EdTech 10: Blends, Big Data & Back To School

It’s pretty easy to capture the big trend this week – back to school! Across the country students are strapping on new backpacks and teachers are pulling out their “first week” lesson plans. Right? Perhaps not. Perhaps “back to school” looks a bit different to you this year. Who needs a big backpack with digital textbooks and OERs? Who wants to turn to the standard “first week” lesson plan when the summer was filled with discoveries of new apps and new tools that create exciting new ways to connect with students and parents?  We know our readers are ready to hit the ground running this year. Let us know what you’re up to! We’re always on the lookout for great guest blogs from teachers leading the way!

Blended Schools & Tools

1. The Learning Accelerator announced their first district-wide blended learning partnership with Reynoldsburg City Schools (featured in Smart Cities: Columbus).  It’s a district that’s been on our “one to watch” list for some time and we’re excited to see it getting the attention it deserves.

2. Digital Learning Now! released more than an hour of video showcasing edtech implementation from last year’s Excellence in Action Summit on their YouTube channel.  Some of our favorite examples like Mooresville, KIPP Empower & New Classrooms are featured. Check it out, then register for this year’s Summit in Boston. See you there!

3.The Christensen Institute knows parents have plenty to consider when helping their kids choose the right school. How good is the neighborhood public school? What are the other possibilities, such as nearby charter, magnet, private, and parent co-op options? Heather Staker writes five attributes parents should look for in a school to help parents make this sometimes difficult decision. Pushing the boundaries of what “good” might includes, we’ve been toying with the idea that grads could create their own job and leave school with an LLC, a plan, a site, and an app.

Digital Developments

4. Sums & Solutions, MIND Research Institute’s new math blog is up and running! It will feature discussions on a variety of topics from Common Core to blended learning with a math focus. We are looking forward to staying informed and learning new things with our friend JiJi.

5. In this week’s “What to Bookmark” news…. head to this new SETDA Assessment Resource – with interactive state-based case studies providing advice and guidance (including dozens of primary resource documents) on how states have made the shift to computer-based testing.

Also be sure to check out the New Education Research Clearinghouse for K-12 Blended and Online Learning from iNACOL and the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) that houses the latest research examining studies and trends in blended and online learning. Where’s the beef? Right here.

6. A new poll conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of K12 Inc. measures our awareness of online learning. Online courses for higher ed are definitely well known, but as the grade levels decrease the awareness level does too… check out the results to see how much you know about the availability of high quality online learning!

Let’s Get Personal(ized)

7. Louisiana’s Course Choice voucher program (like a cross between Kayak and Ticketmaster–where students can find the best online courses for them) will serve all the students who want it! With the funding found by the state Department of Education this week, the program will not only reach the 3,500 enrolled students but 1,000 plus on the student wait list.

For the Core

8. We read that the new iPads are rolling out in LAUSD and the teacher training is kicking off, too. This is a big step for many of these teachers, and there is definite excitement in the air. The iPads come loaded with software developed by Pearson and include complete Core-aligned courses in math and English for grades pre-K through 12.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

9. Big news for competency education…The U.S. Department of Education Approves Groundbreaking Learning Model for Capella University’s innovative FlexPath programs, making it “the first university to offer competency-based bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that utilize an approved direct-assessment learning model as opposed to the traditional credit-hour standard.” If you need a refresher on competency-based education, check out this post from earlier this summer and the DLN Smart Series paper “From Cohorts to Competency.”

The Big “D”

10. Big Data is coming and it’s going to start an Education Revolution. According to US News, “Big data in the online learning space will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for individual students.” It’s not just happening in higher ed… DreamBox Learning® announced that it has expanded its partnership with Clever to seamlessly integrate with district student information systems. Data “goorus” are even leaving Google to help put the power of big data into small classrooms. Read how the creator of Gooru, Pram, is taking what he learned about big data and making it work for K-12.

The NSA announced a data partnership with North Carolina State University, known for their expertise in data analysis, to create the new Lab of Analytical Sciences. “The lab will bring together some of the brightest minds from government, academia and industry to address the most challenging big-data problems and will be a cornerstone of the emerging advanced data innovation hub at NC State.” Be sure to keep on eye on how this partnership advances analysis of big data to improve the academic experience.

Digital Learning Now!, K12, Dreambox, MIND Research and Pearson are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Gooru is a Learn Capital Portfolio Company, where Tom Vander Ark is a partner. Tom is a Director at iNACOL.

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