Is VR education an answer to the U.S. inmate problem?

Are education and incarceration two sides of the same coin or competing industries? The short answer is ‘yes.’ They are both diametrically opposed and intrinsically linked institutions. And everything you do as an educator directly affects both. Can you be a fiscal conservative and at the same time be hard on crime, to the tune of $50 billion a year of taxpayer expense? That answer too is ‘yes,’ while also understanding that the two “schools” of thought are diametrically opposed.

The U.S. holds 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it holds 25 percent of the world’s inmate population. We seem to have an insatiable appetite to incarcerate. Unfortunately, we have not shown an equal appetite for redemption and successful reintegration of these inmates back into society.

Funding Prisons vs. Schools…Read More

3 things schools must know about the rising “phigital” student

A major generational clash is underway, says a foremost expert, and it’s affecting all industries, including education. The clash is coming from so-called Gen Z, the first generation to be considered fully “phigital”—unwilling or unable to draw a distinction between the physical world and its digital equivalent.

So what does that mean for educators? Well, buckle up and hold on.

In an article published in, of all places, Delta’s Sky Magazine, writer Allison Kaplan details her interview with generational expert and author David Stillman on how Generation Z will begin graduating from college this year and what businesses should expect. Here’s a hint: Don’t expect Millennials.…Read More

Is writing education vital to emerging technology?

In an age of technological advancement, it’s easy to feel obsolete.  I feel confident that education will always be needed; but, occasionally I wonder if writing education has value in a computer-driven world.

Students enter my English classrooms and see the course as a requirement for advancement.  They look at is as one of many “basics” they need until they can study their actual interest.

Katherine Schwab recently wrote an article that not only put my fears at ease, but declared the written word as vital to emerging technology. Schwab profiles a report titled “2017 Designs in Tech” which references writing as among the unicorn skills in design. Paralleling writing with the rare and sought after creature who displays great power dismissed any questions I had about professional relevance. She outlines some critical and practical ways writing is needed when designing user interaction with technology.…Read More

Is the digital divide entirely different from what we think it is?

For a while now, there’s been a great deal of concern over the digital divide—the gap between students who have easy access to technology and those who don’t. Most debates center on choosing the best classroom hardware to bridge the gap: ‘Should we try to get a laptop on every desk? Tablets? Two-in-ones?’ However, the hardware debate obscures a deeper issue. It doesn’t matter what kind of technology a student uses, so much as what the student is encouraged to do with it.

The subtler, but no less harmful, digital divide is between the students who are empowered to be creators and problem solvers with technology, and those who aren’t.

The Most Important Tool is a Skill, Not a Tablet…Read More

5 education trends of the future catapulted by blended learning

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 3 of our April series on Blended Learning. Click here to read Part 1 on what makes a blended learning initiative fail. Click here to read Part 2 on what blended learning really looks like in the classroom.]

As blended learning practices are becoming more widespread, it is increasingly challenging to collect accurate data on the number of schools that have gone blended, but by examining student enrollments in online courses and edtech vendor data, we estimate the number of students engaging in some kind of blended learning to be approximately 9 million, which represents about 20 percent of K-12 student enrollment.

With so many students engaged in this mode of learning, it’s important to examine current trends and technologies to try and predict where blended learning could take students in the future.…Read More

3 ways new-to-online students can thrive with virtual learning

Digital learning opportunities are widely available and abundant today. From MOOCs to digital study aids to virtual tutoring, there are many ways for students to hone their academic skills while still maintaining flexibility in their schedules. An added bonus? They can often do this from the comfort and convenience of their own computer, smartphone, or other electronic device.

What’s more, virtual experiences are not only becoming more prevalent in the academic realm, but in the professional sphere as well. This can be seen in the increase in remote workforces and online courses/graduate programs.

Students can benefit from the availability of virtual learning experiences, not just in augmenting their current learning experiences, but in helping to prepare them for the real world. The key is in knowing how to use these resources to their advantage. But when the virtual learning concept may seem foreign to some, how can they best approach it?…Read More

Infographic: The ed-tech challenges faced by immigrant students

Despite sizable challenges in technology and internet access and experience, immigrant Hispanic families are among the most likely to prioritize technology purchases that will support their children’s education, according to a new survey.

Although technology’s presence is growing in classrooms, students from lower-income families often face connectivity and access challenges at home. What’s more, Hispanic families headed by immigrant parents face even steeper challenges, according to research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Access is still a troubling issue among this group. Families headed by immigrant Hispanics are less likely to have a broadband internet connection or own devices that connect to broadband internet–just 35 percent of immigrant Hispanic families have broadband access and only 63 percent own a computer.…Read More

Why education needs strong advocates now more than ever

Spring time is invigorating, especially in my home town of Gastonia, North Carolina. Gastonia is very southern; its roots are in the textile business, and in many ways, it is a very conservative traditional southern town. After a particularly hard Winter that included almost three inches of snow and several days with highs only in the 40s, the town is in full bloom. The flowers. The trees. The birds. Everything comes alive here in the Spring, and it reminds me that anything is possible.

For those of you in the North, you are probably laughing at my description of our hard Winter. My friend Larry Jacobs, who is the host of Education Talk Radio, lives in Maine. When we talked last week, he was still getting snow. Maybe Winter is relative. If you don’t know Larry, he is one of the many strong voices in the education space. From his home studio, Larry interviews many of the most interesting people in education. His show has really caught on, and gets more than 50,000 downloads a month, mostly from superintendents, CAOs, principals and other admin types in the education biz. I’ve known Larry for years now, and have appeared on his show many times. He is a genuine character, and about as northern as I am southern. It’s pretty amusing when I am on his show. My southern draw is so thick and I speak so slowly that it is all Larry can do to let me speak. His “northernosity” gets the best of him and he jumps in.

Prisons, Schools and VR for Inmates…Read More

3 keys to student success with early college programs

Like a growing number of school districts, North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools (GCS) has early college programs that allow students to earn college credit while they’re still in high school. But what’s unique about GCS is the number of choices the district offers: 14 altogether, including nine high schools that operate on college campuses.

GCS has offered early college options since 2001 and has seen remarkable success, despite serving a largely urban and low-income population. All but two of its early college high schools have a 100-percent graduation rate—and the lowest rate among the other two is 97 percent.

What’s more, these programs aren’t just serving the top students in the district, who would already be on a college track. Some of them target students considered at risk of dropping out, making college both attainable and affordable for students who otherwise would not attend.…Read More

Why Gen Z needs librarians now more than ever

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 2 of our month-long series on “What it means to teach Gen Z.” Click here to read Part 1 on Gen Z and parents. Check back every Monday in April to read the next installment!]

Librarians and media specialists are in a unique position within schools, since they are very often the person responsible for introducing students to new technologies, and are also on the front lines when it comes to connecting students to meaningful sources for research.

Today’s students have never known a world without the smartphone or tablet, and many of them have been using these devices independently since infancy. The answers to their questions have never been more than a click of a button away. In this brave new world of technological innovation and free-flowing information, librarians are now tasked with teaching these digital natives how to navigate these waters with discernment, while still taking full advantage of the opportunities these tools afford them.…Read More