Learning Issues

Parent-Teacher-District Communications for Learning Progress

Parent engagement has a significant impact on student learning progress, comfort, and happiness.  Yet few schools or districts have yet designed systems that support ease and variety of two-way communications between district and parent and teacher and parent. We are gathering resources here to see how easy, empowering communications can be integrated into the learning management systems.

Given the explosion of virtual learning during  the pandemic, parents have been more involved in student learning providing a possible increase in the impact of parent engagement on student progress as well as an increase in utilization of technology learning tools  by teachers, students and parent.

A serious equity gap has widened given the disparity in student devices, Internet access, student, teacheer and parent technology app savvy, and parental knowledge of school processes and the curriculum.

We are gathering research and solutions here with an aim to find or create effective home-school communication to support student learning and family engagement.

How Two-Way Communication Can Boost Parent Engagement

Link to Waterford.org website– information and links to research on Parent/Teacher/District communications.

Communication Between Educators and Parents in Title I Elementary

A dissertation on parent/teacher communications, types and impacts,  in Title I schools.

Link to comparison of Schoolology, PowerSchool, and TalentLMS– learning management systems with extensive school-home communciations. https://comparisons.financesonline.com/schoology-vs-powerschool

Eric Paper on Two Way Parent Teacher Communication

Enhancing School–Home Communication Through Learning Management System Adoption: Parent and Teacher Perceptions and Practices, by Nora S. Laho (This paper examines usage of various communications methods after implementation of Schoology LMS.)

Soulful Learning in a Wired World

Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, Bellingham, Washington, September 2012 Sermon.

Do you know, has Lee told you, that Aloha means that I breathe in God from your breath and you breath in God from mine? In that spirit let me say: Aloha!

You are the people who are with my husband while I am an ocean away working on my education projects. So when Lee invited me to share with you my passion, the education urgency that I feel for the welfare of our children, our country, and our world, I jumped at the chance.

I do what I do because I think it is the best use of myself to further the values you and I hold in common, our 7 principles. And Lee does what he does here with you for the same reason.

The most likely people to understand, agree, expand and create needed education changes that lift our young people and protect human dignity and value, I believe, are Unitarian Universalists, and nowhere better than here at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.

It is in our genes. It is in our beliefs. It is in the highest moments of our history as a movement, like when with these words Emerson addressed the 1838 Harvard Divinity School seniors, about to become Unitarian ministers:

But when the mind opens and reveals the laws which traverse the universe,
and make things what they are, then shrinks the great world at once into a mere illustration and fable of this mind.

What am I? and What is?
asks the human spirit with a curiosity new-kindled, but never to be quenched.

Emerson says that once we truly open ourselves to learn principles, laws and science, which guide the universe, we then wonder, “What am I” and “What Is?” and then our learning is ignited without end.

Yes! My forty years in education affirm his view. I see that ontological and existential questions of being are a vital part in the virtuous cycle of mindful engagement and learning.

But, because I write in 2013 instead of 1838, and because I am looking at learning for the broad spectrum of learners, rather the highly educated group Emerson addressed, I see this virtuous cycle turned around. Emerson sees that if we learn widely and deeply, we ask questions about our own being.

I think that if our learning addresses our being, if I, the learner see the relation between my self and the knowledge or skills I seek to learn, my learning accelerates and deepens and I have a higher likelihood of mastery. If I engage this way, the laws of the universe are then penetrable to me and I am urged forward in learning.

When the student is asked to memorize the state capitols, some will do it quickly to prove they can and because it elevates their sense of self to prove it. If a student sees no relation to their self and sees no hope of acknowledgment of them personally, they will likely not be successful.

Personalizing learning makes it more effective and bonding teacher with the learner accelerates the learning.

We now have the ability through technology, connectivity, cognitive science, learning media, and reorganizing resources accordingly, to give each child a customized learning path and personal attention.

Can you imagine when you took your first step?

The first feel of a square of jello or a piece of ice?

Riding your bicycle and staying up?

Mastering the reed in your clarinet?

Making a perfect pudding?

Learning was a delight. 

We learn what interests us …
Thank you, Socrates and Plato, for engaging us, with inquiry, in learning.

We learn when we are respected …
Thank you, Jesus, for proving our worthiness to learn by sharing your parables and proverbs with all.

We learn where we find peace and focus …
Thank you, Buddha, for teaching us mindfulness and to resolve suffering with happiness

We learn by doing …
Thank you, John Dewey, for bridging learning from academic to authentic

We learn when we have dedicated, bright, professional, inspired teachers …
Thank you, teachers, for giving generously of your concern and talent regardless of pay or conditions

We learn when we are in nature and see ourselves in nature …
Thank you, Thoreau, Darwin, Richard Louv—writer of the Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle—and all the environmental educators working to teach us to save the planet and ourselves.

We learn in environments that promote learning …
Thank you, to those local communities who have found a way to build and sustain modern, comfortable, connected schools. Let’s fix the rest of them!

We learn when we have the current tools …
Thank you, IBM, Apple, Google, and even Twitter for inventing these.
Let’s get them to all students!

We learn when we are connected …
Thank you, President Obama, for pushing for “ConnectEd” the new E-Rate program to get high band-with Internet connectivity to schools.
Thanks to the FCC who voted for it in July, but seeks comments. Communities will need to support this initiative which addresses the problem of the average school having about the same connectivity as the average American home, but serving 200 times as many users.
Let’s turn on the juice!

We learn when we have effective standards and tests …
Thank you educators, governors, and state chief school officers for 10 years of struggling to develop and agree on Common Core Standards. For the first time, our standards now may have the depth and rigor to raise performance instead of driving it down. And using national common core standards may direct otherwise wasted funds into more advanced assessment and instruction to benefit students.
Let’s support the implementation of the Common Core!

In spite of the old philosophers’ deep thinking about learning, today’s connectivity and technology, and common core standards now being implemented for the first time, which offer affordable forward movement, despite all that, enormous gaps in education persist in our own country and around the world.

And we have no assurance that those making the decisions will do so from values that support each learner.

Public attention has been riveted by media’s report of the U.S. plummeting math and science scores relative to developed and even some developing countries. After ignoring education for decades, the public is riled up by scores that evoke a world cup competition in which we are losing.

But where is the interest in serving the needs of students and our global common interests with advances in education not measured by those math, science and literacy tests?

And who will stand up for providing the support to each student so that they can develop their own individual gifts, enjoy harmonious lives, and become innovators for tomorrow?

Will we ignite and satisfy curiosity in our students?
Or will we dampen interest with our one-size-fits-all curricula, graded to reward those most gifted?
Will our tests and our instructional design support our students’ learning?
Or will we continue with the classroom model developed in 1780, of large classes lead by one teacher, grouped by age?
Will we educate our populace to achieve rewards in their own and shared accomplishment?
Or will we persist in a competitive model that undermines collaboration?
Will we humanize our education model to advance against the twin evils of ignorance and greed?
Or will we continue the education model that matches our economic model of inequity?

What got us to our current slump in education?

For twenty years education in the US has backslid
We thought we were leading the world
That our scientists would invent more
Our businesses would thrive more
Our schools would educate young people better
The world would continue to come to America to get educated.

We let ourselves get into squabbles about state standards
We underpaid our teachers
We failed to honor teachers and students
We did not bring talent into our schools as our top priority
We were stuck in old learning models

As technology entered the workplace--and the play place-
We did not keep up with it in our schools.
Many of our teachers were afraid of technology
And we slowed teacher progress by miring technology in bureaucracy
Kids who had computers at home
Had to work at old desks at school with pencils
Kids who had no computers at home
Were sent to computer labs to drill, drill, drill

Lessons bored students
Violence and discipline sapped resources
Gone were the arts and sports
Gone were music and drama
After sputnik’s science surge,
Gone were budgets for science.

Harvard’s Project Zero found US schools erode genius:

Of 4 year olds 98% rank genius in divergent thinking – being able to combine things in new ways

9 year olds are down to 32%

14 year olds drop to 10%

and by 25 years only 2 % are divergent thinking geniuses–

The kind we need in today’s economy.
No wonder US patents are now issued to more non-US than US inventors!

Math and reading, reading and math
Skill and drill and drill and kill
We took the students’ time
We removed the joy from learning.

With the US 20th of 28 developed countries in HS graduation rate
Dropout rates reaching 50% for urban blacks
Yielding a 54% jobless rate for all young high school dropouts
Who are 63 times more likely to be incarcerated than college grads
$82 billion in lost lifetime earnings
$37 billion in decreased tax revenue
$12 billion in losses due to poor health
$8 billion in losses due to increased crime rates…
The ROI (return on investment) to give every child an effective education is estimated at 250%

Lee and I built an inquiry science program – Galaxy Classroom–and delivered it to the lowest performing schools in Miami. The results of our project were stellar and the students and teachers loved it.

But the budget was cut, so the program and others like it, were cut.
We run pilots and contests to encourage innovation,
Then we de-fund innovation that works, along with the rest.

Imagine the gap between what is and what our kids could have done,
if they had great schools.
If we actually put our future first,
Put our best efforts into guiding the minds that will guide our destiny,
Put our children first,
Investing in learning and innovation first.
Imagine teacher time spent on the student.
Not the paperwork.

Imagine assessment, from the French “to sit beside”,
As a serious, personal and learning interchange.
Sitting with the learner to see what they know,
Breathing the same air, dignifying the student work,
Learning how they learn, knowing what they want to know, and caring about what they care about.

We know how to ask questions to discover not just what a learner knows,
But what critical knowledge the learner missed 2 years back.
Fill the hole and enable the student trajectory to rise!

We can ask questions via computers in many different ways,
In a video game, or in an audio interview, or in an essay, or multiple-choice question—discerning how our learner learns.

We can examine the student’s work to infer the student’s knowledge and perspective as well as writing and other skills.

In fact my team and I built online courses with teachers, partnered with the Ohio Learning Alliance,
Delivered by teachers who spend no time lecturing,
The best lecture, recorded for anytime viewing
No time collecting, little time correcting papers
Little time on discipline
Much time coaching group projects
Much time one to one—with students
Asking and talking
About what the student is learning
About what the student knows.
About the student’s interests.

With computers grading essays,
Media providing outstanding teaching of a physics principle,
Our teacher’s precious time is spent on personal conversation with the student.
Each student can feel respected, have access to personal feedback, and imagine themselves participating in the future.

The student in this “blended learning” project said
“I never had a teacher talk to me about how I think before”

If the lesson is authentic,
If it represents learning of value to the student,
If the link to the student’s context is made explicit,

Then the student can come to care about the lesson,
And the student will realize we care about her.
We can build personal relationship into learning.

A national trial attorney, Carole Bos, uses the same techniques she uses to research cases,
And the methods she uses for presenting cases to juries,
To create the Awesome Stories website that bridges stories to learning.
I’ve been working for the past year to support and extend this breakthrough in online learning.
Teachers and students explore the “story behind the story”, whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, Awesome Stories provides non-fiction original written context and a plethora of primary sources.
Students are interested, compelled by the story, to cut their own path through the wealth of provided, vetted, reliable, related content.
Students delve deeply, think critically, collaborate, and respond to essential questions and common core tasks, meeting 21st-century research standards.

Our support of the student in the lesson,
Collaborating in their exploration,
Observing his growth and
Communicating how we see his growth,
This will convey our care and respect and love
Engendering the student’s sense of self and love of learning.

In this time of classroom depersonalization,
With bullying amplified by social media, results each in
16% of teen students report seriously considering suicide
13% report creating a plan
8% report trying to take their own life
157,000 youth from 10 to 24 are treated in ERs for self-inflicted injuries.

91 schools in 13 states have daily meditation practice, reporting
25% fewer absences
30% fewer suspension days
50% fewer rule infractions
But most schools have not made time or budget for meditation.

Studies on Yoga now practiced in elementary, middle and high schools point toL

  • fewer fights and arguments among students;
  • better student decision-making;
  • increased self-awareness and self-esteem;
  • improved concentration and retention; and
  • more efficient use of class time—

Yet yoga is banned from many districts out of concern for religious freedom.
And meditation and yoga champions are not a match for test score alarms.

Industry seeks innovative thinkers for new careers,
Careers we do not even recognize today.
In these times of stress, digital cacophony, and familial complexity,
Students need more than a basic skills and knowledge curriculum to reach even yesterday’s goals.

In order to wrap their minds around the growing universe of knowledge and to prepare themselves for roles in the economy and social system of tomorrow, our students need more soulful support.

Even if we cannot use the word “soul” in schools,
We need to see that each child’s essential self, each child’s soul is respected.
Standardized test scores should not be allowed to define students—regardless of percentile.

That approach is backward for the child, and it is backward for our society.

Learning is autobiographical.
We learn to the degree we see a relation between the lessons and ourselves.
Sometimes we struggle to see that relation.
For some of us the relation to almost all learning is quite clear.
But I have seen students who cannot read a simple primer,
but quickly grasp the meaning of a car repair manual.
That car repair manual is Greek to me.

Learning is autobiographical.
And if we learn much across a wide spectrum with an open mind,
if we learn deeply with attention and rigor,

if we learn from our daily life as well as school with alertness to natural as well as academic lessons, if we integrate our learning from multiple sources, then this learning is integrated into our being. Then as we learn, more and more is in our frame of reference.
More knowledge is accessible to us.
We can master more skills.

Socrates believed in the reincarnation of an eternal soul, which contained all knowledge.
That we lose touch with that knowledge at every birth,
and so we need to be reminded of what we already know (rather than learning something new).
Approaching each learner with loving respect,
Using technology, media, and assessment in new ways,
Supporting each student to respect her own consciousness,
Learning can be delightful like our first time.
And each learner may access knowledge from her deepest self.

Plato said that he did not teach, but rather served,
like his mother, as a midwife to truth that is already in us!
Making use of questions and answers to remind his students of knowledge is called dialectics, or the Socratic method.

Luckily, with learning management systems, flipped classrooms, blended learning, adaptive assessment and great teachers—if we use them with radical respect for the learner—we can provide a level of Socratic method that Plato and Socrates could never have imagined.

Emerson’s last words in the Harvard Divinity School Address were:

I look for the hour when that supreme Beauty,
which ravished the souls of those eastern men, and chiefly of those Hebrews,
and through their lips spoke oracles to all time, shall speak in the West also.
The Hebrew and Greek Scriptures contain immortal sentences, that have been bread of life to millions. But they have no epical integrity; are fragmentary; are not shown in their order to the intellect.
I look for the new Teacher, that shall follow so far those shining laws, that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart; and shall show that the Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.

We can:
Provide a safe and encouraging environment for learning.
Know what our learners know.
Learn how our learners learn.
Care as our learners care.
We can fix education.
We can teach every human on the planet what they want to learn, in the way they learn best,
Approaching each learner with loving respect
Using technology, media, and assessment in new ways
Learning can be delightful– like our first time.

May we unite, invigorated with our freshest thinking, most strategic views, steadfast commitment, innovative re-casting, and soulful connection, to change the world through personalized learning for all.

Closing Words:

Visionary Unitarian Buckminster Fuller saw our current conundrum then:
Only the profound inertia of ignorance… now withholds the practical realization of successful physical survival of all of humanity, all at higher standards of living than have as yet been conceived by any man.

It is indeed a comprehensive educational problem.

Buddha taught that the twin sources of suffering are ignorance and greed and we are struggling against them now.

For as Channing said “There is but one essential good, and that is the health, power, purity of our own soul.”

And so let us bend our efforts to protect our souls and all souls from ignorance and greed, with education as our best means to do so.
Let us bring a message of radical respect for each child to the children of the world.
Let us put that reverence for individuals in our learning system…
To reinforce that most important component of learning—the unique value of each individual.
Seeking knowledge and inspiration to overcome ignorance, understanding the impact of overuse of our planet, abuse of humans and animals,
Let us overcome greed,
and savor the pleasure of connecting with those unlike us
enjoy mindfulness and peace
and unite in tolerance and love.



6 Questions from Alan November to Guide the Learning Transformation

Think your school is innovative with tech? Answer these 6 questions and prepare to reassess

[1]At the start of a webinar I recently conducted for school leaders, I asked attendees if they felt they were leading an innovative school as a result of the implementation of technology. More than 90 percent responded that they were. At the end of the webinar, when polled again, only one leader claimed to be leading an innovative school.

The complete reversal was due to a presentation on the six questions that you will read about in this article—a list of questions that were developed to help clarify for educators the unique added value of a digital learning environment, and whether their assignments were making the best use of this environment.

Want to test your own level of innovation? If you answer no to all six questions when evaluating the design of assignments and student work, then chances are that technology is not really being applied in the most innovative ways. The questions we ask to evaluate implementation and define innovation are critical.

ed. note: A computer development mode that may be useful in K12 teaching and learning, SAMR = Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition.

(Beyond SAMR: Special note to those of you applying SAMR [2]. Many educators who believed their assignment to be at the highest level of SAMR have discovered that the answer can be no to all six of the transformation questions.)

(Next page: the 6 questions and how to shape your lessons for innovation)

Transformational Six

1.    Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?

2.    Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?

3.    Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?

4.    Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?

5.    Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?

6.    Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?

1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
The concept of the “digital native” knowing a lot more than the “digital immigrants” is largely a myth. If you have ever watched a student research on the web you will probably observe that they enter the exact title of their homework for their search query. They will only look at the front page of results (even out of millions). There is no thought to use a second or third search tool.

An example: a student types in the name of the assignment, “Iranian hostage crisis” into Google. The results list of this search will only yield search results with Western sources if the search is anywhere in North America. The reason for this is that Google knows the geographic location of your network. If you are searching from North America you will not see any sources from Iran in the top page of search results. (For a discussion on improving students’ search skills centered on this example, see my previous article on the subject [3].)

Critical thinking and careful evaluation of the reliability of sources is sorely lacking. Basically, we have a major mess on our hands. To make it worse, our students do not know that they do not know. If they knew their true ignorance, then they would ask their teachers for help in designing searches. But when was the last time any student asked a teacher for help in designing a search? Perhaps more importantly, when was the last time a teacher offered to help? If our students fail at step one—selecting the right information—then they will automatically fail at critical analysis.

While it would be convenient to imagine that we can just teach students to learn about advanced search techniques and inquiry design in one orientation session in the library, as we do with the Dewey Decimal System, that will not be sufficient. Many students have a very difficult time of transferring knowledge from one setting to another. We need all of our teachers to recognize the critical and essential role they play in preparing students to be web literate. This needs to happen at the point of giving an assignment across the curriculum and beginning when we teach students to read.

2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
With access to massive amounts of information and different points of view and access to primary sources comes an opportunity to teach students to ask questions we could never ask in the limited world of paper.

In an interview I had with Stephan Wolfram, a chief designer of the knowledge engine, Wolframalpha, he explains that most of the answers asked by traditional assignments are on the web if you know how to find them. What is not on the web are the questions. One of the most important skills is to teach our students how to ask the creative, innovative and even impossible questions. “The new answers are the creative questions.”

(Next page: Using digital recording tools and connecting with others around the world)

3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?

We now have tools that can reveal what students are thinking. Research shows that one of the most important skills to improve student achievement is to teach them to self-assess their work. In the case of writing an analysis of the “Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Conquest of the American Spy Den” students can be required to use a digital recording tool such as Kaizena to provide a voice recording of an analysis of their own writing. In this way, a teacher can gain insight into what the student was thinking about the flow of ideas he or she tried to represent with their writing. Of course, a side benefit is that some students will improve the quality of their own work when they are required to review their writing before they hand it in.

4. Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
While many teachers now have a website with forums for their own students to share their ideas, there are numerous blogs around the world and other publishing sites where we may want to encourage students to broaden and deepen their learning experience. For example, recently, I worked with a social studies teacher who was designing a lesson on immigration to the US. When she discovered that The Economist magazine blog had an ongoing discussion on immigration she realized that she could engage her students in a high-level conversation with people around the world on this topic.

Many teachers have websites for students to share their work with the world. One of my favorites is the website of first-grade teacher, Kathy Cassidy from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Her students continuously share their work with students around the world via her website [4] and the official class twitter account (@mscassidysclass [5]). Eric Marcos, 6th-grade math teacher in Santa Monica, California supports his students to build tutorials in mathematics that they offer to the world [6].

Of course, one of the benefits of students publishing their work for a global audience is the opportunity to receive feedback for their work beyond the classroom. Many students can be more motivated to publish for a global audience than an audience of “one”—the teacher.

5. Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?

This one may be the most difficult qualities to build into our assignments. A colleague in Istanbul has her Geometry students designing the Geometry curriculum for blind students by visiting a local center for the blind and working with the students to understand how to build tactile activities to understand Geometry. When her students finish their project they will publish it to the web for global access.

When I interviewed these students in their classroom in Istanbul many shared with me that they chose to extend their required 40 hours of community service. Many have given more than 200 hours to this project with no extra credit. Some students even continue their work the year after their course has ended. Their commitment to their work does not depend on an external reward or punishment system such as grades, but an intrinsic drive based on making a contribution.

While many teachers with whom I speak worry about the decline of student focus, we can immediately address this decline by adding “purpose” to student work. (See Dan Pink, Drive, for research studies on purpose.)

(Next page: How to demonstrate “best in the world” examples for students)

6. Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?
Before the Internet it would have been impossible to show students examples across the curriculum of “best in the world” applications of knowledge and skills across the curriculum. Now we can.

One example comes from a science teacher who shared with me that one of his students was under motivated to work on the “egg drop” assignment. You may remember this is where you have to design a contraption surrounding a real egg and then drop the whole thing from a height to protect the raw egg from breaking. I suggested that he show the student a search of “award winning egg drop” site:sg to find videos from Singapore middle and high school students to motivate the young man to get to work. While this strategy does not work in every single instance, watch what happens when you show students “the best in the world examples” of what other students can accomplish. Students are often more motivated, inspired, and willing to work harder when they know what other students have accomplished. Sports coaches rely on this very same strategy to motive and inspire their athletes. Of course this kind of research can also help the teacher realize that they may want to recalibrate their expectations of acceptable student work to a higher level as well.


Attempting to frame a definition of innovation should lead to healthy debate.  If the litmus test revolves around the straight forward question about whether or not the technology functions, then yes, many schools can claim to be innovative.  However, if our aspirations extend to a new level of student achievement then too many of our schools are “technology rich and innovative poor.”

Clearly, we must move our focus beyond the device and toward the design of learning. Otherwise, we may find ourselves, as Neil Postman so eloquently described in 1985 when he titled his book about the impact of the media, Amusing Ourselves to Death. If he were alive today, he might say that we are amusing ourselves to death with a 1,000 apps.

Alan November is Senior Partner and Founder of November Learning. Visit his website at http://novemberlearning.com [7] or follow him on Twitter @Globalearner [8].

Article printed from eSchool News: http://www.eschoolnews.com

URL to article: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/01/13/questions-innovation-303/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.eschoolnews.com/files/2015/01/shutterstock_124069978.jpg

[2] SAMR: http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html

[3] my previous article on the subject: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/05/15/google-research-strategies-389

[4] her website: http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org

[5] mscassidysclass: http://twitter.com/mscassidysclass

[6] offer to the world: http://www.mathtrain.tv

[7] http://novemberlearning.com: http://novemberlearning.com

[8] Globalearner: https://twitter.com/globalearner


There IS hope for learning – IF we investigate, optimize, protect and invent

As we experience the digital transformation, it is hard to tell which efforts will last, what the impact will be on students who start playing with/learning through digital media at 3 years old or soon thereafter.

What happens to brains when youths take in a large part of their information from electronic sources rather than nature and in-person experiences?

How will youths integrate the knowledge they obtain?

Who will help youths (and all) to learn how to determine if the information received online is valid?

What will the physical, emotional, intellectual, motivational, and real-world career readiness effects be?

Smithsonian’s New Learning Lab–they will focus on learning how people are learning from their collections and resources.

AwesomeStories.com (which I have been working with for several years,) has launched “MakerSpace for the Humanities” enabling learners of all ages and teachers of all levels to engage in research and creation of new knowledge work– stories, papers, lessons– even e-books and whole year curricula. MakerSpace provides ways for learners to engage in the stories of humanity, learn actively and authentically, preparing for work and lives in the digital age.

Edutopia–continues to research and profile important strides in humanizing learning in the digital age through service learning, project-based learning, social and emotional learning and more.

Collective Shift— has been announced by the MacArthur Foundation. They are devoting $25million to “a new nonprofit whose mission is to redesign social systems for the connected age. With $25 million in seed funding, Collective Shift’s first project is LRNG, which is creating a 21st century ecosystem of learning that combines in-school, out-of-school, work-based, and online learning opportunities that are visible and accessible to all.” –

Valid yet: Bertrand Russell’s 10 Commandments of Teaching and Learning-

The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. 1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. 2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. 3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. 4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. 5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. 6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. 7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. 8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. 9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. 10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

My Favorite Ted Talk Ever (so far)

click here for What We Learned from 5 million Books by Harvard researchers Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden

Culturomics is a form of computational lexicology that studies human behavior and cultural trends through the quantitative analysis of digitized texts– presented here by 

The guys are charming and funny and the results of their research, in charts, are revelatory– in the possibiliities they illumine. Play with the tool at ngrams.googlelabs.com. V awesome.