When we heard this week about new gadgets from Apple, we couldn’t help thinking about the impact that devices are having on innovations in teaching and learning. More mobile and wearable technologies means there will be more technology walking into classrooms. Teachers that find ways to harness that technology will often see great benefits. Read on, more headlines this week!

Blended Schools & Tools

1. MIND over matter. MIND Research Institute (@MIND_Research), maker of visual game-based ST Math, announced they are a finalist for a non-profit award of $100K from the Drucker Institute. The winner of the $100,0000 prize, thanks to a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation (@CocaCola) will be announced later this month. Way to go MIND!

2. High school students on EdX. EdX (@EdXonline) just announced they have started 26 free classes for younger students! New courses are now open for enrollment. These courses are now aimed at high school students and were created by various universities including University of California-Berkeley, MIT and Georgetown.

3. Game changers and ground breakers. For the last year, we have been following 15 teams NGLC (@NextGenLC) breakthrough schools.  We observed 10 lessons learned from both their challenges and their successes.  Tom (@TVanderArk) also outlined attributes of next gen learning and next gen systems.

Going Deep

4. There’s a connection between blended and deeper. Beth Rabbitt (@BethRabbitt), a partner at The Learning Accelerator (@LearningAccel), posted this gem about the connections between Deeper Learning and blended learning. Beth writes, “Blended is a means to a pedagogical end; strategically integrating (not replacing) technology with in-person learning is a powerful way to address, and hopefully blow past, natural hurdles innate in current systems, and to make deeper learning a reality for more kids.”

Digital Developments

5. Students believe in #BYOD. A Pearson study (@Pearson) found that elementary, middle and high school students are using devices increasingly. In fact, 90% of middle and high school students think that tablets will innovate learning and also make the learning more engaging and fun! “This year’s study findings show a high level of optimism, engagement and confidence with mobile devices among U.S. students,” said Douglas Kubach, president, Pearson’s School group. “While we are seeing consistent growth of mobile device use among students for school work, a gap still exists between home and school access, preventing many schools from taking full advantage of the digital learning technologies available today that can be instrumental in improving educational experiences for students.”

Across the Curriculum

6. Did you know the universe has been around for 13.8 billion years? The New York Times featured the Big History Project (@BigHistoryPro) and the rich content and cool pedagogical tools. This is a course we could all take, whether we are in a science or world history course or want to know more about the universe! It’s free and open source (yes, parents, you could watch the cool videos with your kids). Tom just recently interviewed two educators who use Big History in their schools in this Google Hangout. We have a Smart Bundle of blogs out in 2 weeks recapping ways teachers are integrating history, science and social studies–all 13.8 billion years of it.

Smart Cities

7. Skills key to development. The OECD report (@OECD) echoes the premise of Tom’s new book, Smart Cities(out next week)– education and skills hold the key to future well-being and will be critical to restoring long-term growth, tackling unemployment, promoting competitiveness, and nurturing more inclusive and cohesive societies. “Education can lift people out of poverty and social exclusion, but to do so we need to break the link between social background and educational opportunity,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “The biggest threat to inclusive growth is the risk that social mobility could grind to a halt. Increasing access to education for everyone and continuing to improve people’s skills will be essential to long-term prosperity and a more cohesive society.” Here’s the slide overview of the report.

Teachers & Tech

8. Taking EdTech to the next level. Katrina Schwartz (@KSchwart) asks if the tech use in the classroom adding value to the lesson? As an educator, other questions to ask when using tech in the classroom (and we think these are good for any lesson): “Does the activity go beyond facts or previously provided ways of thinking? Do the students have the opportunity to design, create or in other ways add unique value? Do students have the opportunity to take initiative to go beyond the parameters of the given assignment? Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work and progress?” Deeper questions (and learning) abound!

9. Hey teachers, read this about tech in the classroom. In a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (@Alliance4Ed) titled Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning, Linda Darling Hammond and her colleagues from SCOPE (@SCOPE_Stanford) find that tech “can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.” Specific ideas for tech implementation include making sure that the learning is interactive, make sure the learning moves away from rote memorization (i.e. no more “drill and kill”) and that yes, we still do need the human element. Teachers are very important to making tech in the classroom work well.

Policy Pieces

10. Big anniversary…and time for a change. Happy 80th Anniversary to the Communications Act. Tom writes, “From phones to television to technology that hadn’t previously existed, a lot has changed but dated regulations continue to view the communications sector in silos for distinct services. Recognizing the need for an update, the Federal Communications Commission (@FCC) and both sides of the legislative branch – led by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce – have been studying possible updates (#CommActUpdate).

Pearson, NGLC, and MIND Research Institute are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners.

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