Discussions on classroom technology ask wrong questions, experts say

In the education community, there is a common analogy comparing emerging technologies and blended learning models with the common pencil, the Deseret News reports. The concept behind the analogy is a hypothetical world where writing, pencils and books do not exist. Then, when the pencil appears as an emerging technology, as tablet devices and competency-based learning programs are now, the question is whether it would be quickly embraced, or whether policymakers would call for pencil pilot programs to study their effect on classroom learning. Richard Culatta, who serves as acting director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, demonstrated the pencil analogy Monday to guests of the Early Education and Technology for Children conference at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center…

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Other countries facing common ed-tech struggles

Other countries share common U.S. ed-tech concerns.

U.S. educators spend much time touting the benefits of taking a global look at classroom technology, but many countries struggle with the same ed-tech challenges facing the U.S., including dwindling funds, accessibility issues, and adequate teacher support.

“This is a challenging time today in education technology,” said Robert Martellacci, president and publisher of MindShare Learning, a Canadian ed-tech consulting, news, and events firm. “We sometimes refer to it as the Wild West. We realized there is a pent-up demand to understand what’s really working in the classroom.”

There are 15,500 K-12 schools and 5.1 million K-12 students across Canada, with 85 to 90 percent of the country’s population living within 100 miles of the U.S border. There is no national department of education, but control is segmented among 10 provinces and three territories. On average, the country maintains a one-to-five computer-to-student ratio, and Martellacci said mobile computing and BYOD initiatives are “gaining serious traction” as they are in the U.S. Also similar to U.S. schools is a strain on financial systems.…Read More

Idaho kicks off school laptop bidding process

A task force created to help implement Luna's technology changes recommended the computer device come in the form of a laptop.

Idaho has started accepting bids for a contract to provide every high school student and teacher with a laptop or similar device.

The state is giving computer manufacturers until May 25 to submit their pitches, according to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by Idaho’s Division of Purchasing. The 85-page document was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

Idaho is phasing in the laptops while also becoming the first state in the nation to require high school students to take at least two credits online to graduate. The changes were approved last year as part of a reform package authored by public schools chief Tom Luna.…Read More

Teachers: Budgets block classroom technology access

Ninety-one percent of teachers said they have access to computers in their classrooms.

Despite advances in digital learning tools and efforts to close the ed-tech access gap, school budgets remain one of the biggest barriers to classroom technology access, according to a national PBS LearningMedia survey of preK-12 teachers.

Although ed-tech advocates campaign for technology’s seamless integration into instruction, only 22 percent of teachers surveyed said they have the “right” level of technology in their classrooms.

Sixty-three percent of teachers said budgets continue to be barriers to classroom technology access, and in low-income communities, 70 percent of teachers reported budgets are their main obstacle. Aside from funding, teachers reported that unfamiliarity with technologies (8 percent), a lack of knowledge about where to find proper technologies or a lack of training (8 percent), technologies’ incompatibility with current curriculum (7 percent), slow/poor/no internet connection (6 percent), and other various reasons (9 percent) as barriers to classroom technology use.…Read More

Gearing up for the new school year

Teachers can share ideas to get their classroom technology up to speed.
Teachers can share ideas to get their classroom technology up to speed.

It is hard to believe that it was more than two months ago that I was gearing up for summer.  I was brushing last year’s sand off of my beach chairs, slipping my feet into friendly old sandals, and hitting the gym so I would fit into bathing suits that must have shrunk in the wash!  Now fall is peeking out from behind sweaty days, with soaking rains to revive scorched grass and yellow buses practicing routes that will soon bring bodies into the waiting desks. The bare classroom in which I sit will soon be filled, and I have a new plan to get ready for this school year.

In the past I have dusted off curriculum binders, gathered a supply of whiteboard markers (so recently replacing chalk), and put up a framework for bulletin boards to be populated with student work by the end of week one.  This year is a bit different.  This year is the culmination of my move into the digital realm.  This year my mantra is “Get Teched Up!”

My technology age makeover:…Read More

Coming soon to a preschool classroom near you: Robot teachers?

Simon is a socially intelligent robot. Copyright: GA Tech.
Simon is a socially intelligent robot. Copyright: GA Tech.

To help spur interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, many schools have begun to integrate robotics into the curriculum—but are younger students and their teachers ready for a new wave of robotic teaching assistants?

Many researchers and robotics experts agree that robot teachers are no longer the stuff of science fiction—they’re part of a new workforce designed to lend a helping hand to classroom teachers … whose jobs aren’t in jeopardy any time soon, experts say.

Although the technology is still in its developmental stage, and Apple has yet to develop an iRobot, assistant teaching robots already are being piloted in preschool classrooms from Korea to San Diego, Calif. The benefits, say researchers, are that robots not only provide infinite patience but can handle simple tasks that take up teachers’ valuable classroom time.…Read More

IT officials: Only one in 10 campuses have ‘cutting edge’ technology

Fourteen percent of students said their professors simply 'won’t use' technology that is available to them.
Fourteen percent of students said their professors simply 'won’t use' technology that is available to them.

Most college students say their schools understand how to use education technology in the lecture hall, but only 9 percent of campus IT officials describe their institution’s technology adoption as “cutting edge,” according to a survey released July 19.

The survey of more than 1,000 IT staff members, faculty, and college students, conducted by CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), shows that three out of four students surveyed approved of their college’s use of technology, while highlighting two findings that concerned some technologists: only a sliver of respondents defined their campus technology as “cutting edge,” and far more IT staffers push for education technology than do instructors.

According to CDW-G’s report, 47 percent of respondents said their college campus uses hardware that is “no more than three years old,” and 38 percent said their campus’s technology infrastructure is “adequate, but could be refreshed.” Only 9 percent said their education technology is “cutting edge,” and 5 percent described their computer systems as “aging.”…Read More

Customers question tech industry’s takeover spree

Blackboard on July 7 announced plans to buy Elluminate and Wimba, both of which support online learning.
Blackboard on July 7 announced plans to buy Elluminate and Wimba, both of which support online learning.

The world’s largest technology companies have been on a buying spree, spending billions of dollars to snap up smaller companies. And often the buyers say they’re doing it for their customers—businesses, hospitals, government agencies, and schools.

As tech companies get bigger and bigger, they say, they can offer a broader variety of products and make it easier for their customers to do one-stop shopping.

Yet if you ask the customers, you hear a different story. Often they get new headaches with multibillion-dollar deals by the likes of Oracle, IBM, SAP, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. When you add the challenges that come with any corporate acquisition, it’s not hard to envision a reverse trend eventually building: a drive to split up tech companies that have grown too large.…Read More