How this teacher uses story coding to spark creativity and collaboration

When coding merges with storytelling, you have story coding, in which students use computational skills and design thinking as they demonstrate creativity across core curricular areas.

During an ISTELive 22 virtual session, computer science, robotics, and design thinking educator Paige Besthoff demonstrated how story coding–combining storytelling and coding–helps students develop critical skills.

Story coding involves using computer programming to retell stories–students might summarize a story, write original stories, or use programming to create alternative endings to well-known stories. Teachers can use story coding to bring history, science, world languages, ELA, and even math into their lessons.…Read More

National Readiness Report: A Look at COVID-19’s Impact on Learner Readiness and How Institutions Can Improve Student Success

PITTSBURGH, PA – It goes without saying that the COIVD-19 pandemic has impacted higher education and students across the globe. But to what degree? And how can institutions respond to the shifts in learning? SmarterServices recently published data that reveals both individual and technical skills have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the degree to which learner readiness has changed over the past ten years. Learner readiness has seen statistically significant changes and institutions may need to reevaluate their programming to improve student success.

Data on how COVID-19 has impacted learner readiness comes out of the National Readiness Report, published by SmarterServices. The report provides measures of central tendency for learner traits such as life factors and individual attributes as well as several skill sets, including on-screen reading rate and recall, technical competency, learning management system competency, general technical knowledge, and keyboarding rate and accuracy.

The attributes and skills are measured by the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator, which has been taken by over 6 million learners from over one thousand institutions. Through the National Readiness Report, institutions can compare the performance of their students to those of other students nationally. This year’s report reviews multiple comparisons of readiness levels within several demographic categories, a four-year comparison to determine the impact of the pandemic on learner readiness, and specifically how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted learner readiness over the quarantine period.…Read More

Weaving SEL into curriculum doesn’t have to be hard

As an educator and curriculum content creator, I’m always seeking to develop lessons that offer students opportunities to express complex emotions and share personal experiences. Inspiring self-expression and building a safe communal space begin with authentically exploring social-emotional learning (SEL) content.

Students are always navigating developmentally appropriate mental health and emotional-regulation growth, but today’s students are also coping with the effects of the pandemic. We cannot deprioritize SEL in our school spaces, and the great news is that we’re seeing significant investment and support for SEL. District spending on SEL on SEL programming grew about 45% between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years, from $530 million to $765 million. When administrators and teachers were asked in a survey to rank their top priorities before and during the pandemic, improving students’ mental health and promoting students’ social-emotional competence rose to the number 1 and 2 priorities.

Currently, the grander concern for most educators in the classroom is the overwhelming “how.” Despite having a greater budget and public support for SEL, many teachers are unprepared to incorporate SEL into their instruction. Barriers include insufficient planning time, lack of parental consent, or lack of comprehensive SEL training for educators. …Read More

Don’t forget social, emotional health for district IT staff

During all the tumult of the last two years of schooling, from remote to hybrid to masked in-person, educators prioritized the social and emotional needs of students. A full 70 percent of schools now offer mental health programming, according to a recent survey from the American School District Panel and 20 percent of these schools say they added these services as a response to the pandemic disruptions. Shifting toward helping our students’ emotional well-being is vital and, in many cases, has shown extraordinary results. But we need to make sure we don’t forget the social and emotional health of district IT staff. 

Think about how much stress we all felt especially at the beginning of the pandemic. Not only was there personal stress but schools went remote instantly. District and school IT staff had to not only set up 1:1 programs on the fly, but also find new remote learning software and create helpdesks for thousands of students.

It’s clear now that part of a well-thought digital strategy for the future includes wellbeing support for IT technicians and school support staff, too. For example, such support can come from tools that ease cumulative stressors by saving time, lightening workloads, improving communication, and simplifying or automating procedures. Embracing a digital strategy that runs right across all areas of the school ensures that every staff member can benefit from the advantages offered by technology. …Read More

Pikmykid and Central Access Announce Partnership to Advance School Safety and Efficiency

TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 18, 2022 –  Pikmykid, the premier school safety and dismissal platform, today announces its partnership with  Central Access, the leading provider of K-12 education technology tools for the state of Mississippi.

Through this partnership, Pikmykid and Central Access will bring the best Student Information System (SIS) and dismissal technology to the educators and parents of Mississippi, starting with a fully integrated solution with Application Programming Interface (API) integrations. As the two companies continue to grow together, customers can expect to see deeper, more extensive integrations and capabilities.

“Central Access and Pikmykid have shared several customers over the years, and we’re excited to bring an even better experience to those users,” said Saravana Pat Bhava, CEO and Co-Founder of Pikmykid. “This partnership was one of the easiest decisions we’ve made going into 2022, and we’re truly honored to be the exclusive provider of safety and dismissal technology for Central Access clients.”…Read More

Coding instruction should follow educational principles

A programming language is math. It’s a system for writing human logic in a way that a computer can work with.

A computer program is a list of instructions written using the programming language’s mathematical system. When a computer runs a program, it’s called software. Because computer software is so important these days, it’s vital that we teach our kids to code.

A programming language is a mathematical tool for creating software. But programming languages are designed for software engineers and professional programmers. They were not built for and are not suitable for middle and even high school introductory courses. If you make a mistake, a programming language will not tell you what it is: It will just sit there, with a cryptic message on the screen (“RangeError: Maximum call stack size exceeded”) and wait for you to fix the problem. How does this apply to learning to code in today’s middle and high schools?…Read More

Blackbird Announces First Ever Educational Version of JavaScript

First Educational Version of a Programming Language Enables Middle School Code Education – Bridging the Middle School Gap

PORTLAND, May 12, 2021Blackbird today announced the official release of the world’s first educational version of JavaScript. Blackbird’s Educational Version of JavaScript, for the first time, makes it feasible for middle school students and teachers to learn to code – and forms the foundation of Blackbird’s online system for middle school-focused code education.

“Traditionally, code teaching systems use unmodified programming languages. These are engineering tools, and are very unfriendly to beginners,” said Ness Blackbird, cofounder of Blackbird. “Our educational version of JavaScript enables middle school students and teachers to learn real-world coding skills in a supportive, educational environment – all while having fun making their own games and animations.”…Read More

Evoca Leverages its Unique Architecture to Help Create New Type of Educational Resource, “Evoca Learn”

Evoca, a revolutionary next-generation television service, today announced a new initiative, Evoca Learn. In addition to its lineup of 60+ traditional entertainment, news, and sports channels, Evoca Learn will curate 24-hour educational programming and is committed to contextualizing classroom learning, deepening understanding, helping students identify and connect with career paths, and fostering a lifelong dedication to learning.

The first program to launch under the Evoca Learn umbrella is the Field Trip Channel, which will broadcast live experiences and additional content to classrooms and family rooms in each Evoca market. Kids and families will soon be able to experience live educational events, competitions, and festivals, while exploring new environments and meeting experts from a variety of fields and industries. 

The Field Trip Channel will be offered free in markets where Evoca operates and is part of a new educational initiative involving partnerships with educational providers, cultural institutions, community organizations, governments, and employers. As Evoca grows across the country, the Field Trip Channel will partner with local institutions and organizations for custom programming. For more information about Evoca Learn, visit evoca.tv/learn.

“Field trips are critical for learning, but funding has been on the decline and some schools have eliminated them entirely,“ said Evoca President and CEO, Todd Achilles. “Virtual and hybrid experiences are increasingly common, and we saw an opportunity to expand the reach for this educational content for kids as well as adult continuing education, upskilling, English language learning, and more. We see some gaps in this type of education across the US and are working with partners to create channels that meet these needs within our communities.”

Evoca harnesses the power of ATSC 3.0 – America’s newest broadcast TV standard – to provide subscribers unmatched audio and video clarity and a variety of quality, must-watch TV programming. The service includes a growing lineup of high-quality, high-definition programming via proprietary receiver (called “Scout”) to access live local sports, news, weather channels, as well as some of  the most popular video-on-demand programming. An early access program launched in Boise in 2020, with additional markets to follow in 2021.…Read More

Reimagining the school help desk

The impact of the pandemic on educational programming has created what will more than likely be fundamental and foundational changes to the traditional classroom environment. In general, the traditional classroom simply is not visible in today’s milieu.

The physical hallways connecting traditional classrooms that have been present since education left the open air of Socrates’s Agora, when Plato established an academy, have been replaced with the fiber, copper, and Wi-Fi of high-speed networks. That has significantly reduced the stress on academic buildings but has put significant stress on the electronic connections within educational institutions.

Related content: The new role of the school CIO…Read More

VuWall Introduces Multi-Video Wall Control and AV Distribution

VuWall, a technology leader in video wall control systems and unified visualization solutions, today announced the introduction of their new VuTrex™ technology, the first of its kind to bridge AV, IT and IP systems to manage and control any visual content across any type of display or video wall. VuTrex is now embedded in each component of the VuWall ecosystem of products. Its unique hybrid and standards-based approach enables seamless interoperability between all devices.

VuTrex is the architecture and methodology that is at the core of every software component in the VuWall ecosystem, bringing efficiency to the entire video wall management workflow. VuTrex is responsible for the ecosystem’s interoperability, expandability and simple configuration, without the need for programming.

“Video walls are becoming present in all work spaces, and they are now an integral part of most AV installations. Our customers face many challenges when it comes to handling AV and IT content, and big data,” said Paul Vander Plaetse, CEO of VuWall. “After several years of intense development, we are proud to bring a unique and disruptive technology to the market that will overcome those challenges and help integrators reduce integration time, reduce project risk and future-proof their end users’ investment.”…Read More