EdTech 10: In Like A Lion

You know what they say – March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. While you’re waiting for that transition in your corner of the world, take a break from your basketball brackets and annual hunt for all the green things in your wardrobe to dive into this week’s EdTech 10.  Our favorite headline of the week was from the WSJ: The Study of Monotony Sees a Burst of Activity.  Seriously, boredom is a big problem in secondary and postsecondary learning–we could use a little more disruption. Speaking of disruptive innovation, we’re off to SxSWedu next week in Austin. See you there!

 Blended Schools & Tools

1. This week Los Angeles Unified School District approved $50 million to purchase tablets, install wireless networks and train teachers as step one of a $500 million plan for universal 1:1 student device access by 2014.  Going 1:1 is not the financial challenge you might think but it does require a plan! For more on that claim, check out “Funding the Shift” and the “Student Access to High Quality Digital Learning Devices” infographic.
2. MDR’s The State of the K-12 Market 2012 report showed the implementation of tablet computing rose to #3 in tech initiatives in 2012, with 40% of tech directors listing tablets as a high priority and 95% viewing Wi-Fi access as a must-have.  The shift is on but we’re worried about the number of districts buying truckloads of iPads without a plan.  (Please read the Blended Learning Implementation Guide.)
3. We always enjoy learning about how technology is opening up doors to opportunity for students in large urban districts. This week, we learned about how technology is making East Chicago schools ‘Rock Stars’ and how new high school models in Boston are personalizing learning and catalyzing change. Tom’s EdWeek post “Smart Cities: Boston” shares more innovation happening in Beantown.

 Digital Developments

4. On Monday our favorite portfolio team will announce that they’ve raised more money. Pathbrite is announcing a Series A2 round of funding with investments from a leader in college and career readiness assessment and a well-known investor in technology for learning. Stay tuned for more details.
5.  Speaking of Getting Smart faves, Kickboard announced it has raised a $2 million Series A round to expand the Kickboard team and invest in further product development like enhanced dashboards to capture and present student performance data.

 Steamy STEM Gems

6. Coding was all the rage this week with stories running on Huffington Post, ABC News and more covering the launch of Code.org – a new nonprofit dedicated to increasing computer programming curricula  in schools, complete with a pretty compelling video! This week’s Chicago Tribune story about students learning to write mobile app codes shows the power of the Code.org vision.

 Policy Matters

7. A new report from CompetencyWorks and iNACOLNecessary for Success: Building Mastery of World-Class Skills – A State Policymakers Guide to Competency Education— highlights state-level progress in removing barriers to mastery-based, student-centered, personalized learning environments.  For more on the shift from cohorts to competency, check out the recent paper and infographic from Digital Learning Now! featuring CompetencyWorks’ own Chris Sturgis.

 Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

8. The February 2013 Education Insider Report from Whiteboard Advisors revealed some interesting opinions about tech trends in higher ed, with an overwhelming majority of Insiders believing that MOOCs are more than a passing fad and expecting that MOOCs will substantially disrupt higher education.

 The Big “D”

9. The eddata trend is one worth watching, with headlines every week about new solutions that aim to capture the potential impact of data analytics on teaching and learning. This week inBloom announced a strategic partnership with LearnSprout that will grease “the skids for a new, interconnected edtech ecosystem.” Check out our recent interview with Learn Sprout CEO Frank Chien.  (His partner Joe Woo was Federal Way High School student when Tom was Superintendent.)

Cool Tools

10. iSpeech, that provides human quality like voice text-to-speech apps, announced it is launching a platform for publishers. The tools are designed to help publishers quickly and inexpensively convert books and articles into audio. iSpeech’s first two publishing clients are Evernote and Pearson.
Movers, Shakers & Ground Breakers
Bonus Item: Foundation for Excellence in Education announced the addition of two new board members, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Laurene Powell Jobs this week.
Disclosures: Pearson, Foundation for Excellence in Education, and Digital Learning Now are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Tom is a Director at iNACOL.

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