Marketplace trend update: 4 ed-tech developments

Remaining a tech-savvy educator means keeping on top of the myriad changes and trends in education, how technology can support those trends, and how teaching and learning can best benefit from near-constant change.

Below, we’ve gathered some of the latest and most relevant marketplace news to keep you up-to-date on product developments, teaching and learning initiatives, and new trends in education.

Ultimaker, a 3D printer manufacturer, launched the Ultimaker Pioneer Program, which introduces 3D printing and design to North American students – both K-12 and higher education. As part of the Pioneer Program, educators (‘Pioneers’) can access 3D printing content on the Ultimaker Education website, which can be shared with students. The site welcomes contributions, and users maintain content ownership through Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike and Non-Commercial licensing. Read more.

Kaplan Test Prep is launching a free, live PSAT preparation program beginning October 1, with lessons that cover every section of the exam. Free for all students, Kaplan’s PSAT Prep Live will give the 3.8 million students who take the PSAT annually groundbreaking access to live interactive instruction online, taught by master teachers who can answer their questions in real time. Read more.

CodeCombat has significantly enhanced its platform in time for back to school by adding new capabilities including Game Development and Web Development. It also quadrupled the number of levels available to users of its original Learn to Code module, giving students plenty of runway to keep enhancing their coding skills. CodeCombat enhancements available Sept. 1 include an adaptive personalized learning system that recommends extra practice levels when it senses a student is having trouble with a concept to ensure they have mastered a skill before they move on; a new hint system that automatically provides assistance to users who are stuck within a level; and the ability for users to personalize their CodeCombat Hero (player persona) and add a Pet, both of which have been proven to increase engagement. Read more.

Sterling Partners’ Education Opportunity Fund, a fund focused on partnering with purpose-driven companies and leaders who foster innovation within the education sector, announced today that it has invested in Panopto. Panopto’s partnership with the Education Opportunity Fund will allow the company to build upon its position as a technology leader in video content management, recording, and live streaming, and will fuel Panopto’s plans for business expansion. Read more.

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This immersive VR platform was designed with education in mind

A new virtual reality program, designed in part for educators, is giving a whole new meaning to the virtual classroom.

Compatible with VR platforms like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the new program, called Engage, lets up to 30 simultaneous users join and interact in an immersive, virtual meeting — which could be set in a museum, historical site, or the surface of Mars.

The platform is new (and available as a free preview) so full functionality hasn’t been released, or even dreamed up, but so far educators can use it to create a custom avatar and then host live sessions or record presentations for download. Students will also be able to showcase artwork and photography in a gallery-like setting.

A handful of features are included with the initial release:

A mission to Mars: This small mini mission follows the Curiosity Rover as it lands on the surface of Mars. Once it has landed you can interact with the rover to learn more about its mission or you can freely explore the Martian surface and find other Martian rovers.

Two sample lessons, one on the history of science and another, set on a pier, on how to sink a target using a simple ballistic trajectory equation.

Two virtual galleries. Featuring 3D objects, the historically-themed galleries (one features a 3D model of the Titanic) are designed to eventually host student or other artwork.

Various virtual spaces. Locations include a meeting room, lecture hall, Dino Beach, shallow water, moon base, Martian surface, gallery space and hub spaces. Some spaces have interactive whiteboards and video screens for streaming content.

Streaming Services. This early build allows users to stream in video content from YouTube and also link to your Dropbox and Microsoft One Drive accounts.

Immersive Video. Engage includes two examples of streamed-in YouTube content, enhanced via the platform’s IFX system. The examples included are a dinosaur video and shark video from YouTube channel SciShow.

 

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5 tips for staying on the right side of federal safety regulations

In “Securing the Connected Classroom: Technology Planning to Keep Students Safe,authors Abbie H. Brown, Ph.D., and Tim D. Green, Ph.D., outline a process that education leaders can follow to develop a secure environment for learning with technology. According to Brown and Green, “the book guides educators, administrators, and IT staff through a step-by-step process for creating a district-wide blueprint for keeping students safe while maintaining an appropriate level of security.”

Brown, a professor in the instructional technology program at East Carolina University, and Green, a professor of educational technology and a teacher educator at California State University, Fullerton, both worked in the K-12 environment before moving into higher education. Here, the two authors share tips that school technology administrators can use to make their own jobs easier while supporting their institutions with solid, safe IT practices:

School staff is working toward a common goal, but from differing viewpoints. “When it comes to technology usage and student safety, everyone working with a school comes at the issue from a different angle,” says Brown, who explains that there are administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other constituents to consider when developing good technology usage policies. And while everyone generally has the same common goal of keeping students safe, “everyone also has a different perspective on how that will work—or, what actually poses a threat.”

Next page: Staying on the right side of FERPA

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New partnership expands video content management

Sterling Partners’ Education Opportunity Fund, a fund focused on partnering with purpose-driven companies and leaders who foster innovation within the education sector, announced today that it has invested in Panopto.

Panopto’s partnership with the Education Opportunity Fund will allow the company to build upon its position as a technology leader in video content management, recording, and live streaming, and will fuel Panopto’s plans for business expansion.

Founded in 2007, Panopto pioneered the categories of lecture capture and enterprise video content management. Today, the company offers a comprehensive video platform that enables a diverse set of organizations to capture and manage all of their video assets.

“Within five years, video will be the dominant form of online communication,” said Education Opportunity Fund Managing Director Jason Rosenberg. “As demand for this technology continues to accelerate, Panopto is leading the industry in product innovation and organizational capability. With its explosive growth in the enterprise, its dominant position in higher education, and its significant technological advantages over its competitors, Panopto is set to emerge as the leader in this multibillion-dollar market. We’re thrilled to partner with the company and the leadership team as they continue to scale.”

Since its founding, the company has amassed more than two million videos in its cloud-based video platform, making it the largest repository of expert learning videos in the world. Each month, customers stream more than 100 years of video from Panopto Cloud, which has experienced 20% compound quarterly growth since 2012. For two years running, the company has been recognized by Gartner as a “Leader” in enterprise video content management and has been ranked as one of the fastest growing companies on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list. Current clients include New York Life, GE Healthcare Digital, Yale University, Brown University, and the Wharton School of Business.

“Over the past nine years, we’ve had the privilege of helping millions of students and employees improve themselves and their organizations through video-based learning,” said Eric Burns, co-founder and CEO of Panopto. “With Sterling Partners’ Education Opportunity Fund, we’ve found the ideal investor to help us bring this enabling technology to more businesses and universities around the world. The Education Opportunity Fund’s deep network and unique experience across enterprise and education technologies will propel us to the next level of growth and market presence.”

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CodeCombat adds game, web development to coding platform

CodeCombat, which offers an engaging platform for helping kids learn computer science (CS), has significantly enhanced its platform in time for back to school.

CodeCombat has added major new capabilities including Game Development and Web Development, and quadrupled the number of levels available to users of its original Learn to Code module, giving students plenty of runway to keep enhancing their coding skills.

CodeCombat’s classroom product, which launched just four months ago, is now in use by 45,000 students in grades 4-12 across 1,600 schools in all 50 states – making it one of the fastest-growing companies in the ed tech space.

CodeCombat enhancements available Sept. 1 include:
-A new Game Developer module that allows students to create their own games that can be shared and played with friends and family;
-A new Web Developer module that allows students to create their own mobile and web apps that can be shared with friends and family;
-An adaptive personalized learning system that recommends extra practice levels when it senses a student is having trouble with a concept to ensure they have mastered a skill before they move on
-A new hint system that automatically provides assistance to users who are stuck within a level
-The ability for users to personalize their CodeCombat Hero (player persona) and add a Pet, both of which have been proven to increase engagement
-Dozens of new levels for its Learn to Code module that extend the curriculum to 2.5 years for elementary school, 1.5 years for middle school and 1 year for high school – with new levels being added every month

According to CodeCombat co-founder Nick Winter, all of these new features were tested extensively in summer coding camps that the company ran for disadvantaged youth in San Francisco in July and August. “Twenty students used our new software all summer, providing us with great feedback and giving us the opportunity to fine-tune the curriculum before the start of the new school year,” said Winter. “We were able to see firsthand the impact on engagement and on student learning – we’re really excited to roll the new features out to all of our schools in September.”

Teachers do not need any prior experience in computer science to use CodeCombat in their classroom. CodeCombat covers not just curriculum requirements from several competing K-12 computer science standards such as CSTA, ISTE, ACM, K-12 Framing, AP CS A, AP CS Principles, Common Core, and NGSS, but also aims to teach 85 percent of the undergraduate-level material that computer science majors at Stanford would cover in their first year.

CodeCombat is also helping boost student interest in CS careers. Most students, especially girls and students of color, don’t ever consider a career in CS. CodeCombat’s game-based learning approach engages all students and kindles their interest in CS, providing diverse avatars so that players can choose a hero that looks like them. Girls in CodeCombat classrooms even learn seven percent faster than boys.

93 percent of students as young as nine reliably learn to type while-loops, strings, and variables in 90 minutes. CodeCombat’s compiler technology allows CodeCombat to be intuitive for students so that they can build real software and be creative far beyond the introductory drag-and-drop computer science programs.

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Kaplan Test Prep launches free live PSAT prep

For many high school students, the PSAT/NMSQT® is more than practice for the SAT® or ACT® — it’s the first meaningful step on their path to college, as a high PSAT score can attract notice from colleges and open the door to scholarship opportunities.

Kaplan Test Prep is launching a free, live PSAT preparation program beginning October 1, with lessons that cover every section of the exam. Free for all students, Kaplan’s PSAT Prep Live will give the 3.8 million students who take the PSAT annually groundbreaking access to live interactive instruction online, taught by master teachers who can answer their questions in real time.

“The PSAT is the kickoff to the college admissions process, and a great score can get students on the college radar for recruitment and scholarship money,” said Lee Weiss, vice president of college admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “With $180 million in National Merit scholarships awarded to top-scoring PSAT takers, we want to help students achieve their best possible PSAT scores, which is why we decided to make our best teachers available for free. We’re excited to provide all students with engaging, motivating content delivered live from dynamic, expert teachers, which will give them the ability to ask and have their questions answered in real time — within a community of other motivated PSAT preppers.”

The eight, one-hour live lessons will begin livestreaming on Saturday, October 1, 4:00-5:00 pm ET and run through Monday, October 17, and include four Math Test lessons and four lessons dedicated to the Reading Test and Writing and Language Test. Among the eight lessons are two Advanced lessons (one Math, one Verbal) geared towards students who are competing for National Merit® scholarships. Each lesson will run live twice, with recordings available for students who were unable to attend or for students needing a refresher.

For more information, go to www.kaptest.com/psatlive.

 

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Ultimaker unveils Pioneer Program, promoting 3D printing in education

Ultimaker, a 3D printer manufacturer, announced the official launch of the Ultimaker Pioneer Program. The scheme introduces 3D printing and design to North American students – both K-12 and higher education.

As part of the Pioneer Program, educators (‘Pioneers’) can access 3D printing content on the Ultimaker Education website, which can be shared with students. The site welcomes contributions, and users maintain content ownership through Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike and Non-Commercial licensing. Through the Ultimaker Education site, educators throughout North America have access to resources and knowledge that are not commonly available.

“Teaching 3D modeling and printing in our schools is a new educational endeavor,” says Burton Isenstein, Adjunct Assistant Professor at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. “Faculty are on the front lines, figuring out the best methods of teaching as we continue to learn about the topic ourselves.”

He adds: “It’s smart to tap into what’s already happening in classrooms throughout the world and the Ultimaker Pioneer Program will help educators build a base of knowledge upon everyone’s experience.”

The Ultimaker Pioneer Program now has a community presence in 21 states; with 58 educators actively promoting 3D printing to students.

The Ultimaker Pioneer Program is the first of its kind. It unites North American educators, enabling them to share 3D printing knowledge with students and other educators alike.
John Kawola, President of Ultimaker North America comments: “We’re thrilled to facilitate this program, assisting in enhancing the way young generations create with technology.”

Geoff Frankl, Technology Coordinator at IvyTech Charter School at Moorpark, California, states: “The greatest benefit of this program is the facilitation of collaboration and innovation amongst education professionals in the field of 3D design and manufacturing.”

“All of this will translate into modern curricula involving this burgeoning technology, the paramount goal of which will be transforming today’s youth into tomorrow’s well-trained and globally-competitive employee or entrepreneur.”

 

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How can the U.S. increase teacher diversity?

Public schools often encounter diversity challenges. Minority students make up almost half of all public school students, but minority teachers account for only 18 percent of the teacher workforce.

Now, a new report from the Brookings Institution seeks to address the diversity issue and get to the root of the challenge.

Key points:

  • Attaining a diverse teacher workforce should be a long-term policy goal
  • Strategies should be put in place to help minority teachers succeed in college and remain in the classroom

The report intends to answer two questions:

  1. What will it take to achieve a national teacher workforce that is as diverse as the student body it serves?
  2. How long will it take to reach that goal?

Four key moments along the teacher pipeline are examined: college attendance and completion, majoring in education or pursuing another teacher preparation pathway, hiring into a teaching position, and staying in teaching year after year.

Next page: Four strategies that might improve diversity

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App of the Week: Free STEM app all about the watershed

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

DIY Lake Science

What’s It Like? DIY Lake Science offers watershed-related activities and info for elementary and middle school students via three sections: activities, video clips, and an “Under the Lake” simulation. The 12 activities are divided by location (outdoor or indoor). Kid-friendly directions accompany clear pictures, and there are safety tips. Progress through activity steps is shown, and tabs also highlight sections: Summary, Materials, Instructions, and Explanation.

Price: Free

Grades: 2-7

Rating: 4/5

Pros: The activities are absolutely doable for parents, teachers, and kids alike, making this a win for in-class work or at-home assignments.

Cons: A lack of additional resources and avenues for extensions may leave curious students and classes wanting to know (or do) more.

Bottom line: The combination of easy-to-use task directions and accessible materials make this great for class centers or family extensions.

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Could this new observation method boost behavioral and academic outcomes?

A new method of observing and measuring interactions between students and teachers could have interesting impacts on academic achievement.

Research has shown that interactions between students and teaching during the school day are critical factors in students’ behavioral and academic outcomes.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri College of Education have developed a new method for observing and measuring teacher interaction with every child in a classroom.

As a result of testing this method within K-3 classrooms, Wendy Reinke, an associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology, found that students who receive more negative attention from teachers experience increases in problems with emotional regulation, concentration and disruptive behaviors. The researchers also found teachers gave African-American students, boys, and students who received free or reduced lunch more negative attention than other students.

Next page: How the observation model works in classrooms

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