Tag Archives: OER

Technology Helping To Personalize Student Learning Experiences

SU13StudentsReportCoverBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Students learn in many different ways, whether they’re a visual learner preferring pictures and shapes, or an auditory learner preferring sounds and rhythms. Oftentimes, we use a mix of learning styles and techniques to process information.

Unfortunately, traditional textbooks simply can’t meet students’ diverse learning styles, since every student has unique interests, attention spans, and needs. So how do we ensure the success of every student? The key to a personalized learning experience is technology.

A recent study from Speak Up published this month explored how K-12 students are using digital tools and resources to enhance their schoolwork activities.

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Infographic- The New Digital Learning Playbook: Mobile Learning

Key findings from this year’s report entitled The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations include:

  • Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
  • 29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same.
  • Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
  • One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork.
  • In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
  • High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
  • Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
  • Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).

With the right access to different kinds of educational resources that fit different learning styles, we can allow children to learn at their own pace using various learning methods that meet their individual needs. We have an opportunity to customize education for students everywhere and to provide the education they need to shape their futures.

Curriki Annual Survey for 2014

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Last month, Curriki completed our annual global survey of the 400,000 strong Curriki member community and of our followers on Twitter and Facebook. We have a very diverse set of users, from dozens of countries around the world. Nearly 4000 of you responded to the survey, and we thank you for your time. The largest number of responses came from the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan and South Africa, but many countries were represented.

We asked about age and gender. Almost half of the respondents are between the ages of 35 and 54, and the remainder are equally divided between those who are age 55 and above and those who are younger than 35. Regarding gender, 5/8 of the respondents are female and 3/8 are male.

Role

Role

This first pie chart shows the distribution of responses to the question: What is your role? Teachers, educators, administrators, parents, students and other categories were represented. Just over half of the respondents are teachers. After teachers, educators, students and parents were the most represented roles.

Affiliation

Affiliation

We also asked about affiliation. This second pie chart shows the responses to that question, indicating nearly half of the members who replied are working in public school districts. The next most populated categories are those at private schools and home schoolers.

Primary Reason to use Curriki

Primary Reason to use Curriki

The third chart (a bar chart) shows the responses to the question: What is the primary reason you visit the Curriki site? Some respondents provided more than one reason, so the total exceeded 100%. The top 3 are:

  1. Find resources for students to use
  2. Find teaching resources (e.g. lesson plans)
  3. As a source of new ideas

Other major reasons were to find resources for their own children, to connect with others in the education community and to contribute resources to Curriki.

We also asked about usage of Curriki groups (there are almost 800 groups at present). One out of 8 respondents participates in one or more of these groups. If you are not a group member, you may want to check these out – there is sure to be one of interest to you. Or you could start your own group around your favorite topic!

Thanks again to all those who participated in the survey!

 

Homework Horror?

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Is the homework burden in American schools becoming heavier? Articles in the past 3 years in Atlantic magazine and The New York Times and a CNN story as well have raised this specter. But these stories, while accurate in their own particulars, look to be anecdotal and not statistically representative of the broad population of K-12 students. And this is not the first time such concerns have been raised – the debate has continued for at least the past 100 years.

The CNN story drew from a study which was biased by design. It used a small sample of upper middle class and highly competitive high schools in California, over half of which were private schools. In fact the name of the study was “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools”!

A further source of bias is that not all students in the chosen schools responded. The ones who did may have been in more of a mood to complain, or even brag about, their heavy homework loads. These are some of the most academically gifted students, who are striving to enter some of the most elite universities in the country and the world.

In Cupertino, California, where Curriki’s offices and Apple’s headquarters are located, many of the students have parents who are top engineers in Silicon Valley. These engineers were chosen from the best and brightest from China, India, the U.S. and the rest of the world. And such parents tend to push their children toward academic achievement. The Cupertino school district has a high school which was recently ranked #109 in the U.S., out of over 21,000 public high schools.

There have been a number of studies of homework, and they indicate on average that most students have less than an hour of homework, even in their senior year of high school. Trends in homework over the past three decades have been reported in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The assessment is part of the 2014 Brown Center Report on American Education from the Brookings Institution. See the table below, taken from the report, and which summarizes findings from a period of almost 3 decades beginning in 1984. Consistent with other studies, the latest NAEP report indicates that, on average, most students have less than an hour of homework, even in their senior year of high school. According to these results, only one such student in 8 has more than 2 hours of homework. At age 9, only one student in 20 has more than 2 hours of homework.

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Here is a description of the 10 minute per grade-level guideline, from the Wikipedia article on homework:

“A review by researchers at Duke University of more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 showed that, within limits, there is a positive interaction between the amount of homework which is done and student achievement. The research synthesis also indicated that too much homework could be counterproductive. The research supports the ’10-minute rule’, the widely accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. For example, under this system, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework per night, while 5th graders would get 50 minutes’ worth, 9th graders 90 minutes of homework, etc.”

So, in fact, the level of homework by grade level has been relatively stable for the past 3 decades. It will be interesting to see if major trends such as digital learning, flipping the classroom, and Common Core have any effect on the average amount of homework that students are assigned, or actually do.

Curriki is here to help with homework! Here you can find a long list of helpful resources for students that have to do homework, whether it’s a little or a lot!

References:

http://educationnext.org/homework-horror-stories/

http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/03/18-homework-loveless

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00220973.2012.745469 – “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools”

 

Introducing Curriki Japan: Open Educational Resources

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By Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

KimJonesimageI recently returned from a trip to Waseda University in Japan, where we proudly launched Curriki Japan, the first of Curriki’s international affiliates!  We are thrilled to announce that many of the same high-quality teaching and learning resources found on Curriki have been translated into Japanese by the all-volunteer Curriki Japan team and are now available to Japanese educators, parents and students for free.

 

The Curriki Japan team will also develop new Japanese content, including materials about Japanese history and culture that educators outside of Japan may use in their classrooms. At this time, there are 200+ resources that have been translated, with new resources being added each month.

 

wasedaHeld at the prestigious Waseda University, the Curriki Japan event was attended by over 300 educators, parents, students, and interested citizens, as well as leaders from Waseda University and Curriki.  Waseda University developed the affiliate program in Japan to fill the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who have lesser opportunity by making digital Open Educational Resources (OER) available for free on the web.

 

By leveraging the power of technology, Curriki Japan is giving all students the same opportunity to access world-class learning materials for free, according to Professor Emeritus Muraoka of the School of Engineering and Science at Waseda University.

 

L-R: Professor Kakei, Dean of Open Education at Waseda University; Professor Muraoka, School of Engineering and Science at Waseda University; Kim Jones, Curriki CEO; Hasegawa-san

L-R: Professor Katsuhiko Kakehi, Dean of Open Education Center, Waseda University; Professor Emeritus Yoichi Muraoka, Waseda University; Kim Jones, Curriki CEO; Susumu Hasegawa, Director, Curriki Japan and Member of the Board, JTP

Curriki continues to be an inspiring global community where educators, parents and students can collaborate, create, learn, and connect with others. Would you please share this news with friends, relatives or colleagues who live in Japan or speak Japanese?  

New SATs – Leveling the Playing Field

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

The College Board has announced major changes to the SAT format (sometimes called SATs, and officially the SAT Reasoning test) beginning in 2016. The test is very widely used in college admissions in the U.S. Many have argued that the results of the test are given too high a weight in admissions. Research indicates that high school grades are much better correlated with college performance than SAT scores. But the SAT is here to stay, and will remain of major importance in determining where high school graduates can attend college or university. The new set of tests will revert to a maximum score of 1600 based on the combination of the math and the English reading/writing sections. The essay portion of the exams will remain, but become optional, while also more rigorous.

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Much of the motivation toward redefining the test is in an attempt to level the playing field and deliver opportunity for students coming from various economic and cultural backgrounds. See the College Board web site for their thoughts around this issue. There is an excellent article from the NY Times discussing the story of how the new version of the SAT came to be.

In addition to the issue of how much to weight the SAT and its competitor, the ACT, are given in admissions, there have long been concerns that the affluent have a double advantage in taking either of these tests. First, they are generally attending better schools than less privileged students, and have been exposed to more difficult concepts in math and more difficult vocabulary. And second, a whole SAT preparation industry has been around for decades – almost since the first SAT was introduced in 1926 – to help students improve their scores on the exams.

Many students attend training sessions for several weeks in the hopes of gaining an edge by increasing their scores by 20 or even 50 points per section. Some firms in the test preparation industry offer money back guarantees of improving scores by 50 points per section, although research indicates that the average gain from such preparation is a total of 30 points across the current 3 sections of the SAT. Still, even a modest improvement can be the difference between getting in to that higher ranked school or not. The courses easily run several hundreds of dollars, and the parents of students from lower economic strata generally cannot afford to send their children to these SAT preparation sessions.

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In order to help level the playing field, the College Board and the Salman Khan Foundation have announced an initiative to make freely available SAT preparation materials and videos via the Web. Here’s a brief video including an interview with Salman Khan.

Curriki applauds this initiative from these two organizations. We would also like to let you know that there are a number of SAT-related resources on Curriki. Just go to our site and search for “SAT” and you will find resources such as:

1. Vocabulary resource – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_trish1/SATpreparationshelpfulforenglish

2. Vocabulary and SAT prep – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_NassauBOCESCurriculumAreaProjectsCAP/Gr10-12VocabularyandSATPrep

3. Word Dynamo – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jennifermorgan/SATStudyGuidesWordDynamo

Women’s History Month Resources

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Women’s History Month is celebrated in March in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. This year, the theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”. You can find more about the celebration of, and history behind, National Women’s History Month in the U.S. here.

There are plenty of related resources on Curriki, appropriate across all grade levels. Some of the exemplary resources are available here, and here, and here. The last of these includes a number of free Kindle e-books on women’s rights and other topics.

Can you name these accomplished women from history, who exhibited character, courage and commitment?

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