Report: Teacher Evaluations Meaningless Without Supporting PD

July 23rd, 2014

By Leila Meyer, THE Journal

Many states have been implementing new teacher evaluation systems in an effort to improve teacher effectiveness, but those evaluations have little meaning unless they are accompanied by individualized professional development and support, according to a new report from the School Improvement Network, a provider of professional learning and training resources for educators. The report, “Beyond Teacher Evaluation: Prioritizing Teacher Instructional Effectiveness with Meaningful Professional Development,” examines state policies on teacher professional development related to evaluations, with the goal of helping state and district leaders implement teacher evaluation and support policies that have a meaningful effect on teacher effectiveness. “For evaluations and observations to have a meaningful impact on educators and the students they teach, educators must have the personalized resources and support they need to improve practice and spur professional growth,” said Chet D. Linton, CEO and president of School Improvement Network, in a prepared statement.

http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/07/10/report-teacher-evaluations-meaningless-without-supporting-pd.aspx

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School-Wide Twitter Chats

July 22nd, 2014

by Stephen Baker, Edutopia

Kidsedchatnz is a weekly Twitter chat between New Zealand classes and students, every Thursday at 2:00-3:00PM. It is organised by seven New Zealand teachers via Twitter, each taking a turn to run the chats. Each week, a topic is chosen, and 5-10 discussion questions are generated on that topic. All topics and questions are posted on the Kidsedchatnz blog prior to the chat so that students can prepare beforehand. The teacher in charge is responsible for picking the topics, generating the questions and moderating the chats on the day. Moderating involves posting the questions and encouraging conversation between the students.

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/school-wide-twitter-chats-stephen-baker

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Wi-Fi technology paves road for spread of e-learning

July 22nd, 2014

BY SAMUEL MUNGADZE, Business Day

With Wi-Fi becoming more high-speed and reliable in South Africa, it is paving a new road for e-learning . As the traditional model of education evolves , educational institutions are facing the increasing challenge of providing Wi-Fi services to their students and staff, industry experts say. The institutions are now looking beyond 3G and fixed-line services to the new generation of Wi-Fi technology to support more users and diverse applications.

http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/education/2014/07/10/wi-fi-technology-paves-road-for-spread-of-e-learning

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The Beginner’s Guide To Competitive Gaming In Schools

July 22nd, 2014

By Jason Cross, Edudemic

If you are thinking I am joking, the United States recently recognized League of Legends as an official sport so they could issue visas to players, just as they do for sports like the NBA. And yes, there are even fantasy leagues where you can put together teams of your favorite League of Legends competitors and earn points for your virtual team online. And with millions in prize money and sponsorships for players, more and more people are pursuing competitive gaming careers. You no longer need to be a programmer to get a job in games. You can now select from hundreds of related careers like announcer, PR representative or business development director.

http://www.edudemic.com/competitive-gaming-school-sports-programs/

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What Do Teachers Think About EdTech?

July 21st, 2014

By Katie Lepi, Edudemic

We know there are a lot of teachers out there using technology in their classrooms. We also know there are a lot of teachers who aren’t – whether they can’t due to financial constraints or just flat out don’t want to (or some combination thereof). The handy infographic linked below draws on information from the Pew Internet and American Life survey and addresses teacher’s attitudes on technology in the classroom.

http://www.edudemic.com/tech-attitudes-infographic/

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Unbundling And Re-bundling In Higher Education

July 21st, 2014

by Michael Horn, Forbes

With the explosion of online learning, a disruptive innovation, there has been significant attention paid to the likely unbundling of higher education (see Michael Staton’s AEI piece and this University Ventures Fund piece, for example). We’ve written about unbundling ourselves. In every industry, the early successful products and services often have an interdependent architecture—meaning that they tend to be proprietary and bundled. The reason for this is that when a technology is immature, in order to make the products reliable or powerful enough so that they will gain traction, an entity has to wrap its hands around the whole system architecture so that it can wring out every ounce of performance.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2014/07/10/unbundling-and-re-bundling-in-higher-education/

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3 Ways to Prepare Teachers for a Digital Transition

July 21st, 2014

By Tanya Roscorla, Center for Digital Education

Roughly half of teachers lack professional development for the technology that’s coming into their schools, according to the latest Speak Up survey data from Project Tomorrow. And that’s unacceptable, said Joseph South, deputy director of the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Education Department. In a Congressional briefing on Monday, June 2, South said we can’t move forward with a digital transition if our teachers aren’t prepared. “We need our teachers and our leaders to have the right sort of support so that they can be effective,” South said. In a North Carolina focus group, about 20 science and math teachers debated how to prepare teachers best for the digital transition so that schools can move forward. That’s an age old question, but CEO Julie Evans of Project Tomorrow has at least three ideas to prepare teachers.

http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/3-Ways-to-Prepare-Teachers-for-a-Digital-Transition.html

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Python bumps off Java as top learning language

July 20th, 2014

by Joab Jackson, PC World

Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming and computer science, according to a recent survey posted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Eight of the top 10 computer science departments now use Python to teach coding, as well as 27 of the top 39 schools, indicating that it is the most popular language for teaching introductory computer science courses, according to Philip Guo, a computer science researcher who compiled the survey for ACM. The three largest, most popular online class providers—Coursera, edX and Udacity—also offer introductory programming courses in Python, Guo found.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2451880/python-bumps-off-java-as-top-learning-language.html

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Students More Motivated in Online Learning Environments

July 20th, 2014

by Mark Belles, Blackboard Blog

At ISTE this year, we released a report along with Project Tomorrow that reflected the views of over 400,000 K-12 students, educators, administrators and parents on digital learning. And we found some very interesting results:

Students in digital learning environments are more interested in what they are learning in school, more motivated to do well, and feel a stronger connection to their school than students in traditional, face-to-face classes.

Nearly 50% of virtual high school students say they are interested in what they were learning in school, while only 32% of traditional high school students said the same.

More than one-third of virtual school students said they are motivated because they like school. While only a quarter of traditional school students say the same.

While only 24% of traditional high school students say their school cares about them as a person, nearly 40% of students who have had some type of school-based digital learning experience believe that their school cares about them.

http://blog.blackboard.com/students-more-motivated-in-online-learning-environments/

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Report: 10 Security Functions Recommended to Info Security Officers

July 20th, 2014

By Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology

Information security in the education segment is becoming more demanding, and as a result the tools and tactics necessary for securing schools is churning. A recent presentation at Gartner’s Security & Risk Management Summit laid out 10 “top” technologies and approaches security professionals should consider adding to their security portfolios.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/07/08/report-10-security-functions-coming-to-the-forefront.aspx

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Research: Multi-Tasking in Class Reduces Test Scores

July 19th, 2014

By Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology

Susan Ravizza, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Cognitive Control Neurolab at Michigan State studied non-academic Internet use in an introductory psychology class with 500 students. Their working theory was that heavy Internet users with lower intellectual abilities (defined by ACT scores) would do worse on exams. They found that to be true; these students did do worse. But the same was true for those with higher ACT scores. Both groups had lower test scores. The results have impact beyond the idea of imposing policies on classroom device usage (an idea Ravizza is opposed to). Eventually, the researchers may come up with strategies for helping people ignore screen-oriented distractions by educating them on the impact, comparable to on-going efforts to remind people not to text while driving.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/07/08/research-the-proof-is-in-multi-tasking-in-class-reduces-test-scores.aspx

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Report: Smartphone Surge Continues as PC Decline Slows

July 19th, 2014

By Joshua Bolkan, Campus Technology

Worldwide device shipments, including mobile phones, PCs, tablets and unltramobiles, are on pace to increase 4.2 percent this year over last to reach 2.4 billion units, according to the latest forecast from market research firm Gartner. That growth will be enabled, in part, “by a relative revival of the global PC market,” according to Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. PC shipments, which include desktop, notebook and premium ultramobile devices, declined 9.5 percent in 2013, but are on pace to contract by only 2.9 percent this year, according to the company. Traditional PCs, which include desktops and notebooks, will continue to drop more quickly, declining 6.7 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2015, according to the company.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/07/07/report-smartphones-continue-to-surge-as-pc-decline-slows.aspx

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5 Epiphanies on Learning in a 1:1 iPad Classroom

July 19th, 2014

by Alyssa Tormala, Edutopia

I joined a cross-curricular group of my colleagues who were focusing on action research in their classrooms. Questions permeate good action research — mine was: “What does learning look like in a fully-committed 1:1 iPad high school classroom?” I gathered data from my three freshman English classes throughout the year while we engaged in a rich, ongoing cycle of experimentation, feedback, and discussion. As an English teacher, I use the word “epiphany” all the time. But this year I came to understand that term on a more personal level — not just once, but again and again. The following are a few of the most meaningful epiphanies that I experienced.

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/epiphanies-learning-ipad-classroom-alyssa-tormala

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Coding for Kindergarteners

July 18th, 2014

by Sam Patterson, Edutopia

There are many ways to get pre-reading students to engage in meaningful coding challenges that develop computational thinking. My short list includes Kodable, LEGO MINDSTORMS Fix the Factory, and Bee Bots. With Tynker and the planned release of Scratch Jr, it seems like there are new platforms to support young coding all the time. As a critical and reflective teacher, I know that any of these tools is only as good as the lesson it supports. As a push-in tech teacher, I work closely with the classroom teachers to create lessons that dovetail with and support their lessons. Real-world programming with students or with robots can create great opportunities for content integration. My first graders program a robot to fly to the planets in order (see the video below). I use the content as the surface on which the robot operates. This format also creates social learning opportunities.

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/coding-for-kindergarteners-sam-patterson

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STEM Is Jambalaya

July 18th, 2014

by Ainissa Ramirez, Edutopia

STEM is not S.T.E.M, where the letters are separated. STEM is a new word, a merger. We should have called STEM something completely different, just to force us away from this thinking of separate fields. STEM is a combination. It is all parts savored together, just like jambalaya. And STEM brings us closer to the way society works. We created these separate fields because they are easier for us to understand the world when we put its parts into boxes. But nature doesn’t work that way. Take a tree, for instance. A scientist will categorize it as something to study through the lens of biology, botany, forestry, ecology, and many others. But Mother Nature just calls it “tree.” It is all those things combined. That is the new mindset we need.

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/stem-is-jambalaya-ainissa-ramirez

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Creating a Community of Learners With Coding

July 18th, 2014

By Kate Wilson, Edudemic

Professional coders work collaboratively, and rarely does a computer scientist create a program solely on their own. Every successful programming project evolves as a result of Iterations of code, the merging of ideas, and the contributions of the individual team members. Not only does coding empower students to think logically and critically, to collaborate, and to create meaningful learning, but it also provides them an authentic opportunity to develop critical communication and collaboration skills.

http://www.edudemic.com/creating-community-learners-coding/

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5 Ways Google Tools Can Empower Teachers

July 17th, 2014

By Katie Lepi, Edudemic

There are about a million different ways to use all the great Google tools available for free in your classroom. Whether you’re bringing your classroom into the 21st century by making it paperless or AppSmashing, even the simplest of Google tools offers you a wide array of ways to use it. The Google suite of tools can be useful when you’re working with your students but also in more of a behind the scenes sort of way. We’ve put together a short list of some of our favorite ways these tools support teachers.

http://www.edudemic.com/google-tools-teachers/

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7 key steps in creating an online learning program

July 17th, 2014

By Vanessa Wrenn, eSchool News

Single district online programs are the largest and fastest-growing segment of online and blended learning. There were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in K-12 school districts in 2009-2010, almost all of which were online courses (Economics & Statistics, 2011). Fueling the growth of district online learning programs are technology initiatives. School districts across the country continue to create technology enable learning environments by providing students and teachers with computing devices, often called one-to-one programs.

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/07/04/district-online-learning-424/

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5 gaming dynamics that truly engage students

July 17th, 2014

By Laura Devaney, eSchool News

Students frequently walk away from homework when it is too difficult, but difficult games are another matter–kids walk away from games when they’re too easy. Difficult games present a positive challenge for students. A challenging task “stretches” a student’s brain, and the more a person expects his or her brain to do different things, the more pathways that person’s brain will develop. “Choice is a really important part of this equation, and gaming embodies choice–games are open-ended, and that’s part of the reason they’re so engaging for kids,” Kiang said.

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/07/07/gaming-engaging-students-365/

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What Happens When Tech-Savvy Teens Help Cyberseniors?

July 16th, 2014

by Katie Lepi, Edudemic

In school settings, teachers are older than students. Thus, there is always much discussion around the concept of what’s changed since the teacher was the student’s age, and what that means for education. We look at generational differences between multiple generations. We talk about the future of education: Is it mostly STEM based? Is it all digital? Sometimes, it is important to remember that all of us need to learn different types of things throughout our lives, and that teachers don’t always take the form of an older, ‘more educated’ person in front of a classroom. The awesome video below is the trailer for a movie called “Cyberseniors”, in which teenagers team up with senior citizens to teach them about the internet. It offers some great takeaways, along with a solid dose of humor.

http://www.edudemic.com/cyberseniors-video/

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5 Tips For Keeping Your School iPads Safe (And Not Cracked)

July 16th, 2014

By Jason Cross, Edudemic

If you run a school that utilizes 1:1 technology tablets, you have no doubt had to deal with a few bumps and bruises. Especially if those tablets end up going home with students. Here are some tips for reducing tablet loss in your program.

http://www.edudemic.com/oops-cracked-pad/

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