I think it’s our infrastructure that is the weak link. Years ago at a CENIC conference the representative for the state admitted they made a mistake when they didn’t push broadband through. They pushed up to libraries and County Offices of Education, hoping counties would ‘find’ funding to push further. I think San Bernardino received a Gates grant, but other than that I haven’t heard of other ‘successes’.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Resources from Feb. 2010

In the News

E-Portfolios and the Problem of Learning in the Post-Course Era (pdf) by Randy Bass

Barbara Pace - Approach, audience, & use.

Nick Rate – ePortfolios 101

Blurring the Boundaries: Social Networking & ePortfolio Development by Helen Barrett, Ph.D.

AusFramework: 2009 E-portfolio Implementation Trials: Case studies released: 23/2/2010 2009 E-portfolio Im...

NZ students eportfolios

How the Univ. of British Columbia School of Nursing Created a Practice e-Portfolio : Learning Solutions :

Friday, February 5, 2010

2010 ePortfolio intersects with National and State goals

In late January and early February I had the pleasure of listening to two influential education leaders.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke at the National School Boards Association, Federal Relations Network meeting in Washington DC on February 1, 2010. Copy is available at

And California State Superintendent of Instruction, Jack O’Connell delivered his 7th Annual State of Education Address on January 22, 2010. Copy is available at

There were many times during each presentation that I nodded and mumbled “ePortfolios”, restraining the urge to jump up and shout it out for all to hear. (Note: Jack O’Connell and Arne Duncan are not the same person.)

Jack O’Connell

“Students are now being prepared for college and careers by a new approach to high school that links strong academic focus with real world, work-based learning in a wide range of fields. Linked Learning is a promising high school improvement approach that is helping to give many students more options for life after graduation.”

ePortfolio intersect: Work-based certificates and documents can be housed within an ePortfolio system. Specific systems (such as Minnesota’s) can link to employment development databases to match qualifications applicants to open positions. Our current economy and the increased need to have multiple skills will require continued learning and documentation of that learning.

La Guardia
eFolio Minnesota

“Comprehensive research studies evaluating our education system have all come to the same conclusion, a conclusion that is simple and straightforward: we need to invest in an education for every student that prepares them for success in the 21st century global economy.”

ePortfolio intersect: The global economy will require flexibility and a vast array of skills and knowledge. Keeping a ‘treasure chest’ or history of learning that is easily accessed can allow for change and continued learning.

The JISC (from the UK)
New Zealand
Australian Flexible Learning Framework

Dr. Helen Barrett, a leader in the ePortfolio world, “ePortfolios, 21st Century Skills and ISTE Standards: Planning for Implementation”

"We are part of a consortium of states working to develop a new set of assessments aligned to the common core standards: assessments that ensure validity and reliability across the state, but use multiple measures to evaluate success. This is a tall task, but my friends, man landed on the moon more than 40 years ago. Surely we have the capability to figure out how to assess knowledge in a valid and reliable way beyond a single bubble-in test!”

ePortfolio intersect: Aligning standards and student learning outcomes is an ePortfolio benefit.

See presentation from Mary Bold, Ph.D., CFLE the Academic Program Review Director, and Lynnette Olson, Ed.D. , Project Director for Assessment & Effectiveness within the Office of the Chancellor and consultant/evaluator for WASC and the Higher Learning Commission/NCA at

Also, San Francisco State University’s presentation with Dr. Maggie Beers, Director of Academic Technology, Linda C. Buckley, Ph.D., Associate VP of Academic Planning and Educational Effectiveness at SFSU, and Gail G. Evans, Dean of Undergraduate Studies at SF State.

San Francisco State University’s presentation on mapping ePortfolio artifacts or assignments to objectives at all levels--class, program/department, college, campus, and even national (e.g., AAC&U LEAP Expected Learning Outcomes).

"To successfully implement the Race to the Top, and to reach the goals that I mentioned earlier — preparing all students for success in college or careers — we need to use our creativity, leveraged by the Race to the Top award, to build a new way of running California's educational enterprise. The new system must be less hierarchical and more collaborative, student-centered rather than adult-centric, and data-driven with mutual accountability at all levels.”

ePortfolio intersect: Evidence of leaning can include artifacts, which allow us to tangibly see students develop during the process of learning. ePortfolios should be student-centered, and develop through a collaborative process.

Cambridge, Chen, Johnson
ePortfolio Concept Map:

The Honorable Arne Duncan

“We want an accountability system that factors in student growth, progress in closing achievement gaps, proficiency towards college and career-ready standards, high school graduation and college enrollment rates.”

ePortfolio intersects: Documenting student growth, alignment with standards.

As mentioned above,

And, see the UK’s JISC site on “Widening Participation” at

“The president also wants to add $500 million to the Investing in Innovation program. He wants to reserve $150 million for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs. He also wants to give rural schools a competitive advantage in the competition because understands the challenges they face.”

ePortfolio intersects: these disciplines are all based on scaffolded learning … step-by-step processes leading to culmination. Also, ePortfolios can break distance and socio-economic barriers and rural schools can partner with urban or suburban schools allowing students to ‘buddy up’ with distant co-classmates.

“And because NCLB narrowed the curriculum, we're looking to expand it again so that our children get a well-rounded education—one that includes rich content in history, the arts, foreign languages, and financial literacy.”

ePortfolio intersects: ePortfolios allow for rich multi-media use, especially valuable in these disciplines.