What Schools Want and Where You Fit In (CIC Snapshot)

At AEP’s 2011 Content in Context conference Darlene Morrison, Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology (MD); Jim Siegl, Fairfax County Public Schools (VA); and Cheryl Scott Williams, Learning First Alliance presented at Transformation in Action—What Schools Want and Where You Fit In. Moderated by Frank Catalano of Intrinsic Strategy, the panelists discussed what’s working, what’s not, and how publishers can help. In addition, videos were played throughout the session to show the current state of tech in schools.


  • The first video looked at an online-only textbook pilot program for social studies in Fairfax County Public Schools. The users said the real power of the online text is where there are tools embedded in the text that can help students control their learning, like being able to click on an unfamiliar word to look it up in a dictionary or using an interactive map.
  • Those ideas were mirrored in a later video from Grandview High School (MO), where the students put together a video on how publishers can help them use Android tablets better. They named several attributes they like for apps including emailing assignments, highlighting, keywords, video and animation, customizing lessons for classes, printable pages, PDF formats, resizable fonts, and text-to-speech.
  • Panelist Jim Siegel said that one interesting aspect of the the pilot program in Fairfax County is there was a greater willingness to adopt the plan in middle school rather than high school, especially concerning AP students. Another big issue is scalability. For example, video presents a great challenge for schools because of the bandwidth and tech issues. Cheryl Williams agreed saying that while computing devices have become smaller and faster, bandwidth does remain as an obstacle to access. Darlene Morrison added that even at her magnet school of technology, she has a pocket of students who don’t have computers or Internet access at home, so that becomes a challenge for moving to online learning resources.
  • In her video Tina Barseghian, editor of Mind/Shift, looked at two big game key trends impacting the classroom. First, she highlighted the iPad. She said the keys are the interactivity, where the ability to look at a video or app over and over again is important; the fact that it’s a multipurpose device; it’s compact; potential cost savings over time; and that it can provide students with a learning experience beyond just reading text. Then, she said the Open Educational Resources movement is gaining momentum because it democratizes high-quality education, allows customization, encourages sharing, and empowers educators.
  • Frank Catalano asked: What should educational publishers consider baseline musts when making a digital product (battery life and bandwidth always being considerations)? Siegl said that just putting the text in digital format is not enough. There has to be an enhancement, and publishers need to show how it can be more compelling than the paper text. If there is some way to enhance the core curriculum teaching, rather than just being an extra lesson and taking away classroom time, added Morrison, that is a useful product in the classroom. Williams said she think it is a slow change because of the cost to create new products and how schools are funded and purchase instructional materials. She believes that Common Core standards will help publishers streamline the development process.
  • Three of the videos featured teachers who are not following a traditional scope and sequence, but are finding online resources, educational games, and other devices to teach the curriculum. One educator purchased iPhones to use with his special needs students. They used apps, such as a barcode scanner, to learn real world skills like comparison shopping.
  • Teachers have to be willing to give up some control, said Morrison, when using many of those online tools like wikis and chat rooms. “You need to infuse professional development into your school so that the teachers are comfortable with using these technologies effectively,” commented Morrison.
  • Reacting to one video that said filters and needing administrative approval to use technology creates a barrier in the classroom, the panelists said schools are always trying to find a balance. They need to have standards for the tech and the curriculum while letting teachers create lessons that suit their individual students.
  • Siegl noted a lot of tension between products designed for the education market versus products designed for the consumer market that educators use in the classroom. He said publishers should not focus on specific device but how they can serve students who are allowed to bring and use any device to school.

“Think about a world where it’s any device, and any device can walk through the door,” said Siegl.

1 Response to “What Schools Want and Where You Fit In (CIC Snapshot)”

  1. 1 Reflecting on Content in Context « Educational Publishing Trackback on July 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

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June 2011


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