National leaders brainstorm for digital learning

The meeting was a follow-up to a challenge issued by the FCC and ED last month to drive national adoption of digital textbooks in the next five years.

In a move that could be considered encouraging for advocates of digital learning, leaders from the Education Department (ED), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the textbook and broadband industry met March 29 on Capitol Hill to discuss how companies can better serve schools and districts with digital textbooks.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the meeting was a follow-up to a challenge issued by the two agencies last month to state and industry leaders to drive national adoption of digital textbooks in the next five years. (See “Feds’ challenge to schools: Embrace digital textbooks.”)

“That’s why we called this meeting, to bring together different parts of the digital text ecosystem and get some work done,” said Genachowski.…Read More

Companies aim to help schools create digital learning environments

A number of companies introduced new mobile learning products at recent ed-tech trade shows.

As more schools make the shift to a digital-based teaching and learning environment, a number of new products and services have emerged to help ease this transition.

From digital content collections intended to help educators personalize instruction for every student, to learning management systems that contain built-in analytics to help students succeed, here’s an overview of some of the latest offerings.

Personalizing instruction…Read More

New group aims to spur technology’s role in education

A new initiative aims to help policy makers better integrate technology in education.

Spurred by calls for change from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED), a group of educational technology stakeholders has formed a new ed-tech advocacy commission that will “develop a blueprint detailing the opportunity for using technology as a catalyst to transform and improve American education.”

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission will seek input from teachers, parents, local government officials, students, and ed-tech industry leaders and experts. It expects to release findings and a blueprint for action in late 2012.

The LEAD Commission will be co-chaired by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; James Coulter, co-founder of private investment firm TPG Capital; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James Steyer.…Read More

Some see blended learning as future of education

Interactive and adaptive learning technologies can help advance U.S. education, experts say.

More and more school districts are embracing digital learning as the next step in improving education, and a number of stakeholder groups are hoping to guide policy makers in their efforts to implement state-level online learning policies.

A Jan. 11 International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) webinar focused on the continued work of the Digital Learning Council on the reform needed to provide all students with the opportunity to engage in high-quality online learning.

The Digital Learning Council was established in 2012 when former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and former Democratic Gov. Bob Wise of West Virginia came together to create implementation guidelines for states and schools.…Read More

As Digital Learning Day approaches, states pledge support

States are gearing up for the first Digital Learning Day on February 1.

A new report that comes in advance of the first-ever Digital Learning Day argues that digital learning can expand students’ learning opportunities and help schools overcome tough budget situations and boost achievement.

The Digital Learning Imperative: How Teaching and Technology Meet Today’s Educational Challenges, from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE), comes just one month before the first-ever Digital Learning Day on Feb. 1, 2012.

The report outlines three challenges that the U.S. education system faces:…Read More

How to teach young children in the digital age

A new report recommends how to integrate digital media effectively into young children's education.

As research suggests more than half of children ages 5-8 have used a mobile device such as a smart phone, iPod touch, or iPad, a new report offers recommendations for how policy makers and education leaders can take a more robust and modern approach to helping young students learn and develop in the digital age.

Take a Giant Step,” from the Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, finds that the integration of innovative, research-based training models for early childhood educators is a key element missing in the design of high-quality early learning programs.

The Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, established by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and co-chaired by Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond and Cooney Center Executive Director Michael H. Levine, reviewed research from foundations and government agencies and discovered that fewer than half of all early learning programs in the U.S. are considered high quality and promote significant learning among underserved students.…Read More

New PBS resource could help advance digital learning

PBS LearningMedia contains digital content specifically created for use in the classroom.

The Public Broadcasting System and Boston-based PBS station WGBH are releasing a new digital media platform for pre-kindergarten through college, called PBS LearningMedia. The site will provide digital content tied to curriculum standards and will be available in both a free and premium format.

Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS, said the system—expected to be announced June 27—has been in development since the emergence of WGBH’s Teachers’ Domain and PBS’ Digital Learning Library.

“LearningMedia is a merger of those two efforts to create a single national educational media platform for public media,” Lippincott said.…Read More

Gates gives $20M for digital learning, Common Core curriculum

$3M will go to the Pearson Foundation to create 24 online courses supporting the Common Core standards; four of these courses will be free to schools.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced April 27 that it will be investing more than $20 million in game-based learning and other digital tools to help usher the new Common Core standards into the classroom.

The foundation wants to help teachers engage students in learning the challenging new standards being adopted by more than 40 states. It says some of the web-based games, social-networking platforms, and online courses will be available for any teacher to use free of charge.

The new tools will include video games that build proficiency in math, reading, and science, as well as a new game platform that can be used for various subjects. The grants also include money for web-based classes aligned with the new common standards.…Read More

The top 10 ed-tech stories of 2010: No. 5

The National Educational Technology Plan reflected the changing classroom environment and the need for better technology training

In March, the Education Department (ED) released a draft version of its new National Educational Technology Plan, and after collecting responses from the public, the department issued a final version of the new plan in November.

The plan calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all students; standards and assessments that measure key 21st-century skills and expertise; a shift to a model of “connected teaching,” in which teams of interconnected educators replace solo classroom practitioners; always-on connectivity that is available to students and teachers both inside and outside of school; and a rethinking of basic assumptions, such as seat time, that limit schools’ ability to innovate.

Julie Evans, CEO of the nonprofit organization Project Tomorrow, said the plan provides some “long-overdue recommendations” for how technology can enhance education.…Read More