Ed-Tech and Research Economics


A recent post on MindShift addressing the current state of educational technologies addressed the growing use of the freemium model within the sector. While many ed-tech applications are in theory “free”, the organizations behind them consider the data that users produce to be more valuable than traditional revenue streams. Users also open up countless connections and these connections are far more valuable than a few cents made downloading a piece of software. Read More →

Collaborating to Improve Student Behavior

ClassDojo share notification

Today, ClassDojo, a free behavior management platform for teachers, students and parents, is launching a ‘Class Sharing’ feature: the ability for teachers to share their classes with other teachers at their school. This enables teachers to collaborate in order to build positive behaviors and character strengths with their students across classrooms, throughout the school day. This is a positive step towards helping teachers break down the walls separating their classes, and providing them an easier way to consistently improve behavior with students as they move through classes during the school day. Read More →

Facilitating Change in Education

Few people are genuinely engaged in transforming the education system for the better. Far more people are more interested in furthering their own gains. However, the KnowledgeWorks Foundation is one group that appears to actually care about the future of education and is focused on improving it for everyone. What originally started out as a traditional grant foundation has evolved into quite a bit more in recent months. Much of their work today is focused on futures studies in education…one of the things that caught my eye and has prompted this post.

About KnowledgeWorks

Social enterprises, grassroots projects, and innovative development make up the majority of KnowledgeWorks’ activities. They attempt to build high school designs around several different models. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum planning is aimed at increasing technology literacy among younger students. Early college high schools are designed to provide education programs for gifted students who have demonstrated that they are ready for something beyond what they normally study in secondary school classes.

Local programs are focused around the Ohio Education Matters organization. Research and advocacy activities promoted by the organization are supposed to be non-biased, which means that they aim to develop policies that are beneficial for everyone involved. However, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the work that this innovative group is doing. They are forecasting that students will actually relate to the world through neuro-enhancement tools and networks by the year 2020 and are developing programs based n this scenario. I find this both fascinating and exciting.

The Future of Education?

Neuroethics remains a major topic for the organization, whose website provides links to a variety of different groups that believe in liberty of thought. This might make the group seem rather extreme to some observers. Many members of the general population think very little about such futuristic themes. However, that doesn’t mean that this organization isn’t on to something. For instance, open-source principles and the way that they free up production is a major area of study within their programs. Linking resources together and providing open accreditation through major institutions helps to simplify the learning process in general.

Few people would disagree with the idea of giving scientists easily accessible access to laboratory materials if their research is in the best interest of humanity. Fewer people would argue that giving students access to a greater number of resources is a bad idea as well…we need more of this everywhere. Therefore, one might conclude that the future of education is indeed brighter than what some would lead the general population to believe. We need innovative programs such as these that are advocated by KnowledgeWorks and administrators that are willing to lead the way to make this happen. I’m not advocating the use of students as guinea pigs either. I am, however, advocating the use of principles and techniques within schools that have been proven by research and can increase the overall success rate of students. I’m hopeful that the work being done by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation accomplishes this very thing.

Additional Learning Resources:

Edmodo in the Classroom [App Review]

  Free App Download

Grade books are a thing of the past for anyone that uses Edmodo. Instructors that want to save some paper might want to check out the program for this function alone. However, there’s a lot more to it. In fact, students and teachers can keep in touch with each other using the app. Some classes are even being conducted solely via the program now.

Teachers need to be careful when they use this kind of software. Some students might not have iOS devices so conventional email should be used as a backup to avoid leaving any members of the classroom out. While some instructors might want to provide physical handouts, that defeats the purpose of using a program like Edmodo. That being said, it’s compatible with just about anything that runs iOS 4 or higher.

New features include the ability to send attachments with posts. This is particularly useful for those that have use PDF files to distribute course materials. With the wide availability of public domain material on the Internet, this might quickly become a popular way to distribute electronic books. Some classes can replace their current material with text legally found on the Internet. This can make the app that much more effective.

Users who are troubled with the notification function shouldn’t worry too much. Swiping notifications should quickly get rid of them.

Teaching With an Interactive Whiteboard [App Review]

  Free App Download

Educreations’ Interactive Whiteboard is great for teachers, who can use it to create video tutorials or animated lesson plans. Scientists in a forgotten era always loved to draw out mathematical formula data or vectors on a blackboard. This is a high-tech example of the same thing. It’s not a bad idea for coaches or managers either.

Any iPad device running iOS 4 or later should be able to handle the software. Creating an account on the educreations website might seem to be a little superfluous to many users, but it can actually be pretty helpful for those who are ready to make the jump (and it’s absolutely free). Educators might want to use the software to save lessons to some sort of cloud hosting arrangement. They can then access them at a later date. This is great for anyone who’s found that they have to draw the same thing for five different class groups.

Astronomy fanatics (like me) might also like the iPad app, since it can be used for making observational sketches. The resolution of the iPad’s screen makes it ideal for this use, as long as the backlight is turned down enough to avoid ruining night vision. Of course, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the average astronomy prof anyways.

Sample Lesson Created with the Interactive Whiteboard: