Online courses can help high school students cut college costs

Enrolling in an online college course can have a variety of benefits for high school students, U.S. News reports. For some students, they provide the opportunity to earn college credit without having to commute to campus. Online courses can also expose students to a wide range of subjects not available at their high school. But the courses aren’t for everyone, experts say…

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Florida’s change to school rating system called ‘scam’

Last year, Florida gave a new standardized writing test to students in various grades and the scores were awful, the Washington Post reports: Only 27 percent of fourth-graders had proficient scores, down from the previous year’s 81 percent. So the state’s Board of Education voted to lower the passing score on this exam. This week, the same board voted to change the system that assigns letter grades to each school based largely on test scores…

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FCC to revisit eRate

Simplifying the rules on fiber deployment is one of many areas the FCC is seeking comment on.

The Federal Communications Commission voted on July 19 to open a new rulemaking process aimed at updating and enhancing the federal eRate program, which currently provides $2.3 billion in telecommunications discounts to eligible schools and libraries.

The vote, which follows President Obama’s ConnectED proposal last month to enhance high-speed internet access for the nation’s schools, marks an important first step in transforming the program to meet current needs, advocates say.

“Only a little over one month since President Obama announced his bold agenda, we are encouraged by the FCC’s steps to make ‘ConnectED’ a reality in classrooms nationwide,” said Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking, in a statement.

“The sooner we raise the eRate’s annual cap and equip schools with increased bandwidth, the sooner students will reap the benefits of true 21st-century teaching and learning environments,” Krueger added. “This initiative moves our schools in that direction.”

The FCC’s action begins a thorough review and modernization of the eRate built around three goals, the agency said: increased broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration.

(Next page: More details about the FCC’s notice)

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Tablet solutions abound at 2013 ISTE conference

Schools can buy any number of 32-gigabyte Surface RT tablets for $199, through a special Microsoft offer that’s good through Aug. 31 or while supplies last.

Tablet-based mobile learning was a big area of focus during the 2013 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio in late June, with Microsoft making the biggest splash by giving away free Surface RT tablets to 10,000 conference participants.

The goal of Microsoft’s Windows in the Classroom Surface Experience Project was to show educators how its Windows 8 operating system—which can power both laptops and tablets—can help create engaging learning opportunities for students.

In addition, Microsoft is offering special pricing on its Surface RT tablets to schools for a limited time. Schools can buy any number of 32-gigabyte Surface RTs for $199, Microsoft said; with a Touch Keyboard Cover the devices will cost $249, and with a Type Keyboard Cover they’ll cost $289. That’s a savings of at least $300 per device.

The offer is good until Sept. 30 or while supplies last. Interested schools can contact their Microsoft Education Account Representative or visit their local Microsoft Store to place an order.

While Microsoft was making headlines with its Surface RT giveaway, other manufacturers were showcasing their own tablet devices as ideal solutions for teaching and learning.

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Viewpoint: Moving beyond technology initiatives

When applied in a thoughtful manner, technology empowers teachers to scale and implement the best educational practices.

Walking the show floor in San Antonio at the recent International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, it was hard not to be impressed by the broad array of educational technologies on display. Row upon row of gleaming tablets, 3D printers, and interactive tables, to name but a few of the products available, vied for our attention.

Likewise, reports on the latest technology initiatives, and related strategies to implement those initiatives, helped fuel the buzz surrounding this year’s conference. To anyone committed to empowering teachers with technology to support student achievement, ISTE 2013 should go down as a watershed moment. It is clear like never before that we have the right ed-tech tools to create the digital learning environments today’s students need and deserve. ISTE CEO Brian Lewis and the entire ISTE team deserve our praise and thanks for their efforts to showcase the very best in educational technologies and ed-tech thought leadership.

Now, it is our challenge to turn these technology initiatives into learning initiatives.

(Next page: How does the transformation begin?)

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4 reasons why the Common Core Standards are losing popularity

In what could be compared to, well, many education reform initiatives over the years—educational technology included—a once-widely, and quickly, accepted initiative is dividing the education community; begging the question, ‘Are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) just another flash in education’s pan?’

45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS in what was once lauded as a giant step in the right direction in trying to improve student achievement and college- and career-readiness.

The K-12 Standards, developed for Mathematics and English Language Arts, are designed to bring student learning into the 21st Century through the inclusion of, and focus on, digital media, social learning tools, critical thinking skills, and online assessments.

Yet, many states, policy makers, and educators are saying that though giving the go-ahead was easy, successful implementation planning didn’t factor well enough into the decision to adopt, causing problems states are only now beginning to fully comprehend.

Here you’ll find the four most widely discussed contentions with CCSS. Do you think these points are valid? Are there any other issues concerning CCSS not mentioned on the list that you’d like to discuss? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

(Next page: Funding and testing)

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Obama threatens veto of House GOP ‘No Child Left Behind’ update

President Obama is threatening to veto a House bill to update the No Child Left Behind education law, The Hill reports. The bill, called the Student Success Act, would “represent a significant step backwards in the effort to help our Nation’s children and their families prepare for their futures,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. The administration worries that the bill, authored by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), is too lax on state education standards, neglects students in historically underserved areas and fails to address poorly performing schools…

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Virtual education: New face of schooling

It’s always been a tough time for parents when they have to decide what education they should chose for their children; education that is both right and appealing to them as well, eLearning Industry reports. Each child has different kind of educational needs and preferences and depending on that, education should be imparted to them. One of the most highly remarkable innovation of the age is the virtual education, the best alternative to traditional educational module. This kind of education through the world of internet is especially helpful to kids who find it difficult to cope with the concept of actual school. In fact, virtual school has been hailed as the next big solution in education that is surely going to change the way education is delivered to its recipients. Read this article to know why virtual education is such a great beginning in the
world of education…

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State Rep. pens controversial letter to teachers

Washington State Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas) sparked controversy last month when she posted an open letter to teachers on her Facebook page, the Huffington Post reports. In the letter, she thanked teachers for their service and congratulated them on their impending summer vacation, then criticized those who complain about their compensation.

“If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over,” Pike wrote, “I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, Christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.”

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