D2L launches newest Brightspace Insights

Educators can access a variety of data to help predict at-risk learners and help them in real-time

brightspace-d2lD2L (formerly “Desire2Learn”) recently unveiled the newest version of its Brightspace Insights analytics suite. With this release, D2L can now aggregate and capture streamed student data from across the entire learning ecosystem (including learning apps, content publishers, online tools, and different learning management systems) and empower instructors to act on one complete view of the student at the moment of learning.

With Brightspace Insights, instructors can now see where learners are succeeding or struggling and intervene in real-time to improve outcomes and degree attainment rates.

The new Brightspace Insights track, measure, and monitor student progress and aim to help improve engagement at every step. With the transmission of IMS Caliper learning events from tools like the Kaltura Video Platform, Microsoft Office Mix and Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook Creator into Brightspace, faculty and teachers now see a richer view of learning activities across all tools.

Next page: How the new Brightspace Insights uses data to help educators act in real time


The 3 key ingredients for mobile learning success

Don’t forget these keys of mobile implementations

ingredients-successWhy are some mobile learning implementations successful while others struggle? It seems struggling districts are missing at least one of a handful of ingredients that successful districts have in common. When it comes to mobile learning success, leaving out just one key ingredient can ruin an otherwise perfect recipe.

What are these ingredients? They can be categorized as: leadership, strategy, and expectations management.

Most leadership considerations are simply standard change and project management best practices such as ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page, that the goals are clearly defined and documented, that policies and procedures are in place, and that there is sustainable funding. Others are somewhat more challenging.

One leadership component that is often missed by districts is to have a very clear vision for why they are implementing mobile learning. Beyond shiny toys, engagement, and efficiency, successful districts use mobile learning to change teaching and learning. These districts focus on preparing students to work and live in a connected world that will expect them to be able to gain new knowledge and completely new skills every few years.

Next page: Strategies often overlooked


New bill would support innovative internet pilots for students

Students would receive more opportunity to connect to the internet after school under proposed legislation

internet-billNew legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate would support innovative methods to give students access to the internet and digital tools outside of classrooms.

The Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), would support pilot initiatives that increase student access to digital resources, increase student, parent, and educator engagement, and improve students’ chances to participate in new learning models.

It also provides for a national study of data related to the digital divide, including barriers to students’ home internet access, how educators confront that reality in their classrooms, and how no at-home internet access can impact student engagement.

Next page: More actions to expand out-of-school internet access


Adobe unveils 2015 Creative Cloud release

Creative Cloud updates include administration, security, and collaboration improvements

creative-cloudAdobe’s 2015 release of Creative Cloud includes major updates to Adobe’s desktop tools, including Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, Premiere Pro CC and InDesign CC; as well as new connected mobile apps for iOS and Android.

The company also shipped Adobe Stock, a stock content service to be integrated directly into the creative process and the tools creatives use every day.

In addition, Adobe announced an expanded Creative Cloud enterprise offering that includes enterprise-grade administration, security, collaboration and publishing services for design-driven brands, businesses and large organizations.

Next page: What the updates include


7 tech grants and contests perfect for summer

Educators and students can use their summer break to participate in grant competitions and contests

grants-contestsAs schools close for summer vacation, educators are likely looking forward to a chance to recharge for next year. But there are plenty of summer grants and contests to keep educators busy until the fall.

Each month, eSchool News compiles a list of new education grant opportunities. This month’s grants focus on summer opportunities for educators, classroom teachers, and students.

Project ED video initiative

Project ED is a new online video initiative from Amplify Learning that challenges students, teachers, parents, and amateur filmmakers to re-imagine concepts from Math, Science and English. We believe everyone has the power to teach. Your explanations, your creativity, and your passion can help everyone learn. Project ED was built to inspire you and show your work to the world. Each month Project ED hosts educational video contests. We hand you the idea and you run with it. You could win one of our many prizes and your video could become part of a new educational library that features the best videos created by people like you. Deadlines and prizes vary.

Next page: Six more summer grants and contests


App of the Week: WriteReader Pro

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? WriteReader is a research-backed writing tool that lets kids write their own stories in their own words. Teachers can then translate kids’ writing using proper spelling and conventions. Books can be shared, printed, or published, with a teacher permission and assistance, using the in-app library. Kids can also read other kids’ writing that has been published in the library. The developer’s website includes the research supporting this form of writing practice as well as tips for developing kids’ writing skills, both within the app and outside of it.

Price: Free/subscription

Grades: K-1

Pros: Touch keyboard offers several options, including uppercase, lowercase, letter names, and phonetic sounds.

Cons: Teachers shouldn’t rewrite every word or even sentence of kids’ compositions, though some may be tempted to do so.

Bottom line: Empowering tool will make kids want to write.



Nonprofit CFY honors innovative parents and ed-tech visionaries

Event celebrates digital education successes

cfa-awardsOn Tuesday, June 9, more than two hundred and fifty guests gathered at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City to honor award recipients and to celebrate the work of CFY –a national nonprofit that helps students, teachers, and parents use digital learning to improve educational outcomes.

The annual CFY Innovative Learning Awards (ILA) celebrates excellence and innovation in education and honors the supporters, parents, teachers and students who enrich CFY’s world.

“Sixteen years ago, Dan Dolgin and I started this organization because we both were deeply concerned about education in our country and the need to ensure that the paths Dan and I both had as students, and which provided us with such opportunities, should be open to everyone – no matter their zip code,” said Elisabeth Stock, co-founder and CEO of CFY.

In addition to the honorees and guests, twelve students from The Young Women’s Leadership School were on hand to demonstrate the wide variety of high-quality digital learning activities within the CFY learning platform, PowerMyLearning, which is designed to support personalized instruction and student-driven learning.

2015 ILA Honorees
Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Hedge Funds received the ILA Visionary of the Year award. Pullinger has a rich history in leading the organization where she currently manages more than 300 volunteer practitioners globally, and oversees the operations of the organization which now has over 12,000 members in 17 locations. In addition to her work as CEO, Amanda Pullinger serves as the chair of the HALO Trust and is also a Trustee of the Board of Skillforce, both charities based in Britain.

Pullinger related the story of her upbringing in the United Kingdom and the influence that her heroes, including her grandfather and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had on her as a young woman and continue to serve as leadership role models for her. In accepting the ILA award she also honored the work of CFY.

Jessica Santana, a former student—now a young adult—was a beneficiary of the CFY program. Jessica shared her story of first being given a computer by CFY when she was a sixth grade student in a public school in Brooklyn. She stated that her CFY computer “ignited my passion for technology and set the tone for years to come.” In 2014, Jessica Santana and co-founder Evin Robinson created Brooklyn On Tech, a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare the next generation of technology leaders.

Today Tech Flex Scholars is the signature program for Brooklyn On Tech. Through a year-long enrichment experience, juniors and seniors enrolled in any Brooklyn public high school are provided with 180 hours of technical instruction across five programming languages. The students are also connected to mentors from major corporations including Goldman Sachs, MTV, and JP Morgan Chase, who help guide the students’ interests in technology.

Sixth grade student Kateleen Lopez was the final speaker of the evening. Kateleen shared the inspiring story of her mother, Jennifer Peña, as she introduced her mother as the recipient of the annual Parent of the Year Award. Kateleen told the audience how her mother’s unwavering belief in the power of education, coupled with her consistent active parental involvement, keeps all three of the children in their family on track. But Jennifer Lopez not only talks the talk with her children, she walks the walk by also attending school herself, while working and raising her family. In fact Kateleen was very proud to announce that in addition to receiving the 2015 Parent of the Year award that evening, her mother had also graduated from Monroe College with an associate’s degree earlier in the day, an important step in her quest to pursue a career in nursing.

Ann McMullan is an educational technology consultant based in Los Angeles. She serves on the board of CFY Los Angeles.


The realities of cyber parenting

New survey sheds light on how parents, children view cyber interactions and safety issues

cyber-internetA large majority of parents in a recent national survey said their children should receive online safety or cyber security training in the next 2-5 years to keep their personal information secure.

Eighty-nine percent of surveyed parents said such training is important or very important. Children in the survey said they learn about online safety from their parents (79 percent), in school (59 percent), or from friends (33 percent).

The most popular social media risks discussed with children, as reported in the survey, are cyberbullying (80 percent), cyber criminals and identity theft (73 percent), online reputation (70 percent) and privacy settings (69 percent).

Next page: More data from the survey


Webinar covers social and emotional learning strategies

Event covers Devereux Student Strengths Assessment

emotional-webinarOn June 24, 2015, educators and administrators can learn how SEL assessment and instruction helps improve student outcomes and alleviate behavior issues during the free webinar, “Learn from Peers and Experts Why Social & Emotional Learning Curriculum and Assessment Go Hand-in-Hand.”

The webinar, held from 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM EDT (8:00 AM – 8:45 AM PDT), will feature:
1.     Paul A. LeBuffe, M.A., Director, Devereux Center for Resilient Children
2.     Jacquie Duginske, Coordinator of RtI & PBIS, Elementary at Community Unit School District 300
3.     Jennifer Balogh, Regional Outreach Manager, Committee for Children

The webinar will help educators learn how to integrate the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), the gold standard assessment for SEL, with Second Step, a leading researched-based SEL curriculum.  In addition, attendees of the webinar will hear from Community Unit School District 300 about its journey through implementing SEL, success with the program, and reflections on the positive impact SEL has had on its students.

To register for the free webinar, go to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4766882451712718082

Every attendee of the webinar, or those individuals who view the recording of the webinar, will receive a free 60-day trial to Apperson’s Evo Social & Emotional, which measures academic and social-emotional strengths. The system is based on the DESSA.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


How this innovative district is preparing students for STEM careers

A curriculum that’s getting some students to take a practical look at science

stem-careerWhen you ask high school students in Lake County, Illinois, what their career goals are, you may be surprised by how many of them answer “scientists.” However, the associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for Community High School District 117, Dr. David Bain, isn’t surprised at all.

“Our community values science and the district has always been innovative in our instruction”, said Dr. Bain, a former scientist. “We’ve adopted an authentic, hands-on pedagogy that encourages students to explore, ask questions, and discover answers in ways that practicing scientists do every day.” That has led to nearly every student taking at least one AP course, with over 50 percent taking AP or advanced electives in science before graduation and 40 percent of the district’s students identifying themselves as future science majors.

Even though the district had such a strong foundation in the sciences, during the summer of 2014 Dr. Bain was concerned about the transition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards. In particular, he felt like the district’s existing curriculum lacked the types of authentic science tasks needed to build students’ skills. He was also frustrated with the science assessments that were being used to authentically measure the practices of science and the students’ understanding of cross-cutting concepts, as described in the NGSS. Dr. Bain wanted assessments that gauged students’ abilities to analyze problems, create experiments, and problem solve.

Performance tasks

In Dr. Bain’s search for what he wanted for District 117’s teachers and students, he stumbled upon Defined STEM, a computer-based STEM curriculum that encourages students to take a closer look at science and tech careers. The first thing that attracted his attention were the types of careers that Defined STEM uses in its videos and lessons. According to Dr. Bain, “Most science curricula use the well known science careers, like doctors and forensic scientists. Defined STEM goes beyond those stereotypes and shows students a wider range of possibilities. Jobs like building rooftop gardens or a wind technician. These show students real, everyday uses of science.”

Next page: Folding in Next Gen. Science Standards