Blended Schools & Tools

Cool kit and course. BlendKit2012 has been announced – an open, online course focused on blended learning – from September 24 to October 29.The Blended Learning Toolkit was prepared by the UCF and the AASCU with funding from the NGLC.

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly. In the fifth installment of their monthly column, blended learning experts Michael Horn and Heather Staker from Innosight Institute discussed the policies prohibiting and fostering the growth of blended learning.

Certification for the 21st Century. Sloan-C announced a Certificate Program for teaching and improving online courses using the Sloan-C pillars of quality in online education—learning effectiveness, scale, faculty and student satisfaction, and access. Expert mentors will work individually with each certificate candidate to accomplish specific goals. The certificate consists of a 9-week foundation course and a variety of electives or learning specializations that focus on improving overall competency within a specific area of academic focus, including blended and mobile learning.

Keeping Tabs on Tablets

Too late for this school year? Microsoft confirmed an October 26 launch date for Surface tablets. The same day it will officially launch Windows 8.

Where should they send the Thank You cards? Apple sold 17 million iPads during its second quarter. CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted the “new all-time quarterly record for iPad units sales.” And said, “we achieved all-time record Mac sales to U.S. education institutions during the quarter, we sold more than twice as many iPads as Macs to U.S. education institutions.”

Smaller backpacks? Kansas State University says to Forget Pencils and Paper: Smartphones and E-Readers Are the New School Supplies. Perhaps the greatest advantage of e-books, according to professor Lotta Larson is “the ability to differentiate the reading experience. The devices allow the reader to customize the reading experience by adjusting the font size and page layout, or through the use of tools and features like a built-in dictionary, highlighter, digital notes or text-to-speech capabilities.”

Spinning wheels? We’re concerned that with all the new tabs in schools this fall a lot of students will hit play and watch a little spinning wheel because their school doesn’t have enough broadband.  We spoke with Evan Marwell, founder of Education Superhighway today and we’re glad that he (and Doug Levin, SETDA) is on the case.

Digital Developments

Policy advice from the experts. iNACOL released its Principles for Model Legislation which include the shift to competency-based education, increased access, outcomes-based accountability and room for innovation.

Speaking of experts. Responding to recent reports, Michael Horn shared his thoughts on Online Learning, Teaching and Misleading Opinions and Susan Patrick spoke to 21st Century Learning, At All Levels. Both were responding to a UVA prof that can’t imagine anything better than listening to him talk.

Edtech to 2040. This cool forecasting graphic has been making its way across the Twitterverse and covers aspects of the Internet, sensors, biotech, energy, interfaces, etc this infographic projects technological development to 2040, and the importance and impact on consumers.

Whiteboard Woes. EdWeek reported this week that global CEO of Promethean World, a leading interactive- whiteboard company, will step down this fall after the England-based company posted massive losses over the past six months signally a cooling of the hyper-growth experienced over the last few years.

Co-founder Connections. FounderDating and Teach For America launched FounderDating Education. FounderDating is an online network that connects entrepreneurs to potential co-founders on an invite-only network. All applicants are screened to ensure quality and balance of the network. Through this application process, FounderDating learned that even though education was not listed as a subject area there was a large interest based on user profiles. Applicants truly drove this expansion process.

Weighing in on WSF. Fordham’s Flypaper detailed how weighted-student funding can work for Michigan, stating that “WSF is a fairer financing system for students and schools that a.) shifts more power to parents, b.) boosts the efficiency of education spending at a time of tight budgets, c.) empowers principals with control over their school resources, and d.) promote fairness among children and schools alike.”

Cool tools. Jason Tomassini reported that former textbook publisher Key Curriculum, that recently restructured its business around math technology tools, announced it’s been acquired by education publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education. McGraw-Hill will integrate its own digital offerings with the technology behind Key’s three central products: Geometer’s Sketchpad, a math visualization software used in about half the high schools in the U.S.; Fathom, a data analysis tool; and TinkerPlots, a data visualization application.

Steamy STEM Gems

Putting the STEAM in Steamy STEM Gems. PBS Newshour shared the story of Wolf Trap’s Institute of Education, who are trying something different by incorporating art with math and science as a part of the “STEAM” – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – movement. The program trains and embeds teaching artists into preschool and kindergarten classrooms and works with teachers to combine math and science with the arts.

STEM Mentors. Six San Jacinto College students are spending this summer encouraging their younger peers to consider STEM careers as part of their internships with the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation scholarship program through the National Science Foundation.

Getting to the Core

Core Knowledge and the Common Core. Kathleen Porter-Mage asks: Will Common Core revive content-driven instruction? And concludes that “Only time will tell whether the few phrases in the new multistate standards that link to a content-rich curriculum will be enough to drive the instructional changes our students so desperately need.”

Early adopters. As the school year nears, states are preparing for Common Core implementation including Georgia (they will be taught in accordance with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in math, English language arts, science, social studies and technical subjects and Louisiana (where districts will introduce in kindergarten and first grade the Common Core State Standards.)

Field guides. The TeachThought blog shared 10 Resources For Implementing The Common Core and The Common Core Classrooms blog shared DIY Common Core Games.

Come On Get App-y

Walking the talk. The Kentucky Department of Education has launched a new app that allows users of iPhones, iPads and iPods easy access to information from the agency. The KDE News app is available as a free download. It features the department’s news releases, articles from Kentucky Teacher magazine, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s blog, weekly messages to superintendents and teachers, as well as cute photos and videos.

Digital-Native Tested and Parent-Approved. GeekDad interviewed PBS Kids Interactive vice president Sara DeWitt about the process and about what PBS is trying to achieve with its suite of mobile apps.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

Majority sees mass adoption. Pew Internet released its Future of Higher Education report: 60% agreed with a statement that by 2020 “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources … a transition to ‘hybrid’ classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings.” Some 39% agreed with an opposing statement that said, “in 2020 higher education will not be much different from the way it is today.”

CBITF. Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass today announced the 35 Iowans who will serve on the Competency-Based Instruction Task Force.

NAU, WGU and UW. Alex Wukman is happy to report that Competency Based Education May Finally Find a Place in the Sun and shares two states and three colleges making CBE a priority.

Commissioned papers on cutting costs. AEI education research fellow Andrew P. Kelly and Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation have commissioned eleven new studies that unearth promising approaches and obstacles to cost containment as well as the implications for state and federal policy.

Unconventional options. Inside HigherEd reported on the strategic responses that ‘conventional’ online universities are considering as a response to MOOCs, explaining “now that higher education’s traditional heavyweights are creating online courses and offering them for free to anyone who wants to register, those universities that have made names for themselves in the market for ‘conventional’ online programs are trying to sort out how these high-profile ‘MOOCs could affect their own positions in an online market where many have staked their futures.”

Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers

Bellwether Education Partners announced that co-founder and partner Kim Smith (also founder of New Schools Venture Fund) will leave Bellwether later this year to become CEO of the newly formed Pahara Institute. Bellwether also announced the hiring of two new partners: Becky Crowe in Bellwether’s strategy practice and former New Jersey deputy Andy Smarick on the thought leadership team.

NewSchools Partner Jordan Meranus is making the move to lead Ellevation, an innovative education technology startup. Ellevation helps teachers, schools and districts improve their service to students who are learning English. Ellevation will help a significant and notably underserved group, English Language Learners (ELLs), by developing and distributing tools that support the programs in schools that serve ELLs. Jordan is set to begin as CEO of Ellevation in September.

After only a year at the post, Gerard Robinson resigned as Florida Commissioner of Education this week citing family reasons.

Nominations are now open for the 4th Annual iNACOL Innovator Awards! These awards recognize leaders in innovative practices, new research and individual achievements in the field of online learning. Nominations are due by September 12, 2012 at 11:59pm EST and awards will be presented at the iNACOL Virtual School Symposium on October 21-24, 2012 in New Orleans. Additional information and nomination forms are available on the iNACOL Awards page.

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