4 Fresh Approaches to Coding in The Classroom

Coding is one of the most crowded categories in edtech. And while there are a ton of great tools for students of any ability level, many of these tools have hit on the same formula. So whether you’re prepping for Hour of Code or looking to launch a coding unit or curriculum in your classroom, lab, or library, it’s tough to find the right solution or even determine what separates one from another. Thankfully, there are a few developers out there breaking the mold and doing something different.

These developers are not just iterating on the tried-and-true coding formula but exploring new frontiers that offer students new ways to learn—from VR and hardware hacking to on-the-go learning to courses and curriculum that blend technical skills with “soft” skills.

Hardware hacking: Pi-Top and Piper
Computer scientists and software engineers know it’s important for coders to have an understanding of how computers are made and how they work. Knowing a bit about the hardware side of things helps inform a programmer’s understanding of why code works the way it does. As someone who likes to build his own computers, I can also say it’s just flat-out fun to put together a PC and swap in and out components. It’s like the nerdier version of hot rodding.…Read More

What are your edtech resolutions?

This year, I resolve to ….

Support high-quality learning
Frankie Jackson, chief technology officer, Cypress Fairbanks (TX) Independent School District

“For 2019, our IT emphasis will be on cybersecurity and on high-availability, high-resiliency, high-speed wireless access to support 24 x 7 x 365 learning. Our primary goal is to build a world-class-quality K-12 technology service system, including achieving Level 2 in the ‘process and results’ categories of the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Education.”…Read More

96 edtech predictions for K12 in 2019

We asked 49 edtech executives to look into their crystal balls and share their thoughts about what will happen in 2019. In addition to the usual suspects—more augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps—a lot of people believe this will be the year that social emotional learning (SEL) and interoperability become part of the mainstream. There are also a lot of predictions about improving safety and security. Read on to see what’s in store for 2019…

Berj Akian, CEO, ClassLink

• With 2019 here and 2020 in arm’s reach, there’s an ever-growing expectation that next-generation tech tools should do a better job of informing educators on which resources improve learning outcomes. I’m pleased to say that more and more education leaders and technology products providers are regularly talking and doing something about this. I hope this topic always remains the main problem to solve, and that the slow, steady progress the industry is making continues.…Read More

Lockhart Ed Tech

David Lockhart started teaching high school history in 2004. He had to find that thing that made his lessons stand out, and he saw it with technology. For the last four years, he has been an instructional technologist who coaches, trains, and speaks full time. Today, he teaches students to program, and his blog, Lockhart Ed Tech – The Big Guy in a Bow Tie Blog, covers all the important edtech topics: STEM, coding, makerspaces, G Suite, virtual reality….

If you’re looking for ways to introduce coding into your classroom, Google Docs add-ons, or tips for helping your students make videos, Lockhart has you covered. As a long-time instructor, his posts offer clear advice and helpful how-to details.…Read More

We all teach SEL: Empathy activities & tools for students

Building social and emotional learning (SEL) skills such as empathy requires face-to-face interactions, meaningful discussion, and reflection. Edtech is no complete substitute for that, but there are tools that can supplement the development of character in the classroom and at home. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

While some tools focus specifically on empathy, the websites and apps that you use daily (in all subjects) can be used to promote perspective taking, too. You don’t have to stop using the tools you love or toss out your lesson or curricular plans to start developing SEL. Below we have included some tips, tools, and actionable ideas for seamlessly integrating empathy and life skills-building into your content classroom.

Why empathy?
Classrooms are complex, collaborative, and diverse spaces. An enriching, engaging, and supportive classroom environment is one in which students reflect on themselves and their peers as learners and as people, full of similarities and differences. A group culture that encourages trust and friendship—that practices empathy—functions better as a whole and can better tackle tough concepts. Some schools are recognizing how impactful empathy can be, like the one in Pennsylvania where students shared their deepest, most painful secrets before 500 of their peers. The leaders of this school believe that events like this—free of criticism or judgment—create openness and understanding rather than discord and isolation. It’s through this cultivation of empathic students that schools become communities.…Read More

What’s the one tech tool you can’t give up?

With so many tech tools out there, it’s hard to pick just one, but we convinced a bunch of educators to share their must-haves. Hopefully, their words of praise will help you the next time you’re looking for a new product to check out.

“I’ve been using LanSchool for about four years and I love it. I try not to constantly filter or block my student’s Internet access, but it’s nice to have a program that can keep them focused if they get off task.”—Tom Gilbert, M. Ed., NBCT, business and marketing education/DECA advisor, Apex Friendship High School, N.C.

“Until we found Workbench Programming Canvas, we were struggling with ways to help teachers access lessons that teach coding using Spheros and drones. Now our teachers can easily find these lessons on the Workbench platform, get them out to students, and track student progress.”—Ryan Johnson, former instructional technology coordinator, Enterprise (CA) Elementary School District…Read More

Video: How edtech connects

At SXSW EDU 2018, The Christensen Institute’s Director of Education Research, Julia Freeland Fisher, reveals innovative schools that are creating learning models that strengthen teacher-student relationships, and emerging edtech tools that promise to expand students’ networks to experts and mentors from around world.

Julia’s current research focuses on emerging tools and practices that leverage technology to radically expand who students know–their stock of “social capital”–by enhancing their access to, and ability to, navigate new peer, mentor, and professional networks. She is the author of the forthcoming book Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations that Expand Students’ Networks. Prior to joining the Institute, Julia worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy organization that supports education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education. She also served as an instructor in the Yale College Seminar Program. Julia holds a BA from Princeton University and a JD from Yale Law School.

Visit https://www.sxswedu.com/ to learn more about SXSW EDU and subscribe to SXSW EDU on YouTube for more great videos.
…Read More

Mapping the Universe of Edtech That Connects

I’m excited to share a tool that my colleagues and I have been working on for the past few years: a market map of what we’re calling Edtech that Connects. We’ve captured a wide range of edtech tools that are bringing new relationships within reach for students. The tool lives—and will be regularly updated—at whoyouknow.org.

When I first joined the Christensen Institute over five years ago we were knee-deep in studying the fast-growing market of tools designed to support blended learning environments. Many consisted of adaptive learning content tools that could support students at different levels in a manner that traditional textbook and lecture-style teaching struggles to do. At the same time, cloud-based productivity tools to help schools organize their staff and streamline their data collection processes were becoming more and more mainstream.

But I had a lurking suspicion that something was missing from that booming edtech market. Beyond our education systems, communications technologies have advanced in ways that radically improved our ability to connect across time and space. Why weren’t there more edtech tools designed to connect students—to new people, supports, and opportunities?…Read More

5 questions teachers should ask before investing their time and money in edtech

As someone who has dedicated her career to making the world a better place through the education of our children, I was excited to learn that tablets and computers are nearly commonplace in elementary school classrooms across the nation. In fact, 88 percent of K-2nd-grade teachers use a tablet in the classroom and nearly 70 percent use educational apps and software, which means that our youngest students—who have never known a world without technology—can use the tablets they love for learning!

While it’s an exciting development for students, teachers are faced with a growing challenge—finding best-in-class content that supports learning and skills development and is also engaging. Throughout the school year, teachers spend hours upon hours searching the app stores for digital activities their students can use to master a math concept, advance a reading level, or reinforce a new science lesson. This is no small feat when you consider that there are thousands of apps to choose from and no set criteria defining the specific features of an educational app.

Teachers are largely left on their own to identify the content they need and then vet it with their internal IT person and school administrators. A recent study by Tyton Partners found that about 60 percent of teachers are responsible for making the digital purchasing decisions for their classroom and 27 percent purchase the content out of their own pockets. When you’re talking about a commitment of time and money, the stakes are high, so let’s take some of the guesswork out of the equation.…Read More

Video: How edtech connects

At SXSW EDU 2018, The Christensen Institute’s Director of Education Research, Julia Freeland Fisher, reveals innovative schools that are creating learning models that strengthen teacher-student relationships, and emerging edtech tools that promise to expand students’ networks to experts and mentors from around world.

Julia’s current research focuses on emerging tools and practices that leverage technology to radically expand who students know – their stock of “social capital” – by enhancing their access to, and ability to, navigate new peer, mentor, and professional networks. She is the author of the forthcoming book Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations that Expand Students’ Networks. Prior to joining the Institute, Julia worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy organization that supports education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education. She also served as an instructor in the Yale College Seminar Program. Julia holds a BA from Princeton University and a JD from Yale Law School.

Visit https://www.sxswedu.com/ to learn more about SXSW EDU and subscribe to SXSW EDU on YouTube for more great videos https://www.youtube.com/user/SXSWEDU.…Read More