Too Strong a Spotlight on STEM May Divide Your School

Posted 06/02/2018 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

Summary: For more than a decade, the spotlight has shone squarely on STEM subjects, but contemplative policy should be approached with caution so the balanced approach to K-12 curriculum is not tipped so far that it raises silos and isolates STEM and the humanities.

Written 2/2015 for the Center for Digital Education by Senior Fellow, Dr. Gordon K. Dahlby

Only the most sequestered of U.S. educators have yet to experience the myriad speeches and discussion over the last decade about increasing emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Several projections of skills for the future include a mastery of the sciences and mathematics, the methodologies of engineers, and the technology or skills to apply methods and tools to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Even the White House has weighed in, through its Educate to Innovate campaign and the public White House Science Fair. And, of course, the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a multitude of powerful, well-heeled private business groups offer support for STEM and 21st Century economy-supporting initiatives. Bursts of support dedicated to STEM have long tails, such as the 1958 National Defense Education Act (NDEA) and the 1984 Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education State Grants Program. But shining this bright spotlight on the technical, the mathematical and the sciences brings out a reasoned concern — for a drifting from the general liberal arts nature of K-12 education in the United States that’s described as well-rounded.
As a STEM educator who’s taught in five different decades, it might initially be pleasing to see another round of increased focus and, in some cases, resources. Adding more science and mathematics to high school graduation requirements is an approach based on high expectations. Reviewing the allocation of time in an elementary school’s day is another worthy activity. Bringing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to nearly the same level with Common Core Standards for arithmetic, mathematics, and statistics is good for a wide breadth of science studies. It also goes hand-in-hand with an increased appreciation of engineers’ practical use of mathematics and science theories and models, which may ease students’ transition from theory to application of information to build skills to solve problems. Add to this wave for STEM another facet from industry — for coding.
That is a lot of change for the first two decades on the century and causes concern for the traditional well-rounded K-12 education in the U.S. Speakers talk frequently of an integrated approach to learning while still working to pivot toward the energy and enthusiasm of STEM. Others wish to attach their specialty via hyphenation or adaptation: STEM-C (computer science), STEAM (arts) or AG-STEM (production agriculture). Computer sciences did manage to get its field included in NSF’s new definition of STEM. This allows project and research monies to include their specialty. Yet it feels to some that efforts to not isolate STEM are falling short. Silos around subjects remain; in fact, they may be growing, acting as barriers and unnecessary segmentation of student learning.
A June 2015 CareerBuilder article listed growing professions that pay $50 per hour. Among these were an aerospace engineer, computer and information research scientist, computer hardware engineer, mathematician, a nuclear engineer, physicist and astronomer, and political scientist. The occupations on this select list, while not the highest paying, are notable in that success in any of them does not require a wide range of knowledge in social sciences, humanities or the arts instilled by mastery of language.
Communicating through speaking and writing, and learning through reading and listening, are keys to success in each of the careers on this short list of occupations, on which a sense of influence on the community, social responsibility and workings of government are equally weighted. Additionally, the social sciences, languages and fine arts create a firm foundation for avocations and one’s general welfare. To this, a sense of one’s place in the world gained from history, cultural studies and foreign languages are critical to our global economy, and global empathy and understanding.
Time and money are precious commodities in today’s K-12 environments, and the bright spotlight shining on a select few STEM areas within the broad curriculum may be too much weight on the traditionally balanced breadth of learning opportunities. Too heavy an emphasis on any one subject threatens to encourage even more silos in student learning or shift the fulcrum’s balance point. It’s understandable that some subject matter experts may feel frustrated at the attention given to a particular subset. Education leaders and policymakers must have a critical ear toward the rhetoric and make certain that all members of their learning community are given an equal voice in how a school allocates its time and treasures. While all aspects of the STEM curriculum are important, it should not consume all the oxygen. One only has 13 years with these youngsters; let us try our best to maintain a good balance for this century’s global citizens.


CoSN 2014 induction to Volunteer Hall of Fame and CoSN Conference

Posted 04/01/2014 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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In recognition of the his volunteer commitments to CoSN, Dr. Dahlby, Owner/Chief Innovator for Educational Technology Leadership Consulting, was inducted into CoSN’s 2014 Volunteer Hall of Fame. At this special event on, the CoSN Executive staff and Board honored volunteers, new Certified Education Technology Leaders and companies with unique vision and participation among the elite CoSN community.

Dr. Dahlby facilitated one workshop and three wide ranging sessions at the 2014 CoSN Conference in Washington, DC.


The SEND (Smart Education Networks by Design) Guidelines and Checklists were highlighted several times a the conference in addition to the workshop and a dedicated session.  It was the only CoSN initiative to exhibit on in Innovation Central.  Dr. Dahlby lead as project director. #SmartEdNetworks @cosn Image



CoSN Smart Education Networks by Design Guidelines for School CTOs

Posted 03/17/2014 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership, COSN, education, online learning

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SEND Guidelines and Checklist ready for download and discussions.  March 2014

Wordle: CoSN SEND Guidelines for CTO's March 2014

Without robust infrastructure and resilient MAN/WAN and ISP strategies, your network may not be ready to support your 1:1 and mixed environments such as BYOD.  Down load the checklist to aid in your upgrade review and planning.

Core Recommendations:

☑ Recognize that education networks have become one of the most critical infrastructure components of any school’s operations

☑ Recognize that 1-to-1, or many-to-1 technology programs are quickly becoming mainstream, and plan for bandwidth capacity accordingly

☑ Start every Education Network planning and upgrade process by closely consulting with

teachers and administrators regarding intended uses of technologies in the classroom and ensure that network hardware and services are capable of supporting peak loads

☑ Plan for substantial training and support of teachers and staff as part of any technology rollout

☑ Understand that accessing content and resources while outside of the classroom – from home, class field trips, and in the community – is as critical to effective learning as in-class connectivity

☑ Ensure that rigorous security measures, regardless of the type of connection, are built into your network design – this is both for the purposes of preventing unauthorized access to network content and resources, as well as complying with federal and state student protection laws

☑ Make design choices that lay a foundation for the future, both in terms of scalability and the ease with which new device capabilities and technologies can be supported.

The disruptive power of collaboration-Shirkey

Posted 03/04/2014 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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How we collaborate has profound implications for how we live and work. The author and New York University professor Clay Shirkey explains how social media has upended traditional norms.

March 2014

From the invention of the printing press to the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, the ways people collaborate change frequently, and the effects of those changes often reverberate through generations. In this video interview, Clay Shirky, author, New York University professor, and leading thinker on the impact of social media, explains the disruptive impact of technology on how people live and work—and on the economics of what we make and consume. This interview was conducted by McKinsey Global Institute partner Michael Chui, and an edited transcript of Shirky’s remarks follows.

Interview transcript (extended video available at web site)

Sharing changes everything

The thing I’ve always looked at, because it is long-term disruptive, is changes in the way people collaborate. Because in the history of particularly the Western world, when communications tools come along and they change how people can contact each other, how they can share information, how they can find each other—we’re talking about the printing press, or the telephone, or the radio, or what have you—the changes that are left in the wake of those new technologies often span generations.

The printing press was a sustaining technology for the scientific revolution, the spread of newspapers, the spread of democracy, just on down the list. So the thing I always watch out for, when any source of disruption comes along, when anything that’s going to upset the old order comes along, is I look for what the collaborative penumbra is.

For instance, around MakerBot, which I was on the board of back when it was an independent company, most of the company, for the obvious reason, was focused on the possibilities of 3-D printing and the output of 3-D printers. But the thing I was most interested in was Thingiverse, which is the website where people were sharing and talking about their objects.

And you could see these things happening where somebody uploaded a little model for a radio-controlled, 3-D printed shell for a little radio-controlled car. And they said, “Here’s this thing. It looks great. There’s only one problem: It doesn’t work, because it’s too heavy. But I’m uploading it anyway.” And then other people who were good at figuring out, “Well, you can take the weight out here and there,” turned it into something workable. No one person made that radio-controlled shell.

So the collaborative penumbra around 3-D printing is a place where you don’t have to have someone who can do everything—from having the idea to making the mesh to printing it. You can start having division of labor. So you’ve got all of these small groups that are just working together like studios and still able to play on a world stage.

And all the way at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got these collaborative environments where almost no one has to coordinate with anybody else. When I upload something to Thingiverse, or I make an edit on Wikipedia, it’s not like I need anybody else’s help or permission. So the collaborative range is expanding. The tight groups have more resources, and the loose groups can be much more loosely coordinated and operate at a much larger scale. And I think the people who think about collaboration want to know what’s happening to it, and the answer is everything.

Read more…

Heading for 2014, will innovation change?

Posted 12/14/2013 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

“Innovation is within all our grasps, if we really want to grab hold of it.” Yes, even in public K12 and post-secondary. gkd

Paul4innovating's Innovation Views

2014 visualSo we are heading into 2014.We are in the final month’s countdown before it arrives and it is that time to think about what 2014 is going to do and be, for us working within the innovation space.

Is Innovation finally moving beyond the previous constraints and boundaries we have been recently applying? As organizations really start to ‘ramp up’ their efforts for growth what will this mean?

Today and in the future we certainly know that innovation is about open, inclusive, full of exploration and harmonization to extract the best results across all that are engaged within their organizations. Getting engagement up in organizations is going to be top of the agenda and innovation can be a significant contributor.

We seem to have really grasped and recognized the combination-effect that comes from the myriad of different linkages that is propelling innovation activity and bringing increasing confidence within the boardroom…

View original post 1,268 more words

Comments on: Considering the Complexities of Learning to Code

Posted 12/10/2013 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership, education, ISTE

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Observation: trial and error as a form of ‘tinkering’

Learning to code via Dr. Resnick’s thinking of type/run/debug via tinkering is an interesting new(er) development as computing ‘time’ is viewed as an infinitely small part of the costs of development… that said, the computational thinking around and thorough planning and design (a 20th C idea) is not without merit, even for novices.  Perhaps tinkering styles come with less skilled facilitators/teachers vested with exposure to formal training and exposure to alternate modalities and approaches to computational thinking.

That said, writing is a form of tinkering, per Dr. Resnick’s line or reasoning, for most writers.

Second observation: Hour of Code

The initiative, while getting a lot of traction, seems to miss the unconnected/less connected communities it would most help; inner-city and rural due to lack of connectivity.  A recent observation from friends and writers:  college or post high school ambitions are often constricted by an internal and community paradigm.  Rural and inner-city students who are ‘schooled’ about their place and that leading colleges and universities, those that seed the power and wealthy institutions of business and government, also likely lack role models in computer sciences and computational thinking, though their lives are impacted by the same daily.

Priorities from US Dept of Ed OET’s Richard Culatta

Posted 09/19/2013 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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In an eschoolnews interview posted 9/19,  Dr. Culatta outlined three key priorities on which OET is focusing:

Ensuring that each classroom in every school across the country has broadband access. “All of the other great ideas about redesigning aren’t possible if we don’t have connectivity,” Culatta said, adding that if U.S. students are to compete with students from other countries that have made classroom broadband a priority and reality, U.S. students need that same connectivity.

Personalized learning has incredible potential, if only it can become a common practice. Personalizing learning for a classroom of 30 students, all with different strengths, needs, and challenges, is “really hard to do, maybe impossible to do, without technology,” Culatta said. OET hopes to help school and IT leaders and classroom teachers redesign the learning experience for students.

Using data to support teachers, students, and parents as they make better decisions about learning. “Data totally changes their outlook because they have real-time learning,” Culatta said. Parents can become more involved in their children’s school assignments and learning if they have access to relevant data, such as if their child needs additional work on certain math concepts.

What do you think?  Right emphasis coming into 2014 and looking forward?

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