School leaders eye mobile support 2.0

The study stated that “IT managers no longer have the authority to veto the use of mobile devices or limit use to a specific brand or operating system."

A growing number of school leaders agree that mobile devices—including students’ personal devices—can, and should, be used in the classroom to promote 21st-century learning and student engagement. But supporting such a diverse array of devices is proving to be a challenge for school IT officials, many of whom say it’s time to revisit mobile device management and security practices in K-12 education.

According to the New Media Consortium’s 2011 Horizon report for K-12 education, mobile learning has a “time-to-adoption horizon” of one year or less.

“Mobile learning is fast becoming a reality and has really skyrocketed from last year’s report,” said Laurence Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, “in large part because of how useful mobile tech is in emergency preparedness on campuses.” (Read “CoSN’s crystal ball: Get ready for mobile learning, cloud computing.”)

And at the Consortium for School Networking’s 2011 conference in New Orleans, not only did most attendees carry their iPads and smart phones from meeting to meeting; the annual conference also featured its main discussions around the topic of mobile learning.

Supporting the Horizon report’s prediction about mobile learning, CoSN launched an initiative to help school leaders understand how to lead mobile learning programs successfully in their districts. The organization also invited notable school district, state, and national leaders, as well as private-sector experts, to discuss strategies for mobile learning implementation. (Read “Experts give advice on mobile learning.”)

As teacher and administrators create new policies for the use of mobile devices in classrooms, IT leaders are also calling for updated mobile device management practices.


Effort seeks to help schools prevent sex violence

The schools will receive letters and brief outlines of their duties under Title IX.

Federal officials who want educators to better understand how to prevent and respond to sexual assaults will kick off a nationwide awareness campaign Monday outlining victims’ rights and schools’ responsibilities.

Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are scheduled to appear at the University of New Hampshire to announce the initiative that involves colleges as well as public and private K-12 schools.

“Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn,” Biden said. “That’s why we’re taking new steps to help our nation’s schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.”

The schools will receive letters and brief outlines of their duties under Title IX, the federal civil rights law banning sexual discrimination, harassment and violence.

The regulations are not new, but the effort to promote them is. Officials say schools need comprehensive guidelines for filing complaints, helping victims, disciplining perpetrators, and monitoring campus climates in the wake of an attack.

“Every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence but the facts suggest otherwise,” Duncan said.

Nearly 20 percent of college women will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault, as will about 6 percent of undergraduate men, according to data provided by the Education Department.

For more Safety news, read:

The SAFE Center

Readers: How to stop cyber bullying

Can GPS tracking devices help lower truancy rates?

Younger students are vulnerable, too. The department’s Office of Civil Rights received 35 complaints last year alleging sexual violence, about two dozen of them at the K-12 level.

There have been 17 complaints filed in just the first quarter of this year–a 183 percent increase–and about 10 were at the K-12 level. The agency began using sexual violence as a complaint category at the start of the Obama administration.

Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations for the American Association of University Women, said the awareness campaign could be very valuable for school administrators.


Teachers might not see growing math gender gap

Educators hope to eliminate a persistent gender gap in early math education.

A gap in reading and math scores still exists in lower grades, with boys continuing to outpace girls in math, and girls ahead of boys in reading, two University of Illinois education professors say.

Using national longitudinal data to perform their analysis, Joseph P. Robinson and Sarah Lubienski investigated male and female achievement in math and reading, looking for when gender gaps first appeared and where in the distribution the gaps were most prevalent.

Except for kindergarteners in the 99th percentile, boys and girls generally start out on equal footing in math competency. In elementary school, girls throughout the distribution lose ground to boys in math achievement before eventually regaining some ground in middle school, according to research published by the professors in the American Educational Research Journal.

“If you just look at the average gap, there is no gap in math between boys and girls when they start kindergarten,” Robinson said. “But when you start to break it down throughout the distribution, taking a look at the low- and high-achieving girls and boys, that’s where we see that there’s a gap favoring boys at the upper-most extreme of the distribution. The 99th percentile of boys is outscoring the 99th percentile of girls.”

Over time, as students progress through elementary school, the gap “begins to widen, favoring boys in the lower part of the distribution,” Robinson said. “By third grade, you can see it throughout the whole range of kids.”


University researchers aim to improve early learning in STEM

Funding programs help a university research team stay on top of STEM developments in early education.

For University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education professors Doug H. Clements and Julie Sarama, the list of federal grants that allow the husband-and-wife research team to continue their nationally distinguished work on teaching math to hard-to-reach pre-kindergarten children keeps growing.

Clements and Sarama, whose work in the Buffalo and Boston Public Schools systems has attracted wide academic attention, have earned three new federal grants, all awarded in the last four months.

The latest in grant is one for $1.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Studies (IES). The three-year award will fund Clements’ and Sarama’s ongoing work to help students learn what is known as STEM content, or science, technology, engineering, and math, starting from the pre-kindergarten years and continuing throughout the elementary grades.

“This new funding will allow us to follow the progress of about 1,000 students who were involved in their early childhood project called TRIAD (Technology-enhanced, Research-based, Instruction, Assessment, and professional Development),” Clements says. “These children, from the Buffalo and Boston Public Schools, learned more than a control group on their pre-K through first-grade years. We will continue to gauge their learning of mathematics to study the later impact of their increased early achievement.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) also awarded Sarama and Clements two grants to work in early learning. In the first, a $2.5 million grant will fund efforts by Sarama and Clements, along with colleagues (and mother-and-son team) Curtis Tatsuoka and Kikumi Tatsuoka, to create and test a new early mathematics assessment. This assessment will use innovative statistical and computer technology to give teachers more useful and detailed information about children’s knowledge of mathematics in less time than existing assessments.


Experts give advice on mobile learning

Mobile learning success comes from school board support and sound policies, experts say.

At this year’s Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) conference in New Orleans, not only did most attendees carry their iPads and smart phones from meeting to meeting; the annual conference also featured its main discussions around the topic of mobile learning.

Supporting national research that predicted mobile learning will become prevalent in one year or less, CoSN launched an initiative to help school leaders understand how to lead mobile learning programs successfully in their districts. The organization also hosted notable school district, state, and national leaders, as well as private-sector experts, to discuss strategies for mobile learning implementation.

eSchool News, with the help of JDL Horizons’ EduVision, was on the scene to interview these leaders about their thoughts on mobile technology in education:

Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, has devoted her career to creating the best possible learning environments for this generation of students. Cator discusses the crisis in the American educational system and how mobile devices can support every student’s 21st-century learning.

Lucy Gray, director of the Project for Mobile Learning, explains how she views technology and new media as essentials in facilitating educational and societal change.

William Rankin, director of Innovative Education at Abilene Christian University, has been active in exploring the ways that converged mobile technology—and especially Apple’s iPhone—can transform teaching and learning in the 21st-century classroom. Rankin also summarizes his keynote speech, which delved into how culture has adapted to new learning technologies throughout the ages.


eSchool News April 2011

Download this issue as an Adobe PDF

31 Netwatch
Ten great sites with free teacher resources.

32 Viewpoint
Why education is not like business.

What’s News

1 Feds seek better union-district harmony

1 Report: Blended learning could hit or miss

1 Obama budget gives education a boost

3 Expert: Federal school reform plan is wrong

8 GPS technology helps lower truancy rates

10 Jobs breaks from medical leave to unveil iPad 2

12 Federal broadband map shows need for connectivity

14 States make gains in building data systems

16 A call for curriculum to support common standards

17 Schools to get $9M for off-campus wireless access

18 AASA conference focuses on collaboration

18 TCEA seeks to remove barriers from tech access

21 Collective bargaining rights at stake in many states

26 Tech-savvy superintendents honored in Denver


3 Online Update

6 Default Lines

6 Your Turn

28 Education in Focus

34 Grants & Funding

35 Stakeholder & Community Relations

36 Online Calendar

36 Tech Buyer’s Marketplace

37 Product Spotlight

37 Advertisers’ Showcase

38 eSN.TV Viewer’s Guide

38 eSchool Partners

17 Math and technology
Strong math skills are important if students hope to succeed—and software that delivers hands-on, personalized instruction can help.
— Jenna Zwang


Resources for this issue

3 Expert: Federal plan… For more news and opinion on education reform, see our online School Reform Center:

17 Schools to get $9M… For the latest in school funding news, go to


How to disseminate the results of a grant-funded project

Think at a local level, a state level, a national level, and even an international level.

Seasoned grant writers might notice that some funders, especially for major grant programs, ask for a dissemination plan in their request for proposals. That is, applicants are asked to describe how the results of their project will be shared after the grant period ends. Funders ask for a dissemination plan so that others can learn from the results of grant-funded projects and can replicate successful projects in their own institutions.

Developing a dissemination plan is not very difficult, but it might involve researching some potential avenues to distribute the information if you are unfamiliar with doing this. Look at dissemination as a circle that starts small and then widens out more broadly. In other words, think at a local level, a state level, a national level, and possibly even an international level for ways to disseminate the results of your grant-funded project.

Here are a few general suggestions to help guide the creation of a dissemination plan:

1. What local avenues are available for dissemination of project results? The first logical step is to educate your stakeholders, such as school board members and parents. You can publicize the results of your project in the district newsletter, on the district website, and on your local cable TV channel. Other possibilities include doing a presentation at a school board meeting or having a special evening presentation for parents. To inform the community at large, send press releases to your local newspapers and television stations.

2. To disseminate project information at the state level, look for newsletters your state education department might publish, or research state-level organizations related to the project’s area of focus (math or science, for example) and see if they publish a newsletter. State agencies and organizations also might have a “best practices” section of their website, where you can submit information about your project. Also, consider doing a workshop presentation or poster session at a state conference. Keep in mind, however, that some conferences request speaker information at least nine to 12 months in advance of the conference.


Speak Up survey highlights gaps in support of ed tech

Parents support the use of smart phones in the classroom, while most administrators still say no.

In an annual national survey, more than half of parents said they support the use of mobile devices for academic purposes inside their children’s classrooms and would even consider buying such a device for their children—while more than half of school administrators said they are not in favor of students using their own mobile devices in school.

This was just one of the significant findings contained in the 2010 Speak Up National Report, which polled students, parents, teachers, and administrators on their experiences and opinions regarding educational technology.

The survey revealed that students want more interactivity and collaboration in their studies, and parents are much more accepting of online learning than they were just a few years ago—but there are still many gaps in how students and their parents view educational technology and how educators view ed tech.

For example, the survey found that 67 percent of parents supported their child using mobile devices in the classroom for school work, while 65 percent of school administrators strongly objected to letting students use their own mobile devices in school.

“As parents are starting to use these emerging technologies themselves, they are gaining a greater appreciation for the potential they have to help increase their child’s productivity, as well as learning opportunities,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, which sponsors the Speak Up survey.

The Speak Up survey began in 2005 as a way for students to express their opinions on educational technology use in their schools, and the survey has evolved to cover new technologies as they emerge.

“Five years ago we asked students if they had an eMail address, and I would never ask that today,” Evans said.

In the fall of 2010, Project Tomorrow surveyed 294,399 K-12 students, 42,267 parents, 35,525 teachers, and several thousand librarians, school and district administrators, and technology leaders in 6,541 public and private school districts. The Speak Up surveys, conducted entirely online, included questions about the use of technology for learning, as well as online learning, mobile devices, and digital content.

The survey found a 42-percent increase over last year in the number of middle and high school students who own smart phones. What’s more, 53 percent of middle and high school students said the largest obstacle they face in using educational technology today is not being able to use their own cell phone, smart phone, or MP3 player for learning in school.