Follow the money! Use COVID relief funds to your advantage

School district leaders across the country are cautiously optimistic about post-pandemic teaching and learning–and they’re also tracking what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade their technology infrastructure and classrooms with next-gen solutions like interactive displays, laptops, and more.

In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three COVID relief packages that added up to over $190 billion for public and private schools. Billions more are slated to arrive shortly.

The potential for this funding is great. How to effectively secure and implement it can be daunting. Join eSchool News and a panel of the country’s most insightful analysts as they discuss the state-of-play of federal and state edtech funding programs and what districts can do to take advantage.…Read More

Need edtech funding? Here’s how to get it

School district leaders across the country are cautiously looking forward to post-pandemic teaching and learning–but they are also eyeing what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade their technology infrastructure and classrooms with interactive displays, laptops, and more.

In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three COVID relief packages that added up to over $190 billion for public and private schools. Billions more are slated to arrive shortly.

The potential for this funding is great. How to effectively secure and implement it can be daunting, and you may feel that you need a bit of guidance. Join eSchool News and a panel of the country’s most insightful analysts as they discuss the state-of-play of federal and state edtech funding programs and what districts can do to take advantage.

…Read More

How schools can improve infrastructure and air quality as masks come off

As the CDC shifts its recommendations and schoolchildren are no longer required to wear masks in many parts of the country, questions remain about how aging school infrastructure can support the health and safety needs–including air quality–that accompany reduced precautions.

The March 2021 American Rescue Plan brought widespread economic aid to address such issues, with $122.8 billion specifically earmarked for K-12 districts, but this funding has an expiration date. How can school districts best act now to create healthier schools and repair crumbling infrastructure before the first round of funding expires in September 2022?

Many school districts nationwide have been using stimulus dollars to rethink infrastructure, classroom design, and building upgrades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one of the most popular uses of federal funding has been repairing school facilities, especially ventilation systems, to improve air quality and reduce the spread of Covid-19.…Read More

What are the next steps to defend K-12 schools from cyberattacks?

Education has been dealt a difficult hand over the past several years. The mass shift to virtual schooling during the pandemic upended systems in so many ways, and it shone a light on the aging infrastructure and technical deficits so many school districts struggle with. Not only did children and teachers have to be more flexible and resilient than ever, but districts also have been hammered by ransomware and other cyberattacks.

At the same time, schools aren’t always getting the right guidance for dealing with the increased cybersecurity threats. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released late last year found that the U.S. Department of Education’s current plan for addressing K-12 school threats needed updating and was primarily focused on mitigating physical threats. And that plan was issued in 2010–in terms of cybersecurity, that might as well be eons ago.

So, what should education IT leaders be doing? And what should they be on the lookout for?…Read More

3 steps to tech infrastructure that supports learning

Like instructional technology specialists across the U.S., I spent most of 2020 helping teachers navigate the world of edtech–explaining video conferencing tools, and demonstrating how our district’s selected edtech can support learning–as we abruptly transitioned to remote learning.

Now that we’re approaching the two-year anniversary of this transformation, I’m happy to say that technology adoption is baked into the curriculum at Ysleta Independent School District. Our teachers are much less likely to ask my colleagues and I how to use an edtech tool than how they can integrate it into their lessons, whether those lessons are taking place in a physical classroom or online.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a perfect world, technology serves the curriculum, and not the other way around. Ysleta’s 2,800 teachers must meet the needs of our district’s diverse learners, including a high population of dual-language learners, migrant learners, and students from economically disadvantaged communities. Our teachers need to be focused on providing the content those students need to build skills and knowledge, not worrying about how they’re providing it.…Read More

Vivi raises US$20m to further accelerate overseas expansion, sets target for 1m classrooms within five years

Vivi, a leading Australia-based visual learning, collaboration, and administration platform for education, is pleased to announce it has successfully completed a capital raise of US$20m (A$26.5m) with New York-based education investor, Quad Partners.

The investment will help Vivi further accelerate overseas expansion, particularly in the US where its team has expanded from two to 18. The funding will allow the company to introduce a series of teacher efficiency features that will further
cement Vivi as a major component of the technological infrastructure of schools and districts. With its technology in over 40,000 classrooms around the world, the investment will expedite Vivi expanding into one million learning spaces within
five years.

One of the company’s co-founders, US-based Simon Holland, led the oversubscribed raise with investors immediately buying into Vivi’s vision.…Read More

5 learning strategies that are here to stay

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s 4th most-read story focuses on some learning strategies that have staying power.

In 2020, students, teachers, and parents made an extraordinary pivot to distance learning with no preparation at all. From the district perspective, investments have been made in technology and infrastructure that may not have been made otherwise. We all gained phenomenal skills and insights as a result of having to make this abrupt turn, and then having to sustain that as the global pandemic persisted.

Now, we’re at a point where students, parents, and teachers all deserve to sustain those investments and the skills that they’ve built over time in order to reach one another and continue the learning. There will be some undeniable academic, social, and emotional gaps, of course, because kids have been away from their friends, teachers have been away from their classrooms, and school leaders have been away from their buildings.…Read More

How schools can take cybersecurity to the next level

In early March, 15 schools in the United Kingdom reported they were made incapable of delivering online learning for students after a cyberattack forced the education trust to shut down all systems to investigate whether the cybercriminals accessed the central network infrastructure. The increased reliance on e-learning has made schools around the world an even bigger target of opportunity than before. If the technology is taken down, education can come to a complete halt. Add to this the wide prevalence of bring your own device programs for e-learning and the access from insecure home networks, and you have a perfect storm for the sector and a huge target for criminals.

The problem has become so severe that the NCSC recently issued an alert to the UK Education sector after seeing a spike in targeting the sector, underlining the fact that threat actors are going after the education industry specifically, as well as it being the target of opportunity.

Schools already have challenges giving enough resources to cyber security in both funding and staff. The NCSC guidance underlines the importance of doing the basics, but that further recommends a defense in depth strategy. This obviously comes with a financial cost. It really is unacceptable that threat actors are targeting children’s education, and that funds must be diverted from front line-learning activities into preventing criminal elements from plying their trade.…Read More

Q Academy Kids Boosts Coding Skills of Children, Teens Worldwide, Launches Kids’ Projects Via Incubation Platform

The global e-learning market is poised for growth, especially post COVID-19. The size of North America’s e-learning market in particular is projected to reach US$135 billion by 2026, boosted by advancements in digital infrastructure in the United States and Canada, according to recent research.

Virtual classrooms, online learning, and vocational learning will all contribute to this growth. Companies are zeroing in on kids’ learning and development online, such that British Columbia-based Q Academy, a pioneer in tech-focused education in the region, has ventured into a kids’ coding and online learning platform through Q Academy Kids.

QA Kids caters to ages 6 to 18 years old, offering students one-on-one or group online classes on coding, Minecraft, graphic design, comic creation, 3D animation, digital marketing, and photography, among others. Designed with learning flexibility in mind, QA Kids enables parents to choose the courses and the schedule of classes best suited for their kids. It also makes available trial classes for free and prioritizes youth safety by making use of secure servers in its classes and a stringent vetting process in place for instructors as part of the site’s enhanced security features.…Read More

How to establish international collaboration with esports

As the high school esports club advisor for the William Penn Cybercats, I have had the opportunity to work with my students on some pretty awesome projects. From building our club infrastructure to coordinating a beyond the games challenge, to organizing our first esports teams in Rocket League and Madden 21, and participating in North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) Minecraft builds. But as a 2020-2021 NASEF Fellow, I was encouraged to go beyond my building walls in a way that enhances cultural understanding and international collaboration.

In our tight urban community, I have seen students enjoy cultural experiences that built on their understanding of the world around them, but I have never helped coordinate them. For my NASEF Fellow Capstone project, I and another fellow, Ashley Sheehan from Windsor, United Kingdom, coordinated to have an international Minecraft Build. The task was simple: have a team from each town build a part of their world in this cross Atlantic server, and then discuss those buildings with each other in a live chat.

I banded a small group of students together, and gave them the task. They decided to build the school, William Penn Senior High School, and the park just outside of our main entrance, Penn Park. Both are iconic spaces in the community of York City, Pennsylvania. Ashley’s team of students were going to build their two schools, the Green Room School and the Green Room Sixth Form both in Windsor, UK. …Read More