Course Hero for Educators launches to help teachers save time

Course Hero, an online learning platform that empowers millions of students and educators to succeed, revealed that they have accumulated more than 60,000 educator accounts on their platform since February.

The company, which now counts over 10 million students who use its platform to supplement their class work with course-specific study materials, also announced the release of Course Hero for Educators to help educators save time in preparing their courses.

“Educators are under constant pressure to create new class materials and lesson plans that not only keep materials current, but also align with changing teaching standards and the evolving learning styles of students,” said Course Hero Co-founder and CEO Andrew Grauer. “It’s a huge challenge, and there is no reason for educators to tackle it alone. Course Hero wants to bring educators together, to help them find new inspiration, learn new techniques, and investigate multiple perspectives, all while saving valuable time.”

“As Educators and students, we live in a world that is increasingly online, personalized and collaborative,” said Arthur Levine, President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and a former president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University. “Our most valuable resource, aside from our knowledge and love of teaching, is our time. Each of us would love to have more time to teach, research and provide a more personal learning experience for our students. Course Hero supplements our efforts outside the classroom by providing students with on-demand access to study materials and online tutors and now also provides us with a place where we can collaborate with each other, discover new ideas and save time developing new materials to keep our teaching fresh and our students engaged.”

Fueled by their belief that collaborative learning helps students of all ages and backgrounds, Course Hero has created a new space that helps empower educators to do more with less—where teachers, professors, TAs, and tutors can share teaching and learning resources that have helped their students to succeed both inside and outside the classroom.

Course Hero for Educators is free to join and enables educators to get access to new materials online either by uploading and sharing their own materials or by purchasing a subscription.

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FCC to fine AT&T for overcharging Fla. districts

AT&T charged two Florida school districts some of the highest telecommunications rates in the state and will face a fine for violating federal law and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “lowest corresponding price” rule, the FCC said in a statement.

The rule ensures that schools and libraries participating in the FCC’s E-rate program are able to obtain the best rates available by prohibiting E-rate service providers from charging them more than the lowest price paid by other similarly-situated customers for similar telecommunications services.

The FCC said it plans to fine AT&T $106,425. The FCC alleges that AT&T charged the school districts prices for telephone service that were magnitudes higher than many other customers in Florida. One or both school districts paid the highest price in all of Florida for one service, while other customers paid much less. In addition to the fine, the FCC plans to order AT&T to repay $63,760 it apparently improperly received from the Universal Service Fund as a subsidy for these services.

In a Notice of Apparent Liability, the FCC alleged that AT&T violated the lowest corresponding price rule from at least mid-2012 to mid-2015, when it charged the school districts in Orange County and Dixie County, Fla., prices well above what other customers in the state paid. In addition, in each of these years, AT&T apparently incorrectly certified its compliance with the E-rate program’s rules. These certifications caused the Universal Service Fund to subsidize the school districts’ services at greatly inflated prices and allowed AT&T to receive at least $63,760 in federal support that it should not have received.

In a statement provided to Ars Technica, AT&T VP Joan Marsh said “the allegations lack merit and we look forward to making that case in detail in response to the NAL. Among other deficiencies, the NAL proceeds from the flawed premise that AT&T should have ignored regulations issued by the State of Florida when selling intrastate E-rate services in Florida.”

“Charging school districts among the highest rates in the state for telephone or broadband internet service is outrageous,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “Schools and libraries across the country heavily rely upon federal and state funds to afford these critical services. We
expect that every service provider will offer participating schools and libraries the same low rates that they charge to other similarly situated customers.”

The federal E-rate program helps schools and libraries receive discounts on telecommunications services such as internet access, internal connections, maintenance costs, and internal broadband services. The FCC voted to modernize the E-rate in 2014 and directed the Enforcement Bureau to allocate additional resources to enforcing the lowest corresponding price rule in order to maximize the E-rate’s benefits.

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Marketplace trend update: 6 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.

For instance, tools enabling digital credentialing help students display their learning accomplishments in ways that colleges and prospective employers appreciate, while online learning platforms and online resources make it easier for teachers to organize materials, find digital teaching tools, and keep track of student learning.

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.

Collaborative software provider ClassFlow announced a way for teachers to earn extra cash during the upcoming school year. The new ClassFlow Marketplace is an open community where teachers may buy and sell original teaching resources such as digital lessons, unit plans, assessments, teaching guides, worksheets, and more. All teaching resources purchased in the ClassFlow Marketplace can be delivered to students in the classroom, at home, or on-the-go using ClassFlow’s free delivery features. Teachers select their best original curricular materials, upload the files to the ClassFlow Marketplace in one of many supported file formats, and set their own price. ClassFlow automatically processes the sales transactions and delivers instant downloads of purchased materials to purchasers. Read more.

As educational institutions and employers move away from macro-credentials, Chalk & Wire, a higher education assessment platform, unveiled MyMantl, a Learning Recognition Network that will provide a way for learners, educators, employees, and employers to recognize and showcase a lifelong journey of learning. Learners, beginning in high school, will be able to track their academic and professional achievements and own their portfolio collections of learning, training, mentorship and digital credentialing. In addition to portfolios, MyMantl will offer digital badging tools, competency-based education program designers and job tools. Read more.

Reading Horizons has introduced Reading Horizons Accelerate, an educator platform designed to provide free resources for teachers and implementation support for Reading Horizons products in a blended learning environment. The new Reading Horizons Accelerate platform fully integrates with and supports the digital curriculums for Reading Horizons Discovery (K-3) and Reading Horizons Elevate (Grades 4-12), making implementation simple, sustainable, and successful. Read more.

Florida Virtual School will deploy D2L‘s Brightspace platform as the district’s new learning management system (LMS). The Brightspace platform incorporates personalized learning so teachers can deliver their lessons with much greater flexibility and give each student the personal experience they need to succeed. The new Brightspace Daylight experience is built from the ground up to work on any device and be fully accessible so students and teachers can use smartphones, tablets or any browser-enabled device. Additionally, Brightspace includes real-time learning analytics to provide teachers with engagement data that can help them improve student outcomes. Read more.

This August, Subaru of America, Inc. will spotlight its “Subaru Loves Learning” initiative, part of the brand’s Love Promise philanthropic platform dedicated to supporting causes and passions that Subaru and its customers care about. As part of the automaker’s commitment to education, Subaru retailers will work alongside the American Association for the Advancement of Science and AdoptAClassroom.org to provide students with the classroom supplies and books they need to succeed. For this year’s Subaru Loves Learning initiative, participating Subaru retailers will be matched with local schools in need and will donate award-winning textbooks to help further promote science education. Read more.

In a major move, online and blended learning solutions provider Edgenuity has acquired education software company Compass Learning, creating a suite of digital curriculum products. The acquisition that will expand Edgenuity’s reach across the entire K-12 educational spectrum – empowering schools to achieve their academic goals and improve outcomes for all students. Compass Learning gives Edgenuity a full K-12 math and English language arts curriculum product line, enabling Edgenuity to more effectively meet the growing demand of school leaders and teachers for personalized, targeted learning at all grade levels. Read more.

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Study: Schools may have tech, but they’re not using it

Are students using mobile technology in their daily lives? Undoubtedly yes. Are they using similar tech for learning in the classroom? Not really, according to recent research based on classroom observations.

The new study, conducted by the accreditation organization AdvancEd, put observers inside U.S. and international classrooms for about 140,000 observations during a three-year period. Observations rated lessons using a rubric (outlined somewhat in the research summary) that took into account things like engagement, behavior, and resources used on a scale of 1-4.

Inasmuch as a basic rubric can adequately capture a classroom environment, reported results were not encouraging from a tech standpoint. Half of all classrooms were not using any tech to “gather, evaluate and/or use information for learning,” and even fewer classrooms were observed to use tech for problem solving or collaboration. The study noted the fact that almost half of observed classrooms were using tech for gathering and evaluating information wasn’t particularly surprising since it’s “the most superficial use of technology, most easily implemented and least time consuming.”

Using tech to communicate and collaborate effectively, on the other hand, is usually considered the gold standard of technology use. According to the summary of results, “in 92,190 classrooms (64.6 percent), observers did not see students engaging in this use of technology at all” — which the report said could be partly attributed to students simply never being asked to use their devices in this manner. Similarly, observers noted that the use of tech for research and problem solving was “regular classroom practice” in only about 25 percent of classrooms.

The study didn’t look at classroom access to tech — even though it does cite other research pointing to its prevalence in classrooms. It also didn’t look at teacher training in observed classrooms, but does speculate that the results might be due to “to a broad range of factors related to teacher preparation and training, the impact of technology on school culture, or concerns about the availability of technology at home or out of school that could increase disparities among students from different socio-economic backgrounds.”

 

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What will the LMS of the future look like?

According to over 70 education IT specialists, current LMS functionality is great for administrative tasks, but doesn’t provide support for the new learning approaches in today’s schools.

The next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE), says a report by EDUCAUSE, will need a “Lego” approach, where components are built that allow individuals and institutions the opportunity to construct learning environments tailored to their requirement and goals.

“What is clear is that the LMS has been highly successful in enabling the administration of learning, but less so in enabling the learning itself,” wrote the report’s authors. “The challenge is to build on the value of an LMS as an administrative tool by retaining what works, but not be bound to an outgoing model of teaching and learning. [This] NGDLE is what should come after the LMS era.”

And according to the report’s authors, there are five core components of the post-LMS, as well as new architectures to consider.

Next page: 5 core functions

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ClassFlow Marketplace lets teachers buy and sell original content

ClassFlow, provider of collaboration software for interactive classrooms, has announced a new feature that allows teachers to earn extra cash during the upcoming school year.

The new ClassFlow Marketplace is an open community where teachers may buy and sell original teaching resources such as digital lessons, unit plans, assessments, teaching guides, worksheets, and more. All teaching resources purchased in the ClassFlow Marketplace can be delivered to students in the classroom, at home, or on-the-go using ClassFlow’s free delivery features.

Teachers can now earn extra cash through the new ClassFlow Marketplace in three steps:
1. Select their best original curricular materials.
2. Upload the files to the ClassFlow Marketplace in one of many supported file formats.
3. Set their own price and then earn extra cash when their materials are purchased. ClassFlow automatically processes the sales transactions and delivers instant downloads of purchased materials to purchasers.

For purchasers, the new ClassFlow Marketplace helps teachers save time associated with lesson preparation by providing access to a marketplace prepopulated with thousands of digital teaching materials designed by expert educators from around the world. This latest release of ClassFlow also offers a variety of lesson activity templates as well as a teacher networking and community infrastructure to assist teachers in developing a virtual personal learning network.

“ClassFlow now makes it easier than ever for teachers to find and deliver high-quality interactive lessons,” said Vincent Young, the chief marketing officer at Promethean. “With a few clicks, teachers can either post their original content for sale in the ClassFlow Marketplace, or search, find, and purchase an exemplary lesson created by another teacher. All teaching resources available in the ClassFlow Marketplace can be presented in the classroom and shared with students across multiple devices including Chromebooks, tablets, laptops, and more.”

In the ClassFlow Marketplace, authors can offer original digital content for sale or for free in a variety of file formats, including ClassFlow lessons, ClassFlow assessments, Promethean ActivInspire flipcharts, Microsoft PowerPoint files, Word documents, and Adobe PDF files. Authors can tag their content by file type, subject, grade level, keywords, review rating, and language, making it easy for users to search for and find exactly what they need.

“ClassFlow lessons engage students by including everyone in the room,” said Andrea Tolley, an IT Educator at Greeneville Middle School in Greeneville, Tennessee. “They help each student find his or her voice and help even reluctant learners gain confidence or interest in contributing. I’ve experienced great results with ClassFlow, so I know it’s an effective tool. The chance to publish and sell my original content in the ClassFlow Marketplace makes it even more appealing. My work would help other educators, and earning extra money is a major perk.”

In addition to providing top-quality teaching resources for their peers, ClassFlow Marketplace seller benefits teachers by charging no membership fees, offering a high royalty percentage on sales, and letting teachers set their own price (above a minimum required price) for their original content.

“Teachers put a significant amount of time and effort into creating great lesson content,” said Young. “Once their students master a concept, uploading their digital resources to the ClassFlow Marketplace helps other teachers and students benefit, and can also generate additional income for the author. It’s a win-win.”

The new ClassFlow Marketplace is available now in the U.S. and will launch internationally by mid-August 2016.

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“Subaru Loves Learning” Initiative intends to educate, inspire students

This August, Subaru of America, Inc. will once again spotlight its “Subaru Loves Learning” initiative, part of the brand’s Love Promise philanthropic platform dedicated to supporting causes and passions that Subaru and its customers care about.

As part of the automaker’s commitment to education, Subaru retailers will work alongside the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and AdoptAClassroom.org to provide students with the classroom supplies and books they need to succeed.

Following the success of last year’s book drive donation, Subaru retailers will once again partner with AAAS, a nonprofit organization that helps give children greater access to science books. For this year’s Subaru Loves Learning initiative, participating Subaru retailers will be matched with local schools in need and will donate award-winning textbooks to help further promote science education. During the month, over 40,000 books will be donated by Subaru retailers. In addition, Subaru will proudly donate over 1,500 books to Camden, NJ students in need as part of its ongoing commitment to aid the local community of its future U.S. headquarters.

On average, teachers in the U.S. spend $600 of their own money each year on school supplies for their classroom and students. Subaru is continuing its support of AdoptAClassroom.org, a nonprofit organization that helps teachers access the supplies they need to succeed to educate today’s youth. As part of the Subaru Loves Learning partnership, participating Subaru retailers will work with local schools and sponsor pre-packaged classroom supply kits from AdoptAClassroom.org. Each kit is outfitted to supply a classroom of 25 students, with the total initiative benefitting more than 300 teachers and more than 8,000 students nationwide.

Throughout August, Subaru retailers will invite their customers to share the gift of knowledge in partnership with two worthy organizations. By simply signing a customized label for a donated book, taking a customized thank you note home to give to a special teacher or snapping and sharing a photo of the Subaru Loves Learning display, Subaru customers can make a positive impact on the education of young people in their local communities. This year alone, more than 50,000 students will benefit from nearly 300 participating Subaru retailers across the country.

“Subaru Loves Learning is all about making the pursuit of knowledge as attainable as possible and we are proud to work alongside The American Association for the Advancement of Science and AdoptAClassroom.org to continue working towards that goal,” said Thomas J. Doll, President and COO of Subaru of America, Inc. “We hope that through these programs, Subaru and our retailers nationwide can help provide students and teachers with the tools they need to educate and inspire the next generation.”

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Florida Virtual School migrates to Brightspace

Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a statewide public school district in the state of Florida and international provider of education products and services, has selected D2L, a global learning technology provider, to deploy its Brightspace platform as the district’s new learning management system (LMS).

FLVS, the largest fully accredited online state public school in the U.S., had nearly 400,000 completed semester enrollments in the 2015-16 academic year.

The Brightspace platform includes a number of advantages that were key elements in its selection by FLVS. Since the platform incorporates personalized learning, teachers can deliver their lessons with much greater flexibility and give each student the personal experience they need to succeed. Brightspace was designed with modern students in mind and offers a clean, responsive user experience as well as integrated social media, chat and advanced video features.

The new Brightspace Daylight experience is built from the ground up to work on any device and be fully accessible so students and teachers can use smartphones, tablets or any browser-enabled device. Additionally, Brightspace includes real-time learning analytics to provide teachers with engagement data that can help them improve student outcomes.

“FLVS was the first statewide internet-based public high school in the United States when we were founded in 1997, and we have continued to strive to remain on the cutting edge of online learning ever since,” said Ronald Blocker, president and CEO of FLVS. “Today, students have more advanced needs than ever before, and techniques like game-based learning, personalized learning, real-time analytics and social learning have become essential. This is why D2L became the clear choice for us — its understanding of how to meet the challenges faced by the modern student is unmatched. In particular, Brightspace is designed to improve student achievement, a critical metric for FLVS. We are looking forward to rolling Brightspace out to our students so they can experience the next chapter in online learning.”

“We’re delighted to be working with the largest state virtual school in the U.S. D2L takes pride in partnering with innovative Kindergarten-12 organizations who care deeply about the best educational experience,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “FLVS is an online learning pioneer and their leadership on the student experience is an inspiration to all of us at D2L. We look forward to building on that success with a great partnership and delivering outstanding student outcomes with personalized learning.”

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Reading Horizons launches teacher platform to manage blended learning

Reading Horizons has introduced Reading Horizons Accelerate™, an educator platform designed to provide free resources for teachers and implementation support for Reading Horizons products in a blended learning environment.

The new Reading Horizons Accelerate platform fully integrates with and supports the digital curriculums for Reading Horizons Discovery® (K-3) and Reading Horizons Elevate® (Grades 4-12), making implementation simple, sustainable, and successful.

“Reading Horizons Accelerate is the next step in blended learning planning and instruction for educators using our literacy curriculum,” said Tyson Smith, the president and CEO of Reading Horizons. “We are dedicated to providing educators and students with the best possible solutions to increase literacy skills and reading comprehension. With clear and easy-to-follow lesson summaries, on-demand professional development resources, a lesson planning tool, and the addition of online forums, teachers can focus on teaching their students rather than spending hours on planning, tracking, and reporting.”

Accelerate provides online support for teachers in four unique ways. The Lesson Planner allows teachers who are using Reading Horizons to generate timelines that pace instruction for days, weeks, and months in advance. The calendar view provides the instructional plan for any specific day and compares individual and class progress to the timeline, ensuring that all students are on track.

The lesson plan can be designed for an entire class and customized for special groups such as English language learners or intervention groups. Student data is gathered directly from the software allowing teachers to view results by lesson, by student, and by class. This digital dashboard gives educators a quick view of student progress in order to make informed decisions when planning and to determine which students need intervention.

Reading Horizons Accelerate also includes lesson summaries that display each section of a lesson, its content, and the materials to accompany the lesson. Each lesson links to teacher manuals and instructional videos that support implementation and downloadable lesson materials.

Reinforcement and differentiation activities are available as printed practice pages and aligned to the software.

A limited version of Reading Horizons Accelerate is available free for educators and includes access to the Resources page and the Community Forum. The Resources page provides professional development assets such as videos on a variety of reading skills in addition to teacher downloads for games, reading records, assessments, practice pages and much more. All downloadable activities are printable and the videos present a detailed walkthrough of the Reading Horizons method with explanations for implementing reading instruction with fidelity.

The Accelerate Community Forum is another free resource for teachers and provides opportunities to ask questions, share reading best practices, and highlight tips for instruction. This professional community, open to all Accelerate users, allows educators to post questions or share ideas that will be available to everyone.

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Chalk & Wire unveils MyMantl learning recognition network

As educational institutions and employers alike are moving away from macro-credentials, Chalk & Wire, a higher education assessment platform, unveiled MyMantl, a first-of-its-kind Learning Recognition Network.

Available this fall, MyMantl will provide a way for learners, educators, employees, and employers to recognize and showcase a lifelong journey of learning.

For the first time, learners–beginning in high school–will be able to track their academic and professional achievements and own their portfolio collections of learning, training, mentorship and digital credentialing. In addition to portfolios, MyMantl will offer digital badging tools, competency-based education program designers and job tools.

“We know electronic portfolios can work, but we also realize that electronic portfolios have failed to live up to their potential, as they historically have been trapped inside education related systems and owned by schools,” said Geoff Irvine, CEO, Chalk & Wire. “With MyMantl, portfolios will start and end with the individual, whomever they are, tracking their collective work, skills and learning.”

Regardless of age, education or career, MyMantl will allow individuals to display their skills, badges, sample work and endorsements from organizations, as they prepare for their next professional or educational endeavor.

Supplementing the traditional ePortfolio experience, higher education and K-12 students will be able to curate their most important accomplishments within MyMantl as well as receive badges from their respective schools. Similarly, organizations can issue badges to professionals for corporate training, certifications and more.

“Learning doesn’t start and stop during a particular window in life. MyMantl creates a platform for recognizing lifelong instances of learning,” said Justin Pitcher, director of research and product design, Chalk & Wire. “For recent graduates and employees, MyMantl will supplement a traditional resume, showing employers valuable credentials backed by strong, verified work samples, endorsements, references and more.”

MyMantl will be fully available this fall.

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