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Articles: Classroom Integration

In the middle school STEM lab at New Canaan Public Schools in Connecticut, students frequently choose to learn with flight simulators rather than 3D printers, video games and other technological options.

“It’s definitely our most popular tool,” says Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan’s middle school STEM teacher. “Not only do the flight simulations expose our students to aviation, they’re so exciting and fun that our students often don’t realize how much they’re learning from them.”

The percent of school IT leaders who say they are using different cloud services has increased in the past year, according to CoSN’s 2015 “K-12 IT Leadership Survey.”

A large majority of district technology leaders report moving some crucial IT services to the cloud this year, according to a March report from the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN).

More than 65 percent of IT leaders say their district now uses productivity tools such as Google Apps for Education that run through the cloud—a rapid increase over last year, when only 10 percent reported using these services, the 2015 “K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report” found.

Landlines are out and internet-based phones are in for many schools this year, as the modernized E-rate program begins scaling back funds for traditional phone service.

Discount rates for long-distance calling, cell phones and other services will drop by 20 percent every year starting this year, as determined in the July 2014 E-rate Modernization Order adopted by the FCC. E-rate funds for email, web hosting, paging and phone directory assistance were completely eliminated this year.

Nine out of 10 students recognize the importance of developing technology skills early to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce, according to new research published by CompTIA, an information technology industry association.

The September 2014 survey of 1,000 middle school students further found that most rate their tech skills as average or above. In the study—“The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology”—students also said they wanted more instruction in the following:

In the Bonneville Joint School District in Idaho Falls, Idaho, a Summit Hills Elementary School student, right, takes a speech/language therapy class with therapist Claire Plowgian, above.

More districts now deliver speech and occupational therapy online. It’s a solution for staffing shortages, especially in less populated areas, when therapists can provide therapy, participate in IEP meetings and handle other tasks remotely.

Allan F. Daily High School students in Glendale USD take part in a total computer rebuild, used as a student-led training session. A student demonstrates with his classmates how to replace the CPU chip.

Students trained in IT support are providing teachers with Johnny-on-the-spot resources and bolstering the responsiveness of districts’ lean tech staffs. The eager students provide districts with an inexpensive and much-needed tech resource; and the students gain experience, new skills, and confidence.

Authors Darryl Vidal and Michael Casey provide administrators with a structured methodology for developing an educational technology vision that benefits all stakeholders.

Vision: The First Critical Step in Developing a Strategy for Educational Technology

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Authors Darryl Vidal and Michael Casey provide administrators with a structured methodology for developing an educational technology vision that benefits all stakeholders and supports school and district strategic plans.

R.J. Gravel (@rjgravel) is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.

As more school leaders adopt cloud-based technology to support educator and student achievement, the need for efficient processes to run student and teacher accounts increases.

In the past, printed instructional materials would be received, sorted, labeled and distributed to classrooms. Materials traveled from the office to the teacher, then from the educator to the student. But for cloud-based materials, the distribution process looks quite different.

School districts will make their biggest tech investments in tablets and WiFi in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Computing devices embedded in jewelry and glasses. Microchips tattooed into skin and sewn into clothing. In one form or another, devices that gather data without any help from the user will slowly infiltrate districts in 2015. In fact, the number of people with a wearable computing device will more than triple this year.

Authors Michael Horn and Heather Staker say culture is crucial to innovation in schools.

Blended learning is poised to transform education as we know it. We know the what and the why, but it’s not often we learn how. In their book, Blended, Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, Michael Horn and Heather Staker lay out the components of successful blended learning programs, and challenge readers to create a culture that can make these innovations succeed.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Students in all grade levels have been using robotics in the classroom at Fayette County Schools in Kentucky.

Many districts are charging up their K12 STEM courses with the use of robotics. The clear benefits of robotics are increased student engagement and collaboration—but there’s more.

The FCC recommends schools have internet access of  at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users in the short term. The FCC will provide $1 billion per year for  Wi-Fi connections in 2015 and 2016.

High-speed broadband is in and phones are out, according to the recent FCC order to update the federal E-rate program. Administrators will have new funds to expand district Wi-Fi capacity, but will need to make up for lost phone and email subsidies.

Amanda Jelen is a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Redeemer School in Marshall, Minn.

Holy Redeemer School, a Catholic K8 school in Minnesota, is focused on delivering an educational environment that differentiates the learning experience for each child’s specific needs.

Part of that initiative involves giving every student, including those in kindergarten, a tablet to engage them in their education. We had heard stories of failed tablet implementations in other schools, and were determined to avoid similar mistakes in our own rollout.

The standard whiteboard is evolving to keep up with advancements in learning technology. With today’s newer models, several students and teachers can work together on the same surface at the same time. Corresponding mobile apps also allow students to collaborate on their BOYD or 1-to-1 devices.