ISTE Follow-Up 31: Miscellaneous education blogs (THE PUSH 2014)

The Push 2014

Final category! Below are all of the education blog categories for which I’ve solicited ‘the best of the best’ over the past few months. What’s left? And if you know of a blog for one of the previous categories that’s worth submitting, please submit to the list! (there’s a form at the end of this post)

What are some miscellaneous education blogs that P-12 educators and higher education faculty should be reading? Please contribute, see the responses, AND share this post with others so that we can get the best list possible.

What education blogs would you recommend? Please share with others so we get a great list! #edchat #edtech

Thanks in advance for helping with this initiative. If we all contribute, we should have a bevy of excellent subject-specific blogs to which we all can point. Please spread the word about THE PUSH!

  • Agricultural education
  • Art education
  • Athletics / extracurricular activities
  • Business education
  • Career and technical education
  • Computer science / coding education
  • Counselors / school counseling
  • Curriculum
  • Drama / theater education
  • Education policy / reform
  • Educational technology / technology integration
  • Elementary classrooms (students are blogging)
  • Elementary teachers (teachers are blogging)
  • English / language arts education
  • English as a second language (ESL/ELL) education
  • Family and consumer sciences education
  • Gifted education
  • Math education
  • Media specialists / school librarians
  • Miscellaneous / other
  • Music education
  • Physical / health education
  • Preschool / early childhood education
  • Preservice preparation
  • Principals / schools
  • Science education
  • Secondary classrooms (students are blogging)
  • Social studies education
  • Special education
  • Superintendents / central office / districts
  • World languages education


What is THE PUSH?

We are working together to identify excellent subject-specific blogs that are useful to P-12 educators. Why? Several reasons…

  • To identify blogs that P-12 educators can use to initially seed (or expand) their RSS readers (e.g., Feedly, FlipboardReeder, Pulse)
  • To facilitate the creation of online, global (not just local) communities of practice by connecting role-alike peers
  • To create a single location where P-12 educators can go to see excellent subject-oriented educational blogging
  • To highlight excellent disciplinary blogging that deserves larger audiences
  • To learn from disciplines other than our own and get ideas about our own teaching and/or blogging

We are looking for blogs with RSS feeds – particularly from P-12 educators – not sites to which we can’t subscribe. This is an effort to update the awesome but now heavily-spammed list we made 5 years ago!

Smoking, steroids, illegal drugs, and 3rd grade retention?

Imagine that someone offered you something and said, “This might give you a short-term performance boost. If it does, we’re not sure how long the effect will last but we know it will diminish over time. The boost might be just a year or two and it’s all but certain that it won’t last more than three or four years. Moreover, it’s extremely probable that after that you will suffer significant negative consequences FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Do you want it?”

You might take that gamble if you were a professional athlete (see, e.g., steroids), but most of us would not. In the case of smoking, illegal drugs, alcohol, and (sometimes) fatty foods, the government actively discourages us from making that choice. But when it comes to 3rd grade retention, some state governments not only are allowing the choice but requiring it.

I know you’re 8. Take a puff!

[cross-posted at Education Recoded]

The primary motivation of education policymaking

We are literally living in a world where the primary motivation behind the proposals that determine what schools look like ISNT designing the kinds of learning environments that our kids deserve. Instead, the primary motivation behind the proposals that determine what schools look like is designing the kinds of learning environments that might get a legislator reelected.

Bill Ferriter via

#MobilityShifts – 5 key trends for the future of education [guest post]

Mobility Shifts

I’m back in the UK after my first trip to the US for the Mobility Shifts conference in New York. This was made possible by Scott McLeod, Director of CASTLE and owner of Dangerously Irrelevant. Thanks Scott, it was fantastic!

5 key trends for the future of education

In this, my last post here about the conference, I want to give a quick overview of five trends which jumped out at me. These were mentioned by several speakers during the conference:

  1. Openness – This has been going on for a while, but there’s a real drive towards open access for academic research in particular.There is a feeling that education and public services should be open and transparent.
  2. Greater insight into the knowledge creation process – This is similar to openness but pertains to the creation of articles, books and other material. It’s not just the output that should be shared, but the context of how it was put together.
  3. Mobile learning. – The big movement at the moment outside the conference is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) but the focus at Mobility Shifts was upon mobile for ubiquitous learning. It’s not so much about the mobility of the device but the multiple ways in which the learner is mobile.
  4. Alternative forms of assessment – This is a big one with Mozilla’s Open Badges leading the way. Because assessment often drives the structure of learning, this is key.
  5. Rethinking the classroom environment – This goes hand-in-hand with the curricula redesign necessitated by alternative forms of assessment. How should we build new (or reorganise existing) classrooms?

Catch up with previous posts from #MobilityShifts:

3 random things I saw on my last day in New York

  1. Several grannies standing on a busy street corner holding pink pom-poms. They acted as cheerleaders giving everyone wearing a pink top and running shoes a ‘woop!’ as the latter (presumably) walked to the start line for a run to raise money for breast cancer research.
  2. Three separate tourists asked me for directions. And I knew the answers! I must look like I know what I’m doing.
  3. A proper game of cricket going on in Queens, with proper ‘whites’ and everything. Who said Americans weren’t cultured? 😉

Encouraging clearer thinking in education, technology and productivity, Doug Belshaw is an educator and activist. He lives in the north of England with his wife and two young children. Doug is currently Researcher/Analyst at JISC infoNet (hosted by Northumbria University) after spending seven years as a teacher and senior leader in various UK schools. He has just submitted his doctoral thesis on the subject of ‘digital literacies’.

Twitter: @dajbelshaw / @dajbconf

#MobilityShifts – Day 5: Emerging Learning Environments, Peer to Peer Grading and an Interview with Cathy Davidson [guest post]

Session at #MobilityShifts

Starbucks on the corner of 29th and Park in NYC has to be the friendliest coffee shop I’ve ever been in. I’m writing this post in its cosy confines after telling my excited four year-old son via Skype that he’ll see Daddy again tomorrow morning. I’ve one more post in me after this one, but this will be the last one I write whilst in New York.

I know I say this every day, but Mobility Shifts is such a good conference. Yesterday I saw Michael Wesch speak, interviewed Cathy Davidson, and then saw her speak along with Geert Lovink and Manu Kapur. I also had some great conversations with Margaret Fiore and Sean Justice at the New School (and bumped into Matthew K. Gold again). 🙂

The three things I did yesterday, then, were:

  • Emerging Learning Environments
  • Interview with Cathy Davidson
  • The Future of Learning: Academic Publishing, Peer to Peer Grading and Text Books

I go to quite a few conferences and see a lot of people present. Can I ask you a favour if you present at conferences? Put your contact details (especially your Twitter name) on your first slide and provide links on your slides (using or similar, if necessary) to the things you mention. If you can get them up on Slideshare before you start talking, even better.

Emerging Learning Environments (Michael Wesch)

Just before this session I got talking to Sean Justice who is involved in Art Education at the New School and whom I’d met in a previous session earlier in the week. We both got talking to Margaret Fiore, who teaches writing and then Karen DeMoss (one of the conference organisers) got involved. I mentioned how I was at the conference courtesy of Scott McLeod (Karen says hi, Scott!) and they’re going to write up my story for the New School newspaper. I also got talking briefly to Michael Wesch in the elevator after the session and he said he knew my work. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Unbelievable.

Mike Wesch is well known for his work on changing learning environments and focusing on New Media Literacies. He said that we need to stop focusing on students knowing ‘answers’ all of the time and inspire them to ask really big questions. Knowledge and meaning, after all, isn’t just ‘out there’ in the world but has to be created. The sad thing, Mike said, is that the questions students ask put limits on their learning, like “how many points is this worth”. He juxtaposed an image of his 400-capacity lecture theatre with the audience for American Idol saying that the problem isn’t generational but (to use a term that Mike didn’t actually use) attentional. This is very much a dominant theme of the conference, and point also made by Cathy Davidson (below).

“There’s something in the air” said Mike. “And that something is… wifi”. He got a chuckle from the audience, but he was deadly serious. Students can share and collaborate in ways never before available yet we give them a standardised test. That’s why we need to move away from hierarchies and groups towards networks; we need to get students using productively technologies that are currently viewed as ‘distractions’.

Our learning environments shape what goes on within them. What do our classrooms say about learning, wondered Mike?

  • To learn is to acquire information
  • Information is scarce
  • Trust authority for good information
  • Authorized information is beyond discussion
  • Obey the authority
  • Follow along

I can’t possibly cover everything that Mike said, but if you haven’t seen his stuff, just try typing ‘michael wesch’ into YouTube. The big take-away for me was that we should be empowering students to make a positive difference in their communities and the world. We have the tools to help them do so.

Interview with Cathy Davidson

Prof. Cathy Davidson

Over the last few months I’ve had my horizons expanded by coming into contact with people around Mozilla, HASTAC and DML Central. One of these is Cathy Davidson, a Professor at Duke University and author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Now You See It’. I recommend that everyone go and read it right now! Rarely have such important points about education, attention and the workplace been so cogently and persuasively argued.

You can find this interview (which was carried out with the assistance of Pete Woodbridge) below, or at


The Future of Learning: Academic Publishing, Peer to Peer Grading and Text Books

Cathy Davidson was at the New School to speak about her book and peer-to-peer grading. She was one of three speakers at the final session I attended yesterday, with the other two being Geert Lovink and Manu Kapur. The former talked about digital publishing experiments at the Institute of Network Cultures whilst the latter focused on digital media and learning within the Singapore school system. Whilst Manu’s presentation about Singapore sounds like something that school administrators would be interested in (given their PISA scores) I’m sceptical. Having researched the Singaporean school system for my thesis I’m all too aware that a little bit of experimentation counts for very little when you’ve got one of the highest-stakes testing regimes in the world. This, after all, is a country where painkillers are routinely sold alongside study guides.

Geert Lovink, on the other hand, was interesting in the way that he pointed towards the future of the book (another emerging theme of the conference). The Institute he works for is now producing only digital books becuase of the rise of self-publishing services such as and print-on-demand machines such as Espresso. In conjunction with the Baker HTML5 ebook framework and Google’s Sigil (WYSIWYG ebook editor) the future of publishing is democratic.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Geert’s talk was his statement that the peer review system is “corrupt to its core”. He believes, obviously very passionately, that the current peer review system is destructive of self-esteem and make private and anonymous something that should be out in the open. The dialogue before an article or book is published should be as available as the work itself. Although he didn’t use it, the analogy that sprang to my mind was the ‘Talk’ page attached to every Wikipedia article.

Finally, it was Cathy Davidson turn to talk. Much of what she mentioned is in the interview above, but I’ll cover just a few of the things she said. Cathy made the point that there’s not a person – students, teachers, administrators – who believes the current education system is working. That, explained Cathy, is because we’re focusing our attention on the wrong things. If you haven’t seen this selective attention test video, it provides the context for Now You See It.

We’re privileging the wrong things because our education system is stuck in a previous information age. “Since when”, asked Cathy, “has ‘high standards’ meant ‘standardization’?” Like Mike Wesch, she used humour to make an important point. Grading, as in A, B, C, D, was introduced before the First World War in one college. The next people to take it up? The American Meatpackers Association. But they rejected it because it wasn’t a workable system. Cathy very persuasively argued (and again, I’d encourage you to look at her book) that the multiple choice test, the grading system and the IQ test were all historical accidents, not well-thought-through policies.

I think the most powerful thing that Cathy Davidson said came in the Q&A session after her talk. She looked at the room, which comprised progressive educators, and pointed out that almost every one of us would have been labelled as ‘learning disabled’ if we were at school today. Why? Long hours, narrow subjects, poor diets, to name but a few reasons. What are we doing to our children?

I’ve mentioned Mozilla’s Open Badges framework several times in these posts. Like me, Cathy’s a big believer in the power of alternative accreditation systems and technology. However, she gave an extremely important warning: you cannot simply drop a new form of assessment or technology into a classroom setting and expect everything to be made better. We’ve made that mistake with interactive whiteboards (for one). Rigour, Relevance and Relationships are Cathy’s new 3R’s.


Unlike in the UK where conferences, conversation and debate are siloed between schools, further and higher education, this conference is refreshing in looking at the bigger picture. Those children in nurseries and kindergartens will become teenagers, and then will go (hopefully?) to university. We need to think of the long view. What will the world be like in five, ten, twenty years’ time? Are we preparing them for it? What kind of world do we want to see? Gandhi’s famous exhortation to “Be the change you want to see in the world” is buzzing around my head this morning.

The most random thing I’ve seen in New York

Just before I started writing this, whilst on a (video) Skype call with my wife and children, what looked like a homeless guy came into Starbucks. He verbally abused staff, telling them off for touching his bag. Then he left. My wife now thinks that kind of thing goes on in New York all of the time when, given my (albeit limited) experience, nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve found NYC to be friendly, welcoming and quite possibly the most civilised place I’ve ever been. 🙂

Encouraging clearer thinking in education, technology and productivity, Doug Belshaw is an educator and activist. He lives in the north of England with his wife and two young children. Doug is currently Researcher/Analyst at JISC infoNet (hosted by Northumbria University) after spending seven years as a teacher and senior leader in various UK schools. He has just submitted his doctoral thesis on the subject of ‘digital literacies’.

Blog: Twitter: @dajbelshaw / @dajbconf