Report: Gamifying computer science is an easy place to start

With efforts to expand computer science education growing across the nation, some schools still grapple with a big problem: they don’t have the staff or space to accommodate a computer science course.

In fact, though interest in computer science education, and access to it, is growing, a recent report found that not enough students are taking high-quality computer science classes at the high school and university levels.

The report found that just half of U.S. states actually count computer science as a math or science credit rather than an elective, and 29 states lack computer science teacher certification programs.…Read More

Tutoring marketplace offers on-demand learning

The social learning marketplace MindSpree is revamping the tutoring landscape by offering on-demand services nationwide.

The Arizona-based education technology company was founded in 2015 by Keith Rezendes after noticing the tutoring industry was not fulfilling the needs of many. As a former professor and veteran tutor, Rezendez wanted to create a place where students could receive the highest quality tutors for the best value.

“MindSpree is committed to education and student success,” said Rezendes. “By utilizing the sharing economy, MindSpree can utilize tutors across the United States to share their knowledge and expertise with all types of students who are eager to learn.”…Read More

Brightspace Excellence Awards highlight innovation in online learning

This year’s Brightspace Excellence Awards, announced at FUSION 2016 by global learning technology provider D2L, recognized the promise of online learning and its ability to connect more and more people to high-quality educational programs.

Faculty dedicated to helping students learn online created robust online environments and high-quality tools to help students succeed in their online learning endeavors.

This year’s crop of winners demonstrated progress and innovation in student and teacher engagement, student retention, and teaching and learning efficiencies that resulted in cost savings.…Read More

Study finds successes, challenges in shift to intensive principal preparation

A report released from the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago Consortium), assesses the progress of sweeping legislation to redesign the way school principals in Illinois are prepared, with the goal of improving schools statewide through higher quality leadership. The report summarizes findings from a two-year study assessing the progress of these ambitious reforms and describing the changes that occurred as a result of the new policy.

“This in-depth look at principal preparation programs is the latest in our series of studies of Illinois’ school leadership and provides insights into the challenges programs face after major reforms and the innovative ways that they have navigated through these challenges,” says IERC Executive Director Janet K. Holt.

Illinois’ new principal preparation policy required universities across the state to shift from a general training model geared toward multiple school administrative positions to more targeted and selective principal-specific preparation beginning in the 2014-15 school year. As a result, the study finds that preparation programs experienced substantial, but not unexpected, declines in enrollment.…Read More

Vernier releases free back-to-school resources

Professional learning and support tools include in-person workshops, webinars, video tutorials, grant opportunities and more

To support science and STEM teachers in delivering quality instruction to their students at the start of, and throughout, the school year, Vernier Software & Technology is offering an abundance of free professional learning resources, support tools, grant opportunities and more. This comprehensive collection of offerings provides teachers with the skills and resources needed to effectively use data-collection technology in their classrooms.

“Helping both educators and students succeed in today’s science classrooms is our top priority,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “To support this, we are committed to providing stellar service, teacher-based tech support, and useful professional development year round to meet the needs of our customers.”

Free resources from Vernier include:
● Award and grant opportunities: Among others, these include the annual Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards and Vernier Engineering Contest, both of which award teachers with cash and technology prizes.
● Community Forum: Customers can access the forum to exchange advice, trade used equipment, look at DIY projects and discuss lab ideas with other educators.
● Hands-on workshops: These free educator-led seminars provide teachers with innovative ways to integrate probeware into their curricula.
● Sample experiments: The student version of these classroom-ready investigations can be downloaded directly from the Vernier website. More than 1,000 sample experiments are available.
● Tech Tips Videos: This collection of more than 180 videos provides helpful tutorials on using various Vernier data-collection technologies.
● Technical Information Library (TIL): An extensive collection of technical information, troubleshooting advice, frequently asked questions and more than 1,000 searchable technology tips are available 24/7. The Vernier TIL was honored with a Stellar Service Award from Tech & Learning magazine.
● Warranty and repair program: In addition to an ample five-year warranty, Vernier will attempt to repair most products, many times at no charge.
● Webinars: These personalized, customized webinars provide an effective way for educators and their science departments to learn more about using Vernier technology.…Read More

Sennheiser adds audio conferencing solution, TeamConnect with wireless or ceiling mics

Audio mics pick up who is speaking during conferences

Sennheiser’s TeamConnect is an end-to-end, professional-grade conferencing solution for medium to large conference rooms. TeamConnect can be integrated into any infrastructure or conference room to deliver leading-edge connectivity options for “bring your own device” IT environments, support for all leading unified communication solutions and brilliant sound quality.

Sennheiser TeamConnect is a complete audio solution for businesses. Consisting of the Central Unit CU1 – which offers both Ethernet and wifi connectivity options, a choice of fixed or table-top SpeechLine microphones or the new TeamConnect Ceiling microphone, and active loudspeakers, TeamConnect has everything needed to cater for medium to large conference rooms.

“TeamConnect is a classic, reliable audio solution, which is designed to be integrated into any infrastructure or room. It can be used with landline or Unified Communication clients, and either permanently installed or set up for flexible use,” said Jens Werner, Portfolio Manager Sennheiser. “As well as being easily linked to networks, it is also very easy to operate, both by IT and for end users, with powerful fine-tuning software to ensure effective installation and simple app- and browser- based tools for controlling conferences on a user’s own device.”…Read More

Gale expands historical digital newspaper offerings

New collections include historical archive of The Telegraph – one of the world’s best-known newspapers, a unique collection of Chinese periodicals, and British Library Newspapers

Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, has expanded its digital historical newspaper collections with the launch of several new archives. Now available are The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000, a 145-year archive of Britain’s best-selling quality newspaper; China from Empire to Republic: Missionary, Sinology, and Literary Periodicals, a collection of English-language periodicals published in or about China from 1817-1949; and British Library Newspapers, Part V: 1746-1950, which adds newspapers from the northern part of the United Kingdom to Gale’s comprehensive digital collection of British newspapers. All collections are fully indexed and the metadata and data are available for text and data mining and other forms of large-scale digital humanities analysis.

“These collections speak to the range of partnerships Gale has with different institutions around the world – from the British Library to the National Library of China and beyond – and what allows us to bring such unique, global content direct to researchers,” said Terry Robinson, senior vice president and managing director for Gale International. “In addition, we hope having access to these archives as data leads to the discovery of new insights by digital humanities scholars. Analyzing historical newspapers is a great way to uncover rich cultural and societal perspectives across any number of themes.”

The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000 enables researchers to full-text search more than one million pages of the paper’s back issues, including the Sunday Telegraph from 1961. Providing a balance of personal interest stories alongside incisive analysis, the archive offers a fascinating glimpse into daily life as it was experienced over the past 145 years.…Read More

Panasonic expands SOLID SHINE projector series

 New 5,000-Lumen, 1-Chip DLP Phosphor projector is built for marathon endurance

Panasonic, a provider of professional projector solutions, has introduced a new PT-RZ570U 1-Chip DLP Laser Phosphor projector. This compact model is the latest in the SOLID SHINE lineup and is positioned towards the middle of Panasonic’s range for education, achieving an ideal price-to-performance ratio with a balance of high 5,000 lm brightness, brilliant picture quality, up to 20,000-hour1 maintenance-free operation, and practical features for use in mid-size classrooms with about 50-student capacity.

Utilizing the latest DLP™ module for detailed WUXGA resolution and new-generation solid-state laser diodes, PT-RZ570U’s outstanding performance stems from a four-segment Quartet Color Harmonizer color wheel that improves efficiency from the laser light source, boosting the perceived brightness and improving color accuracy.

“Laser technology holds tremendous promise for projection technology, improving efficiency, performance and delivering costs savings through maintenance-free operation. As the technology evolves, we’re able to expand access to an increasing number of products and at the same time expand into new markets previously in-accessible due to limitations in lamp technology,” said John Baisley, Sr. Vice President, Visual & Imaging Business Operations, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. “In particular, we hear from our education customers that they are looking forward to laser technology with low maintenance operation – to reduce stress on their increasingly overburdened technology support staff. The PT-RZ570U projector delivers that exactly.”…Read More

Making classroom observations more efficient — and effective

A custom web-based system is making for more thoughtful classroom observation

Instructional leaders need to know what is happening when the bell rings and the door closes — in every classroom, in every building, every day. And the best way to do that is through careful but effective classroom observation. The challenge, then, is how to design a customizable, user-friendly system to observe classroom teaching that doesn’t seem like a top-down affair.

Just over five years ago, my organization, the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Kansas, set out to do just that, and to date, 13,572 teachers have been observed in 726 schools. This includes over 150,000 observations and over 6.5 million data points.

First, here’s what we know: Quality of teaching is the number one factor affecting student learning; collaborative dialogue is the number one factor affecting quality of teaching; and collaborative dialogue requires data.…Read More

7 ways data collection is improving STEM education

One district is getting students more active and analytical with data-collection tools, like probeware

Today’s students, being technology natives, expect the same kinds of engagement in the classroom as they seek out online. STEM classes in particular have a natural potential to be both tech-rich and inquiry-based, especially hands-on lab activities. The recent addition of probeware—sensory-based handheld devices for measuring things like water quality, light, and temperature—has allowed us to bring students out into nature and introduce them to the world of data collection and analysis. Here are 7 ways technology is enhancing and expanding STEM education in our school district.

Technology helps students acquire scientific literacy and hands-on experience.

Science isn’t about memorizing facts and formulas. It’s about developing an understanding of the scientific process and giving students opportunities to apply that process to their learning.…Read More