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Articles: Technology

 Cindy Elsberry is the former superintendent of Horry County Schools in South Carolina. The diverse, high-poverty district won national acclaim for its digital transformation under her leadership and was rated as one of the state’s highest-performing districts.

As one of today’s most promising models for instruction, blended learning is growing rapidly across the country. But what really is blended learning, and how can educators use it to improve student outcomes?

Click to enlarge: Facebook is the most popular platform among teachers while school and district administrators prefer Twitter. (Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)

Deeper family engagement and PD are among the top priorities for educators, according to the second annual Educator Confidence Report from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Fifty-eight percent of the more than 1,000 educators surveyed desire more parent and family engagement while 84 percent spend their own money on professional learning opportunities.

The Lafayette Parish School System was granted E-Rate funds to fully upgrade the district and to provide 1-to-1 devices to students by 2020.

E-Rate funds kept at least one district connected to the internet through testing—and opened the door for a 1-to-1 initiative rolling out this fall.

The Lafayette Parish School System in Louisiana used to restrict internet access, only granting certain streaming websites to teachers by request. For example, music teachers would be the only ones with access to streaming music—locking out others in the district. And during state testing, schools would disable streaming to ensure exams were not affected.

Measuring movement: The Polar GoFit Ecosystem includes a wristband or chest-based heart rate monitor and fitness assessment software to measure a student’s physical intensity and exertion.

Digitizing education content and learning processes has changed the way students learn and interact during classroom sessions, according to Technavio’s report, “Classroom Wearables Technology Market in the U.S. 2016-2020.”

So classrooms emphasize collaborative learning and visual learning, says Technavio analyst Jhansi Mary J.

Using wearable technology will significantly increase student engagement levels and improve content absorption abilities, says Jhansi Mary J.

A middle school student at Tustin USD in California uses an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The devices have been used in a pilot project at an elementary school and tested at a high school.

As smartwatches, wristbands, headsets and other wearable products become more sophisticated, expect to see classroom networks of these “ultramobile” devices interacting with each other and enabling students and teachers to share digital information as never before.

Teacher and employee engagement has been found to be a crucial component in the success of a school district, by positively impacting student achievement, improving employee retention and reducing turnover. But recent surveys have found that a large percentage of teachers report that they are not emotionally connected with their workplaces, and they were the least likely of all professionals surveyed to say that they felt their opinions mattered or to describe their workplace as an open and trusting environment.
How can district leaders address this common challenge?

Students can step inside an astronaut’s’ boots to experience life and research onboard the international space station with online science courses offered by the Virtual High School, which supplements public school instruction.

Although traditional projectors remain popular, many school districts now opt for ultra short-throw, interactive devicesall-in-one solutions that replace the costs and technological support once needed for whiteboards, flat screen monitors and other display technologies.

Ultra short-throw projectors—which can be mounted above a blank surface or a whiteboard—provide bright, shadowless images and can be connected to any number of display sources, including laptops and tablets.

Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, leverages the what, how and why stages of learning. (Gettyimages.com: sergey7777)

A new teaching model that’s gaining traction in classrooms bases instruction on how different areas of the brain function. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) consists of three primary principles to leverage the what, how and why stages of learning.

Many districts teach formal keyboarding instruction as early as second grade—a shift that requires new approaches to a skill that was once taught only in high school. Today's software feature gamification, captivating graphics and extensive reporting components.

Teachers at Morris School District in Illinois can call students to the SMART Notebook interactive display. Above, third-graders work on a problem in their accelerated math class.

Advances in interactive display technology expand the ability for teachers and students to collaborate in the classroom as evermore powerful mobile devices are used to share content.

"Meaningful Making" offers project ideas and assessment strategies for educators interested in the maker movement.

Recommended books offer ideas for makerspace activities, insight into online teaching, a behind-the-scenes look at reform and philanthropy, and methods for teaching steam in elementary school.

Schools nationwide are under pressure from new state standards to increase students’ writing proficiency. Here's a look at some of the strategies and tools innovative districts have deployed.

At Napa Valley USD in northern California, classroom technology integration has been a priority since 1997, when the district opened the country’s first New Technology High School. So bringing in digital books in order to provide easily accessible content to the 18,000 students and faculty in 34 schools was a natural—and important—step.

More relevant library: Students from Vista USD in southern California work on a project in their school makerspace.

Future Ready Librarians expands concepts of literacy—from books to tech to STEM. The initiative also drives the nationwide transformation of libraries, as librarians take the lead in creating makerspaces in their districts.

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