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21st-century learning

First-ever national Digital Learning Day on Feb. 1 attracted participation from 39 states, 15,000 teachers and 1.7 million students . – Alliance for Excellent Education (2012)

Let’s be honest. Flipping the classroom and using clickers and other new products can only have a modest impact on student achievement. Why? Because the underlying pedagogy of such innovations is still direct instruction, with a teacher telling students stuff and then students working to remember that stuff.

Netbooks Replace Smartphones
Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Central School District

Back in December 2009, Watkins Glen Central School District in Garnerville, N.Y., gave smartphones to 200 fifth- and seventh-graders and 20 teachers in three schools. Two years later, this small pilot program has transitioned away from mobile phones to a one-to-one netbook program for all 850 pupils in grades 5-12. According to Superintendent Tom Philips, the HP Pavilion netbook is more educationally appropriate for Watkins Glen than tablets or mobile phones.  

“As of fall 2011, 40 states have a state virtual school or state-led online learning initiative, accounting for 536,272 course enrollments, a 19 percent annual increase.” Source: iNACOL Keeping Pace 2011

Before the sun rises most days, Dwight D. Jones is at the office. Since becoming superintendent of the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada last December, 4:30 a.m. arrivals are common. “There’s just hardly enough time in the day,” Jones says.

No Excuses University

Two-thirds of the Amarillo Independent School District’s 33,000 students enrolled on 53 campuses qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Undaunted by the academic and societal challenges commonly associated with such a statistic, 10 of Amarillo’s lower-income schools have recently joined the No Excuses University (NEU) network. This fast-growing collective of 117 elementary and middle schools scattered across the United States is a brain trust of principals and teachers who promote college readiness from kindergarten up, especially for children living in poverty.

American underachievement and the best ways to reverse it has become an ongoing and urgent national conversation among educators and politicians, as well as a public embarrassment every three years when the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tables are released. The next PISA results are due later this year, and for many reasons, we can guess that the United States will not be at the top of the list.

As we welcome in 2012, let’s do a quick recap of the new state of the world of education, shall we?

Of American teens, 78 percent have broadband Internet at home, while 62 percent of all Americans have broadband at home.
—Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project

Now You See It: How the Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and LearnNow You see it
The Viking Press $27.95

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