Post from July 24th, 2012

The Age of the Waterbed

We have been talking about waterbeds a lot around SETDA lately. "Things must be slow in the summer," you think, but we want you to think metaphorically.  If you have pushed on the corner of a feather bed, you know that the corner moves, but little else.  If you push on the corner of a waterbed, waves move out from the corner, hit the other side, and come back and create additional waves.

Imagine the key components of education – standards/curriculum, assessments, professional development and technology – at the corners of our metaphorical beds. Push on one of them in the age of the feather bed, before technology, and it is possible that little else changes. They aren't connected effectively. In our education age of the waterbed, on the other hand, technology connects all of those areas and thus you can't change curriculum without affecting assessment and professional development, for example. To co-opt a phrase from the environmental movement, you can't do just one thing; everything is connected to everything else.

The waterbed metaphor truck me a while back when I ran into Larry Snowhite from McGraw-Hill Education at an assessment conference.  Larry asked me where my posts on this blog have been.  My response in my head was, "On the waterbed."  We have been doing a lot of work on assessment and helping the consortia, states and districts think through and get ready for the Race to the Top Assessment Program, coming online to a computer in your school in the 2014-15 school year. We even have created a web site,, to help with that. We also have been working on a white paper on digital content that we will release in August  We are creating a very cool – and important – site, the State Education Policy Center (SEPC), that is a data base of state policies related to education and technology.  Our first areas to cover are digital content, assessment and broadband, and we will have all the policies related to these three areas for every state all in the same place. SEPC will be unveiled at our October Leadership Summit. And, we have just launched a project around tagging resources and metadata.

So Larry, this post is for you.  We all have just been riding on the waterbed.  Watch this space for further information about any and all of these initiatives.  

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