Follett acquires ClassBook

Deal aims to create ‘best-in-class solution for private and parochial schools’

Follett announced it has acquired ClassBook, a K-12 education online bookstore that serve schools, teachers, parents, and students. ClassBook provides private and parochial schools with 24/7 bookstores, streamlining and personalizing the ordering and fulfillment process for print and digital textbooks.

The acquisition combines Follett’s publisher relationships, infrastructure, and resources with ClassBook’s digital services, with the combined entity steadfast in its focus on delivering high-touch customer service.

Follett accesses, curates and delivers content to schools from a network of more than 7,000 publishers and education-service providers. ClassBook provides and manages access to eBooks and eTextbooks through proprietary digital tools, including the “Virtual Backpack” app, which allows students to manage access through a single virtual bookshelf.…Read More

How every school can promote safety in a digital world

Keeping students safe in the digital era — with its myriad dangers — means a proactive IT strategy

Technology has become a mainstay within the walls of today’s schools. One-to-one computing is enhancing and enriching the student experience, transforming the way we teach and the way we learn.

K-12 schools were expected to spend approximately $4.7 billion on technology this past year, according to IDC, with no sign of a plateau. But as rapid technology adoption continues unabated, the safety of the students who are meant to benefit from these advances is frequently overlooked.

The evolution of learning with computers

When desktop computers first appeared in schools, the curriculum focused on typing, word processing, and basic coding skills. Then search engines arrived, completely revolutionizing the way students accessed and consumed information over the web.…Read More

The benefits of adding video to teacher evaluations

A Harvard researcher shares her national perspective on improving professional development

One of the biggest challenges in K-12 education is finding an effective and productive way to evaluate teacher performance. In a world where technology is rapidly reshaping the classroom, it’s natural to look to its potential, especially considering that many schools now have the technology to do classroom observation via video. However, these same schools aren’t yet convinced whether the investment will change status quo evaluations. To find out, in 2012, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard, where I work, piloted the Best Foot Forward Project (BFF), a study that grew out of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project.

BFF began with pilot programs in large districts in Georgia and North Carolina as well as Relay Graduate School of Education. In an effort to gather data from large and small districts in both urban and rural areas, we then expanded the study to include Los Angeles Unified School District, the state of Delaware, and a number of districts in Colorado.

We randomly selected half the teachers to be in a treatment group that would take videos of themselves in the classroom. These videos were then passed along to their principals for evaluation purposes. We also had remote peers provide our treatment group teachers with formative feedback on their subject matter. The control group did “business as usual” when it came to their evaluations.…Read More

Destination Imagination, Oracle Academy launch computer science challenge

Organizations join forces on the development of two coding challenges

Destination Imagination (DI), an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students the creative process skills needed to become the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers, has collaborated with Oracle Academy to advance coding and computer science opportunities that will help students thrive in the future workforce. Oracle Academy works globally to expand knowledge, skills, innovation and diversity in technology through computer science education.

“There is an urgent need to provide students and teachers access to computer science education,” said Dr. Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination. “The Association for Computing Machinery estimates that by 2020, one out of every two STEM jobs will be in computing. However, nine out of 10 K-12 schools do not currently provide computer science education. As computing technology continues to grow and evolve, it’s essential we provide students with affordable access to computer science opportunities that will inspire and engage them in career-ready learning opportunities. We’re excited to work with Oracle Academy to ensure students connect to the needs of the future workforce.”

Through the collaboration, Destination Imagination will release two new computer science challenges—Dear Hero and Co{DI}ng Space—in hopes of engaging 10,000 students in computer science education this year. Each challenge is designed to spark kids’ interest in coding and encourage students of diverse backgrounds to incorporate their artistic expression while learning skills such as collaboration, storyboarding and perseverance.…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

Watch 14 thought leadership presentations from a recent ed-tech symposium

New library of thought leadership resources will support creation of dynamic digital learning environments

In July 2015, Discovery Education, provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms and CUE, the California-based organization inspiring innovative learners and advocating educational opportunities for all, partnered with the California State Parks to host a unique leadership symposium.

Designed specifically for California superintendents interested in creating dynamic digital learning environments that meet the needs of today’s learners, this event featured a series of brief, thought-provoking talks that surfaced actionable strategies for improving teaching and learning.

Now, Discovery Education and CUE are sharing with educators nationwide the library of presentations from this event. These presentations explore a variety of critical topics, including using professional development to support device deployment, communicating with stakeholders, improving attendance and discipline during the digital transition, and more, and were delivered by school leaders from across California as well as nationally recognized Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance.…Read More

Edsby making cloud service available on Microsoft Azure

Forthcoming cloud service from Edsby will build on earlier integration work

Edsby, a cloud-based learning management system for K-12 school districts that connects teachers, parents and students using modern technologies, will soon be available on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s hyperscale, enterprise-grade cloud platform, as part of a global relationship between the two companies.

Edsby will be making its Edsby cloud service available in Azure data centers in the U.S. for American customers. In Canada, Microsoft Corp. recently announced plans to establish Azure cloud data centers in Ontario and Quebec and Edsby will be available in these Canadian facilities in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Shortly after, Edsby will be made available in Azure data centers in Australia, Europe and elsewhere.

“By utilizing Microsoft’s global network of Azure data centers, we can streamline how we provide Edsby in multiple regions around the world. This also enables us to meet customers’ regional or national data sovereignty requirements,” said John Myers, Edsby President. “In addition, the dynamic scalability and high availability of Azure will enable Edsby to scale to handle the millions of new users required by provincial, state and national level deployments.”…Read More

Acer launches no risk laptop seed program

K-12 schools can test cloud-based Windows or Chrome OS products for free, with no obligation to purchase

Acer has launched its new Acer Education Seed Program, which offers K-12 schools across the United States an opportunity to test either a cloud-based Acer TravelMate B117 notebook with Windows or an Acer C730E Chromebook with Chrome OS for free, with no risk, since there is no obligation to purchase.

This offer enables schools to explore the advantages of cloud based solutions – either Windows or Chrome – using award-winning Acer products designed specifically for education and determine which solution is the best fit for their school.

“Education has changed rapidly over the last decade, as schools have been working diligently to integrate technology across their curriculum, into their classrooms, and throughout administration to improve the education of students,” said Richard Black, vice president, marketing communications, Acer America.…Read More

Will your students excel in the Innovation Age?

Catch up on the most compelling K-12 news stories you may have missed this week

Every Friday, I’ll be bringing you a recap of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week.

I can’t fit all of our news stories here, though, so feel free to visit eSchoolNews.com and read up on other news you may have missed.

In this week’s news:
The 4 essentials of a successful Genius Hour
What are you passionate about? What do you want to do more than anything in the world? Well I hope you said what you are doing right now. This is not always the case. Some people hate what they are doing. They may hate it because it pays too little, but being a teacher doesn’t make me very wealthy and I love what I’m doing. More importantly, people may hate their job because they would rather be doing something else. This is where I think we can do better in education.…Read More