July 2013

Ed-tech without educators is doomed

Elements 4D is a current project on KickstarterĀ featuring a set of wooden blocks engraved with the elements of the Periodic Table. When viewed through the frame of an iPad or iPhone, the blocks have “augmented reality” codes that cause them to show up on the screen as clear cubes, labeled with their various properties. If […]


What we can learn from the Udacity/San Jose MOOC debacle

Cisco-sponsored promotional video on the Udacity/SJSU partnership As most people in ed-tech circles have heard by now, a much-touted MOOC experiment has ended in embarrassment. In January, Udacity, a for-profit founded by Google and Stanford employee Sebastian Thrun to create customized online college-level video-based courses, announced that it would partner with San Jose State University […]


Is education a good field for leaders, or just for managers?

Who is a leader, and who is a manager? A leader creates change. She leads by example, through charisma, persuasion, and reason, and is concerned with effectiveness and ultimate goals. A manager is someone who implements change. He coordinates, directs, and is concerned with efficiency, with means rather than ends, and with control rather than […]


Student writing and digital tools: good, bad and indifferent

A newly published Pew survey of 2462 AP and National Writing Project teachers provides some great indicators for how skilled high school English teachers are using digital tools to enhance writing instruction. The survey also highlighted some common concerns about digital tools’ effects on written communication that are applicable beyond the classroom as well. First, […]


The Gates Foundation is the $36 billion gorilla of education

In the circles in which I move, there has been a lot of talk this week about a major article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, taking on the Gates Foundation‘s outsized power in education policy. As a former Gates Foundation contractor I spoke at length to the authors of the piece and am […]


InBloom is wilting thanks to privacy concerns–but they don’t stop with InBloom

In my first post for this blog I covered the splashy debut of InBloom at the SXSWEdu conference in Texas in March. I noted that it’s tough to explain exactly what the company does (essentially, they provide the infrastructure for a variety of smaller applications to harness the data generated by students to make their […]


Maker Camp kicks off online

When most people think of summer camp, they think of a resolutely analog experience. But Maker Camp, which just kicked off its second season, is designed to take place online and offline simultaneously. The Make Magazine/Maker Faire community got together with Google Plus to present a series of 30 fun projects in 30 days for […]


Can games and toys get girls interested in STEM?

This morning I was watching my daughter push a pink dump truck around the living room, and it got me thinking about what games and toys do to shape gender stereotypes. There’s evidence that children gravitate toward sex-stereotyped toys as young as 18 months, which is just my daughter’s age; unfortunately, there’s also evidenceĀ that parents […]


The 5 hidden powers of games for learning

John Scott Tynes started programming in the early 1980s, in middle school. “The main thing I did was play games and make games,” he said–from text-based adventure games to a crude graphics game inspired by Indiana Jones that featured a “fedora” (as seen from overhead, really, two concentric circles) cracking a “whip.” Tynes went on […]