Blended Schools & Tools

Take a look at international edtech. Brookings released “A New Face of Education: Bringing Technology Into the Classroom in the Developing World,” a new international education paper written by Rebecca Winthrop from Brookings and Marshall Smith formerly from the U.S. Department of Education. On the international front, check out Tom’s review, “7 Edtech Rules for the Developing World.”

Is blended learning the future or has it arrived? Terry Ryan asked us to peer into the future of blended learning with his recent commentary at the Education Gladfly. Yet, as Tom often reminds us, the future isn’t far off. One of the lowest performing schools in Washington D.C. announced this week that it’s looking to blended learning to improve performance and engagement.

Who ever said middle schoolers wouldn’t choose to learn math? Across the country in Ohio, sixth graders are writing Math Our Way, a digital math textbook. It’s now available on the iTunes store.

Kentucky is going Big Data. The Kentucky Department of Education adopted a new kindergarten readiness screening tool, Curriculum Associates’ BRIGANCE® Kindergarten Screen, to determine student performance levels and necessary support for the 2013-2014 school year.

California is moving textbooks online, making reading free and cheap. The California Senate approved S.B. 1052, which seeks to create an Internet site where students can access and read textbooks from the 50 most popular classes online for free and for print for $20 a copy. A separate bill in the works looks at opening the doors of open education resources.

What has greater impact on autism: intensive therapy or a video game? As educators discover the therapeutic effects of motion-controlled sensors for learning among autistic students, researchers and therapists are taking a closer look at popular games like Microsoft Kinect, Xbox and others for therapeutic use in classrooms and clinics.

Open source just got more open. Curriki created and launched a new crowdsourcing and collaborative website where anyone with access to the Internet can contribute to and use its curriculum for free.

Steamy STEM Gems

What’s on your summer learning list? Bill Nye “The Science Guy” partnered with Sophia to engage students in continued learning over the summer to combat “brain drain” in a new challenge. The Sophia Summer Challenge asks students to complete learning tasks in order to enter to win an iPad.

Who says you can’t learn and collaborate online? High school groups from two schools, 37 miles apart built a robot via Skype, proving learning, collaboration and team building can happen online.

Successful statewide 1:1 laptop program? Check. STEM initiatives? Stay tuned. Maine Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen promoted STEM education and education reform in this year’s strategic plan released by the Department of Education.

Have we forgotten the liberal arts in STEM?  William White says it’s not STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – that we should be focusing on for students’ futures. It’s STHEM – science, technology, humanities, engineering and mathematics (we agree, but we call that school).

Getting to the Core

Have you “Discovered” your assessments? The State of New Mexico Public Education Department approved Discovery Education Assessment to provide formative assessments aligned with Common Core State Standards for grades 4-10.

Common Core is hugely comprehensive. Yet, could we have missed something? Computing in the Core coalition issued a letter last week in opposition to the Common Core State Standards in science, arguing there’s not enough focus on computer science to meet workforce demands for young people in the 21st century.

Where does your state fall on the continuum of Common Core readiness? Some states are slow leaving the gate, while others are already offering targeted professional development. Iowa announced its teachers will receive Common Core training for the 2014-2015 school year.

Come On Get App-y

Tom’s not the only one saying it. Fabio Sergio said mobile devices will improve learning opportunities and outcomes for students across all age and income spectrums through continuous learning, educational leapfrogging, new literacies and more.

App-tastic! High school students Krista McCormick and Melanie Lapointe’s Rocket Launch curriculum quiz game for smartphones and tablets won in AppJam Contest, an app development contest hosted by the Ottawa Network for Education. Check out 25 other great apps developed by students.

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from eduapps. ParentLink announced the release of the latest ParentLink 9, which gives school districts communication services and leadership tools in a single package complete with mobile apps.

A is for Algebra App. App developers are making math learning visual. App Craver recently reviewed the Hands on Equations apps for iPad, which makes algebra suitable for visual learners.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

Performance-pay comes to content. McGraw-Hill Education and Western Governors University announced an agreement to establish a “pay-for-performance” model in which McGraw-Hill will receive variable compensation for those WGU students who use MHE technology and services for a particular course – and pass.

Big possibilities from PossibilityU! Keep recent SIIA finalist PossibilityU, a blended counseling and post-secondary support system, on your radar. For more, check out this YouTube video.

LRMI reveals we need more out of searching. The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative released survey results identifying that educators need faster ways of finding resources and that resource providers need increased discoverability on the Internet. Survey results will look at ways to improve online search for learning resources on the Web.

Exciting news from Africa. South Africa announced that it plans to scale up and modernize higher education with an ICT infrastructure to improve effectiveness, planning and more.

Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers

Getting Smarterer-er? Smarterer, a crowdsourcing platform for testing knowledge on a wide array of technical and digital skills, announced several milestones: completion of its Series A funding, a new board member, user activity growth and expanded partnerships.

Welcome aboard! The Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) announced the addition of two new staff members: Allison Aubuchon as Deputy Director of Communications for the Foundation and John Bailey as Executive Director of Digital Learning Now! (DLN).

California gains increased funding for blended math tools. OneWest Foundation announced a $750,000 grant to support Los Angeles-based organizations including MIND Research Institute in working to improve educational performance in low-performing schools.

Social innovation in The Second City. A Better Chicago announced the launch of Project Impact, a new national social innovation and start-up competition to improve the lives of low-income Chicagoans. Winners receive $100,000, management support and networking opportunities.

What’s on your radar? eSchoolNews reported 12 new edtech companies to watch on games-based learning, mobile learning and more.

More applicants, more winners. Microsoft Corp. announced 102 finalists selected to attend the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 U.S. Forum, following an unprecedented number of applications this year. Projects were chosen for innovation in video game design, professional development, blended learning and more.

Stay tuned! The Hewlett-funded, OpenEd managed Automated Student Assessment Prize will launch another $100,000 prize next week.

McGraw-Hill appointed Lloyd G. “Buzz” Waterhouse as President and Chief Executive Officer of McGraw-Hill Education, effective June 14.

 

Curriculum Associates, FEE and MIND Research Institute are Advocacy Partners.

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