Posts tagged ‘Funding’

Futurelab Research Discussion Day at RIBA – Learning Spaces

“Learning Spaces was one of three themes covered during discussion day. The presentations and outcomes will be available shortly. I’ll start with a short summary and then follow up with posts about issues that arose or particularly interest me.

Tim Rudd (Senior Researcher in Futurelab’s learning team) kicked off the Learning Spaces sessions by looking at the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. He raised a number of issues detailing limiting contexts and practical constraints under three headings:
– Problems and challenges.
– Pre-engagement and visioning.
– Co-design and stakeholder participation.

Tim and Tash Lee have already stirred this pot in their posts ‘Who should be responsible for Building Schools for the Future?’ and ‘Building schools right now, very quickly, without thinking about the future too much.’

Tim discussed:
– Lack of alignment with current policy contexts, particularly personalisation.
– Lack of wider public debate about the ‘big questions’ – the nature of education etc.
– Re-designing learning spaces needs to support community regeneration.
– The need for digital tools to help people think differently.
– Absence of transformational visioning and a central repository / resource of ideas, alternative models of education and perspectives.
– BSF timescales discouraging upfront visioning.
– The barriers of institutional logic and a risk averse society.
– The need for pedagogically informed design.
– Weak co-design and stakeholder participation.
– The importance of the design process as experimentation – and the need for adequate time to do this.
– Future learning possibilities.”

Author: Peter Humphreys, Flux, FutureLab Blog, 22nd March 2008

Full article available here.


March 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

UK unis, colleges & academics in Second Life

The latest Eduserv Foundation funded study into UK universities,
colleges and academics developing “stuff” in Second Life, and using
this for teaching and learning, is underway. Fuller details are
blogged here:

As we visit these developments, we’ll be taking screen dumps and
adding them to this picture set in Flickr:

If you’re in UK Higher or Further Education and you’ve developed
something in Second Life then get in touch:

It’s an opportunity to promote what you’ve done, and also for like-
minded academics to find you.

If you are aware of other developments in UK universities and colleges
– be they at the institution, department, group or lone academic level
– then we’d appreciate word of them too; thanks.

Author: John Kirriemuir, Silversprite Helsinki, 4th March 2008

March 4, 2008 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

Hi-tech growth strains schools

Digital projectors, interactive whiteboards and video cameras — today’s teachers are embracing an expanding array of pricey electronic gizmos aimed at enhancing the learning process.

The problem is, funds for nontraditional classroom fare are limited.

Oak Grove School Foundation, administered from an office in South China, is attempting to meet teachers’ needs, including those involving electronics, with a series of mini-grants.

But an increased number of requests for electronic instruction devices has staggered the Foundation as its administrators seek for ways to pay for it all, according to Foundation Grants Committee Chairman Bernard Huebner.

Huebner said he sees the value of the technology, but is at a loss to know how the Foundation, the state government and other entities can keep up with the trend.

“Do we want to invest this much into a medium where the medium itself has a built-in obsolescence to it?” he asked. “But I don’t know that there’s a good alternative. I don’t come to you with answers.”

The program serves 35 high schools with a range that includes Greenville, Richmond, Jackman and Livermore Falls.

In 2007, over half of the requests the Foundation received were for digital equipment, up from 36 percent in 2006, which in turn was a large increase over the previous year.

This year, requests included a dozen digital projectors ($500 each on, four interactive whiteboards ($2,000), six video cameras ($100-$500), and various other gadgets. Up until the past couple of years, requests for more standard classroom fare, such as art supplies or books, had dominated, Huebner said.

“Clearly, teachers feel they need this stuff, partly because they can use it to teach, partly because kids live in a digital world,” he said.

Oak Grove each year normally sets aside $45,000 to disburse in mini-grants of up to $1,000 each. In 2006, the program’s total requests hit a record value, more than $60,000. But in 2007 Huebner saw this figure increase to $94,000.

Perspectives among educators and state officials were mixed.

Kenneth Coville, principal of Carrabec High School, which had applied, and won, several mini-grants for digital technology for its classrooms, said Oak Grove helps fill a vital role in upgrading the state’s classrooms.

“I think that there has been a big uptick in the investment in digital technologies,” Coville said. “However, I think the perspective of Oak Grove is at the edge of budgeting — the leading edge of new technology or new techniques that wouldn’t be proven enough to be included in the budget.”

Coville said that the Foundation and other similar programs are bearing the brunt of the results of what he characterizes as the “very narrow approach” of the state in administering its laptop program. Pushed by former Gov. Angus S. King, the laptop program in 2001 began as a $37.2 million project that brought national and international exposure to Maine.

The program, which costs roughly $10 million a year, according to Department of Education Coordinator of Educational Technology Jeff Mao, fell short of expectations that it might grow beyond seventh- and eighth-graders to include all high school students as well.

But Coville’s criticism of the program centered on the fact that it does not provide funding for other forms of digital technology that certain students might find more useful.

Another advocate of infusing the classrooms with more digital technology is Don Siviski, the superintendent of the Hall-Dale School District, which serves Hallowell and Farmingdale.

Siviski, who also serves as the chairman of the technology committee of the Maine School Superintendents Association, said that digital technology is a necessary investment if educators are to prepare students to compete in a global market.

“The jobs that these kids are going to fill haven’t been invented yet, and they’re all going to be tied to technology,” Siviski said, adding that the United States is ranked somewhere in the middle of global rankings for the quality of its education. “I don’t think the premise is related to the cost of education. I think it’s related to the cost of not doing something.”

Although Maine has been losing students at the rate of 3,000 to 4,000 per year, the state has boosted its education funding from $730 million in 2004-05 to $977 million in 2007-08 — an increase of 34 percent, according to Department of Education spokesperson David Connerty-Marin. The proposed education budget for 2008-2009 stands at over $1.02 billion, though it is likely to be cut.

Digital technology may be expensive, and it may be seeing increased popularity, but it is not the driving force behind the massive budget increases, Connerty-Marin said.

“The law (Legislative Document 1, passed in January, 2005) requires the state to provide up to 55 percent of the cost of education,” he said. “And that has driven the increases.”

Connerty-Marin said once the state reaches that percentage, education funding will level off to a 2 percent to 3 percent annual increase.

Mao agreed with his assessment.

“I don’t think I would say that the increased demand for technology is necessarily an increased demand for funding,” he said. “But I do think that there’s an increased demand in general.”

Mao listed several initiatives — other than the laptop program — that provide funding for technology, including a distance learning program that allows educators to teach to students in remote classrooms via video conferencing.

“Technology has really changed dramatically just in the past 10-12 years,” he said. “The consumer world and the corporate world are faster to accept and embrace new things (but) education is always a little slower, probably because the dollars are limited.”

Author: Joel Elliott, Morning Sentinel Staff, 18th February 2008

March 2, 2008 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

Primary schools ‘have got worse’


The reports say there is too much emphasis on maths and English

A narrowing of the curriculum has led to a decrease in the quality of English primary schooling, says a report. “High stakes” testing of pupils has led to a system “focused on literacy and numeracy at the expense of the broader curriculum”, it suggests.

The Cambridge-based Primary Review’s report claims this has contributed to a “state theory of learning”.

The government has defended its policies and denies that children are over-tested at school.

Teachers’ representatives say the government must address these issues and the way it evaluates schools.

The findings, from four primary review research reports, form part of an in-depth assessment of the current state of primary school education in England.

One, compiled by Dominic Wyse from the University of Cambridge and Elaine McCreery and Harry Torrance at Manchester Metropolitan University, looks at the effects of an increasing government control of the curriculum between 1988 and 2007.

While test scores have risen since the mid 1990s, this has been achieved at the expense of children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum
Dominic Wyse, Elaine McCreery and Harry Torrance, report authors

It said: “The evidence on the impact of the various initiatives on standards of pupil attainment is at best equivocal and at worst negative.

“While test scores have risen since the mid 1990s, this has been achieved at the expense of children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum and by the diversion of considerable teaching time to test preparation.”

Their report found “some” improvements in standards achieved by many pupils in primary schools.

However, it found “a decrease in the overall quality of primary education experienced by pupils because of the narrowing of the curriculum and the intensity of test preparation”.

This amounted to a curriculum dominated by literacy and numeracy.

Funding issues

It also suggests the range of teaching methods employed is “probably even narrower now than hitherto”.

Another report, by Maria Balarin and Hugh Lauder from the University of Bath, identifies the existence of a “state theory of learning” where government control has been strengthened by “high stakes testing of pupils, a national curriculum, and in primary schools’ mandated pedagogy in numeracy and literacy”.

On the issue of testing and the quality of primary education, a Department for Children, Schools and Families spokeswoman said: “Once again we see a collection of recycled, partial or out of date research.

“We do not accept these claims. We are currently engaged in a review of the primary curriculum, as set out in the Children’s Plan, which will build on a decade of success in raising standards – success which has been validated on numerous occasions by independent experts.

“The government does not accept that our children are over-tested.”

Disparities in funding – that see secondary schools attracting more money than primaries – also feature in the reports.

The latest primary review reports demonstrate the damaging effects of high stakes testing, inspection and historic underfunding on primary schools
Steve Sinnott, general secretary, NUT

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) takes issue with the government’s interference in the education system and its “ferocious accountability systems” of pupil testing and school inspections.

NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott said: “The latest primary review reports demonstrate the damaging effects of high stakes testing, inspection and historic underfunding on primary schools.

“I urge the government now to review its whole method of evaluating schools.

“The government has a chance to tackle historic underfunding of primary schools. Falling rolls should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. The funding gains created by smaller pupil numbers should be fed back into primary schools and not be seen as an opportunity to cut school budgets”.

The DCSF denies that primary schools are under-funded.

A spokeswoman said: “The government has hugely increased funding for pupils of all ages – from early years into sixth form – and expanded the school workforce at all levels. This means that primary standards are now at their highest ever levels.

“We don’t specify centrally a ratio of primary to secondary pupil funding in each local area. This is decided locally by local authorities in consultation with local schools and heads. Seeing that all children leave primary school able to read, write and calculate confidently is our highest priority.”


The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of too much interference.

Education spokesman David Laws said: “The government’s attempts to micromanage schools are clearly deeply damaging.

“Ministers must stop their constant meddling in the curriculum and cease dictating to schools how they should educate our children.

“Young children should follow a broad and balanced curriculum. Too much time in primary schools is now spent on test preparation. Creativity is at risk of being squeezed out of our classrooms.

“Ministers should review the current imbalance of funding between primary and secondary schools. We need a transparent funding system which ensures that the most disadvantaged pupils come with extra funding so that they get the additional support they need.”

The Primary Review is an independent inquiry which is looking at 10 major themes before publishing final recommendations in October 2008.

Author: BBC News UK, 29th February 2008

February 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment


The purpose of this blog is to provide insight into the impact of computer games and pop culture, and effective ways of incorporating the positive surplus into learning experiences.

Please feel free to add comments and email me with any queries. I am also interested in relevant project collaboration.

Name: Alexandra Matthews
Location: UK

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