#F5F, Openly Networked Learning

1.  In response to this week’s read on “Big Data and Analytics,” I am writing in connection with my inquiry questions and how this process can be helpful to predict success of students, especially helping to pinpoint drop out rate in schools located within low-income areas.  After reading Christina’s article she posted, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/13/the-future-of-big-data-and-analytics.html, it’s made me think about potential ways to forecast equity in education.  After researching more on Big Data this week, I created some interesting scenarios in my mind.  Take, for example, an architectural firm that creates bridges. This company would also design and install sensors on the bridge to detect and monitor moisture, vibration, etc.  The data would get arrogated, and essentially a team would perform analytics to understand how the bridge is operating as a whole.  For example: if there is a little vibration closer to the center, architects could conclude that perhaps they need to increase the structural rigidity of the bridge.  Our sensors could therefore predict when and where there may be a failure.  So, how does this relate to a student? The same goes for schools.  Take away “sensors” as in the bridge example and replace it with children in an educational environment.  The more data you collect from an aggregated total, the more trends and future success and failures you can ultimately predict if you look at the data correctly.  This prediction of data could be so helpful in relation to low socioeconomic status and education. If data could show us that all African American males from a specific area code are doing well, but not from another neighborhood, then why is this?  How could we reform education to increase student equity?

Netflix, for example, pulls all the data from everybody watching TV shows.  What they realize is, people watching Netflix between 18-26 demographic really like the actor Kevin Spacey in a protagonist role.  Additionally, they like a strong female support actress in front of a male antagonist thus created was the Netflix hit show House of Cards.  Netflix knew, by looking at the data, that this was going to be a hit show based on the viewing habits of our existing audience.  If we look at this in terms of children, one should be able to predict success based on the previous results in education.  Examples of companies making big data software are HPE, available to state local education facilities.  Another famous (and free), open source is Hadoop, which is a reliable system for big data compute.

2.  Back to my inquiry question regarding the Philadelphia School district, and other low-income districts I found a youtube video that is well worth your time to watch!  This 30 minute clip interviews kids who dropped out of school, and various teachers.  In this film, Philly youth speaks about students of color and how they have an unfair access to the curriculum.  The students say that their work is not capturing, that they are not interested in their school work.  Teachers, they say, just throw a book at them and say “do this” or “find the definition.”  Students say that traditional school is brick and mortar, that they view teachers as anything but their companions.  This reiterates everything we’ve been discussing in ED677 since week one!  Clearly, there is no shared purpose in these schools.  Clearly, there is no open network, or connected learning. Students in the video say that they are not engaged, and that they feel as though school is pointless.  I strongly believe that if curriculum was student-driven and if they had equity in their education through modern-day access to technology that the dropout rate would severely decrease due to an interest in learning.  In the film there is a teacher who also speaks about a student having 10 different substitute teachers in one school year.  This disconnect is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the idea of connected learning!

Watch youtube video here: https://youtu.be/5IJClIaF0dU


Another find of mine that followed this video clip was an organization called, “YESPhilly.”  YESPhilly has math, literacy, and technology literacy classes, and helps students gain the skills they need to pass the GED test, succeed in college and be confident and competent lifelong learners. Classes are small and are designed so students can work at their “right” instructional level and get the individual attention they need. YESPhilly classes are varied, and include hands-on and group activities with materials that make learning fun, relevant and effective.  If this style of learning, along with principles from connected learning, were implemented in the first place, YESPhilly organization wouldn’t even serve a purpose!  How can we empower students to stay in school in the first place, in order to decrease the dropout rate and keep students actively engaged?  Or, maybe it’s a matter of, “how can we make districts aware that empowering students IS achievable, through connected learning.”


3.  Another inquiry question of mine is how can we bring enriching experiences to Rural districts who may not have the same opportunities in their education?  The same goes for how can we bring equitable opportunities to inner-city or low-income districts?  Again, all this ties in with dropout rate, student access, etc.  A student of mine has a parent who founded the eThree foundation.  (Amazing website, check it out!)  It is a program that is being created in hopes of increasing student equity in education.  The program is based on real world experiences, and brining them TO the students, anywhere, anytime, on any device!

Every eThree session uses a real world relatable theme that seamlessly links all activities and projects worked on during a session.  A theme could be a real world event such as the Olympics, or a real world job at Google, or business process such as launching an online store, creating a social media campaign, or designing a t-shirt.

Relatable Scaffolding

We design everything to eliminate the question every child asks… how is this related to the real world? We call this “Relatable Scaffolding.”

Relevant Creation

Within every Session, we select a project deliverable that best matches up to the real world children know and love.


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4.  “My son is more confident, happy, and excited about school than I have ever seen him before.”

Wouldn’t this be amazing if ALL parents could say this about their child’s education? The world would be a better place!

One of this week’s readings led me to the AltSchool website, which seems like the perfect answer to a messy public education system!  I loved reading about, and watching the videos on AltSchool.  The kids seemed so happy and engaged in education.  The “playlist” was a neat idea, in terms of kids having their own differentiated education plan, according to their needs.  I loved how the system doesn’t believe in “grade,” but rather focuses on the child and their strengths and weaknesses as a whole.  What an amazing “buy in” in terms of equity, and the deep personalization gives all children access to what they need.




5.  Since equity and technology are things we are all getting more familiar with, trust and teaching internet safety deserves some recognition. During the Webinar on our ED677 website, the two girls who spoke mentioned that their teacher has a system with them including trust cards.  When you look at any kind of openness in society, a key feature of openness is trust. We want to be more equitable, so we are slowly giving students access to devices but what students need to give us is trust.  Trust that they will be engaged in an appropriate manner.  In open learning environments, we need to figure out how to manage it.  Part of learning experience is learning how to be responsible online, and building knowledge of how to use the online world.  Below is a link which gives teachers ideas of how to teach credibility of online sources, which would lesson to conduct with your entire class.  This would open the door to further internet safety discussions.  I think I will create some type of TRUST card similar to the one mentioned on the Webinar, which incorperates students signing a pledge in order to receive.  Then, there is accountability on the student’s behalf, and parents can even be brought into the agreement.



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