Free software helps fuel digital instruction

ClassFlow is a software program that ties together lesson planning, instruction, and assessment—creating a more personalized, collaborative learning environment


ClassFlow is free for individual teachers, but Promethean will be selling an enterprise version for schools and districts.

While technology is having an impact in the classroom, teaching with technology is often a fragmented process, especially in “bring your own device” classrooms or other environments where not everyone is using the same device or platform.

Now, a new software program from Promethean aims to simplify teaching with technology—regardless of what devices teachers or their students are using.

Called ClassFlow, the software was introduced in a beta version earlier this year. It’s a cloud-based platform that helps teachers create and deliver lessons in a digital environment.

An updated version will be released later this year and will include tools for assessing, monitoring, and analyzing student performance with the help of easy-to-use analytics, Promethean says.

(Next page: How the software works—and how it can streamline digital instruction)


The ABCs of school technology programs

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho shares his district’s experiences and priorities when it comes to supporting school technology

school-technologyMaking the decision to allocate school district resources to a digital conversion, and planning for and sustaining that technology conversion, requires effort and dedication.

And while no time will ever be the perfect time to make the digital transition, any time is the right time, said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the Miami-Dade Public Schools, a 2011 eSN Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards winner, and 2014 American Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year.

The need for technology-rich school environments that mimic the environments in which today’s students will one day work and compete becomes evident “when we acknowledge the fact that, from zip code to zip code…there are significant gaps. There are literally and figuratively digital deserts in our communities,” said Carvalho, speaking during Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now event on Feb. 26.

Before school leaders address how they’re going to enable a digital conversion, though, it’s much more important to define why they’re going to do so.

(Next page: How to effectively launch a digital technology conversion)


Teachers still needed with self-paced blended learning

Teachers need guidance and training when moving into a blended learning environment


Blended Learning is an entirely new challenge—and chances are you won’t get everything right from the start.

Some teachers initially view self-paced blended learning as a process where the “computer does the teaching” and the role of the teacher is diminished. Practical experience with this style of learning with middle school students over several years indicates that this is not the case.

The teacher is still very important; however, the role changes. In short, this change could be described as a teacher moving from a lecturer to a facilitator, explainer to intervener, generalist to specialist and thus from content focus to content skills and mind-set focus.

Some evidence now supports this view.

Students involved in these middle school courses have been surveyed over the past few years. Results of the surveys have been consistent. The classes were operated by some teachers experienced in a blended learning classroom and some who were not. A recent survey produced varying results. The most significant differences in results were investigated further.

When the results were separated by class/teacher, the one set of results that showed a significant negative variation was of a teacher who was inexperienced in a self-paced blended learning environment. Even when support material is available, transitioning to a new style of classroom interaction takes time and experience and the challenge for a less experienced teacher or teacher bound to traditional teaching methods is significant. This is an indicator that support for teachers transitioning to a new style of teaching should not be superficial; it may need to be in depth and ongoing.

(Next page: Survey results)


Career and Technical Education offers new opportunities

A virtual Career and Technical Education program will create opportunities to enhance your existing curriculum, reach out to your community, involve parents, and leverage your existing staff efficiently and economically

career-technical-education“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question still raises a level of uncertainty, even among adults. And with new 21st century careers and increased demands on graduates to be competitive in the global marketplace, providing our students with rich career training is more crucial now than ever.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) can offer students a glimpse at the career horizon that awaits them by surveying a number of innovative career paths, or it can provide an in-depth study for those who have honed their focus and wish to be a step ahead when they graduate from high school.

To support students in their career exploration, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc*) has identified 16 unique career clusters. Each cluster is broken into numerous courses. While the breadth of offerings available to students allows for personal selection and individual study, the expansion of offerings puts a strain on the traditional classroom.

(Next page: How a virtual Career and Technical Education program improves learning)


How to Have Smarter Language Instruction

GS WP Pic238Much in education is changing, including new standards and assessments; new instructional technologies; and new approaches to preparing students for the global future. Understanding how the pieces fit together can seem overwhelming. This paper discusses the opportunities blended learning creates for foreign language instruction.


How Technology is Powering the World Language Classroom

RosettaWP1aDid you know that World Language teachers currently use technology at higher rates than the national teaching population?

We’ve compiled findings from a collaborative Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up initiative in which school districts from all over the country shared input on education, technology and 21st Century skills. It’s a fun way to learn what educators are doing in the language classroom.


Key ways to support your district’s digital transition

The move to digital can be overwhelming, but the rights steps lead to success

digital-transitionPlanning, enlisting stakeholder support, and identifying the “why” are among the most important steps when it comes to moving from traditional classrooms to digital, connected classrooms.

In fact, according to ed-tech experts and school leaders, technology decisions and purchases should come later, after those crucial steps.

A number of influential educators, stakeholders, and policymakers gathered for Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now forum, which this year focused on steps and policies necessary to support and enable the nation’s transition to digital classrooms.

Transformational change, speakers and attendees agreed, requires strategic planning.

“We have to build awareness for ‘why,'” said Dallas Dance, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools and a 2014 eSchool News Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards winner, as he discussed his district’s steps in planning for its digital transition.

(Next page: Educators’ digital transition tips)