Voting for the 2011 Education Resource People's Choice Awards has closed. Click here to see the final list of winners.
The Race: Best Education Advocate
The nominees: Diane Ravitch vs. Michelle A. Rhee vs. Nicole Allen
This category's nominees have generated more votes and comments than any other!
Diane Ravitch, author and professor at New York University, has garnered passionate support from her fans, who have called her a 'tireless modern-day heroine for public education' and 'an experienced, articulate, clear thinking straight shooter.' One voter summed her up as follows: 'Diane Ravitch: smart and brave enough to challenge the status quo of establishment school 'reform.' She's our current frontrunner, and from the voter engagement she's gotten so far, she looks like a tough candidate to beat.
But she faces a solid challenge from fellow nominee Michelle Rhee, the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst.org. Rhee's cohort has endorsed her with similar superlatives: 'fearless and tireless,' she is 'deeply committed to the interests of students, and puts them before adults.' One voter remarks that she insists 'we think exclusively of the benefits to kids when making education policy.' With a little social media mobilization, she could give Ravitch a run for her money.
The dark horse in this race is Nicole Allen of StudentPIRGs, an organization which focuses on student rights. Allen's work is significant and well-known--our very own Textbook Giveaway was inspired by research at StudentPIRGs on the rising cost of college textbooks. She has a lot of supporters who could be transformed into a huge voting base, so any Allen fans reading this should get sharing!
The Race: Best Student Tips
The nominees: LifeHacker vs. CollegeConfidential vs. RefDesk
LifeHacker, Gawker Media's blog devoted to helping readers live and work more efficiently, is the current leader in this category. Its readers love its laid-back, casual feel and its invaluable tips. Says one voter, neatly summarizing the tone and culture of the site: 'Doesn't try to be everything, has cool stuff.' But LifeHacker, which features tips and tricks for all areas of life, could be knocked off its pedestal by one of the nominees that has its focus exclusively on education.
College Confidential has been creeping up on LifeHacker and has a solid, vocal fanbase that praises its informative articles and vibrant community of parents and applicants. One enthusiastic parent raved: 'College Confidential is an extraordinary site with a wealth of information from students and parents alike. Our daughter was accepted into 9 of the 11 colleges she applied to. And we attribute it all from the knowledge we gained from College Confidential. She is now a freshman at her dream school.' It's hard to argue with comments like that--and a few more happy users like this one could give College Confidential the edge.
RefDesk has some stalwart supporters, but will need a lot more action from its fans to make it a real contender. RefDesk users, unite! Let's make this a three-horse race.
The Race: Best Open Education Resource
The nominees: Khan Academy vs. Academic Earth vs. OpenCulture
Khan Academy's been getting a lot of votes. Users seem to really respond to his laid-back, charismatic teaching style and his entertaining drawings. Khan's made a name for himself with math videos, but has expanded to videos on other science topics and even a few on the humanities.
But Academic Earth and OpenCulture have some fervent supporters who could overtake Khan with just a little more of a social media effort. Voters noted Academic Earth's management by 'top scholars,' and praised its pedagogy: 'The systematic way of teaching is amazing.' OpenCulture was described succinctly as 'all-around goodness' by one voter. Another liked that its 'content is about deeper, compassionate, global, relevant thought.' All in all, this is a close one to watch--pick your favorite and get voting, you could really make a difference!