Cost is still keeping districts from boosting broadband speeds

Cost remains the biggest hurdle for schools trying to increase broadband connectivity speeds for students, according to CoSN’s 2017 Annual Infrastructure Survey.

The majority of school districts–85 percent, to be exact–meet the Federal Communications Commission’s short-term goal for broadband connectivity of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, according to the survey.

The survey collected feedback from 445 large, small, urban, and rural school district leaders nationwide and examines the current state of technology infrastructure in U.S. K-12 districts.

More than half of the districts reported that none of their schools meet the FCC’s long-term broadband connectivity goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students, according to the survey.

Forty-seven percent indicated at least some schools are meeting the FCC’s long-term connectivity goal, with 16 percent of districts indicating they are achieving the long-term goal in every school.

Next page: A positive trend in broadband costs


5 tips to take your large school district into the digital age

Technology changes quickly, with educators and administrators often racing to catch up. Sometimes the bigger the school district, the longer it can take to make what happens inside classrooms as engaging as what students encounter outside our doors.

But just as chalkboards have given way to interactive whiteboards, so can your school system bring all aspects of teaching and learning into the digital age.

Here are five ways to get started in creating digital learning environments:

1. Prioritize professional development.
Focused professional development has been one of the main keys to our district’s digital transition success. Our technology integration framework allows administrators and teachers to identify where instructional activities fit, complemented by professional development around core classroom technology, such as Google tools and interactive whiteboards. Make sure that staff has a solid understanding of what meaningful technology integration looks like and how to develop activities that integrate technology in a purposeful way. Help school-based and central office administrators sharpen their vision for effective technology integration and transitioning to the use of digital textbooks and other online resources. Continue professional development on using digital textbooks and other online resources to create effective learning activities for students.

Next page: Four more ways to create digital learning environments


Gen Z women want to learn more STEM, innovative tech

Female students say they feel less equipped to tackle future careers because they haven’t necessarily learned about the new technologies shaping those future career fields, according to a new survey.

The Quizlet survey polled more than 1,000 Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 to ask them about their familiarity with the future of work and how they are learning about it in school.

The good news is that 95 percent of students know about the future of work and why it is important and relevant to their learning. But the survey also reveals some troubling differences between what male and female students know and wish they could learn.

Next page: How many female students said they wanted to learn more about innovative technologies?


Secrets from the library lines: 5 ways schools can boost digital engagement

Once your school district makes the commitment to have a digital library, the next step is for people to understand how they can stay engaged.

In “Secrets from the Front Lines: How Schools Can Boost Digital Engagement,” Kelly Hladek, library media specialist and technology liaison at Morton High School, School City of Hammond, IN, discussed best practices for engaging students, teachers and the community in the district’s eBook and audiobook collection. In just one year of having a digital collection, checkouts from the district’s digital library increased by 184 percent.

Secret 1: Harness Visuals

Vendors will often provide resources that are helpful in generating interest in your digital library, such as getting-started guides, video tutorials, flyers, posters, and bookmarks. Post materials like posters not only in the library, but also in surrounding areas to grab students’ attention. Hladek recommended having visual reminders for students, like printed-out book covers of the virtual collection on your shelves, and incorporating QR codes here. For any physical books, add special stickers to remind students that they’re also available in digital format.

Secret 2: Involve Teachers

Don’t forget to involve teachers in the digital library. They can have their own dedicated webpage, which can include professional development selections, teaching resources, or popular adult fiction. Visual reminders are also helpful for teachers, and book covers can be added to bulletin boards located in popular faculty areas around the school.

Secret 3: Involve the Community

Tell the surrounding community about the digital library by adding vendor-provided web graphics with links not only to your school’s website, but the district’s website too. Post on social media to spread the message even further.

Secret 4: A Mobile, Physical Kiosk

Within the library, Hladek recommended having a kiosk that is dedicated to eBook browsing and circulation. Having a mobile kiosk is a bonus because it can be wheeled around and used to pitch the digital library at events like open houses or back-to-school nights. “The word is getting out there in our district that eBooks and audiobooks are another way to enjoy reading. We certainly love our physical collections…we just appreciate how digital reading provides another way for students to enjoy a book. Kids just have another choice,” Hladek added.

Secret 5: Learn from Other Schools

Learn how other schools are using their digital collections. Many digital vendors provide avenues to connect with other schools that are also using that vendor. Through this, your school can gain new strategies for using the product, collection-management advice, or even step-by-step instructions for events in which the digital library was featured prominently.

By spreading the word, keeping everyone in the loop, and working with others, you’ll increase engagement in your digital library.

About the Presenter

Kelly Hladek is the library media specialist at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana where she also sponsors her school’s book club and manages the library media center/book club blog, Govs Love Books. In addition, she is the OverDrive coordinator for secondary content and a technology liaison for the School City of Hammond.

Join the Community

SLC @ the Forefront is a free professional learning community that offers school librarians and educators alike a place to explore together the challenges, opportunities and resources that make school libraries vibrant, vital research and learning environments.

This broadcast was hosted by and sponsored by OverDrive Education and Libraries Unlimited.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by View more events here.]


5 ways to leverage UDL for student inclusivity

In recent years, general education teachers have joined special education teachers in emphasizing the need for inclusivity in the classroom. By creating inclusive classrooms, educators aim to foster learning environments that are equitable and nurturing to every student. Inclusive educators often use Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to provide students with consistent access to engaging content and effective paths for achieving educational goals in classrooms where they experience a greater sense of belonging.

UDL, which is a set of principles for curriculum development that aims to provide all students an equal opportunity to learn, can be used by educators at any grade level or subject area. According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, “UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone—not a single, one-size-fits-all solution, but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”

If you are a teacher looking to create a more inclusive learning environment in your classroom, understanding the principles of UDL can give you an edge. While many educators who are interested in working effectively with diverse groups of students go on to obtain a masters degree in education or seek other formal training, there are a few steps you can take today to make your classroom a more nurturing and equitable space.

Here are five ways you can start implementing inclusivity into your classroom today:

1. Use Varied Strategies to Present Content

The first principle of UDL invites teachers to use “multiple means of representation.”

With this in mind, we ask, “How do you share content with your students?” Through lectures, readings, discussions, graphic representations, videos, and hands-on artistic models, teachers have ways to share information. While each of these may be useful, using a variety can ensure that content is accessible to everyone.

Sixth grade social studies teacher, Ashlynn Sandoval provides content by showing a video that has captions. This way, students have auditory and visual input—more than just one mode. The addition of captions improves access for a variety of students, those with hearing impairments, those learning a new language, and those working to improve reading or spelling skills.  Using different mediums to present information and engage students is important in inclusive classrooms.

2. Invite Students to Show What They Know in Varied Ways

As the second principle of UDL calls teachers to use “multiple means of action and expression,” we ask, “How do you allow students to show understanding?”

Some students may find that their best outlet and means of expression comes through writing while others excel in giving an oral presentation, acting out a play or creating a piece of art. When we provide students the opportunity to express their knowledge through multiple means, we learn what works best for them and can often find strengths we hadn’t identified before.

After learning about UDL, Shanika McCarty, an 8th grade English teacher, decided that she would “provide more options and student choice for how they will present” projects. In doing so, she alleviates anxiety and sees more students showing quality work in the classroom.

(Next page: 3 more ways to leverage UDL for inclusivity)


25 education trends for 2018

Year after year, educators and those invested in education love to speculate about what will take off in the near future. And as far as riveting news goes, nothing quite peaks the interest like new trends that have the potential to fundamentally change learning.

In almost all of the commentary from both educators and industry, the mention of AR and VR for 2018’s big trends were ubiquitous. So much so, we could only include just a few AR/VR pieces here in our inaugural “eSchool Media’s Annual Trends Report,” which compiles some of the most practical, forward-looking predictions from educators and industry on what will trend for the upcoming year in both K-12 and higher education.

In this straight-forward report, eSchool Media discusses what to expect, overall, in 2018; how 2017 compares to 2018 for both K-12 and higher ed; and predictions from educators and industry on both K-12 and higher ed trends for the new year.

2018 promises to be a year that epitomizes the term “transformational.” Are you ready? It’s going to be a wild, wonderful ride.

Click on the image below for the PDF report, or click here



App of the Week: Reading Rainbow’s lesson plans

Ed. noteApp 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.

What’s It Like? 

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary School (formerly Reading Rainbow Skybrary School) is the school edition of the LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary Family app. The school version is currently a website only, and both teachers and students have access to a digital library with more than 800 books, 200 videos, and more content added regularly. All books have “read to me” or “read on my own” options, and some have very simple animations. In addition, all books have Big Thinker questions at the end, the Skybrary can be set up on multiple computers, and teachers get tracking tools to see what and how much their students are reading. There are also 40 lesson plans that utilize books in the library.

Price: Free to Try

Grades: K-3

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Easy-to-follow lesson plans seamlessly combine reading with discussion and classroom activities.

Cons: Extra teacher tools amount to a simple reading tracker and access to lesson plans; the special teacher offerings could be more complex.

Bottom line: Though it could use some updates, Skybrary School has a set of top-quality resources with great value worth checking out.


Video of the Week: Amplify your ELLs’ voices with digital storytelling

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied 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 watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: English-language learners come to our classrooms with a diverse set of learning needs, including the need for more opportunities to practice using English in a variety of settings. But can digital communication help increase ELLs’ language output? Here you’ll find practical tips on using digital-creation and storytelling activities to empower authentic communication, both in the classroom and beyond. What’s more, these types of activities can be just as engaging and productive for any student, regardless of their literacy level or language-learner status. For more tips and strategies, visit this collection of resources for supporting ELLs in the classroom.