Google adds new features to Classroom, Forms, and more Copy

As back-to-school approaches, Google has just released a grab-bag of new features aimed at K-12 educators—mostly upgrades to existing Google products like Classroom and Expeditions—announced in a new blog post.

For Classroom, Google’s still relatively new LMS, the company is adding summaries of student work that can be automatically shared with parents by teachers, who can send the summaries (or classroom announcements) daily or weekly as they choose.

Classroom’s mobile app is also getting some tweaks, namely the new ability to annotate documents, turning them into whiteboard-like screens. Teachers, too, can use the annotations to grade assignments, highlight passages, or demonstrate concepts. To help organize classrooms, teachers can now also add topics to posts and students can filter their streams for specific topics.…Read More

Google adds new features to Classroom, Forms, and more

As back-to-school approaches, Google has just released a grab-bag of new features aimed at K-12 educators—mostly upgrades to existing Google products like Classroom and Expeditions—announced in a new blog post.

For Classroom, Google’s still relatively new LMS, the company is adding summaries of student work that can be automatically shared with parents by teachers, who can send the summaries (or classroom announcements) daily or weekly as they choose.

Classroom’s mobile app is also getting some tweaks, namely the new ability to annotate documents, turning them into whiteboard-like screens. Teachers, too, can use the annotations to grade assignments, highlight passages, or demonstrate concepts. To help organize classrooms, teachers can now also add topics to posts and students can filter their streams for specific topics.…Read More

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zSpace and Google Expeditions to create virtual reality classroom experiences

zSpace, Inc. is working with Google to create an end-to-end virtual reality classroom experience that combines the power of zSpace’s interactive Screen VR technology with the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.

Students will be introduced to learning content through the vivid photo and video Expeditions followed by in-depth exploration opportunities in zSpace.

Google and zSpace will begin the program for back-to-school 2016 and showcase the virtual reality classroom experience at conferences and tradeshows in the United States. Through the partnership, zSpace and Google aim to reach and inspire hundreds of thousands of students during the 2016-2017 school year and beyond.…Read More

Vernier releases free back-to-school resources

Professional learning and support tools include in-person workshops, webinars, video tutorials, grant opportunities and more

To support science and STEM teachers in delivering quality instruction to their students at the start of, and throughout, the school year, Vernier Software & Technology is offering an abundance of free professional learning resources, support tools, grant opportunities and more. This comprehensive collection of offerings provides teachers with the skills and resources needed to effectively use data-collection technology in their classrooms.

“Helping both educators and students succeed in today’s science classrooms is our top priority,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “To support this, we are committed to providing stellar service, teacher-based tech support, and useful professional development year round to meet the needs of our customers.”

Free resources from Vernier include:
● Award and grant opportunities: Among others, these include the annual Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards and Vernier Engineering Contest, both of which award teachers with cash and technology prizes.
● Community Forum: Customers can access the forum to exchange advice, trade used equipment, look at DIY projects and discuss lab ideas with other educators.
● Hands-on workshops: These free educator-led seminars provide teachers with innovative ways to integrate probeware into their curricula.
● Sample experiments: The student version of these classroom-ready investigations can be downloaded directly from the Vernier website. More than 1,000 sample experiments are available.
● Tech Tips Videos: This collection of more than 180 videos provides helpful tutorials on using various Vernier data-collection technologies.
● Technical Information Library (TIL): An extensive collection of technical information, troubleshooting advice, frequently asked questions and more than 1,000 searchable technology tips are available 24/7. The Vernier TIL was honored with a Stellar Service Award from Tech & Learning magazine.
● Warranty and repair program: In addition to an ample five-year warranty, Vernier will attempt to repair most products, many times at no charge.
● Webinars: These personalized, customized webinars provide an effective way for educators and their science departments to learn more about using Vernier technology.…Read More

Back-to-school tax breaks on…guns and tech?

Many states with back-to-school sales tax “holidays” are expanding them to cover almost any purchase, in addition to the usual kids’ clothing, shoes, books and school supplies, Stateline reports. As schools and students replace ink and paper with pixels, some states are expanding their holidays to cover sales taxes on low-cost computers and tablets. These electronics are eligible for the tax breaks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. But some states have broadened the popular holidays beyond school-related items to include other types of clothing, large desktop computers and other electronics. Some now include sheets, blankets, pillows, bedspreads, diapers and baby products

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Back to school – and new common standards?

Democracy is like herding cats – and so is education reform. As America’s public schools consider new common standards in subjects such as math and language arts, it’s time to act on these standards while the cats are all in the same room, the Christian Science Monitor reports. So far, 47 states have signed on to the “common core state standards” launched in 2009 by the National Governors Association. The standards would ensure uniformity in what’s taught in every classroom and what’s expected of every student nationwide. Each grade level would work toward the same goals, instead of experiencing educational chaos – thousands of different goals and curricula. But even an extraordinary commitment such as this – which also has the backing of the two main teachers unions as well as Republicans and Democrats from Main St. to Pennsylvania Ave. – can disappear when the chalk hits the chalkboard. It can face resistance, indifference, or simply fall beneath other priorities…

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More students need a laptop computer for the classroom

Back-to-school supplies for middle school students used to mean pens, notebooks, maybe a new backpack. But for a growing number of families, the list now includes a laptop computer, USA Today reports. “We would never send our own kids to pediatricians that were practicing medicine from the ’70s or ’80s,” says Mark Hess, principal of Sarah Banks Middle School in Wixom, Mich. “Why would we send our kids to schools that are practicing instructional techniques that are decades old? If we did that, it’d be educational malpractice.” A districtwide laptop program in the Walled Lake, Mich., Consolidated School District starts in the sixth grade and incorporates technology in math, science, English, and history lessons. Parents of sixth-graders have the option to buy a $784 laptop and enroll their child in the program; those kids are placed in a classroom where all students have their own laptops. Those not in the program have access to 7,000 district-leased laptops that teachers share on rolling carts. The 500 sixth-graders in Walled Lake’s laptop classrooms use their computers for most of the school day. They revise papers, solve math problems, and even take tests and quizzes on the computer. Students also use interactive whiteboards and electronic clickers to key in answers, like on a game show. “It’s just another tool for learning,” Hess says. Though they were a novelty a decade ago, “in 2010, laptops should just be commonplace.”

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Back-to-school IT projects reshape campus life

The top back-to-school IT projects at 10 colleges and universities show a tidal wave of change in higher education, Reuters reports—and many of the changes could presage broader shifts in enterprise and consumer technology. Not surprisingly, wireless is fast becoming the default network connection for campus users, who typically own between two and four wireless-enabled mobile devices. At the same time, virtualization and growth in cloud-based services are centralizing and offloading IT functions. These changes, coupled with soaring video traffic, are triggering bandwidth upgrades at all levels. As students head back to college, Network World has identified six major areas of technology change: the shift toward 802.11n and all-wireless access; the rising tide of mobile devices; recentralizing IT through virtualization; the growth of cloud computing; fast-growing video use; and big bandwidth upgrades. For instance, video usage is growing, fueled partly by student use of online video streaming services. In addition, there’s expanding use of video in learning, such as “lecture capture” systems that create and store searchable videos of class presentations by teachers, visitors, and students. To accommodate these changes, the University of North Texas upgraded its campus distribution network from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, and a new design will improve redundancy. North Texas University ended the 2010 academic year hitting about 300Mbps to 400Mbps of internet traffic and expects to reach 500Mbps in the new academic year. Campuses are also paying more attention to cellular bandwidth…

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