Why Content Curation Should be in Your Skillset


Reposted from the Internet Time Blog:

Curation can boost your profit and help your people grow. It can save millions, reduce frustration, and boost the velocity of information in your organization. It starts in a gallery.

You expect the curator of an art gallery to know the collection and to:

  • search out the best items
  • select for the collection
  • authenticate and preserve items
  • add interpretation, descriptions, and meaning
  • publicize viewings

Curating these items — selecting, organizing, evaluating, and sharing them widely — multiplies an organization’s return on information many times over. It makes sense to recruit curators from within; the primary job prerequisite is a burning curiosity. Instead of satisfying art lovers, corporate curation saves enormous amounts of time, keeps teams on the same page, and equips everyone with the latest insights. In a minute I’ll give you the story of a company that saved over fifty million dollars with a low-budget curation program. And, as Clay Shirky has said: “Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.

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Pew: State of the News Media 2015


Reposted from the Pew Research Center on Journalism and Media:

Call it a mobile majority. At the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of comScore data.

At the same time, though, desktop visitors to these sites tend to spend more time per visit than do mobile visitors. For half of these top 50 news sites – which include legacy print, cable, network, international and public broadcasting outlets as well as digital-only entities – visitors from desktops stay longer than those coming through mobile. The reverse is true for only 10 of the sites, while for 15 sites the time spent is roughly equal.

In tandem with the growth of mobile has been the further rise of the social Web, where the flow of information embodies a whole new dynamic. Some of our 2014 research revealed that nearly half of Web-using adults report getting news about politics and government in the past week on Facebook alone, a platform where influence is driven to a strong degree by friends and algorithms.

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Cator: 6 Deep Leader Learning Skills


Reposted from Getting Smart:

Deeper learning is an umbrella term for the skills, understandings, and mindsets students must possess to succeed in today’s careers and civic life. They must tackle challenging interpersonal issues of cross-cultural understanding and conflict resolution, and the urgent global issues of our time, such as availability of clean water and nutritious and affordable food, poverty, and climate change. Increasingly, schools are taking a lead role in supporting students as they develop the critical deeper learning skills to address these challenges.

Classroom teachers with expertise in deeper learning skills can more successfully orchestrate these experiences for their students. To support teachers in developing their expertise, Digital Promise is building a system of micro-credentials based on deeper learning skills to identify and recognize teacher competencies. Micro-credentials are much more focused and granular than diplomas, degrees or certificates. As such, they are more flexible, and support educators with many options for both formal and informal learning throughout their careers.

While teacher competence in deeper learning is important, it is also essential for education leaders at all levels to understand, articulate and model deeper learning skills. Leaders who operate from a deeper learning mindset can support a coherent culture of inquiry and risk-taking in schools, essential for continuous and transformative improvements. For each of the six areas of deeper learning below, we identify ways education leaders can develop their skills…

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Just One of the Boys on the Bus


The Boys on the Bus was Timothy Crouse’s exposé of the pervasive pack mentality among journalists covering the 1972 presidential election, chronicling how the top political reporters of the time rode across the country by charter bus following Nixon and McGovern, living out of suitcases and reporting on the same events, day after day. These reporters knew each other, befriended each other, and respected one another, and the stories they posted to their news agencies reflected how like-minded they were in their craft. Rare was it that anyone scooped their buddies, as much as they all aspired to do so. There was little original thinking or original reporting as they crisscrossed the highways of the nation that summer of 72.

It was seminal moment in political journalism, because against this backdrop, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post began investigating a seemingly third-rate burglary at the Watergate Hotel which eventually broke open that pack mentality with a new way of thinking about and doing news reporting: investigative journalism. Their tenacity and focus eventually brought down the president two years into his second term, as checks and balances played themselves out across the three branches of the federal government and a constitutional crisis was ultimately averted. Political journalism would never be the same. Arguably, political reporting today is the legacy of Woodward and Bernstein’s innovative thinking and revolutionary work.

History lesson? Nope. Nostalgic flashback? Uh-uh. Well then, Walter, what’s the point?

Déjà vu.


The longer I’ve been around social media, the more I feel like one of the boys on the bus. The technology that is supposed to provide differentiation and personalization in an age of information abundance is demonstrating just the opposite: people are using social media to reinforce their biases, confirm their comfort zone and opt for intellectual laziness. It’s not about diversity of thought and expanding understanding. It’s about feeling good…liking our own voices and looking for others who sound the same. Add to that all the political pontificating and professional pandering going on, and an original idea or an engaging inquiry on here is a rare find indeed.

So I’m wondering out loud this morning, how long will itbus2 be til we have that defining moment, when social media stops serving as an echo chamber for our egos…when we rise above self-serving pats on the back and safety-in-numbers educational correctness (you know…political correctness among educators)? When do the cliques and commercially-anointed cohorts play out to their logical conclusion, and people realize they’re getting about as far as they would leaving a business card in the fishbowl of a favorite local lunch stop?

There’s a lot of frenetic energy and frantic bandwagoning going on, but there’s not a lot to show for it. Why aren’t more educators jumping into social media and joining us early adopters? Probably because when they peek in and see what’s going on, they make the assessment that there are better uses of their time than spinning their wheels as just another one of the boys (or girls) on the bus. And who can blame them? Sure we all can have a soapbox online. But at the end of the day, how much does time chatting on social media have any major, lasting impact at our day jobs?

If you can earnestly say that your social media time has revolutionized your work in education…not your personal status among birds of a feather educators…not your celebrity manufactured by quid pro quo commercial interests…but real, genuine work being done in the best interests of children…then I salute you. In fact, I know some of you…I hear your unique voice online and I see the tangible connections you are making with students. You stand out, pushing the envelope and asking the questions for which we need answers. Like Woodward and Bernstein, you’re not worried about what anyone else is saying or doing. You’re trailblazing where education needs to go…off the beaten path…where your important work is most needed. It is my sincere hope that your maverick spirit will eventually become a contagion, and this feel-good era of social media will be behind us.

After all, our students get off the bus to get schooled every day. Why shouldn’t we?


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Acquire Scholastic’s Ed Tech Assets

edtech cash

Reposted from Business Wire:

Global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Educational Technology and Services business of Scholastic Corporation for $575 million in cash, subject to customary working capital adjustments.

The acquisition would provide HMH with a leading position in intervention curriculum and services and extend its product offerings in key growth areas, including educational technology, early learning, and education services, creating a more comprehensive offering for students, teachers and schools. The transaction is expected to be accretive to HMH net income and free cash flow in 20161 and to yield synergies in 2016 and beyond with annual cost savings of $10 to $20 million. The transaction is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2015, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval.

The transaction would provide added digital infrastructure and expertise to support the continued development of next-generation products for HMH’s pre-K-12 and consumer businesses. In addition, HMH believes that combining EdTech’s digital intervention solutions sales expertise with HMH’s already strong sales organization will create new opportunities and accelerate the Company’s growth. “As HMH drives a learning transformation powered by technology, we believe the EdTech segment of Scholastic will strengthen our offering in both K-12 and other key growth areas, including digital intervention, early learning, consumer and professional development,” commented Linda K. Zecher, HMH’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that by diversifying our education portfolio, we will be taking an important step toward optimizing our growth while also enhancing our resiliency throughout economic and market cycles.”

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Beyond Education Wars


Reposted from the New York Times:

For the last dozen years, waves of idealistic Americans have campaigned to reform and improve K-12 education. Armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.

Yet I wonder if the education reform movement hasn’t peaked. The zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. The number of young people applying for Teach for America, after 15 years of growth, has dropped for the last two years. The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity.

K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.

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Next Generation School Districts


Reposted from the Center on Reinventing Public Education:

Every sector of the U.S. economy is working on ways to deliver services in a more customized manner. If all goes well, education is headed in the same direction. Personalized learning and globally benchmarked academic standards (a.k.a. Common Core) are the focus of most major school districts and charter school networks. Educators and parents know students must be better prepared to think deeply about complex problems and to have skills that are relevant for jobs that haven’t yet been created. Promising school models are showing what’s possible, but innovation in the classroom only takes you so far. Twenty-first century learning practices demand twenty-first century systems.

This paper goes deep into the question of which system policies are most likely to get in the way of implementing personalized learning at scale. We work outward from the school to define the new capacities and functions districts need to develop. We make the case that districts are currently unwittingly hostile to school-level innovation. For that to change, they must aggressively work to change the incentives, policies, and structures so that they encourage and free up schools to innovate.

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Read the paper here. [PDF]

Using Social Media in School Community Communications


Reposted from Educational Leadership:

Traditionally, school communications have been all about managing the flow of information to the public and then framing the discussion about that information. Even technological advances like robo-calls and mass e-mails still constrained schools to push out information in one direction—say, to announce school closings or publish school test score results.

But in the age of new media, things have changed. Popular social media tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and webinars enable schools to maintain interactive dialogue with stakeholders. Today, the vision of school district communications is all about building relationships.

Minnetonka Public Schools, a central Minnesota district serving about 9,600 students in grades K–12, is demonstrating how to use social media thoughtfully and strategically to engage, inform, and interact with stakeholders. Minnetonka has built “a constantly evolving technology interface” to accommodate, embrace, and engage parents, teachers, students, business leaders, and all other segments of the community, according to Janet Swiecichowski, the district’s executive director of communications.

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Can LA Teachers Push Back on Corporate Ed Reform?


Reposted from In These Times:

Nine months into the Union Power administration, the question is: Can Los Angeles teachers follow the lead of Chicago teachers and pull off a successful community-backed strike—and, in so doing, deal a blow to the corporate education reform movement?

Education reformers claim their goal is to improve public education for poor students. But education activists and teachers unions see a more insidious agenda: to render education a private good rather than a public right for all. Backed by uber-wealthy philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edythe Broad and the Walton family (owners of Walmart), reformers ramp up high-stakes testing, villainize teachers and unions, close public schools and open non-union charter schools.

Few urban school districts have been spared. In Los Angeles, pinching pennies in the public school system has led to crowded classrooms, underfunded counseling departments and underpaid teachers. Meanwhile, more and more tax revenue is funneled into the for-profit education sector–effectively privatizing public education.

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