Friday, March 10, 2006

23rd Annual Essential Schools Conference

I was asked to fill in for Sara Lawrence Lightfoot as a keynote speaker for this conference. I was very last minute so I put together the presentation but 1.) I didn't know the audience -- and since this is the 23rd annual meeting there are some folks who have been coming for a long time. 2.) I had to go with content that I knew. We decided the topic would be: Effective Schools Need Effective Teachers: Learnings from Research on Online Teacher Professional Development.

I'll put a link on this site to the final version of the presentation -- which got assembled on the flight out to Scottsdale, AZ where the conference was. But in the mean time, here are the recommendations for next steps from the session:
  • Look at your school/district teacher retention data. (of each 100 teachers who enter the profession, only 32 are still teaching after 5 years)
  • Put the head of professional development on the Superintendent's Cabinet
    • Make it clear to the Head of Professional Development that they are working to improve student learning.
  • Begin the process of building learning communities.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I was at the COSN conference this week. I was on a panel to talk about the Learning Spaces 2010 report from the Emerging Technologies Committee. I was the project manager for that report.

High Tech Backpack of Today - Digital Learning Spaces of Tomorrow
Essential Skills: Leadership & Vision, Planning & Budgeting, Education & Training and Ethics & Policies

Digital Learning Spaces are created and activated by the technology infrastructure of schools as well as the devices students and teachers carry. During this session Emerging Technologies Committee members will share their vision of future learning spaces in an elementary classroom, an integrated math/science learning space and a virtual school that help students connect, create and collaborate. Before educators ban a new technology, consider the possibilities-make the most of the learning potential in students' high-tech backpacks!

  • Karen Henke, CoSN's Emerging Technologies Committee Chair & Writer, Nimble Press (Moderator)
  • Douglas Levin, Director, Education Policy, Cable in the Classroom
  • Tom Rolfes, Education I.T. Manager, Office of the Chief Information Officer/NITC, State of Nebraska
  • Raymond Rose
We were one of the few presentations I heard, that said anything about making a difference for students. Many of the sessions were interested in the buisness aspects of educational technology. And COSN has been focused on Total Cost of Ownership and ROI for technology. I think they've perhaps moved to far in the direction of buiness and forgotten that the reason for schools is to educate students. On a shuttle bus to the METRO I overheard some participants saying that a concern for student achievement was missing especially from the general sessions.

I went to a session about online teacher professional development (oTPD) and was listening in particular for information about how success was measured. What I'm hearing is still a lack of connection between teacher professional development -- either online or on-ground -- and student achievment. We need to make that link. It's not enough to get a bunch of smily-face evaluations from partipants. There needs to be some objective measures to see if the professional development really did make any difference to student learning.