Sunday, October 28, 2007

Data-Driven Decision-Making and Educational Data Mining

Technology tools are needed in order to support efforts such as Response to Intervention (RTI) that rely on closer monitoring of data regarding student progress. The Winston-Salem school district in North Carolina has implemented a web-based application known as the Teacher's Workbench, funded in part by a Reinventing Education grant from IBM.

According to an abstract by Mark Singley, Richard Boehme, Lei Kuang, Richard Lam, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA , "Teacher’s Workbench is a web application whose goal is to improve day-to-day instructional decision making by providing teachers with a finer-grained, more timely understanding of the ever-changing patterns of student proficiency in their classrooms. Teacher’s Workbench takes a three-pronged approach: First, the system provides integrated support for managing standards-based classroom data through the core functionality of a teacher planbook, student profiler, and access to third-party gradebooks. Secondly, the system amplifies the teacher’s ability to analyze and understand student performance by mining the gradebook, planbook, and other school data sources. The system alerts teachers to the existence of critical teaching and learning patterns. Finally, the system helps teachers act on these new understandings by automatically locating and delivering instructional resources in response to the patterns detected."

Business Tools for Better Schools is a website that advocates for improving educational data systems:

"...too often, educators do not know how to use the data system or lack training in how to leverage the information to improve instruction. Although collecting and disseminating better data is essential, knowing how to analyze and apply this information is just as important for improving student achievement. Business leaders, by tapping into their own corporate experiences, can help educators, administrators and policymakers understand how to access and use longitudinal data as part of daily operations and long-term improvement strategies."

In my opinion, school psychologists, given their backgrounds in measurement and data analysis, should be part of the decision-making process when school districts adopt new data systems designed to enhance student progress-monitoring.

If you are a school psychologist or educator who is involved in the use of data-driven decision-making to support Response to Intervention efforts, please leave a comment. What sort of software does your school use? What security and privacy precautions do you have in place to ensure the confidentiality of student information?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Timeline of Teens and Technology: Presentation for School Psychologists

Amanda Lenhart, of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, presented "A Timeline of Teens and Technology " to the Policy & Advocacy in the Schools meeting of a group of school psychologists in August 2007. According to the presentation, the impact and implications are as follows:

  • Those who have grown up with interactive media want to manipulate, remix, and share content.
  • They expect to be in conversation with others about content- access to an audience
  • Increasingly savvy about what they share, particularly on SNS-protecting privacy
  • Social media is always on, and persistent
  • But teens are still teens-the fundamentals of that time of life are still there.
It is important for educators to keep in mind how rapidly things are changing for their students regarding their creative and social use of the Internet and new technologies.

Link to PowerPoint Presentation

Food for Thought: This video about provides a good overview of computer and on-line privacy and security- if you work with students or if you are a parent, you'll find it useful:
"When I go to U. VA". is from UVA's Responsible Computing effort:

Family, Friends & Community Resources (from the Pew Website)

Parent and Teen Internet Use

Teens and Online Stranger Contact


Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks

Social Networking Websites and Teens

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MegaPost: Resources for All

Since I started blogging, new technologies have made their way into an increasing number of classrooms, and many educators are aware of efforts such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Response to Intervention or Instruction (RTI), as well as innovative technologies that provide engaged, interactive learning experiences for students.

I've consolidated information and updated links and resources from some previous posts from my TechPsych and Interactive Multimedia Technology blogs. Although many of the resources cited in this post relate to K-12 education, some of the information is useful for instructional designers, school administrators, researchers, college/university educators, parents, and technologists who are interested in developing interactive multimedia applications for children and teens.

Take the time to review the "MegaPost" on the Interactive Multimedia Technology Blog!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Engaged Learning? Update

Those who follow my blogs know that I usually focus on the positive- engaging technologies, exciting research, interesting websites, and successes of others worth sharing. Today I came across a video that got me thinking about the importance of engaged learning, a topic I've written about in the past.

(Update- I added a second video that compliments the first.)

Much effort is extended in our high schools to prepare students for the "real" learning that will take place in college. With the increased emphasis on testing, it seems like the moment a child enters kindergarten, one of the main goals is to prepare for learning the skills needed in the following grade. Every student must be "ready".

Ready for....this?

In today's digital world, traditional word-based instruction doesn't always result in experiences that engage the hearts and minds of young people.

The video below was created by students involved in the Digital Ethnography group at Kansas State University. At the beginning of the video, the camera slowly peers around an empty university lecture hall, with the the following quote superimposed over the scene:

"Today's child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules." -Marshall McLuhan, 1967

Although the quote is now forty years old, the message communicated in this video is clear. Despite technology, things haven't really changed, as traditional methods of teaching tend to disengage rather than engage a good number of students.


After viewing the above video, watch this video, "When I grow up I want to be a teacher", a parody of a commercial.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Boston Children's Hospital, The Big Tree: Innovative use of digital media technology to support communication skills

In the Autism Language Program at Boston's Children's hospital, therapists are using visual and multimedia methods of instruction, supported by technology. The program uses observational and two-way observational learning strategies to teach more complex concepts and skills.

Information from the Children's Hospital research and development web page describes research that supports the use of technology with children who have autism spectrum disorders:

"Our clinical observations have revealed that children on the spectrum are interested in all forms of electronic media. We conducted an extensive survey to quantify this observation. We surveyed 90 families of children (age 3-15) with autism from the Midwest and the east coast.

Partial results of the survey:

Children had extensive computer, television and video interest.
Animated characters were more interesting than human figures.
Majority of the children spend more time with media than they do with all other forms of play combined.

These findings are helping us discover ways to use animated characters as therapeutic tools to help children learn language."

The Big Tree is a website that includes information about "Multimedia Advocacy", the "use of multimedia to have a voice". This is especially important for young people who have communication disorders or other disabilities as they transition to adult life.

"Multimedia advocacy is process driven using a camera, video and computer in work with people who have learning disabilities has value as a process of assisted communication in its own right. Taking a person-centred approach so that service users are involved takes time. Multimedia advocacy provides valuable tools that allow those with communication difficulties ownership of their plans and records, rather like having ´an accessible filing cabinet´ that helps to shift the power relationships entailed in supporting people around and getting the focus onto the individual and placing them at the centre."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Karen Janowski's Blog Post: Free Technology Toolkit for UDL (Universal Design for Learning)

I just came by a great blog, "Ed Tech Solutions: Teaching Every Student" authored by Karen Janowski, an assistive technology consultant. Click on the above title link to find her post about a wide range of free technology tools that can support Universal Design For Learning (UDL) and assistive technology efforts. Great job, Karen!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Simulations and Games in Education

According to information from th SimSchool Website, "SimSchool Resources offer articles, research reports, links to human resources and multimedia, and other curriculum enhancements for teacher education. The collection is intended to support the growth of knowledge, skills and abilities needed for performance-based teaching and learning."

The Simulation & Games in Education collection has a wide range of articles by key researchers and practitioners in the field.

SimSchool is a digital library website of the Education Reform Networks, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovations Challenge Grant and the U.S. Department of Ediucation PT3 Digital Equity Task Force.