New resources aim to demostrate K-12 video collaboration

Partnership extends innovative video conferencing approaches to three districts

video-conferencingEducation Networks of America (ENA), in collaboration with Wainhouse Research, today released a rich suite of resources that illustrate how school districts are advancing the use of today’s video conferencing technology to connect, collaborate, educate, and optimize learning experiences.

Three school districts that are using desktop and mobile video conferencing in creative and innovative ways are featured as a set of companion case studies. These school systems vary in size, student demographics, and implementation strategies, but each is creating effective and meaningful collaborative learning and communication spaces for their students, educators, administrators, and the broader community.

The proliferation of mobile devices combined with new desktop and mobile video collaboration solutions enables educators and learners, as end-users, to engage in anytime/anywhere video communications via their smartphones, tablets, and/or computers.

Next page: Key components of the video conferencing resources

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ADTRAN launches new cloud service

ProCloud.EDU offers services suite from the cloud to the classroom to create a technology-infused learning environment

cloud-serviceADTRAN, Inc., has launched ProCloud.EDU, a wireless digital learning (WDL) suite that leverages the power of technology in the classroom with secure, cloud-managed Wi-Fi that is optimized from the network down to each student device.

As teachers and school administrators revamp their curriculum to better prepare students for careers in a globally connected economy, technology is playing a stronger role than ever before. ProCloud.EDU helps schools embrace this change and transform into modern, technology-empowered learning centers with increased functionality like capacity planning, cloud-managed Wi-Fi, content filtering and classroom management software.

“Anticipated E-rate funding for Wi-Fi, along with a burgeoning number of education applications is driving classroom wireless adoption. New solutions are needed to plan and deploy secure classroom Wi-Fi while also addressing policy controls and ongoing maintenance in a lower-touch way in order to support the best learning environment possible,” said Nolan Greene, research analyst for IDC’s Network Infrastructure Group.

Next page: Top features of the ProCloud.EDU learning suite

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Why E-rate expansion is a must for our schools

With some districts and schools still struggling to meet bandwidth needs, keeping E-rate strong is more vital than ever

e-rate-broadbandAs a former school superintendent, and as the current head of the School Superintendents Association (AASA), I know firsthand that staying ahead of the curve when it comes to high technology isn’t easy. The digital concept is so important for our schools today. That’s why especially pleased when, recently, the Federal Communications Commission and the Universal Service and Administrative Company extended a crucial filing deadline related to the high-speed internet program in schools and libraries, commonly known as E-Rate.

The extension provides school districts, particularly rural districts, time to submit applications to secure funding and ultimately increase connectivity in their communities (the new deadline is April 16). Since its inception, the AASA has advocated for the E-rate program and the critical role it plays when it comes to the rapid and dramatic expansion of school and library connectivity.

Currently, we are working with superintendents around the nation to ensure they have the proper planning and professional development in place to provide our students with digital learning.

As the roles of connectivity and technology within our schools continue to evolve, modernizing the E-rate program is a huge priority for us. In December, the program took a bold step forward when the FCC voted to raise the E-rate funding cap by $1.5 billion. An investment of this magnitude has a huge benefit for children, teachers and, ultimately, American competitiveness. It’s significant and represents strong, sound policy. What’s more, it demonstrates the FCC’s ongoing commitment to the core values of the E-rate program, including access to 21st century learning opportunities, equity and supporting—in a sustainable way—the E-rate program’s transition from mere connectivity to sufficient capacity.

Next page: How AASA is making a difference

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3 tips for implementing a tech-based learning environment

To assist schools grappling with making the digital leap, three large, national professional education associations offer practical guidance, best practices and examples of model technology-enabled schools.

digital-leapEd. note: This article is republished with permission from the Center for Digital Education. The original version is available online.

implementing-digitalMaking a digital leap isn’t simply a technology initiative; it’s planning and implementing a technology-based learning environment for all students – a digitally-enabled ecosystem that is continuously improving, according to one organization. But when educators have a limited understanding of how to successfully integrate technology within education, it might seem as though they’re facing an abyss.

To assist schools grappling with these efforts, three large, national professional education associations combined forces, offering practical guidance, best practices and examples of model technology-enabled schools.

In 2014 the School Superintendents Association (AASA), Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) formed Leading the Digital Leap, a nonprofit that has set out to help schools learn from and avoid spectacular problems, such as those associated with the controversial Los Angeles County Unified School District’s iPad program rollout and the bankruptcy of ConnectEDU Inc., in which confidential student data was sold.

Where does it all begin? With a focus on education, not technology, according to Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. He and officials from the aforementioned organizations have offered up three key tenets for planning a successful tech-based learning environment.

Next page: Plan before purchasing and other tips

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Posting PARCC exams on social media is copyright infringement

One lawyer defends the practice of monitoring students on social media sites after high-stakes testing

parcc-twitterA storm of criticism recently rained down on test publisher Pearson Education after the revelation that it regularly monitors social-media sites for public posts that contain secure content from standardized tests it publishes.

When it finds material from its Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Common Core tests, Pearson notifies state education officials. They attempt to identify the individuals who posted the material. If students are responsible, they are instructed to remove the posts. Anti-testing activists, already knee-deep in their fight to reduce reliance on standardized tests to measure academic and teacher performance, have expressed outrage about Pearson’s monitoring, which they call “spying on kids.”

PARCC tests are administered over a period of weeks across New Jersey, as well as in 10 other states and Washington, D.C. It is especially important to monitor social media for exam content when the same test is administered over a period of days or weeks or across time zones. Students who see exam content before they take the test obviously have an unfair advantage over others, and responses to such questions are not a valid measure of their knowledge. If a sufficient number of questions are exposed, test results are stripped of fairness and validity and are rendered meaningless.

It is a complete distortion of the issue to cast Web monitoring as a student privacy issue. The phrase spying on kids may have emotional appeal, but it improperly suggests that those posting exam content online deserve privacy protection. To the contrary, kids post on social media to instantaneously share their thoughts and content with the entire world. Therefore, no student’s privacy is at risk as a result of monitoring social media. “Student privacy” is a smokescreen for improper conduct that not only invalidates test results but also violates copyright law.

Next page: Why it could be copyright infringement

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myON adds content from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Four new digital content subscription packages for Pre-K-12 readers now available

digital-contentmyON, a business unit of Capstone, has introduced digital content from global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) to the myON literacy environment. With the addition of HMH titles, myON continues to expand its collection to encourage reading at all levels spanning all grades, PreK-12.

Through its Publisher Program, myON incorporates titles from leading content providers in the U.S. and abroad, and provides subscription-based access for schools through its cloud-based literacy environment.

With this latest addition of four incredible digital packages from HMH — Picture Books, Award Winners, as well as a Middle and High School package — students can search for books they find interesting and engaging. The Picture Book package features everyone’s favorite monkey, Curious George. Award Winners include The Bronze Bow, The Midwife’s Apprentice, A Single Shard, and Caldecott Medal Winner Golem, along with a host of Newbery Honor books. The Middle and High School packages feature titles from well-known authors such as Eleanor Estes, Glenn Stout, Gary Paulsen, Roland Smith and many more.

Next page: How to locate all the titles available through the update

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MIND Research, Boeing partner on math PD

Boeing’s Gift to MIND Impacts Hundreds of Southern California Teachers Using ST Math

math-PDThrough a grant from Boeing, the nonprofit MIND Research Institute aims to help teachers excel using ST Math, a blended learning program designed to boost K-12 math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning. The grant provides specialized professional development to hundreds of Southern California math teachers, and is funding the creation of a new training program.

Boeing’s gift to MIND provides an extensive teacher development course called “Make the Standards of Mathematical Practice Come Alive with ST Math,” to 160 teachers at nine schools in Huntington Beach City School District, who are currently participating in the training.

Boeing support is intended to help MIND design and build the professional development program with the goal of demonstrating impact to raise more support for its further scale up.

Next page: Details about the math training program and what it offers teachers

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CASE endorses Fast ForWord

Online language and literacy intervention uses the principles of neuroplasticity to target the root causes of slow academic progress in struggling students

fast-forwordThe Fast ForWord program from Scientific Learning Corp. has received an official endorsement from the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), an international professional organization affiliated with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

CEC’s members are dedicated to the enhancement of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of each individual in society. CASE provides leadership and support to members by shaping policies and practices which impact the quality of education.

Fast ForWord earned the endorsement after meeting or exceeding all of the CASE criteria. CASE bases its endorsements on a rigorous evaluation of a wide range of criteria including the product’s research base, application with students who have learning differences, application in diverse settings, performance in field tests, customer satisfaction, and enhancement of professional practices advocated by CASE.

Next page: How Fast ForWord helps students with learning differences

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Publisher DK launches free education research site

Reference tool is aimed at students ages 7-11

education-referencePublishers DK have launched a new online resource called DKfindout!–a global education website for children, parents and teachers.

The site is primarily aimed at children aged 7-11, and brings together DK’s bank of images and content across a breadth of subjects.

The site is free to use and aims to give children, teachers and parents a learning and reference tool to use both in the classroom and at home. Topics, such as the human body, zoology, and geology are covered in age-appropriate text with corresponding interactive images.

DKfindout! will provide children and their parents with a wealth of information across core educational topics, from science and mathematics to geography and history.

The visual resource supports learning both in the home and at school; it also provides teachers with an engaging, educational tool to use when teaching, and a reliable source of information to help with lesson planning.

DKfindout! is a safe, age-appropriate online environment for children that brings DK’s visual approach to the internet.

Key features of DKfindout! include:
-Key subject areas in US curriculum are covered
-Content is easily accessible on all devices, including desktop, tablet and mobile
-The website caters for every type of learner, from those who prefer to read information to visual learners
-Accurate and up-to-date facts authenticated by experts
-Content will be constantly updated throughout 2015 and beyond, in line with changes to teaching practice
-Includes animations, sounds, videos and thousands of photographs
-Hundreds of quiz questions supporting every topic
-Teacher area in development throughout 2015 – includes a bespoke tool for teachers to create lesson plans
-Parent information and support
-Powerful search engine allows users to find exactly what they are looking for quickly, easily and visually

DKfindout! launched in January 2015 at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Create a class of GPS explorers with geocaching

Geocaching combines problem solving, collaboration, and appreciation for the outdoors

geocaching-classroomSeveral years ago I attended a Discovery Education Teacher Institute in San Francisco, and was pulled into the adventurous world of geocaching. It was there, near the windy shores of the San Francisco Bay, that I experienced my first techy treasure hunt. After giving a speedy lesson how to use a GPS device, facilitators helped split attendees into groups of three as we locked in a given set of coordinates to begin our search for a series of “caches,” or containers with coupons for free swag hidden inside. It was a terrific bonding experience for the group and friendships were quickly formed.

Geocaching is a location-based technology treasure hunting activity that combines the great outdoors with technology and learning. With a GPS device in hand, one can look for hidden containers anywhere on earth—anywhere! Like a homing pigeon, the device zeroes in on a hidden cache and the hunt is on—often through terrain and landscapes that otherwise go unnoticed. Most containers include a logbook of those who have found it in the past, and as a result, connect a community of geocachers.

As my school’s Instructional Technology Coach, I’m constantly in search of new and inventive ways to incorporate technology both inside and outside the classroom. And as I soon learned, geocaching is not only a unique way to integrate your standards, it also teaches responsibility and caring for the environment, as geocachers are expected to adhere to the movement’s creed of “Cache In Trash Out.”

Moving into fields and forests and making learning different and more enjoyable, geocaching creates unforgettable experiences for students that go well beyond the four walls of the classroom. Of course, there are a few hurdles to jump before diving in, but with a bit of planning teachers can be on their way to creating a fun activity for their students. First and foremost, a GPS device is needed, along with a solid lesson plan, and a safe place to hide the cache.

Next page: Which devices and apps to use

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