Take a quick jaunt through some of the education blogs in our Lifestyle section, and you’ll know that mom bloggers are all talking about back to school, Technorati reports. One of the topics that’s heating up is technology in the classroom, specifically the thirst students want to quench with tablets. According to a new report from Nielsen found, 71% of students who use tablets are interested in accessing textbooks on them. Google is listening as they now let students rent or buy digital textbooks via Google Play. Also in the report, 51% of students who are over 13-years-old and use their tablets in school said they use it to search the Internet. Additionally, they are also using it for email (46%), reading books (42%), taking notes (40%) and completing homework/school assignments (30%)…
CBC News reports that in a move widely seen as a boost for innovation and competition in the technology sector, New Zealand has passed a law that will prohibit the patenting of computer software. The reformed Patents Bill, which was first drafted five years ago, passed third reading in the New Zealand Parliament Wednesday. The new law states that “a computer program is not an invention” and hence cannot be protected by a patent. “This bill marks a significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand,” said Commerce Minister Craig Foss in a press release on his ministry’s website. “It replaces 60-year-old legislation and introduces a patent system suited for the 21st century.”
As a high school English teacher, it’s heartening to think I can “add value” to all of my students, according to The Washington Post. Unfortunately, this is completely unrealistic. I can prepare engaging lessons that appeal to different learning styles, maturity levels, and backgrounds. I can also repeat, reteach, and communicate my concerns to students and parents; my influence, though, is ultimately limited. I cannot force students to engage with curriculum, nor can I control study habits outside of my classroom. I cannot negate the effects of poverty, and I am challenged by a system increasingly subjected to misguided reforms, slashed funding, and excessive testing. Teaching is a messy art involving numerous, unpredictable variables and participants, and the learning process spans multiple venues and points in time. A fair evaluation instrument would address this multifaceted reality. The value-added instrument currently utilized in North Carolina and many other states, though, is unfair and inaccurate…
Video games are a much better representation system for learning mathematics than are symbolic representations on a static page, Forbes reports. If the technology had been available in 350BCE, Euclid’s Elements would have been a video game. All Euclid’s arguments are instructions to perform actions: draw an arc, drop a perpendicular, circumscribe the square, etc. It would be much more efficient, both as a communicative medium and for the student learning, if instead of writing instructions in words, the student was presented with opportunities to perform those ACTIONS…
K12 for Schools and Districts partnered with a Florida district to provide online education to 163 homebound students. The solution delivered a level of personalization not possible before, letting each student proceed at his or her own pace. Since the program’s implementation, not a single student has been held back despite not being able to attend school—and the district also has seen a 20-percent cost savings in teaching these homebound students.
Students with special needs will benefit from built-in iOS features
Apple has revamped its education website, and part of the redesign highlights built-in and downloadable resources to help students with disabilities or in special education classes gain access to the same technologies used in general education classrooms.
Apple’s iOS devices come with a number of features to help students with autism, vision-challenged students, and students with special needs. In alphabetical order, here are some of the top special education features in iOS devices. Click for the full list.
This feature gives special-needs students with limited motor abilities full control of an iOS device’s more sensitive screen features, such as pinching or finger swiping, by simply tapping a finger on the screen. The tool also can be adapted for wheelchair-bound students, and through third-party customization for those who need special or additional assistive devices, such as joysticks.
More than 40 Bluetooth wireless braille displays are out-of-the-box compatible with the iPad, iPhone 3GS or later, and the iPod Touch 3rd generation or later. There is no additional software required, and the compatible iOS devices feature braille tables for more than 25 languages.
Visual learners can use this feature to see captions in video to help with comprehension. This feature is useful for students who are learning to speak a new language or who have other special language needs. Open captions and subtitles also are supported in iOS devices.
Students with print disabilities such as dyslexia might benefit from the Dictation function, in which they can speak notes, eMails, web searches, or even large amounts of text. Using this feature may save students from feeling frustrated or from being slowed down. Students tap their device’s microphone button to activate the feature, which also turns numbers and characters into text.
(Take our poll on page 2. Next page: Special features for audio needs and more)
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The Huffington Post reports: Like many teachers, I have a good relationship with the parents of my students. I have been both a general education teacher (social studies and math) and a special education teacher, and found both ups and downs working with a variety of parents. I spoke to colleagues from across my teaching career and asked them what they would say to parents of their students, to provide perspective towards the workload that teachers have on their plate for 180 days of the year, plus professional development, planning, research and coordinating with fellow teachers on interdisciplinary curriculums. Our combined input has led to the following pieces of advice that hopefully sheds some light on this side of the teacher-parent relationship and encourages open communication for the benefit of students…
As the buzz around games and learning continues to grow, one particular subset — Massive Open Online (MMO) games — is catching the attention of educators as a particularly interesting way to encourage students to collaborate, problem solve, create and think for themselves within a game, Mind/Shift reports. One of the most popular MMOs is World of Warcraft, in which many players log in to the online game at the same time and play while interacting with people all over the world. But, although teachers have found ways to use commercial games like World of Warcraft for educational purposes, it wasn’t originally designed with teachers in mind. Now, a group of researchers in MIT’s Education Arcade are trying to harness the power of MMO games to teach high school students to think like scientists and mathematicians…
The Common Core standards aren’t awful, TeachThought reports. They are wordy and dry and a bit confusing. They don’t go far enough in some areas (digital media fluency), and perhaps go too far in others (reducing the focus on humanities, especially literature). But in general, if you read them, there is very little in them that you couldn’t expect your own children to be able to do. And while their “increased rigor” seems wildly overstated, they are clear in their effort to require learners to think carefully about content. And that’s not a bad thing. A real issue is one of precision and function: While decent, the adoption of a common set of national academic standards for K-12 public schools doesn’t solve the challenges inherent in mass compulsory education, among them…