Blackboard launches New Learning Experience platform

Integrated platform enables personalized learning, streamlined communication with family and community engagement, and unified workflows

Blackboard has launched a new K-12 platform for districts and schools that brings together institutions, parents, teachers, and learners in an integrated approach that addresses fundamental requirements for student success including school safety and security, family and community engagement and personalized competency-based learning.

Blackboard’s offering combines multiple products, integrations, and professional services that can be deployed individually or as a comprehensive solution.

Technologies include: Blackboard Mass Notifications™ (formerly Blackboard Connect™), Blackboard Web Community Manager™ (formerly Blackboard Schoolwires™), Blackboard Mobile Communication App™ (formerly Blackboard Parentlink™), Blackboard Social Media Manager™ (formerly Sociability™), Blackboard Collaborate™, Blackboard Blackboard Open Content (formerly xpLor), and a choice of Blackboard’s leading learning management systems: Blackboard Learn™ or Moodlerooms™ and their mobile apps for students and teachers.…Read More

13 apps that promote higher-order thinking standards

These mobile apps go way beyond games

Mobile devices are becoming increasingly common in schools because they cost so much less than computers—especially since so many students are willing to bring their own devices to school.

While mobile devices, tablets in particular, have been commonly used to reinforce math and reading skills through the use of games, they can also be used to promote the development of higher level skills and knowledge included in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S): creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information fluency; and critical thinking and problem solving. Here are a handful of high-quality apps that reinforce these skills and promote others.

Writing skills

Students who resist typical writing instruction with pencil and paper may blossom as authors when given the opportunity to compose electronically on computers and tablets. Some that struggle with the fine motor skills necessary for producing legible print are liberated by the ability to type. Although pressing letters on a flat screen without being able to feel them may be awkward for an adult accustomed to typing on a keyboard, students that learn to type on these devices when they’re young are likely to be as skilled on them as they are on a traditional keyboard.…Read More

Are you making the most of mass notification?

Customization, using social media and pushing out safety routes just some new capabilities of mass notification systems (MNS).

Anyone who says the use of mass notification is a new trend for education institutions and communities doesn’t fully understand it. Mass notification is as old as communication itself. Paul Revere blasted a verbal warning that “the British are coming.” The Cold War broadcasts interrupted TV shows with the message “this is a test of the emergency broadcast system.” Local volunteer fire departments conduct regular fire drills at the elementary schools. Some schools already send campus-wide text messages with class cancellations.

What has changed about mass notification is the methodology, the granularity and specificity of the message, and the customization to individual recipients or groups. Mass notification itself is a general term. With respect to critical events, the capability better fits into the category of “mass communications,” in which an organization sends a message through a communication channel to a large anonymous group of people and/or organizations.

So when did the transformation to modern mass notification systems (MNS) occur? Despite the advances through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, nearly every critical event during these time periods was characterized by dangerously ineffectual communication.…Read More

Teach students to communicate effectively in the Innovation Age

Communication looks different in the Innovation Age compared to the Information Age of yesteryear. Here’s how to help students succeed

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: Innovation In Action is a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

Ready or not, education has entered the “Innovation Age,” where it’s not about what students know but what they can do with what they know. Teachers can prepare students to thrive in the Innovation Age by teaching them to think at three levels: “what,” “so what,” and “now what.” Students might think of it in terms of three overarching questions: What is the basic concept? What is its relevance and what is it related to? And now, what can I do with what I have learned to find solutions to unmet needs?

In the Information Age, the era we are just now emerging from, knowledge was power so educators taught students to access, gather, analyze, and report information. In the Innovation Age there is a glut of information and data are readily generated or at fingertip accessibility. Successful educators in the Innovation Age must empower students by leading them discover their agency, define their purpose, and be open to fresh perspectives.…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

Inside the school that immerses students in Spanish — and technology

A Spanish immersion program makes full use of technology in the classroom

The thought of preparing our students for their 21st century futures conjures up a number of different ideas. There’s imparting the necessary technology skills students will need to thrive in their careers, as well as interpersonal skills such as collaboration and communication and making sure students can function in an increasingly globalized world. On that last point, my school, Shiloh Elementary School in Monroe, N.C., wondered if we were doing enough. Wouldn’t teaching fluency a foreign language be the ultimate means to prepare students for a diverse and multicultural world?

Since 2012, Shiloh has been very proud to have hosted what we call the SPLASH Spanish immersion program. Currently, we have one immersion class—taught full-time in Spanish, with the goal of “immersing” or teaching Spanish to speakers of other languages, like English—in each of our Kindergarten through third grade classrooms. Our school has embraced this wonderful program, and our dedicated teachers have come to us from various Spanish-speaking countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Chile, and Spain through VIF International Education, a company located nearby in Chapel Hill, N.C. that has provided us the means for our immersion program. These classes are effectively preparing our students to become successful, responsible, and confident bilingual students, and the use of technology in each of these immersion classrooms has truly enhanced the curriculum.

Each immersion classroom has some student computers and either a Dell short-throw projector or a Promethean Board. Our students are able to embrace and interact with the technology on a daily basis. Our immersion teachers state that these interactive tools empower them to have successful teaching environments where the bilingual capabilities of their students are fully realized. For example, SPLASH teachers use educational programs and lessons that allow their students to embrace new topics and exciting facts in a 21st Century manner. Teachers view their students as “digital citizens” who are being given the tools each day to interact in the modern world.…Read More

What makes a great education tweet?

How to write an education tweet that adds value and gets noticed

Since getting its start less than a decade ago, more than a billion users have signed up for Twitter, with an estimated 320 million of them currently active. While Katy Perry (@katyperry) may top the charts with the most followers (80 million and counting), the average number of Twitter followers for those of us who aren’t pop sensations is a more modest 208. Regardless of who the user may be or the number of followers one may have, each tweet is restricted to a simple 140 characters. What you do with them is up to you.

While some tweeters may elect to update the world when they brush their teeth, many choose to use Twitter as an effective communication tool; one that generates conversation, pushes thinking, and at times, brings about change. And every day, millions of education-related tweets are posted to the site.

So what makes a Tweet valuable and worth reading? Why do some tweets receive a large amount of attention while others are left to themselves with no interaction at all?…Read More

How using technology can keep parents in the loop

Smart ways 2 districts are tackling their K-12 parent communication challenges, and how IT can help

parents-technologySix years ago most of Maine Township High School District 207’s parent communication efforts were one-way in nature.

According to Hank Thiele, assistant superintendent of technology and learning, parent newsletters, email blasts, and website announcement were the communication mainstays for the 7,000-student district in Park Ridge, Ill.

But in the past few years, Thiele’s department began to integrate more interactive, technology-based options into the mix—one that would keep parents up-to-date on what their kids were up to, and give them a chance to respond. “We really want to foster two-way communication with our families,” Thiele says.…Read More

How the ‘four Cs’ fit with the Common Core

The ‘four Cs’ are an integral part of the Common Core standards; here are free resources for helping to teach these important skills

four-cs
Connecting students is a great opportunity to teach digital literacy and citizenship.

The 21st-century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, often referred to as the “four Cs,” are an integral part of the Common Core standards.

Fortunately, there are an abundance of free resources and digital tools that empower teachers to lead by example and integrate these “four Cs” in meaningful and effective ways.

Communication…Read More

Mobile platform helps teachers, students stay connected

connected-schoolsRemind101 is a mobile platform that closes the communication gap between home and school, helping students, teachers, and parents stay connected in a modern way. It allows teachers to send reminders, notifications, and updates via text or eMail—and already, more than 30,000 schools are signed up, its creators say.

Signing up takes less than two minutes on the website, iPhone app, or Android app, and it only takes seconds for students or parents to join a class by sending a text or eMail message to a designated number, Remind101 says. Safety is a primary feature of the service: Teachers never see students’ or parents’ phone numbers, and students and parents don’t see theirs.

Teachers can manage up to 10 classes, sending messages to an entire class or to individual students or parents instantly—or they can schedule a message for later if they’d like, such as a reminder about a test that’s in a month.…Read More