SmartTech Roundup: From Blended Learning to Justin Bieber

Blended Schools & Tools
Three minute foray into the future. Intel’s three minute video provides a peek into the blended classroom of the future. In response to the video, Tom noted on Getting Smart that the video shows a good partial picture of blended learning but leaves out some of the more compelling reasons for the shift such leveraging teaching talent with technology–see for 10 school models that do.
Super cool blended school. Singing the praises of Acton Academy, Heather Staker of Innosight gave us the first principle of blended learning and reminded us to start with the question “ what will motivate students to love this?” not the particulars of devices, content, platforms, etc. We can’t wait to visit!
Bay blends. We had an invigorating chat yesterday with Louise Waters, Leadership Public Schools about the the tools they are building and their extensive use of open content including  When you visit them in Oakland, take the 92 across the bay to Redwood City and check out Summit’s use of Khan Academy resources.
Gooru Choo-Choo. A year after its alpha launch, Gooru Beta is here. Gooru is a powerful “search engine for learning” that allows users to explore and study over 2,600 standards-aligned and personalized study guides.  Ready to take the plunge into online content, but not sure where to start? Check out our list of 35 sources of curated videos, including Gooru.
Going Google.” After releasing Chrome for Android in February,  Chrome for iPhone and iPad became available this week. Chrome is also available for your iPhone and iPad.
Nexus News. With slim margins, the Google Nexus tablet is going to have to focus on volume to make any money. With lots of school districts planning the shift to digital learning, that might not be a problem. But remember that 7″ tablets aren’t likely to be supported by either testing consortia.
Experimenting with expanded access. This Wisconsin district is trying multiple devices and various funding strategies to expand access to technology for its students. Keep an eye out for an upcoming paper on funding strategies to expand access from your friends at Digital Learning Now and Getting Smart.
Digital Developments
Content customization. Archipelago Learning, a PLATO Learning company, and Portland-based nonprofit Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) announced a partnership that brings together their Archipelago Learning’s Study Island test preparation and practice solution and NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) computer adaptive assessments.  NWEA has a similar partnership with Compass Learning. MAP assessments are currently in use by over 5,200 school districts, charters and ed organizations.
Come and Code. LearnStreet, an early-stage start up funded by Khosla Ventures, is creating an innovative online learning platform where anyone can learn how to code. LearnStreet recently won the award for Best Technology at the LaunchEDU last month.
Big interest in i3. The USDOE announced 124 highly-rated Development pre-applicants, all of which are invited to apply for a share of the nearly $150 million 2012 Investing in Innovation (i3) fund, after receiving more than 650 i3 pre-applications. Check out the list of 124 here.
API for Education. Clever launched its encrypted data movement program last week and has already landed 85 schools who are interested in data movement support from servers to cloud systems in order to use new tools like MasteryConnect, Goal Book and others. Clever makes it easy for learning apps to get a clean roster from just about any SIS.
Teaching and Teching. Findings from the new Gates Foundation report Technology and Effective Teaching detail that “technology can help teachers improve their instruction and that they are open to using technology more. But to be effective, and used to innovate and improve the classroom experience, technology tools must respond to the realities of teacher/student experiences, rather than demand that teachers and students adapt to the requirements of a particular technology.” That’s true except for when it’s not–developers either code to make old classrooms work better or build tools that enable entirely new kinds of schools.
GBL at GLS Conference. Notes from the annual Games+Learning+Society (GLS) conference speak the importance of well-designed games, the potential of game-based learning, as well as learner engagement and immersion.
Steamy STEM Gems
Rethinking blame. Interesting research shows that the problem with STEM education is largely in higher education, and not K-12. Rebecca Lucore of Bayer notes: “The longstanding belief has been to reach students at an early age, when they are most impressionable and eager to learn, by investing in programs designed for K-12 students. This is certainly a sound approach, with proof to back up the success. Recent studies, however, are showing the key chokepoint for students looking to enter a STEM field professionally is actually in college.” Maybe; we think boring middle school science may have something to do with it.
Speaking of blame. Experts at the U.S. News STEM Solutions 2012 event say finding out who’s responsible for creating the science, technology, engineering, and math crisis in the United States doesn’t matter.  Specifically, the focus should be on solving the gap and not pinning it on someone.
A STEMed game changer? Battelle and 13 state STEM education networks launched STEMx – an initiative that will connect state networks and partners to accelerate the growth of policies, practices and partnerships to expand the number of STEM teachers and increase student achievement in STEM by connecting states and their stakeholders across K-12, higher education, business, government, philanthropy and the community.
Getting to the Core
CCR meets CCSS. ACT Inc. announced that it is developing a new series of assessments for grades 3-10 to measure college and career readiness skills. The digitally-administered tests will provide administered instant feedback to teachers and these “next generation assessments” will be correlated to to the Common Core State Standards and cover the four areas now on the ACT: English, reading, math, and science. The tests are being piloted in states this fall and scheduled to be launched in 2014. We’re eager to see what comes next from Coleman, the College Board and SAT.
“Critical friends” offer thoughts on the Core. EdWeek reports that the first public draft of common science standards is encountering some friendly criticism. Among the complaints: lack of clarity and coherence and omission of key content knowledge. We’re grateful to folks like the Fordham Foundation who are investing time and resources into strengthening the standards.
Is it time for a Common Core PSA? A new poll from Achieve reveals that outside of the education world, most people are pretty uninformed when it comes to the Common Core. Once the intent of CCSS was explained, respondents supported implementation at a rate of 77 percent. Awareness continues to grow among teachers.
Purchasing Pact. According to The Wall Street Journal, leaders of urban school systems, including New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., announced a campaign to press for books and other educational materials that are aligned with the Common Core. Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools likened the campaign to a “purchasing pact.”
Are you Pinning? Blogger Heather Neal explains what she is seeing on Pinterest: her “page is FULL of resources for teachers to use in the classroom from parent handouts to weather activities and Common Core everything.”  (Speaking of Pinning, are you following Getting Smart on Pinterest yet?)
Come On Get App-y
Paly Entrepreneurs. The NY Times shared the story of the Palo Alto High School student club with the audacious goal of creating start-ups. These student innovators  meet weekly during the school year to discuss their ventures and ideas, explore financial matters like fundraising, and host guest speakers.
But wait…there’s more.  We could share a few cool educational apps that we’ve discovered this week, but we thought we’d pass the virtual baton to Edudemic instead. Check out this insanely massive list of 50,000 (And Counting) Education Apps Worth Knowing About.
Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning
The lowdown on Leaders & Laggards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a state-by-state report card on public post secondary education. Responding to the report, Tom noted that the report suggests that public colleges must do a better job of measuring their efficiency and quality.
Series B Boost. University Ventures and Bertelsmann led a $17.3 million Series B round for UniversityNow, an operator of affordable, private universities. To date, UniversityNow has raised $21.5 million. The funding will enable UniversityNow to expand the program offerings at New Charter University which launched in March.
The edX extension. The July/August issue of Harvard Magazine offers some interesting history, highlights and context on the the Harvard/MIT edX adventure.
Blend liberally. Inside Higher Ed shared the successes of liberal arts colleges like Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University who are leading the way in blended higher education environments and experimenting with online courses developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative.
Voice from the field. Sharing her own experiences in an online teacher education program, Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report asks: Can the burgeoning world of online teacher training improve public education?
Quicktake on Competency. Inside Higher Ed shares: “In a new report the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning describes various “showcase” models of competency-based degree programs, which are efficient at eliminating redundant coursework or unnecessary degree requirements. There are a variety of sound approaches to competency-based education, the report found, which ensure the quality of a degree by focusing on outcomes rather than the amount of time students spend on coursework. The council also encourages the use of student assessments, which can be used to measure students’ prior learning.”
The Big “D”
Open wide. Writing for HuffPo, McGraw-Hill’s Vineet Madan asserts that Big Data has come to education and details why openness and interoperability have to come next. He says, “For every new piece of technology that embraces openness, there are a dozen that are completely walled off…we should not leave it up to the market to influence our decisions. We should come together to work toward this goal because it’s the right thing to do for our students and our schools.”  Tom shared a few of the questions we are exploring related to big data on the Getting Smart blog.
Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers
Update your Reader. This week our very own Mover & Shaker launched a new blog on Education Week. Be sure to add “Vander Ark on Innovation” to your reading list. Tom shared his list of 10 things he believes right now to launch the blog and will be posting several pieces weekly.
Congrats to Connelly. The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of 16 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools, has named Gail Connelly, the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Executive Director, as the 2012/13 chair of LFA’s Board of Directors.  Connelly has served on the NAESP executive team for almost 30 years and has been the organization’s executive director since 2007. Gail wrote on the intersection between the Common Core and school culture last week on EdWeek.
Who knew? For those of you not tracking Justin Bieber’s every move, we’ve got the latest in “Bieber Fever” just for you.  The 18-year-Canadian superstar graduated from St. Michael Catholic Secondary School, where he earned his degree online.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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