Self-paced blended learning highlights ‘average’ student myth

Data from a middle school self-paced blended learning class reinforces the concept that variation from one student to the next is significant

blended-education“If you design something for the average …person, wouldn’t it fit most people?”

Todd Rose – The Myth of Average: from TEDx

This seems like a natural conclusion to draw, but research has shown this is incorrect. As Todd points out in his talk, research was undertaken 60 years ago by the U.S. Air Force into the average size of fighter pilots. The goal was to design a jet cockpit that would be the best fit for pilots.

After collecting data on a range of physical body measurements, a profile of the “average” pilot was made. They then searched their data to determine the number of pilots who would fit this “average” profile. The expectation was that there would be quite a few. The reality was different; not one pilot fit the average profile. There was no such thing as an average pilot.

The concept of the average student is probably equally misleading.

Data from a middle school self-paced blended learning class reinforces the concept that variation from one student to the next is significant. This data is not a “one off” and has been reproduced many times, in many other classes.

(Next page: Self-paced blended learning assessments)


Six strategies for persuasion in the digital age

Best-selling author Dan Pink says persuasion needs a reboot in the Age of Information; here are his six recommendations for how school leaders can influence others to act


Effective persuasion isn’t about changing people’s minds, Pink said; it’s about making it easy for them to act.

Best-selling author Dan Pink kicked off ASCD’s annual conference in Los Angeles March 15 by noting how important persuasion is to school leaders’ jobs—and yet the dynamics of persuasion have changed radically in the Information Age.

Pink said he was involved in a recent study that surveyed 7,000 full-time adult workers in the United States. When they were asked, “What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you offer,” the responses averaged 41 percent.

That means people spend an average of 24 minutes of every hour trying to persuade or move others as part of their job, Pink said—and that’s certainly true of school leaders as well.

But with information so easily available to anyone with internet access, the keys to successful persuasion have changed. It used to be that the person doing the “selling” had all the power in a relationship, Pink said; now, that’s no longer true.

“Information parity has shifted the balance of power” to create a more level playing field, he said—and this change has important implications for school leaders.

(Next page: Six ways to move people in the digital age)


Overcoming challenges to online and flipped learning

Adobe200wTeachers have encountered a few key challenges in moving their instruction online. For one thing, it’s hard to keep students fully attuned in an online or “flipped class” format, while addressing their questions in real time—at their moment of greatest need. Also, many teachers lack the time or expertise to create engaging video content. Download this free white paper to learn of one solution to these challenges.


20 tips and features of blended learning programs

As more blended learning programs pop up, its benefits become more evident

blended-learningBlended learning programs are growing in popularity across the U.S., as more educators and students seek to personalize teaching and learning through education programs that combine face-to-face learning with online instruction and content delivery.

Research from Digital Learning Now! indicates that blended learning increases student and teacher productivity, and provides school leaders with “more and better data that creates an integrated and customizable learning experience.”

While creating more opportunities for students to use technology is a step in the right direction, blended learning advocacy groups maintain that to meet blended learning’s full potential, instructional practices, school schedules, student and educator relationships, and resources allocations must change.

(Next page: 6 blended learning features, 10 blended learning drivers, and 4 common steps)


10 next-generation science apps for education

These next-generation science apps range from visually stunning multimedia to great resources for curious minds

science-apps-educationThe Next Generation Science Standards are a new set of standards that provide consistent science education through all grades, with an emphasis on technology and engineering.

eSchool News readers have shown a strong interest in learning more about how apps can help educators improve learning and deliver instruction more efficiently. One reader recommended using the OnScreen DNA ModelOnScreen Gene Transcription, and OnScreen DNA Replication for teaching DNA structure and function via interactive 3D simulations.

Another reader shared a personal favorite science app called The Atomic Dashboard, which teaches about the chemical elements and the periodic table.

We have compiled our own list of the the top 10 next-generation science apps for education. This is just a sampling of available science apps. Do you use an app that isn’t on the list? Make sure to mention it in the comments section below.

[Editor’s note: Prices are current as of press time. Please note that app prices may fluctuate. Apps listed in alphabetical order.]

1. Chemist, iPadAndroid tablet $4.99

This science app is one of the only virtual chemistry labs for tablets to conduct chemistry experiments and explore chemistry reactions with different lab tools. Try mixing chemicals by pouring them into beakers or test tubes. You can also heat the chemicals with a bunsen burner, or put a piece of cesium into water. The 3D stage enables the parallax effect from different angles. Chemist has a built-in database with more than 200 chemical reagents, and additional chemical reagents will be added periodically through the online database CloudLab for more chemical reactions.

(Next page: Apps 2-6)


App of the Week: Music Superheroes

app-weekName: Music Superheroes

What is it? Music Superheroes is the app that will teach your children music concepts and skills while they play with characters Mathy and Matteo

Best for: Young children

Price: $1.99

Rated: 4+

Requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Requires Android 4.0 and up.

Children can experience:
– 5 chapters covering concepts such as tempo, rhythm, notes, instruments and music production;
– funny and colorful graphics;
– original games and real sounds from instruments;
– tutorials that will guide toddlers through the lessons;
– levels designed to allow creativity to flow and develop critical minds;
– record your own voice and add it to Superheroes’ Hymn;
– no in-app purchases;
– no third-party advertising

Link: [iTunes]



Learning analytics now a key feature of school software

Analytics tools help educators visualize trends and quickly respond to at-risk student behavior


The use of analytics is a ‘natural progression’ for schools.

School software programs are getting more sophisticated in using data analytics to help educators target their instruction more effectively and personalize learning for students.

Learning and instructional management systems now include increasingly powerful “data dashboards” that show teachers and administrators what interventions their students need—and how best to deliver these.

A ‘natural progression’

“The use of analytics is a natural progression as districts continue to personalize student learning,” said Ray Ackerlund, vice president of marketing for Skyward Inc. “Having a stronger understanding of each student’s progress, and the ability to analyze data to identify trends or deficiencies, … provides a more impactful learning environment.”

During the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin last month, Skyward debuted a new data analytics tool called myDistrict360. Developed in partnership with analytics company BravePoint, it’s a customizable portal for teachers and administrators to visualize student and financial information in an easy-to-understand format.

On the instructional side, educators can set up “Watchlist Alerts” that let them know which students need extra attention, using automatic triggers they create themselves—such as a certain number of unexcused absences or missed assignments.

On the business side, school and district leaders can get a visual breakdown of their costs, and what percentage of their total budget each item represents. They can do budget forecasting by changing different variables and seeing how these changes would affect costs.

At TCEA, Schoology also announced a new analytics dashboard for its learning management system.

This enhancement to the enterprise version of Schoology helps educators measure and quantify student learning over time, the company said, using quizzes, homework, projects, test items, and other assignments that are aligned with learning outcomes.

Schoology comes pre-loaded with state and Common Core standards, so teachers can align all assignments entered into the software with these standards—or they can add their own customized learning outcomes.

(Next page: A unique approach to analytics that uses “motion graphs” to tell a story—and “recommendation engines” that can suggest specific interventions for each student)


March: 5 education grants you don’t want to miss

march-grantSchool funding difficulties show no sign of abating this March, and school budgets are stretched to the limit. Many educators and administrators rely on school grants to fund important projects and opportunities for students.

Each month, eSchool News editors compile a list of the most current education grants expiring soon—from a focus on integrating finance into math projects to corporate funding for school arts programs. You don’t want to miss out on these March school funding opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

(Next page: March’s funding opportunities)