In a recent edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, and Donna Burns, Technology Integrator, both from New Canaan High School in Connecticut, showcased the transformation of the NCHS library from a collection of used reference and biography books into a living, breathing makerspace. Using mostly recyclable materials, equipment and furniture, these educators are providing learning opportunities for students and teachers that have changed the school climate and culture. “Making learning more real for students allows them to learn better in a much more energized school,” said Luhtala.
Tactical student data privacy questions like “What can I do right now?” should be asked by all CIO’s, teachers, administrators and policymakers in this changing landscape of data access, student privacy and interoperability. In a recent edWebinar, Dr. Larry Fruth, Executive Director and CEO of the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, and Jena Draper, Founder and General Manager at CatchOn, discussed head on the challenges school districts face with data access and student privacy. Dr. Fruth suggests that school districts hit the ground running by adding privacy components and security before it becomes a “what should I do right now?” situation. Draper adds to this suggestion by asserting that school districts need to look at data access from all angles, from the outer layer of the infrastructure to the rogue apps used in classrooms, to create a sound data access and student data privacy plans.
At this stage of the edtech revolution, most educators are focused on using tech to enhance lessons rather than on the tech itself. But many times tech is only integrated at specific points in the classroom or with a specific tool as determined by the teacher. At St. Albans City School (VT), SETDA’s 2018 Student Voices Award Winner, though, educators encourage the students to find places in their everyday work to incorporate digital resources, especially from their makerspace. In the edWebinar “Students Leverage Technology Tools and Makerspaces to Personalize Learning,” Grace Borst, Innovation Specialist at St. Albans City School, and several of her students explained how they’re using technology for assessment, service work, and more.
Step 1: Make a plan. That’s the first piece of advice for every superintendent and school leader who asks about creating 1:1 environments in their schools. During an edWebinar for the Empowered Superintendent series, “Leadership for Mobile Learning: Creating a Shared Vision,” the presenters said school leaders, though, often miss key parts of the planning process and end up with useless “hunks of plastic.” The speakers, led by Ann McMullan, Project Director for the CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program, shared their essential elements for a successful 1:1 plan as well as the steps they wish they could redo.
At the beginning of the edtech wave, superintendents saw many benefits from using digital resources in the classroom. But, they also saw a large number of resources being recommitted to just this one aspect of education: space for server farms, money for hardware and software upgrades, overworked personnel, etc. District IT offices were taking on the same tasks as Fortune 500 companies without the ability to implement them as effectively. For administrators looking to take the focus of edtech away from upkeep and back to learning, moving to the cloud could be the answer. Presenters of the edWebinar, “Cloud Computing: Taking Advantage of the Latest Technologies,” which is part of the Empowered Superintendents edWebinar series, shared their reasons for switching to the cloud, how it has helped their schools, and their advice when making the transition.
When the administrators at Vestavia Hills High School (AL) were tasked with creating a leadership program, they knew one thing right away. They did not want to develop another program that tapped only the top students and did nothing to engage the rest of the student body. The resulting Youth Leadership program has not only had a positive impact on the school’s culture, but also provided the school’s administrators with several important lessons. In their edWebinar, “Build a Positive School Culture with a Student-Run App,” Kym Prewitt, Leadership Teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, and Whit McGhee, Director of Public Relations at Vestavia Hills City Schools, shared what they learned and how the kids continue to surprise them.
edWeb.net, an award-winning professional learning network, today joined forces with Pearson on its professional learning community, Assessment for Learning. Hosted on edWeb, the site will provide an online forum where educators can learn from top experts to improve assessment practices, explore new tools, and personalize teaching for every child.
Education research is meant to improve teaching and learning. Since the actual ideas for research are often driven by the interests of the funding sources, though, there’s a potential disconnect between what research schools need versus what they’re getting. When presenting Digital Promise’s new Challenge Map, which explores issues, ideas, and resources for K-12 challenges, Babe Liberman, M.Ed., Research Project Manager for Digital Promise, said the current pipeline means schools are passively waiting for the right research and opportunities to come their way. In the edWebinar “Shaping the Future of Education Research: Digital Promise’s Challenge Map,” Liberman explained the purpose of the Map, how it was created, and how schools can develop their own.
edWeb.net is excited to announce that VIPKid will be sponsoring Helping ELL/ESL Students Succeed, a professional learning community on edWeb that focuses on supporting ELL/ESL students to improve their academic achievement and English language learning.
“Every individual should be able to access things that they like,” said Monica Fisher, M.Ed., BCBA/COBA, Director of the Behavior Department at Monarch Center for Autism during an edWebinar. “It is our right to engage in preferred activities, spend time with family, and connect with the community. If there are behaviors that you are seeing in your students with disabilities and challenging behaviors that are limiting these rights, then it is something we need to fix as it can have a long-term impact on their quality of life.” Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a technological and professional systematic approach, is designed to analyze and change behavior by identifying a behavioral problem, gathering relevant data, and formulating/testing a hypothesis. Fisher said that while ABA is a useful tool for looking at and changing the challenging behaviors of students with autism, it can apply to different parts of everyone’s lives. “ABA is how we have all learned and how our lives are shaped by behavior.”