Education’s ‘shiny toy syndrome’

It’s elementary, the Marietta Daily Journal reports. Public education bureaucrats do the darnedest, stupidest things. Clever kids are ready, willing and able to capitalize on that costly stupidity in a heartbeat. Within days of rolling out a $30 million Common Core iPad program in Los Angeles, for example, students had already hacked the supposedly secure devices. The Los Angeles Times reports that the disastrous initiative has been suspended after students from at least three different high schools breached the devices’ security protections. It was a piece of iCake. The young saboteurs gleefully advertised their method to their friends, fellow Twitter and Facebook users, and the media. “Roosevelt students matter-of-factly explained their ingenuity Tuesday outside school,” the L.A. Times told readers. “The trick, they said, was to delete their personal profile information. With the profile deleted, a student was free to surf. Soon they were sending tweets, socializing on Facebook and streaming music through Pandora, they said.”

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What we can learn from Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, and Amplify

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about Amplify Learning for months. It’s complicated, Forbes reports. Mashable’s story describes Amplify as the cash hungry villain: News Corp’s bid to profit off children. The New York Times’ coverage read like an informercial; retelling that same old congratulatory story of free market innovation. NPR covered Amplify when they first announced the tablets, quoting CEO Joel Klein, “We don’t have a political mission — none whatsoever. What we’re doing is developing materials in math and science and the English language arts — designed by leading experts.” How should I write about Amplify? Should I take a political stance? Or, should I evaluate the orange tablets simply as a digital learning technology, out of context? Do I bracket out the fact that this particular edtech company is owned by News Corp?

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Bypassing the SAT altogether

Mind/Shift reports: “It’s kind of declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions and the failure to foreground the curriculum and learning,” Leon Botstein, Bard’s president of 38 years, said in an interview. Saying the prevailing system was “loaded with a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with learning,” he hailed the new approach as a “return to basics, to common sense” and added, “You ask the young person: are they prepared to do university-level work?”

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Veteran teacher: The key failing of school reform over decades

The tug of war over standardized tests is just the latest round of a struggle I’ve watched many times before, The Washington Post reports. In the four decades between when I started teaching English at T.C. in 1970 and my retirement this year, I saw countless reforms come and go; some even returned years later disguised in new education lingo. Some that were touted as “best practices” couldn’t work, given Alexandria’s demographics. Others were nothing but common-sense bromides hyped as revolutionary epiphanies. All of them failed to do what I believe to be key to teaching: to make students care about what they’re studying and understand how it’s relevant to their lives…

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Primestream Products on Display at MTE 2013:

NEW FORK 4.5 Production Suite
Primestream(R) will show FORK(TM) 4.5, the latest version of its acclaimed FORK Production Suite for managing the automation of the most complex broadcast workflows. With new modules, functionality, and integration with the leading broadcast hardware and software vendors, FORK 4.5 is the most extensible, configurable, and powerful version of FORK ever released. In FORK 4.5, Primestream introduces FORK Workflow Manager 1.0, a new FORK module that makes workflows visible and enables users to conceptualize and control their production workflows in an entirely new way. FORK 4.5 also features workflow integrations with the most popular craft editors, including Adobe(R) Premiere Pro(R), Apple(R) Final Cut Pro(R), and Avid(R) Media Composer(R). FORK continues its focus on the entire workflow from acquisition through archive. FORK 4.5 also supports third-party broadcast and workflow solutions with such industry leaders as Harmonic(R), Quantum(R), Cisco(R), and others.

Photo Link:
Photo Caption: FORK(TM) 4.5 Workflow Manager

FORK Xchange Suite 2.5
Primestream(R) will exhibit version 2.5 of FORK(TM) Xchange(TM) Suite, an application that gives broadcasters instant cloud access to content on their FORK Production servers from any Windows(R), Mac(R), or tablet device. An add-on to Primestreams highly acclaimed FORK software platform for managing and automating broadcast workflows, FORK Xchange Suite 2.5 introduces the Xchange Shot List Editor add-on module, which gives editors a fast and nimble way to edit content living inside the FORK environment via a proxy with Xchange for Web and iOS. To protect and secure the assets from unwanted intervention, powerful security enhancements such as token-based authentication, a dedicated API for streaming URLs, time-limited temporary URLs, hash-encrypted URLs, and session-based crosschecking have been added to Xchange 2.5.

Also being shown is Xchange for iPad(R) 1.0, a professional, native iOS application that allows producers and editors to browse, edit metadata, and create annotations on content while disconnected from the production environment.

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Photo Caption: Xchange(TM) 2.5 With iOS Compatibility

DIG-IT 1.0
DIG-IT(TM) 1.0 is a server-based software application that helps broadcasters, government, entertainment, and corporate IT departments monitor their broadcast IT operations. The application can monitor individual servers in addition to the FORK(TM) production environment, making it easier for IT administrators to manage broadcast-related IT activity. Facilities can monitor mission-critical servers and applications, quickly identify performance bottlenecks, prevent and recover from system failures, and reduce downtime and operational costs.

Photo Link:
Photo Caption: DIG-IT(TM) 1.0 With iPad(R)

FORK Logger 1.0
FORK(TM) Logger 1.0 is a module for describing content inside FORK Production Suites software platform for media asset management (MAM) and workflow automation. The module is a powerful metadata-tagging tool designed from the ground up for logging live or pre-recorded video. The tightly integrated and configurable user interface enables content loggers to tag video quickly with defined metadata, making content searchable, ready to be filtered, and organized for viewing in FORKs Content Navigator(TM) MAM — or for working with in a FORK project or rundown.

The heart of FORK Logger is a dynamic GUI containing form templates, button panels, video viewers, marker thumbnail lists, and a bin list of created events, all elements that can be designed based on content requirements.

FORK Logger increases the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of logging media, while maximizing the value of content owners video archives. The modules flexibility enables workflows for live broadcasting, archiving, player scouting, and video coaching — all on a single unified platform.

FORK Logger supports multiple layouts per production server and is available for both Windows(R) and Mac(R) OS.

Photo Link:
Photo Caption: Fork(TM) Logger v1.0 With Logging Templates

Company Quote:

“As broadcasters and video producers move entirely into a file-based workflow, operations require powerful digital media solutions to ingest, manage, and distribute content. By bringing together media professionals from a range of industries, MTE is the ideal place for us to demonstrate the power and sophistication of our FORK automation and media asset management software platform for I/O, logging, tagging, editing, workflow management, archiving, playout, and more.”
— Namdev Lisman, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Primestream

Company Overview:

Primestream(R), a leader in advanced media asset management and broadcast automation software, offers a seamless end-to-end platform for digital acquisition of live and file-based video content, media asset management, editing, logging, control room and master control playback, smartphone and tablet video contribution, publishing to the Web, and dynamic archiving. The companys portfolio includes the FORK(TM) suite of applications, as well as Mobile2Air(R), ControlStation(TM), DIG-IT(TM), and Xchange(TM) Suite. Deployed in more than 300 broadcast operations across 40 countries, Primestreams proven solutions are implemented by some of the worlds leading broadcasters, uplink service providers, digital media operations, and production/postproduction facilities. More information is available at


Riedel’s Artist System Assures Clear, Flexible Communications at The Star Performing Arts Centre in Singapore

WUPPERTAL, Germany — Sept. 26, 2013 — Riedel Communications, provider of pioneering real-time video, audio, data, and communications networks, today announced that The Star Performing Arts Centre in Singapore is using a Riedel Artist digital matrix intercom system to maintain clear, reliable communications throughout the world-class facility’s 5,000-seat auditorium, function halls, and broadcast production center. The Artist system’s flexibility assures speed and versatility in adapting to the communications requirements of live concerts and other productions at the stunning site.

“The Riedel Artist system has been rock-solid so far, with its power and flexibility allowing us to meet all the requirements that come our way,” said Daniel Loh, technical director at The Star Performing Arts Centre. “The Artist system enables us to scale our intercom from a simple four-channel system to a full broadcast-type system with a single button press. Using AES and MADI formats, we also have been able to plan audio backup routing via the Riedel system. We appreciate the combination of versatility and reliability it brings to our communications.”

The Star Performing Arts Centre is located in the award-winning Integrated Cultural, Retail and Entertainment Hub in Singapore’s one-north district. Within this facility, one Artist 128 and three Artist 64 frames are connected in a fiber ring to form a single full-summing, nonblocking distributed matrix platform for intercom and the distribution of analog audio, digital audio, and Ethernet data signals. With the capacity to handle 64 MADI channels, the resulting system supports six commentary units and 47 other rack-mount and desktop Artist 1000 series control panels. The Artist matrix integrates 42 beltpacks from Riedel’s Performer digital partyline product line via a Performer C44 interface. Handheld radios, used throughout the facility, become an extension of the Artist system through a RiFace interface.

The Artist system enables decentralization of the entire matrix in a cost-effective way, in turn eliminating a considerable amount of wiring and reducing installation costs. Easy, intuitive programming reduces training and service time while providing the flexibility required for rapid system changes. The system also allows for remote monitoring and troubleshooting.

Further information about Riedel and its products is available at

Photo Link:

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About Riedel Communications
Riedel Communications designs, manufactures, and distributes pioneering real-time video, audio, data, and communications networks for broadcast, pro audio, event, sports, theater, and security applications. The company also provides rental services for radio and intercom systems, event IT solutions, fiber backbones, and wireless signal transmission systems that scale easily for events of any size, anywhere in the world. Founded in 1987, the company now employs more than 400 people at 11 locations in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.




–Digital content and professional development support district’s five-year organizational plan–

SILVER SPRING, Md. (September 30, 2013) – Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS), Maryland’s ninth largest school system, announced today it has partnered with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content for K-12 classrooms, to create rich, 21st century learning environments in classrooms district wide.

Previously, CCPS students and teachers had limited access to digital content in the classroom. However, through a competitive grant from the Maryland Digital Learning Innovation Program, initiated by the Maryland State Department of Education and Gov. Martin O’Malley, CCPS will now provide the district’s students 24/7 access to an award-winning science digital textbook and dynamic curriculum-based content from Discovery Education.

This content supports Superintendent Stephen Guthrie’ five-year organizational plan, CCPS Vision 2018, by empowering CCPS educators with the digital resources and learning objects to ensure instruction that meet’s each student’s needs. The district has committed both fiscal and technical resources to support the implementation of this content beyond the life of the grant so that the vision upon which these efforts are based can be sustained.

“Resources that are relevant to the 21st Century learner are critical to preparing students to be competitive in the global economy and meeting students’ instructional needs,” said Margaret Pfaff, director of curriculum and instructional resources, Carroll County Public Schools. “Access to the Discovery Education Science Techbook and Streaming Plus service will allow teachers to add value to each student’s learning experience from kindergarten through graduation, and we look forward to implementing these resources.”

Students in CCPS grades 3-8 will now use Discovery Education Science Techbook™, a fully interactive digital textbook with state-of-the-art lesson plans that can be used on any computer, laptop or tablet. In addition, all K-12 classrooms will have access to more than 155,000 dynamic digital learning objects that support all subject areas and learning styles through Discovery Education’s Streaming Plus service.

To ensure these resources are implemented with fidelity, CCPS is also providing its educators robust, customized professional development from Discovery Education experts who will guide them through the process of integrating these resources into classroom instruction.

Discovery Education Science Techbook is built upon the 5E model of instruction, a non-linear curriculum pathway that promotes inquiry-based learning and enhances literacy and thinking skills and improves student achievement through interactive digital lessons that bring science to life. It supports college, career and citizenship readiness, and can work with any device, anywhere, anytime.

Discovery Education Streaming Plus features model lessons, dynamic digital content and content creation tools to support educators, engage students and prepare them for college, career and global citizenship. It also includes customized assessments as well as hundreds of lesson plans and model lessons that help facilitate the transition to a digital learning environment.

Interactive student features like My DE and Board Builder transform classrooms by creating an environment that encourages engagement, inquiry and creativity. My DE provides students individualized learning and exploration resources via different pathways through content. Board Builder enables students to create content by gathering evidence, forming arguments and supporting their claims.

In addition, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) will support CCPS educators in their efforts to transform students’ learning experience with digital media. A global community of education professionals, the DEN connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing, and inspiration.

“Discovery Education is excited to partner with Carroll County Public Schools in our joint mission to support the success of each learner and prepare students for their future,” said Matt Monjan, vice president, Discovery Education. “This partnership illustrates the district’s commitment to transforming teaching and learning in a way that engages today’s students and prepares them for life beyond the classroom.”

For more information about Discovery Education’s suite of digital services and resources, visit

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content that supports the implementation of Common Core, professional development, assessment tools, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Available in over half of all U.S. schools, community colleges and in 50 countries around the world, Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that accelerate academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world, Explore the future of education at



Award-winning Platform’s Multimedia Lessons Now Model Study Group Interactions for Elementary Students as well as the Middle and High School Levels

SONOMA, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2013) – In classrooms across the country, educators are striving to address a critical tenet of the new Common Core standards: the acquisition of high-level reading and writing skills. Adding to the challenge is the Common Core’s inclusion of listening and speaking skills as English language arts standards. StudySync (, the leading-edge Common Core literacy curriculum from BookheadEd Learning, is helping students acquire all four skills by expanding its award-winning library of SyncTV episodes, which model study group interactions and analyses of a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction works. Users can now access more than 100 of the short, scripted video lessons.

In addition to its SyncTV episodes for middle and high school students, the expanded library now includes video lessons for students at the elementary school level. “We know that when students not only read a text but also discuss what they’ve read and collaborate with their peers, they construct meaning from each other’s ideas and deepen their comprehension,” said Robert Romano, CEO, StudySync. “That is why teachers are finding SyncTV episodes so critical to their overall instruction; these short videos provide an engaging model for student discussion. They help teachers elevate the academic discussion in their own classrooms.”

The episodes are one part of a cross-curricular literacy platform for grades 4-12 that includes a diverse library of more than 550 fiction and nonfiction texts, dynamic video and media designed to improve reading, writing, listening and critical thinking skills. The SyncTV episodes cover such diverse titles as The Gettysburg Address, “A Tale of Two Cities,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott” and much more.

As students use the interaction and communication techniques that they see in the video lessons, the techniques help them better examine and evaluate what they have read. Consequently, the students gain a better understanding of how to read and analyze an author’s work, how to build context for broader understanding, and how to construct meaning from a variety of texts. The overall effect is to help teachers address the core tenets of the Common Core for reading, writing, speaking and listening.

“All episodes are written and produced in house, giving StudySync control over not only the educational content, but also the quality of the production itself,” said Romano. “We know students are sophisticated media consumers and we wanted to give them a refined product. That’s how we can engage them and when students are engaged, they learn.”

In addition to the video episodes, SyncTV lessons include rich visual introductions to text that engage students and provide additional context. The text excerpts are accompanied by online reading supports such as audio-only recordings and annotation capabilities, making SyncTV effective for all levels of learners. The platform also includes Common-Core based lesson plans and writing prompts, and an online peer review platform.

In addition to completing assigned texts and lessons, students can also explore the full library on their own, giving them a fun and engaging way to access hundreds of texts they might not otherwise explore. This independent learning builds their reading and critical thinking confidence and competence.

StudySync launched in 2011 with 12 SyncTV lessons and has been on an aggressive production schedule ever since, garnering attention from educators and the industry, most recently winning the Association of Educational Publishers’ 2013 Innovation award and EdTech Digest 2013 ‘Trendsetter’ award. As its video library has grown, so has the adoption of the product itself. The number of users has doubled since last spring.

“We’ve been told we’ve created a new genre of educational media and I think that’s right,” said Romano. “With SyncTV we are not talking at students or strictly teaching a lesson. Rather, we are allowing students to witness high-level discussions of important texts. With SyncTV, we are providing the modeling students need to not only meet the rigors of today’s classroom but to gain the critical thinking and collaboration skills so necessary for college and careers.”

About BookheadEd Learning, LLC
BookheadEd Learning, based in Sonoma, Calif. connects students in grades 4 through 12 to the great ideas of mankind through technology, video, multimedia, and a rich library of classic and modern texts. StudySync, its award-winning flagship product, uses web-delivered educational tools – including broadcast-quality video, digital media, mobile platforms and social networking —to help teachers meet the demands of the Common Core Standards and inspire higher levels of reading, writing, critical thinking, academic discourse and peer-to-peer collaboration. For more information about BookheadEd Learning and its StudySync educational platform, visit

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Integrated math might be key to student achievement

New research points to integrated model as one way to improve student gains


As states implement the Common Core State Standards, many math educators and curriculum specialists are advocating a move to integrated math, which, although not a new concept, has received renewed attention in light of a study indicating that the model could boost student achievement.

Integrated math involves the blending of many math topics, such as algebra, geometry, and statistics, into a single course. U.S. math courses have traditionally been separated into year-long courses that focus on one area and follow a sequence, such as algebra I, geometry the next year, algebra II, and then a pre-calculus course.

States including Utah, North Carolina, and West Virginia are moving to integrated math models. Supporters note that integrated models help students make connections across different math disciplines and help them see real-world connections. Some critics say integrated math is not necessary.

James Tarr, a professor in the University of Missouri (MU) College of Education, and Doug Grouws, a professor emeritus from MU, studied more than 3,000 high school students around the country as they tried to determine if an integrated math model led to higher student achievement gains.

(Next page: What research reveals; plus, take a poll on integrated math)


L.A. students breach school iPads’ security

Security violation results in limited iPad use, student frustration

iPad-securityIt took exactly one week for nearly 300 students at Roosevelt High School to hack through security so they could surf the web on their new school-issued iPads, raising new concerns about a plan to distribute the devices to all students in the district.

Similar problems emerged at two other high schools as well, although the hacking was not as widespread.

Officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District have immediately halted home use of the Apple tablets until further notice.

The incident prompted questions about overall preparations, including security preparations, for the $1-billion tablet initiative.

The roll-out is scheduled to put an iPad in the hands of every student in the nation’s second-largest school system within a year. Roosevelt was among the first to distribute them, starting a week ago.

Tablets were still being handed out when administrators discovered the hacking already in progress, allowing students to reach such restricted sites as YouTube and Facebook, among others.

(Next page: What administrators, teachers, and students say)