3 must-dos for caring for your mobile devices

Use these tips to ensure devices are being properly used and cared for

mobile-learningToday’s classrooms, at any level, are drastically different from the classrooms of just 10 years ago. Messy chalkboards have been replaced by interactive whiteboards connected to computers. Personal tablets and styluses have taken over the classic No. 2 pencils and lined paper. In fact, many middle and high school students have access to mobile devices and are using those devices for schoolwork. And, according to a 2014 report by Project Tomorrow, almost a third of those students are using a mobile device issued by their schools.

While mobile learning continues to work its way further into educational institutions, administrators and their team of educators are faced with a new set of issues.

How will our teachers and students learn to use these devices?

What happens when students break or lose their tablets?

These issues and more are bound to arise as the education industry explores new ways to leverage mobile devices in the classroom. Below are three necessities to consider for running a successful mobile education plan and keeping devices in good working order.

1. A training strategy

Although many of today’s students have grown up with smartphones and tablets, there’s no room to ignore training on issued mobile devices—for both students and educators. To get the most out of mobile devices issued by a school system, students and teachers must have access to training and troubleshooting for those devices. When exploring options and vetting providers, ask if any support of training initiatives is offered. If not, it’s important to research other options, or dedicate time outside of regular school hours for training staff. Once the staff is up to speed on the technology, including troubleshooting, students will also need a training program.

Next page: How to protect your devices


Skyward expands use of the Ed-Fi Data Standard

Comprehensive data technology is intended to improve school districts’ data submissions

data-edfiSkyward, a K-12 school administrative software provider, has broadened the use of the Ed-Fi Data Standard in a move that it hopes will dramatically improve data interoperability between districts and state agencies.

Unifying, standardizing and organizing data is a major challenge for many education agencies. Because each state agency typically creates its own regulations, SIS vendors are required to develop one-off approaches to meet the customization of local data-reporting requirements.

Due to the complexity associated with making these adjustments and supporting ongoing changes in data needs by the agencies, school districts generally also have to commit additional resources to maintain compliance.

Next page: What the Ed-Fi Alliance aims to do


Students use tech to drive career exploration

Kids drive own learning with input on WIN Learning’s Career Exploration Mobile App development

career-techAs the school year ends, some students in low-income rural areas may feel that their time in class hasn’t brought them any closer to going to college or getting beyond a minimum wage job.

However, students in north central and south central Kentucky are plotting their career paths and even finding the grants, scholarships and other funds to pursue their paths, thanks to the efforts and initiatives of the kid-FRIENDLy (Kids-Focused, Responsible, Imaginative, Engaged, Determined to Learn) Project (http://www.kidfriendlyky.com), a program funded in 2012 by the largest Race To The Top-District (RTTT-D) grant awarded.

The kid-FRIENDLy Project focuses on student empowerment, supporting students’ building daily habits of goal setting, teamwork, critical thinking, communication, creativity and problem solving, making them leaders of their own learning. The program also promotes personalized learning strategies, including online and off-campus work environments, flipped classrooms, student teaming, and emphasis on students’ learning needs, preferences and responsibility.

Next page: The program’s impact


N.C. recommends STEMscopes for state science adoption

Digital K-12 science solution aims to give students a comprehensive and interactive learning experience

stem-learningAccelerate Learning announced that STEMscopes North Carolina, its digital K-12 science solution built to meet the North Carolina science standards, has been recommended by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for use in science classrooms across the state.

Developed by Accelerate Learning and Rice University, STEMscopes North Carolina was built based upon North Carolina’s Essential Standards and Clarifying Objectives outlined in the Department of Public Instruction’s Standard Course of Study.

Accelerate Learning’s custom state versions are currently used by nearly 2 million students across the country.

“Initially STEMscopes was used primarily by Texas elementary school teachers. In just a few short years it has become a comprehensive pre-K-12 science curriculum utilized by nearly 100,000 teachers nationwide. We attribute this success to our close collaboration with teachers to build and continually improve a digital science curriculum tool that meets their daily instructional and assessment needs,” said Dr. Vernon Johnson, president and CEO of Accelerate Learning. “Clearly, the North Carolina evaluators agree. All 42 of the courses we submitted for K-8 science, and high school biology, physics and chemistry, were recommended for the North Carolina adoption. We are honored that our solutions were selected to help educate North Carolina students develop a deeper understanding of the STEM subjects.”

Designed to work in any classroom – traditional, blended and one-to-one – STEMscopes provides teacher and student digital resources, supplemental print materials, and hands-on exploration kits that build student engagement and excitement for learning.

Inquiry-based investigation is at the core of STEMscopes. It intends to foster student understanding of science through meaningful hands-on inquiry-based investigations, so they develop deeper understandings of the world around them.

STEMscopes is built on an HTML5 platform, thus its digital resources are compatible with tablets, computers and smartphones.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Inside the schools where college prep and project-based learning go hand-in-hand

A PBL approach is making strides at a system where 99 percent of students go to college

college-prepHigh Tech Highthe San Diego-based charter-school system comprised of five high schools and eight total elementary and middle schoolslikes to think of itself as something of an outlier. It boasts that 99 percent of its students matriculate to higher education (and 82 percent graduate), but it has no AP courses. It counts college prep as one of its strongest assets, but rejects Carnegie units and the traditional testing still commonplace in many of today’s universities. Rather, at High Tech High, the focus is on integrated project-based learning that aims to prepare students for the last years of collegenot the first.

It’s an unusual approach, but it appears to be paying off. The system is expanding (recently, it added an elementary school), colleges are gaining favorable impressions of the model, and a forthcoming documentary profiling the system, Most Likely to Succeed, from director Greg Whiteley (Mitt), is landing favorably at film festivals. Recently, HTH’s director of college advising, Chris White, spoke with us about what his schools look like, their approach to technology,  and preparing all students for success.

How receptive are colleges and universities to this rather innovative model?

Chris White: Very receptive. The bottom line is colleges and universities are looking for fresh insight and fresh perspective in their classrooms. And our project-based curriculum lends itself to that. I’ve been here 13 years, and having been on the admissions side of the desk for many years, that was clearly my goal, and is my current goal, to continue to educate universities about our non-traditional educational environment and how our students are educated and can add value and diversityand not just ethnic diversity but perspective diversityto the classroom.

We’ll have about 130 universities and colleges visit our campus between September and November, and it’s kind of a who’s who of colleges. They will meet with our students and it’s an opportunity for the students to learn about the institutions. I strategically have students share their most current project that they’re working on so that the admissions reps can see depth vs. breadth. The AP is great curriculum but it is more in breadth while we go more into depth. And our students are able to articulate their projects, and colleges and universities tend to get really excited about what the students are working on.

Next page: Where the “high tech” comes in


5 reasons certification is important for ed-tech leaders

How certification can set educators up for a lifetime of learning

“He who learns from one who is learning drinks from a flowing river.” – Native American Proverb

Certification-educationEarlier this month, I spoke at TEDxUCIrvine and issued a challenge to educators to “reclaim the teachers’ lounge” by transforming the space into a positive, collaborative environment that embraces the “Yes, and…” philosophy of lifelong learning.

How does lifelong learning relate to leadership in education, and the role of certification? Quite directly, I believe. There is an increasing movement toward alternative learning opportunities–education beyond advanced degrees. Certification just may be the sweet spot that bridges leadership, lifelong learning, and formal training.

Here are some of the advantages and opportunities for today’s ed tech leader that certification offers:

Level up
In an industry in which a single, regularly renewed credential provides educators an opportunity for a lifetime of work, certification provides a way for educators to develop new skills and opportunities to enhance teaching and learning without leaving the classroom or their current roles in a school or district. Indeed, there is a huge relevancy in being a practicing educator while obtaining these certifications. Current practitioners are more often sought after as speakers, trainers, and consultants for forward-thinking schools and districts seeking to transform themselves and looking for the best talent out there to bring their vision into reality.

Next page: Improve career prospects, leverage experts, and more


Computer scientist uses robots to draw students to STEM

Texas middle, high school students met weekly to learn about STEM concepts and create robots

robots-stemA University of Texas at Arlington computer scientist and his students are using assistive robots to spur the interest of local middle- and high-school students toward STEM.

Gian-Luca Mariottini, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, has launched the Technology Education Academy, a pilot 12-week, after-school program funded by the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation and in collaboration with the Arlington Public Library and Arlington school district.

The Academy serves eighth- through 12th-graders from some AISD schools at “The Lab” at the East Arlington Branch Library. The Academy ended in mid-May.

Next page: How the program is different from a ‘play with robots’ approach


EXO U, Clever partner for secure digital learning platform

Clever’s single sign-on capabilities will provide educators and students easy access to EXO U’s operating-neutral platform

exo-digitalEXO U Inc., developer of the newly launched EXO U Digital Education Platform, announced a partnership agreement with Clever, Inc., a provider of secure single sign-on access for school-based learning software and student information systems.

The company plans to continue to enter into agreements with additional partners and distributors to enhance its product offering and expand its reach into the education sector.

The partnership with Clever enables EXO U users to benefit from Instant Login, a single sign-on feature that delivers seamless, one-click login capabilities and secure data management for teachers and students.

Educators are asking for a secure single sign-on solution that will allow students access to an ecosystem of applications. Currently Clever is used by millions of K-12 students in more than 35,000 schools to improve the login experience.

EXO U joins more than 150 learning applications that currently leverage Clever’s product to make the login process simple and efficient. Additionally, schools that use Clever can securely sync enrollment data from their school information system to EXO U and other applications they use. This partnership can potentially make the integration of EXO U’s Digital Education Platform into K-12 schools easier.

“Clever’s rapid growth and penetration into U.S. K-12 schools in less than three years demonstrates the strong need for educational solutions that can improve access to digital learning. That emphasis matches EXO U’s commitment to providing secure, easy-to-use ecosystems where teachers can manage all their digital tools in one place and engage with their students instantly on any device. Clever is a natural fit for the EXO U platform,” said Shan Ahdoot, CEO and co-founder of EXO U.

“Partnering with innovative companies like EXO U that empower teachers and enhance learning is Clever’s goal. With Instant Login, great companies like EXO U are saving teachers significant time so they can focus on what they do best: improving learning outcomes,” said Dan Carroll, CPO and co-founder of Clever.

Material from a press release was used in this report.