EdTech 10: Opportunities to Engage

From reports that highlight district transformations to organizations making it easy to advocate for better student access to high-quality learning, this week’s top ten news stories offer more than one opportunity to engage with information and take action!

Blended Schools & Tools

Learning in action. The El Paso ISD turned the corner from a decade of test prep to a new era of “Active Learning” by adopting a strategic plan called EPISD 2020. The plan includes expanding dual-language education, active learning environments supported by access to technology, modernizing facilities and building stronger support systems. Community involvement was integral to the development of the plan and creation of a new “Graduate Profile:”

  • Critical, knowledgeable and creative thinkers
  • Informed problem solvers
  • Effective bilingual communicators
  • Responsible leaders and productive citizens
  • Socially and emotionally intelligent individuals

EPISD is part of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools national coalition and is committed to leveraging technology and forward-thinking teaching and learning practices. 

Rising to the occasion. In its new series Districts Rising, Education First tells the stories of ten different school districts’ efforts to raise student achievement, including implementing college- and career-readiness standards for students, improving educator effectiveness and engaging the community when rolling out new initiatives. The series also includes an overview brief with ten themes that state and district leaders should consider when planning their own reform strategies.

Digital Developments

Shaping student standards. ISTE is revising its standards for students and is asking educators to provide feedback on the second public draft through March 31. In June, ISTE plans to release the final version.

Intro to #CBLearning. Mark your calendars for the iNACOL and CompetencyWork’s webinar “What Is Competency-Based Education?” on April 20th at 3 p.m. ET. Attendees will learn the foundational tenets of competency education, explore school models that meet students where they are and glean promising practices from leaders and practitioners pushing the next generation of teaching and learning. They can also extend the conversation to their social media networks using #CBLearning.

#RethinkAssessment. The Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) and Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) announced grantees for their $2 million Assessment for Learning Project grant program. Twelve grantees who are rethinking assessment and pursuing strategies to scale and catalyze existing innovations were chosen for their ability to rethink assessment and ultimately improve K-12 education. Join the conversation with #RethinkAssessment.
“Chain”ging education data sharing. A new technology that allows for the transmission of data free of a centralized authority has drawn the curiosity of the educational technology community, raising questions about whether it could allow for a seamless, digitally based sharing of students’ academic experiences.
The potential applicability of “blockchain” technology in schools emerged recently with the announcement by Sony Global Education Inc. that it has plans to bring the data-sharing system to education. See our resources on the Data Backpack concept that outline a vision where blockchain may be helpful.

Dollars & Deals

Principal prep. The Wallace Foundation has spent $47 million over the years investigating what makes a principal effective, and has just announced it will spend another $47 million during the next five years on efforts to improve principal preparation. The money will pay to redesign as many as six university training programs, each of which will be expected to partner with several school districts so that practicing superintendents and administrators have input into what aspiring principals need to learn in order to be well-prepared.

Workforce Investments. Several businesses were in the news recently for investing funds to help employees become successful.

  • Credly announced the closing of a $2.5 million seed financing round led by University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners with participation from Lumina Foundation Venture Fund. Credly is the leading platform for managing, distributing and using digital credentials, which represent a range of verified skills, abilities and certifications.
  • The Markle Foundation led the creation of Skillful.com, a new job website that is an example of how competency-based education can influence the relationship between employers and education providers, including colleges.
  • Revature, an IT training and staffing firm, announced its first external investment through a Series A round led by University Ventures and Eden Capital, with participation from USA Funds. Focused on high-demand coding and software development professionals, Revature blends accelerated learning with labor market intelligence to provide job seekers with the skills and competencies required to succeed in the workforce.

Amazing fundraising. Education technology start-up Byju’s has raised $75 million for product development from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Belgian investment firm Sofina. This is the largest fund-raising amount the education start-up segment in India has seen–the key was the pivot from web app for classroom use to a personal app. 

Stem Gems

Makerspace makeover. The U.S. Department of Education is holding a contest for high school students to design next-gen CTE makerspaces. Eligible schools will gain access to the CTE Makeover Bootcamp, a 6-week program providing resources and expertise in makerspace design and planning. Ten lucky schools will each receive $20,000 in cash and other prizes to turn their makerspace visions into a reality.

Bonus: Smart Parents

Parent power. Six months ago Smart Parents was released as a resource to guide parents in creating, choosing and advocating for powerful, student-centered learning experiences for their children. Getting Smart’s Director of Knowledge Design Carri Schneider, one of the authors, recently sat down with Discovery Ed‘s Senior Vice President Scott Kinney for a “One Idea With” interview to discuss the details of the project.

For more EdTech 10’s, check out:

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.

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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