Brightspace Excellence Awards highlight innovation in online learning

This year’s Brightspace Excellence Awards, announced at FUSION 2016 by global learning technology provider D2L, recognized the promise of online learning and its ability to connect more and more people to high-quality educational programs.

Faculty dedicated to helping students learn online created robust online environments and high-quality tools to help students succeed in their online learning endeavors.

This year’s crop of winners demonstrated progress and innovation in student and teacher engagement, student retention, and teaching and learning efficiencies that resulted in cost savings.…Read More

Study finds successes, challenges in shift to intensive principal preparation

A report released from the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago Consortium), assesses the progress of sweeping legislation to redesign the way school principals in Illinois are prepared, with the goal of improving schools statewide through higher quality leadership. The report summarizes findings from a two-year study assessing the progress of these ambitious reforms and describing the changes that occurred as a result of the new policy.

“This in-depth look at principal preparation programs is the latest in our series of studies of Illinois’ school leadership and provides insights into the challenges programs face after major reforms and the innovative ways that they have navigated through these challenges,” says IERC Executive Director Janet K. Holt.

Illinois’ new principal preparation policy required universities across the state to shift from a general training model geared toward multiple school administrative positions to more targeted and selective principal-specific preparation beginning in the 2014-15 school year. As a result, the study finds that preparation programs experienced substantial, but not unexpected, declines in enrollment.…Read More

7 convenient communication tools for educators

These 7 edu convenience tools offer functionality and ease of use

As mobile technology becomes more commonplace in classrooms and nearly ubiquitous for school leaders, the convenience of having access to emails, text messages, social media and other tools might be taken for granted.

Using smartphones and tablets, educators and administrators have at their fingertips a variety of tools, strategies and digital coaches designed to make their instructional and organizational goals a reality.

The rise of “convenience” tools is here, from parent-teacher communication apps to programs that help teachers track students’ behavioral challenges and achievements.…Read More

5 things changing today’s CTO role

During ISTE 2016, a panel of CTOs and educators examined how changes in today’s schools and technologies are impacting the role of the traditional CTO

Chief technology officers (CTOs) in school districts juggle any number of demands relating to IT support, technology integration into classroom instruction, and future district technology plans. But as technology changes, and as the needs of students and teachers change, so does the role of the CTO.

A panel of CTOs, ed-tech specialists, and educators at ISTE 2016 in Denver, moderated by Jeremy Shorr, the director of innovation and education technology in Ohio’s Mentor Public Schools, explored some of the challenges that come along with those changes and shared their best practices for ensuring that technology continues to meet the needs of teaching and learning throughout those changes.

Blended learning…Read More

TED-ED clubs give students a platform for sharing ideas

The clubs are fashioning the next generation of TED speakers one big idea at a time

One of Mitzi Stover’s biggest challenges as a teacher is convincing her students they have a voice. Stover teaches speech and English at North Torrance High School in a working-class area of Los Angeles where kids seldom travel or even leave the neighborhood.

“Their world is very small geographically,” Stover said during a recent presentation at the CUE 2016 national conference in Palm Springs. “And teenagers are already so dismissed most of the time.”

From her years of teaching, Stover knew that having students delve into their interests and personal experiences was one of the best ways to develop their passions — and in turn their public speaking. But presenting to the same classmates they saw every day was decidedly low-stakes and hardly helped her convince students they had a voice, let alone a global reach.…Read More

The benefits of adding video to teacher evaluations

A Harvard researcher shares her national perspective on improving professional development

One of the biggest challenges in K-12 education is finding an effective and productive way to evaluate teacher performance. In a world where technology is rapidly reshaping the classroom, it’s natural to look to its potential, especially considering that many schools now have the technology to do classroom observation via video. However, these same schools aren’t yet convinced whether the investment will change status quo evaluations. To find out, in 2012, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard, where I work, piloted the Best Foot Forward Project (BFF), a study that grew out of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project.

BFF began with pilot programs in large districts in Georgia and North Carolina as well as Relay Graduate School of Education. In an effort to gather data from large and small districts in both urban and rural areas, we then expanded the study to include Los Angeles Unified School District, the state of Delaware, and a number of districts in Colorado.

We randomly selected half the teachers to be in a treatment group that would take videos of themselves in the classroom. These videos were then passed along to their principals for evaluation purposes. We also had remote peers provide our treatment group teachers with formative feedback on their subject matter. The control group did “business as usual” when it came to their evaluations.…Read More

Destination Imagination, Oracle Academy launch computer science challenge

Organizations join forces on the development of two coding challenges

Destination Imagination (DI), an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students the creative process skills needed to become the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers, has collaborated with Oracle Academy to advance coding and computer science opportunities that will help students thrive in the future workforce. Oracle Academy works globally to expand knowledge, skills, innovation and diversity in technology through computer science education.

“There is an urgent need to provide students and teachers access to computer science education,” said Dr. Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination. “The Association for Computing Machinery estimates that by 2020, one out of every two STEM jobs will be in computing. However, nine out of 10 K-12 schools do not currently provide computer science education. As computing technology continues to grow and evolve, it’s essential we provide students with affordable access to computer science opportunities that will inspire and engage them in career-ready learning opportunities. We’re excited to work with Oracle Academy to ensure students connect to the needs of the future workforce.”

Through the collaboration, Destination Imagination will release two new computer science challenges—Dear Hero and Co{DI}ng Space—in hopes of engaging 10,000 students in computer science education this year. Each challenge is designed to spark kids’ interest in coding and encourage students of diverse backgrounds to incorporate their artistic expression while learning skills such as collaboration, storyboarding and perseverance.…Read More

App of the Week: Eat your way to basic math skills

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? DragonBox Numbers surreptitiously introduces kids to basic number concepts through puzzles, challenges, and free play. “Nooms” represent each number from 1 to 10. Kids can stack Nooms, have them “eat” each other and turn into different Nooms (for example, 3 eats 5 and becomes 8), or slice them into smaller Nooms. In the sandbox, kids freely experiment with the Nooms against a number line. In “ladder,” kids build a Noom to reach a star on a number line, which gets more challenging as they want to avoid or pass through certain points along the way. In “puzzles,” kids create pictures using the Nooms in certain ways. All activities earn coins that kids can use to “buy” more levels.

Rating: 4/5…Read More

N.J. experiments with new engagement platform

New engagement platform uses web and mobile-based technology to help students and their parents navigate K-12 challenges

Evolution Labs and The New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), the state’s professional association of school leaders, have partnered to further develop and make available to NJASA members the company’s web- and mobile-based student and parent success platform, Suite360.

Suite360 leverages new media engagement features with critical content to help students and parents navigate a range of issues, from bullying and cyber-bullying to mental health and wellness, to academic pressures. Under the partnership, NJASA will provide guidance to help shape the platform to meet the specific needs of its member districts.

Dr. Richard G. Bozza, Executive Director of the NJASA will formally announce the partnership and program at the upcoming Techspo 2016 conference in Atlantic City, January 28-29.…Read More

6 apps to help parents and teachers communicate

Keep parents in the loop with these tools

Educators know that students’ home lives play an integral role in their academic success. Communication between teachers and parents makes it easier for educators to understand the outside challenges students may deal with, and it helps parents understand how they can better support their children in school.

SimplyCircle
SchoolCircle helps parents stay connected to teachers by organizing school communications in a central dashboard with action items and alerts.

Ringya
Ringya lets users create groups and, within those groups, create subgroups or lists. Users can call, text, email, and chat with individuals, subgroups, or the entire group. Group members are identified by how they’re connected to the user, so a teacher knows who is calling or texting.…Read More