Free Tool Helps Schools Do Quick Impact Studies of Ed Tech Usage

February 24th, 2017

By Dian Schaffhauser, THE Journal

A new, free online tool is expected to help school administrators perform “quick, low-cost evaluations” to make better decisions about educational technologies. “Rapid-Cycle Evaluation (RCE) Coach” is the creation of Mathematica Policy Research and the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. RCE is a scientific approach promoted by Mathematica as an alternative to traditional program evaluation. The goal is to help schools conduct “high-quality, low-cost, quick-turnaround, policy-relevant studies.”

https://thejournal.com/articles/2017/02/16/free-tool-helps-schools-do-quick-impact-studies-of-ed-tech-usage.aspx

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La Crescent-Hokah snow days could soon be online learning days

February 24th, 2017

by Alex Graaff, Houston County News

By the end of January, La Crescent-Hokah School District had three snow days. Two could be re-categorized as back-to-back ice days, and the third was a school board gamble to make up for an error on the school’s calendar in early January. It is only a guess as to how many more snow days this school year will see. In preparation for next year’s winter, La Crescent-Hokah Superintendent Kevin Cardille has put together a plan for the future years’ potentially excessive snow days: requiring students to work online, rather than losing an entire day of learning. “At my last district, they were already doing this one year before I came here,” he said. “We already have Lancer Learning HD; electronic learning. It’s an expansion of what we are already doing in the district.” La Crescent-Hokah Secondary School Principal Steve Smith also sees the sense in a transition to online learning days on those snowy winter days.

http://lacrossetribune.com/houstonconews/news/local/la-crescent-hokah-snow-days-could-soon-be-online-learning/article_ff2b2ff6-520d-5f0a-b6c2-a47bbc200bff.html

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How to Decide if an Edtech Product Is Worth Using

February 24th, 2017

BY MATTHEW LYNCH, Tech Edvocate

The Edtech industry is booming, and while this is good for a sector that promises to make everyone smarter, it can be overwhelming for teachers and schools. With the numerous choices on offer and constant innovation, it can be difficult to know what is trendy and what is worth bringing into the classroom. Not only is making a decision difficult but teachers are also met with the growing pressure to improve their teaching practices and engage with students who live more than ever in the virtual world. So, how do you know if an Edtech product is worth using? Below are some factors that are important to look at before buying and investing effort into an Edtech product.

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/how-to-decide-if-an-edtech-product-is-worth-using/

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A Guide to Picking a Learning Management System: The Right Questions to Ask

February 23rd, 2017

By Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge

As University of Central Florida’s Associate Vice President of Distributed Learning, Tom Cavanagh, wrote in an article for EDUCAUSE, “every institute has a unique set of instructional and infrastructure circumstances to consider when deciding on an LMS,” but at the same time, “all institutions face certain common requirements”—whether a small charter school, a private university or a large public school district. Thus, garnered from conversations with both K-12 and higher education administrators, the following checklist provides a starting point for any educator interested in prepping for the inevitable task of choosing an LMS for the 2017-2018 school year. (And for some additional help, each educator has offered rationales for why those checklist items should be included.)

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-02-14-a-guide-to-learning-management-systems-the-right-questions-to-ask

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Online courses in high school?

February 23rd, 2017

By ABBY KESSLER, Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

As the world becomes increasingly more digital, schools face the decision about whether or not they will offer online courses for credit. ConVal offers blended learning labs, which include online courses that provide students with options based on their needs. The district offers four types of online courses, two of which allow students to obtain high-school credit, one that offers credit recovery, and another that offers high-school credit and an adult high school diploma program. As of Friday, there were about 203 students enrolled in one of the four online programs. The majority of those students, 133, are enrolled in the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, or VLACS, which provides students with more than 120 courses, 28 college courses and with 16 AP courses.

http://www.ledgertranscript.com/cvOnlineEducation-ml-021417-8026920

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Teach Kids to Code and Secure Their Future

February 23rd, 2017

by MATTHEW LYNCH, Tech Edvocate

Software applications are part of our everyday existence, and that means the language used to create them is only more important. It is also a language that is somewhat universal, as programming languages are used worldwide. This means code has the ability to make our vast world feel smaller as we use it to find common ground. Learning to code is a hands-on experience. While certain key aspects of a language can be introduced in textbooks, the true learning experience happens when children have the opportunity to use what they know to create simple programs. Additionally, they receive the benefits of fast feedback when their code is executed. In most cases, a kid will know if mere moments if their code contains errors.

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/teach-kids-to-code-and-secure-their-future/

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Build a Makerspace That Engages Students Across Every STEAM Subject

February 22nd, 2017

By Stephen Noonoo, THE Journal

Melissa Fernandez is the instructional supervisor for industrial education and technology education for the Career and Technical Education Dept. at Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida — and a huge proponent of makerspaces. Back when she was an engineering teacher, she turned her entire class into an instructional makerspace, and saw students bloom in ways she never could have imagined. “STEM and STEAM are so important these days,” said Fernandez, who recently presented at the TCEA 2017 conference in Austin in a session about reimagining learning using makerspaces. “We often drive students to the idea that they’re good in some subjects and not others. Makerspaces allow you to break down these walls.” Makerspaces are big at Miami-Dade, which even designates certain schools as STEM- or STEAM-focused.

https://thejournal.com/articles/2017/02/09/build-a-makerspace-that-engages-students-across-every-steam-subject.aspx

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Infected Vending Machines And Light Bulbs DDoS A University

February 22nd, 2017

by Lee Mathews, Forbes

IoT devices have become a favorite weapon of cybercriminals. Their generally substandard security — and the sheer numbers of connected devices — make them an enticing target. We’ve seen what a massive IoT botnet is capable of doing, but even a relatively small one can cause a significant amount of trouble. Infected Vending Machines And LightA few thousand infected IoT devices can cut a university off from the Internet, according to an incident that the Verizon RISK (Research, Investigations, Solutions and Knowledge) team was asked to assist with. All the attacker had to do was re-program the devices so they would periodically try to connect to seafood-related websites. By training around 5,000 devices to send DNS queries simultaneously (for those who aren’t familiar, DNS is what allows your computer to turn a name like Forbes.com into an IP address that it can connect to). In this particular case, those devices included everything from drink vending machines to street lamps.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2017/02/13/infected-vending-machines-and-light-bulbs-ddos-a-university/

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Report: Number of Ransomware Attacks Grew Nearly 17 Times Larger in 2016

February 22nd, 2017

By Joshua Bolkan, Campus Technology

Ransomware surged 16,700 percent from 2015 to 2016, though unique malware samples declined over the same period, according to a new report from network security firm SonicWall. That growth of nearly 17 times represents a swell from about 4 million ransomware attacks in 2015 to approximately 638 million last year. Internet of Things (IoT) devices were also “compromised on a massive scale,” according to SonicWall, owing to poor security design. “2016 could be considered a highly successful year from the perspective of both security professionals and cyber criminals,” according to information released by the company.

https://campustechnology.com/articles/2017/02/07/report-number-of-ransomware-attacks-grew-nearly-17-times-larger-in-2016.aspx

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10 Faculty Perceptions of Lecture Capture Technology

February 21st, 2017

By Pamela Vande Voort, Campus Technology

In a study of faculty experiences using lecture capture systems in the classroom, responses reveal 10 primary themes around how the technology is impacting the education process. Lecture capture, a teaching and learning tool that allows faculty to record and post the audio, video and presentation content of classroom lectures and the classroom experience, is a boon for students who want to access the material at their convenience for review and supplementary instruction. And it can be a life saver for students who miss all or part of class, or who discover their notes are incomplete. But how do faculty perceive the technology in today’s higher education classrooms, and what impact is it having on the educational process?

https://campustechnology.com/articles/2017/02/08/10-faculty-perceptions-of-lecture-capture-technology.aspx

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How to Deal with Difficult Students

February 21st, 2017

by Dan Spalding, Tomorrow’s Professor

The brief posting below gives some good pointers on how to deal with challenging students is from How to Teach Adults: Plan Your Class. Teach Your Students. Change the World, by Dan Spalding. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Never attack the student. Model how to deal respectfully with those who act disrespectfully. After all, just because this one student questioned a new activity, or said something homophobic, doesn’t mean that other students didn’t have the same thoughts. By addressing this person courteously you show that the class is (still) a safe place for everyone to learn. It also demonstrates your confidence. Listen and validate. Listen to the student with your whole body. Don’t roll your eyes or cross your arms. Let the person say his or her piece (within reason) and, if possible, validate the concern: “It sounds like you’re frustrated with the pace of class. I’m definitely feeling tired after ninety minutes of class tonight. Is anyone else feeling tired?” (Four more strategies at link below)

https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/1542

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How Teachers Can Gamify Math

February 21st, 2017

by Matthew Lynch, Tech Edvocate

Gamification is the process by which game elements, like competition and badges, are used in conjunction with other tasks to increase motivation and engagement. Games have emerged as a powerful tool for teachers due to their ability to provide students with a hands-on method to engage with the curriculum. For educators, gamification can be applied to a variety of subjects, including math, to increase student’s motivation and subsequently increase student proficiency. Gamifying math lessons does not have to be difficult; teachers can use a variety of techniques to add game elements to their courses. Educators primarily use one approach for gamifying math; they incorporate math-based games into the existing curriculum by inserting them into relevant lessons to replace less engaging content. There are several game elements that are of particular importance to the motivation and engagement of students including competition, rewards, cooperation, self-driven pace, and feedback.

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/how-teachers-can-gamify-math/

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Physics Revival at Virginia Union

February 20th, 2017

By Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed

At a time when a number of small colleges and universities are rethinking and shrinking their curricula due to budget, enrollment and other concerns — in some cases shuttering programs in what are traditionally viewed as core disciplines — developments at Virginia Union University stand out. The university recently reintroduced its physics major. “Physics is the basis of all sciences — that’s why so many departments do service courses for chemistry majors, or teach physics for math or biology,” said Shaheen Islam, a professor of physics at Virginia Union who won a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to reopen the physics department. “Everybody knows this, so hopefully now we’ll start to see the trend move the other way.”

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/06/time-some-fear-closure-physics-programs-virginia-union-starts-one

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On principal training, are colleges failing secondary ed?

February 20th, 2017

by Jarrett Carter, Education Dive

In a recent survey conducted by the School Superintendent’s Association, 80% of more than 400 responding secondary system leaders indicated that education and training programs for aspiring principals are in need of significant overhaul. Their sentiment is part of a growing movement among education advocates suggesting that colleges do a better job of training school leaders to adapt to 21st century needs in leadership and education compliance. Program are lacking insight on what some of the daily rigor of the job entail, including how to help shape attitudes about education among students and teachers and serve as a primary point of contact in the community and for system leadership. Only 17 states use at least three of five desired selectivity metrics for principal training curricula, which include a rigorous selection process, state oversight, field experience, partnerships between districts and local universities and a required number of years in the classroom.

http://www.educationdive.com/news/on-principal-training-are-colleges-failing-secondary-ed/435528/

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Personalized Learning Gets Boost From Federal Reviewers

February 20th, 2017

by Leo Doran, Inside Sources

The research arm of the federal Department of Education (DoED) released a report buttressing the marketing claims of one ed-tech product in particular, Odyssey by Compass Learning. Compass Learning was recently purchased by a Scottsdale, Arizona-based company called Edgenuity. As a result of the acquisition, Odyssey Math itself is no longer on the market, but according to the company, many of the features of the old product have been folded into Edgenuity’s new math software product: “Pathblazer.” The federal report, issued by the What Works Clearinghouse, a branch of the DoED’s Institute of Education Sciences, states that “Odyssey Math was found to have potentially positive effects on mathematics achievement for primary students.”

http://www.insidesources.com/personalized-learning-boost-federal-reviewers/

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National Adult Learner Coalition Created to Advance Student Success

February 19th, 2017

by Bezinga

Four major associations join together as a cohesive voice advocating for adult students and the institutions that serve them. With support from Lumina Foundation, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Presidents’ Forum, and University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) are pleased to announce the National Adult Learner Coalition. “For more than a century, UPCEA has advocated for adult learners,” said Robert Hansen, CEO, UPCEA. “Once a small minority, adult and non-traditional learners now constitute up to 85 percent of today’s students.” “Our coalition is dedicated to help realign federal policy with this new higher education landscape, advocating for the expansion of access, innovation, and creative solutions.”

https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/17/02/p9009921/national-adult-learner-coalition-created-to-advance-student-success

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How Coding Should Be Taught to Kids

February 19th, 2017

by Matthew Lynch, Tech Edvocate

Parents and educators across the country understand the importance of teaching kids how to code. Not only can it help them learn valuable skills that they can use into their technology-driver future, but it also helps them learn to approach problems differently. But determining the best method for teaching a child to code isn’t always obvious. In most cases, people agree that a traditional textbook approach is insufficient for subjects like coding. While the idiosyncrasies of the language can be introduced that way, it is difficult to assimilate the information until it is in use fully. But sticking children in front of a blank screen and having them write line after line, though functional, isn’t very inspiring or even interesting. If you want to capture the interest of young students while giving them access to a valuable skill set, then turning to games may be the ideal method.

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/how-coding-should-be-taught-to-kids/

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How online games are helping prepare local students for STEM careers

February 19th, 2017

by Kendi A. Rainwater, Times Free Press

Learning Blade was developed by Chattanooga entrepreneurs Shelia and Dane Boyington, both chemical engineers, and it is being used in most of Hamilton County’s middle schools and more than 525 schools statewide. Thanks to the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network and through the support of lawmakers, Learning Blade is now available to any middle school in the state at no cost. Shelia Boyington said she and her husband developed the program to meet a need, as many students across the state are graduating high school not prepared for the increasing number of well-paying STEM jobs in the region. “This program exposes them to those jobs,” she said, adding that interesting kids in STEM fields at a young age is one of the best ways to strengthen the workforce.

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2017/feb/10/learning-blade-works-prepare-middle-school-st/412154/

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B9lab Offers Blockchain Online Course for CTOs

February 18th, 2017

by Chain-Finance

B9lab has announced the launch of its online course for CTOs, covering blockchain technology and decentralised infrastructure. Elias Haase, co-founder of B9lab, said: “Blockchain has the potential to change the way companies, customers and authorities interact in many industries. Companies, and especially CTOs, need to understand the nature of the technology to understand and plan for the potential impact on their business.” It covers the protocols Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger among several others. Beyond the technological landscape the material also goes into change management and future trends, both socially and technologically. The certificates are verified through the Ethereum Network, showcasing one of the current successful uses of the technology. The certificates have been integrated into LinkedIn and anyone can click through to see the unique B9lab verification and certification.

http://blockchain-finance.com/2017/02/10/b9lab-offers-blockchain-online-course-for-ctos/

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How Teachers Can Gamify Science

February 18th, 2017

BY MATTHEW LYNCH, Tech Edvocate

Gamification of all subjects has become increasingly popular in K-12 and higher education. The introduction of games and technology into the classroom provides many unique experiences for children that enhance subject area knowledge. Gamification is the process of adapting elements of game-play to other activities, like learning a new concept, to foster engagement with that activity. There are many subject areas that can be gamified; however, games can be particularly helpful when teaching students science-based lessons. Educators can use two primary methods to gamify a particular subject or curriculum. Teachers can incorporate science-based games into their curriculum, or they can find ways to create a game-like experience within the structure of the coursework. The first method, adding games into the curriculum, can be easier for teachers to incorporate into lesson plans.

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/how-teachers-can-gamify-science/

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9 EDTECH TOOLS TO TRY

February 18th, 2017

BY MATTHEW LYNCH, Tech Edvocate

As the edtech industry grows, so should our curiosity to try new products. EdSurge, a website that matches teachers’ needs to Edtech product has over 2,000 Edtech products in its Product Index. This staggering number represents a fragment of the number of edtech products that are on offer to educators and administrations. So, if you are interested in incorporating a new product into the classroom or just curious about what is on the market; here are “9 Edtech Tools to Try.”

http://www.thetechedvocate.org/9-edtech-tools-to-try/

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