The Getting Smart staff was on retreat this week, all together getting work done, planning for the future and definitely enjoying each other’s company as well as the beautiful Puget Sound.  Luckily, we had time to put our heads together and kick off the “First Annual Getting Smart- Smart Lists” highlighting people and organizations making a difference. We will run the series of these 40+ lists all throughout August as we look forward to heading back to school. Check out the very first list  Smart List, 40 Advocacy Orgs Making a Difference and 30 People Shaping the Future of K-12 Education– and stay tuned for the rest of the lists to follow all throughout August!

Getting together and being ultra productive feels like the theme for the week because there sure seems to be a lot happening among the movers and shakers in education.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. There’s a lot of love flowing for Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) and the work they are doing to help reinvent what education looks like: “exploring new models, technologies, and pathways to student success.” With a mission like that, what’s not to love? Getting Smart joins Michael Horn from Clayton Christensen Institute in celebrating NGLC. Last week the group announced its latest set of 38 grant recipients, including two well-known virtual providers, New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) and Florida Virtual Schools (FLVS), to help add brick and mortar schools,driven by their instructional programs.

We’ve said it before, but we are so excited to find out what these two, as well as all the NGLC grant winners have in store for creating new models of education.

2. We had to pass this announcement on to all our awesome teachers who read our blog because they feel passionate about personalizing learning for their students. The Dept of Education is taking applications now for Race to the Top District funds and “is aimed squarely at classrooms and the all-important relationship between teachers and students.” We know many of our readers out there would put this money to good use!

Digital Developments

3. Edmodo user? lover? or just curious to see what Edmodo offers? Wednesday, August 7th is EdmodoCon-Register now to watch educators present live about the ways they’re using Edmodo in the classroom, while back channeling with other Edmodo educators around the world. It’s going to be a day of collaborative learning and professional development that will leave you inspired and motivated to start the new school year. And it’s free because that’s how Edmodo likes it.

4. Digital Learning Now! reported this week that the FCC is determined to keep up with our changing world and the student need for proper bandwidth, so they are launching a review and modernization of the E-rate program, or the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and also published a brief fact sheet, providing an overview of the current E-rate program and the goals for a modernized E-rate.

Also, iNACOL is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, August 6th: Webinar | E-Rate 2.0: Defining Drivers and Capacity Needs, to explore solutions for E-Rate reform and gaps in broadband access. No need to go back to school not being in the know!

5. Pearson goes “back to the future” for an Edtech Partnership with 1776 in Washington, D.C., a platform wanting to reinvent the world by connecting  startups with the resources they need to excel. Pearson will partner with 1776 to give edtech startups mentorship and provide insight around data and technical integration strategies.

6. EdTechWomen has grown in 5 short months ”from an idea of a get-together to a blossoming community of connected women from around the world. The initial question posed to the group of nearly 100 women at SXSWedu was simple; “Is there value in having a connected community of women in the edtech ecosystem?” The response was a resounding “yes”. This week, the brand new site, Edtechwomen.com launched with all the information about the group events, new chapters sprouting up across the country and requests for blog submissions. Also join at: @edtechwomen and EdTechWomen Google+Community. Chat with us #ETWchat.

Pining for Pinning

7. Grockit sold its test prep assets to Kaplan and doubled down on pinning site Learnist. to focus on social learning apps.

8. MasteryConnect announced this week that it added a social visual bookmarking feature for standards-aligned resources. Pining for PinningNow teachers will not only have CC aligned resources at their fingertips but now they organize them anyway they like.

The Big “D”

9. Socrative is taking it to the next level with $750K in seed financing from True Ventures, NewSchools Ventures and a handful of angel investors in Boston to do a major upgrade. Socrative is a free, cloud-based student response system, which is available via the Web or mobile apps, letting teachers create and distribute quizzes and conduct polls in class. With this funding, they will upgrade the system to allow teachers to add gamification elements to quizzes so that students can compete against each other, view leaderboards, or display live results to get class discussions started. Sounds fun to us!

Further, Higher, Faster

10. Boosting or blocking- it’s a given either way that the talk around digital K-12 learning in state legislators is on the rise. ”But for all the action, nothing is happening in K–12 education that is remotely comparable to the pending digital disruption of the higher education system.” Michael Horn breaks it down in a must read post for the Fall Issue of the Educationnext Journal, titled Digital Roundup.

 

Digital Learning Now!, FLVS, Pearson and K12 are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Edmodo and MasteryConnect are Learn Capital portfolio companies, where Tom is a partner. Tom is a director at iNACOL.

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