5 ways technology can be useful for autistic learners

A tech researcher shares pros and cons for using devices with autistic learners — and draws from her own experience

During the last few years, touch screen devices like the iPad have been a boon to special education. Apps such as Proloquo2Go can aid children with speech difficulties while a myriad of interactive games and activities engage and educate students with autism spectrum disorders, perhaps because they break learning down into small, digestible chunks.

There are plenty that would disagree with that assessment, however. As technology researcher Alexandra Samuel recently noted in the WSJ, some researchers contend that autistic children are “particularly prone to videogame addiction.” Others think that the structure inherent in gaming can reinforce the rigidity of autistic-type brains.

For Samuel, who is the parent of an Autistic ten-year-old, technology has been both useful and harmful in her own experience, and she refrains from drawing any stark conclusions. According to Samuel:…Read More

How to manage your one-to-one program after you hand out devices

After the Chromebooks and iPads are distributed, admins and IT teams must keep asking the tough questions

If there’s one thing schools have learned from the multiple one-to-one mobile device implementations that have rolled out during the last few years, it’s that they’re hardly “set it and forget it” projects.

Purchasing and handing out the iPads, Chromebooks, or laptops are just the first steps on a long path that must also incorporate ongoing professional development for teachers and training for students; the establishment of acceptable usage policies and procedures; management of device support, insurance, and repair…and the list goes on.

“As a one-to-one implementation matures, different things happen that you may not have considered at the outset,” said Scott S. Smith, Ed.D., who serves as chief technology officer at Mooresville Graded School District in Mooresville, N.C — a district with one of the most celebrated one-to-one programs in the country. “For this reason, it’s important to maintain a clear vision and purpose from day one.” For most districts, that vision should center on why the one-to-one initiative is a good idea and how it will change instruction, teaching, and the learning environment for the better.…Read More

All the ways iOS 9.3 will impact school iPad rollouts

Apple’s latest overhaul will impact one-to-one and shared device rollouts

In March, Apple upgraded the iPad and iPhone operating system to iOS 9.3 (quickly followed by iOS 9.3.1, which tweaked a few bugs). The lead up to the release caught the eye of the K-12 community, which had been waiting for a few tweaks of their own that would help it better manage both shared and one-to-one iPad implementations. It’s only been a couple of weeks since the new operating system hit prime time, but the feedback is already coming in—and it’s largely positive.

New features in iOS 9.3, for example, make it easier for IT to set up and manage devices via a new managed home screen layout. This feature allows administrators to deploy iPads configured for students, and to select which applications will appear on their device home screens. It might be most useful in shared environments, where more than one student is using a device—but where not all of the apps are relevant for all of those users. Schools can also locate and recover stolen or lost devices via ongoing location tracking that doesn’t compromise student privacy.

Expanded capabilities…Read More

Why some schools pay $100 more for the same iPads

Education technology experts discuss various solutions to the ‘broken’ process of ed-tech purchasing

The ed-tech procurement process is broken, said former New York City Public Schools Chancellor Harold Levy during the 2016 South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) conference in Austin, Texas, March 8—and to prove it, he said a study last month found disparities of more than $100 per unit on how much schools were paying for the exact same iPad model.

In a session titled “Begging for Disruption: Ed-Tech Procurement,” Levy and the other panelists discussed the problems that school districts have in discovering, evaluating, and buying technology products that meet their specific needs.

They also shared information about new services that aim to bring more transparency to the buying process for schools—including a nonprofit organization called the Technology for Education Consortium (TEC) that just launched last month.…Read More

Introducing the math selfie

Math selfies, QR codes, and Kahoot games enrich one school

Sure, you may have taken a selfie, but you likely haven’t taken an equivalent fraction selfie — and if you ask the Jefferson Elementary School fourth-graders in Jennifer Moser’s fourth-grade math class, you haven’t really lived until you’ve snapped, uploaded and shared your share of equivalent fraction selfies.

These high-tech, mathematically-savvy and, let’s face it, just plain cool selfies are just one way Wichita Falls ISD students are using digital technology in their classrooms as a way to enhance and enrich learning.

Teams of administrators spent much of Wednesday visiting these classrooms, part of the District Classroom Pilot Program, as part of the nationwide Digital Technology Day. They wanted to see the innovative ways educators are using such technology. The district launched the program this school year, supplying 42 teachers across all grade levels and subject areas with iPad Minis, Google Chromebooks or laptops for a cost of about $475,000.…Read More

What does research really say about iPads in the classroom?

Two educators put the research to the test. When (and how) are iPads most effective?

Popular mobile devices may come and go, but the iPad has remained a hit in the K-12 classroom. But even though they’re in schools, our work with teachers has led us to understand that while many of them would like to use iPads meaningfully in their classrooms, they can’t because of time, access, and training.

So for the past year and a half, we’ve both been working with teachers and university students integrating iPad technology into the classroom in a controlled way. While doing this, we came across several outcomes that made us question and dig deeper into what the research actually says about using them in the classroom. Do students and younger teachers use them more effectively? Do they work better for some student populations? It’s probably not giving much away to say that the most important learning outcome we found was that experience is the greatest teacher.

First, a note about who we are. Jeanne is a teacher (elementary and part-time professor) and Tanya is a university professor (former special education teacher) who loved using technology as a teaching tool. Jeanne wrote several grants to bring technology into her school and her classroom but she kept noticing that she was flying solo—very few of her school’s teachers were using iPads in the classroom beyond the usual Friday afternoon fun time and as a reward for being “good.” We wanted to know more about this resistance and hesitation when it came to the use of iPads in the classrooms.…Read More

TabPilot launches app for classroom management

TabPilot released Teacher Tools for iOS, an app that allows teachers to control student iPads in their classrooms with tools that have previously only been available through the cloud-based teacher console, normally accessed on the teacher’s computer.

Teacher Tools is a set of features of TabPilot MDM for Schools. Teachers choose a class to manage and then have the ability to freeze student screens, lock students into a single app, clear student passcodes with a few clicks, or lock students into a single web site or group of pre-selected sites. Teachers can also choose a student iPad to be broadcast to the classroom projector via Apple Airplay.

“With the launch of Teacher tools for iOS, we’re showing once again how a school-specific MDM is the best choice for both teachers and school IT administrators,” said Jarrett Volzer, founder and CEO of TabPilot. “With our new Teacher Tools app for iOS, the teachers can now take control in their classroom directly from their own iPad.”…Read More

Editor’s Picks 2015, No. 1: Three things great teachers do with technology

3 inspiring examples of how great teachers turn technology into relevance and make learning count

Ed. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016. Our No. one editor’s pick for 2015 is Tom Daccord’s visionary look at how great teachers, not technology, are the true transformation agents in the 21st century classroom. The piece nearly made our separate list of most popular stories. In a way, I’m glad it didn’t so we can shine new light on Daccord’s timeless suggestions for engaging, empowering, and connecting with learners through the power of technology.

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Too often, we see teachers putting the proverbial cart before the horse. They find an app or tool they like, so they introduce it in their classroom. The students might find it cool and engaging—but if the teacher hasn’t defined why they’re using that tool, its integration has no clear, educational purpose.…Read More