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Articles: Technology

When a story goes viral, district leaders should Speak to the community as soon as possible.

At one point or another, school districts find themselves in the glare of a harsh media spotlight. Sometimes a well-intentioned decision backfires. In other cases, an employee’s inappropriate or illegal behavior sparks outrage. Within days, or even hours, the news goes viral and the whole world seems to know.

A student reads a book through the Booktrack website, while hearing music, ambient noise and sound effects that match the action of the story.

A platform that pairs e-books with movie-style soundtracks is gaining attention in the K12 realm for boosting reading engagement and comprehension. But some researchers remain skeptical of its claim of increasing achievement without additional instruction.

Students in algebra class at Free State High School at Lawrence schools take part in blended learning lessons.

Blended and online learning platforms are changing K12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction.

The constantly expanding world of mobile education means apps have become the tech of choice for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Administrators must now wade through hundreds of Common Core-aligned apps to determine which will get the best results.

Teacher Lora Sprigings’ (center) AP geography classes are part of the gradual adoption of e-textbooks by Community Unit School District 300 in the Chicago suburbs.
Collier County Schools in Florida saw science scores increase after adopting Discovery Education’s K8 Science Techbook.
Interactivity is a key feature of the latest digital platforms, including Collections,” an ELA textbook by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Discovery Education, with products like its digital Math techbook, is a newcomer to the textbook market.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Rural schools that don’t have the ability to build or maintain a wireless network may have another option that gives students internet access in class and at home: LTE networks.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a wireless technology that offers fast data download and upload speeds for cell phones and tablets. While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, former educators, are considered pioneers in the flipped-class movement. They are co-authors of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.

We believe that, at most schools, there is time built into the schedule that can be used to help teachers flip their classes. Many schools have professional learning communities and time is set aside for groups of teachers to collaborate, to work on district initiatives and be agents of change in the schools.

The main goal of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative is to shift funding from outdated technology to build broadband and Wi-Fi networks to give all schools high-speed internet access.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

Students at Mount Hebron Middle School in Montclair, N.J., learned basic programming to make their Finch robots dance, draw, wrestle, race and play soccer. The Finch is the white device with the glowing nose.
Clay County schools students participate in a Lego robotics competition. A series of U.S. Department of Defense grants allowed the northern Florida district to establish an extensive robotics program that runs from elementary through high school.
RobotsLab's quadcopter can give students a real-life demonstration of a quadratic equation.
VEX Robotics is another kit students use for robotics competitions.
Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center's use robotic arms from Yaskawa Motoman to learn about advanced assembly lines.
Students use Pitsco’s Tetrix system to build and program robots for competition.

The new breed of robots rolling, dancing and flying into classrooms is giving educators at all grade levels an engaging new tool to fire students’ enthusiasm for math, computer programming and other STEM-related subjects.

Students use their own mobile devices to work out math problems in an economics and personal finance class at Marshall High School in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  (Photo: Donnie Biggs)

Districts that have implemented BYOD successfully have found building a powerful Wi-Fi network, developing explicit acceptable use policies, and communicating those policies clearly to students, parents and teachers are critical steps in the technology transition.

Mary Reiman is director of library media services for Lincoln Public Schools

Public education is embarking on a digital transformation. We are shifting from consumption-based learning to creation-based learning. These are moves in the right direction, but they require us to provide our students with access to the tools and devices needed to connect them to all the available resources.

Students use ed-tech startup Edmodo to communicate with teachers and classmates through a closed social network.

Education technology-focused startups are experiencing their biggest boom ever, with 99 new companies raising over $500 million in the first quarter of 2014. This is up from just 20 companies that raised $64 million in 2009, according to startup activity database CrunchBase.

Creating educational materials has taken on a whole new meaning as more schools are bringing 3D printers into classrooms. Science, technology, art and engineering classes are using this new technology to build their own lab tools and to bring sculptures to life, among other projects.

Despite this innovation, districts still need traditional paper printers for everyday memos, marketing materials and letters.

High schools in Connecticut and Texas have blocked a new social media app from school Wi-Fi servers after several reports of cyberbullying.

As all educators know, reading is the key to lifelong learning, but it can be a challenge outside the classroom, with competition from TV, video games, and other distractions. That’s one reason United Way-Sun Coast has partnered with myON for the “Read on myON” project since 2012.