EdTech 10: Better Blends, More Online Opportunity

We are loving long summer days and great sunsets across the country these days. Between picnics, family reunions and grilling nights we still found time to bring you the top stories of the week. Our team launched the eighth white paper in the DLN Smart Series — Online Learning: Myths, Reality & Promise this week. Accompanying the paper, check out the infographic and the webinar, How To Implement Online Learning, that took place yesterday in which Tom, Carri, Susan Patrick of iNACOL, and John Bailey of Digital Learning Now! myth-busted together.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

1. Bringing in the dough this week was Coursera, who raised $43 million from Learn Capital, GSV, Laureate, and IFC. “Coursera’s next frontiers involve better pedagogy and greater globalization. In an interview, co-CEO Daphne Koller said she wants to enhance Coursera’s technology, so that students can have “an even better experience when they take classes online.” Coursera is building up a mobile-devices team, so that students can have 24 hour access to their courses to get coursework done via smartphones or tablets. Also in the works: opening up Coursera to app developers, so instructors or student can cook up customized apps that will work for their individual courses.

2. In Amsterdam this week, Juan Lopez-Valcarcel, Chief Digital Officer at education and publishing company Pearson, presented a 15 minute overview of seven cool trends in the education technology space, from robot-assisted learning to international ‘rockstar’ teachers and beyond. Check out the video here.

Movers, Shakers & Ground-breakers

3. The concert tour is not scheduled yet, but Activate Ed kicked off their Educational Rockstar series this week by releasing the first video, featuring Tom, in a series of 10 to showcase some of the top people working in the education sector in an effort to attract more talented people and provide valuable resources to those already in education. Learn more about Tom’s video and toolkit and what the series has to offer in our post this week.

Let’s Get Personal(ized)

4. BlikBook a new social learning platform aimed at the higher education market, announced a $1.3 million funding round this week to grow its team as it expands to the US market. Co-founder and managing director Cheyne Tan says, “BlikBook is focused on driving high-quality engagement by students. This is helped by allowing for anonymous questions and answers to encourage shy students to take part, and through a recommendation algorithm that suggests topics that students may be interested in based on their behavior and that of people similar to them.” Read  how this tool personalizes learning and why it sounds very interesting for higher ed students.

Digital Developments

5. Education data startup BrightBytes raises $2.5 million. PandoDaily said “BrightBytes’s solution synthesizes data into a “score,” based on four areas: classroom, access, skills, and environment.”

And, AFT and private equity are not often mentioned in the same sentence…except this week when TSL, partner of AFT in ShareMyLesson, was acquired by TPG, OMG!. AFT says NBD.

Teachers & Tech

6. In talking about implementing blended learning this week Michael Horn warns, “technology can be crammed into existing models” with little effect or it can be used in dramatically new models to very different effect. The model is critical.”  Even the Smithsonian is chronicled the rise of blended learning.

We’re updating our Blended Learning Implementation Guide and could use your help figuring out how to make it better–please chime in on our Blended Learning 2.0 Questionnaire.

7. The best part of Tom’s Smart Cities series is meeting teacher leaders turning cities upside down. This week we got to know Shawn Rubin who’s lighting up Providence with a Blended Learning Conference; EdUnderground, a hands-on laboratory for early adopter teachers;  EdTechRI, a monthly edtech meetup, and a well attended Flipped Classroom Unconferences each Tuesday.

Policy Praise

8. The best policy piece of the week was written by Paul Roen, Blended Learning Manager for the Tennessee Achievement School District, on how blended learning should change teacher evaluation–better data and new roles suggest updates to our process and growth measures.

9. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) delivered a petition signed by more than 1,700 educators to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging them to take action to “accomplish the goals of the ConnectEd initiative to ensure that all of our nation’s classrooms have high speed broadband connectivity and all educators have the professional learning and access to digital resources they need for students to compete in the global 21st century economy.” The petition applauds President Obama for his ConnectEd initiative, “which aims to connect 99 percent of U.S. students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within five years.”


10. Khan Academy is offering the “live version” for teachers this summer. These free workshops will offer PD in their best practices and implementation models in one-day, in-person workshops in Redwood City, New Orleans, and Chicago due to a grant from The Broad Foundation. Khan coaches will help participants to develop a plan for integrating the Kahn videos and tools into classroom plans. No surprise the workshops allowing for 100 signups are almost full when flipping the classroom is one of the top trending topics of the year and more and more teachers are exploring and trying to master the right way to flip for their students.

Digital Learning Now! and Pearson are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Tom is a partner at Learn Capital and director at iNACOL. BrightBytes and Coursera are Learn Capital portfolio companies.

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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