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Articles: Technology

Since the launch of the Apple iPad, educators have touted the tool’s ability to engage special education students with autism spectrum disorder through unique, customizable applications and stimulating touchscreen technology. Many still feel, however, that although touchscreen tablets work well as personalized tools, they cannot be a replacement for interactive whiteboards, which help autistic students with social learning in a group setting.

Whiteboards began making headway in the K12 arena in 2006, and their presence in classrooms has increased exponentially ever since.

The New Tech Network, which began in 1996 as a nonprofit school improvement organization, made a splash at the Educon conference in Philadelphia earlier this year, explaining how it reformed 86 schools in 16 states. And the difference with the model is that communities, not schools, fund them. Through fundraisers, donations and other contributions, the community “invests” in the change that happens.

Warning: All school districts that use two-way radios will have less than one year to comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s narrowbanding mandate, or risk losing all communication capabilities. Narrowbanding is part of a continued effort by the FCC to ensure efficient use of the spectrum and greater access for public safety and non-public safety users. Narrowbanding, which operates at 12.5 kHz, will allow additional channels to exist in the same spectrum and support more users.

Persistent tardiness is rampant in Boston Public Schools as a result of miscalculated bus routes, according to the Boston School Bus Drivers Union. According to a grievance filed against school bus provider First Student, Inc. by the union obtained by the Boston Globe, the drivers felt a new GPS computer software system installed failed to account for the heavy traffic in the city and generated routes that are poorly timed.

We asked District Administration Advisory Panel members “how can district technology leaders create a well-balanced team, and who should be included?” Here’s what some some members had to say:

The Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District dream team solves problems. Clockwise from top left: Robert Lane, Robert Rhyne, Frank Mukina, Scott Smith, Jeff Martin, Kim Cline and Michael Hiskey.

At almost every turn over the past decade—from innovative instructional technologies to advanced database management—administrators and teachers have discovered a brave new world in education. But a host of experts in educational technology say that for all the progress in districts so far, that world is becoming markedly braver and newer—and in a hurry.

First-ever national Digital Learning Day on Feb. 1 attracted participation from 39 states, 15,000 teachers and 1.7 million students . – Alliance for Excellent Education (2012)

There are plenty of lessons in predictive analysis models, according to a 2011 white paper, “Worst Practices in Predictive Analysis,” by Information Builders, a company that focuses on enterprise business intelligence and Web reporting software solutions. Here is how to avoid them:

Determine the ROI. When planning to implement predictive analysis, consider the total cost and the anticipated return to ensure the maximum value is achieved.

Predicting the future is now in the hands of K12 administrators. While for years districts have collected thousands of pieces of student data, educators have been using them only for data-driven decision-making or formative assessments, which give a “rear-view” perspective only.

Let’s be honest. Flipping the classroom and using clickers and other new products can only have a modest impact on student achievement. Why? Because the underlying pedagogy of such innovations is still direct instruction, with a teacher telling students stuff and then students working to remember that stuff.

We at DA keep our ears to the ground and our noses to the grindstone always looking for new stuff to keep you, our readers, well informed. Much of what we’re hearing these days points toward the growing use of predictive analysis—looking at student data and seeing where kids are going, rather than looking at where they’ve been, as is used with data-driven decision making. Sophisticated modeling software is beginning to move from the corporate world and higher education admissions to K12, and the potential is huge.

Many districts have blocked YouTube because it either served as a distraction or raised concerns over appropriate use. Its new portal, however, offers solutions to teachers.

The Web 2.0 video site launched YouTube for Schools on Dec. 12, which allows schools to sign up for the site’s education channel, YouTube EDU, which previously only hosted videos from colleges and university professors. By joining this site, schools automatically disable certain often distracting features, such as posting comments.

onslow county schools project tomorrow mobile learning

In 2007, Onslow County (N.C.) Public Schools agreed to work with Digital Millennial Consulting (DMC), a private consulting firm offering education technology solutions to schools and state agencies, in pioneering Project K-Nect, a mobile learning initiative aimed to increase math proficiency. The program, funded in part through Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative, provided high school students in this rural district with smartphones equipped with DMC monitoring software that tracked their usage of the devices and provided a safe network through which they could collaborate.

Since the launch of the Iphone 4s in Oct. 2011, siri, a voice-activated response system, has been considered all the rage. Voice activation may take a back seat, however, as new technology that uses one’s eyes to activate the screen, scroll through Web pages and play games makes its debut.

Four doctorate students at the IT University of Copenhagen presented their new software last June at Startup Weekend, an intensive boot camp for entrepreneurs. They have since won four technology awards and founded Senseye, a technology startup company based in Copenhagen.

Netbooks Replace Smartphones
Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Central School District

Back in December 2009, Watkins Glen Central School District in Garnerville, N.Y., gave smartphones to 200 fifth- and seventh-graders and 20 teachers in three schools. Two years later, this small pilot program has transitioned away from mobile phones to a one-to-one netbook program for all 850 pupils in grades 5-12. According to Superintendent Tom Philips, the HP Pavilion netbook is more educationally appropriate for Watkins Glen than tablets or mobile phones.