Friday, October 29, 2010

Easing into the 1:1 laptop program

Of all the changes this school year the one that challenges our staff the most would be that of 1:1 computing. We're happy to be the first high school in Illinois to partner with Apple in creating a one laptop for every student environment. We've spent time preparing with professional development over the last two years but in some ways you can never truly be ready for teaching in an environment you have not yet experienced. So to that point I wanted to share a video about a school district that has already been there. I'll be fair the video is a little bit long but If you have the time over the weekend it is more than worth a look.

Lisa Brady and Will Richardson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Social Media Enables New Business Models

I've written before on the ways social media can impact the economy. Social media seems to be creating or in this case enabling are new business models. TOMS shoes is one such example. TOMS is the brain child of web entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie. Essentially for every pair of TOMS that are purchased a pair of TOMS is given away to a child in need.

The question is how do they give away so many pairs (now over 1 million) and still make a profit? TOMS founder gave away the secret in this Q and A video from the Clinton Initiative. If you take the time to watch the full video you'll see the secret rests with leveraging social media. TOMS does not spend much money on traditional advertising markets. Instead they rely on social media to spread the word for them. And it seems their customers are willing to help. We are social creatures at heart. We love to share and the new Web 2.0 tools of youtube, facebook, twitter, and the like have made it easier than ever before to spread a message quickly.

It works for TOMS. The expanded profit margin allows them to give away a pair of shoes while still making a profit. On the other hand companies that fail to leverage these tools run the increased risk of negative publicity. For those with the "United Broke My Guitar" song still stuck in your head you know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hot Topic - Education Reform

Education reform has become quite the topic of late. Even the rich and powerful seem to be throwing themselves into the mix with million upon million of private dollars going into school reform efforts. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has recently pledged $100 million to school districts in New Jersey. The new film "Waiting for Superman" will certainly help spark more debate. See the preview below:

What is more interesting to question are the basic assumptions that most of us carry around about our education system. As we throw dollars at problems it might be helpful to take a look at where our modern education system has come from. Below is an interesting video sketch up summarizing some thoughts by Ken Robinson. We've read a few of his books as part of our faculty summer reads and his take is always intriguing.

As the economy continues to diversify and changed the value of a quality education seems to become more and more important.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moral and Character Education in Catholic Schools

On Monday night Dr. Daniel Lapsley was the featured speaker at the annual Hesbugh lecture series sponsored by the local Alumni Association of Notre Dame. Dr. Laspley is the chair of the psychology department at Notre Dame and one of the nation's foremost scholars in the area of moral and character education.

One of the most interesting points he made was that for moral and character education to work within Catholic schools we don't need canned programs but rather a school culture that promotes student involvement and commitment coupled with a strong sense of community between the adults and students in the building. If the adults provide strong role models but work in collaborative ways with students good things happen. The moral development of students flourishes as well as every other factor in achievement.

It was reinforcing in many ways of some of the changes taking place this year at school. Most notably that of the house system. It isn't necessarily perfect yet in anyway but the goal is building stronger more vibrant communities with students who show high levels of engagement on many fronts.

Listening to Dr. Lapsley reminded me of the following video below from CAPE. It's worth a look.

On another note Dr. Lapsley mentioned some of the good work that charter schools are doing. Granted their are some that do well and some that fail miserably. But some of the key factors in meaningful school reform is creating value centered communities where strong collaboration between students and the adults takes place.