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The Future of Curriculum in a Digital Age

Curriculum currently plays in the shadow of reform efforts involving teacher quality, choice, standards and accountability, and school governance. But curriculum is central to what students learn whereas the other reform variables are contextual.

What accounts for the relative disinterest in curriculum on the national stage of education reform? What will drive curriculum to the fore? What will curriculum design and delivery look like in the foreseeable future and how will that disrupt education as we presently know it?

This presentation combines perspectives on the politics of education reform, the design of education technology, the psychology of learning and development, and research on what works to speculate about the future.

Dr. Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst is a widely respected and influential figure in education research and policy in the U.S. and around the world. His government appointments have included service as the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education and as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement. He has also served as Chair of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and as Academic Vice President of the Merrill-Palmer Institute. Currently, he is the Herman and George R. Brown Chair and Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Whitehurst received his PhD in Experimental Child Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970 and has conducted research in the areas of program evaluation, teacher quality, preschools, national and international student assessments, reading instruction, education technology, and education data systems.

Technology, Literacy, and the Mind

That technology will impact levels of literacy and alter its status has been argued by many. For some, as at this conference, the argument is that technology holds unique potential for supporting and strengthening literacy instruction. Others have argued that technology will render reading and writing obsolete. Both sides have pointed to the mounting evidence that technology is already undermining literacy growth among our students.

In this talk, Adams will review the linguistic and cognitive insights through which literacy took shape historically and on which it depends developmentally. While the immediate goal is to help you reflect on what to teach, a parallel objective is to help you think about why: Is literacy worth protecting and promoting in a technological world?

Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, author of Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print (MIT Press) is a Research Professor in the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences Department at Brown University. Complementing her academic publications, she has been principal author on a number of research-validated reading resources and an advisor to several educational television initiatives, including Sesame Street (1990–1995) and Between the Lions (1995–). Ms. Adams chaired the Planning Committee and was a member of the Study Committee for the National Academy of Sciences’ report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, and has served since 1992 on the Planning or Steering Committees for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. She is currently on the English/Language Arts Development Team for the K-12 Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The Last Fifty and the Next Fifty; Musings on a Chess Game

Dustin Heuston will review the lessons of his 50 + years in education including his 8 years of being a college English teacher, 8 years running a K-12 school, 8 years of running a for-profit educational corporation and 35 years running the nonprofit Waterford Institute.

He will discuss the core concepts he has had to master in order to understand the emerging potential of educational software including delivery systems, Moore’s Law, approximation to precision, Christensen’s concept of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation, Paul David’s 40 year law, and a host of new metaphors that must become commonplace before the full potential of technology can be understood and applied.

He will also discuss the dawning knowledge of the importance of the preschool years and the new approaches to providing access to instruction for children in their homes during their preschool years from what he calls the Third Source, as well as the stunning preliminary data on the UPSTART project.

Dr. Dustin “Dusty” Heuston is the chairman, founder, and CEO of Waterford Institute, a nonprofit research center “dedicated to providing every child with the finest education through the development of high-quality educational models, programs, and software.” Dustin received his Ph.D. in American Literature and has taught at the college level as well as serve as headmaster at the prestigious Spence School in New York City. With Waterford Institute, Dr. Heuston helped produce the world’s first educational videodisc in 1978, among other computerized education and training products. Since, Waterford Institute’s Waterford Early Learning—a preschool through second-grade program encompassing reading, math, and science curricula—has won 2008 CODiE awards for Best Course/Classroom Management Solution and Best Science Instructional Solution. And Waterford Assessments of Core Skills—a reading test for preschool through second-grade students—was named Most Likely to Succeed in the Education Market by SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program in 2009.


The Children’s eBook, Revisited

Once upon a time, children’s ebooks came on shiny CD-ROMs and ran on a Mac or PC. Not anymore. The iPad’s effect on children’s interactive publishing has pulled many publishers (some very unwillingly) into a new space, resulting in thousands of children’s ebooks, of very mixed quality. Here’s a closer look at the quickly growing ebook category, including an overview of text-to-speech techniques, a glossary of terms, an ebook evaluation form, and live demonstrations of the current state of the art. You’ll leave with a much better understanding of the future of children’s ebooks.

Dr. Warren Buckleitner—a former preschool, elementary, and college teacher—is an expert on children and technology. He covers kid’s technology for the popular Gadgetwise blog; contributes to the New York Times, Scholastic Parent & Child, Parents, and KidScreen; and is the founding editor of Children’s Technology Review. Dr. Buckleitner holds degrees in elementary education from Central Michigan University, an MA in early childhood education from Pacific Oaks College, and a doctorate in educational psychology from Michigan State University. He is the founder of the Dust or Magic Institute on the Design of Children’s Interactive Media and the Mediatech Foundation, a nonprofit community technology center. He is also the coordinator for Kids @ Play, a one-day conference on children and technology.

Being Principal In My Pajamas-A Journey Into The World of Virtual Education And What It Means For The Future of American Education.

Jeff Herr will talk about the workings of a K-12 virtual charter school, how this model has impacted the performance of the youngest students at the school and what the future of virtual education looks like in Utah and The United States.

Jeff Herr was a Fulbright Scholar to Brno, Czech Republic in 2006 studying secondary education in the Czech system. He has a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Utah, and has just been accepted to law school in the University of London’s International Program. He is entering his nineteenth year as an educator and fifteenth year as an administrator. Herr is currently the head of school for the Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA), the first virtual charter school in the state of Utah and the largest charter school in Utah with over 2,000 K-12 students in all corners of Utah and from all demographics. UTVA uses a completely virtual model, with a curriculum provided by K12 Inc. The school has passed Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in each of its first two years, and all students in its first graduating class are currently enrolled in college.

Technology and the Individualization Imperative

Individualization has been described as an educational imperative and a economic impossibility—even in K-3 education. This presentation discusses this dilemma (data!) and suggests ways in which today’s computer technology does and does not solve the problem.

Dr. John Dexter Fletcher is a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. He holds graduate degrees in computer science and educational psychology from Stanford University where, as a research associate, he directed numerous projects for the Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences. While at Stanford, he was part of the team that developed the first computer assisted instruction programs for the deaf. He also developed the first CAI program for K-3 reading using digitized audio. Fletcher’s research produced these and other CAI systems for use in public schools, as well as training devices used by the military. He has held academic positions in psychology, computer science, and systems engineering, and has held government positions as a research psychologist for the Navy, Army, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and three divisions of the American Psychological Association.

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