EdTech 10: Reason to Celebrate

This week’s EdTech 10  stories signal that innovations in learning that were once small and isolated are starting to ramp up in size, impact and attention. Be it the acquisition of LightSideLabs and Internships.com, rollouts of Kaplan and SNHU’s affordable competency-based HigherEd ventures, or US House support for competency-based learning… learners have reason to celebrate this week as opportunity, access, and quality are on the rise.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. 3, 2, 1… launched. iNACOL (@nacol) and EdElements (@EdElements) launched their Blended Learning Teaching Rubric. Backed by their experience in working with over 2,000 teachers, this white paper supports teachers implement blended learning practices. Join the Twitter conversation on the new rubric with #BLTeacherRubric.


Also new from iNACOL this week – Course Access: Equitable Opportunities for College and Career Ready Students describes a state-level policy solution that provides all students with equitable access to a variety of part time online learning courses in a programmatic effort to increase access, quality and equity. Read our review here.
2. Early formative. North Carolina kindergarten teachers are getting support and encouragement for hands-on formative assessment as part of the state’s RTT Early Learning grant. Teachers observe 5 areas of development: approaches to learning, cognitive, emotional-social, health and physical, and language and communication.Also on the formative front, Tom summarized Progress, Barriers and Opportunity
3. Calling all public blenders. Are you a blended learning teacher in a public school that can demonstrate success? The Evergreen Education Group (@EvergreenEdu) and the Christensen Institute (@ChristensenInstit) launched a project to share your story. Have 10 minutes? Take the survey before October 19 at midnight to help other educators by sharing what’s working for you.
Digital Developments
4. Just in Time for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Embracing privacy and personalization maximizes student opportunity–that’s the message behind the pledge by EdTech leaders announced this week. Companies will disclose the types of personal information they gather and use. For more see the Data Backpacks paper and Powering Personalization infographic from DLN (@DigLearningNow).
5. OER Rolls On.  El Paso ISD ditched plans for a $10 million high school textbook adoption in favor of Chromebooks and open content from CK12. The first wave of “Flexbooks” were introduced to teachers this week with a visit from CK12 Executive Director Neeru Khosla. EPISD teachers worked with Ck12 to develop 3 digital textbooks this summer, for high school biology, chemistry and physics. The open content is aligned with state standards and available for all Texas high schools.

Dollars & Deals

6. Yinz got a deal. As the Pirates’ playoff hopes were dashed in their loss to the Giants, there’s at least some exciting news coming out of Steel City this week. LightSide Labs will be joining Turnitin this fall. This acquisition will begin the integration of LightSide’s (@LightsideLabs) proven writing assessment platform with Turnitin’s (@Turnitin) global writing originality and grading system.


7. Paid internship. The Chegg (@Chegg) Career Center will expand with an additional 2 million students, 380 universities and 90,000 internships from 60,000 companies following the announcement of Chegg’s acquisition of Internships.com (@internships) the world’s largest student-focused internship marketplace.

Higher, Deeper, Further, Faster Learning

8. Can you hear me now? Four stories speak to the growing competency-based learning movement in HigherEd – evidence that this “quiet movement” is finding its voice.

  • The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 is due this year, and with the U.S. House of Representatives’ July legislation that aids universities with competency-based programs signals a shift in Higher Ed policy towards skill mastery says EdTechMagazine.com.
  • Randy Peters, Drake Schools of Education, shared with CompetencyWorks (@competencyworks) how through his work he is responding to the adversity that competency-based educators face with college admissions and experience that schools administrators in finding educations with training in competency instruction.
  • In Bloomberg Businessweek, Michelle Weise (@rwmichelle) discusses the increasing traction of online competency-based education programs in the market, and how this traction can fill the skills gap in the workforce.
  • In a Q & A with Lambda Solutions as part of Education Thought Leaders Series, Michael B. Horn (@MichaelBHorn) discusses how the higher ed landscape is changing from the influence of online competency-based learning.
  • We were super impressed with a site visit to SNHU and College for America. To earn a competency-based AA, learners demonstrate 120 competencies through 20 projects–double that for a BA. Check out the platform spinout, Motivis Learning.


9. Credit they deserve. A new Kaplan Higher Education venture (@Kaplan_Univ) is creating an “Open College” for adults to apply their preexisting skills for college credit. Free services including personalized mentoring to help users identify and catalogue skills that can count towards degrees and careers are included.
10. Listifying. LinkedIn (@LinkedIn) released new college rankings based on cross examining the platform’s most desirable companies to work for with the rate that graduates from individuals schools that land and retain jobs at the top companies. The flaws: self-selection, and lack data on income, wealth, race, gender, and the stipulation that the lists only used users who graduated in the last eight years.
Tom Vander Ark is a Director at iNACOL. Digital Learning Now is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

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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