By Sally Holland, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found cell phones, tablets, Google and Wikipedia are at the center of how educators teach and how students learn - but they bring new challenges, too.
Almost three-quarters of teachers surveyed said cell phones are used in their classrooms to complete assignments, while 45% use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers.
Many teachers - 99% - themselves rely on online research, but they believe digital technologies make it harder for students to “find and use credible sources of information.”
The Pew study said 76% of teachers surveyed strongly agree that “search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily,” and 83% agree that the amount of information is overwhelming.
The survey of about 2,400 middle school and high school teachers from across the United States asked how they use technology in their classrooms and at home. The teachers were all Advanced Placement teachers or from the National Writing Project, so all their students are considered academically advanced.
“Several teachers noted that if a student looks for a particular piece of information online for a few minutes and can’t find it, they will often not interpret that to mean they have to search differently or go to a different resource,” said Kristen Purcell, the main author of the report.
Students will assume “that information is not out there to be found," she said. "If it were, the search engine would find it quickly."
Editor's note: Check out CNN Living's story about a college program creating jobs by training students to revive a 'dying trade.'
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
(CNN) - You can almost hear the old shop teacher asking - so, how is this going to work?
In his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama talked about redesigning schools for a high-tech future. He gave a shout-out to a technical high school in Brooklyn, and to 3-D printing. In a moment of seeming agreement, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned incentives for schools to add vocational and career training.
But long gone are the days of shop class, or even "vocational training," said Stephen DeWitt, the senior director of public policy for the Association for Career and Technical Education. For many years, he saw career and technical education cut by shrunken budgets or "literally and figuratively left in the back of the school, separate from academics."
What's emerging in schools now is something tougher to pin down. In one district, it might be a fancy new school dedicated to teaching tech. In another, an apprenticeship program. Some schools design career and technical classes to line up with college-prep courses that guide students to become engineers, chefs, CEOs or doctors. Almost 80% of high school students who concentrated on career and technical studies pursued some type of postsecondary education within two years of finishing high school, the U.S. Department of Education reported in 2011.
"We’re hearing policy makers talk about it more often. Certain districts are looking at career and technical education as a way to reform schools," DeWitt said. "The focus on project-based learning, how to get students engaged more, is something that’s caught on."
That might mean more maker spaces sprouting up at schools, too.
Students helped build out the maker space at Analy High School.
They are exactly what they sound like - a space to make things. The workshops and warehouses have taken off in communities around the country during the last few years, but the push to add them to schools is still fresh.
"Maker spaces aren't in schools and they need to be," MAKE magazine founder Dale Dougherty told a crowd at Maker Faire in Michigan last summer. "Not just a summer camp, not just an after-school program."
MAKE secured a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to build the "hacker spaces" in schools - a move some criticized because of its military ties. The money helped to launch maker spaces at a handful of Northern California schools this school year.
The goal: more than 1,000 by 2015.
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(CNN) - Nearly three-fourths of the nation's teachers say they personally would not bring a firearm to their school if allowed, but most educators believe armed guards would improve campus safety, a new survey showed.
Since the December massacre by a lone gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, many schools have hastened to add safety measures in an effort to prevent similar violence.The most common step since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead has been ensuring that all doors are locked, teachers said.
Of the nearly 11,000 educators surveyed nationwide, most said they generally feel safe in their schools, but disagreed on whether their workplaces were safe from gun violence.
Nearly four in 10 school superintendents who responded said their schools were not safe from gun violence, slightly higher than the 31% of teachers who felt their schools were not safe.
January's online survey was conducted by School Improvement Network, a for-profit company that specializes in professional development for educators and partners with schools, districts, and educators.
Some 72.4% of educators said they would be unlikely to bring a firearm to school if allowed to do so.
(CNN) - Just like she did during the first half of the school year, first-grader Coy Mathis wants to use the girls' restroom at her Colorado elementary school. But school officials won't let her.
The reason? Coy is transgendered, born with male sex organs but a child who identifies herself as female.
She dressed as a girl for most of last year. And her passport and state-issued identification recognize her as female.
In December, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District informed Coy's parents that Coy would be barred from using the girls' restrooms at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain after winter break.
She could instead use the boys' bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathrooms or the nurse's bathroom, the district said.
In making the decision, the district "took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls' bathroom would have as Coy grew older," attorney W. Kelly Dude said."However, I'm certain you can appreciate that as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls' restroom."
Coy's parents see it differently.
By Richard Galant, CNN
Long Beach, California (CNN) - What if everything you thought you knew about education was wrong?
What if students learn more quickly on their own, working in teams, than in a classroom with a teacher?
What if tests and discipline get in the way of the learning process rather than accelerate it?
Those are the questions Sugata Mitra has been asking since the late 1990s, and for which he was awarded the $1 million TED Prize on Tuesday, the first day of the TED2013 conference.
Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize for his experiments in self-organized learning.
Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, won the prize for his concept of "self organizing learning environments," an alternative to traditional schooling that relies on empowering students to work together on computers with broadband access to solve their own problems, with adults intervening to provide encouragement and admiration, rather than top-down instruction.
Mitra's work with students in India has gained wide attention and was the focus of a 2010 TED Talk on his "hole in the wall" experiment, showing the potential of computers to jump-start learning without any adult intervention.
Thinking about children living in slums in New Delhi, he said, "It can't be possible that our sons are geniuses and they are not." Mitra set up a publicly accessible computer along the lines of a bank ATM, behind a glass barrier, and told children they could use it, with no further guidance.
They soon learned to browse the Web in English, even though they lacked facility in the language. To prove the experiment would work in an isolated environment, he set up another "hole in the wall" computer in a village 300 miles away. After a while, "one of the kids was saying we need a faster processor and a better mouse."
When the head of the World Bank came to see the experiment, Mitra said he encouraged him to go to the New Delhi slum and see for himself.
By Jon Marcus at The Hechinger Institute, CNNMoney
New York (CNNMoney) - Berevan Omer graduated on a Friday in February with an associate's degree from Nashville State Community College and started work the following Monday as a computer-networking engineer at a local television station, making about $50,000 a year.
That's 15% higher than the average starting salary for graduates - not only from community colleges, but for bachelor's degree holders from four-year universities.
"I have a buddy who got a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting who's making $10 an hour," Omer says. "I'm making two and a-half times more than he is."
Omer, who is 24, is one of many newly minted graduates of community colleges defying history and stereotypes by proving that a bachelor's degree is not, as widely believed, the only ticket to a middle-class income.
Nearly 30% of Americans with associate's degrees now make more than those with bachelor's degrees, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. In fact, other recent research in several states shows that, on average, community college graduates right out of school make more than graduates of four-year universities.
The average wage for graduates of community colleges in Tennessee, for instance, is $38,948 - more than $1,300 higher than the average salaries for graduates of the state's four-year institutions.
By Noni Ellison-Southall, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Noni Ellison-Southall serves as senior counsel for Turner Broadcasting System Inc., which operates CNN, and heads Turner’s music division. She is on the boards of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Atlanta Speech School and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. She is a graduate of Howard University and University of Chicago Law School.
(CNN) - I was in a dead sleep the night of February 13 when I got an unexpected phone call. President Barack Obama would be visiting a preschool in nearby Decatur, Georgia, just days after he’d announced a priority on early childhood education. I was invited to hear him speak.
It would be special to hear the president addressing the importance of education, but especially for me. He was my law school professor. I wondered if he, now the president of the United States, was aware that he’d had a profound impact on my life years earlier at the University of Chicago Law School?
I didn’t have long to reflect. My mind was racing as reality set in. With only 12 hours till showtime, what would I wear? What should I say? Would he remember me from class? I needed to get my camera, and of course, my syllabus from “Current Issues in Racism and Law,” the class he’d taught.
It was stored safely in a green binder in an old leather briefcase in the basement with my law books. He’d apologized in the notes for messy copies, a consequence of not having a teacher’s assistant. “On the other hand,” he’d written in the syllabus, “my wife tells me that she wouldn’t have minded getting the professor’s notations on her reading material when she was in law school.” I wasn’t sure if he would sign it, but I planned to ask.
At a recreation center in Decatur, I sat in the row with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Sylvia Reed, his mother. It’s a modest and very intimate space. There was festive music playing, press and security everywhere and a colorful banner that read “Preschool for All” hanging on the wall. Teachers walked around, giggling and taking pictures in front of the podium with the presidential seal affixed. A sense of excitement and anticipation filled the venue. It was surreal. Was I really going to meet the president of the United States today, all those years after I’d met him the first time?