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Articles: Virtual

The percentage of Arkansas high school graduates who have taken an AP exam is nearly 50 percent. (Gettyimages.com: baona).

Requiring high schools to offer at least one AP course would help increase rural student access to rigorous pre-college work, according to a recent report.

Educators can find cost-effective solutions in new technologies such as open-educational resources and by partnering with the business community.

Imagine being able to reach out, touch and manipulate an object you’ve designed – before the object exists physically in the real world. That’s the premise and promise of virtual reality, and it’s something a company called zSpace offers classrooms around the country.

With zSpace, students and teachers can “lift” digital objects—such as a human skeleton—from the screen and manipulate them in three dimensions, but without any messy, real-world consequences.

In four Utica Community elementary schools in metro Detroit, students as young as 10 manipulate and pull apart the organs of the body, build roller coasters, and design and test 3D prototypes.

With personalized learning on the rise, more K12 educators are looking for learning management systems that easily identify content based on individual student needs.

PINT-SIZE COMPUTERS—First-graders, above, at Elizabeth Forward School District start learning how to think like a computer.

A large gap between the number of computer science graduates and available jobs has led an increasing number of districts to boost instruction in computational thinking.

When Teasley Middle School in Cherokee County, Georgia, opened for the 2013-14 school year, teachers and administrators were looking for an opportunity to help students in grades 6 through 8 better understand STEM learning content. 

Teasley is a Title I school with more than half of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. It also has the highest percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities among middle schools in Cherokee County School District, which has 41,800 students and is 40 minutes north of Atlanta.

School districts are focusing more attention on manufacturing as the need for middle-skill jobs increases.

Hattiesburg School District designs technology training to empower teachers to take charge of their own professional development by letting them decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn it and how. 

WIDER WORLDVIEWS—At Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies in Washington, students Skype with their partner class in Brazil as part of UNESCO International’s Youth Virtual Town Hall on Global Citizenship. They worked on projects focused on sustainability, human rights and other topics.

In rural eastern Kentucky, teacher Jill Armstrong connects her high school students not just with towering historical figures, but also with real-live teens from schools on the other side of the world.

Interest in virtual reality is becoming an increasing reality in public schools as ed-tech companies offer more cost-effective devices.

As we face a new year with a new president, Newsletter Editor Ariana Fine looked back on 2016 to consider the biggest and most influential stories in K12 education. 

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Exciting students about learning is the No. 1 reason schools are experimenting with virtual reality.

It's a rapidly advancing technology the most district expect to use in the near future. 

Other benefits educators have cited?

It reduces the costs of field trips and encourages creativity. 

See the infographic at right—and this related story—for more details.  

Using tablets, apps and YouTube videos, students at a Minnesota elementary school have added new virtual elements to paintings and other artwork, so their masterpieces include videos that not only get them engaged, but also help them better understand ideas behind the art itself.

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.

Saving time in Biloxi: Technology director Mike Jennings works on a computer while John Farris, network supervisor, looks on. Biloxi Public Schools’ students use thin clients that speed up downloads and ease testing prep compared to traditional computers.

The concept of “going virtual” has been gaining traction in the IT world for years. Today, school CIOs who have taken the next step—the virtualization of desktop computers—see a new range of benefits, including increased flexibility for users, cost savings, stronger security, and more frequent updates of hardware and software.

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