How an online shift increased outdoor learning opportunities

One year ago, we at The Ecology School were confronted with the pandemic reality of cancelled in-person programs in exchange for remote, virtual learning. What we created in the wake of those changes led to new outdoor learning journeys–relevant not just on Earth Day, but every day.

We quickly filled a need and began by connecting with our students and families through Nature Nuggets, short activity-based videos shot with our cell phones and shared through social media. These videos were structured to engage participants in observation-based field ecology and discoveries within their quarantine bubbles. Using their five senses to explore and learn, viewers were introduced to complex scientific concepts through simple activities and playful experiences.

As the at-home days wore on and our Nature Nuggets gained thousands of views online, we realized additional resources could help us reach so many more people who were desperately seeking this sort of content. …Read More

BlueZoo Expands into Occupancy Monitoring for Social Distancing with BlueFox Count

To better protect businesses, their employees, and their customers from the dangers of overcrowding during the Covid-19 pandemic, BlueZoo is now applying its BlueFox solution to monitor social distancing.

BlueFox sensors measure real time occupancy by using Wi-Fi probes from mobile phones to measure the presence and aggregate flow of people through a space. The company is the world’s leading provider of Wi-Fi-based occupancy measurement solutions. BlueZoo gained success by offering businesses and institutions insights into unique visitor counts, visit dwell times, and visitor recurrence rates to better plan operations, schedule staff, and manage demand, as well as track advertising effectiveness. 

Now, the BlueFox range is expanding to help prevent overcrowded conditions, without the overhead of keeping staff at each entrance, with BlueFox “Count”. BlueFox solutions notify the on-site team instantly when the number of people in a store or a public place exceeds a preset threshold. BlueFox customers can predict wait time because BlueFox knows the historical rate at which visitors leave when the space is at any occupancy level. …Read More

The Social Institute Unveils Curriculum for 4th Graders on SEL

 The Social Institute today announced that it has expanded its pioneering social-emotional learning curriculum to meet the needs of fourth grade students, available beginning in January of 2021. The developmentally appropriate lessons come after requests from schools, and will focus on The Social Institute’s Seven Social Standards, which serve as a set of guiding principles for social media and tech use. Examples of standards include: Protect Your Privacy Like You’re Famous, Strike A Balance, and Find Your Influencers.

Surveys reveal the average age kids get cell phones is ten years old, and exposure to mobile devices begins at a much younger age. Further, most parents report technology use has become more prevalent in the last year as schools and families turned to technology to assist with remote learning activities during COVID-19.

“Ten-year-old students today have more information in the palm of their hands than any previous generation,” said Micah Adams, Head of Content at The Social Institute. “Combine that with the fact that they now use technology as a primary means to connect with one another, and it’s clear that we need to be empowering and equipping this age group with the skills they need to succeed in today’s digital world. Nobody gets behind the wheel of a car without first learning the rules of the road and then discussing and practicing potential scenarios with adults. Why should this be any different?”…Read More

Innovative Tablet and Headphone Charging Station

The new charging station was designed to support the use of audio accessories in the learning environment and to help address the need to isolate headphones for dedicated student use. The Tablet and Headphone Charging Station uses easy-to-clean, high-quality 8.9”x11.5” tote bins and covers to store headphones, audio connectors, accessories, and even individual student projects.

Designed with a front-access cord management system and a UL-listed power system, it’s easy for students to keep their classroom space organized and their technology powered and ready for use. The tablets, iPads or phones store and charge directly on top of each tote bin cover. By keeping cords contained and connectors handy, students will never have to untangle cords again!

Available in two sizes, which support either 8 or 16 devices and bins, the Tablet and Headphone Charging Station can accommodate any classroom size. “The open architecture and removable bin design are easy to clean and can be placed strategically around a classroom to encourage social distancing,” said David See, President of Spectrum Industries. “You can store each student’s headphones separately in the removable, multicolored tote bins. Add labels and projects to the bins to keep the spread of germs to a minimum while customizing each student’s lesson plans for the day. The Tablet and Headphone Charging Station facilitates an incredibly active and safe classroom environment,” See added.…Read More

LogMeIn extends free phone and unified communication services

LogMeIn, Inc. has expanded its Emergency Remote Work Kit offerings to include GoToConnect, the company’s cloud phone and Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) platform, to help K-12 schools make the shift to remote learning. Aimed at both customers and critical service providers like schools, hospitals and health care companies, municipalities and non-profit organizations, LogMeIn launched the complimentary Emergency Remote Work Kit program earlier in March, including software for video conferencing, running virtual events, remote access to PCs and servers, as well as remote IT support.

Under the expanded offering, K-12 schools will be eligible for free cloud phone and UCC services through the end of the school year via LogMeIn’s GoToConnect platform. The new offering is designed for schools to keep students, teachers, parents, administrators and staff connected with free soft phones, voice and video calling, and messaging that can be used on PCs, Macs, Chromebooks and mobile phones (iOS and Android). And unlike traditional phone systems, no hardware, networking or number porting is required.

“These last few weeks have meant a monumental change for everyone, and while some organizations had experience empowering a remote workforce, others like schools, health care providers and local municipalities are dealing with a remote work reality that they never planned for and were ill equipped to enable,” said Bill Wagner, CEO of LogMeIn. “For some organizations, it’s about access to audio and video conferencing and virtual events to stay connected. While for others, it’s as basic as giving people remote access that allows them to connect to their work computers or giving the tools to IT teams to support their people during this rapid shift towards remote working. We’re seeing these needs play out across the organizations we rely on in our communities, and it’s something we believe our people and our technology are uniquely positioned to help with during this uncertain time.”…Read More

Video of the Week: Dealing with digital distraction in the classroom

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Digital devices put the world at our students’ fingertips, whether with their own cell phones or with school-provided computers and tablets. But along with opportunities for powerful learning come the risks–and realities–of distraction. So, what are the best ways to manage digital distraction in the classroom? Check out these practical tips on supporting students and modeling productive 21st-century learning. For more ways to manage classroom technology, check out Common Sense Education’s collection Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.

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3 ways the modern school is becoming more like the modern workplace

There was a time when American schools, like American offices, were drab and stuffy places. But things are changing.

As the office has evolved to allow a more creative and collaborative workplace, many educators have taken note, bringing those same features to classrooms, school libraries, lunchrooms and other common areas.

Today’s schools, are now being equipped with outlets from the floors to the walls allowing students to easily plug in and charge laptop computers, phones and other devices wherever they work. They have furniture designed for the way students sit and stand. And they have collaborative spaces designed to allow them to work together in small groups and in teams.…Read More

5 tips for using live video in the classroom

Let’s face it — we live in a very visually oriented society. Visual media is a great way to communicate, with a lot of positive applications in the classroom. Videos are attention-getters. One of the major benefits, in fact, is that everybody is familiar with video chat, thanks to smart phones and online media. It has fostered a new movement in education, led by organizations like The Global Classroom Project, to connect schools all around the globe.

New video technology is making the video chat option much more flexible and practical, too. A good mix of graphics, video chat, and interactions can deliver excellent educational values. This allows for far better discussion and communications opportunities.

Here are a few ways that you can use live video effectively in the classroom:…Read More

Wireless sensors help students connect with science

PASCO’s wireless science sensors are compatible across all operating system platforms

Sensor-based lab investigations provide rich opportunities for students to deepen their science understanding and develop hands-on experience using tools like those used by real-life scientists and engineers.

PASCO Scientific has introduced a line of wireless sensors that are compatible with multiple technology platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPad and iPhone, Android tablets and phones, and Chromebooks.

The new line, which includes wireless pH, temperature, pressure, and force/acceleration sensors, simplifies lab setup and removes the clutter of cables. As a result, students can now spend more time exploring, and perform experiments that were difficult or impossible before. The wireless technology also helps schools save money by eliminating the need for a separate device to connect sensors to a computer, tablet or smartphone. Students can simply transmit the data directly from the wireless sensor to their device.…Read More

F.C.C. Chairman calls for transforming the technology used by phone systems

Americans could soon be one step closer to getting that videophone they were promised in the 1960s, The New York Times reports. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said on Tuesday that the agency would begin “a diverse set of experiments” next year that would begin to move the nation’s telephone system from its century-old network of circuits, switches and copper wires to one that transmits phone calls in a manner similar to that used for internet data. The internet-based systems allow more information to be transmitted at one time, making possible the addition of video to phone calls, as employed by services like Skype and Vonage. While consumers can already use those services, most of the legacy telephone networks still use analog technology, employing an out-of-date system of physical switches that is expensive to keep operating…

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