Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Design Thinking" to Leverage the Heavy Lifting

What's Thwarting American Innovation? Too Much Science, Says Roger Martin

BY Linda TischlerWed Nov 4, 2009 at 3:18 PM
By pushing the principles of scientific management too far, corporations are short-circuiting their own futures, says the designiest dean of all the business schools. "The enemy of innovation is the phrase 'prove it,'" Roger Martin says.

roger martin

The folks at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG should be happy that Roger Martin likes his job. Otherwise, he could cause them a heap of trouble.

As it is, the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is traveling the country, throwing down the gauntlet to companies who hope to analyze and strategize their way out of a recession by bringing in armies of management consultants. You'll get what you pay for, he warns, and it won't be innovation.

"The business world is tired of having armies of analysts descend on their companies," he says. "You can't send a 28-year-old with a calculator to solve your problems."

the design of business

The problem, says Martin, author of a new book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, is that corporations have pushed analytical thinking so far that it's unproductive. "No idea in the world has been proved in advance with inductive or deductive reasoning," he says.

The answer? Bring in the folks whose job it is to imagine the future, and who are experts in intuitive thinking.
That's where design thinking comes in, he says.

"If I didn't like my job, I'd go out and create a killer firm that would take on McKinsey head-to-head in their own market. A company would get better results, at a fraction of the price." McKinsey, a $5B company, bills out freshly minted MBAs at $1M a year, Martin says. Their billing structure is 10 times what a design firm typically gets.

We spoke to Martin about why MBAs and designers should learn to get along prior to his coming to New York for the Rotman School of Management Design Thinking Experts series with IDEO's Tim Brown and Target's Will Setliffe.

Fast Company: As we slowly climb out of the recession, everybody's looking for where the next innovation will come from. Why does our pace of innovation seem to be slowing?

Martin: Most companies try to be innovative, but the enemy of innovation is the mandate to "prove it." You cannot prove a new idea in advance by inductive or deductive reasoning.

Fast Company: Are you saying that the regression analysis jockeys and Six Sigma black belts have got it all wrong?

Martin: Well, yes. With every good thing in life, there's often a dark shadow. The march of science is good, and corporations are being run more scientifically. But what they analyze is the past. And if the future is not exactly like the past, or there are things happening that are hard to measure scientifically, they get ignored. Corporations are pushing analytical thinking so far that it's become unproductive. The future has no legitimacy for analytical thinkers.

Fast Company: What's the alternative?

Martin: New ideas must come from a new kind of thinking. The American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce called it abductive logic. It's a logical leap of the mind that you can't prove from past data.

Fast Company: I can't see many CEOs being comfortable with that!

Martin: Why not? The scientific method starts with a hypothesis. It's often what happens in the shower or when an apple hits you on the head. It's what we call 'intuitive thinking.' Its purpose is to know without explicit reasoning.

Fast Company: So, if you're not getting these Newtonian moments from your management consultants, where are they likely to come from?

Martin: In a knowledge-intensive world, design thinking is critical to overcoming the biggest block: overcoming analytical thinking and fear of intuitive thinking. The design thinker enables the organization to balance exploration and exploitation, invention of business and administration of business, originality and mastery.

Fast Company: Who's been brave enough to embrace that idea in this market?

Martin: When he first took over, A.G. Lafley at P&G was brilliant enough to realize they were missing a lot about the holistic consumer experience by sticking to things that were rigorously quantified. For example, when the company moved into beauty products, they were looking at face cream. And the scientists decided it must be about pore coverage. So they analyzed the hell out of pores and said 'We can cover pores better than anybody.' So when women in their research started talking about wanting to feel beautiful and desirable, they'd say, 'Don't talk about that. We don't know how to quantify that!' And they couldn't understand why stupid women would go off to department stores and pay ten times more when they could cover pores just as well. Ten years ago, P&G couldn't prove they could sell women billions of dollars of Oil of Olay face cream at $30-$60. They could imagine it, but not prove it. Lafley took it as a management challenge to see across the divide.

Fast Company: If you don't have A.G. Lafley or Steve Jobs at the helm, how can you sell your organization on the idea of an intuitive leap instead of a scientific leap?

Martin: You don't have to convert the whole organization to design thinking. Propose a little experiment--say, three months in length--where you test out a bite-sized chunk of a problem using this method. If you have a little success, be sure to then attach metrics to it. In that way, you turn the future into the past in a way they understand.

Fast Company: We're a little biased toward the designers here. Don't they bear some of the responsibility for the gap in understanding?

Martin: Absolutely. Like anybody who takes a job in another country, and needs to learn the local language in order to function, design thinkers need to learn the language of reliability, terms such as proof, regression analysis, and best practices.

Fast Company: Sounds like there's a promising future for somebody who's bilingual and can combine both approaches.

Martin: This is a fascinating time, and there's an interesting battle coming. One of these smallish design firms might combine the best of the analytical from the business world and the best intuitive thinking from the design world and become gigantic. There would be massive traction for it. It wouldn't be the first time that a little company in a garage saw things differently.

Critical THINKING Critical: Some REAL-HEAVY Lifting!

EDGE (Food for Thought)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BIG PICTURE! (Unfolding)


President Obama says the decline of education is "unacceptable for our children."

Obama wants to overhaul education system from 'cradle to career'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama began to flesh out the details of one of his signature campaign promises Tuesday, outlining his plan for a major overhaul of the country's education system "from the cradle up through a career."

President Obama says the decline of education is "unacceptable for our children."

"We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us," Obama said in an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "The time for finger-pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here."

"The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue," he said.

The president outlined a five-tier reform plan, starting with increased investments in early childhood initiatives.

Obama noted that the recently passed $787 billion stimulus plan includes an additional $5 billion for Head Start, a program to help low-income families.

He highlighted a proposal to offer 55,000 first-time parents "regular visits from trained nurses to help make sure their children are healthy and prepare them for school and life."

He also pledged to boost federal support in the form of "Early Learning Challenge" grants to states that develop plans to strengthen early education programs.

Second, Obama called for an end to "what has become a race to the bottom in our schools" through lower testing standards. Echoing former President Bush's call to end "the soft bigotry of low expectations," Obama said states needed to stop "low-balling expectations" for students.

"The solution to low test scores is not lower standards; it's tougher, clearer standards," he argued.

At the same time, however, he urged states to develop standards "that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity."

To help promote this goal, Obama said he would push for funding in the No Child Left Behind law to be more effectively tied to results. The Education Department, he said, would "back up this commitment to higher standards with a fund to invest in innovation in our school districts."

Obama's third tier focused on teacher training and recruitment. He noted that federal dollars had been set aside in the stimulus plan to help prevent teacher layoffs. He also reiterated a promise to support merit pay, as well as extra pay for math and science teachers with the goal of ending a shortage in both of those subjects.

At the same time, however, the president warned that ineffective teachers should not be allowed to remain on the job.

"If a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching," he said. "I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences."

Teachers' unions have opposed merit-based pay, arguing that it is unfair because it leads to competition among teachers and because teachers face different challenges depending on where they are located.

Fourth, Obama called for the promotion of educational "innovation and excellence" by renewing his campaign pledge to support charter schools. He called on states to lift caps on the number of allowable charter schools.

He also urged a longer school calendar.

"I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," Obama said. "But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."

Obama's final reform initiative focused on higher education. Among other things, the president promised to boost college access by raising the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,550 a year and indexing it above inflation. He also promised to push for a $2,500 a year tuition tax credit for students from working families.

The American Federation of Teachers, a union with 1.4 million members, said Tuesday that it embraces Obama's goals to provide "all Americans with a comprehensive, competitive education that begins in early childhood and extends through their careers."

"We also fully support the president's call for shared responsibility for education -- among public officials, school administrators, parents, students and teachers," the group said in a statement.

"As with any public policy, the devil is in the details, and it is important that teachers' voices are heard as we implement the president's vision."

In promoting his program, the president called for an end to the "partisanship and petty bickering" that many observers believe has typically defined education policy debates in the past.

"We need to move beyond the worn fights of the 20th century if we are going to succeed in the 21st century," he said.

Obama also offered a rebuttal to critics who have accused him of diverting attention to issues such as education and energy at the expense of the deteriorating economy.

"I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time," he said. But "we don't have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term."

Saturday, March 7, 2009


VIDEO: Cradle-to-College Education

An organization targets children in a 24-block area of Harlem, assisting more than 7,400 children and 4,100 adults.

By Converge Staff
Geoffrey Canada is the man behind what The New York Times Magazine calls "one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time." He is the president and CEO of Harlem's Children Zone (HCZ), a project that targets children in Central Harlem and follows them from birth to college.

According to its Web site, HCZ operates pre-school programs, after-school programs and the Promise Academy high "to ensure that Harlem students are prepared to enter and excel in college."

WASHINGTON POST / Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Fixing Our Schools

Having uniform standards and rejecting old excuses would help, the new education secretary believes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009; A18

COUNT US as among those who worried that the economic stimulus plan's huge infusion of new money for education would produce only more of the same failed programs. So it was heartening to hear Education Secretary Arne Duncan describe an unacceptable status quo of broken schools in this country. Not only does he aim to use stimulus dollars to drive reform, but Mr. Duncan envisions this moment as the start of a historic opportunity to dramatically improve the education of children.

"Our job, my job is to fight for kids," Mr. Duncan told Post editors and reporters yesterday as he sketched his plans for the more than $100 billion in new stimulus spending and his ambitions for U.S. education. He made clear that school systems in search of the new federal dollars must be willing to pursue his agenda for change and that his reforms will be built around programs with proven records of success. Refreshingly blunt in describing a "crisis" in education, Mr. Duncan lambasted the system of 50 different states setting 50 different standards for student achievement. He is right to call it a "race to the bottom" in which neither parents nor students know where they stand in relation to the rest of the country, much less the world. Mr. Duncan is not prepared yet to require national standards, but he made clear that a single set of standards, aligned for college readiness and benchmarked to international standards, is where the country needs to be headed.

Equally exciting is his push for improved student assessments as well as sophisticated data systems to track the effectiveness of teachers and the education schools that produce them. Mr. Duncan, former head of Chicago's public schools, has firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by schools and of what works. For example, he knows that students need more time in schools -- and that "talent matters," so schools have to reward excellence, put the best teachers where they are most needed and get rid of bad teachers. He realizes that it's important to reward everyone who is involved in helping a school succeed. But he's learned that there are bigger differences in teacher performance within schools than between schools.

We admire the fact that Mr. Duncan has absolutely no use for those who would use the social ills of poor children as an excuse for not educating them. "They are part of the problem," he said with disdain, arguing that education is the best way to end poverty. No doubt there will be opposition to his ideas from those traditionalists accustomed to the status quo. But Mr. Duncan made clear that his only interest is in what works.

Our President
Geoffrey Canada and Steven Colbert
Geoffrey Canada at Harvard University


Michigan schools set to win big in stimulus

Granholm, lawmakers still debating final choices; utilities, cities want help too


LANSING — Detroit Public Schools stands to reap $530 million — $355 million with no strings attached — from the federal stimulus package that will hand Michigan nearly $7 billion over two or three years.

That appears to make the district, which has an estimated $150-million deficit and finances so tangled the state recently appointed a manager to take the financial reins, the biggest Michigan winner in the stimulus sweepstakes.

In all, the state and local school districts could have at least $2.5 billion to spend as they see fit, based on an analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency.

How that money is doled out will test the political and fiscal convictions of the governor, state lawmakers, school officials and hundreds of communities and others with their hands out for a piece of the biggest federal giveaway.

Cities, townships, counties, schools, state government and electric utilities have given Gov. Jennifer Granholm their $50-billion wish list for stimulus money.

At most, there's two cents available for every dollar requested.

In addition, Michigan will get nearly $850 million for road and transportation projects to be decided by the state and regional agencies such as SEMCOG.

Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for Granholm, said no decisions have been made about the discretionary stimulus money. She said Granholm insists it be used to create jobs, improve education and promote “the new energy economy.”

Boyd acknowledged heavy demands for the money, given the state's 11.6% unemployment rate and growing need for government assistance, adding, “We are approaching this in a very prudent fashion.”

Lawmakers' ideas

Two key lawmakers represent different views of how the state should spend its stimulus money.

Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees all state spending. Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Cushingberry said discretionary federal money should be used for public schools, expanded government-paid health care for uninsured people and an early retirement plan for state employees, although he offered no details.

In contrast, Jelinek said the money should be spent on projects that create jobs and save taxpayers money in the long run, such as roads, water lines and sewers, or repairs to schools.

“We want to jump-start the economy, put people to work or keep them at work,” Jelinek said. “Increasing someone's retirement doesn't do that.”

House freshman Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, suggests using $200 million from the stimulus money to cover the up-front costs of converting the pension program for teachers and other public school employees from a traditional, defined-benefit pension to a 401(k)-style savings plan.

Such a change would ignite a firestorm of opposition from teachers and their unions, which hold their traditional defined-benefit pension as untouchable.

Granholm wants to use $1 billion from Medicaid and education stimulus funds to help balance the state budget and to prevent cuts in state aid to public schools and universities.

That would leave $1.3 billion at the state's discretion to spend, and $1.2 billion for school districts and charter schools, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency — $2.5 billion total.

Help for low-income students

Schools also will get $888 million earmarked for special education and to help low-income students.

School districts with proportionately large numbers of low-income students will get more money.

The northern Michigan district Mio-Au Sable, with 770 students, is to receive $1.3 million because it has lots of students from low-income families. That's more than will go to the 3,000-student Riverview Community Schools in Wayne County.

For a complete list of what school districts are estimated to get, go to

Cushingberry advocates using stimulus money to reduce the gap between what the top-spending and the lowest-spending districts pay to educate each child.

He said money could be used to purchase technology to create virtual universities. He also said stimulus money should be used to provide more health insurance to laid-off workers and other uninsured people.

“As a Democratic leader, that's the most important issue to me, to make sure everybody that we can gets some kind of health coverage,” Cushingberry said.

Asked what happens to schools when the extra federal money runs out, Cushingberry said, “If this economy in Michigan doesn't turn around in the next year or two, there won't be anything we can do anyway.”

Possible trouble ahead

Jelinek said he favors more state budget cuts, not fewer, to prevent chronic budget problems in the future.

He said the potential state deficit — pegged in January at more than $1.5 billion in 2010 — is likely to grow larger as the economy continues to falter.

Gary Olson, director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, said although Michigan will receive large amounts of federal money, it could be eaten up by ordinary demands for state spending. The state spends nearly $22 billion between its general and school aid funds.

The stimulus money for schools is a blessing and a concern, said Donald Wotruba, deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards.

The money will help avoid some layoffs, he said. But it could give a false impression that schools are flush.

“The public will be shocked because some people will still be laid off,” he said. “That will be hard to explain.”

Contact CHRIS CHRISTOFF at 517-372-8660 or

Friday, February 6, 2009

THINK: EduWood Digital Learning Studios!

Hollywood comes to Oakland

The Oakland Press/TIM THOMPSON A building in the General Motors Centerpoint complex in Pontiac, which will be the site of a $70 million movie studio with nine sound stages.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 11:40 AM EST

Of The Oakland Press

Founders of a movie studio planned for Pontiac want to be making movies within 90 days. That’s a realistic goal, says county Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

The movie studio initiative was the high point of Patterson’s State of the County address Tuesday in Troy. Gov. Jennifer Granholm was supposed to make the same announcement at the same time in her State of the State address to the Legislature. Patterson blamed the governor for leaking news about the studio a day before the concurrent speeches. “The governor got so excited about the news — you remember she lived in Hollywood for awhile — she couldn’t contain her girlish enthusiasm and let the cat out of the bag,” Patterson said.

Patterson is among a halfdozen Republicans considering a run for governor when the term-limited Granholm leaves office in 2010.

But all agree the studio is certain to generate much-needed jobs.

“It’s good news — it’s going to be 3,600 jobs,” Patterson said Tuesday.

The local investors in the new studio are Oakland County developers A. Alfred Taubman, Gary Sakwa of Grand Sakwa Properties in Farmington Hills and Linden Nelson of Nelson Ventures in Birmingham. They’re teaming up with Raleigh Studios of Hollywood, Calif., and Endeavor Talent Agency of Beverly Hills, Calif.

“They’re the real deal,” state Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, said of Raleigh and Endeavor. Melton’s district includes Pontiac.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority also is putting up money for the venture, the reason it was included in both Patterson and Granholm’s speeches.

The new venture, called Motown Motion Pictures LLC and currently based in Birmingham, will include both a film studio and production company.

The investors plan to spend $70 million for a 600,000-square-foot development, including nine sound stages located inside General Motors’ former Centerpoint truck plant at South Boulevard and Opdyke Road in Pontiac.

The state’s growth authority expects the studio to create 3,600 direct jobs and another 1,500 indirect jobs by the year 2020 with an average weekly wage of $824.

The authority on Tuesday approved a state tax credit valued at $101 million over 12 years. The project also will receive $12 million in state incentives along with job training assistance through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Also receiving assistance from the authority are two other film industry businesses — one to be based in Plymouth and one in Detroit.

Michigan currently has the most favorable tax incentives for the film industry in the country.

Movie studio a definite among many ‘maybes’

Thursday, February 5, 2009 6:08 AM EST

By The Oakland Press

Amid all of the promises and glowing predictions we heard Tuesday night from both Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, there was at least one bit of very good, defi nite news.

In their state of the state and state of the county addresses, we were informed of the establishment of a movie studio in Pontiac. Motown Motion Pictures will invest $70 million to build its new film studios at a former General Motors plant.

Granholm noted that Pontiac’s studio was one of three projects coming to Michigan to boost its ongoing efforts to attract Hollywood filmmakers to the state. The governor noted that Wonderstruck Animation Studios will invest $86 million to build a new studio in Detroit and Stardock Systems, a digital gaming manufacturer, will build its production facilities in Plymouth.

The local investors in the Motown studio are Oakland County developers A. Alfred Taubman, Gary Sakwa of Grand Sakwa Properties in Farmington Hills and Linden Nelson of Nelson Ventures in Birmingham. They’re teaming up with Raleigh Studios of Hollywood, Calif., and Endeavor Talent Agency of Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority also is putting up money for the venture.

Motown Motion Pictures LLC is based in Birmingham and will include both a film studio and production company.

The investors plan to spend $70 million for a 600,000-square-foot development, including nine sound stages located inside General Motors’ former Centerpoint truck plant at South Boulevard and Opdyke Road in Pontiac.

The state’s growth authority expects the studio to create 3,600 direct jobs and another 1,500 indirect jobs by the year 2020 with an average weekly wage of $824.

The authority has approved a state tax credit valued at $101 million over 12 years. The project also will receive $12 million in state incentives along with job training assistance through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

However, tax revenue for Pontiac is expected to be anywhere from $1.4 to $2.8 million annually, according to city officials. The state expects its tax revenues to be $178 million by 2020.

Patterson even mentioned the county was in the early stages of its first-ever film festival, possibly coming in 2010.

In speeches that made a lot of promises, it was good hear about some real, concrete projects coming to Oakland County and the state.

We commend Patterson, Granholm, the Pontiac mayor’s office as well as other local and state officials for their efforts in securing this project.

Generally, Granholm painted a beautifully bright future for Michigan.

Of course, she had to do something positive because with the highest unemployment in the nation and an economy that is reeling, gloomy doesn’t even do justice as a description.

Meanwhile, Patterson also did some painting. As usual, he focused on the county’s accomplishments.

Patterson, among other things, noted that Automation Alley, on the strength of a 17-percent increase in membership last year, has hit the magical 1,000 membership mark. He also said that 106 Emerging Sectors companies have either located in Oakland County or expanded here over the past four years, resulting in $1.3 billion in new investment and the creation of 14,762 new jobs.

The picture Granholm crafted certainly sounded good. She plans to shrink state government and balance Michigan’s budget while creating more jobs through diversification of the state’s industries.

Obviously, the devil is in the details.

Will the state balance the budget through some type of tax increases on the backs of businesses and individuals? Will Granholm remember that whatever federal stimulus funds the state receives will be a one-time shot, so they need to supplement Michigan’s finances, not just prop them up for one more year. We certainly can’t argue with anything Granholm and Patterson said. We hope their visions come true.

But just how realistic are they? Historically, we would predict that Patterson’s projections are more accurate because Oakland County has continually led the way in fiscal responsibility and acumen.

Time will tell.

We’ll get a glimpse of Granholm’s plans to finance her visions when she presents her budget next week.

But no matter how successful Granholm and Patterson are in their programs, one thing is certain: For the time being, we’re all in for a bumpy ride, so hang on.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Real World: 21st Century Digital Learning Environments

Learning Environments Must Break Through the Silos that Separate Learning from the Real World Print

ORLANDO, FL — Jan. 23, 2009 —
Successful learning environments break through the barriers that separate schools from the real world, educators from each other and policymakers from the communities they serve. Yet, many schools continue to reflect their Industrial Age origins with rigid schedules, inflexible facilities and fixed boundaries between grades, disciplines and classrooms, according to a new paper released by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and sponsored by Cisco Systems.

The paper, 21st Century Learning Environments, finds that learning environments – the structures, tools, and communities that inspire students and educators to attain the knowledge and skills that are required of them – must embrace a diverse and complex world of people, places, and ideas. While a tremendous amount of attention has been paid to standards, assessments, professional development, and curriculum and instruction, the paper finds that learning environments are an essential component to supporting positive 21st century outcomes for students.

The report notes that the term ‘learning environment’ has traditionally suggested a concrete place (schools, classrooms, libraries, etc.), but in today’s interconnected and technology-driven world, a learning environment can be virtual, online and remote. In addition, physical learning structures must be designed to suit the immediate and future requirements of a community and should enable collaboration, interaction and information sharing among community members.

While the relationship of physical spaces and technological systems to learning continues to be ever important, even more important is how – and whether – these environments support the positive human relationships that matter most to learning, according to the report. The most essential element of all learning environments has always been the ‘people network’ – the community of students, educators, parents, business and civic leaders, and policymakers that constitute the human resources of an education system.

“It is critical that 21st century learning environments address the multiple and interconnected needs of the whole child,” said Paige Kuni, worldwide manager of K-12 education for Intel Corporation and chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. “Learning supports are only valuable if they effectively reinforce human relationships, give relevance to learning and encourage student engagement. Schools must devote themselves to more than the mind-body connection to ensure student achievement.”

Likewise, technology must go beyond merely supporting instruction to help foster personal connections to ensure students have the necessary foundations to become successful 21st century citizens. Toward that end, technology can enhance student learning and promote mastery of 21st century skills – learning and innovation skills, core subjects and 21st century themes, life and career skills and information, media and technology skills – by promoting greater student achievement, increasing student engagement, assessing student performance, facilitating communication and collaboration and maximizing administrative effectiveness.

The paper notes that the greatest challenge to incorporating technology into learning environments is not finding time and money, but finding ways to adequately support the use of these tools. Technology can only make a difference when students, teachers, and administrators are provided the necessary supports to proficiently integrate it into daily routines. Educational technology is most valuable when it functions as part of a thoughtfully orchestrated system that includes effective curriculum and instruction, ongoing professional development, authentic assessments and a positive learning culture.

“Schools are being designed for a new balance that combines the best of traditional classroom learning with leading 21st century learning methods and tools,” said Bernie Trilling, global director of education strategy and partnerships for the Oracle Education Foundation. “The learning environments of the 21st century will encompass a powerful mix of face-to-face learning opportunities with digital connections to bridge cultures and blend virtual and real-life relationships. At the same time, federal, state and local policies must help guide the creation of learning environments that serve all students in every corner of our states.”

With tight budgets and worries over the economy, policymakers face tough decisions concerning whether school design really makes a difference, notes the report. According to Georgetown University researchers, design has a bearing on achievement, as test scores can increase by up to 11 percent by improving a school’s physical environment. With that in mind, school design must also effectively address increasing enrollment, which is estimated to grow at record levels though 2013. This, in turn, signals that total spending on construction and maintenance could be as much as $30 billion annually. This is not an unprecedented occurrence – faced with similar demands a century ago, policymakers built thousands of schools that mimicked industrial forms to fulfill increased enrollment.

While, today, many schools have advanced well beyond those outdated models and classrooms have become undeniably more flexible, colorful and engaging, this is just an initial step, cautions the report. Successful learning environments must be able to adapt to the constantly evolving and ever-changing nature of technology, teaching and learning. One solution to achieve this necessary flexibility is to design learning environments that incorporate movable furniture and walls that can be made to conform to different class sizes and subjects.

"As important as it is for physical structures to be adaptable, it is even more important that class time be elastic. Instead of assigning a certain amount of time for teaching one subject per day, teachers need the flexibility of bigger and more adjustable time slots to truly impact learning," said Charles Fadel, global lead for education for Cisco Systems. "There must be a renewed focus on increasing the quality of teaching by providing teachers more time and opportunities to plan, collaborate and work with advanced technology systems."

In addition, schools cannot continue to use seat time as a measure of academic attainment. Rather, assessment of learning must include thoughtful measures of a student’s ability to apply and demonstrate knowledge in complex situations, the report concludes.

About the Partnership for 21st Century Skills: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child’s success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts, and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.

21st Century Skills Leadership States include: Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Funding Constraints could become CATALYST for Disruptive Digital Learning

Michigan school districts fear budget cuts

Declines in state revenue could create deficits


The January revenue conference -- when lawmakers meet to begin deciding how much money the state will have for next year's budget -- has an ominous feel for many Michigan school administrators this year.

They gratefully accepted an early Christmas present from the state, when Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced that midyear budget cuts would not affect schools.

But with 54% of Michigan's districts holding less than the recommended 15% of their budget in savings, and about one third of the districts approaching dangerously low levels of savings, administrators will be nervously watching the conference -- which starts Jan. 9 -- and hoping there will be enough money in next year's budget to keep their programs going.

"The thing that really frightens me for the future is, where do we go next?" said David Houle, business manager for Willow Run Community Schools. "We're going to come to a point where there are no additional cuts you can make that don't impact in the classroom."

In these uncertain economic times, state revenues could be down between $500 million and $1 billion next year, according to Mitch Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency.

At best, any drop in state revenue could mean school districts have to make cuts in anything from supplies to transportation. At worst, cuts in school revenues would drive some districts into a deficit.

"This is not an environment in which we expect to get anything," said Tom White, executive director of Michigan School Business Officials. "It's really a question of how difficult it's going to be and what we're going to do about it."

"There are so many unknowns, it's like playing with a whole deck of wild cards," White said. His organization is recommending school administrators plan for no increase in school funding next year.

The good news is that there may be more money available for schools because there are fewer students. Michigan lost about 5,000 pupils, saving about $40 million because school money is doled out on a per-pupil basis.

The bad news is that schools don't necessarily lose pupils in cost-saving ways. A district that loses 25 students is unlikely to lose them in the same classroom or even the same building. So expenses such as teachers, heating and transportation remain the same.

What could help? Strong Christmas sales generating more tax revenue, help for the U.S. automakers saving Michigan jobs or a timely federal economic stimulus package that could include a significant savings for Michigan in Medicaid.

"As soon as those sales in the state go down, we're not funding our schools," Houle said.

But even if these situations materialize, no one knows whether they will be enough. Most worried are those whose districts are likely to fall into a deficit if the state cuts any funding.

"It's the equivalent of squeezing blood out of a turnip," said Charles Muncatchy, superintendent of Mt. Clemens Community Schools. He said his district is out of savings, and the likely result of any funding cuts would be a deficit.

East Detroit Public Schools also would be likely to end up in a deficit if state funding is cut. The district is down to a slim $57,000 in savings.

"It's a mess," said Superintendent Bruce Kefgen. "I can't tell you where we'd ultimately cut."

The Willow Run Community Schools district already was in a deficit, and files an annual plan on how it is reducing its deficit with the state.

"We've already made major changes and concessions with our employees and staffing," Houle said. "We don't have anyplace to go for discretionary spending."

Even well-heeled districts can struggle.

Bloomfield Hills Public Schools has a cushion in the form of $20 million in savings, but its officials still feel that it has to close two schools next year.

"Just because we have a fund balance doesn't mean our board wants to tap it," said district spokeswoman Betsy Erikson.

Educators say if money is tight, it's only fair for the state and federal governments to chip in by dropping some of the schools' requirements.

"If you don't have the money for us, you could cut some of those unfunded mandates," said Kefgen. He suggests cutting back on the state testing programs such as the MEAP, which he said costs districts thousands of dollars to administer, or rethinking all the databases that districts are required to keep.

Muncatchy said he would like the federal government to fund some of the requirements under No Child Left Behind.

"I'm all for rigor and that schools should be places of excellence, but other countries in the world spend 30% of their federal funds on education, and America spends less than 3%," Muncatchy said.

Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI at 586-826-7262 or

Disruptive Digital Learning equals Cheaper, Better, Faster!

Waivers free high school students to study online, off-campus

State steps up role in Web-based high school education


Eleven Michigan school districts and one charter school can now allow students to take more courses -- and in some cases all of their classes -- online and off-campus, moves that could further cement the state's reputation as a leader in online education.

Michigan already broke new ground in 2006 by becoming the first state in the nation to require students take an online class or have an online educational experience in order to graduate.

Just in November, the Center for Digital Education ranked Michigan second, behind Florida, for online education.

Two metro Detroit districts -- Waterford and Avondale -- are among the handful moving farther ahead, winning approval from the Michigan Department of Education to allow larger numbers of students to take online courses wherever they want.

At least two dozen of the state's 552 districts and 230 charter schools have applied for the waivers from rules that require students be in a school building for nearly 1,100 hours each school year. Students also are currently limited by state law to taking only two online courses outside a school building during a semester.

"That would be so much easier," Kayla Jacques, 18, of Waterford said of the chance to take online courses from the comfort of home. She is a senior at Waterford Alternative High School and stays late after school several days a week to take an online class.

The waivers are a result of a challenge issued to districts earlier this year by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, with the goal of seeing what innovative ideas school districts could come up with if they were allowed to bypass some rules that might be "standing in the way of schools reaching more kids," said MaryAlice Galloway, senior adviser to the chief academic officer at MDE.

Most of the 24 districts that submitted proposals targeted struggling students, particularly those attending alternative high schools. That's not surprising given that a quarter of the state's students fail to graduate on time, including 15% who drop out altogether.

Nearly all of the districts made online education a key component of the plans.

"It gives them a shot at catching up," said George Heitsch, Avondale superintendent.

Virtual enrollment boom

Online education has soared in Michigan in the last decade, illustrated by growth in enrollment at Michigan Virtual University, one of the options students have to take online classes. MVU offers more than 200 high school courses and enrollment has spiraled upward from 100 students in the 1999-2000 school year to an expected 15,000 this school year.

Part of the growth is influenced by students who need to make up credits required to graduate. But there also are students who want to take on larger course loads, those who want to take courses their schools don't offer and those with scheduling conflicts that prevent them from taking classes they want.

Most of those students who enroll at MVU, however, take one course at a time. The seat-time waivers will give students in districts that win approval an opportunity to take most or all of their course work online. And, in most cases, it allows them to take classes anywhere they can find an Internet connection.

That's what has Jacob Carman, 18, intrigued. A student at Waterford Alternative High School, he said being away from school would mean fewer distractions while he's learning. And there would be the convenience of not having to follow a school schedule.

The Avondale district, approved for a seat-time waiver last month, already has 10 students taking all of their classes online. Conor Helmrich, 16, is one of them.

"I'm able to wake up, turn my computer on and get going," Conor said. It's a lifestyle that has made him the envy of his friends. "They wish they could sleep in until whenever, and then do their work."

It may sound unstructured, and for the student who lacks inner motivation, online classes from home may not work. It helps that Conor's parents play an active role in his education. And the school closely monitors online students' progress and how often they log into the system.

"I got my parents all over my back on this," Conor said. "They're calling me like every hour making sure I'm on track."

No one is expecting hordes of students to sign up for a schedule in which they don't have to show up for school every day, if at all.

Jacques and her friend Katie VanOvermeer, 17, say they wouldn't want to take all of their classes online.

"I like coming to school here," Jacques said.

The Waterford district is beginning the program with alternative high students and those who are homebound for medical reasons. It will then expand it to its traditional high schools, said Lynn Kosinski, supervisor of secondary education.

But the district's plan includes limiting participants to 10% of the student body.

Trial program

The state is looking at the seat-time waivers as a pilot program and will closely monitor how well it works.

"What we're going to learn is not only which kids do well, but what kinds of support a district can give them to help them succeed in a virtual learning environment," Galloway said.

One thing they do know is that students taking online classes need support. Districts allowing students to take their course work online will assign a teacher mentor who regularly will meet face-to-face with them and monitor progress between meetings. Some districts also require students to take exams on a school site.

The Avondale district last spring piloted an afternoon program in which 12 students came into a computer lab and took all of their courses online. That program is still going on, but the seat-time waiver has opened it up to allowing up to 80 students to complete their course work outside of school.

Among the 10 students enrolled are four who would just rather not come to school. But there are others who have been expelled and can't come to school, said Chuck Granger, director of community education, adult education and the Avondale Academy, the district's alternative program.

Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or

Saturday, December 27, 2008



St. Clair County students work on a solar-hydrogen fuel cell car. From left: Jason Hoogerhyde, John Freeman, Cody Benedict and Evan Miller. Rather than learning TV repair, students are getting trained in alternative energy.

Schools to invest in alternative energy, give students edge


St. Clair County RESA Career Technical Center students will be calculating actual energy outputs from school-owned windmills, solar panels and a hydroelectric plant.

In Warren Consolidated Schools, students will find lessons from a district-owned wind power station integrated into their classes.

Both programs are the result of a trend by a growing number of schools to meld alternative energy into their lesson plans.

"I think kids are interested in this type of thing. And a lot of us see it as the future, to lessen our reliance on nonrenewable sources. And there are going to be jobs there," said Dan DeGrow, superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.

St. Clair RESA plans to invest up to $450,000, depending on how much grant money it receives, in three wind turbines -- each about 100 feet tall -- solar panels next to the turbines and a mini-hydro plant. It will be working with local governments on getting site permits.

Gone are the days of students taking high school electronics to become TV repairpeople. The jobs are moving to other categories, such as alternative energy technicians.

"What we decided was we wanted a way to teach traditional electronics but within a more current context," said Pat Yanik, director of career and technical education for RESA.

Beginning next fall, students will monitor the electricity generated by their three alternative energy sources, learn how to convert the power to actual energy and make decisions on how to distribute their self-generated electricity to RESA facilities. The actual energy generated will be small, but the lessons will be huge.

"With the energy crisis and the government push for it at the federal level and the state level, alternative energy seemed to be a pretty going item that students and parents can understand," said electronics teacher Zack Diatchun.

The Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education has approved up to $9,000 for a wind spire -- a smaller (30-foot high) version of the windmill-style turbine -- to establish a district-wide alternative energy institute, said Superintendent Robert Livernois. Like St. Clair RESA, Warren Consolidated also hopes much of the cost will be offset by grants.

"The sky's the limit for us. That's what's so exciting about it from a K-12 perspective, you can talk to a second-grader and a 12th-grader," Livernois said. "Our belief is you've got to start somewhere, so as we launch this institute, it's really designed to begin cultivating awareness."

Students at St. Clair RESA have been told their program will open in the fall.

"It doesn't seem like something that they put into a high school-type course, but it's a really good idea they're putting it in," said Cody Benedict, 17, a senior from Yale High School who will be going to school for another year and taking the energy program. "It's going to be a larger range of stuff to learn for jobs."

There's no timetable for the Warren Consolidated program yet, but Livernois expects there will be varying components of alternative energy that will be applicable to most grades.

"We're going to use it in a study of just how much energy you can produce in the community," said Mark Supal, a technology teacher at the Macomb Mathematics Science and Technology Center, where the wind spire will be located.

Even students who won't be around for the new programs recognize the possibilities.

"I got accepted to Michigan Tech ... and I'm probably going to take electrical engineering, but I'm probably going to branch into some kind of alternative energy," said Dalton Pelc, 17, a senior from Kimball Township attending Port Huron High School. "That's what we need, and that's because that's what the economy needs."

Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI at 586-826-7262 or

Saturday, December 20, 2008

21st Century Digital Learning Environments (Pedagogy)

21st Century Pedagogy

Even if you have a 21st Century classroom (flexible and adaptable); even if you are a 21st century teacher ; (an adaptor, a communicator, a leader and a learner, a visionary and a model, a collaborator and risk taker) even if your curriculum reflects the new paradigm and you have the facilities and resources that could enable 21st century learning - you will only be a 21st century teacher if how you teach changes as well. Your pedagogy must also change.

So what is 21st Century pedagogy?

pedagogy - noun the profession, science, or theory of teaching.

How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into. This is a world which is rapidly changing, connected, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasise the learning in the 21st century.

The key features of 21st Century Pedagogy are:
? building technological, information and media fluencies [Ian Jukes]
? Developing thinking skills
? making use of project based learning
? using problem solving as a teaching tool
? using 21st C assessments with timely, appropriate and detailed feedback and reflection
? It is collaborative in nature and uses enabling and empowering technologies
? It fosters Contextual learning bridging the disciplines and curriculum areas

Knowledge does not specifically appear in the above diagram. Does this mean that we do not teach content or knowledge? Of course not. While a goal we often hear is for our students to create knowledge, we must scaffold and support this constructivist process. The process was aptly describe in a recent presentation by Cisco on Education 3.0 [Michael Stevenson VP Global Education Cisco 2007]

We need to teach knowledge or content in context with the tasks and activities the students are undertaking. Our students respond well to real world problems. Our delivery of knowledge should scaffold the learning process and provide a foundation for activities. As we know from the learning pyramid content delivered without context or other activity has a low retention rate.


Image 3

Thinking skills
Thinking Skills are a key area. While much of the knowledge we teach may be obsolete within a few years, thinking skills acquired will remain with our students for their entire lives. Industrial age education has had a focus on Lower Order Thinking Skills. In Bloom's taxonomy the lower order thinking skills are the remembering and understanding aspects. 21st Century pedagogy focuses on the moving students from Lower Order Thinking Skills to Higher Order Thinking Skills.

Image 4

The 21st Century Teacher scaffolds the learning of students, building on a basis of knowledge recall and comprehension to use and apply skills; to analyse and evaluate process, outcomes and concequences, and to make, create and innovate. For each discipline in our secondary schools the process is subtly different.

The 21st century is an age of collaboration as well as the Information Age. 21st Century students, our digital natives, are collaborative. The growth of social networking tools, like bebo and myspace and the like, is fueled by Digital natives and Gen Y. The world, our students are graduating into is a collaborative one.

Collaborative projects such as Julie Lindsay's and Vicki Davis's Flatclassroom project and the Horizon Project, iearns and many others are brilliant examples of collaboration in the classrooms and beyond. These projects, based around tools like ning or wikis, provide students and staff a medium to build and share knowledge and develop understanding.

For example:

My own students are collaborating with students from three other schools, one in Brisbane, another in Qatar and a third in Vienna; on developing resources for a common assessment item. Collaboratively, they are constructing base knowledge on the technologies pertent to the topic. They are examining, evaluating and analysing the social and ethical impacts of the topic. But perhaps even more holistically they are being exposed to different interpretations, cultures and perspectives - Developing an international awareness which will be a key attribute in our global future.


Don Tapscott in Wikinomics, gives are many of examples of the business world adopting and succeeding by using global collaboration.

In a recent blog post from the Official google Blog, Google identified these as key traits or abilities in 1st Century Employees...

"... communication skills. Marshalling and understanding the available evidence isn't useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions."
"... team players. Virtually every project at Google is run by a small team. People need to work well together and perform up to the team's expectations. "


So to prepare our students, our teaching should also model collaboration. A vast array of collaborative tools are available to - wikis, classroom blogs, collaborative document tools,social networks, learning management systems - Many are available at no cost. If you have not yet tried them, look at:
? wikis - wet paint and wiki spaces
? Classroom blogs - edublogs, classroomblogmeister
? Collaborative document tools - Google documents, zoho documents
? Social Networks - ning
? learning managements systems - Moodle etc
These tools are enablers of collaboration, and therefore enablers of 21st century teaching and learning.

Collaboration is not a 21st century skill it is a 21st century essential.

If we look at UNESCO's publication "The four pillars of Education, Learning: The Treasure within" Collaboration is a key element of each of the four pillars.

  • Learning to know
  • Learning to do
  • Learning to live together
  • Learning to be


Collaboration is not limited to the confines of the classroom. Students and teachers collaborate across the planet, and beyond the time constraints of the teaching day. Students work with other students regionally, nationally and globally. Learners seek and work with experts as required. This is 21st Century Collaboration

Real World, Inter-disciplinary & project based learning
21st Century students do not want abstract examples rather they focus on real world problems. They want what they learn in one subject to be relevant and applicable in another curriculum area. As teachers we need to extend our areas of expertise, collaborate with our teaching peers in other subjects and the learning in one discipline to learning in another.
Projects should bring together and reinforce learning across disciplines. The sum of the students learning will be greater than the individual aspects taught in isolation. This is a holistic overview of the education process which builds on and values every aspect of the 21st Century students education.

Image 5

Assessment is still a key part of 21st Century Pedagogy. This generation of students responds well to clear goals and objectives, assessed in a transparent manner.

Students should be involved in all aspects of the assessment process. Students who are involved in setting and developing assessment criteria, marking and moderation will have a clearer understanding of:
? what they are meant to do,
? how they are meant to do it,
? why it is significant
? why it is important.
Such students will undoubtedly do better and use the assessment process as a part of their learning.

Students are often painfully honest about their own performance and that of their peers. They will, in a collaborative project, fairly assess those who contribute and those who don't.

This is their education, their learning and their future - they must be involved in it.

Linked to assessment is the importance of timely, appropriate, detailed and specific feedback. Feedback as a learning tool, is second only to the teaching of thinking skills [Michael Pohl]. As 21st Century teachers, we must provide and facilitate safe and appropriate feedback, developing an environment where students can safely and supportively be provided with and provide feedback. Students are often full of insight and may have as valid a perspective as we teachers do.

What is fluency and why is it better than Literacy? Ian Jukes introduced this concept at NECC. He asserts that students need to move beyond literacy to fluency. They need to be
fluent in:
? The use of technology = technological fluency,
? Collecting, processing, manipulating and validating information = information fluency,
? using, selecting, viewing and manipulating media = media fluency,

What is fluency compared to literacy? A person who is fluent in a language does not need to think about speech, or reading rather it is an unconscious process of understanding. A person who is literate in the language must translate the speech or text. This applies to our students and their use of 21st century media. We need them to be unconsciously competent in the use and manipulation of media, technology and information.

The conscious competence model illustrates the difference between Literacy and Fluency. The person or student who is literate is in the conscious competence category. The person or student who is fluent is in the unconscious competence category.

Image 6

As educators, we must identify, develop and reinforce these skill sets until students become literate and then fluent..

Conclusion and the path forward.

To teach using 21st Century pedagogy, educators must be student centric. Our curricula and assessments must inclusive, interdisciplinary and contextual; based on real world examples.

Students must be key participants in the assessment process, intimate in it from start to finish, from establishing purpose and criteria, to assessing and moderating.
Educators must establish a safe environment for students to collaborate in but also to discuss, reflect and provide and receive feedback in.

We should make use of collaborative and project based learning, using enabling tools and technologies to facilitate this.

We must develop, in students, key fluencies and make use of higher order thinking skills. Our tasks, curricula, assessments and learning activities must be designed to build on the Lower Order Thinking Skills and to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills.

Image 7

For being a brilliant critical friend, thanks for the advise and especially for the grammar - Marg McLeod.

By Andrew Churches

Arne Duncan Secretary of Education

Reform Starts Now: Obama Picks Arne Duncan

His secretary of education selection shows education is a priority.

by Grace Rubenstein
December 16, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama talked reform while announcing Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as the next U.S. secretary of education.

"For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book, it's the cause of his life," Obama said at Tuesday's press conference. Obama specifically mentioned pay-for-performance teacher salaries and charter-schools development as strategies with strong potential.

"If charter schools work, let's try that," Obama said. "Let's not be clouded by ideology when it comes to figuring out what helps our kids."

Duncan described his clear-eyed view of education in a June 2007 interview [1] with Edutopia when he said, "Quality public education is the civil rights issue of our generation."

Duncan, known for transforming underperforming schools and experimenting with new models, has a record as a pragmatist with a taste for innovations. His version of reform, judging by his record, centers on boosting teacher quality and supporting students with added services such as after-school programs. In the Chicago Public Schools [2], where 85 percent of the 400,000-plus students live below the poverty line, test scores, attendance, and teacher retention all went up during Duncan's seven-year tenure, while the dropout rate declined.

The Buzz
For weeks, pundits, educators, and education bloggers have speculated on what Obama's pick would show about his true beliefs on education.

"Arne Duncan has a type of personality that Obama seems to prefer, which is a pragmatist who will bring about change, but he'll do it in a way that will minimize confrontation in conflict," says Jack Jennings, president of the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy [3]. "He's brought about change in Chicago, but it hasn't been a head-on clash with the teachers' union. He's done it in a way that they all walk away from the table congratulating each other."

Supporters say Duncan has the right constitution for the job. On both substance and style, he has won praise from divergent interest groups, including the American Federation of Teachers [4] and the New York City-based Democrats for Education Reform [5].

Duncan shut down Chicago schools that performed poorly and reopened them with entirely new staffs. He started coaching and mentoring programs for teachers. He also supported a boom in new charter schools with diverse models, from military academies to single-sex schools, and piloted a program to pay teachers bonuses for top performance -- two controversial innovations Obama supports.

An Uncertain Future

Of course, an education secretary can't exactly dictate reform from on high. But he can use the bully pulpit to put a spotlight on certain problems and solutions, says Jennings, and hand out grants to support new innovations. He can also provoke change through regulations -- most notably those that guide implementation of the No Child Left Behind law.

On NCLB, Duncan is a middle-of-the-roader [6]; he supports the law's goals of high expectations and accountability but has challenged Congress to improve it by doubling its funding and amending it "to give schools, districts, and states the maximum amount of flexibility possible."

Not the least of Duncan's hurdles will be the nation's preoccupation with the economic crisis. In a sign of the media's interest in education, the first question at Obama and Duncan's press conference after the announcement of Duncan's nomination was about the Federal Reserve Bank lowering its interest rates.

The financial squeeze hitting schools could hinder Duncan's efforts.

Making money and resources key to success, Duncan and Obama both made the case for education by defining it as the path to prosperity; Obama called it the "single biggest determinant" of the economy's long-term health.

"We're not going to transform every school overnight," Obama said. "What we can expect is that each and every day, we are thinking of new, innovative ways to make the schools better. That is what Arne has done. That's going to be his job. That's going to be his task."

Grace Rubenstein is a staff writer and multimedia producer at Edutopia.