Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008 10:22 AM EST
By RANDAL YAKEYOf The Oakland Press
Students in the Pontiac School District could get a boost from legislation passed in Lansing.State Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, chairman of the House Education Committee, said the Michigan Promise Zone Act has passed the House and Senate and is headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm to become law.
The plan is designed to increase the accessibility of higher education by providing tuition assistance.“In order for us to grow Michigan’s economy and create good-paying jobs for our workers, we need a strong and vibrant workforce,” Melton said.Melton said the plan was not meant to be the cure-all for college funding woes for Pontiac students, but that it was a good first step in getting money for students who otherwise would not be going to college.
“There will be an 11-member authority board established,” Melton said. “This will not be run by the school district or the city, because we have several different cities in the Pontiac School District.”
The geographical boundaries of the Pontiac School District include all of the city of Pontiac, portions of Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus and Sylvan Lake, and the townships of Bloomfield, Orion, Waterford and West Bloomfield.
The Pontiac School District superintendent will establish the requirement for students receiving the funding. The requirements will most likely be based on how long the student lived in the district, grade-point average and ability to secure scholarships and grants.
“We limited it to the 15 Michigan public universities, and some private colleges and community colleges,” said Melton.
“If you go to a private school like Baker or Lawrence Tech, we cap the tuition you can get at the average you pay at a public university.”
The authority board will also have to raise the first two years of funding on its own.
Melton said he has already contacted Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Fifth Third Bank and Flagstar Bank authorities about helping with funding.
He has also contacted Chrysler Corp. and General Motors.Under the legislation, up to 10 Promise Zones will be authorized throughout the state in areas that have a combination of low rates of educational attainment and high rates of poverty and unemployment.
The Pontiac School District has already submitted an application to be the state’s first Promise Zone.
Melton’s plan is based on the Kalamazoo Promise — the nation’s first Promise Zone plan — which guarantees graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools free college tuition at any university or community college in Michigan.
The Kalamazoo plan was funded by a wealthy benefactor.Melton said after two years of raising money for the district, other sources will become available.“After the third year, we will be then be able to capture half the state education tax in the zone,” Melton said. “That money can then help this Promise Zone authority capture some revenue.
We may also have to continue to raise money.”
According to the House Fiscal Agency, the legislation could capture over $46.2 million based on data on the Kalamazoo Promise Zone.
The Fiscal Agency said that the legislation could have a significant effect on the School Aid Fund.
Melton said he did expect Granholm to sign the legislation sometime before the end of the year.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Photos by ANNIE O'NEILL/Special to the Free Press
St. Clair County students work on a solar-hydrogen fuel cell car. From left: Jason Hoogerhyde, John Freeman, Cody Benedict and Evan Miller. Rather than learning TV repair, students are getting trained in alternative energy.
Schools to invest in alternative energy, give students edge
BY PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI • FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER • December 27, 2008
St. Clair County RESA Career Technical Center students will be calculating actual energy outputs from school-owned windmills, solar panels and a hydroelectric plant.
In Warren Consolidated Schools, students will find lessons from a district-owned wind power station integrated into their classes.
Both programs are the result of a trend by a growing number of schools to meld alternative energy into their lesson plans.
"I think kids are interested in this type of thing. And a lot of us see it as the future, to lessen our reliance on nonrenewable sources. And there are going to be jobs there," said Dan DeGrow, superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.
St. Clair RESA plans to invest up to $450,000, depending on how much grant money it receives, in three wind turbines -- each about 100 feet tall -- solar panels next to the turbines and a mini-hydro plant. It will be working with local governments on getting site permits.
Gone are the days of students taking high school electronics to become TV repairpeople. The jobs are moving to other categories, such as alternative energy technicians.
"What we decided was we wanted a way to teach traditional electronics but within a more current context," said Pat Yanik, director of career and technical education for RESA.
Beginning next fall, students will monitor the electricity generated by their three alternative energy sources, learn how to convert the power to actual energy and make decisions on how to distribute their self-generated electricity to RESA facilities. The actual energy generated will be small, but the lessons will be huge.
"With the energy crisis and the government push for it at the federal level and the state level, alternative energy seemed to be a pretty going item that students and parents can understand," said electronics teacher Zack Diatchun.
The Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education has approved up to $9,000 for a wind spire -- a smaller (30-foot high) version of the windmill-style turbine -- to establish a district-wide alternative energy institute, said Superintendent Robert Livernois. Like St. Clair RESA, Warren Consolidated also hopes much of the cost will be offset by grants.
"The sky's the limit for us. That's what's so exciting about it from a K-12 perspective, you can talk to a second-grader and a 12th-grader," Livernois said. "Our belief is you've got to start somewhere, so as we launch this institute, it's really designed to begin cultivating awareness."
Students at St. Clair RESA have been told their program will open in the fall.
"It doesn't seem like something that they put into a high school-type course, but it's a really good idea they're putting it in," said Cody Benedict, 17, a senior from Yale High School who will be going to school for another year and taking the energy program. "It's going to be a larger range of stuff to learn for jobs."
There's no timetable for the Warren Consolidated program yet, but Livernois expects there will be varying components of alternative energy that will be applicable to most grades.
"We're going to use it in a study of just how much energy you can produce in the community," said Mark Supal, a technology teacher at the Macomb Mathematics Science and Technology Center, where the wind spire will be located.
Even students who won't be around for the new programs recognize the possibilities.
"I got accepted to Michigan Tech ... and I'm probably going to take electrical engineering, but I'm probably going to branch into some kind of alternative energy," said Dalton Pelc, 17, a senior from Kimball Township attending Port Huron High School. "That's what we need, and that's because that's what the economy needs."
Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI at 586-826-7262 or email@example.com.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Pontiac seniors get a 4-H Christmas
Sunday, December 21, 2008 12:25 AM EST
By ANN ZANIEWSKIOf The Oakland Press
Residents of the McDonald Senior Apartments tapped their feet and sang along Saturday as a group of angel-faced children belted out Christmas songs.
The children, who belong to the United Nations 4-H Club in Pontiac, also passed out goodie bags and cake as part of an effort to spread a little holiday cheer.“I like that we get to sing for the people who live here,” said 10-year-old Mary Wright of Pontiac. “It’s community service.”
While most people connect 4-H Clubs with farm kids and livestock competitions, the United Nations 4-H Club is for children living in the city.
The group, based out of Whitman Elementary School in Pontiac, has 40 members who range in age from 4-12.
Sharon Cornell, a former teacher and a Pontiac resident, is the leader of the club and of the Yapo Wolverines 4-H Club, which is also based in Pontiac.
The clubs are affiliated with Michigan State University’s 4-H program.Children who are members take field trips to museums, pumpkin patches and Detroit Tigers baseball games.
They also are involved in community service projects, such as a recent canned food drive that netted 800 cans and Saturday’s Christmas concert at the McDonald Senior Apartments on Baldwin Avenue.“The kids need to get out. They need to know that there are other people who need help,” Cornell said.
On Saturday, a group of children and Cornell’s husband, David, gathered in front of a community room with song books. They sang songs such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to an audience of about 20 people.“It’s great. The kids are all good. Beautiful!,” said a smiling Alberta Stamps, who lives at the facility.
After the concert, the children passed out cake and goodie bags stuffed with cookies, candy and other items purchased with donated gift cards from Meijer and Target.“I’ll hang it on my door,” Stamps said, after a child handed her a piece of cardboard painted in rainbow colors that said, “Happy Holidays.”Laticia Greer, 6, doled out goodie bags and cake wearing a Santa hat.“I was a little bit nervous” about singing, she said. “The best one was ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’”
McDonald residents Lillian Blackwell, Helena Witherspoon and Anniebell Cowart all said they enjoyed the children’s company.“
It was really nice, just being around the kids, seeing the kids sing,” Blackwell said. “This kind of cheered me up.”
Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at (248) 745-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
21st Century Pedagogy
Even if you have a 21st Century classroom (flexible and adaptable); even if you are a 21st century teacher ; (an adaptor, a communicator, a leader and a learner, a visionary and a model, a collaborator and risk taker) even if your curriculum reflects the new paradigm and you have the facilities and resources that could enable 21st century learning - you will only be a 21st century teacher if how you teach changes as well. Your pedagogy must also change.
So what is 21st Century pedagogy?
pedagogy - noun the profession, science, or theory of teaching.
How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into. This is a world which is rapidly changing, connected, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasise the learning in the 21st century.
The key features of 21st Century Pedagogy are:
? building technological, information and media fluencies [Ian Jukes]
? Developing thinking skills
? making use of project based learning
? using problem solving as a teaching tool
? using 21st C assessments with timely, appropriate and detailed feedback and reflection
? It is collaborative in nature and uses enabling and empowering technologies
? It fosters Contextual learning bridging the disciplines and curriculum areas
Knowledge does not specifically appear in the above diagram. Does this mean that we do not teach content or knowledge? Of course not. While a goal we often hear is for our students to create knowledge, we must scaffold and support this constructivist process. The process was aptly describe in a recent presentation by Cisco on Education 3.0 [Michael Stevenson VP Global Education Cisco 2007]
We need to teach knowledge or content in context with the tasks and activities the students are undertaking. Our students respond well to real world problems. Our delivery of knowledge should scaffold the learning process and provide a foundation for activities. As we know from the learning pyramid content delivered without context or other activity has a low retention rate.
Thinking Skills are a key area. While much of the knowledge we teach may be obsolete within a few years, thinking skills acquired will remain with our students for their entire lives. Industrial age education has had a focus on Lower Order Thinking Skills. In Bloom's taxonomy the lower order thinking skills are the remembering and understanding aspects. 21st Century pedagogy focuses on the moving students from Lower Order Thinking Skills to Higher Order Thinking Skills.
The 21st Century Teacher scaffolds the learning of students, building on a basis of knowledge recall and comprehension to use and apply skills; to analyse and evaluate process, outcomes and concequences, and to make, create and innovate. For each discipline in our secondary schools the process is subtly different.
The 21st century is an age of collaboration as well as the Information Age. 21st Century students, our digital natives, are collaborative. The growth of social networking tools, like bebo and myspace and the like, is fueled by Digital natives and Gen Y. The world, our students are graduating into is a collaborative one.
Collaborative projects such as Julie Lindsay's and Vicki Davis's Flatclassroom project and the Horizon Project, iearns and many others are brilliant examples of collaboration in the classrooms and beyond. These projects, based around tools like ning or wikis, provide students and staff a medium to build and share knowledge and develop understanding.
My own students are collaborating with students from three other schools, one in Brisbane, another in Qatar and a third in Vienna; on developing resources for a common assessment item. Collaboratively, they are constructing base knowledge on the technologies pertent to the topic. They are examining, evaluating and analysing the social and ethical impacts of the topic. But perhaps even more holistically they are being exposed to different interpretations, cultures and perspectives - Developing an international awareness which will be a key attribute in our global future.
Don Tapscott in Wikinomics, gives are many of examples of the business world adopting and succeeding by using global collaboration.
In a recent blog post from the Official google Blog, Google identified these as key traits or abilities in 1st Century Employees...
"... communication skills. Marshalling and understanding the available evidence isn't useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions."
"... team players. Virtually every project at Google is run by a small team. People need to work well together and perform up to the team's expectations. "
So to prepare our students, our teaching should also model collaboration. A vast array of collaborative tools are available to - wikis, classroom blogs, collaborative document tools,social networks, learning management systems - Many are available at no cost. If you have not yet tried them, look at:
? wikis - wet paint and wiki spaces
? Classroom blogs - edublogs, classroomblogmeister
? Collaborative document tools - Google documents, zoho documents
? Social Networks - ning
? learning managements systems - Moodle etc
These tools are enablers of collaboration, and therefore enablers of 21st century teaching and learning.
Collaboration is not a 21st century skill it is a 21st century essential.
If we look at UNESCO's publication "The four pillars of Education, Learning: The Treasure within" Collaboration is a key element of each of the four pillars.
- Learning to know
- Learning to do
- Learning to live together
- Learning to be
Collaboration is not limited to the confines of the classroom. Students and teachers collaborate across the planet, and beyond the time constraints of the teaching day. Students work with other students regionally, nationally and globally. Learners seek and work with experts as required. This is 21st Century Collaboration
Real World, Inter-disciplinary & project based learning
21st Century students do not want abstract examples rather they focus on real world problems. They want what they learn in one subject to be relevant and applicable in another curriculum area. As teachers we need to extend our areas of expertise, collaborate with our teaching peers in other subjects and the learning in one discipline to learning in another.
Projects should bring together and reinforce learning across disciplines. The sum of the students learning will be greater than the individual aspects taught in isolation. This is a holistic overview of the education process which builds on and values every aspect of the 21st Century students education.
Assessment is still a key part of 21st Century Pedagogy. This generation of students responds well to clear goals and objectives, assessed in a transparent manner.
Students should be involved in all aspects of the assessment process. Students who are involved in setting and developing assessment criteria, marking and moderation will have a clearer understanding of:
? what they are meant to do,
? how they are meant to do it,
? why it is significant
? why it is important.
Such students will undoubtedly do better and use the assessment process as a part of their learning.
Students are often painfully honest about their own performance and that of their peers. They will, in a collaborative project, fairly assess those who contribute and those who don't.
This is their education, their learning and their future - they must be involved in it.
Linked to assessment is the importance of timely, appropriate, detailed and specific feedback. Feedback as a learning tool, is second only to the teaching of thinking skills [Michael Pohl]. As 21st Century teachers, we must provide and facilitate safe and appropriate feedback, developing an environment where students can safely and supportively be provided with and provide feedback. Students are often full of insight and may have as valid a perspective as we teachers do.
What is fluency and why is it better than Literacy? Ian Jukes introduced this concept at NECC. He asserts that students need to move beyond literacy to fluency. They need to be
? The use of technology = technological fluency,
? Collecting, processing, manipulating and validating information = information fluency,
? using, selecting, viewing and manipulating media = media fluency,
What is fluency compared to literacy? A person who is fluent in a language does not need to think about speech, or reading rather it is an unconscious process of understanding. A person who is literate in the language must translate the speech or text. This applies to our students and their use of 21st century media. We need them to be unconsciously competent in the use and manipulation of media, technology and information.
The conscious competence model illustrates the difference between Literacy and Fluency. The person or student who is literate is in the conscious competence category. The person or student who is fluent is in the unconscious competence category.
As educators, we must identify, develop and reinforce these skill sets until students become literate and then fluent..
Conclusion and the path forward.
To teach using 21st Century pedagogy, educators must be student centric. Our curricula and assessments must inclusive, interdisciplinary and contextual; based on real world examples.
Students must be key participants in the assessment process, intimate in it from start to finish, from establishing purpose and criteria, to assessing and moderating.
Educators must establish a safe environment for students to collaborate in but also to discuss, reflect and provide and receive feedback in.
We should make use of collaborative and project based learning, using enabling tools and technologies to facilitate this.
We must develop, in students, key fluencies and make use of higher order thinking skills. Our tasks, curricula, assessments and learning activities must be designed to build on the Lower Order Thinking Skills and to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills.
For being a brilliant critical friend, thanks for the advise and especially for the grammar - Marg McLeod.
By Andrew Churches
Reform Starts Now: Obama Picks Arne Duncan
His secretary of education selection shows education is a priority.
by Grace Rubenstein
December 16, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama talked reform while announcing Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as the next U.S. secretary of education.
"For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book, it's the cause of his life," Obama said at Tuesday's press conference. Obama specifically mentioned pay-for-performance teacher salaries and charter-schools development as strategies with strong potential.
"If charter schools work, let's try that," Obama said. "Let's not be clouded by ideology when it comes to figuring out what helps our kids."
Duncan described his clear-eyed view of education in a June 2007 interview  with Edutopia when he said, "Quality public education is the civil rights issue of our generation."
Duncan, known for transforming underperforming schools and experimenting with new models, has a record as a pragmatist with a taste for innovations. His version of reform, judging by his record, centers on boosting teacher quality and supporting students with added services such as after-school programs. In the Chicago Public Schools , where 85 percent of the 400,000-plus students live below the poverty line, test scores, attendance, and teacher retention all went up during Duncan's seven-year tenure, while the dropout rate declined.
For weeks, pundits, educators, and education bloggers have speculated on what Obama's pick would show about his true beliefs on education.
"Arne Duncan has a type of personality that Obama seems to prefer, which is a pragmatist who will bring about change, but he'll do it in a way that will minimize confrontation in conflict," says Jack Jennings, president of the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy . "He's brought about change in Chicago, but it hasn't been a head-on clash with the teachers' union. He's done it in a way that they all walk away from the table congratulating each other."
Supporters say Duncan has the right constitution for the job. On both substance and style, he has won praise from divergent interest groups, including the American Federation of Teachers  and the New York City-based Democrats for Education Reform .
Duncan shut down Chicago schools that performed poorly and reopened them with entirely new staffs. He started coaching and mentoring programs for teachers. He also supported a boom in new charter schools with diverse models, from military academies to single-sex schools, and piloted a program to pay teachers bonuses for top performance -- two controversial innovations Obama supports.
An Uncertain Future
Of course, an education secretary can't exactly dictate reform from on high. But he can use the bully pulpit to put a spotlight on certain problems and solutions, says Jennings, and hand out grants to support new innovations. He can also provoke change through regulations -- most notably those that guide implementation of the No Child Left Behind law.
On NCLB, Duncan is a middle-of-the-roader ; he supports the law's goals of high expectations and accountability but has challenged Congress to improve it by doubling its funding and amending it "to give schools, districts, and states the maximum amount of flexibility possible."
Not the least of Duncan's hurdles will be the nation's preoccupation with the economic crisis. In a sign of the media's interest in education, the first question at Obama and Duncan's press conference after the announcement of Duncan's nomination was about the Federal Reserve Bank lowering its interest rates.
The financial squeeze hitting schools could hinder Duncan's efforts.
Making money and resources key to success, Duncan and Obama both made the case for education by defining it as the path to prosperity; Obama called it the "single biggest determinant" of the economy's long-term health.
"We're not going to transform every school overnight," Obama said. "What we can expect is that each and every day, we are thinking of new, innovative ways to make the schools better. That is what Arne has done. That's going to be his job. That's going to be his task."
Grace Rubenstein is a staff writer and multimedia producer at Edutopia.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Evan Arthur - The Australian Digital Education Revolution
James Grant & Lee Burley - Building Schools for the Future
Tony Wagner - The Global Achievement Gap
Monday, December 08, 2008
“where learning becomes a community of practice”
Due: February 4, 2008
- What is the mission or purpose of the YAPO Computer Learning Center (CLC)?
- What programs or events currently meet the purpose of the YAPO CLC?
- What programs or events need to be added to meet the purpose of the YAPO CLC?
- How can the programs or events be funded?
- Predict (vision) what the YAPO CLC will be providing to the community in 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years.
- The continuing mission of the YAPO CLC is to create a digital learning-centered community that addresses "community needs" as defined by its participants (Youth, Parents, Educators, CLC Volunteers and the greater Pontiac Community of Partners).
- Current programming (with some outstanding exceptions) is merely what others whom provide some funding to the YAPO CLC feel is adequate. For the most part it is simply pedestrian, mundane and totally lacking in any inspiration, creativity and engagement. Additionally, it is bereft of any meaningful 21st Century learning experiences of any consequence or relevance to the technological-world we now encounter.
- NEW YAPO CLC programs must meet or exceed the criteria of inspired, creative and innovative while also engaging its participants. Well designed learning programs will also exhibit the following content thematics; self-directed learning, project-based learning, the utilization of cognitive and critical thinking skills, 21st Century skills and when possible by example, demonstrate the creation of new knowledge. These programs should be opened-sourced in nature for the purpose of being shared (see new revenue-streams below).
- Funding programs (new revenue-streams) have two schools of thought; (1) We do what others want and in doing so receive funding. (2) We do what we want and funding is attracted to what we do. I personally am a "BIG FAN" of the later simply because it insures that we get what we deserve in all cases. By that I mean whom would design a learning program that didn't assure success? Additionally, whom would know more about us and our needs then us? Finally, if we didn't have the "talent we have around our community table" then perhaps we couldn't be successful. But we do! We simply need to leverage this dynamic human-resource asset in meaningful ways.
- In the business-world vision has become a trite and meaningless word, having said that, VISION (Beginning with the End in Mind) suggests a plan or work in progress. Who among us have not witnessed something truly outstanding and when asked to describe it have resorted to "you have to see it to believe it." That's usually a VISION in progress. To indescribable to put into words (understanding) and therefore it is much easier to just witness it in action. This is the kind of VISION I'm speaking of and the sort of which I believe we currently have in some cases and are capable of creating more of in the future at the YAPO CLC.
So let's begin the "dance of change" by asking the question; What does that NEW YAPO CLC programming look like?
TENT-POLES: Inspired, Creative, Innovative, Engaging and demonstrates the creation of new knowledge.
Themes: Adult Community Needs; workforce development, education, skill reinvention, intervention programs, introduction to 21st Century skills.
Themes: Youth Community Needs; basic remedial education, 21st Century skills (deeper understanding), Science, Math, Art, Reading & Technology (SMART), informal social skills, critical and cognitive thinking, project-based learning.
Themes: Greater Pontiac Community of Partners; Provide community-wide impact, inclusive vs. exclusive, shared-resources, silo-busting vs. hardened silos of irrelevance, resonates with higher-ordered community-building thinking and doing and is exemplar in its execution.
CRAFTING the FABRIC (to put on the tent-poles): This requires identifying a theme so let's take Art as an example since everyone can relate to it.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
- Extend education throughout life. Make it a part of our daily lives and have it begin with birth and end soon after death.
- Take education out of centralized buildings (schools) and make it the responsibility of the family, community, nation, and the world.
- Leverage technology to enable everyone to have access to the same resources.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of the individual and step it out to the world.
- Youth education is seen as a family function, augmented by a volunteer force of seniors, retirees, and experts available in the immediate and adjacent communities performing the roles of teacher, coach and mentor.
- Youth education begins in the home using modules with lessons for parent, child and siblings.
- Individual education is an individual’s obligation to society, advocated by federal law, supported by employers, communities and families.
- Course topics cross all philosophies, languages, religions and beliefs for the old and the young they are teaching.
- Team teaching is carried out in playgroups in neighborhoods in homes, community centers, parks and businesses. Groups of adults of all ages with similar interests meet in public and corporate settings as well as virtually within collaborative Web environments. Parents and children gather in homes and community centers, sharing interests and research and reporting progress among peers.
- When the individual exhibits enough maturity, progress is self-determined, self-monitored and presented to the relevant communities for input and use by others.
- Learning happens in life: in the workplace, the libraries, on the farms, in the factories of the immediate and adjacent neighborhoods.
- Scheduling, networking and cross leveling of resources is supported online.
- Education is not seen as a formal stage of life, instead a life-long habit of reading, reflecting, exchanging and growing.
US education system
- Facilitates discussions about learning, living and life.
- Teaches self esteem, self-confidence and the value of improving one’s self, community, nation, world and legacy.
- Gradually returns school buildings to alternative uses.
- Gradually encourages lifelong learning
- Respect for generations, races and all differences is built into every person’s thinking as they learn to rely on more and more people in order to learn, to carry out their obligation.
- Understanding and respect for nationalities, beliefs, generations, races and all differences is built into every person’s thinking as they learn to rely on more and more people in order to learn, to carry out their obligation.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Scholars Discuss 'Disruptive Innovation' in K-12 Education
A latecomer to a panel discussion this week on “disruptive innovation” in K-12 education and health care may have suspected that he or she had entered the wrong room.
The main speaker, Clayton M. Christensen, was talking about the steel industry, not education or health. Then he discussed the automobile, radio, microchip, and software industries.
To Mr. Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, those industries offer profound lessons for K-12 schooling. In every case, the introduction of a new technology led to the upending of the established leaders by upstart entrants, he explained at an Oct. 27 panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Christensen, the lead author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, said similar changes will soon happen to public school districts, as providers of virtual schooling gradually claim more and more students, starting with those who are poorly served by their current schools.
The book, published last spring and co-authored by Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, predicts that those changes will accelerate until, by 2019, roughly half of all high school courses will be taken online. ("Online Education Cast as 'Disruptive Innovation'," May 7, 2008.)
To the roomful of policy experts and educators at the think tank’s luncheon meeting, Mr. Christensen explained that the leading companies did not lose their primacy through their managers’ incompetence. Instead, it was because they obeyed two hallowed principles of business: First, listen to your best customers and give them what they want; and second, invest where the profit margin is most attractive.
Rather, businesses need to be willing to act in ways that may be opposed to their short-term interests, and that lower their costs and simplify their products or services, making them more attractive to a larger pool of potential customers.
“It’s a story with no villains and no stupidity,” noted Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the AEI and the moderator of the discussion.
Mr. Horn, who runs Innosight Institute, a think tank in Watertown, Mass., devoted to Mr. Christensen’s theories, was on a panel at the event. Outlining the application to education, he cited Harvard education professor Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and said “children’s need for customization collides with schools’ imperative for standardization.”
The billions of dollars that have been invested to put computers into schools have failed to make a difference because “we have crammed them into conventional classrooms,” said Mr. Horn.
Schools and students have not been able to reap the benefits of technology, he said, because of the web of constraints—called “interdependencies”—that schools have not been able to escape, including the organization of the school day, the division of learning in academic disciplines, the architecture of school buildings, and the federal, state, and local mandates that educators must obey.
On hand at the Oct. 27 event as the official “responder and raconteur” was education expert Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington.
Perhaps to the surprise of some in the audience, Mr. Finn generally agreed with Mr. Christensen’s and Mr. Horn’s arguments.
Mr. Finn, who served in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan administration, had two main points of contention. First, he disliked the authors’ reliance on Mr. Gardner’s theories, which, he asserted, are dismissed by “respectable cognitive psychologists.”
On that point, the authors are “wrong, but it doesn’t matter,” he concluded. “Gardner or no, I’m still in favor of greater individualization and customization of education.”
Second, Mr. Finn said, he thinks the authors have underestimated the power of politics to stymie the change in education, because in most cases it is the schools, not the students, that are the purchasers of the new technology-driven forms of education.
That means virtual schools will face “resistance and pushback and hubris, and a sort of smugness” from public education, Mr. Finn said.
As a result, he said, he did not expect regular public schools to become the “main route” for new technologies to be applied to K-12 education.
Mr. Finn added that a more likely route was for charter schools and families to purchase the technology directly, possibly in the form of supplemental private education, perhaps subsidized by philanthropies.
Committee seeks input from community on Pontiac schools
By DIANA DILLABER MURRAY
Of The Oakland Press
The day after voters decide who they want for president of the United States, a new community advisory committee is asking residents in the Pontiac district to help redesign schools.
This is the first of four forums planned before the advisory committee makes its recommendations and the board makes its decisions for the next school year.
Merging Pontiac Central and Northern into one high school and closing middle and elementary schools are possibilities as school officials reel from another major decline in enrollment and loss of state funds. The district is operating schools for 20,000 students when enrollment this year is down to only about 7,100.
At the same time, school officials want to improve academic programs, with such possibilities as creating magnet middle schools and smaller themed academies within the high school.
The district could have a deficit as high as $6.5 million by June 30, and even more by next school year if major restructuring is not accomplished. The district may lose as much as $8 million in state aid due to an enrollment decline of around 1,000 students. In addition, budgeted revenue from property sales and contract negotiations has not been realized.
The audit for the 2007-08 school year was recently completed by Plante and Moran accountants and will be made public Nov. 10. It should give the district and taxpayers a more clear idea of where the district stands financially.
Acting Superintendent Linda Paramore said two weeks ago that she has initiated an executive order that will cut some costs immediately.
Paramore and the school board also called together the advisory committee for the “Redesign of Pontiac Schools for Instructional Effectiveness and Financial Efficiency” to help ensure the community has a say in the major, and likely controversial, changes that will be made. The committee includes City Council members, business people, representatives of various ethnic groups and various parts of the community, clergy, school administrators and three board members.
Chairman of the advisory committee is board President Damon Dorkins. Chairman of the instructional subcommittee is board Vice President Gill Garrett and the finance subcommittee chairwoman is board Treasurer Karen Cain.
Merging Pontiac Northern and Pontiac Central high schools and closing one of the buildings is a controversial possibility, as is closing one or more neighborhood schools. Therefore, the board wants the decision to be made based on input from the community forums.
School officials hope that closing schools will free up money for improving the educational programs to retain or bring back some students who have left for other districts or charter schools.
This school year the board voted against closing Lincoln Middle School as proposed, and to keep sixth graders in elementary school instead of moving them on to middle school. Data showed test scores indicate sixth graders do better on their MEAP tests in the elementary school environment.
The district also created a district-wide preschool academy to prepare children for kindergarten and a more successful school career with its special programs.
In addition, the board approved a new police authority corps under Security Chief Darryl Cosby, with the goal of creating a safe school environment for learning. The new corps have arrest powers for misdemeanor cases, unlike previous security officers. The specially trained school police authority officers work with two Pontiac police officers who handle felony arrests while school officers handle misdemeanors.
Dorkins and Garrett said the people they have talked to in the community say they understand something has to be done — that buildings have to be closed.
But the Oakland Press readers who commented on the proposal to merge high schools to save money and have improved academic programs are adamantly against the idea.
Contact staff writer Diana Dillaber Murray at (248) 745-4638 or email@example.com.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
It’s No Time to Forget About Innovation
BY its very nature, innovation is inefficient. While blockbusters do emerge, few of the new products or processes that evolve from innovative thinking ultimately survive the test of time. During periods of economic growth, such inefficiencies are chalked up as part of the price of forging into the future.
But these aren’t such times. Wild market gyrations, frozen credit markets and an overall sour economy herald a new round of corporate belt-tightening. Foremost on the target list is anything inefficient. That’s bad news for corporate innovation, and it could spell trouble for years to come, even after the economy turns around.
“To be honest, we had a problem with innovation even before the economic crisis. That’s the reason I wrote my book,” says Judy Estrin, former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems and author of “Closing the Innovation Gap.” “We’re focusing on the short term and we’re not planting the seeds for the future.”
In tough times, of course, many companies have to scale back. But, she says: “To quote Obama, you don’t use a hatchet. You use a scalpel. Leaders need to pick and choose with great care.”
There are important things managers can do to ensure that creative forward-thinking doesn’t go out the door with each round of layoffs. Fostering a companywide atmosphere of innovation — encouraging everyone to take risks and to think about novel solutions, from receptionists to corner-suite executives — helps ensure that the loss of any particular set of minds needn’t spell trouble for the entire company.
She suggests instilling five core values to entrench innovation in the corporate mind-set: questioning, risk-taking, openness, patience and trust. All five must be used together — risk-taking without questioning leads to recklessness, she says, while patience without trust sets up an every-man-for-himself mentality.
In an era of Six Sigma black belts and brown belts, Ms. Estrin urges setting aside certain efficiency measures in favor of what she calls “green-thumb leadership” — a future-oriented management style that understands, and even encourages, taking risks. Let efficiency measures govern the existing “factory farm,” she says, but create greenhouses and experimental gardens along the sides of the farm to nurture the risky investments that likely will take a number of years to bear fruit.
“I’m not suggesting you only cut from today’s stuff and keep the future part untouched,” she says. “You have to balance it.”
Yet even that approach has its drawbacks. Companies that create silos of innovation by designating one group as the “big thinkers” while making others handle day-to-day concerns risk losing their innovative edge if any of the big thinkers leave the company or ultimately must be laid off.
“Innovation has to be embedded in the daily operation, in the entire work force,” says Jon Fisher, a business professor, serial entrepreneur, and author of “Strategic Entrepreneurism,” which advocates building a start-up’s business from the beginning with an eye toward selling the company. “A large acquirer’s interest in a start-up or smaller company is binary in nature: They either want you or they don’t, based on the innovation you have to offer. The best way to foster innovation is to create something, put it to the test, build a good company and then get it under the umbrella of a world-renowned company to move it forward.”
David Thompson, chief executive and co-founder of Genius.com Inc., based in San Mateo, Calif., says that innovation “has a bad name in down times” but that “bad times focus the mind and the best-focused minds in the down times are looking for the opportunities.”
“You do have to batten down the hatches and reduce expenses, but you can’t do it at the expense of the big picture,” Mr. Thompson adds. “You always have to keep in mind the bigger picture that’s coming down the road in two or three years.
“The last thing you want to do with innovation is just throw money at it. It’s a very tricky balance.”
In fact, hard times can be the source of innovative inspiration, says Chris Shipley, a technology analyst and executive producer of the DEMO conferences, where new ideas make their debuts. “Some of the best products and services come out of some of the worst times,” she says. In the early 1990s, tens of millions of dollars had gone down the drain in a futile effort to develop “pen computing” — an early phase of mobile computing — and a recession was shriveling the economic outlook.
Yet the tiny Palm Computing managed to revitalize the entire industry in a matter of months by transforming itself overnight from a software maker into a hardware company.
“Our biggest challenge right now is fear,” she says. “The worst thing that a company can do right now is go into hibernation, into duck-and-cover. If you just sit on your backside and wait for things to get better, they’re not going to. They’re going to get better for somebody, but not necessarily for you.”
HOWARD LIEBERMAN, also a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute, says innovation breeds effectiveness. It’s not about efficiency, he argues. “Efficiency is for bean counters,” he says. “It’s not for C.E.O.’s or inventors or founders.”
The current economic downturn comes as no surprise to him, he says, because it mirrors the downturn at the time of the dot-com bust. Then and now, the companies that survive are those that keep creativity and innovation foremost.
“Creativity doesn’t care about economic downturns,” Mr. Lieberman says. “In the middle of the 1970s, when we were having a big economic downturn, both Apple and Microsoft were founded. Creative people don’t care about the time or the season or the state of the economy; they just go out and do their thing.”
Janet Rae-Dupree writes about science and emerging technology in Silicon Valley.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Please reply to this e-mail if you will not be able to make our meeting or if you would like add an agenda item (You can also add agenda items via "comments" or by "editing" this post)
Please prepare the following for discussion at the meeting:
1. A list of desired/required equipment for the CLC
2. A step-by-step demonstration how to best utilize the Yapo CLC blog site.
Also, I will need an update on the Yapo CLC website.
Looking forward to seeing you next week.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods
Cooperative learning and inquiry-based teaching yield big dividends in the classroom. And now we have the research to prove it.
by Brigid Barron
October 8, 2008
Credit: Thomas Reis
Today's students will enter a job market that values skills and abilities far different from the traditional workplace talents that so ably served their parents and grandparents. They must be able to crisply collect, synthesize, and analyze information, then conduct targeted research and work with others to employ that newfound knowledge. In essence, students must learn how to learn, while responding to endlessly changing technologies and social, economic, and global conditions.
The Collaborative Classroom: Social and Emotional Learning
Traditional academic approaches -- those that employ narrow tasks to emphasize rote memorization or the application of simple procedures -- won't develop learners who are critical thinkers or effective writers and speakers. Rather, students need to take part in complex, meaningful projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
Listen to education expert Linda Darling-Hammond's insights on cooperative teaching in the Edutopia video The Collaborative Classroom: An Interview with Linda Darling-Hammond . Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University and former director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, was chosen in 2006 by Education Week as one of the nation's ten most influential people affecting education policy over the last decade.
She and article coauthor Brigid Barron are two of the coauthors of Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding, a review of research on the most effective K-12 teaching practices. In the book, copublished by Jossey-Bass and The George Lucas Educational Foundation, the authors explore the ways in which project learning, cooperative learning, and performance-based assessment generate meaningful student understanding in the classroom. Available for puchase at amazon.com .  Download an expanded version of this article  adapted from the book (PDF 7.6MB).
But what types of teaching and learning will develop these skills? And, just as important, do studies exist that support their use?
A growing body of research demonstrates that students learn more deeply if they have engaged in activities that require applying classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems. Like the old adage states, "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."
Research shows that such inquiry-based teaching is not so much about seeking the right answer but about developing inquiring minds, and it can yield significant benefits. For example, in the 1995 School Restructuring Study, conducted at the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools by Fred Newmann and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, 2,128 students in twenty-three schools were found to have significantly higher achievement on challenging tasks when they were taught with inquiry-based teaching, showing that involvement leads to understanding. These practices were found to have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
Similarly, studies also show the widespread benefits of cooperative learning, in which small teams of students use a variety of activities to more deeply understand a subject. Each member is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping his or her teammates learn, so the group become a supportive learning environment.
What follows is a summary of the key research findings for both inquiry-based and cooperative learning. First, let's look at three inquiry-based approaches: project learning (also called project-based learning), problem-based learning, and design-based instruction.
Project learning involves completing complex tasks that result in a realistic product or presentation to an audience. "A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning," prepared by researcher John Thomas for the Autodesk Foundation, identified five key components of effective project learning:
- Centrality to the curriculum
- Driving questions that lead students to encounter central concepts
- Investigations that involve inquiry and knowledge building
- Processes that are student driven, rather than teacher driven
- Authentic problems that people care about in the real world
Research on project learning found that student gains in factual learning are equivalent or superior to those of students in more traditional forms of classroom instruction. The goals of project learning, however, aim to take learning one step further by enabling students to transfer their learning to new kinds of situations, illustrated in three studies:
- In a 1998 study by H.G. Shepherd, fourth and fifth graders completed a nine-week project to define and find solutions related to housing shortages in several countries. In comparison to the control group, the project-learning students scored significantly higher on a critical-thinking test and demonstrated increased confidence in their learning.
- A more ambitious, longitudinal comparative study by Jo Boaler and colleagues in England in 1997 and 1998 followed students over three years in two schools similar in student achievement and income levels. The traditional school featured teacher-directed whole-class instruction organized around texts, workbooks, and frequent tests in tracked classrooms. Instruction in the other school used open-ended projects in heterogeneous classrooms.
The study found that although students had comparable learning gains on basic mathematics procedures, significantly more project-learning students passed the National Exam in year three than those in the traditional school. Although students in the traditional school "thought that mathematical success rested on being able to remember and use rules," according to the study, the project-learning students developed more flexible and useful mathematical knowledge.
- A third study, in 2000, on the impact of multimedia projects on student learning, showed similar gains. Students in the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project , in California's Silicon Valley, developed a brochure informing school officials about problems homeless students face. The students in the multimedia program earned higher scores than a comparison group on content mastery, sensitivity to audience, and coherent design. They performed equally well on standardized test scores of basic skills.
Other short-term, comparative studies demonstrated benefits from project learning, such as increases in the ability to define problems, reason with clear arguments, and plan projects. Additional research has documented improvements in motivation, attitude toward learning, and work habits. Students who struggle in traditional instructional settings have often excelled when working on a project, which better matches their learning style or preference for collaboration.
Students as Problem Solvers
Problem-based-learning approaches are a close cousin of project learning, in which students use complex problems and cases to actively build their knowledge. Much of the research for this approach comes from medical education. Medical students are given a patient profile, history, and symptoms; groups of students generate a diagnosis, conduct research, and perform diagnostic tests to identify causes of the pain or illness. Meta-analyses of multiple studies have found that medical students in problem-based curricula score higher on clinical problem solving and performance.
Use of problem-based cases in teacher education has helped student teachers apply theory and practical knowledge to school contexts and classroom dilemmas; these cases, for example, have enabled teachers to take alternative perspectives to better appreciate cultural diversity.
Studies of problem-based learning suggest that it is comparable, though not always superior, to more traditional instruction in teaching facts and information. However, this approach has been found to be better in supporting flexible problem solving, reasoning skills, and generating accurate hypotheses and coherent explanations.
Learning Through Design
Design-based instruction is based on the premise that children learn deeply when they create products that require understanding and application of knowledge. Design activity involves stages of revisions as students create, assess, and redesign their products. The work often requires collaboration and specific roles for individual students, enabling them to become experts in a particular area.
Credit: Thomas Reis
Design-based approaches can be found across many disciplines, including science, technology, art, engineering, and architecture. Design competitions for students include the FIRST  robotics competitions and Thinkquest , for which student teams design and build Web sites on topics including art, astronomy, computer programming, foster care, and mental health.
Thinkquest teams are mentored by a teacher who gives general guidance throughout the design process, leaving the specific creative and technical work to the students. Teams offer and receive feedback during a peer review of the initial submissions and use this information to revise their work. To date, more than 30,000 students have created more than 7,000 Web sites  through this competition.
Few studies have used a control group to evaluate the impact of the learning-by-design model, but in a 2000 study by researchers C.E. Hmelo, D.L Holton, and J.L. Kolodner, sixth-grade students designed a set of artificial lungs and built a partially working model of the respiratory system. The learning-by-design students viewed the respiratory system more systemically and understood more about the structures and functions of the system than the control group.
Hmelo and colleagues argued that design challenges need to be carefully planned, and they emphasized the importance of dynamic feedback. They also determined that teachers working on design projects must pay particular attention to finding a balance between students' work on design activities and reflection on what they are learning; that balance allows teachers to guide students' progress, especially in recognizing irrelevant aspects of their research that may take them on unproductive tangents, and in remaining focused on the whole project rather than simply on its completion.
Shifting Ideas, Shifting Roles
A significant challenge to implementing inquiry approaches is the capacity and skill of teachers to undertake this more complex form of teaching. Teachers may think of project learning or problem-based teaching as unstructured and may fail to provide students with proper support and assessment as projects unfold.
When students have no prior experience with inquiry learning, they can have difficulty generating meaningful driving questions and logical arguments and may lack background knowledge to make sense of the inquiry. Students can neglect to use informational resources unless explicitly prompted. They can find it hard to work together, manage their time, and sustain motivation in the face of setbacks or confusion.
One of the principal challenges for teachers, then, is to learn how to juggle a host of new responsibilities -- from carving out the time needed for extended inquiry to developing new classroom-management techniques. They must also be able to illuminate key concepts, balance direct instruction with inquiry teaching, facilitate learning among groups, and develop assessments to guide the learning process. That's a tall order for even the most experienced teacher.
To address these problems, Alice D. Gertzman and Janet L. Kolodner, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, introduced the concept of a design diary in 1996 to support eighth-grade science students in creating a solution for coastal erosion on a specific island off the coast of Georgia. Students had access to stream tables, as well as resources on videotape and the Internet.
In a first study conducted by Gertzman and Kolodner, learning outcomes were disappointing but instructive: The researchers noted that the teacher missed many opportunities to advance learning because she could not listen to all small-group discussions and decided not to have whole-group discussions. They also noted that the students needed more specific prompts for justifying design decisions.
In a second study, the same researchers designed a broader system of tools that greatly improved the learning outcomes. These tools included more structured diary prompts asking for design explanations and the use of whole-class discussions at strategic moments. They also required students to publicly defend their designs earlier in the process. Requiring students to track and defend their thinking focused them on learning and connecting concepts in their design work.
Inquiry-based learning often involves students working in pairs or groups. Cooperative small-group learning -- that is, students working together in a group small enough that everyone can participate on a collective task -- has been the subject of hundreds of studies. All the research arrives at the same conclusion: There are significant benefits for students who work together on learning activities.
In one comparison by Zhining Qin, David Johnson, and Roger Johnson, of four types of categories for problems presented to individuals and cooperative teams, researchers found that teams outperformed individuals on all types and across all ages. Results varied by how well defined the problems were (a single right answer versus open-ended solutions, such as writing a story) and how much they relied on language. Several experimental studies have shown that groups outperform individuals on learning tasks and that individuals who work in groups do better on later individual assessments.
Cooperative group work benefits students in social and behavioral areas as well, including improvement in student self-concept, social interaction, time on task, and positive feelings toward peers. Researchers say these social and self-concept measures were related to academic outcomes and that low-income students, urban students, and minority students benefited even more from cooperative group work, a finding repeated over several decades.
But effective cooperative learning can be difficult to implement. Researchers identify at least three major challenges: developing group structures to help individuals work together, creating tasks that support useful cooperative work, and introducing discussion strategies that support rich learning.
A great deal of work has been done to specify the kinds of tasks, accountability, and roles that help students collaborate well. In a summary of forty years of research on cooperative learning, Roger and David Johnson, at the University of Minnesota, identified five important elements of cooperation across multiple classroom models:
- Positive interdependence
- Individual accountability
- Structures that promote face-to-face interaction
- Social skills
- Group processing
Cooperative-learning approaches range from simply asking students to help one another complete individually assigned problem sets to having students collectively define projects and generate a product that reflects the work of the entire group. Many approaches fall between these two extremes.
Credit: Thomas Reis
In successful group learning, teachers pay careful attention to the work process and interaction among students. As Johns Hopkins University's Robert Slavin argues, "It is not enough to simply tell students to work together. They must have a reason to take one another's achievement seriously." Slavin developed a model that focuses on external motivators, such as rewards and individual accountability established by the teacher. He found that group tasks with individual accountability produce stronger learning outcomes.
Stanford University's Elizabeth Cohen reviewed research on productive small groups, focusing on internal group interaction around tasks. She and her colleagues developed Complex Instruction , one of the best-known approaches, which uses carefully designed activities requiring diverse talents and interdependence among group members. Teachers pay attention to unequal participation, a frequent result of status differences among peers, and are given strategies to bolster the status of infrequent contributors. Roles are assigned to encourage equal participation, such as recorder, reporter, materials manager, resource manager, communication facilitator, and harmonizer.
Studies identified social processes that explain how group work supports individual learning, such as resolving differing perspectives through argument, explaining one's thinking, observing the strategies of others, and listening to explanations.
Evidence shows that inquiry-based, collaborative approaches benefit students in learning important twenty-first-century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and apply knowledge from one lesson to others. The research suggests that inquiry-based lessons and meaningful group work can be challenging to implement. They require changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices -- changes that are often new for teachers and students.
Teachers need time and a community to organize sustained project work. Inquiry-based instruction can help teachers deepen their repertoire for connecting with their peers and students in new and meaningful ways. That's powerful teaching and learning -- for students and teachers alike.
The Takeaway: Research Findings
A growing body of research has shown the following:
- Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
- Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
- Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
An Insightful Primer on the Importance of our NSF ITEST Grant role as liaison to Industry, Business and Government
Create the right skill sets through professional co-op
Is the United States producing the right skills sets in preparing innovators and engineers?
“It’s been a topic of interest for some time,” says Kettering University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Harris.
The results of a national survey of employers’ ratings of the abilities of recent grads in 12 specific skill areas indicated that employers are not giving high marks to the skills of graduates either. The survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the American Association of College and Universities, asked employers to rate new hires in the skills that represent a growing consensus regarding the abilities necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workforce.
Harris said of the employers surveyed in the AACU survey, 83 percent said that they would like to see evidence of graduates’ ability to apply college to a “real-world setting” through faculty assessments of internship projects and community-based work. The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology has recognized this challenge and has begun to take steps in addressing this need for change. The new ABET standards, known as EC2000, ask programs to set clear educational objectives, to collaborate with industry, to conduct outcomes assessment and feed data from these assessments back into the program for continuous improvement.
“The challenge we face is further increased as a result of the downsizing of manufacturing operations in some of our largest corporations, coupled with the offshore movement of low-skilled jobs,” Harris said. “This has created a public misconception that technical fields like engineering, and even the sciences, are no longer good areas for intellectual and career pursuit thus contributing to the very real decline in students seeking engineering degrees. Ironically, the same corporations that are downsizing are also experiencing unprecedented shortages of the workforce skills necessary to carry out their product strategies globally.”
Harris said the challenge requires a different educational paradigm and close collaboration between higher education and business and industry.
“Kettering University offers a learning model that combines two distinct learning environments -- an on-campus academic experience and a cooperative education work experience -- where students gain knowledge and skills relevant to working and living in a complex world," Harris said. "A Kettering education combines cutting-edge theory and practical application. The co-op experience is a transformative process through which students become increasingly acclimated and socialized to the corporate environment as they increase their knowledge-base and theoretical understanding of their discipline.”
Co-op education at Kettering, with more than 600 co-op sponsors, provides the opportunity for employers to take part in that transformative process and create the new hires they seek. “We can do so by increasing the cooperation and coalition building between higher education and industry, working together toward a common goal,” Harris added.
To read more about Kettering’s co-op program, visit www.kettering.edu.