Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality—can immersive technology really benefit students and their learning, or are these just tech fads? In their recent edWebinar, Jaime Donally, Author, Speaker, and Edtech Consultant, and Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, explained that although these technologies aren’t the answer to everything, they are transforming learning and will continue to do so going forward. In addition, while the thought of using these tools can be exciting, schools need to first plan for successful integration into the classroom and curriculum.
It’s an often-told story: the new principal comes to a school, opens the supply closet, and sees tons of notepads (or pencils or toner). When she looks at the supply order and asks why even more are being purchased despite the surplus, the reply is, “it’s the same order we make every year.” Unfortunately, that philosophy typically applies to school schedules as well. At the end of the school year, the previous master schedule is duplicated, teacher rosters are updated as needed, and no other changes are made regardless of changes in the student population. In addition to this practice being lazy, the presenters of the edWebinar, “Using Student-Centered Scheduling to Address Equity” said copying the same schedule year after year can lead to further segregating students and keeping low-performing ones from reaching their potential. While reworking the master schedule may not be the most exciting part of the principal’s job, presenters Karin Chenoweth, Author of Schools that Succeed; Sergio Garcia, Principal, Artesia High School (CA); and Chris Fitzgerald Walsh, Head of Impact, Abl, say making sure instructional time isn’t wasted is the administrator’s most important job.
Tech4TeacherEd is a new edWeb.net community for pre-service teachers, college of education faculty, and inservice educators to share resources and ideas for integrating digital tools into the classroom. The goal of Tech4TeacherEd is to provide a free professional learning community where undergraduate and graduate pre-service candidates can discover information about integrating technology into teaching and learning, a wide range of resources for educators, and the ISTE Standards for Students, Educators, Education Leaders and Tech Coaches. The community hosts edWebinars presented by teacher ed candidates, giving them an unprecedented opportunity to share their learning and perspectives on the issues impacting education with the global education community. It helps them engage as a professional in lifelong learning right from the start in their pre-service years.
When Congress passed FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) in 1974, school and district leaders could rely on once-a-year training and reviews to make sure they remained in compliance. Now, when educators could potentially add a new app with a few mouse clicks, managing student data privacy is a never-ending task. In the edWebinar “Student Data Privacy: A Priority and Essential Commitment,” presenters Dr. Charles Dumais, Superintendent and Executive Director, Cooperative Educational Services, Trumbull, CT; Dr. Quinn Kellis, Superintendent Dysart Unified School District, Surprise, AZ; and Linnette Attai, Project Director, CoSN Privacy Initiative and Trusted Learning Environment Program, explained CoSN’s Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning initiative and superintendents’ essential role in directing their districts’ efforts. Discussing CoSN’s Five Critical Guidelines for Ensuring Data Privacy in Your Use of Technology, the speakers told attendees that when it comes to data privacy, the word “done” isn’t in their vocabulary.
Mention edtech, and the first thought that usually comes to mind is collecting data to evaluate students’ progress. And during the recent webinar “Get Smart with EdTech: Track Usage on Every Device,” presenters Jeremy Bunkley, Director of Information Technology Services, School District of Clay County, FL, and Leo Brehm, Product Manager, CatchOn, acknowledged that one goal of edtech is to provide educators with data so that they can develop a more effective and personalized learning plan for each student. They also said, though, that with the silos of information that still exist in many schools and districts, one of the most important pieces of data to collect is to find out what edtech resources are actually being used in your classroom. By asking three key questions, leaders can get a better sense of their K-12 edtech ecosystem.
When an adult (parent, educator, guest) visits a preK classroom, they see all of the wonderful learning opportunities for the children. They see the reading nook in the far back corner, the rug for meeting and circle time near the display board, the shelves full of toys and manipulatives, and the tables and chairs that greet the children as they enter the room. The students see: the chair and table legs, possibly their cubby, and not much else. According to early childhood expert Dr. Sandra Duncan, when creating an inviting classroom environment for young children, educators need to look at it from the kids’ perspective. In her edWebinar “Through a Child’s Eyes: How Classroom Design Inspires Children’s Learning and Wonder,” Dr. Duncan explained how designing the space with a young child’s physical and emotional viewpoint in mind can ease anxiety about and create excitement for learning.
“If it’s edtech, it must be good,” used to be the mantra in schools. In fact, many school technology plans fluctuated depending upon the latest fads and what someone learned at a conference and had little connection to curriculum or learning goals. Now, recognizing the disconnect between school and district leaders, the realities of the technology infrastructure, and classroom needs, CoSN and AASA have created the Empowered Superintendent initiative, which is dedicated to helping superintendents, aspiring superintendents and district leadership teams build their knowledge, skills and confidence as technology leaders. During “The Empowered Superintendent: Leading Digital Transformation,” the first in a new edWebinar series, Dr. David Schuler, Superintendent, Township High School District 214 (IL), and Dr. Chris Gaines, Superintendent, Mehlville School District (MO), along with host Ann McMullan, Project Director, CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program, discussed the goals of the program. Overall, they implored listeners to move away from using “tech for tech’s sake” and to become intentional adopters of technology that enhances teaching and learning.
A strong understanding of digital citizenship is essential for students of all ages to be able to make smart choices online and in life. Meanwhile, technology is constantly changing and becomes outdated quickly, so there are always new and important skills that must be taught. The new, free K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Education has lessons for all ages to address the current technology landscape. Common Sense Education’s Kelly Mendoza, Senior Director of Education Programs, and Jamie Knowles, Senior Manager of Educator Learning Programs, reviewed the new curriculum in “Digital Citizenship: New Lessons for a Changing World.”
Children cannot grow out of dyslexia. Rather, the dyslexia will only have more severe consequences over time with lack of intervention. It is critical to keep an eye out for all possible red flags at every grade level to understand when intervention is needed. In their recent edWebinar, Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D., and Tracy Block-Zaretsky, Co-founders of the Dyslexia Training Institute, reviewed, grade level by grade level, the potential warning signs of dyslexia.
edWeb.net is delighted to announce a partnership with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) to support superintendents and school district leaders with an online community and series of edWebinars hosted on edWeb.net. CoSN collaborates with superintendents to increase their capacity to lead technology efforts and is dedicated to helping current and aspiring superintendents and district leaders build on their knowledge, skills, and confidence. Collaboration with peers is one of the most effective ways to learn about effective ideas and practices. edWeb is hosting an online community and engaging edWebinars to help superintendents connect and collaborate and get the maximum value from the CoSN Empowered Superintendents initiative.