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Happy Connected Educator Month! We Can All Help Enhance Learning.

August 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm PST

In a video address at the  June ISTE conference, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced that August will be Connected Educator Month.  To kick off this event The Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) will convene Connected Educator Month in conjunction with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a nonpartisan nonprofit organization. Connected Educator month is part of the Office of Educational Technology’s Connected Educators initiative, which is supporting informal, online, social and professional learning for educators by conducting research, hosting communities, and working with the field.

Do you want to help transform the way we learn? In the video below, Darren Cambridge of the American Institutes of Research explains how you can participate and help transform education.

You should also check out the Connected Learning Exchange (CLX) Community Open House on Monday, Aug 20, 2012, from Noon – 3 pm, EST to learn more!

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Tiny Mooresville Grabs White House Stage

Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, Office of Science & Technology, leads a Digital Promise panel of educators and technologists.

“So Dr. Edwards, can you explain to the audience what’s behind the success you’ve had at Mooresville, in implementing technology that has so changed students lives?” The question was posed by Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of Science and Technology. Kalil was moderating a panel of distinguished educators and technologists – and the venue? A White House conference called on creating more access for technology in US K-12 schools.

I was not at all surprised to see Dr. Edwards on the White House stage on this beautiful fall day. In fact I saw all this coming when I first visited the tiny hamlet of Mooresville, North Carolina, back in April of this year. The more classrooms I was pulled into, the more kids I saw “leaning in”, the more the “buzz” reflected off the cinder hallway walls…the more I figured there was to the Mooresville story.

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STEM and the U.S. Manufacturing Conundrum

The Conundrum

In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession.  The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.

The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself--a manufacturing and controls engineer no less--I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.

A 2009 survey by the American Society for Quality, as reported on manufacturing.net, helps to shine a light on our problem.

According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.

Survey findings on the adult side:

  • Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
  • The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.

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