Bricolage, MOSL and 8 soon-to-be-huge ed tech innovations

Experts say these 10 pedagogical innovations have massive potential

innovation-pedagogy-2015You know by now about Flipped Learning, but what about Massive Open Social Learning (MOSL)? Threshold Concepts? Bricolage?

According to education technology experts at The Open University, a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the U.K., there are 10 innovations already in currency across the pond today; they just haven’t had a profound influence…yet.

But that’s what 2015 is for.

Specifically, the report emphasizes that education can be dramatically enhanced by social networks. The so-called ‘network effect’ comes from thousands of people learning from each other, but it needs careful management to reach its full potential.

“Social networks have transformed entertainment from delivering books, radio and television programs into holding a global conversation. The same is about to happen with education through social learning,” said Mike Sharples, professor of Educational Technology at the OU and lead author of the Innovating Pedagogy report.

The list of innovations was compiled by a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in the OU after proposing a long list of new educational terms, theories and practices. The group then pared these down to 10 that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice.

(Next page: MOSL and the rest of the top 5 innovations)


Can you spot these IT misconfigurations?

Continuity Software launches Infrastructure Mania Contest

network-challengeThrough a new contest, IT professionals are challenged to find misconfigurations and best practices violations that put service availability and disaster recoverability at risk.

Continuity Software’s Infrastructure Mania Contest launched on Dec. 2 and offers IT professionals the opportunity to review a data center infrastructure diagram to find the (at least) 21 misconfigurations and best practices violations that render a network vulnerable.

The IT professional who correctly identifies the most risks and/or violations by the Dec. 21 deadline will be awarded an Apple iPad Air 2.

Continuity Software provides service availability risk management solutions that mitigate downtime and data-loss risks across the entire enterprise IT landscape, including the data center’s disaster recovery, high availability, and private cloud environments.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


7 free flipped classroom creation apps you might not know

You might not know these apps for creating lessons, video, and more—perfect for the flipped classroom

flipped-appsThe flipped classroom gives students more time in class to do, not just listen,  and gives teachers new opportunities to revamp their lessons in creative, multimedia ways for at-home consumption. But for all that you need the right tools.

Here, we’ve gathered a handful of apps for content creation, from video to podcasting to slideshows, summarized on, an app resource site with more than 6,000 apps in more than 300 subcategories. And this time, we’ve selected apps that don’t typically crop up on flipped classroom lists, so you and your students can try something new.

[Editor’s note: eSchool News has selected these apps, which were originally curated by Apple Distinguished Educators, that may help you meet your instructional needs.]

1. StoryKit, Free

Create an electronic storybook. Make use of the little gaps in life – on the sofa after dinner, in the back seat of the car, or on a train – to do something creative together. The app lets students stitch together text, photos, drawings, sounds, and more, and constantly saves work via the cloud.

2. Ask3, Free

Based on the popular “ask three before me” concept, this app allows teachers and students to quickly ask and answer each other’s questions with text and their own videos. This free app turns each iPad into a whiteboard that can record voice and visuals for instant classroom sharing.

(Next page: free apps for podcasting, slideshows, and more)


Autodesk offers free design software to students across the globe

U.S. students received free access earlier in 2014


Courtesy of Autodesk

Earlier this year, Autodesk made its software available to U.S. middle and high school students for free in support of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, and now the company is expanding free access to its professional design software to 188 countries across the globe.

More than 680 million students and educators from more than 800,000 secondary and post-secondary schools will be able to use Autodesk’s 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software for both in-school and at-home educational use, though commercial use is not allowed.

(Next page: Resources to help integrate Autodesk’s design software into instruction)


Report Card: How the Digital Skills Gap is Failing Teachers & Students – And What We Can Do About It

Grovo_Logo_180x1241Are your students’ tech skills outpacing your teachers’ skills? If so, you’re not alone. What’s more, although your students may be always connected to the online world, they could lack the finesse to safely and effectively navigate and communicate in the digital realm. Grovo explores a twin digital skills gap that exists at many K-12 schools across the country, and explains six important trends that savvy educators must know about.


Teaching Argumentation and Reading for Evidence

BritannicaDec2014200x300Students are experiencing a shift in every grade from narrative reading and writing to evidence-based reading, writing, and argumentation. This white paper reviews current thinking on this topic and provides sample activities for helping students acquire these key skills.


ED proposes more transparency in teacher prep

New regulations would focus on feedback, data reporting for future teachers

teacher-policyThe U.S. Department of Education is proposing regulations, including more transparency and real-time feedback, to help ensure teacher training programs are preparing educators who are ready to succeed in the classroom.

The proposal builds on the reforms and innovations already happening at the state and program level across the country and by national organizations like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The new rule shifts the focus for currently required state reporting on teacher preparation programs from mostly inputs to outcomes – such as how graduates are doing in the classroom – while giving states much flexibility to determine how they will use the new measures and how program performance is measured.

“It has long been clear that as a nation, we could do a far better job of preparing teachers for the classroom. It’s not just something that studies show – I hear it in my conversations with teachers, principals and parents,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “New teachers want to do a great job for their kids, but often, they struggle at the beginning of their careers and have to figure out too much for themselves. Teachers deserve better, and our students do too. This proposal, along with our other key initiatives in supporting flexibility, equity and leadership, will help get us closer to President Obama’s goal of putting a great teacher in every classroom, and especially in our high-need schools.”

(Next page: Examples of states’ efforts to improve teacher prep)


6 Minecraft lesson ideas for your Common Core math class

From graphing paper to algebra puzzles, one teacher shares tons of practical lesson ideas for turning math class into “Mathcraft”


Ed. note: For more Minecraft lesson ideas, see Jim Pike’s lesson plans on order of operations and area and perimeter, featuring explainer videos and more, on the website Educade.

Last year I taught third-grade math in a whole new way. Combining elements from the wildly popular sandbox game Minecraft, I had students thinking visually and creatively about mathematical models and theories that went way beyond a typical third-grade curriculum, transforming math class into what I like to call Mathcraft.

Why Minecraft? I could say I am using Minecraft for a number of reasons, like how I find Minecraft enhances metacognition by increasing students’ memory storage capacity. The game itself creates a relatable enjoyable experience that can be internalized and shared in a community of learners. The limitations on the working memory are minimized because the gameplay itself is an extension of our visual sketchpad. Working with students they always say, “I can see it,” and when they see it they share it.

However, the real reason I use Minecraft is that the students chose it. The popularity of the game is so overwhelming and when the lesson became the engagement their attention, confidence, and motivation soared. Here are six great ways to use it in your math classroom.

1. Let students create their world.
If you have an aggressive Minecraft class, you can put them in a single world and either let them all build it by themselves, or allow all the students to build a world together. Personally, I just open up a world in MinecraftEDU (which makes it easier for the teacher since you can do things like freeze the students and transport). I don’t use worlds that have already been created, opting instead to let the kids build their own. I use MinecraftEDU as my server runner and open up the superflat world. We start building and we end up with a crazy math city.

(Next page: 5 more ways to use Minecraft, including adding in maker elements and changing classroom culture)