More educators turning to educational gaming

Engaging forms of educational gaming offer real-time data, individualized learning opportunities

ed-gamingEducational gaming has been present in classrooms and schools for more than a few years, but is gaining more recognition as school leaders search for ways to engage students and gather data that offers meaningful insight on student learning.

Educators often have different definitions for educational gaming, ranging from a gaming-focused educational software to an immersive, multi-player environment. And while gaming isn’t the only way educators can reach students and tailor instruction accordingly, it can be an engaging and unique option for school leaders to explore, some experts say.

“Educational gaming is good for most kids, for some things, some of the time,” said Dan White, CEO at Filament Games. “It’s not going to be a silver bullet, but [can be beneficial] used in conjunction with other things.”

(Next page: What are some gaming options?)


6 ways eBooks can support Common Core

eBooks could help fulfill new standards’ requirements

eBooks-Common As schools begin implementing the Common Core State Standards, experts say that this could be an opportune time for districts to explore eBooks, specifically because eBooks’ technology features can help fulfill many Common Core requirements.

“Right now, schools are investing in a lot of information texts (nonfiction) and hoping to balance these with literacy texts (fiction) for instruction, research, and recreational reading. It’s now, when schools are looking to better implement Common Core Standards that eBooks should come into play,” said Carl Harvey, school librarian for North Elementary School in Noblesville, Ind., during and webinar.

[Harvey recently discussed the first steps of eBook implementation: “What to consider for eBook implementation.”]

According to Harvey, there are six ways the Common Core will shift current ELA classroom practices, and eBooks can help guide these shifts better than traditional printed textbooks.

(Next page: Text complexity and text-based answers)


The Affordable Care Act: Making Sense of District Dollars

Meeting Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requirements is challenging for most school districts because managing and monitoring eligibility requires ready access to date-driven information.

district-affordable-careIt also must meet complicated requirements because the process is still being defined. Managing and complying are time-consuming tasks; yet, they can be accomplished if you compile and maintain your data on software that allows you to identify and monitor personnel activities.

While there are significant penalties for non-compliance, there are enormous costs associated with paying for PPACA – both for coverage and for ultimate penalties if requirements are not met. While the penalty phase is delayed, the law is not.

As districts fully realize by now, those with 50 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees or more must provide affordable care plans for those who are eligible employees. If the plans are not offered, or not affordable, employers face substantial penalties from the IRS. The penalty deferral gives you time to get to ready for activities such as:

  • Tracking  and monitoring the activities of full-time equivalents (FTEs)
  • Calculating employee hours to determine and manage eligibility
  • Maintaining measurements periods for different types of employees
  • Ensuring that you have data that is readily accessible and that data is date-driven to enable reporting to meet regulations
  • Calculating the projected annual income of employees to determine affordability

Educators can connect and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eSNBestPractices.

(Next Page: The importance of position control in PPACA management and monitoring)


Introducing tablets with Google Play for Education

Today we’re launching tablets with Google Play for Education for K-12 schools in the U.S., Google blogs. For the past five months, thousands of students and more than 50 schools have used Google Play for Education and shared their experiences as part of our beta program. What’s been clear from their feedback is that teachers and IT administrators need time-saving solutions to help their students learn in the classroom and smooth the transition to new curriculum standards. They’ve asked for something easy to set up and manage, that helps them find educational content they can trust, and that doesn’t break the bank. Google Play for Education is an extension of Google Play designed for schools. Here educators can discover apps approved by teachers for teachers, as well as educational videos and a collection of classic books for their classroom…

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How can students be successful in a high stakes world?

When asking an audience of parents what attributes they value, Stanford educator and author Denise Pope heard things like critical thinking, creativity, and well-being. Most parents indicated they did not value popularity, acceptance to a prestigious college, or being good at an extracurricular activity, Mind/Shift reports. Yet those are the very qualities that the students Pope studied most often listed as the keys to success. “The disconnect that we’re seeing means we’re not necessarily agreeing with the community’s values, but we are part of the community,” said Pope. In researching her book Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students, Pope shadowed students at elite schools to try and understand their lives and the pressures they face. She found that students value extrinsic qualities like grades much more highly than their parents. The students perceive the education system as a game to be played. Many said they were “doing school” in order to get to college, not necessarily to learn…

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Charter schools aspire to be ‘diverse by design’

When a group of Mid-City residents proposed opening a school four years ago that would be racially and economically diverse, they were greeted with doubt, according to the Hechinger Report. Skeptics thought Morris Jeff would end up like most other public schools in the city: almost entirely African American and low-income. “The understanding (was) that you guys are delusional. Once the school is open (it) will look the same way that all public schools who are open access look,” said Celeste Lofton-Bagert, one of the founders…

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Bob Wise: Digital learning can boost R.I. schools

If the United States is to prepare its students for success in the modern technology-driven world, more classrooms — in both Rhode Island and the whole nation — need to embrace higher learning outcomes for students made possible by integrating modern technology and quality teaching to create robust digital learning, the Providence Journal reports. Participating at the Rhode Island Department of Education’s “Innovation Powered by Technology” conference last month, I saw firsthand how Rhode Island is making that vision a reality…

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Satisfied students: 9 in 10 pleased with MOOC

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may be plagued by sky-high dropout rates, but students enrolled in one university’s massive courses are overwhelmingly satisfied about their MOOC experience.


Stanford research showed that students who complete MOOCs are highly engaged.

A survey of a set of MOOCs hosted by the University of London International Programmes on the Coursera platform found that 91 percent of student respondents rated their MOOC experience good, very good, or excellent.

The university’s four MOOCs — ranging from classes on English common law to mobile apps — drew more than 210,000 students from a host of countries, including Spain, India, Canada, and Brazil.

Around 90,000 of those MOOC students, or 42 percent, were considered “active” students, contributing to video chats and Twitter sessions in which course material was discussed with professors.

An “active” student was also defined as such if they downloaded a video lecture, took an online quiz, or posted to class forums, according to the university.

Four percent of students completed the University of London MOOCs.

Mike Kerrison, director of academic development for the University of London International Programmes, said the school’s first MOOCs “have proven to be very successful. Considering that the courses are free and allow students to do as much or as little work as they like, the number of students engaging in the course materials is considerable.”

Read the full story at eCampus News.


TenMarks revamps website for Common Core math practice

Redesigned from the ground up, TenMarks’ new library of 20,000-plus math problems aligns with the Common Core State Standards.

TenMarksA website for independent math practice, instruction, and assessment, TenMarks was just acquired by Amazon this fall.

The newly redesigned version includes more than 20,000 questions created specifically around the Common Core standards, including conceptual and procedural questions that vary in answer type and difficulty and that engage learners at different depths of knowledge.

To guide students during their math practice, TenMarks provides hints and video lessons. The hints offer scaffolded conceptual context and explanation, and they also explore problem-solving methods and processes, TenMarks says.

When a student completes an assignment, TenMarks’ adaptive engine instantly grades their work and encourages them to review incorrect answers. TenMarks also includes standard and grade-level assessments modeled after SBAC and PARCC questions, so teachers can monitor their students’ progress toward mastery of the Common Core standards.

TenMarks Math is free for students to use for practice and instruction, including math practice at home. A premium version, available for a subscription fee, provides actionable diagnostic assessments, as well as automated recommendations for additional assignments that directly address areas of need and enrichment.

“I haven’t found another program that allows me to really tailor the work so effectively,” one teacher wrote in a testimonial on the TenMarks website. “My children who struggle love the hints and videos. … It truly allows them to learn independently.”