Page 17 - THE Journal, January/February 2018
P. 17

“Computational thinking is about how you as a person direct and manipulate the technology around you.” Learning how to approach problem-solving from a systemic point of view enables students to strengthen their abilities to work through logical processes, analyze data and use systems thinking in all kinds of endeavors, not just programming.
One driver is the Next Generation Science Standards, which embeds the concept alongside math at all grade levels. For example, elementary students are expected to be able to demonstrate computational thinking by collecting and analyzing data tied to physical proper- ties; middle schoolers use the same skills to explain how matter is conserved when substances change; and high schoolers apply it in energy-related calculations.
Sorting Out Rules for Student Data Use
In the last four years, according
to the Data Quality Campaign, 94 additional laws have been passed on safeguarding the privacy, security and confidentiality of student data. Securing student data is the topic that seemingly won’t die. And according to Sara Kloek, the Software & Information Industry Association’s director of education policy, programs and student privacy, those discussions are “never going to
go away. People want to make sure that students are protected in all aspects in the classroom.”
What will be truly novel about the topic in 2018, however, is acknowledgement
at the federal level about how confusing the various regulations are — especially FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which has been around since 1974, and COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which was enacted in 1998.
Kloek, who formerly served as senior privacy and technology fellow at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, said she was looking forward to attending a
Google rules. The company’s dominance in schools is hard to ignore, Doug Levin pointed out. Ed tech companies make sure to tout their Google integra- tion; Google Chromebooks account for more than half of school-purchased mobile devices; and now Google Classroom has found a firm foothold in helping manage operations of the digital classroom. Google is “playing with lots of other ideas right now. But it has snuck up on us. And I think it’s hard to understate how pervasive their influence has grown,” he said.
E-rate modernization under attack. The FCC has opened up proceedings
on E-rate, raising questions about provisions of the modernization orders put
in place in 2014, Levin said. A main area of interest is self-provisioning of dark fiber — districts applying E-rate discounts to deploy their own fiber networks when they can’t get the speeds they need or can’t get them at “reasonable
cost” from area internet service providers. As Levin explained, the FCC has “put a real cloud over whether or not that E-rate funding is going to continue being available. “They’ve held up people in building this out. There are questions about whether or not that money will remain available for folks — or might even get clawed back.”
Videoconferencing will connect more students. Whether it’s Zoom, Blue- Jeans or something else free and easy to set up, teachers are using video feeds to put students in touch with each other beyond classroom walls. At “Johnson- ville,” for example, every Wednesday, Anthony Johnson’s kids sit in on sessions with educators, professionals and classes around the world. “Three weeks ago, we did a science experiment with a fifth-grade class in Ireland live,” he recount- ed. “It was awesome.”
Trust will continue taking a beating. It’s been a hard year for experts. Trust in online content, news sources, platforms and institutions is at a low point. Train- ing in media and digital literacy to assess the quality and veracity of information has never seemed more important. Those same literacies need to be applied
in assessing the use of new technologies themselves, asserted Chelsea Waite. “Who is empowered and who is not?” she asked. “Technology is not neutral, and people made decisions to design it in a certain way.” Therefore, added Josh Weisgrau, helping students develop critical mindsets can become a virtuous cycle. Computational thinking, making and the use of virtual means to learn about the real world is a continual reminder to students that “everything around them was created by somebody, and that therefore they can design it or redesign it in a better way.”
Johnsonville students videoconferencing with BlueJeans

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