SMARTtech Roundup: All About Personalization

Blended Schools & Tools

More on i-Ready. MetaMetrics®, developer of The Lexile® Framework for Reading, has partnered with Curriculum Associates to include Lexile® measures in Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready™ Diagnostic assessment program. i-Ready Diagnostic accurately assesses K-8 students in reading and math, provides detailed, easy-to-use reports to help teachers provide differentiated instruction, and helps school districts across the country implement new and expanding requirements related to measuring student growth and teacher performance.
3-2-1 Blast Off! Blended learning Rockstar Rocketship Education has increased its student enrollment by more than 50 percent, from 2,400 students last year to 3,700 students this fall. Rocketship opened two new schools in San Jose this month, expanding the charter school network from five to seven schools. In addition, Rocketship expanded grade levels in three of its existing schools to provide kindergarten through fifth grades.
RTT-D Tips & Tools. Education Elements is offering a suite of tools for districts to use as they’re developing the strategy for their RTT-D applications–you’ll find it on their website. EdElements will also be hosting an RTT-D webinar with FSG on September 5 at Noon ET (register here) to talk about how blended learning addresses the personalized learning priority and how collective impact addresses the competitive priority around partnerships.
Innosight on Personalization. Michael Horn of Innosight shared his thoughts this week on Why the Latest Race to the Top Competition Matters. We agree that personalization is the order of the day, and making personalization a priority is cause for celebration. The Innosight Institute released a new white paper exploring the role of personalized learning in the Race to the Top District competition.
But wait…there’s more! A group of digital learning leaders including iNACOL, Education Counsel, Digital Learning Now!, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Next Generation Learning Challenges will host a webinar on August 31st from 4-5pm ET on the ‘Race to the Top’ – District (RTT-D) program recently introduced by the U.S. Department of Education. Register here. The discussion will cover the essential role of digital learning in developing a successful application.
Have you flipped yet? EdWeek’s feature on the Flipped Classroom provides a great overview of the movement and  includes tips for flipping and insight from some of the flipping pioneers. (We’re particularly intrigued by the idea of the “mastery flip” described in the article.)
BYOD Advice from the field. Elementary school principal Peter DeWitt asked this week: Is your school ready for a BYOD program?  Instead of banning students’ technology devices from the classroom, schools need to teach students how to use those devices for learning, principal Peter DeWitt writes in this blog post for EdWeek. Schools need to be prepared, however, for the cultural changes that result from implementing a bring-your-own-device program, DeWitt notes. Some of the issues that should be considered, he writes, are the capacity and security of the infrastructure, what to do about students who can’t afford their own devices, professional development and parent communication.

Digital Developments

Cool Tool. Alleyoop launched earlier this year with personalized, interactive math instruction for students ages 13-17. Now Alleyoop has added a full range of science tutorials featuring content from partners such as NASA, National Geographic, and the National Science Foundation
Apply now. Florida Virtual School the award-winning, statewide public virtual school, is currently seeking certified instructors to fill more than 60 full-time and adjunct positions open for immediate hire. In addition, FLVS is building its candidate pool to more than 500 instructors in order to fulfill future needs, as students seek to satisfy their virtual learning requirements per Florida’s Digital Learning Act*. Instructors certified in Spanish and Driver’s Education are the current highest priority; however, FLVS is also recruiting those certified to teach middle school and high school core courses and electives. For more visit
We agree. This week EdWeek noted that Digital Learning Now! wields policy influence. Executive Director John Bailey was quoted in the article, explaining that DLN acts as a technical resource to states that may be thinking through legislation and regulation by helping them think through some of the “thorny issues.”
ISTE Opportunity. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) announced its inaugural ISTE Leadership Forum where school leaders will come together to explore critical issues and identifying solutions to the education challenges of the digital-age. Topics covered will range from bring your own devices (BYOD) initiatives to maximizing tech investments to using tech to interact with the school community and to support the Common Core.  The event will take place October 21-23 in Indianapolis and special, early-bird registration is open through September 15.
Kentucky inches forward. The Kentucky Department of Education is revamping its virtual learning system by getting out of the business of providing online courses and supporting in state (but not national) providers. An initiative of KDE and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) called the Kentucky Virtual Campus for K-12, KYVC4K12 will provide expanded e-learning opportunities for Kentucky students.
Badger State Collaboration. State Superintendent Tony Evers announced a small expansion of digital learning opportunities for students in Wisconsin through the statewide Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative (WDLC), a collaborative to offer part time enrollment. Wisconsin families are also served by several full time online schools including Wisconsin Connections Academy and Wisconsin Virtual Academy.
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of myths busting. This week Forbes explored The Myths of Online Learning. Among the myths: that online learning will reduce the need for faculty, that all online courses are the same, and that “online” is synonymous with “for-profit.”  There are no for-profit schools, there are a few for-profit national providers that contract with nonprofit charter holders.
Digital de noticias. Amara, a crowd source subtitling platform that engages volunteers from around the world to translate online videos, announced on Tuesday that it’s being adopted by Coursera and Khan Academy, to make academic video content globally accessible. Launched in 2010, Amara has already added more than 200,000 subtitles in 100 different languages to online videos. This new approach to subtitling allows video makers to breakdown political, social and cultural barriers to reach a vastly wider audience. Earlier, Amara volunteers subtitled the KONY 2012 video in 30 languages in just two days.

Steamy STEM Gems

One giant leap. The world lost another STEM hero this week with the passing of Neil Armstrong. Forbes explored his legacy and his impact as a pioneer and innovator. Guest blogger Adam Renfro shared some memories this week about Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap” and his family Zenith.
STEM Resource.  A new STEMworks Database seeks to provide information on promising learning initiatives at the preK-12 level. Developed by Change the Equation, a coalition of CEOs working to improve STEM education, the initiative has turned to researchers at WestEd to evaluate and highlight effective programs like ST Math.
STEAM. A recent piece in Scientific American asked what role should the arts play in STEM education, noting that “by infusing more creativity and imagination into STEM education, teachers can expand students’ understanding of the world and help them see the exciting applications of math and related subjects.”

Getting to the Core

We’re impressed. LearnZillion announced the launch of its first of 2,000 online lessons going live this fall to help teachers, schools, and districts adopt the Common Core State Standards – all of which are free for students and teachers. In an effort to celebrate teachers, LearnZillion recruited some of the country’s best to translate their proven approaches into concise, high-quality “screencasts” with the support of education experts, content coaches, and technology support. With assistance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this “Dream Team” of 123 teachers rallied in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 20-23rd for the inaugural “TeachFest” to breakdown the Common Core Standards and to develop the best approaches to lesson creation. Speaking of LearnZillion, check out Tom’s piece on E.L. Haynes.
Cutting CCSS Costs. Commentary by  Patrick J. Murphy and Elliot M. Regenstein looked at Trimming the Cost of Common-Core Implementation. Their new report, “Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost?,” highlights that costs could be reduced significantly if states were willing to rethink implementation. Balanced implementation ideas include: moving away from hard-copy textbooks and doing more sharing of online materials, using computer-administered technology to offer formative assessments and delivering professional development through a mix of in-person and online instruction.
What’s your state doing? States are making the transition to common core standards. In Louisiana, education officials are encouraging teachers to include questions based on Common Core State Standards on writing exams. In Maryland, the State Superintendent Lillian Lowery explains “We are pushing rigor … earlier than we ever have before.”

Come On Get App-y

Getting social. In June Grockit launched Learnist – a social learning platform that allows anyone to curate media-rich and collaborative content into learning “networks”, “channels” and “learning boards.” This week Learnist released the Learnist iPad and iPhone apps.
Downloading direction. USA Today offered The Easy Way to Find Good Apps For Your Kids, highlighting The Common Sense Media site and WeWantApps! iOS app (free on iTunes). WeWantApps! is limited to iOS devices, of course, but Common Sense Media includes Android, Kindle Fire, BlackBerry and Nook Color, in addition to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

Best practices. Maine DOE has released three case studies on proficiency-based, learner-centered instructional system. Videos and additional resources also available.
Discouraging dishonesty. Coursera, the MOOC site with myriad university partnerships, will require students to sign an honor code statement before they take the free classes. The honor code was introduced in three Coursera classes – with plans to expand the code to more courses – after media reports detailed rampant plagiarism in the no-charge courses that offer curriculum from Princeton, University of Michigan, Stanford, and Penn, among other schools.
Deeper Learning. On Sept 12th, the Alliance for Excellence in Education will host a webinar on topics generated from the recently released report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. This webinar will feature the chair of the NRC committee, James Pellegrino, and an NRC committee member, Christine Massey, who will highlight key findings from the report; Christopher Shearer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which is funding a major initiative to support deeper learning, and Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, will discuss the policy implications.

The Big “D”

Improving data accessibility. Three Cincinnati high schools will be the first in the nation to try out a new technology called Ontract that notifies parents when students begin a trend of poor academic performance. The new technology will become part of Strive Partnership’s plan to personalize education. Strive will plug Ontract’s technology into its learning partner dashboard, a database that tracks academic results and attendance along with the outside help students get from local nonprofits and tutors. Ontract allows schools to pull out that information and share it through email or text with parents, students or teachers. (Look for a new white paper from Digital Learning Now, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and Getting Smart on student data coming in October.)
ASU Miners. Faculty members at Arizona State University are experimenting with data mining to see how it can help improve student results, as well as empower professors by eliminating guesswork. Watch the video to find out more.

Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers

CORE Education and Consulting Solutions, Inc. (CORE ECS),that provides assessments, interventions and content solutions for districts and states serving Pre-K, K-12, Employability, Special Education and Higher Education sectors, announced that former Pearson and SchoolNet exec Nicole Neal has been appointed President of their Assessment and Solutions Division.
The North Carolina State Board of Education is seeking a Director for its North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS).  This position will be responsible for the overall administration of the NCVPS and will provide leadership to ensure that the mission of NCVPS is accurately understood, authentically accomplished, and fiscally supported.
Do you know an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled online teacher? iNACOL is excited to present along with SREB the National Online Teacher of the Year Award. There is so much great talent educating students in online programs, and we are proud to support this annual showcase. The nomination period is now open and will run through October 8th, so take a moment to brag about a colleague, your child’s teacher, or your teacher (or get one to brag about you!). What are you waiting for? Go to:
Disclosures: Curriculum Associates, Digital Learning Now!, Florida Virtual, MIND Research, Connections, and K12 are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. LearnZillion is a portfolio company of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner. Tom is a director of iNACOL.

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