Education Quote of the Day – Maria Montessori


“Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.

The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference.” – Maria Montessori

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What’s working and not working in the technology classroom with Harry DiFrancesco – Educators & Influencers

Is technology part of your teaching strategy? Are you just dipping your toe in the water, or diving in head first and pioneering change at your school? We’ll hear from our guest, Harry DiFrancesco about his experience with technology in the classroom.

1646Harry Difrancesco graduated from Cornell in 2012 and is in the 2nd year of his Teach For America program. He teaches 9-11th grade Social Studies and Foreign Language at the High Tech Early College in Denver, Colorado.

Watch the interview to see how a fellow teacher is using technology to Augment his classroom.


Noteworthy moments you should pay attention to:

6:43 – We hear about the future role of the teacher in education.

10:35 – Harry brings up a slightly different model of running a school, where both administrators and teachers play the role of educators.  The goal of this seems to be to flatten some of the vertical structure that has been built into schools over time.

14:09 – Don’t you worry! The future is not a student drone, receiving content from a machine. Engagement, interaction and more are only augmented by technology in the classroom and teachers play a key role in this model.

Mentions of Technology

– Chrome Books – 1-to-1 in the case of Harry’s school

Apex Learning for foreign languages

Poll Everywhere – Great way to do mini quizzes, to do Do Nows, etc.  Easy to use, kids love it, valuable data can come of it.

Google Fusion Tables – Tip here is, when building them, use data from the CIA factbook as that is where google took most of its data from.
Newsela –  It offers texts on different non-fiction topics at the level of each reader and will even embed some comprehension quizzes within it.

Education and the Innovator’s Dilemma

The history of innovation is rarely linear. Most technologies tell a story of tangled interests, accidental discoveries, and circuitous implementation.

Do you know the story about Sony’s disruption of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA)? In 1947, Bell Labs invented the transistor, a potential replacement for vacuum tubes, which enabled the operation of smaller, less power-hungry devices. This transistor, however, could not handle the power of larger popular electronic devices, such as tabletop radios, box televisions and early digital computers. RCA quickly labelled this as a technical limitation of a fledgling technology, one which money could overcome, spending over $1 billion in research and development to find applications for the transistor in the market that currently existed.

Sony saw an opportunity for something different. In 1955, the company took the technology in a lateral direction, releasing the first battery-powered, pocket transistor radio. The tiny radio produced a horribly static sound and batteries were quick to die. What was important, however, was the discovery of a brand new market. Sony’s new device caught on quickly with teenagers who couldn’t afford table-top radios and didn’t mind the crackling sound of their pocket radio as long as they could take it with them to the beach. Eventually, recognizing the value in portability, Sony made a logical expansion on the technology by releasing the first portable transistor television. They captured a market whose need and budget was left unaddressed by the legacy device – from this foothold, Sony began dominating the portable electronics market, wiping away vacuum-tube companies along with RCA.
Disruptive innovations, according to Clayton Christensen, author of “Innovator’s Dilemma,” often hit the market appearing inferior to the legacy product, keeping incumbents initially ignorant. The rookie technology is brushed off as too cheap, inefficient, or unprofitable, compared to the proven, high-end, legacy issue. With little direct competition to force risky decisions, these disruptive innovators make calculated improvements on their product based on market demands, until at some point it intersects with the quality of the incumbent’s product. And the innovator has innovated with a purpose.

It’s not productive to call education a stodgy old man. Pedagogy may appear static at times, but a systemic shift in the way students are taught is imminent. You may have heard of the Flipped Classroom model in the media; you may know a middle-schooler who does her homework on a tablet; you might have taken your own stab at a Codecademy or Udemy course — the fact is, education disruption is already taking place.

Most alternative teaching is still considered eccentric and uncommon today, while legacy methods — live lectures with little discussion; problem-sets assigned for home — are tried, true, predictable. But we’re finally seeing nontraditional teaching methods such as Blended Learning, or the Flipped Classroom, address the needs of schools whose conventional systems are falling short. A round of applause goes out to Clintondale High, the nation’s first high school to integrate Blended Learning in its entirety , a champion of change. What we’re witnessing here is a first mover in a disruptive model. And not unlike Sony’s first portable transistor radio, the first iteration is far from perfect; but, for educators at Clintondale, the challenge of introducing a new system is well worth the 17 point bump in their college acceptance rate.

Christensen applies his study of innovation to the commercial space, asking when and how an industry might experience a true paradigm shift. This might come in the form of a ubiquitous piece of technology, a systemic overhaul, or both. What might he see in education? It’s an industry that has been progressing slowly for a long time, with a new set of technologies reaching more people in one year than in the last 50 years. Christensen even predicts that 50% of all high school classes will be taught online by 2019.

Did any of you readers attend high school online? I asked a room with over 200 adults this question just last week. Not a single person raised their hand. 50% is a very, very big number. That’s 7 million people taking high school classes online. That’s equivalent to the entire population of New York.
Now, granted, Clayton’s claim is only a prediction, based on observable patterns. But if you look around at today’s device-hungry youth, the Internet- and tech-native generation, he might just be onto something.

So what does this mean for you?

“Accept Innovation With Open Arms”


Explore your opportunities. Challenge your administrators to let you try new things. Teaching is all about learning, both for you and the student. Don’t feel constrained by your textbooks or curriculum, but rather try to adopt new methods that complement them. You know your goals — the path you take to get to your goal is entirely up to you. After all, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: teaching is an art.
Administrators. It’s happening now. The only thing certain is, if you’re not innovating, you’re losing popularity – and fast. You don’t necessarily need to pioneer change, but don’t be the force that holds your teachers back. You’ve hired great people and allowed them to set goals. Now let them go out and be great — if they come to you with new tools and ideas, and a burning look in their eye…maybe they’re onto something. Don’t grab hold of every innovation in sight, but listen and work with your teachers to move forward. Before you know it, you’ll be in the news like Clintondale high school. Small sacrifice for a massive potential reward.
According to Christensen, your best bet isn’t layering technology on top of your current education practices, but instead spinning off a few classes where technology is the primary driver of education. This is where true innovation can occur, and you can test the success on a small sample audience.

Here are some stats after just one year of flipping the classroom in the 9th grade at Clintondale.

Reduction in Failure
English: 33%
Math: 31%
Science: 22%
Social Studies: 19%

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You stodgy old man you. Don’t you worry. You’re trying your best, and we appreciate that. Set the goals, hand out money like a rich uncle and look the other way until the dust settles. — Too much money stifles innovation. Yes, you read that correctly. The seemingly inferior technologies will prevail as dominant when the time comes. BUT you can make sure you’re focusing your investments on legitimizing the use of technologies and online education for students. If it’s definitely going to happen, then it should happen sooner rather than later. The lean methodology suggests that the faster we can get solutions out there, the faster we can iterate an awesome and comprehensive solution. Don’t try to plan too much, because the first solutions won’t be the ones that last. History has proven that investment in infrastructure is key, education is a keystone infrastructure piece.

Students (Everyone).

Today, more people are graduating from college than at any point in our country’s history (there’s also a lot more people). We’re seeing a true popularization of education – no longer is the upper class privy to information and higher education. More so than at any point in recent history, everyone and anyone can be a student. It’s our responsibility as the world’s students to remain curious, to continue searching for the best methods for learning and teaching our children.
The change is happening now, and I hope you wake-up everyday as excited as I am.

This article was originally released on Insights Wired.


Closing out 2013 – Ten Most Popular Education Videos This Year

As we wave goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014 with open arms, let’s take a look at the top educational videos on YouTube this year.

How did we judge “Top Videos? By views of course!

This video “Which Came First – The Chicken or the Egg” by AsapSCIENCE has seen over 13 million views.

What have we learned from these?

First of all, video is an extremely powerful medium that can educate millions of people for free!
And, video is most powerful when kept short. 70% of the videos listed here are less than 6 minutes long! Let that be a lesson to us all.

Have a Happy New Year and enjoy the other 9 most popular videos this year:


The Flipped Classroom Model on StudySoup (Infographic)

In a world where education is being turned on it’s head, StudySoup strives to keep you ahead of the curve with awesome functionality for your students. We’re excited to inform you that teachers around the US are now using StudySoup to provide the Flipped Classroom for their students. What does that even mean? Allow us to explain here:

Think about this – giving lectures in class isn’t the best use of your time, right? Some students are taking notes, some are playing games, and others are chatting. What if you could record your lecture, and send students home to watch the lecture? Now students can watch your lecture on their own time, rewind if they missed something or play games without distracting peers. Better yet, you won’t have to repeat your exact lecture semester after semester. Instead, you can use classroom time assign work, answer questions and engage your students at a much higher and personal level.

Where does StudySoup come in? You need a delivery vehicle for you lectures, readings and homework. We provide the complete delivery platform for your materials, and you can even make some money selling your course! Just take 2 minutes to upload your videos, text and powerpoint presentation, set a price (or make it free) – and Enjoy 🙂

Here is an awesome infographic about the Flipped Classroom from our friends at Knewton Learning.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


Introducing: StudySoup’s Flipped Classroom Week

Although seemingly static, the education industry is constantly adopting new classroom models.

In the 19th century, America’s first classrooms operated with a degree of prudence that reflected the country’s fledgling government and limited resources – locally-sourced wood for the schoolhouse, teachers hired from the clergy, and bookshelves comprised of whatever was available. As the population largely lived in rural areas, schools were a direct responsibility of their local community. By the 21st century, however, the scope of American public schools had dramatically expanded: centralized government regulation, teachers competing for jobs, and textbooks from around the world.

Today, education is experiencing yet another transformation: the digital age.

Before starting StudySoup, I was intimately aware of the the impact that technology was having on the classroom, with the increasing popularity of Powerpoint presentations, course information stored online, and of course, students using computers in class. But despite these incremental changes, no single advent had fully remodeled the modern classroom to adequately fit this generation of students. Then I discovered the Flipped Classroom model. (See infographic below)

StudySoup strives to keep you ahead of the curve with tools to build a virtual classroom to perfectly complement your course and provide awesome functionality for your students. We’re excited to share with you that teachers around the US are now using StudySoup to carry out the Flipped Classroom for their students.

Where does StudySoup come in? Teachers and professors need a delivery vehicle for lectures, readings, and homework. We provide a complete delivery platform for your materials. In addition, we’re helping facilitate the next expansion of education: teachers can sell their courses through the Education Marketplace and earn additional compensation for their work. We believe in simple site functionality so you’re not wasting time fiddling with technology – you’re using it to your advantage. It takes just 2 minutes to upload your videos, text, and presentations.

With a virtual classroom that works on your terms, you have more classroom time to discuss concepts, answer questions, and engage students in a much more personal and attentive manner.

Take a look at this awesome infographic, courtesy of our friends at Knewton Learning.
Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Note: This is the 1st entry in StudySoup’s Flipped Classroom Week. Stay tuned for next week’s updates!


Welcome to the (new) World of Education


 Hello World!

We’ve been working tirelessly for a little over 12 months now, and I think it’s about time we looked up to say “Hello” and “Thank You” by welcoming you all to StudySoup (with a Big Virtual Hug). In our first post of the century, we’ll tell you a little bit about our mission, our name, and a few reasons behind our efforts in bringing StudySoup to every student in the world. Let’s start with the truth.  Education is not simple. To make matters worse, the current tools and methods for learning are outdated. Formal education requires proper materials to enable the learning process: lectures, notes, articles, and books – the list goes on. Because communication is essential to this learning process, students and professors alike have adopted these mediums as a standard.

But here’s the problem.

Journals and textbooks are too rigid for the modern-age education process.  We live in a constantly changing world, and this is a race where education must stay ahead of the pack.  More and more, teachers are employing innovative methods to deliver knowledge in the classroom, adopting video, custom course packets, and collaborative media to compliment the 21st century student. And students are on the same page.  Trust us – we just went though it.

“I have 2 textbooks, 4 course readers, a notebook, and an iPad”

How often are you walking around campus with your backpack about to explode into a cloud of loose papers and books?  Although college students take an average of 4 classes at a given time, for each class they’ll be responsible for 4-6 different reference websites, at least 3 textbooks and 2 course readers.  How often do you look longingly at your laptop or tablet and wish that the 30+ lbs you carry with you could fit seamlessly and conveniently into the small device in your hands? How about that day you forgot a binder you needed, or grabbed the wrong textbook off your desk, only to realize your blunder upon arriving to class?  Wouldn’t it be great to have your materials follow you effortlessly wherever you go?

Custom is the new black.

Our mission is to solve these problems!  And to begin thinking about problems that we haven’t even yet discovered!  Over the past year, we’ve taken a look at what’s broken in the world of education and are now very excited to open our doors to students and professors around the world.  We’re here to help [professors] quickly compile materials so you can focus on teaching your class.  StudySoup effortlessly brings your old paper materials into the digital realm, so you don’t have to.  We’re here to help students cut the strings holding you back, so that anywhere you go your education follows.

Since the founding of StudySoup, we’ve worked side by side with a team of top notch professors, engineers, students and designers to create a system that harmoniously addresses the needs and concerns of each and every party involved.  Now we’ve partnered with top Universities: UC Santa Barbara, UC Los Angeles, University of Oregon, and more; just a few giant leaps towards offering StudySoup to everyone in the world.

Professors: just upload your materials, or re-mix or create your interactive content directly on StudySoup…that’s it!

Students: Read anywhere, interact with your materials and even collaborate with peers.

Content providers, printers and bookstores: We’ll help you transfer your physical readings into the digital realm.  See an example of what your materials can look like.  It’s awesome, you’ll see.

Some Soup to keep you warm


The world of education can be confusing and harsh at times.  You don’t know where to start, and you spend a lot of time looking for the right materials before you even have the chance to use them. StudySoup is a comforting blend of your favorite study ingredients, all found in one, easy to access place. You don’t need to drag your reading materials or your computer with you everywhere you go.  Just hop on StudySoup from any device with internet, and you’ll be back in action – learning from where you left off. Today, we’re ready to help take all your reading materials into the digital world, with easy to use note taking and collaboration features, and we’re already working hard on some exciting improvements. Let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and we promise you will be the first to know about our cool new features.

Have fun studying, and welcome to the StudySoup family.


Written By – Sieva Kozinsky

Sieva Kozinsky