Why every teacher should join Twitter

Are you on Twitter? You should be, says Jordan Catapano for TeachHub.com. As an English teacher I used to snub Twitter as a completely informal, dumbed-down platform that restricted any potentially valuable communication down to 140 characters. Then I got my own account – @BuffEnglish – and decided to see what all the tweeting was about. What Twitter offered to me was immensely different from what I expected…

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Important steps in a mobile learning initiative

School mobile learning programs take advantage of kids’ technology knowledge.

Having a clear vision when contemplating a school or district mobile learning program, as well as being flexible when building that program, are two essential steps if school technology leaders want to bring a mobile learning initiative to fruition.

During an edWeb.com webinar on mobile learning, Scott Newcomb, a teacher at St. Marys Intermediate School in Ohio and themobilenative.org blogger, shared experiences and tips he has gained in the five years that his school has operated a “bring your own device” (BYOD) mobile learning initiative.

One of the biggest mistakes or roadblocks to successful mobile learning is “leading with fear,” Newcomb said. Many educators approach a mobile learning proposal with negative thoughts and assume that student devices will be stolen or that students will cheat.

“The reality of mobile learning is that it’s very collaborative,” he said. “Kids love working together, and sharing, and creating–they’re very engaged.”

(Next page: Critical mobile learning considerations)

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‘Stand Your Ground’ group pushes privatization of public education

The group that pushed “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and other states has been mighty busy working to get laws passed in the area of school reform — and the aim has been the privatization of public education, the Washington Post reports. That group is the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, which likes to call itself a “nonpartisan public-private partnership” but is actually a corporate-backed enterprise that writes “model legislation” that its membership of nearly 2,000 conservative legislators use in states to pass laws that promote privatization in every part of American life: education, health care, the environment, the economy, etc…

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Missouri is encouraging gun-safety courses for first-graders

In between learning how to read and perform simple addition, some Missouri first-graders may soon also be taught gun safety, the Huffington Post reports. On Friday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a bill that includes a provision encouraging Missouri schools to teach a National Rifle Association-sponsored, gun-safety class to some of the state’s littlest learners. The legislation, which was first proposed a day before the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, gives schools the freedom to determine whether or not they would like to offer the course, according to Fox News. Schools that offer the program are eligible to apply for additional state funding…

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State: School grades aren’t accurate

Florida’s public school grades, highly anticipated by parents as a way to measure quality, are no longer an accurate barometer of how well or how poorly a school performs, the state admitted on Thursday, the Huffington Post reports. The grades, which affect everything from teacher pay to property values, have become so diluted they no longer serve their intended goal — measuring a school’s educational worth, the state said. So for the second straight year, no school will be permitted to drop more than one letter grade, possibly reducing the state’s number of failing schools from 242 to 108 by one estimate.

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Infographic: Ed-tech cheat sheet

Keeping up with all of the latest trends in technology can be quite exhausting, says LearnDash. It seems as if every other week there is another new device, term, or concept that is sweeping through Twitter, Facebook, and industry publications.  Heck, even on LearnDash’s Learning & Collaboration blog, we write about many of the ed-tech trends… gamification, blended learning, flipped classrooms, instructional technology, learning management systems… the list goes on and on. Given that it can become easy to get lost in the chatter, we wanted to take a moment and share this infographic by Boundless.  Using this “cheat sheet”, you will come up-to-speed with the latest and greatest in the ed-tech world…

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Lowering education’s cost through free or open source tech

Free or open source software is based on the principles of freedom and cost.

A few years back, one of my classmates from a graduate course had a complaint. She told me that her school bought an expensive technology system, which included tablets and interactive whiteboards, to help improve the school’s technological environment. In her opinion the purchase of this high-priced equipment was not really necessary. She believed that instead of buying such expensive technology, her school should have investigated alternatives that are inexpensive or free, and require only minimal training.

In today’s economy, schools are looking for innovative ways of serving the public by using lower-cost resources while not compromising on quality and service. Many schools do incorporate innovative methods to integrate technology in the classroom.

However, when it comes to technology infrastructure, schools are still vulnerable to commercial applications that are expensive and difficult to maintain. With the use of free or open source technologies, such as free or open source software, schools could reduce the cost of technology infrastructure. These tools could provide the same functionality of commercial software at a fraction of the cost.

(Next page: What are some common free or open source software applications?)

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Report: High school diplomas don’t support Common Core

According to a recent report, many states have yet to practice a critical 21st Century skill: Common sense. The report reveals that although most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), their diplomas remain CCSS deficient.

The report, “Out of Sync,” produced by Change the Equation (CTEq) and the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE), found that of the 45 states and the District of Columbia that have voluntarily adopted Common Core, only 11 have aligned their graduation requirements in mathematics with those standards.

(Next page: Classes that should be required)

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Microsoft delivers native Outlook Web App clients for iPhone, iPad

New, free Microsoft Outlook Web App clients for iPhone and iPad are available in the Apple App Store. The catch: Users need an Office 365 subscription that includes Exchange Online to make use of the new, free apps, ZDNet reports. Outlook Web App (OWA) is a client with that provides email, calendar and contact functionality. It works the same way that Outlook Web App in the browser does. However, according to a new Office 365 Technology blog post from Microsoft, the native versions provide “additional capabilities that are only possible through native integration of the app with mobile devices.”

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