Edmodo’s new content marketplace for educators

Teacher-sourced content marketplace empowers learners with educational resources

content-edmodoK-12 global education network Edmodo has launched Edmodo Spotlight, a content marketplace for educators.

Designed to empower teachers, Edmodo Spotlight enables the collection, sharing, and discovery of educational resources to improve student learning.

With a user-friendly interface, Edmodo Spotlight allows educators to share helpful resources, review resources from all over the the web, curate collections of their favorites, and sell and purchase original material from educator peers, as well as from third-party publishers.

Next page: How educators can use the content marketplace to their advantage

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New $4k grant supports one-to-one pilots

Nonprofit grant will go to school administrators developing one-to-one programs

one-to-one-grantNonprofit Digital Wish is offering technical support grants to school administrators who need assistance with planning one-to-one computing programs for their elementary or middle schools.

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis through the summer months. The grant is open to public, charter and nonprofit independent schools.

Digital Wish has implemented one-to-one computing programs in 28 schools — developing expertise, evaluation programs and sustainability tools that can help get a school’s one-to-one technology program off the ground.

Next page: How to apply for the one-to-one grant

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Panasonic enhances media production suite ‘Studio in a Box’

Company highlights K-12 broadcast offerings at ISTE 2015

broadcast-studioPanasonic has entered into a partnership with JDL Horizons to offer broadcast consulting for K-12 schools to help them maximize return on technology investment.

The news was unveiled at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference, where Panasonic showcased its latest connected classroom technology, including interactive displays, classroom security solutions and its one-to-one product, the 3E (“Engage, Empower, Enable”) 2-in-1 student device.

“Students today face a more competitive future than ever before, with forces on the horizon ranging from job automation to overseas labor,” said Scott Thie, Vice President of Education, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. “It is imperative that schools arm students with tools that promote digital literacy and collaboration, empowering them to adapt to whatever the future holds.”

Next page: More about the Studio in a Box offering

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Follow these 10 one-to-one classroom tips for every educator

Before school starts, make the most of your summer with these tips from 2 one-to-one pros

one-summer-ipadThe word is out. We hear every day from teachers who tell us their school will be going one-to-one this school year. Their classrooms will be equipped with a laptop or tablet for every student, and in many cases, the students will get to take those devices home at the end of the day. For some teachers this is overwhelming; for others it is exciting, and for a few it’s just plain scary. Wherever you are on that spectrum we have some advice to help you move forward and make the most out of these new resources in your classroom.

We both teach in one-to-one classrooms. Diana’s students have iPads that they take home, whereas Jen has a cart of laptops students use daily in her classroom. We’ve both been teaching with one-to-one in some capacity since 2008, and we also both coach our colleagues who are new to technology integration. If you know your school is going one-to-one this year, there are some things you can do this summer to get yourself geared up. Here are the top ten things we find ourselves telling teachers over and over:

Relax. Integrating technology into your classroom is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a few years before you and your students are completely comfortable with a range of digital tools and the ways they can enhance learning. Try not to worry about “keeping up with the pace of technology.” Realistically, none of us can do that. Just jump in where you can, and start getting comfortable with one thing at a time.

Next page: Why tackling one problem at a time makes sense

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How connected are your state’s classrooms? Check out this map

K-12 Connected Heat Map outlines classroom internet connectivity

internet-connectivityAs efforts to increase bandwidth and internet connectivity in K-12 schools grow, a new report from CDW-G, based on a survey of 400 K-12 IT professionals, reveals just how connected — or not — the nation’s classrooms are today.

The CDW-G K-12 Connected Heat Map outlines wired and wireless connectivity in a state-by-state display. The map is an ongoing project and CDW-G is asking schools to fill in their details to help make it more complete. Currently, there is not enough data to shade several states in the midwest and west.

Data from the Federal Communications Commission reveals that the federal E-Rate program has connected nearly all U.S. K-12 schools to the internet, though not all classrooms are connected.

And while statistics may show that the average school has roughly the same connectivity as the average U.S. school, it serves 100 times as many users.

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In fact, more than half of schools (63 percent) don’t have enough bandwidth to meet digital learning needs, according to the nonprofit Education SuperHighway. This poses a problem when data reveals that online classes, streaming video content, and other online educational software become increasingly important in the classroom. Eduation SuperHighway estimates note that schools’ need for bandwidth grow at approximately 50 percent each year.

The majority of schools have an average connectivity speed of 1 Gbps, while fewer than one-quarter have 10 Gbps speed.

According to the map, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington have the most connected classrooms.

In the next three years, surveyed IT leaders’ plans to improve wired connectivity include increasing bandwidth (61 percent), improving or implementing network management (47 percent), increasing budget (46 percent), refreshing the network (36 percent), and using E-Rate funds (22 percent).

Over the next three years, plans for wireless connectivity include increasing bandwidth (52 percent), increasing budget (41 percent), increasing the number of access points on the network (40 percent), refreshing the network (35 percent), and improving or implementing network management (33 percent).

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Report: The 4 models of blended learning in action

New report explores main blended models and their use

blended-learningA new paper by advocacy and policy org iNacol explores how blended learning is being used in practice and traces its history from 2008 to today. In particular, it takes a close look at the four major blended models and, through case studies, how specific schools have fared in implementing them.

According to iNacol, the paper also delves into the evolution of blended learning, the use of digital content and curricula, and the engagement of students toward higher levels of academic success. The case studies profiled illustrate a variety of blended learning implementations, providing insights for increasing program effectiveness.

Drawing from research from Clayton Christensen, the report outlines four blended learning models: rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and/or Enriched Virtual.

Rotation is defined as, “Any course or subject in which students rotate—either on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion—among learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning.” The teacher, or the clock, determines when students move from one activity or modality to the next. Students might rotate in the same physical classroom space, move to a computer lab, or independently switch activities based on personal learning goals. Flipped learning might also be used to help students rotate.
In action: New York’s Randolph Central School District, where students in grades K–6 are placed in “fluid ability groups” relative to grade level, and rotate between online learning, small-group print materials, and teacher-led instruction for math and ELA instruction.

Next page: Flex models, a la carte, and enriched virtual environments

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Columbia Public Schools standardizes on Ruckus for Gigabit Wi-Fi

Schools are moving to Gigabit Wi-Fi in order to meet bandwidth demands

ruckus-wi-fiRuckus Wireless, Inc. has been selected by Columbia Public Schools to supply next generation Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products and technology.

This is one of the nation’s first production deployment of Gigabit class Wi-Fi using the industry’s newest 802.11ac Wave 2 specification access point (AP). Other schools making the move to Ruckus Wave 2 Gigabit WiFi include Shelby County Schools (TN), Pitt County Schools (NC), and Vancouver Public Schools (WA).

Covering 300 square miles between St. Louis and Kansas City, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) is deploying more than 1,400 Ruckus ZoneFlex™R710 802.11ac Wave 2 APs. These access points are managed through a cluster of Ruckus SmartZone™ 100 controllers to serve over 18,000 students and staff, and nearly 20,000 Wi-Fi-enabled devices across more than 30 K-12 schools.

Next page: More about the move to Gigabit wi-fi

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Impero Education Pro, SMART partner on classroom management

Partnership brings added functionality and platform support to SMART Sync customers

classroom-managementImpero and SMART Technologies Inc. recently announced that Impero has been selected as the vendor of choice for SMART Sync™ customers wishing to move to the next generation of classroom management solutions.

Impero’s Education Pro remote management and monitoring software is an enhanced classroom management offering that also includes remote management tools for school technical staff.

The partnership will allow any SMART customer to upgrade their SMART Sync installation to the full feature set of Impero Education Pro at the standard SMART Sync upgrade price.

“In most schools around the country, computer labs are becoming a thing of the past. Students are learning on iPads, Chromebooks, SMART Boards, smartphones – whatever device is available and fits the activity,” said Greg Estell, president, Education Solutions, SMART Technologies. “As a result, classroom management software must keep pace with this evolution and Impero is the company doing that by ensuring its solution manages any device on the network with scalability for 1:1 and BYOD environments in any size school district.”

“SMART Technologies wanted to take their customers to the next level of managing classroom technology,” said Jon Valentine, Impero CEO. “Impero Education Pro is the only solution specifically designed for K-12 schools that makes it possible to remotely view and manage PCs, Macs, iPads and Chromebooks from a single management console in real-time in a classroom, across a campus or throughout an entire school district, so it will meet the needs of every educational institution SMART serves.”

By partnering with Impero, SMART Technologies will focus on developing collaborative learning software such as SMART Notebook® and SMART amp™, while providing SMART Sync customers with a classroom management solution that not only provides collaborative tools on Windows and Mac computers but also adds Apple iOS and Chromebook devices.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Robots deliver multimedia lessons to teach STEM

Content platform turns content, including robot-delivered lessons, into custom learning challenges to promote play and learning

robot-contentCWIST, a web platform supporting learning projects for students from 3 to 103, is making its content platform and education experts available to companies who want to turn their content into custom incentivized lessons.

Its newest platform partner, Famulus Robots, offers step-by-step multimedia lessons using various robots to teach science and engineering concepts.

Famulus offers multiple robots designed for education and special needs, as well as head mounted displays. Students as young as middle school can learn robotics programming with lessons powered by the CWIST platform.

Next page: How students use CWIST modules to program robots

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New service lets you pay for only the bandwidth you need

New service can scale bandwidth for peak and off-peak periods via an online portal

broadband-attA new network service from AT&T is giving customers the ability to scale their bandwidth up or down in near real time using an online portal, without having to make expensive network upgrades.

The service could be particularly useful for school districts, allowing them to add bandwidth during high-use periods such as online testing—while reducing network capacity when school is not in session.

“We’re making networks more dynamic and more responsive to customers’ needs,” said Rupesh Chokshi, director of the service, called Network on Demand.

The service combines software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies to create what AT&T calls an on-demand networking capability, allowing customers to request—and pay for—only the capacity they need, and to adjust these settings easily on the fly.

SDN is an approach to networking that separates the system making decisions about where and how traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane). This enables network administrators to shape traffic on the network, without having to touch individual networking gear such as switches, routers, and multiplexers—letting them deliver services to wherever they are needed with a highly granular level of control.

Next page: Equipment and price details

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