SMARTtech Roundup: This Week’s Digital Developments

Blended Schools & Tools

A new study from Cisco found the magic number: 67 percent. That is: 67 percent percent of educators report that students who participate in blended learning also improve their test scores by 67 percent.
Louisiana announced the list of potential “Course Choice” Providers that have made it through the initial stage of the evaluation process. Louisiana’s pioneer Course Choice program will allow student choice down to the course level.
The Orange County School District in North Carolina was featured in a story reporting on the district’s 1:1 laptop program. The piece includes information on funding, teacher enthusiasm and increased student engagement.  Another story shared similar findings when asking iPads in education: Where’s the money coming from?. These articles show growing commitment to the high-access learning environment that we detailed in the DLN Smart Series Paper “Funding the Shift to Digital Learning.
Kno Textbooks made its app available on Android devices, offering access to a catalog of 200K electronic textbooks from major textbook publishers, including Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill Higher Education, among others (65 total publishers currently).
To help address a shortage of speech-language pathologists (SLPs), Moses Lake School District 161 in Moses Lake, Washington, adopted PresenceLearning, the leader in online speech therapy services for K-12 students. PresenceLearning will host a free webinar tiitled “Understanding and Managing the Growing SLP Shortage” on Thursday, November 8th at 1:00 pm ET for anyone interested in learning more about their services.
Samsung and Khan Academy launched a pilot tablet program this week. in three California schools in the Mountain View Whisman School District. The company will provide the schools with Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets preloaded with a free Khan Academy app.

Digital Developments

The Florida Virtual School announced a strategic alliance with DreamBox Learning, a provider of adaptive learning solutions. Julie Young, President and CEO of Florida Virtual School, stated, “This alliance provides Florida teachers and students with access to DreamBox Learning Math to help build a strong foundational understanding of elementary mathematics within a robust online blended learning environment.”
Imagine K12 launched its third cohort of ed-tech startups last Friday at its Demo Day in Palo Alto. Tom reported on on these 11 Rising Startups, noting, “Imagine K12 has landed on a formula: solve a problem, build a beta, get some traction from high fidelity users, build a good deck, polish the pitch, and raise a seed round.”
Pearson announced that its NES® (National Evaluation Series™) Teacher Certification Test is now available at 1,000 secure test centers worldwide.  The NES offers states a new choice in educator certification tests based on professionally reviewed and accepted academic standards.

Steamy STEM Gems

The Verizon Foundation launched a new STEM education initiative. This new initiative is designed to strengthen teachers’ expertise in integrating mobile technology into STEM instruction and to engage students in innovative and creative ways. The education initiative consists of three integrated programs: the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools and the new Thinkfinity platform.
The Reynoldsburg School District in Ohio has become an international model for innovation, due it its innovative programs in STEM, college and career readiness and blended learning. Deb Delisle, U.S. assistant secretary of education, visited the district last week to learn how it personalizes students’ learning. Put this on your list of districts to watch!

Getting to the Core

Okapi Educational Publishing launched “Explorations Strategies for Comprehension for informational texts,” a new and flexible resource to teach comprehension strategies for the nonfiction texts that the 45 states transitioning to the Common Core are or will be using in the near future.
The Francis Howell school district in Missouri was honored this week for its student publications. FHC’s Central Focus earned the George H. Gallup Award from the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society, the organization’s highest honor. FHHS’s newspaper, called Spotlight, was named a finalist in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker contest, which recognizes excellence in high school and collegiate journalism. Matthew Schott, FHC publications adviser, noted the connection between this type of writing and the new Common Core State Standards. “Common Core focuses on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. That’s exactly what those classes are living and breathing every single day,” he said.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

Competency Works’ November newsletter details four forthcoming reports on competency-based education, six how-tos and two case studies available now and three videos showing student-centered, competency-based instruction. Enjoy!
TechCrunch reported that ExecOnline raised $800K in seed funding from the Washington Post for executives to get online training that is done in partnership with top 10 business schools. The service will target Fortune 500 companies that often send executives to Harvard University and other top business schools for immersive business school training.
MOOC provider Coursera contracted to license several of the courses it has built with its university partners to Antioch University, which will offer versions of the MOOCs for credit as part of a bachelor’s degree program.
A study released this month from Michigan State University discovered that professors that use Twitter may actually see a boost in interaction and ultimately better grades. “Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literary Practice,” found that students who were engaging with peers and and faculty on Twitter were more interested in the course material and performed better overall in the course.

The Big “D”

T.H.E. Journal reported on the evolution of e-portfolios in education: How far e-portfolios have come, how they can be effectively leveraged in the classroom, the challenges they pose, and the benefits that they provide. Check out the infographic “Powering Personalization” for a look at the concept of Data Backpacks and Comprehensive Learner Profiles that explores this issues more deeply.
A great piece on the Education Elements blog explores Educators as Data Storytellers– specifically the relationship between blended-learning and data-driven decision making. Good stuff.
Disclosures: Digital Learning Now!, FLVS  and Pearson are Getting Smart advocacy partners.

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