Tag Archives: open education resources

Encouraging Girls in STEM subjects

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

While girls show a lot of interest in science during elementary school, the interest often fades in the later grades. Around 2/3 of girls in the U.S. at the fourth grade level express an interest in science and/or math subjects.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that about 24% of the jobs in STEM (science, technology and math) fields are currently occupied by women. The gender imbalance is particularly notable in the physical sciences and in engineering fields, while women are better represented in the life sciences.

In computer science there is a very large imbalance, and yet this is a field where many jobs go begging today – there are hundreds of thousands of software development jobs in the U.S. in this field which are unfilled at present.

Verizon has developed a wonderful “Inspire Her Mind” commercial -

The message of the commercial is – don’t discourage girls from “getting their hands dirty” with science or engineering projects. Rather, encourage their curiosity and their interest in these fields.

Curriki contains a wealth of resources in STEM subjects, even full courses in math including algebra and geometry. And of course developing math strengths is key to pursuing majors and careers in science and technology fields.

Here’s information on one project to address the gender gap in software development – it is a global effort to teach 1 million girls to write computer code and develop applications.

http://www.cnet.com/news/girl-geek-academy-wants-to-teach-one-million-girls-to-code/

As CNET reports: “A new initiative aims to teach women how to create apps and launch their own startups, with the aim to reach one million people by 2025″. There has been progress in certain areas. For example, the number of women involved in the gaming industry, one of the largest for new software development opportunities, has increased from 11% to 22% in recent years.

Here’s an article about Women Who Code UK founder and software engineer Sheree Atcheson, who is just 23 years old.

ShereeAtcheson_400x400
Sheree Atcheson, Software Engineer and @WomenWhoCode UK Founder

Curriki also has resources to help girls, and boys, learn to code, including the Oracle Academy courses for Java, one of today’s most important programming languages.

Curriki’s purpose is to broaden educational opportunity in K-12 for students in all countries, including supporting greater participation by girls in the various STEM fields. These fields are so critical to future job opportunities for students and to the progress of humanity around the world, whether through the life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering.

Education Across the Globe

Kim JonesBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

The infographic in this post has some very interesting information on education and literacy around the globe. It was produced by Tutoring Expert in Canada.

A few facts: there are 1.4 billion students on earth, fully 20% of the world’s population. There are 65 million educators around the world. This is approximately equal to the population of France. Developed countries typically spend about 10 to 15% of their total government budgets on education.

Around 800 million adults across the globe are illiterate. Three nations each have over 1 million girls not in school: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Only 12% of women in Afghanistan are able to read. Around 31 million girls of primary school age around the world are not in school.

In India, 88% of boys are able to read, but only 74% of girls. Clearly one of the challenges is increasing literacy for all, and especially, educational access for girls. On the other hand, in the Philippines, there are many more girls in school than boys.

Global edu infographic

In the U.S., only 32% of students are considered proficient in math. Children in Finland have the world’s highest scores in math and science, despite not starting school until age 6 or 7.

Despite the problems that remain, 1 in 3 young people are now expected to receive a college or university degree. Education is key to job opportunities, and to one’s standard of living, health, and social position. Most societies and parents around the world care deeply about their children’s future, for both boys and girls, and thus for their educational development. They invest considerable resources in their children’s education. But there are also serious shortcomings that must be addressed.

Curriki, as a not-for-profit foundation, is fully dedicated to improving education access and educational outcomes around the world. Over 50,000 Curriki educational resources are freely available to anyone with Internet access. These resources are also open source, in order to allow customization as needed. To date, 10 million unique users have visited the Curriki web site.

Take a careful look at the infographic, and see what other interesting factoids you are able to discover. The variation of school attendance hours between countries is fascinating!

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!

 

The Changing Role of Teaching

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Vision K-20 is an initiative of the Software and Information Industry Association in the U.S. It works to promote best use of technology in support of education.

“Vision K-20 is the belief that to better prepare our nation’s students, every K-20 educational institution should effectively utilize modern technologies to:

  • Personalize learning to increase student engagement and achievement
  • Document and track student performance
  • Maximize teaching and administrative effectiveness
  • Provide equity and access to new learning opportunities
  • Empower collaborative learning communities
  • Build student proficiencies in 21st century skills”

Each year they survey educators regarding technology in the classroom. The 2013 survey include responses from K-12 educators (75% of the responses) and from higher education professionals (25%). The survey results indicated the level of technology integration in K-12 is currently at a rather low level and that, based on the responses, it should be much higher. The educators answering the survey view technology integration as being of high importance. The survey also indicated that 46% of school districts allow mobile devices in the classroom, generally with restrictions placed on usage.

You can find related resources on their site here, http://www.siia.net/visionk20/resources.asp, including resources for Digital Learning Day.

Image

A recent blog by Amanda Fairbanks at edweek.org  is titled “Digital Trends Shifting the Role of Teachers”. It reports on experiences with technology integration from several teachers in the U.S.

One of these, Chris Merkert, was science teacher of the year for 2012 in Suffolk County, New York, and is a leader in “flipped teaching”.

“Mr. Merkert has altered his teaching style—spending less time holding court at the front of the room and more time crisscrossing the classroom to answer questions and provide individual, targeted feedback. And rather than rely on outdated textbooks to drive the bulk of his instruction, he now writes his own curriculum.” He says, “I’m more enthused and involved than I’ve ever been.”

Tip: If you’re going to write your own curriculum, be sure to check out the over 50,000 free and open resources at welcome.curriki.org.

Ms. Rose Ann Throckmorton is a 4th grade teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She reports that since the implementation of a digital learning approach in her classroom, student engagement has increased and the amount of material that can be covered has increased as well. “Twenty-first century classrooms are coming whether we want them to or not,” says Ms. Throckmorton.

The technology is not an end in itself, rather it supports a shift in pedagogy from teacher-centered to more personalized student-centered learning. Resources on Curriki are especially intended to support this student-centered learning modality.

A third teacher, Tom Whitby, is a retired English teacher with more than 30 years of classroom experience.

“If I limited my students to the content in my own head, I would be doing them a huge disservice,” he said. “Students are no longer empty vessels, where it’s our job to fill them with the knowledge that we have. We don’t have all the facts. Our role is changing every day.”

Take a look at the Curriki site to see what you can incorporate into your classroom activities in support of digital and student-centered learning.

Blended Learning: Getting it Right

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

An article on Blended Learning from the Smithsonian Magazine discusses the gains from blended learning, including significant improvement in math competence, for a school in Washington, D.C.

“At Stanton, students in grades 3-5 spend 45 minutes a day on an iPad or a Dell laptop working on ST Math, an online math program that challenges each student based on his or her skill level. For example, one student could tackle multiplication tables, while someone in the next row completes double-digit addition problems. Some do all their work by typing and touch-screening their way through problems and solutions, while others swivel between scouring the screen and scribbling on scrap paper. Teachers rotate through the room, helping students when they stumble on a given problem.”

In his recent blog, Andrew Miller writes “Blended learning is not simply technology integration! At the same time, there are many implementation methods for blended learning…It is important that we venture down the path of blended learning, that we’re actually doing blended learning, that we’re clear in our model, and that we share common language.”

blendinglearning.24x7learning

Image credit: 24x7learning.com

Definition of Blended Learning

The definition of true blended learning is a little more subtle than indicated in the image above. The Christensen Institute has provided a definition of blended learning as a program “in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace” together with supervised instruction in a physical location away from home.

Traditional instruction enhanced with technology may be an improvement, but it is not blended learning. Blended learning adds the flexibility of online instruction with one or more aspects controlled by the student. Blended learning methods promote competency-based, individualized learning, and thus naturally require the incorporation of a wider range of curricular resources, from online sources. In order to remain within budgetary constraints, access to free open educational resources (OER) is highly desirable.

Why Curriki supports Blended Learning

Curriki supports blended learning approaches because we have extensive experience with the growing wealth of OER curricular content, that is supportive of blended learning methodologies. This content is available to be incorporated into blended learning models across a range of subjects and at various K-12 grade levels. Anyone can access and utilize over 50,000 instructional resources available on Curriki at no cost. We encourage you to use these free resources to support your blended learning lesson plans, and also to contribute resources for others in the blended learning community to utilize.

Summer Reading Resources for Students

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief academic Officer, Curriki

How can we help children keep their minds engaged over the summer break? One of the best ways is by encouraging them to read.

There are a number of summer reading lists which you can find on Curriki. Here we mention a few of those.

Below is a link to a set of eight different reading lists for students in K-12. Each list is well annotated and like a mini book talk – engaging and hooking to even the most reluctant reader. This resource even includes a list for boys who are reluctant readers.

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_CurrikisThematicCollections/SummerreadinglistsK-12

phot by Darwin Bell via Flickr Creative CommonsAnd here are two lists for teenage students:

For teenage girls -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_StorySnoops/SummerReadingList–BooksforTeenGirls

For teenage guys -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jennagel/2012SummerReadingList–BooksforTeenGuys

There are quite a few other resources, just go to curriki.org and search on “summer reading”!