How principals are preparing for Common Core

Principals reveal what is motivating their technology purchases

principals-surveyPrincipals are more optimistic than last year about changes in learning standards and technology taking place in their schools, according to the fourth annual Principals’ Assessment of Public Education, conducted by educational marketing data firm MCH Strategic Data and

Designed to track trends within K-12 schools, the assessment compiled survey responses from more than 500 principals in elementary, middle and high schools across the country. The results provide a snapshot of the current state of schools as they implement Common Core and college and career readiness standards, develop student data privacy policies, and establish a better understanding of what constitutes 21st century learning.

“Shifting expectations for what is taught in schools and how it is being taught are active conversations taking place in every district, whether they are implementing Common Core standards or not,” said John F. Hood, president of MCH Strategic Data. “There are new benchmarks for student achievement and new evaluation methods for educators, making principals’ voices even more important.”

(Next page: Details from the survey, including principals’ feelings about the Common Core)


Google launches Classroom app

Mobile access is the latest update to Google’s free productivity suite

google-classroomGoogle Classroom users have another way to access the tool with the Jan. 14 launch of the Classroom app for both Android and iOS.

Teachers also have two new tools at their disposal–a teacher assignments page and the ability to archive classes, according to a Google for Education blog post by Jorge Lugo, a software engineer for Google Classroom.

Google Classroom launched 6 months ago, and in that time, students and teachers have turned in more than 30 million assignments–enough to stretch from New York to Los Angeles if they were paper assignments laid end-to-end, Lugo noted.

(Next page: 3 Google Classroom app highlights)


7 TED Talks All About Mobile

The psychology of mobile devices, a 12 year-old app developer, how phones make us antisocial, and more

mobile-teensThis month’s TED Talks focuses in on a subject near and dear to our thumbs—our mobile devices.

TED Talks are some of today’s most popular examples of the internet’s power to expand learning opportunities to all. They’re also fun to watch.

I picked this month’s theme because I find the subject endlessly fascinating and the talks listed here, illuminating. For educators juggling using mobile devices in their personal lives and in the classroom, the past, present, and future of the device has a special importance.  There’s plenty to learn about the psychology, anthropology, and future of the mobile device.

First, check out this very funny, very true three minute TED Talk on our “antisocial phone tricks” from social strategist Renny Gleeson, then check out our full list.

Did you miss our most recent TED Talks features? You can find them here.

(Next page: 7 mobile-focused TED Talks)


Toshiba unveils 2-in-1 detachable PC

toshiba-PCToshiba’s Business Solutions Division (BSD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., recently announced the Portege Z20t, a versatile premium 2-in-1 detachable PC with high-precision pen input designed for a wide range of uses. An Ultrabook and tablet in one, the device features a 12.5-inch Full HD IPS detachable display, a sleek thin-and-light design and a reversible keyboard dock that offers users the flexibility to use it in any situation, enabling new productivity possibilities. Powered by Intel’s Core M processor and pen technologies by Wacom, the Portege Z20t delivers the performance users need plus up to a 17.4-hour battery life rating.

“The Portege Z20t is slim and lightweight, yet extremely durable and powerful with amazing battery life. With its multiple modes and high-precision pen input, the device is instantly adaptable to any scenario whether it is insurance adjusters filing claims, educators and students in the classroom, pharmaceutical sales reps on the road or meetings in the office,” said Carl Pinto, vice president of marketing, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Business Solutions Division. “We have engineered this premium device to be the ultimate mobile companion, while still satisfying the security and management requirements critical to IT departments.”

With a 12.5-inch display, the Portege Z20t, provides the perfect balance between mobility and performance. Built with an extremely light, yet durable magnesium alloy, the tablet weighs only 1.6 pounds and when combined with the keyboard dock, just 3.3 pounds. The keyboard dock features a simple hinge mechanism that allows the tablet to be detached with one hand. The attachment mechanism is also reversible, enabling a presentation mode for showing content to a group of people.

(Next page: Details about the new 2-in-1 device)


MindLaunch debuts “Intelligent Educator Match”

System will custom-match students with online teachers

teacher-matchAn online education company is using a system that matches students to the online educator who best suits their learning needs.

MindLaunch, which uses interactive video teaching by state-licensed educators, launched a newly-redesigned website featuring “Intelligent Educator Match (IEM)”.

MindLaunch students have the ability to quickly and easily select the kind of online teacher who best suits their needs and personality, and then be automatically matched and scheduled to begin a quality learning experience in any subject.

Designed by MindLaunch, the unique Intelligent Educator Match (IEM) algorithm is the centerpiece of the website experience that provides a complete educational support platform for students including K-8, high school, college, adult, and corporate.

(Next page: How the educator matching system works)


5 essential tech checks for 2015

Is your tech ready to rock in the New Year? Follow this simple checklist and find out

checlist-techIt’s hard to believe, but 2015 is already upon us. For technology directors and IT personnel, that means a whole new year of fires to put out, devices to fix and networks to repair.

Amid all the chaos, it can be easy to let general maintenance slip under your radar. But in my years as a tech director for districts around California, I realized that staying on top of the small things helped me be more prepared to handle big issues as they arose.

So I came up with five essential “tech checks” to complete at the beginning of each calendar year, and I hope they’ll be as helpful to you as they were to me.

1. Count ‘em. Take an inventory of your current devices and accessories like carts and charging adapters, and make sure the counts match up to what you should have. If there are missing devices, find out where they may have been moved or used. Need help with device management? Something like the Casper Suite from JAMF Software will quickly become your best friend.

(Next page: the checklist continues, plus the best kept secret in ed tech)


7 reasons why your school should teach robotics and game design

One teacher describes the big impact robotics, coding, and STEM has had on her students


I love every aspect of programming—the frustration, the creativity, everything. I taught myself and now I’m lucky enough to teach students how to code, build robots, and design mobile apps. I’m there to guide them, but the students, like me, are really learning these skills through their own hard work.

I think everyone should learn how to program and of course I’m no exception. My transformation from librarian-turned-tech facilitator to coding teacher started with a back room full of old busted computers. My school didn’t know what to do with them so I decided to fix them up and make them useful. Then I started thinking, “What else can I do?” I read something about Arduino and soon I was tinkering with parts, building, and programming anything I could get my hands on. It became a hobby.

When I moved to Plaquemine High School, near Baton Rouge, our principal had just written a big grant for the Dow Corp. to create a STEM program featuring elective classes in robotics and game design for 9-12th graders. When we got it, he asked me to design the curriculum, attend trainings, and teach the courses. It was a dream come true. Now I get to help students develop the creativity, logic, critical thinking, and career skills they need for the future. Here are seven reasons why every school should consider doing the same.

(Next page: why you can afford it and 6 other reasons)


How can the U.S. change math education?

Educators and experts gather to discuss the state of math education and how to keep students invested in STEM

math-techChanging the way math content is presented to students and ensuring teachers feel empowered in their math instruction are two important steps to elevating math education in the U.S., according to a panel of educators and experts who gathered for a Discovery Education thought leadership event to launch Discovery’s Math Techbook.

“There is no more important job in America than the job of a schoolteacher,” said Tom Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, during the event. “It’s about showing endless possibilities. It’s about recognizing that different people learn differently, and learning by doing is such an important component of that.”

Career and technical education has somehow been devalued in the nation, Perez said, and focusing on STEM education is one way to elevate that career path.

“There are multiple pathways to the middle class. As we redouble our efforts in the STEM context, to repair this leaky pipeline, [we have to realize] we’re losing too many kids at an early age,” he said. “So, we must start with the notion that every child is gifted and talented.”

(Next page: Highlights from the panel discussion about math education)


These 6 questions determine if you’re technology rich, innovation poor

Think your school is innovative with tech? Answer these 6 questions and prepare to reassess

innovation-questionsAt the start of a webinar I recently conducted for school leaders, I asked attendees if they felt they were leading an innovative school as a result of the implementation of technology. More than 90 percent responded that they were. At the end of the webinar, when polled again, only one leader claimed to be leading an innovative school.

The complete reversal was due to a presentation on the six questions that you will read about in this article—a list of questions that were developed to help clarify for educators the unique added value of a digital learning environment, and whether their assignments were making the best use of this environment.

Want to test your own level of innovation? If you answer no to all six questions when evaluating the design of assignments and student work, then chances are that technology is not really being applied in the most innovative ways. The questions we ask to evaluate implementation and define innovation are critical.

(Beyond SAMR: Special note to those of you applying SAMR. Many educators who believed their assignment to be at the highest level of SAMR have discovered that the answer can be no to all six of the transformation questions.)

(Next page: the 6 questions and how to shape your lessons for innovation)