Oracle bolsters computer science education

Part of $3.3 billion annual investment to advance computer science education and increase diversity in technology fields globally

In conjunction with The White House Science Fair 2016, Oracle and The White House recently announced Oracle’s plan to invest $200 million in direct and in-kind support for computer science education in the United States over the next 18 months.

Oracle’s pledge supports the Administration’s Computer Science for All initiative and is part of the company’ greater annual worldwide investment of $3.3 billion to empower computer science educators and engage diverse student populations globally. Today’s commitment expects to reach more than 232,000 students in over 1,100 U.S. institutions through Oracle Academy, its philanthropic computer science-focused educational program that impacts more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries.

In 2015, only 2 percent of all participants in the College Board’s AP program took Computer Science and a mere 22 percent of those participants were female.[1] Yet, programming jobs are growing 50 percent faster than the market overall, according to new research by Oracle Academy and Burning Glass Technologies, a leading labor market company. The study (2016), which analyzed and interpreted real-time data from millions of online job postings from nearly 40,000 sources, revealed that demand for computer science, programming, and coding skills is large, growing, and far more widespread than just IT jobs.

“Our latest research findings confirm that access to computer science education in the United States is both an economic and social equality issue. Moreover, these findings help quantify and contextualize the need to expand computer science to all students regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status,” said Alison Derbenwick Miller, vice president, Oracle Academy. “We’ve been working to advance computer science education globally for more than two decades, and today’s commitment takes Oracle Academy to a new apex in our journey. It’s an honor to be part of this collaborative mission, led by the White House. The potential power of Computer Science for All to change the lives of our children and the future of our nation is awe-inspiring.”

As part of the White House announcement, Oracle Academy will provide free academic curriculum, professional development for teachers, software, certification resources, and more. Further, Oracle will work with K-12 schools, community colleges, and 4-year colleges and universities to support continuous computer science education pathways through a number of new and meaningful ways, which include:

• Training more teachers in computer science. Aims to double the number of U.S. teachers Oracle Academy trains in the 2016-17 academic year.
• Providing access to free Oracle software. Offers students hands-on experience through free software licenses for a large number of Oracle products.
• Expanding outreach to underrepresented populations. Commits to invest more than $3 million in nonprofit organizations focused on inspiring young girls and engaging underrepresented students in pursuing STEM and CS degrees.
• Launching innovative courses in emerging CS fields. Introduces new Cloud-focused boot camps in the 2016 academic year and expands access to Oracle Academy’s Big Data Science boot camps.
• Connecting world class innovators with educators and students. Plans to build an innovative new public high school, d.tech, at Oracle’s headquarters in California.
• Driving efforts to ensure CS counts as an academic credit. Expands policy push and partnerships with other corporate and nonprofit leaders to encourage all 50 states to recognize CS as an academic graduation credit in K-12 schools.

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Partnership targets PD for educators of underserved students

PD Learning Network and California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators announce partnership

PD Learning Network (PDLN) and California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA) are participating in a joint effort to provide a series of courses in leadership development designed to support professional learning of administrators, superintendents and educators.

Courses will equip administration to support faculty who teach underserved student populations with a focus on implementing standards, college & career readiness, and closing achievement gaps.

Course participants may earn digital badges/micro-credentials and optional university credit for demonstrating competency.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with CALSA to facilitate 21st century learning environments for underserved students,” stated PD Learning Network CEO Jennifer Gibson. She added, “We are proud of how our badges and university credit support equity in education and increase our capacity to support CALSA educators’ professional development”.

Dr. David Verdugo, CALSA executive director comments, “On behalf of our entire CALSA board of directors, I can share with you that we are very excited about partnering with one of the most dynamic and engaging groups dedicated to professional development. Rest assured that it will add to our member services and assist CALSA in reaching its mission and vision.”

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This digital tool helps engage K-5 students

Naviance for Elementary School promotes self-discovery and interest exploration to encourage college and career aspirations

Hobsons, a college and career readiness, admissions, and student success company, is launching a digital tool designed to help students in grades K-5 explore the connection between their interests, learning, and life ambitions.

The program is built to complement Hobsons’ popular college and career planning platform Naviance, used by more than 8 million middle and high school students around the world, including close to 30 of the largest 100 school districts in the United States.

Students who include self-discovery as part of their college and career readiness programs at an early age are more likely to remain engaged in their studies through high school graduation and are better prepared to create postsecondary plans that fit their life goals.

Research shows that during childhood, crucial career-related concepts are first formed through interests, exploration, and the development of a self-concept.

The Naviance for Elementary School K-5 exploration tool was developed in response to educator demand for tools to integrate college and career exploration into elementary classrooms to help students understand their individual strengths and interests, and learn how what they’re doing in school connects to what they may want to do later in life. The new solution is aligned to the American School Counselor Association standards, which reflect the importance of supporting early college and career aspirations, particularly among low-income and minority students.

“It’s critical for my students to be introduced to college and careers at this age. The majority of our students’ parents have not had continuing education after high school or might not have completed high school. It’s important that these fifth graders see some of the opportunities that will be available to them one day,” said Tori Blackburn, a fifth grade teacher at Sable Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, who piloted the new tool. “I truly believe that all of the 10- and 11-year-olds I am around every day think of what their future can hold, thanks to Naviance for Elementary School.”

Naviance for Elementary School includes interactive, age-appropriate, online lessons for students and guides for teachers. Students are able explore what makes them unique, what kind of options lie ahead of them, and what types of preparation and planning can lead to exciting opportunities. Students also learn that their education is a progression of steps that can lead them toward their own path in life, helping them to see why school is critical to their future.

“This isn’t about asking students to narrow their interests or choose a path early, but rather about nurturing and building aspirations. Elementary school is an important time to begin that self-discovery process, so students can make the connection between their interests, learning, and life ambitions,” said Stephen M. Smith, president of Advising and Admissions Solutions at Hobsons. “We’re committed to ensuring that all students have the chance to consider a wide range of options, and develop the skills they need to be successful in school and in life.”

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4 radically different school models upending education

Goal setting and PBL serve as cornerstones for new school models. Is self-directed learning every student’s future?

These days, there are few that would disagree that education needs to start looking more like the world students will one day work and live in and less like, well, school. What that might look like in the future is anybody’s guess, but it may be safe to assume a lot more will be required of students than simple passive learning.

Four school leaders recently spoke about their innovative school models and visions for student success in an increasingly digital world during a panel hosted by Clayton Christensen Institute cofounder Michael Horn at this year’s ASU GSV Summit in San Diego. The new models overwhelmingly favor some combination of project-based learning coupled with self-directed goal-setting and skill building for students’ life after school.

Here are the four school models and their approaches to teaching and learning.

Design Tech High School, San Mateo, CA

This new charter will one day serve students in grades 9-12, but for now 280 students are currently enrolled up to tenth grade. The mission: to make the world the better place through teaching students the theory and methodology behind design thinking.

“For us, we believe design thinking is both a mindset and process to help us reach this mission,” said Ken Montgomery, the school’s founder. Part of the design thinking mindset, he said, contains a “bias toward action,” which for students means asking them to be self-directed much of the time.

On a typical day, students receive their daily schedules in the morning. Sometimes there’s a note in there — called a referral — prompting them to spend additional time on a subject or with a particular teacher, but otherwise students have a lot of flexibility in choosing how they spend their time. They can choose to catch up on coursework, try to get ahead, or work on a curiosity project, which the school is constantly pushing them to undertake.

Those projects give students a chance to put design thinking to the test and develop something they want to create. Here, the school’s recent partnership with Oracle, and its employees, can make a big difference (the school is eventually planning a move onto Oracle’s campus). One girl, who had a visually impaired grandmother, designed and created a watch that played a unique song when different denominations of paper currency were passed underneath.

“We’re really trying to operationalize that self direction,” Montgomery said. “The typical day is extreme personalization. It all starts with them learning what they need to do and building their schedule, and us providing the expertise they need to reach their goal.”

The Incubator School, Los Angeles

“Our school is an entrepreneurship themed school,” said founder Sujata Bhatt by way of introduction. In that, she means, it mimics a startup incubator, of the Y-Combinator sort, like those that have cropped up in most urban areas over the past few years.

The LAUSD pilot school has a lot of autonomy letting it function much (but not exactly) like a charter might. Most of the 200 odd middle and high school-aged students are there to learn entrepreneurial skills — everything from how to design and create technology to starting a business, pitching to investors, and diving deep into data and analytics to help run operations.

Next page: Focusing on real-world relevance for students

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5 strategies to advance women into school leadership

AASA launches new initiative to support, advance women in key school leadership positions

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, has launched a new initiative called More Than a Power Lunch: Building Networks to Support and Advance Women in School Leadership. The purpose of the project is to help mitigate the impact of social barriers women face in ascending to the top leadership positions within school systems and to significantly increase the number of women seeking and becoming CEOs and superintendents of schools.

According to AASA’s The Study of the American Superintendent: 2015 Mid-Decade Update, there has only been a modest increase in the leadership positions held by women in our nation’s school districts over the last decade. According to the study, out of the 845 respondents, 27 percent were female. As part of the new two-year initiative to support women in advancing into key school leadership positions, AASA will:

• Provide enhanced professional learning opportunities and greater recognition to female educational leaders by expanding its existing women’s leadership conferences, forums and awards program;

• Establish the AASA National Women’s Leadership Consortium, which will convene to discuss the barriers and challenges women face in the U.S. and develop a plan to address these issues within the scope of the project;

• Utilize the national consortium of women leaders to provide coaching and mentoring to a select group of aspiring female educational leaders;

• Connect the learnings from the initiative to practice by identifying and testing effective practices from the mentoring program that can be used in an online collaborative and in developing resources for other blended professional learning opportunities for aspiring leaders; and

• Create a national communications awareness campaign to raise awareness about the women’s leadership initiative, disseminate learnings and promote project resources.

AASA has recruited 10 successful women leaders, representing a variety of roles within the education and business community, to participate in the national consortium.

The members of the consortium include:
• Ann Blakeney Clark, Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C.
• Jacinda H. Conboy, General Counsel, The New York State Council of School Superintendents, N.Y.
• Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program, National Women’s Law Center, Washington, D.C.
• Margaret Grogan, Dean of the College of Educational Studies, Chapman University, Calif.
• Patricia E. Neudecker, Consultant, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and Hazard Young and Attea, Wis.
• Cheryl A. Oldham, Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
• Ruth Pérez, Superintendent, Paramount Unified School District, Calif.
• Judith Rattner, Superintendent, Berkeley Heights District, N.J.
• Melody Schopp, South Dakota Secretary of Education, S.D.
• Amy F. Sichel, Superintendent, Abington School District, Pa.

“AASA is proud to be undertaking this historic project. Although many states and smaller organizations have women’s networks, there has never been one that encompasses today’s national thought leaders who can discuss the roles of women in the United States in leadership positions, especially ones that lead our school systems,” said Daniel A. Domenech, AASA executive director.

“For the past decade, AASA has been responding to the needs of women educational leaders by offering leadership forums and conferences so that women leaders can network and learn from each other. With the investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we can now broaden our scope and provide a national forum to discuss issues and better address the needs of women aspiring into the school superintendency,” said MaryAnn Jobe, AASA director of education and leadership development.

The initiative is made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Girls Thinking Global receives grant from NEA foundation

The funds will be used to support the GTG Collaborative

Girls Thinking Global (GTG) has been awarded a grant by the NEA Foundation to support the creation of the GTG Collaborative, an online community of practice.

“Girls Thinking Global has been working to develop the GTG Collaborative, an online community of practice, to support, connect, and empower organizations that serve adolescent girls and young women,” said Kathy Hurley, CEO of GTG. “The NEA Foundation grant will provide much needed assistance in helping us better share and demonstrate how the Collaborative will work and ultimately benefit adolescent girls and young women.”

Specifically, the NEA Foundation grant will support the development of data visualization to demonstrate the value of collaboration and coordination among organization leaders who share a vision to educate and empower adolescent girls and young women throughout the world.

“The NEA Foundation supports student success by helping public school educators work with key partners to build strong systems of shared responsibility,” said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “The GTG Collaborative is a much-needed platform to help connect and support the many organizations around the world that are working to provide educational services to adolescent girls and young women. We hope that our support will assist in furthering the overall development of this community of practice.”

Girls Thinking Global plans to have the data visualization completed this summer.

To learn more about Girls Thinking Global and how you can support the development of the GTG Collaborative, please visit GirlsThinkingGlobal.org.

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Looking for an innovation model for your school? Try asking students

Two Chicago schools find looking to students a very freeing experience

How do you combat student engagement problems and encourage students to take an interest in their own learning? For many schools the answer seems to be some variation of personalized learning, as interpreted by school administrators or outside curriculum savants. For two Chicago-area schools, however, the solution came down to asking students: How do you want to learn?

LeViis Haney and Karen Breo, the Chicago-area principals in question, recently spoke about their experiences in reshaping school culture at a panel during the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego, a conference that brings education investors and philanthropists together with educators and ed-tech entrepreneurs. The panel, centered on how schools can go about choosing an innovation model for themselves, brought together a handful of school leaders who had taken part in pilot programs from LEAP Innovations, an organization which helps facilitate that process.

A few years ago, Haney, the principal of Joseph Lovett Elementary School, noticed a school culture of stagnation. Students learned at their desks, typically from worksheets given to them by teachers who were disengaged with students and the teaching process. “We were experiencing very low levels of engagement and it manifested itself in a lot of data points that were not conducive to teaching and learning,” he said. “We knew we had to do something to change the culture. What would create a fun environment for kids?”

One of the first things they looked at was what school looked like from a student’s point of view, something that initially proved challenging. “This was difficult for us,” Haney said. “Sometimes we think totally different from what’s actually happening.”

For one thing, the exercise taught them that sitting in a single spot for long periods of time was agitating for students and teachers alike. Haney said his school took a risk and decided to move away from a distinctly passive learning model and let students learn wherever they felt most comfortable — in the hallways, small groups, the library. Now, as part of the school day, students might receive individual assignments from teachers via Google Classroom and can take their devices anywhere they want to complete them.

Shifting the school’s instructional model and professional development — even in relatively small ways — was not something Haney’s school was able to do for free. They received a $30,000 grant, which Haney said was critical for helping teachers and admin teams work together to determine their school’s problems, design supports for students, and test them. And if those supports don’t work? The school needs to be willing — and financially able — to rework them so that they do, Haney said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did, or change things nearly as quickly, without that money,” he said. “We want our student so succeed on tests and those sorts of things, but what are we really in this for is we want students to learn. We have to be willing to think outside the box, and not be afraid to take a risk.”

Karin Breo, principal at Chicago International Charter School, Irving Park, had a similar challenge with engagement. Her school’s students were some of the top performers in the area; students regularly scored well on standardized tests and the school experienced few discipline problems. “Kids are very compliant,” she said of her school. “They wanted to do what the teachers told them, and they’re very task oriented.” But they also struggled with connecting to the material they were learning in a meaningful way.

To shake things up, Breo’s staff performed an empathy activity as part of the Summer Design Program coordinated by Leap Innovations. Administrators interviewed parents and teachers, and teachers in turn interviewed students on how they felt about school. “Across the board, [students’] overall answer was they wanted to be able to move,” Breo said. Younger kids fantasized about jet packs that would carry them far away from their desks.

This year, the school has listened, making changes to the way third and fourth grade students learn. The process started by asking those students more questions about how and where they learn best, as well as putting a greater focus on helping them understand why they’re learning a particular concept or subject.

“That mindshift of trying to take them away from being so task-oriented was a mindshift for all of us as educators in the building,” Breo said, adding that the exploratory process was a helpful experience, if a little out of their comfort zone. “We’re all kind of Type A. We wish someone could give us something and just roll it out. But it’s been really fun to be innovative and to try different things to make sure we’re iterating for the students and that they’re responding.”

The full panel discussion is available to stream online.

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Y Soft introduces 3D printer integrated with print management

Software-hardware combo gives education industry a single solution for managing both 2D and 3D printers

Y Soft, an enterprise office solutions provider, has introduced YSoft be3D eDee (eDee), a comprehensive solution for 3D and 2D (paper) printers.

eDee is a desktop 3D printer integrated with YSoft SafeQ, the leading print management, workflow and accounting solution. With YSoft SafeQ already available for 2D printers offering reduced print services costs, increased document security and improved productivity, educational institutions can now obtain the benefits of print management across their entire 2D and 3D printer fleets.

Increasingly, educational institutions are adopting fleets of 3D printers and making them available to students and staff on campus-wide networks.

Onvia, a research company that tracks government purchasing contracts including those in education, noted that “Teaching with 3D printers will be the norm. In 2016, the amount of 3D printing purchases continue to grow as these printers are accepted as an essential part of school makerspaces and as prices for the printers continue to fall.” Y Soft provides examples of student 3D print projects on its website.

As a networked resource, 3D printers bring similar and unique challenges to 2D printers. Unique challenges include an understanding of the total time/3D material cost per print job; access control/door locks to prevent the object being taken or the print job stopped by another student; and efficient workflows to access available 3D printers or easily reprint a 3D object. eDee’s print management tools solve these unique challenges.

Key to the YSoft Be3D eDee solution is a fully automated, enclosed desktop 3D printer. With an intuitive 7-inch touch screen panel and print bed auto-calibration, eDee produces high quality objects with accuracy and speed. Designed with “safety-first” in mind, its features increase safe operation and integrity of the print object.

“In education, where 3D printer adoption is growing rapidly, we see that administrators need to manage and audit 3D printer use and costs as they do with 2D printers,” said Vaclav Muchna, Y Soft CEO and co-founder. “With YSoft be3D eDee, we are the first to offer educational institutions a seamless solution that provides all the benefits of print management for their 2D and growing 3D printer fleets.”

YSoft be3D eDee will be available under early access in Q2 2016 through Y Soft’s global network of channel partners. Additional information about eDee, including printer specifications, can be found at www.ysoft.com/edee.

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Crestron expands small-room presentation tools

New DMPS3-4K-50 and DMPS3-4K-100-C join Crestron’s line of “no programming” presentation systems

Crestron has expanded its line of all-in-one DigitaMedia 3-Series Presentation Systems (DMPS3) with two all-new models designed specifically for single-display applications. The three DMSP3-4K models all feature a built-in Crestron 3-Series Control System, analog and digital AV switching, 4K scaler, and direct LAN connectivity with Crestron Fusion software for network management.

Designed for a single room or mass deployment throughout a university or corporate enterprise, the DMPS3-4K Series feature robust out-of-the-box functionality, simple web-based configuration, and network deployment.

Perfect for small rooms, the DMPS3-4K-50 provides the ideal solution for connecting local sources to a local display, while the DMPS3-4K-100-C is designed to connect local sources to an extended display. The DMPS3-4K-150-C is ideal for connecting remote sources to an extended display.

All three models feature built-in Crestron .AV Framework™ technology, which provides several powerful and vital features right out of the box, including auto-switching, plug-and-play installation with Crestron Connect It™ cable caddies, automatic display on/off via CEC, and intelligent connectivity with Crestron AirMedia® presentations gateway for wireless BYOD capability.

Using .AV Framework from the touch screen or web-based tool, integrators can perform simple, complete system setup. They can choose sources and display control and automatically generate the touch screen GUI, to deliver an intuitive, consistent user experience in every room, without any programming. For a higher level of integration and management, Cresnet occupancy sensors and direct communication with Crestron Fusion are also handled through .AV Framework without writing any code.

For a quick overview of Crestron’s new DMPS3-4K Series all-in-one presentation systems for single-display applications, watch the video on the new Crestron YouTube® channel for Crestron DM.

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