6 things keeping your CTO up at night

What CTOs are struggling with, and how teachers and admins can be part of the problem, and the solution

cto-nightShort-staffed, budget-beleaguered tech departments have a lot on their plates right now as they juggle schools with more devices and applications than ever before with the need to keep security tight.

This year’s TCEA Convention and Exposition in Austin, Texas featured a panel session with a number of chief technology officers (CTOs), who discussed the state of education and technology from their perspective.

We recently spoke with a handful of CTOs, including panel members, who shared the key challenges they are currently facing, and offered up some solutions for handling these obstacles.…Read More

Why site visits are vital to tech rollouts

A program of site visits can teach leaders invaluable skills and keep them from feeling too lost

fish-site-visitsSince 1987, the National School Boards Association’s Technology Leadership Network has hosted education technology site visits that allow educators to grasp the essential conditions needed to support technology innovation. Without these crucial in-person learning experiences, too often educators looking to implement technology in their local environments feel like fish out of water—perhaps literally.

Consider author Leo Lionni’s Fish is Fish, which serves as a lesson about how individuals construct new knowledge based on their current set of experiences, and why it is so important to understand the critical elements to experience success in another environment. In that story, the fish’s tadpole friend, who becomes a frog and leaves the pond, returns to tell him about the fantastic things he has seen on land, like birds, cows, and people. It’s hard for the fish to imagine those creatures, as they simply are not part of his world. After an ill-fated adventure on land, he is rescued by his friend the frog and returned to the pond, having never learned what enabled the birds, cows, and people to be successful in their world.

Unlike Lionni’s fish, participants at NSBA site visits gain the experiential learning critical to allow them to return to their respective “ponds”—local school districts and schools—better able to define a vision and construct a plan that improves teaching and learning and promotes student success.…Read More

myON adds National Geographic Kids to digital platform

Select National Geographic Kids digital books now available

reading-digitalmyON, a business unit of Capstone, has added digital books from National Geographic Kids, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, to myON’s online, personalized literacy environment, which now boasts titles from over 60 different publishers.

With the addition of National Geographic Kids, myON provides a broader wealth of resources around geography, archaeology and natural science to schools nationwide using myON.

The 30 titles, which will be accessible by the end of January, are geared toward further engaging middle school students in reading, and include, among others, “Stubby the War Dog,” “Spies of the Mississippi” and “How to Get Rich on a Texas Cattle Drive.”…Read More

Pearson unveils tablet ELL assessment system

The new ELL assessment system targets speaking, reading, writing, and listening

ELL-tabletA new tablet-based assessment developed by Pearson will specifically target English Language Learners (ELLs) in order to help them build English language skills and succeed on summative assessments.

With the assessment system, called TELL (Test of English Language Learning), students watch video clips and interact with pictures and words, then answer questions out loud. They listen, write, read and speak—all with no mark-ups or grading by teachers. TELL screens, diagnoses and monitors each ELL student’s progress throughout the school year. Responses—written and spoken—are automatically scored by Pearson’s automated scoring technologies

Fully scalable, TELL can be used with just one student at a time, a small to large group, or for whole-class administration at the school or district level. The assessment covers all four foundational language skills—listening, speaking, reading and writing and is aligned to standards, such as Common Core.…Read More

Common Core, BYOD, assessments among districts’ budget priorities

Survey reveals that school districts are prioritizing ed-tech in the wake of more positive budget news

districts-surveyAn annual report based on two large-scale surveys of education decision-makers reveals that school technology budgets are growing stronger, school leaders are seeking Common Core-aligned instructional materials, and there is a growing demand for tools that improve teaching and personalized learning.

The results come from MDR’s State of the K-12 Market 2014 report, conducted by the EdNET Research team. The report seeks to define important trends that will impact U.S. schools in the coming year.

Major findings reveal a reliance on digital resources and an expansion of access through mobile devices, implementation of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, and one-to-one computing initiatives; increased experimentation with new instructional models; an uptick in preparation for online assessments; and fewer worries about budgets.…Read More

8 innovative ideas for the tech-strapped teacher

Slow internet? No devices? Here’s how to make the most of limited classroom tech for next to nothing

tech-strapped-teacherSchool districts in the United States spend billions of dollars each year to purchase technology for the classroom, yet the lack of technology and internet access in the nation’s public schools continues to be an issue. Often, a teacher who is faced with little technology in the classroom will feel overwhelmed and will resort to more traditional teaching methods.

This article outlines strategies for teachers to increase the impact of the technology to which they are limited. I have purposely left coordinated and intentional BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs out of this list. Even with the best-planned BYOD program, there will be students who do not have devices to bring.

These are strategies I have used in my experience in education, which began in a room with one computer and no projector, as well as strategies I have helped teachers to implement in my role as a professional development consultant and instructional coach. It’s important for teachers to focus not on what isn’t in their classroom but rather how they can use what they have.…Read More

Can BYOD be a reality?

Is BYOD a trend brought on by marketing or can it really be a reality?

BYOD-contribWe have all heard the term BYOD/BYOT and many of us have even implemented such a program in our institutions. The thought of offsetting district expenditures by having students supply their own devices is certainly an eye opening thought. Can a BYOD truly exist without a district supplied one-to-one option or similar district solution? It’s something I wrestle with each time I hear of districts doing one without the other.

The two terms BYOD and one-to-one are typically heard synonymously for the simple fact that in a BYOD only environment, those students who do not have access to their own devices will not be able to participate in online or computer based classroom activities unless provisions are made in each classroom to ensure every child has a device. This in itself can pose its own challenges as certain personal devices may not be able to view resources required by the class.

Flash based activities will not be viewable on iOS devices. Most testing as of today states explicitly that personal devices may not be used, so in this case, we must still have enough district owned devices to tackle the growing number of online assessments.…Read More

Why BYOT should begin in elementary school

Veteran educator Linda M. Ward argues why “bring your own technology” (BYOT) programs should begin at the elementary level

byotIn an effort to make technology more available to students, some school districts are adopting “bring your own technology” (BYOT) programs, in which students and staff are allowed to bring devices from home to use on the schools’ networks for educational use.

Usually, districts adopting BYOT programs initiate them at the high school level and allow them to trickle down to the junior high or middle school level. It is the rare school district that will include its elementary populations in this endeavor.

Younger students’ brains are more malleable and can absorb and retain more information than their older counterparts. It is considered a best practice to introduce students to educational topics as well as life skills at a young age, continuing instruction until mastery is shown.…Read More

Four mobile deployment tips from CTOs

A roundup of best practices from CTOs can help those hoping to start mobile initiatives

mobile-CTOMobile learning is on the rise, and school leaders recognize that mobile initiatives, when implemented correctly, give students a distinct advantage as they enter college and the workforce.

But sometimes, roadblocks such as infrastructure challenges and access barries complicate mobile device deployments.

This issue was covered in depth during the most recent Connected Educator Month, and in case you missed it, we’ve decided to highlight these valuable tips, straight from chief technology officers (CTOs) across the nation.…Read More

Google for Education is a technology trend to watch!

After returning from a big IT conference where Google unveiled a new partnership with Synnex Corp, Kelly Grillo, PhD, gives three reasons to use Google Apps


There is a tidal wave called Google focused on the education market like I’ve never seen before.

Developers at Google are not only giving Google Apps to K-12 schools, they are supporting schools with the new Google Console, through which anyone can serve as the IT Director.…Read More