20 Jun 2012
June 20, 2012

Newton Education Group Goes to Washington!

Recently, our founder and president, Annie Keeghan, was invited to speak at the Context in Context conference in Washington D.C., held by the Association of Educational Publishers and the Association of American Publishers School Division. The conference took place June 3 – 6.

Ms. Keeghan was part of panel discussing, “Making the Learner the Focus of Your Business” where she and other panel members discussed how publishers can address the needs of teachers who want to apply personalized learning approaches in today’s classrooms in already at a premium as teachers implement instruction that meets state standards along with the newly-implemented CCSS.

Ms. Keeghan was also interviewed by Jason Tomassini of Education Week after hearing her speak on the panel. His article will appear in either the print edition or the online edition of Education Week in the coming days. We’ll post a link when the article is up. (Note: The article is available only to Ed Week subscribers and not accessible by a link.)

In the meantime, read excerpts from Ms. Keeghan’s blog post that was picked up by Education Week in February about the current state of mainstream publishing today.  Her post outlines the reasons why she has gone on to found Newton Education Group, as well as why she and her collaborative are committed to producing the kind of materials students need and deserve in today’s ever-changing market.

Conference Highlights

How Will Technology Change the Face of Education?

Technology experts showcased many of the latest applications for digital learning, many of which are exciting but not yet easily implemented, especially considering many schools lag behind in offering the means to access digital content as well as the funds. Ms. Keeghan observed that, “There is a huge gap between those who know how to develop the technology and those who know how to produce educational content.  Bringing these two groups together in a collaborative effort appears the most effective way to make the most out of what technology has to offer today’s educators.”

How Will Common Core Effect Students and Publishers?

CCSS was also debated by a variety of professionals, with an equal variety of opinion when asked if CCSS will level the playing field for students and publishers. Some observations from Education Week:

Some panelists approached this question about the curriculum standards to be adopted in 46 states from the schools’ perspective. Others took the industry perspective.

Leveling the playing field will require an “unprecedented effort” in implementation and professional support for teachers and administrators. The difference in understanding from district to district is “mind-blowing.”

The common standards will be hugely important, but short-lived. If implementation isn’t successful, states will abandon the standards or they could change drastically. “In 5-6 years we’ll be talking about something else.”

The common standards will allow states to focus in on the highest quality instructional materials and share best practices.

“I do think it levels the playing field for publishers.” They no longer have to develop 50 different products. That will allow smaller companies to compete.

Do open educational resources (OER) always meet standards of quality?

The consensus among professionals is that these resources are vary greatly in quality and application. Many publishers are making open resource materials available for free on their websites, and some feel that these materials are more “proven” than other online sources. The other issue is that many of these materials are difficult to locate and navigate on the Internet, making it difficult for teachers to find and vet these materials. Some have suggested a website that highlights “accredited” materials for teachers to use, while others feel that those materials will be with us for some time, they will eventually fade in importance because of the difficulty aggregating them.