EdTech 10: What’s Trending

Even with a holiday shortened week, it was obvious that we are at a confluence of massive changes in the ways we learn, design our schools, teach, and provide high quality education at scale. Tom kicked off the week discussing better access, next gen learning, and next gen PD–3 of 5 Big EdTech Trends. This week’s EdTech 10 shows us what’s trending.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. Teachers lead the way, part 1. Teachers are driving innovation. From Digital Promise (@DigitalPromise), check out this story from West Ada School District in Idaho, where teachers fundraised for classroom technology- over $1.5 million in new tech for teaching and learning. And, this story comes out of Piedmont City School District (@PCSDK12), where access to 24/7 technology has radically transformed learning. Each student has a laptop and home internet access who would not otherwise have that access, and there’s a cool video documentary to watch also. Inspiring story that reminds us how tech can empower!
2. No silos. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (@NellieMaeEdFdn) sponsored a new collection of articles titled Blending Middle Grade Humanities. This Smart Bundle features blog about Big History Project (@BigHistoryPro), Read 180 (@Read180), and Literacy Design Collaborative (@LitDesignCollab), as well as best practices for using blended tools in the classroom. Bottom Line: The Humanities can’t be taught in knowledge silos. We know all knowledge is interconnected. Let’s teach Humanities (and everything else) with this in mind, through rich content, project based learning, simulations, and more.

Digital Developments

3. Cheaper bundle. Amplify (@Amplify) announced today that they were trimming the cost of their tablet bundle to $359. After the first year, districts pay an additional $60 per user per year for ongoing software, content and support if they choose to continue using the system.
4. Access, activity, and outcomes in digital learning. Keeping Pace 2014 (@KeepingPaceK12) is about to publish, and the 3 lenses for looking at the digital learning landscape include who has to access to digital learning resources, what sorts of activity is happening in digital learning, and what the student outcomes are. The bottom line, writes author John Watson, is that “access of students to digital learning has been, should be, and will continue to be a major area of research and reporting. Activity and outcomes are the next two areas which deserve to get equal attention.”
5. Are parents in the know? Parent engagement increases as schools use digital tools to communicate. Schools are using closed Facebook groups, Twitter and Remind (@RemindHQ) among others, to create increased awareness of school and community events. Now, the school newsletter can no longer get lost in the bottom of the backpack!

Leading the Way

6. Teacher lead the way, part 2. Arne Duncan (@ArneDuncan) and the team over at the US Department of Education (@USedgov) announced they have a new program called Commit to Lead (#CommitToLead), where teachers can share best practices with one another. Duncan said Commit to Lead is an “online community that directly engages teachers and other educators to define what teacher leadership can and should be in their communities, so that collectively we can help make it part of the fabric and culture of every school. It builds on the great work that already exists in the field, and invites the creation of new ideas.” Educators can share, vote, and get feedback on their work. Get sharing!

Dollars & Deals

7. Record amount of money raised in Utah. E-learning company Pluralsight (@Pluralsight) raised over $135 million in a monster B round–Utah’s largest venture financing round. The digital learning company, based in Salt Lake City, provides video and online courses. The startup is also helping people to assess their skills, identify any skill gaps, and can provide courses that help individuals meet specific goals related to personal and career learning.

Stem Gems

8. Tiger is not just playing golf. Tiger Woods Foundation (@TWFoundation), the Honda Classic (@theHondaClassic), and Florida Atlantic University (@FlaAtlanticU) are teaming up for STEM learning. The groups are hosting a one College and Career Conference. 300 parents and students in grades 7-12 will attend to learn more about post-secondary options in this free event on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Florida Atlantic University.
9. Improving student engagement. In this Digital Learning Now story (@DigLearningNow), the word on the street is engagement. Course Access helps provide increased student engagement through encouraging a variety of means. These programs “can help motivate and engage students by enabling them to select whatever courses they want, in the formats they want (e.g. online, face-to-face, or blended), from a range of providers.” For more information, you can head over to Fordham for coverage of the Course Access paper.

The Big “D”

10. Data is the word. Data Quality Campaign (@EdDataCampaign) has published an executive summary around how to best use data to improve student achievement. They have state listings of student privacy legislation as well summary and analysis of all data privacy legislation as of 2014. This is the place to head if you want to know more ongoing trends with data (and data privacy).
And finally, we say goodbye to Barbara Dreyer, the co-founder and CEO of Connections Education.  In a sector where there are very few scaled impact organizations, Barbara built a big company that provided great services.  She did it, against great odds, in an unassuming way by building a talented team, taking the long view, and putting students first.  She was both tenacious and gracious to the end. She will be missed.
Digital Learning Now, Scholastic’s Read 180, and Literacy Design Collaborative 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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