"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mis-Educative Technology and Human Capital Management: Part 2

See Part 1 here.

Triumph Learning’s Waggle is a personalized learning system now in use by Clarke County Schools in Athens, Georgia, where Dr. Philip Lanoue is Superintendent.  Dr. Lanoue was named Superintendent of the Year in 2015 by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA’s next conference is entitled “Personalized, Accountable, and Visionary).  Lanoue's name is prominently posted in Triumph Learning's online ads and in their sales promotions.  

The video linked from this Waggle ad is provided further down in this post.  In the video, Dr. Lanoue and two of his principals at Clarke County praise the new Waggle system for a number of reasons, chief among them being that students may progress at their own pace and that the system’s endurance training system (it grades for Grit) requires students to get the right answer before moving on.  

The learning analytics running within Waggle are handled by Knewton, which has the capacity to collect, store, and share data on individual student performance for both academic proficiency and "grit." 

Earlier this year, Knewton and Pearson created a partnership to "personalize K–12 math education starting with elementary school students." 
Utilizing Knewton’s adaptive learning platform, Pearson is updating enVisionMATH2.0, a dynamic digital curriculum. The product tailors core instruction for each student, helping teachers better address unique individual needs and ensure that the entire class is on track to achieve shared goals.
Below, then, is the video testimonial for Waggle by Dr. Lanoue and his principals.  If if all sounds rather vague, it is.  Stay tuned after the video:

What Lanoue and the principals fail to point out is that teachers may choose the Common Core standards that students will be assigned, but after that, Knewton's analytic capacity takes over, selecting the material for students to work on based on past performance.  Waggle then initiates and scores the assessments.  That is all explained here, in this YouTube video provided by the company.

Following Dr. Lanoue's #1 Superintendent Prize in 2015, he was a hot property.  In fact, he was almost selected as Superintendent for Fulton County, GA early in 2016.  Unfortunately, back in Clarke County during the final hiring phases, there was an unfortunate and entirely mishandled incident involving the rape of a 15-year old girl at school.   

Coming as it did during the final stages of Fulton County’s hiring decision process in February 2016, no one got around to telling the girl’s parents about the Clarke County rape incident for a month, and only then because the story broke in the local Athens paper:
Top school administrators and school board members learned of the report Jan. 7, the day it happened, but parents, teachers and others didn’t find out until an article appeared Feb. 4 in the Athens Banner-Herald/Online­Athens.com, when three male Cedar Shoals students were arrested on felony rape and assisting in a rape charges, the report noted.
Soon after the incident hit the news pages on February 4, Dr. Lanoue withdrew his application from Fulton County and decided to remain at his post in Clarke County.  

Dr. Lanoue continued his public engagements without interruption, however.  In April 2016, Diane Ravitch's NPE invited him to provide a keynote during NPE's annual conference in Raleigh, NC.  

This is from the conference blurb (my bolds):

With a proven track record in leading school reform and building positive community and school relationships, Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue has led the Clarke County School District in Athens, Georgia since July 2009. He is the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year, as well as the 2015 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Lanoue is also one of the nation’s top 50 educational innovators in digital learning as named by Converge magazine. Under his leadership, the school district has been honored as a Title I Distinguished District for being Georgia’s #1 large district for closing the achievement gap. The district has received numerous state recognitions as a model technology school district, Georgia’s #1 Career Academy and the state’s top award for exceptional Response to Intervention practices.

In July, an Athens, GA grand jury concluded that Lanoue should not have been allowed to investigate his own participation in the mishandled rape incident.  Imagine that.

On September 1, Lanoue announced he would be leaving his post as Clarke County superintendent on March 1, 2017.
We may wonder what will happen to Dr. Lanoue and to the many high tech projects that Dr. Lanoue introduced in Clarke County, including Waggle.  High speed wireless networks are now systemwide, and all students in grades 3-12 now have laptops.  You might say that there is a lot of Waggling going on there.  

Interestingly, Clarke County's transformative technology model is borrowed from Ruben R. Puentedura:

And who is Ruben Puentendura, you ask (my bolds below):
Dr. Ruben Puentedura is the Founder and President of Hippasus, a consulting firm based in Western Massachusetts, focusing on transformative applications of information technologies to education. He has implemented these approaches for over twenty-five years at a range of K-20 educational institutions, as well as health and arts organizations. He is the creator of the SAMR model for selecting, using, and evaluating technology in education, which currently guides the work of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, as well as projects in Vermont and Sweden. His current work explores new directions in mobile computing, digital storytelling, learning analytics, and educational gaming, focusing on applications in areas where they have not been traditionally employed. He can be reached at rubenrp@hippasus.com.
If you been out of the loop for a long time, you may want to go over to Save Maine Schools and Wrench in the Gears to find out more about this "transformative" tech model in schools.  You might start with this piece.

Small world, isn't it?

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