Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Robert Scott - Texas Education Commissioner - #SXSWedu

Scott is very imprssed with the turnout at SXSWedu. It is an honor for Project Share to be chosen as the focus of SXSWedu.

Scott testified for 2.5 hours before the House Appropriations Committee this morning. Like having multiple root canals done at the same time.

Use of technology at state and district level can help us overcome a $9.8 billion shortfall.

Scott observes his own children connecting globally with friends via Skype and using their laptops seamlessly in their schooling every day. His son is vice-president of his theater company and its webmaster. His daughter helped create a monage video for their 8th grade class before they all went to separate high schools for 9th grade.

Scott visited Texas A&M with his senior daughter and two of her friends. He saw fully interactive operating rooms with VR manequins that act as patients for students to learn with. Our kids need to be prepared to funciton in these environments.

Texas is very data rich and information poor - we collect a lot of data but we don't push it back out.

Education is finally starting to embrace technology as a necessity rather than as an afterthought.

Need for online courses will become more and more apparent in the wake of budget cuts. Ex: High school in Austin has laid off their German teacher for next year; how can students complete German next year? Online courses will be necessary.

Special education and special populations benefit from technology. A west Texas child with an immune deficiency disorder can attend school and interact with his peers via a robot that represents him. Students with communication deficiencies can use iPad apps to communicate.

Spontaneous translation of language via phone is on the horizon. This technology will be a game changer in content instruction for second language learners.

A father in England losing his voice to a health problem is recording it so he will be able to "read" to his baby as his child grows up, even after his voice is gone for life.

Skype allows students in a DAEP setting can get instruction from the original teacher on their home campus.

Freedom and accountabilty, rather than state mandates, can empower teachers to make the best decisions for their students.

Online professional development saves money on travel for teachers.

Scott is committed to Project Share. 277,000 teachers have accounts in Project Share. He will find the money even in the wake of budget cuts. Even if the legislature doesn't fund it, he'll find grants or private funds. (People in audience clapped at this!)

Recommended book to read: The Global Achievement Gap

States using the common core standards will become Microsoft - monolithic; Texas will become Apple - being responsive and innovative. Project Share is a part of that innovation.

In the next week when the House starts to move on the budget, legislators will become uncomfortable with the cuts they are looking at. Negotiations will begin in earnest. There will be cuts. The question is what the extent of the cuts be?

End of course and STAAR tests are at least two jumps in rigor ahead of TAKS. We can't meet these expectations with severe budget cuts. Mr. Scott testified to this in front of the legislature this morning. (Much clapping from the audience!)

There are no silver bullets, but there are killer apps like Project Share.

It's not about students being able to read a texbook online and saving $50 on the book; it's about providing collaboration and authentic feedback. Example: Students design bridges and professional engineers assess them and interact with them.

Project Share is being promoted on PBS so educators will be made more aware of the program.