Monday, June 25, 2012

Recent Tech News

Online resources for creating video lectures and lessons
Thanks to the easy availability of free digital media, today's educators can use several online tools to make their course lectures and lessons accessible to students both in and out of the classroom. The TED-ed website features customizable education videos, while the online Khan Academy offers thousands of instructional videos on a wide variety of subjects. The Flipped Learning Network provides information and resources to teachers interested in using video lectures in the flipped learning model. The New York Times

More students enroll in online education programs
In California and elsewhere, a growing number of students are taking at least some courses online before college. However, the growth comes as data on the effectiveness of such programs is still being compiled. "When I compare myself to brick-and-mortar-school friends, we had a lot more assignments to turn in," said recent graduate Angelica Pronto. "You have to prove you're going to class every day. ... But, overall, it prepares us for the same test." San Jose Mercury News

What is holding schools back from going digital?
A recent report identifies six obstacles to schools' integration of technology. Among them are the lack of training in digital media literacy instruction available for teachers and the need for an effective way to blend formal and informal learning. Other obstacles, revealed in the "NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition," is rigidity in the education system and the lack of resources to support the current demand for personalized learning. blog

Gates Foundation launches new tech-focused grant program
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced two new education grant programs this week that invest in digital learning. One $1.2 million grant program, the Next Generation Learning Challenges, will provide funding to secondary schools that offer cost-effective personalized learning for students that is based on a blended-learning model. About $9 million will be invested in post-secondary education, through the foundation. Forbes 

Students with autism benefit from social media
Educators and experts increasingly are touting the benefits of social media in helping students with autism. They say the technology, such as YouTube, helps such youth gain confidence and relay their stories to a digital audience. While researchers say they are unsure why social media has been found to change the behavior of students with autism, one theory is that technology triggers a motivation in students with autism in a way that human interaction does not. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Nonprofit aims to improve access to iPads for students with autism
A new nonprofit group is working with school districts to provide access to iPad tablet computers to students with autism spectrum disorders. The group -- Reach for the APPs -- has set up a website and is seeking donations of devices or funds to further their cause. Mashable 

Freezer malfunction could mean setback for autism research
Some scientists say autism research could be set back by a decade after a freezer failure at a research facility damaged about one-third of the world's autism brain samples. "This was a priceless collection," said Dr. Francine Benes, director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, where the 150 brains were housed. "You can't express its value in dollar amounts." The Boston Globe

How should school districts use social media?
School districts nationwide are using social media, but not in a way that allows them to communicate with the community, some experts say. It's recommended that districts create social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere to relay positive news stories, showcase district programs and engage the community. "Districts should be using technology for communications much like they want schools to be using technology for instruction -- as a seamless part of their approach to doing business," said Ann Flynn of the National School Boards Association. T.H.E. Journal 

Schools learn lessons from iPad roll-out
Several lessons were learned during a yearlong program in which some Michigan students used school-issued iPads in the classroom. Among these lessons are that iPads are fragile, with between 15% and 25% requiring repairs during the school year. Some students also said they did not feel challenged by the curriculum, and several educators said the tablet computers were distracting in some cases. One educator said the district intends to educate students more about how to appropriately use the devices during the next school year.

How principals can facilitate tech integration in their schools
A recent national survey of school principals identified seven attributes that principals believe are necessary for school leaders who want to be effective technology leaders. This article discusses the attributes and provides examples from principals who have successfully implemented educational technology in their schools. Also included in the article are 10 tech-integration tips from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. T.H.E. Journal

Union launches website where teachers can share materials
The American Federation of Teachers is preparing to launch a website for teachers to collaborate and share teaching materials online, through a partnership with TSL Education. On the site -- to be named -- teachers can upload materials and resources, such as PowerPoint presentations, worksheets and lesson plans. The materials then will be rated by fellow users. The New York Times

State censorship of Internet on rise, Google says
Governments across the world, including democracies such as Spain and Canada, are increasingly petitioning Google to remove links content that is critical of public figures and the nations themselves. "It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect -- Western democracies not typically associated with censorship," Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, wrote in a blog post. The Guardian (London) 

Schools slowly write off cursive instruction
Schools in New Jersey and elsewhere are decreasing the amount of time spent teaching students to write in cursive. The trend is driven by the national Common Core State Standards, which does not require penmanship instruction, and by technology, which some say has decreased the need for students to learn cursive. "I don't think it's going to disappear soon or quickly, but I do see emphasis on writing by hand is less than it was 10 years ago, and 10 years from now it will be less," said Arizona State University professor Steve Graham, who has studied the issue. New Jersey Online/The Star-Ledger 

More pros than cons during school's iPad trial
A school in Maryland plans to provide iPads for all middle-school students following the success of a yearlong trial. The curriculum remained the same, but the school replaced most traditional textbooks with digital textbooks while using the tablet computers. A year-end survey completed by families found that most favored the iPad program. However, some parents complained that students became distracted by the devices and it was difficult to monitor the information they accessed. The Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.)

New Zealand school uses iPads, iPods to engage students
All Year 7 and Year 8 students at a school in New Zealand are using iPods in the classroom, and the school also has a pool of iPads available to all students. Officials said students are using the application Puppet Pals to create animated movies, and Lifecards to make post cards and newspaper articles. Educators recently told parents the technology is helping to engage students in lessons, and explained that they are working to ensure students are using the devices appropriately. Stuff (New Zealand)

Smartphone applications seek to curb student bullying
Several new smartphone applications are intended to help stop school bullying, including Stop Bullies that allows students to report incidents of bullying anonymously by sending photos, messages and other information to school administrators. Another app, Back Off Bully (BOB), was created by students and offers similar features, along with resources on bullying and a function that allows students to schedule counseling appointments. Mashable 

The Tennessee School Board Association has launched its official mobile application, iTSBA, which is now available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The app is free and also available to the public. Board members can now access the latest on education trends, legislative updates, events and meeting materials, something the TSBA believes is even more important now because of the state’s transition with Race to the Top, common core state standards and assessments and new teacher evaluations. Tennessean


Anonymous said...

The problem with technology is that it is a financial black hole where software, hardware and training become obsolete in just two or three years. I don't want to sound like a technophob but seems like there are a lot of vendors trying to selling silver bullet technology devises and programs for challenges and problems which technology itself has created. My school spends the equivalent on technology that it would cost to fund two or three teachers. Many just use them as glorified word processors, others as gimicky curriculum/assessment based games and others simply don't use them much at all. How can I justify spending thousands of dollars on a resource which get limited use and seems to become outdated in about three years? It can't be to teach kids technolgy skills because most of them know more about that than the teachers who are suppose to be integrating it into their instruction.

Anonymous said...

Does it bother anyone else that we are training students and parents to circumvent simply talking to other humans face to face about their concerns or questions? I can't help thinking that we are justifying convenience of access with ligitimate communication skills with educators.

I doubt (hopefully) that we will see an app for calling the police or fire department for assistance in an emergency, so why are we comfortable with doing that with our children's education and safety?