EdTech 10: Dollars, Deals and Developments

This week’s EdTech 10 is overflowing with news of dollars, deals and developments in edtech. Check out this week’s list for the latest on powerful new partnerships and large-scale investments in tools and initiatives with high potential for impact. Dollars and deals not your thing? No worries! This week’s top ten also contains some new resources for policy and practice that are sure to inform and inspire.

Blended Schools & Tools

1. A Big Deal. Arizona State University (ASU) announced a partnership with the Big History Project (BHP) to provide consistent, high-quality writing feedback for tens of thousands of Big History essays over the 2016-2017 school year. The data produced by this exercise will be used to accelerate ASU’s investigation of next-generation grading approaches, including those based on machine learning driven by natural language processing.
We partnered with BHP to create Getting Smart on Big History Project, a Smart Bundle featuring a collection of articles about Big History including deployment methods, professional development opportunities and best practices. The collection also highlights rich content tools and online platforms for an inquiry-based classroom.

2. The DL on the XQ. Getting Smart’s Director of Strategic Design Mary Ryerse was recently invited to join an XQ Expert Series Podcast on Technology and Learning for an Interconnected World. Hosted by Michele Cahill, and also including Nicole Pinkard and Monica Martinez, the podcast emphasizes the key role of the teacher to maximize student learning and engagement[a], and also speaks to the importance of building intentional use of technology into the design of a school.

Dollars & Deals

3. Big Apple E-Deal. Amazon.com Inc. won a deal worth about $30 million to provide e-books to New York City, the nation’s largest school district. Schools will purchase the e-book digital files in a special internal marketplace, and then the e-books will be available for all students on school devices such as tablets, computers and smartphones.

4. Coding a la Capella. San Francisco-based coding school for women Hackbright Academy has been acquired by Capella Education, the parent company of Capella University, for $18 million as the publicly traded education company looks to expand its efforts to train more women in technical careers. Capella specializes in degree programs for working adults, three quarters of whom are women.

5. Next-Gen Community College. The White House announced the launch of a new $100 Million competition to expand tuition-free community college programs. These $100 million America’s Promise Grants can help communities create new/strengthen existing partnerships and programs to offer more students access to the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their educational and career goals, particularly in high-growth sectors like technology, manufacturing and healthcare.

Stem Gems

6. Code Breaker. According to Glassdoor’s “25 Best Jobs in America 2016” survey, a software engineer career ranks among the top 10 in terms of average base salary, job openings and career opportunity. Pearson and Flatiron School recently announced a partnership offering college and university students an on-campus “Coding Bootcamp” to build the skills that lead to those high-paying jobs. Through the partnership, learners will have access to a full-time, 800-hour training program in high-demand software development skills that precisely simulate a professional coder’s environment.

Research & Reports

7. Flippers. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation released a new report providing recommendations for increasing engagement and closing the achievement gap among English Language Learners (ELLs) through flipped classroom approaches to learning. Flipped learning switches traditional teacher-student roles in the classroom through a blend of in-person and online learning, and this report outlines the ways in which schools can implement this approach to improve education outcomes for adolescent ELLs.

Policy Pieces

8. Leading Leaders. Check out this new Policymakers Guide to Improving School Leadership Toolkit from Eric Lerum, Fordham Institute and CRPE, designed to assist in reform efforts focused on strengthening school leadership. The toolkit is organized around five key policy areas:

  1. Pathways and Pipelines
  2. Distributed Leadership
  3. Autonomy and Empowerment
  4. Principal Evaluation
  5. Retention and Compensation

Let’s Get Personalized

9. Leap into Learning. Chicago’s LEAP Innovations released the Leap Innovation Framework in both interactive and downloadable pdf versions. The tool identifies three core components of personalized learning: learner-focused, learner-demonstrated and learner-led. LEAP will also conduct Personalized Learning Surveys with teachers and students twice a year about these topics.

Movers, Shakers & Groundbreakers

10. Bright Spot. EdTech company BrightBytes announced the appointment of Traci Burgess as its Chief Executive Officer. A former classroom math teacher, Burgess has previously held positions as CEO at Think Through Math, VP of Sales and Marketing at Catapult Learning and VP of Sales at Blackboard.

Bonus Item

SAVE THE DATE: On June 21, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. ET, the Congressional Maker Caucus and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are holding the second annual Capitol Hill Maker Faire. Please share via social media using #CapMakerFaire, tagging @makercaucus and @us_imls.

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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