How school leaders can empower the digital transition

Administrators are crucial to helping teachers implement digital curriculum

digital-transitionTransitioning to a digital curriculum has been met with a mixture of enthusiasm and concern. While digital resources align with students’ learning preferences and will enable them to leave school ready for college and the workforce, education leaders know that the digital shift requires planning, professional development, and support for teachers.

As school administrators determine which digital curriculum solution–including packaged solutions with built-in assessments to state-created resources–will best suit their needs, they must ensure that teachers have enough administrator support and professional development to correctly implement truly beneficial digital curriculum resources.

A large piece of the puzzle is “finding a way to get teachers comfortable with rethinking what they’re doing,” said Jeremy Macdonald, integrated technology systems coordinator with Bend-La Pine Schools in Bend, Ore., during an Alliance for Excellent Education Project 24 Google+ Hangout.

(Next page: How administrators are approaching the digital transition)

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3 myths about school data privacy in the cloud

Experts say privacy is possible if you take these critical steps

privacy-cloud-dataAs schools and districts struggle to keep up with big data management and analysis, many are worried about how student data privacy will be affected once it’s in the cloud. However, experts say concerns should be less about nitty-gritty IT details and more about school staff investment.

Experts from government, law, and data organizations recently gave advice to schools and districts during a webinar presented by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), “Is Privacy in the Cloud Possible?”

Panelists described how many concerns about privacy in the cloud are myths; in actuality, the real concerns for student privacy have little to do with shady contracts or online hackers: it’s the school staff that need some help.

Educators can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eSNTopNews

(Next page: Myth #1)

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Our educational leaders must get aggressive with technology

Technology and social media continue to dramatically change the way we live and work, the Huffington Post reports. Social media in particular can be a great equalizer by enabling job seekers to connect with influencers outside of traditional offline social networks. Given its importance, why isn’t this technology playing a stronger role in the curricula of our schools? For an insider’s view, I spoke with PJ Caposey, principal and assistant superintendent at Stillman Valley schools in rural Illinois. PJ is the author of Teach Smart and winner of the 2013 Outstanding Young Educator Award…

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Duncan takes heat over description of Common Core foes as ‘white suburban moms’

Education Secretary Arne Duncan faced heated criticism Monday for reportedly dismissing foes of so-called Common Core standards as “white suburban moms” who are worried their schools or children don’t measure up to the new benchmarks, FOX News reports. Duncan made the comments on Friday in Richmond, Va., discussing academic standards which have become highly controversial at the state level. “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said, according to an account from Politico. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, `My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

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NBA great promotes STEM education at event

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bent down Monday to study the solar-powered car being demonstrated by sixth-graders from Miller’s Hill School in Shingle Springs, the Sacramento Bee reports. The NBA Hall of Famer was at the Sacramento Convention Center to kick off the first-ever California STEM symposium, a two-day event designed to help K-12 educators improve how they teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “By fifth grade, 92percent of boys and 97percent of girls lose interest” in STEM fields, Abdul-Jabbar said. “I’m really stoked to have the opportunity to impact our kids’ lives in a really positive way. That’s what this is all about. That is why I’m here.”

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YouTube co-founder and alum donates $1M to Illinois Math and Science Academy

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen has made a $1 million gift to his alma mater, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, to help build a $1.9 million “Innovation Hub” modeled in part after the startup collaborative workspace at the Merchandise Mart, called 1871, the Chicago Tribune reports. School officials announced the donation Thursday, saying they hope to open the 6,400-square-foot center by late 2015 or early 2016. It will be an open space to house workshops, events for the Fox Valley business community, startup pitch contests and the academy’s Total Applied Learning for Entrepreneurs program, which teaches students about entrepreneurship…

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Flipped classroom model gains steam on campuses

The flipped classroom approach, heavily reliant on technology, may have reached a level of acceptance in higher education that makes is no longer experimental.

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Once pushed by higher education’s tech savviest educators and policymakers, the flipped model — which has students watch online lectures outside of class and complete homework in class — is now used, or will be used, in half of college lecture halls and classrooms, according to a survey released Nov. 19.

The survey, conducted by webcasting company Sonic Foundry and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found a growing acceptance of the once-cutting edge flipped classroom approach, with eight in 10 respondents saying “improved mastery of information” is the top benefit for college students.

Eighty-four percent of educators said the flipped model was a “better learning experience” for their students.

Ralph Welsh, a public health sciences professor at Clemson University, said that while there were more high marks on end-of-semester student evaluations, there was also a jump in low marks. This, Welsh said, showed that the flipped model had at least some polarizing potential.

Read the rest of this story at eCampus News.

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Major ed data report reveals states’ improvements

Data For Action 2013 shows how states are beginning to make more data-informed actions

data-campaignStates have made immense progress in collecting student data, communicating the importance of using such data, and in emphasizing the need to keep student information safe and secure, according to the ninth annual Data for Action (DFA) report from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

This year’s report “highlights, yet again, the incredible leadership that states are demonstrating… [states are] really making progress on using data for continuous improvement,” said Aimee Guidera, DQC founder and executive director.

The biggest change evident in this year’s report is states’ focus on getting appropriate access of the correct data to the right people, at the right time, with the end goal of improving student achievement, Guidera said.

(Next page: States making much progress)

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The big key to success with blended learning

Principal, blended learning experts, say knowing how to analyze data huge key to success

blended-data In a national climate where schools have data, but are struggling to make it actionable, officials from a public charter school that integrates a growing nationwide practice, blended learning, say knowing how to integrate data on a regular basis is the key to student achievement.

Rocketship Si Se Puede Academy in San Jose, Calif., is a public charter K-5 elementary school in its fifth year, currently serving 630 students with a staff of about 35. The student population is mainly Latino (95 percent) with many students considered English-Language Learners (ELL). Ninety percent of the students are also on free-and-reduced lunch.

Rocketship Si Se Puede not only met and surpassed the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) and achieved a top performance rank compared to other schools with similar student demographic profiles, it also achieved success in one of the newest models of learning: blended learning.

(Next page: The key to success with blended learning)

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