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The Education Innovation Summit (#EISummit) conference this week in Arizona is a large and seamlessly orchestrated event, but one of my favorite presentations so far was not actually on the agenda. The keynote speaker for Tuesday’s lunch was to have been Larry Summers, president emeritus of Harvard, but after the tragic bombing at Monday’s marathon he needed to stay close to home in Boston. Jim Shelton, U.S. Dept. of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, was tapped to fill in, and he was an inspiring speaker. Although Shelton said that he worries that the EdTech sector could miss opportunities to reach its goals and transform education, he shared enough insights to make it clear that he is not really a pessimist at all, just engaged and grounded. He also talked about his personal experience with great teachers and schools and the big difference they have made in his own life.
Shelton observed that some country is going to take the lead on education innovation and reminded us that U.S. education mavericks need to “build for the global opportunity.” He also spoke about how online learning innovations in higher education could have a democratizing effect, creating social capital and a better college experience for all. Colleges need to emphasize completion and acceleration, however, and the grade he would give higher education for the job it is doing at present is just a C minus. Gaps/opportunities he suggested for entrepreneurs included early childhood resources for use by informal caregivers, and K-12 tools for summer and outside of school, whether for enrichment or remediation.
The conference has also been lucky to have computer industry pioneers like Steve Case, a founder of AOL and now Chairman and CEO of Revolution, who drew on his years of experience to offer insights on the current state of the educational technology field. Many keynote speakers and panelists at the conference have been asked to make projections about the future, and Case emphasized that the start-up companies that are forming today need to be ready for them to take a long time to build.
Another great presenter was Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, a school that is taking the lead on education innovation and is a host of the conference. When asked about what tack ASU takes on inter-disciplinary work in arts and sciences, Crow described how they are involving science-fiction writers like Neal Stephenson to project future states, for students to build on in visionary ways. The Center for Science and the Imagination is where this all happens, and it looks like a really exciting collaboration. [Neal Stephenson, by the way, is the author of a sci-fi novel that could be a distance-learning manifesto: The Diamond Age. In it, an interactive learning tool educates and empowers a neglected child, who goes on to change society with what she has learned.] Despite Crow’s embrace of education innovation, he said he does not think of it as schools reducing the cost of a degree “by replacing faculty with robots,” but rather doing things to support instructors.
The conference has also covered an interesting range of topics in panel discussions that made me wish I could attend two sessions concurrently. The panel on MOOCs was not always in agreement about the projected future of these massive open online courses, nor on their impact on ‘traditional’ online education, nor even on the definition/scale of what constitutes a MOOC. Nevertheless, they did make a few observations. Asked if MOOCs represented the beginning of a do-it-yourself degree, ASU’s Phil Regier predicted that higher ed basics like having to take courses outside one’s major would continue. As for MOOCs’ usefulness for remedial coursework, he observed that the students who need remediation are not autodidacts. There did seem to be some agreement that MOOCs could have a big impact on continuing education, since the competency focus would make certification irrelevant, so long as the student learned the desired subject matter, as in a photography course.
Steven Johnson was the last to speak on day one of the conference, and so some people may have missed his presentation. Johnson began by talking about the ‘liquid network,’ social spaces in which ideas bounce around and lead to innovation. He took us from 18th century coffee houses as the space where the Enlightenment happened, to a redesigned incubator that improved infant mortality rates in Africa, to Apple’s ‘genius bars,’ modeled on the concierge service in high-end hotels (like the one where the EIS conference is held). As he talked about the career diversity to be found in the social networks of the most innovative people, I thought about the interesting range of people at the Education Innovation Summit – Ed Tech entrepreneurs, investors, business people, writers, policy wonks, and educators — all enthusiastically talking about how to improve education in the short and long term.
Wendy Williams is a media professional, educator, and cultural anthropologist. She is an online instructor for CUNY School of Professional Studies and lives in Brooklyn.
*Note: Although this article was published on April 17, 2013 prior to the Education Innovation Summit, the content remains relevant for the SPS community.
The NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities has begun mentee recruitment for Disability Mentoring Day, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. Mentee’s registering for this event now will have the opportunity to participate in the screening and workshop process over the summer. DMD is nationally hosted by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the largest cross-disability membership organization in the country. Sign up here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mopd/html/dmd/mentee.shtml
The Intern Program provides college students the unique opportunity to work with State agencies to gain experience and a greater perspective of the professional world.
The program prepares students for careers in a wide array of occupational areas including but not limited to: public policy, legal specialties, budgeting, scientific research, human services, and contract management.
The Department of Civil Service is hosting the Student Intern Program Internship Portal through which interested students must:
- Submit an application, which includes providing contact information; academic background; occupational, employment and geographic preferences; and activity involvement.
- Upload a resume. Uploading of a two to three page writing sample illustrating your writing and analytical skills and a letter of recommendation are optional.
- Identify preferred internships.
To see what New York State agencies participate in the program and to get an idea of the types of internship opportunities that may be available, click here to view opportunities posted for the current session.
You may filter the list by several criteria, including degree concentration, occupational interest, and location.
- Be a US Citizen or foreign national eligible to work in the United States
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be currently attending a New York State college, university, or graduate program, or be a resident of New York State, attending a college, university or graduate program outside of New York State. For Summer Internships Only: Attending a New York State school or being a New York State resident is NOT required.
- Have completed a minimum of one (1) year as a student at a degree-granting two or four-year College or University (completion of one year’s worth of academic credits over a more extended period of time may qualify part-time students for participation in the Student Intern Program); or a currently enrolled graduate student or accepted in a graduate degree program
- Have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0, or equivalent to a C
- Good analytical and evaluative skills
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Good organizational skills, efficiency and flexibility
- Computer skills, including familiarity with Microsoft products (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint), email software, internet searching, and other programs
Applicants may come from any academic discipline. Candidates must be available to work at assigned New York State offices. Opportunities are available statewide.
The FALL 2013 application period runs from April 15, 2013 through August 31, 2013.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the New New York Leaders: Student Intern Program, please contact our Student Intern Program Staff or at (518) 473 – 9945.
The future of education will be on display next week in Arizona, at the Education Innovation Summit. There will be a wide range of speakers and panel discussions, which I am really looking forward to hearing. Because the focus is on innovation, and many educational technology companies and entrepreneurs will be there, it is a chance for me as an educator to hear about what tools will be available to my university and K-12 schools in the near future. I am especially interested to hear what new models are being proposed that can make sense of the MOOC phenomenon for me, since the online instruction that I do at the City University of New York (CUNY) takes place in small classes and does not discard the traditional framework of credit hours and degree programs within a university structure.
Thomas Friedman’s recent op-ed for the New York Times made many CUNY instructors bristle by extolling the “MOOCs revolution” as if massively open online courses alone could fix difficult issues of social inequality and access to education, in the U.S. and globally. Friedman does note in another article, however, that so far it is mostly middle and upper class students who are able to benefit from this kind of massive online course. There may be a multitude of autodidacts out there, ready to thrive on their own in MOOCs, but my experience has been with college students who would need some foundation laid before they could get to that point.
The communications course I teach online is soon to be renamed Digital Literacy and offered to a wider group of CUNY students than the Online B.A. students who have been taking it. I feel lucky to be teaching the course, because I see the impact on my students as extending beyond the end of one semester. While the returning adults enrolled in the program are highly ‘wired’ in some ways (especially social networking with friends and family), they still find the course useful, to understand the theory and practice of finding and using digital information. There is a whole range of behavior they need modeled for them, from online research skills, to evaluating the credibility of resources, to knowing what to foreground in a short essay and how to avoid plagiarism while writing it. My students are smart and motivated, so even if some of them were under-served by the New York City public education system and are catching up, I am not convinced that these fundamental digital literacy skills are something that other young people ‘just know.’
My students are also learning how to be producers of knowledge and to be part of an academic community. They create blogs during the course, learn to edit a wiki, and experience a high level of interaction with classmates in discussing the readings and ideas of the course. When I ask them to use Twitter for a group assignment, many students have no previous experience with it, or have only used it to sign up for discounts and coupons from retailers. It is rewarding to see them coming away with a new understanding of how professionals use social networking tools to share news and ideas — to see them begin to follow some thought leaders and become part of a wider conversation on their own.
While I have been teaching online for almost six years now, I feel as though I need to pay attention to a lot more than what is already happening, only at my university. Along with presentations by many innovative companies at next week’s summit, the conference also brings together a wide range of leaders, from those with backgrounds in politics and education, like Senators George Mitchell and Bob Kerrey, to computer industry pioneers, to technology writers like Steven Johnson. I just assigned a chapter he wrote on the benefits of gaming to my communications students, many of them young parents, to get them to think about how technology is revolutionizing what constitutes a learning opportunity for young people. There is also a panel that I am interested to hear on how massively multi-player online games (MMOG) might improve learning outcomes. Middlebury College, where I studied Chinese ten years ago to prepare for my anthropological fieldwork, will be there with the interactive version of the intensive language program that they have since developed.
Things are evolving very quickly, and I want to stay in the vanguard. Lest we forget why words like ‘revolution’ are being used to talk about online learning innovations, one of the summit panels is called “The Nuclear Option: Should We Just Blow Up the Current System & Start from Scratch?” I am pretty sure the answer to that is not going to be ‘yes,’ but I am looking forward to coming away with fresh ideas about what the future might hold.
Wendy Williams is a media professional, educator, and cultural anthropologist. She is an online instructor for CUNY School of Professional Studies and lives in Brooklyn.
*Note: Although this article was published on April 12, 2013 prior to the Education Innovation Summit, the content remains relevant for the SPS community.
Basketball is a sport I’ve only paid modest attention to. My knowledge of the sport is very limited. I know Spike Lee sits courtside at the Knicks games and Jack Nicholson is usually seen courtside at Lakers games. I know that Lamar Odom was a Laker and then went somewhere in Texas and then back to California again but that was only because the Kardashian headlines are inescapable at the supermarket and well, Lamar is married to Khloe.
But back to basketball, and really all professional sports. Jason Collins recently announced that he is gay in an essay for Sports Illustrated. I wish that I could say who cares or that it doesn’t matter, but it does matter, and I do care. You should too. Here’s why.
You know someone who is gay. You love someone who is gay. You may not know it, but you do. I promise you that you do.
When I was a kid back in what my kids describe as the Stone Ages, gay was thrown around a lot as an insult. I remember knowing a few girls who were athletic and my fear was that people would think that I was a lesbian like them. I know. Terrible. My fear didn’t come from not liking people who were gay. My fear came from the perceptions that others had. I suppose I had my own perceptions as well including the perception that girls who played sports were lesbians. Actually I knew that wasn’t true and I was secretly a little envious of their athletic ability but not so envious that many labeled them lesbians and some of the names I heard them called privately.
Things have changed somewhat but has it really gotten better? Is Jason Collins the only gay NBA player? NFL? NHL? MLB? I doubt it. So why is nobody coming out? Not that they owe it to the public to disclose. But are they telling the members of their team? I doubt that too.
So why is Jason Collins so important? Why do I love that our President called him to support him in coming out as a gay man and a gay athlete? I love it because I love people who are gay. I love it because I see their struggle and in 2013 still hear gay slurs being whispered privately. I love it because too many kids still think that gay is a funny thing to call someone and that it implies weakness. Too many kids think that it’s ok to call someone a faggot.
A kid that I love was recently taunted with gay slurs. He was repeatedly called “faggot” by some other kids. It wasn’t done in a joking fun kind of way, not that there’s anything funny about that word. The word is ugly and it was used to belittle and diminish. It was a word used to hurt and it did hurt. It didn’t just hurt the kid they called that ugly name though. Those kids hurt his family and his friends. They hurt all of the people who love him.
It hurt because we don’t look at him and see a kid who is gay. We see a kid who is creative and smart and has a beautiful heart. We look at him and see a person that we love, a person who would never hurt anyone with his words or his actions. He happens to be gay. Who is that hurting?
Jason Collins matters because in his eloquent essay he shares his fear of coming out and his worry that his world will fall apart. He talks about dating women and even getting engaged because it was what he considered a “normal” life. In his essay Jason Collins gives us a small glimpse of what it must feel like to hide who you are from so many people and how emotionally exhausting that can be. He matters because in coming out he is paving the way for other athletes and even some young kid who wonders if he will be accepted.
Jason Collins talks about Matthew Shepard and it is a poignant reminder of how much hate there is in the world and how far we’ve come and still have to go. It is a reminder of why it is so important that when we talk about the LGBT community we also remember that they are not just a community but people that we know and love. They are our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our friends, our loved ones. For every Jason Collins there is a kid somewhere who knows that there is hope and that they are not alone.
Programs like The Trevor Project, or on a more local level, Pride For Youth offer support for teens and young adults. Teens and young adults have more options for support, understanding and advocacy than when I was a teenager. We still have a way to go but we’re getting there. We all knew there were gay players in professional sports. Now we have an athlete brave enough to put his name on it. With Jason Collins will come more and hopefully we will look back and wonder what the big deal ever was.
That is why Jason Collins matters.
Kristen is a single mom of 3 kids and studying at The CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is blogging while she still figures out what she wants to be when she grows up.
Congratulations to the newly elected SPS Governing Council for the 2013-2014 academic year. The winners are:
Student Representative: Mary Casey, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “CUNY provides an outstanding education at a reasonable price. I could have enrolled in an adult masters program at my university that would have been tuition-free, but none of its programs match the SPS MS in Business Leadership and Management Program.” Read Mary’s full statement.
Student Representative: Paul Tuohy, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “My classes at SPS have been a guide to me in several recent business situations. Furthermore, my classes relate directly both to what I am doing at work now, and to what I wish I could do in the future. The online curriculum, particularly the convenience, has made attending school a possibility.” Read Paul’s full statement.
Alternate Student Representative: Cheri Martinez, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “…I take pride in figuring out a way to balance my life for the benefit of others and myself. I have always been passionate about education, and my relentless drive to complete goals that I have set for myself. This year, my goals are to be more involved and supportive of those missions I feel strongly about.” Read Cheri’s full statement.
The Governing Council of the CUNY School of Professional Studies provides oversight and approves new courses, certificates and degree programs that the school offers as well as advising the Dean of SPS on the administration, coordination, and development and termination of all of its programs and curricula.