New instructional technology for the 2011-12 school year

Toshiba is marketing its Thrive tablet as a tool for education.

New tablets that aim to challenge the iPad, software for managing mobile learning devices, and innovations in student response systems, interactive whiteboards, and other teaching tools are among the latest developments in instructional technology for the new school year. Here’s an overview of some of these recent developments.

Mobile learning tools

With mobile learning taking off in schools, a number of ed-tech companies have released products that aim to make it easier to deploy and manage a mobile learning initiative.…Read More

To skip or not to skip? New web site helps students decide

Skip Class has seen an increase in page views since being revamped in August.
Skip Class has seen an increase in page views since being revamped in August.

Jim Filbert considered billing his web site, Skip Class Calculator, as the online tool that enraged every college professor in America. But that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.

Skip Class Calculator, which launched in February and was revamped in August, gives students a 10-question formula that calculates the risk of skipping a class lecture.

The calculator asks how many days a student had already skipped, their current class grade, the date of the class’s next test or quiz, and a host of other questions.…Read More

Gates Foundation to invest in next-generation instructional tools

The Gates Foundation will invest funds to develop “next-generation instructional tools” to help implement the Common Core state standards.
The Gates Foundation will invest funds to develop “next-generation instructional tools” to help implement the Common Core state standards.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to invest up to $250 million over the next eight years to develop “next-generation instructional tools” that will help states and school districts implement the Common Core state standards, the foundation said in its annual report Sept. 7.

The Gates Foundation, one of the largest givers of money to K-12 and higher education in the United States, also plans to fund “data-driven research that explores ways states can modify the [Common Core] standards and assessments to improve student success in school and the workforce.”

Led by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, the Common Core State Standards Initiative established a set of shared K-12 standards for English and math that states could adopt voluntarily. The idea was to replace the patchwork of state standards that vary dramatically from state to state with a single, rigorous set of guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.…Read More

Educators, students can benefit from technology training

Knowing how to use technology tools is essential as technology is more integrated into education.
Knowing how to use technology tools is essential as technology is more integrated into education.

Technology is changing the face of education. Typing on a keyboard can make learning proper handwriting unimportant.  Using a calculator can make simple math functions technology-assisted processes.  And having a computer read aloud might someday allow non-readers to access the printed word.

I am not convinced that it is all bad.  I do see eReaders as a possible instructional technology, not assistive technology.  The term is no longer about a technology that takes the place of a particular academic skill, but instead makes independent learning easier.

For example, Amazon’s Kindle lets a person read a digital text, highlight difficult vocabulary, and look up the words on the same screen.  It is like having a teacher right there to ask, “What does quixotic mean?”–but the student can use this feature on their own time.…Read More