Archive for November, 2009

Putting Lessons Within Teachers’ Reach

This was an exciting week for my company Bon Education and our partner Curriki in the Middle East, as interest continues to grow in our efforts to create an Arabic version of Curriki–i.e. an open source platform that would house open source Arabic language curricula and learning objects created by teachers and education stakeholders in the region.

Today, a story was printed in the National (UAE) about our efforts titled, “Arabic move to put lesson plans within UAE teachers’ reach“. The following is a brief excerpt from the article written by Kathryn Lewis:

“One of the things we know that improves teachers is for them to build their own knowledge, to get engaged in what they’re teaching,” Dr Kurshan said.

Curriki, she said, encouraged teachers to get involved in the design and implementation of lesson plans, rather than simply presenting the content of a lesson without engaging the material.

If you can engage teachers in building their own knowledge they are going to have a significant impact on students and their students will do better.”

“Teaching is one of the most isolated professions. They spend a lot of time in their classrooms behind a closed door and they don’t have an ability to ask other people if what they are doing is having an impact.

To the sharing of knowledge and curricula across borders, languages and professions!

Anna

@bon_education

P.S. To learn more about Curriki’s curricula and teaching projects around the globe, watch this video. To tell a friend about the site and to give him/her access to the 32,000 free learning resources Curriki has to offer, click here.

Eliminate the Education Divide: Notes from the Middle East

Last week Curriki (one of the organizations my company works with) was awarded the Qatar Foundation WISE Award for innovation in education. As a result, Dr. Barbara Kurshan (Curriki Executive Director) and Peter Levy (Curriki Strategic Development) came to Qatar to accept the award (watch interview here).

After Qatar, Dr. Kurshan and I spent five days in Dubai chatting with ministries of education, universities, CEOs and teachers about our next initiative to create an Arabic language version of Curriki–i.e. a free and open source Arabic language curricula repository and online community. Our five days of meetings were VERY exciting as there is much enthusiasm in the region to support the use of English and Arabic open education content.

To learn more about Curriki, open education and the work Bon Education is doing to support the integration of education technologies into classrooms across the Middle East, I welcome you to listen to the Dubai Eye Nightline interview with host James Piecowye above. Curriki and Bon Education were also featured in a recent Khaleej Times article, “Improve Arabic Content on Net, Urge Experts“. Exciting times indeed!

Thanks for listening and reading!

Anna

CEO, Bon Education

@bon_education

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Inspiring Guys to Read!

When I was working as a product manager for FreeReading, one of the questions I consistently heard from educators and researchers at literacy conferences and in the classroom is, “Where can I find books that appeal to teenage boys, especially books for striving teenage male readers?” Having just discovered Guys Read a couple of days ago, I wish I could go back and revisit those old conversations and point the people I spoke with to the Guys Read Virtual Vault of Good Books.

As the Guys Read website points out:

Research shows that boys are having trouble reading, and that boys are getting worse at reading. No one is quite sure why. Some of the reasons are biological.  Some of the reasons are sociological. But the good news is that research also shows that boys will read — if they are given reading that interests them… This is the place to come if you’re looking for something to get a guy reading. We’ve collected recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.  These are the books that guys have said they like.

Finally! The site we’ve all been asking for!

When you visit Guys Read, make sure to check out:

If I had to give one recommendation to Guys Read, I would request longer book reviews and a section of the site devoted to notes from guys in the field including book reviews and summaries written by male readers so that guys (and gals) would have a better sense of what each recommended read is about.

Regardless, this is a fabulous resource that is a must-bookmark for guys and literacy enthusiasts alike! Thanks to author and Brooklyn resident Jon Scieszka for starting Guys Read. This site is most certainly filling a huge need!

From a former Brooklynite who now lives in Dubai,

Anna

@bon_education

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UAE Education Events You Won’t Want to Miss!

The education scene in the UAE is very vibrant and in an amazing period of growth and productivity. I feel so fortunate to have an opportunity to learn from and contribute to the important education initiatives in Dubai and beyond.

For UAE educators and enthusiasts that are looking for fun and educational events to attend, here are a few to add to your calendars:

11/21/09 My Letter to President Barack Obama Book Reading and Signing Event.

  • Location: Souk Al Bahar, Dubai, 4-6pm.
  • Join children’s author Lana Dajani as she discusses her latest book, the environment and more! Illustrator Emanuela Corti will also discuss the delightful book illustrations. Download invite here.

11/22/09 Curriki on Nightline with James Piecowye.

  • Tune your UAE radio to 103.8 (or listen online here) at 8pm.
  • Learn about www.Curriki.org–a non-profit that provides free and open source curricula collaboration tools to educators across the world!

11/23/09 Empowering Teachers to Change Teaching and Learning: The Disruptive Innovation of Curricula 2.0 by Dr. Barbara Kurshan (Executive Director, Curriki)

  • Location: British University in Dubai, 10am-12:30pm.
  • Download details and invite here.

11/24/09 Mom 2.0: Blogging 101

  • Learn about blogging, how blogs can be used with children, make a blog and meet other UAE moms to boot!
  • Location: Magrudy’s Education Resource Center in Dubai, 9am-12pm.
  • Read workshop details and register here.

12/06/09 Mom 2.0: Digital Tools for Homework Help

  • Learn how to breeze through future school projects and avoid homework time stress!
  • Location: Magrudy’s Education Resource Center in Dubai, 9am-12pm.
  • Read workshop details and register here.

12/08/09 Mom 2.0: Digital Literacy and Cyber Safety: What Kids and Parents Need to Know!

  • Learn how to help your kids interact safely and productively online!
  • Location: Magrudy’s Education Resource Center in Dubai, 9am-12pm.
  • Read workshop details and register here.

Can’t wait to see UAE educators and parents at the events above!

Anna

@bon_education

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The Teacherless Classroom

I just published this post on Curriki’s blog, would be curious to hear thoughts from Literacy is Priceless readers…

Empty Classroom

In his recent New York Times article, “Virtual Classrooms Could Create a Marketplace for Knowledge,” author Anad Girdharadas writes:

In the autumn of 1963, the American magazine Popular Mechanics heralded an innovation that seemed bound to change the world: the ‘teacherless classroom’ … Fate and technology have pummeled many professions since 1963, from bookseller to travel agent to auto worker. But teachers have resisted the powerful forces reorganizing industry. The dream of the teacherless classroom has remained just that … Today the dream has returned.

Citing examples such at the Open Courseware Consortium, to iTunes U to Curriki, Girdharadas points out that education is no longer a seller’s market, where deans decide what you know, at what cost and where. With an increasing number of university professors and subject-specific enthusiasts putting their course materials and expertise online in multimedia formats, students (poor, rich, young and old) have a significant number of options when it comes to where to get (or rather how to build) an education. Furthermore, with this abundance of free or almost free courses and education resources online, universities and other certificate granting institutions have to compete on quality, price and convenience more than ever before.

Taking all of this into account, what do the aforementioned changes and market pressures mean for teachers and professors in terms of their role within the classroom and education marketplace? Or, as Independent Thinking founder Ian Gilbert writes in his forthcoming book, “Why do I need a Teacher when I’ve got Google?

Scott McNealy, Founder of Sun Microsystems and Curriki, states that educators will have to re-envision themselves as coaches. Their focus should move increasingly towards motivating learners and customizing materials to individual students, often including the work and expertise of others in the process. Or, as this Edutopia article points out, “It is better to coach than cajole”.

What do readers think? With the recent digital education explosion, how will (or rather how should) the role of the teacher and professor change? Where will educators teach/coach? How can we better prepare educators for their new roles and responsibilities in education?

Anna

Founder, Bon Education

Twitter @bon_education

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The Anatomy of Open Education

Kevin Simpson (International Educator and Founder of Know Do Serve Learn) recently asked me to write a short article on OER for his newsletter. I’ve pasted a copy of the article below. To see the original post and to read Kevin’s full newsletter, click here. Thanks for the opportunity Kevin!

Anatomy

The advent of the Web brings the ability to disseminate high-quality materials at almost no cost, leveling the playing field…We’re changing the culture of how we think about knowledge and how it should be shared and who are the owners of knowledge.” - Cathy Casserly, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

With an increasing number of educators putting their lessons, curricula and learning objects online for others to use, customize and share, the open education movement is at a tipping point. That said, with so many educational resources available on the Internet, how does one go about finding the “perfect resource for class tomorrow” without losing too much time, money or sleep?

Before we get to the answer of this question, it is important to take a quick step back and understand “the anatomy of open education”…

What is Open Education?

Open education is a term that refers to education in which knowledge, best practices and learning objects (lessons, units, etc.) are shared freely via the Internet for others to use and under many licenses to modify and re-share.

Why Open Education?

The benefits of open education are many (customization, cost-savings, freedom to innovate, etc.), but one of the primary advantages of the open education movement is that of access. Anyone who has an Internet connection via computer or mobile phone can access millions of readings, videos, simulations, lesson plans, interactive courses and more… all for free!

Open Education and Teacher Effectiveness…

Research shows time and time again that teachers have the greatest potential to influence student achievement (North Central Regional Education Laboratory 2009, McKinsey 2007, Darling-Hammond 1997). Furthermore, the literature indicates that effective teachers tend to exhibit—commitment (to help every child succeed), information-seeking (intellectual curiosity), flexibility (willingness to differentiate), and passion for learning (drive to support student learning) amongst several other traits (UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning 2004, Kemp & Hall, 1992).

Luckily, the ethos of open education goes hand-in-hand with these findings, enabling educators endless opportunities to improve their craft. Thanks to the millions of people actively engaged in sharing their ideas and content online, teachers today have 24-7 access to continued learning opportunities, professional development, lesson planning guides and resources for differentiation. Take one look at sites like Edutopia, Discover Ed, and Connexions and you will be blown away by the number of free resources available to help educators continuously improve the content area knowledge, skills and expertise they bring to the classroom.

Where to Start—Finding the Perfect Open Education Resources for your Classroom

The following is a curated list of open education resources targeted at helping K-12 teachers find classroom and professional development resources quickly, easily and for free:

  • Curriki.org—“Curriki is a social entrepreneurship organization that supports the development and free distribution of open source educational materials to improve education worldwide.  The online community gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools”.
  • FreeReading.net—“FreeReading is a high-quality, open-source, free reading intervention program addressing literacy development for grades K-3. Schools and teachers everywhere can use the complete, research-based 40-week program for K-1 students, or use the library of lessons to supplement existing curricula in phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. The site is also filled with free, downloadable supplemental materials including flashcards, graphical organizers, illustrated readers, decodable texts, audio files, videos and more”.
  • OERCommons.org—“OER Commons has forged alliances with over 120 major content partners to provide a single point of access through which educators and learners can search across collections to access over 24,000 items, find and provide descriptive information about each resource, and retrieve the ones they need. By being ‘open,’ these resources are publicly available for all to use, and principally through Creative Commons licensing, many thousands are legally available for repurposing, modifying and improving”.

To find additional open education resources of note, visit Bon Education.

The Future Cost of Education

A recent post on Mashable, titled, “In the Future, the Cost of Education will be Zero,” author Josh Catone shares a recent statement by VC and “Hacking Education” organizer Brad Burnham. He writes:

Knowledge is, as the economists say, a non-rival good… If I eat an apple, you cannot also eat that same apple; but if I learn something, there is no reason you cannot also learn that thing. Information goods lend themselves to being created, distributed and consumed on the web. It is not so different from music, or classified advertising, or news.

A nice notion indeed!

To the sharing of knowledge!

Anna Batchelder

Founder, Bon Education

www.boneducation.com

@bon_education

Mom 2.0 Workshops: Making the Internet Work For Your Family!

Mom 2.0 brought to you by Bon Education and Magrudy's (Dubai, UAE)

Over the past few months I have received a number of requests and interest from mom and schools about developing education technology and digital literacy workshops for parents. Therefore, I am delighted to invite you and any UAE moms to…

Mom 2.0 by Bon Education @ the Magrudy’s Education Resource Center

Children inhabit a world in which media plays an enormous part of their social and educational landscape, the Internet, cell phones, mobile devices, Facebook, Club Penguin, Twitter and more!

Mom 2.0 is a series of workshops aimed at helping moms understand the digital knowledge and skills their children must have in order to 1) be digitally literate, 2) be responsible consumers and producers of media, 3) interact safely online and 4) realize the amazing educational potential of education technology tools!

Join other moms at the Magrudy’s Education Resource Center (Dubai) in a series of fun and collaborative workshops that will build your technology skills, teach you about free digital tools for you and your children and save time and homework stress down the road!

We welcome you to our upcoming workshops (each workshop is offered twice and runs from 9am until 12pm):

For further information and to register click here. To download our brochure click:

Mom 2.0 by Bon Education Nov and Dec Brochure

Feel free to pass Mom 2.0 information along to your UAE mom friends!

Sincerely,

Anna

Founder, Bon Education

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