EdTech 10: Happy May Day!

It’s May Day! Celebrated in many countries as a traditional springtime festival and International Workers’ day, we’re going to work hard this May Day to celebrate all the great spring EdTech news popping up. Yesterday our team was live at the New Schools Venture Fund Summit (@NSVF) and was impressed and inspired by participants’ shared commitment to hold high expectations for all students and to advance equity by bringing new, fresh, provocative energy to transforming education.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. Opening the Virtual Door. John Danner (@JWDanner), co-founder of Rocketship (@RocketShipEd) cares deeply about the relationships between teachers and parents. This passion explains why he created Zeal (@GotZeal), an online social learning system allowing teachers to easily differentiate instruction for each student. Eliminating the need for separate lesson plans, Zeal assesses students in real time then determines the most developmentally appropriate lesson for each student.

2. Making Change Through New and Redesigned Schools. This week Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) announced the 21 winners of their planning grants, which invest roughly a quarter of a million dollars in early stage K‐12 Breakthrough School Models that show promising school vision led by inspired and innovative leadership teams. One of the 7 design principles from NGLC (@NextGenLC) is high expectations, we look forward to watching these visions turn into reality and following their journey as they use personalized, competency-based, and blended learning approaches to ensure high expectations for all!

3. Connecting Kids. In conjunction with President Obama’s (@whitehouse) ConnectEd Challenge, Microsoft (@microsoft) will spend $1B on mobile devices for 14,000 American public school districts in an effort to increase access to digital learning with affordable devices. Dell (@DellEdu), Hewlett Packard (@HP), Lenovo (@lenovo) and Acer (@Acer) also plan to join the initiative.

4. Celebrating Students. Scholastic (@Scholastic) announced their All-Stars – thirteen U.S. students were honored for outstanding academic success. These exceptional students, in grades 5–12, were identified as READ 180® and System 44® All-Stars. READ 180 (@READ180) and System 44 are blended learning programs proven to raise reading achievement for at-risk readers. These students were able to overcome obstacles, setting themselves on the path to college and career readiness.


5. The Race to Code. With over 24 million coders-in training, Codeacademy (@Codeacademy) is quickly becoming the go-to spot for students looking for free online coding training and it sounds like soon, will also be a hub for those interested in becoming professional programmers. This year, Codecademy will initiate more advanced course options for those looking into the career potential.

6. An Intergalactic Science Adventure. Galxyz, a new gaming startup from Osman Rashid, co-founder of Chegg (@Chegg) and the Intel-acquired interactive textbook platform Kno (@GoodToKno), is designed to support the Next General Science Standards while providing a personalized learning experience for students from 3rd – 12th grade. The game takes kids on “an intergalactic science adventure,” as described by Rashid while learning at their own pace. A partnership with the New York Academy of Science will act as a pilot over the summer, with the full launch planned for September.

Smart Cities

7. Setting the Bar High for Students. Inspired by the NGLC framework, CityBridge Foundation awarded 6 grants to DC area schools and Chicago Public Education Fund awarded 7 grants to Chicago area schools with the goal to boost student achievement through individualized and blended learning experiences. “Schools need to reach a very high bar for performance; simply improving is no longer enough,” Katherine Bradley of CityBridge said. “We have high hopes that these Breakthrough Schools winners are creating plans and demonstrating capabilities that should get them there.” Interested in inspiring school redesign in your area? Apply here to be one of four NGLC incubator sites, deadline May 21, 2014.

Teaching & Learning

8. Improving Teacher Prep. The White House and The Department of Education (@USEdGov) acknowledge the importance of recruiting, preparing and developing great teachers so they’re pushing for better teacher prep.  We’ve spent the last six months thinking about this same opportunity. Partnering with Digital Promise, this week we released a Competence-Based Teacher Prep & PD infographic and this morning we launched “Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning” a white paper that details the importance of competence-based teacher prep and ongoing professional development.

9. A Call to Invest in Leadership Development. MAP the GAP, an EdFuel (@EdFuelOrg) study, released at NSVF Summit identifies several key findings supporting the need for school leadership development at all levels. Key takeaways of the report include that a troubling shortage of qualified leaders to fill the more than 30,000 senior and mid-level leadership roles that will open in the next decade–especially given the increasingly complex competencies required to lead shifting educational environments.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

10. The Crystal Ball of Student Success? The American Institute of Research (AIR) recently issued a report – Predictors of Postsecondary Success – that identifies key factors such as participation in childcare/early education and high scores on the Social Skills Rating System, that can be used to predict student’s likelihood of being college and career ready years in the future. Keep an eye on Digital Learning Now’s Smart Series page for a paper that explores the topic of college and career readiness from our perspective in the coming week.

Scholastic and Digital Learning Now! are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners.


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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