Monday, October 7, 2013

An informed outsider's perspective on Education Nation

I think of myself as a connected and curious person. But I am new to the education field. I was curious about Diane Ravitch even before I entered the field: the magazine I used to work for gave her books rave reviews; I recall a friend of mine muttering disparagingly about her; and I've read articles praising her as they put down Michelle Rhee. I don't have enough background to make my own judgment about her, and I still feel out of the loop.

This is all just to give you context on what led me to click through from Twitter to an Education Week blog titled Marginalizing the Teaching Profession: Merrow, Ravitch, and Education Nation. Here, I read:
The annual Education Nation extravaganza is just over a week away. As has been widely noted, the list of presenters includes almost nobody with any actual experience working with children. No teachers. No prominent parent advocates. What is more, there is hardly even anyone we would recognize as being expert in education.... Educators have been completely silenced at a summit focused on our profession. (Anthony Cody)
So, that's the first thing I've ever heard about Education Nation. Back on Twitter, I see the hashtag rolling through my feed, which prompts me to actually Google Education Nation to simply find out what it is.

First of all, I love that it's being live-streamed. Of course coming from NBC, the connection is good, but a simple thing like that (access and user experience) can make all the difference.

I would appreciate more transparency about who's presenting. I tuned in during a presentation from Thirty Million Words, which I gathered as the presenter dropped their name a few times. But to find the context of this presentation, I had to scroll far down the page, note the time, and look at the schedule for context of who I was listening to.

I also caught Standford's Dr. Caroline Hoxby presenting on low-income, high-achieving students and how unlikely it is for them to apply to selective colleges. Expanding College Opportunities sends informational interventions via the mail and Internet to these students about college opportunities. The research was very convincing, but I wonder whether it is clear to families where/who these mailers are coming from? Once again, I feel like context is essential. Being a curious person and life-long learner these days requires skepticism, so transparency is so important.

How many of you caught the "Personalized Learning" ed tech panel? I have many thoughts on it. But most basically, in any situation, I hate to see a moderator immediately put panelists on the defensive. Was he trying to represent the popular opinion?

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