Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: August 20, 2014

Prepared by June Weis
Find archives of Worthy of Note here. Sign up for our e-mailing lists there, too.


Google Classroom

Google Classroom opens its doors to all teachers today, August 14, 2014
As of now Google Classroom is available to all Google Apps for Education (GAFE) users. Classroom is a tool within the GAFE that allows teachers to set up different classes, set projects, assign homework to groups and grade them all within a single space. Classroom also records student grades and progress. It should be a worthwhile assessment tool once you have begun using it with your students for a couple of months. A couple of resources are provided for teachers to evaluate.
How To Integrate iPads With The New Google Classroom
Greg Kulowiec, Edudemic, August 11, 2014
With the recent announcement that Google Classroom will be available to all Google Apps for Education schools by the week of August 11th, schools that have also adopted iPads are interested in exploring the platform to determine if it will integrate into their existing deployment to provide a helpful and approachable workflow solution.
While there are currently a number of workflow solutions and Learning Management Systems that work well with iPads, Google Classroom will likely become a top contender for iPad classrooms because of the integration with both the Google Drive and Google Docs iPad apps as well as any number of iPad creativity apps. While there is not an iPad app for Google Classroom, the web interface works seamlessly and allows students to turn in any assignment or file that is in their Google Drive account as illustrated by the video below.


IT and Academics

Survey: IT and Academics Don’t Work Together Much
Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, August 4, 2014
Campus IT is a disjointed effort at most campuses. For example, in more than four out of five colleges and universities, IT professionals report that they do not regularly develop joint plans with academic departments for IT initiatives. Nearly six out of 10 don’t survey academic or research staff on IT needs; and more than six out of 10 lack a catalog of IT services. Perhaps that’s why 57% of end users view IT as the “fix it” folks and just 22% say IT is considered a “trusted ally.” Read more…



Schools continue to move away from iPads, August 8, 2014
The introduction of the iPad was a seminal event in the evolution of tablets, which were previously also referred to as slates. According to recent news articles on August 5, 2014 in The Atlantic and on August 6, 2014 on the website there is a recognizable shift underway for schools to reconsider the overall usefulness of the iPad as an educational device. While this might come as a surprise to some, it is not very surprising to many Instructional Technology professionals that foresaw the limitations of tablets related to the most basic learning needs of students. The news reports from the Atlantic and BGR are likely a portend of things to come.
How To Integrate iPads With The New Google Classroom
Greg Kulowiec, Edudemic, August 11, 2014
With the recent announcement that Google Classroom will be available to all Google Apps for Education schools by the week of August 11th, schools that have also adopted iPads are interested in exploring the platform to determine if it will integrate into their existing deployment to provide a helpful and approachable workflow solution.
While there are currently a number of workflow solutions and Learning Management Systems that work well with iPads, Google Classroom will likely become a top contender for iPad classrooms because of the integration with both the Google Drive and Google Docs iPad apps as well as any number of iPad creativity apps. While there is not an iPad app for Google Classroom, the web interface works seamlessly and allows students to turn in any assignment or file that is in their Google Drive account as illustrated by the video below.


Online Learning

New Study Asserts Online Education Can Revolutionize U.S. Workforce
Fort Mill Times, July 30, 2014
Online competency-based education has the potential to revolutionize the workforce and disrupt higher education. As traditional institutions remain fundamentally constrained in their response to evolving workforce demands, a new study predicts a growing need for brief, targeted, and affordable online competency-based models.
Teaching online across state lines
John Watson, Keeping Pace, August 7, 2014
We are thrilled to release the first in an expected series of reports that allow us to dig deeper into some of the issues presented in Keeping Pace each year. In earlier blog posts (here, here, and here) we discussed the policy brief we have been developing that explores the issues teachers face when trying to become licensed to teach in multiple states. Teaching Across State Lines, which proposes a policy solution that would allow licensed teachers to more easily teach in multiple states, while augmenting online teacher skills. Read more….
Virginia Joins Group Offering Online Courses Out-of-State
Education News, Kristin DeCarr, July 31, 2014
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently decided to make it easier for out-of-state students to take online courses. The officials voted to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Program (SARA), allowing schools within the state to more easily offer online programs by simplifying the authorization and payment process.
What 6.9 million clicks tell us about how to fix online education
Adam Conner-Simons, CSAIL, MIT News, July 28, 2014
This year edX, the online learning platform co-run by MIT and Harvard University, gave researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) data on the second-by-second viewing habits of more than 100,000 learners perusing more than 6.9 million video sessions.
In a paper published this spring, the CSAIL team outlined some key findings on what online learners want from videos. These include:
  • Brevity (viewers generally tune out after six minutes)
  • Informality, with professors seated at a desk, not standing behind a podium
  • Lively visuals rather than static PowerPoint slides
  • Fast talkers (professors seen as the most engaging spoke at 254 words per minute)
  • More pauses, so viewers can soak in complex diagrams
  • Web-friendly lessons (existing videos broken into shorter chunks are less effective than ones crafted for online audiences)
Virtual Schools Blend Real Experiences with Online Learning
Tanya Roscoria Center for Digital Education, August 14, 2014
Self-directed learning and learning by experience are where education needs to go, said Sarah Luchs, K-12 program officer for Next Generation Learning Challenges. This type of learning allows students to solve real-world problems and prepares them for life as they master competencies, which include explicit, measurable and transferable learning objectives, according to CompetencyWorks.

In the EDUHSD Virtual Academy, students have the flexibility to mix and match online courses with traditional face-to-face classes and internships in fields they’re interested in. They can also take classes at Folsom Lake College and other district high schools.


Flexible Blended Learning

EAA Pioneers Flexible Blended Learning Spaces
Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart, August 3, 2014
Five Detroit schools utilize flexible learning spaces to accelerate student learning. These innovative environments reconsider four components of teaching and learning:
  • Space & time: creative ways of using space, furniture, scheduling and location to promote student learning;
  • Staffing and roles: rethinking flexible ways to use staffing to personalize learning;
  • Grouping of students: different approaches to grouping students and providing individual work time to ensure growth; and
  • Resources: maximizing supports from the teachers, technology, and peers to promote deeper understanding.
The flexible learning space, called a hub, provide a student-centered environment where student responsibility grows from primary grades to high school.

Competency-Based Learning

Advancing Competency-Based Pathways to College and Career Readiness Series: The Imperative for State Leadership
Achieve, July 28, 2014
States across the nation are turning their aspirations for college and career readiness for all students into action. They are moving beyond policy and practice centered on a floor — aiming for students to attain minimal proficiency on basic academic standards — to a new focus on ensuring that all students develop the capacity to demonstrate mastery of content and skills toward and beyond college and career readiness.
Principles for Developing Competency-Based Education Programs
Sally Johnstone and Louis Soares, Change, March-April 2014
Successful models demonstrate that competency-based education (CBE) can fit into existing campus structures, if certain principles are followed:
  • The degree reflects robust and valid competencies.
  • Students are able to learn at a variable pace and are supported in their learning.
  • Effective learning resources are available any time and are reusable.
  • Assessments are secure and reliable.
Among these examples, CBE stands out in two ways. The first is that it reorients the educational process toward demonstrated mastery and the application of knowledge and skills in the real world. This reorientation builds a bridge between academics and employers, resulting in a better understanding of the knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed in work and in life.
The second is that, while it can be a tactic or a tool to improve teaching and student learning, CBE’s greatest strength is that it provides a means for helping quality and affordability co-exist in higher education.
This article describes work conducted by Western Governors University (WGU) over the last year, supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the US Department of Labor, to share its CBE model with eleven community colleges across the country.
Colleges: Federal sign up available for competency experiments
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, August 1, 2014
Competency-based experiments, once buried, get new life and could be huge opportunity for colleges and universities. From badges to skills pathways, more higher ed institutions are not only feeling the pressure to accept, but realizing the benefits of implementing, alternative credentials for a broad range of students. And in an initiative once slowly decaying, the Department of Education (DOE) is now offering volunteer institutions a chance to sign up for the Experimental Sites Initiative for some regulatory perks. The Experimental Sites Initiative was created by Congress through the DOE to help develop innovative and effective policies related to federal financial aid.
8 key considerations for competency-based education
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, July 25, 2014

How ready is your institution for competency-based education? Here are 8 questions to help get started.
Developing Competency-Based Program Models in Three Community Colleges
Ann E. Person, Lisbeth Goble, and Julie Bruch, Mathematica Policy Research, April 30, 2014
Under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants program, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration is funding an ambitious, multi-pronged effort encouraging community colleges and groups of institutions working as consortia to improve education, employment, and training outcomes for economically dislocated and low-skilled adult workers. This report provides the first analysis of program implementation by a consortium led by Sinclair Community College to create competency-based information technology programs in three community colleges. It documents at or near baseline, the program model that each of the participating colleges is implementing and may inform potential replication by describing how competency-based education models can be designed and launched in different institutional contexts. Download the publication.
As Congress Eyes ‘Competency-Based’ Degrees, NAU Already Claims Success
Julianne Logan, KTAR, Cronkite News, August 6, 2014
Northern Arizona University is one of only a handful of accredited schools nationwide to offer a “competency-based” option to students, a program that school officials said has seen “spectacular results” since its launch last summer.


Mobile Devices

How to drive engagement with mobile devices
Rony Zarom, eCampus News, August 11, 2014
The mobile classroom offers one of the best growth opportunities for educational institutions — as well as flexible, engaging learning environments for students. Today’s college student owns an average of seven mobile devices and spends nearly four hours a day using a smart phone, according to a Marketing Charts study.
How are Mobile Devices and Data Impacting Higher Ed? [Infographic]
Center for Digital Education, August 1, 2014
This infographic provides a glimpse into the impact mobile devices and other technologies are having on institutions’ IT infrastructures, and how you can get ahead of the game by investing in networking, storage and software foundations.


Digital Distractions

Digital Distraction: When Should We Pull The Plug On Classroom Devices?
Paul Barnwell, Center for Teaching Quality, August 2, 2014
Here’s the bottom line: Attention and digital distraction is perhaps the most overlooked instructional issue in today’s classrooms.
University of Nebraska professor Barney McCoy attempted to quantify digital distraction in his college courses in a 2013 study (link is external). According to his survey, nearly 86% said they were texting, 68% reported they were checking email, 66% said they were using social networks, 38% said they were surfing the Web and 8% said they were playing a game during any given day of classes. High-school students may not be using email often, but the numbers are certainly just as high — or higher — when it comes to non-instructional distractions.
In addition, students mistakenly believe they are effective at multitasking. Annie Murphy Paul’s article “You’ll never learn! Students can’t resist multitasking, and it’s impairing their memory,” (link is external) provides a solid primer on the research supporting the deleterious effects of media multitasking. She cites inefficient use of time, mental fatigue, impaired memory and more shallow information processing as some of the results of multitasking.


The Cloud

What is the future of technology in education?
Matt Britland, Guardian Professional
Forget devices, the future of education technology is all about the cloud and anywhere access. In the future, teaching and learning is going to be social.
The future is about access, anywhere learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Teaching and learning is going to be social. Schools of the future could have a traditional cohort of students, as well as online only students who live across the country or even the world. Things are already starting to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs). For me the future of technology in education is the cloud.


Internet of Things (IoT)

Emerging Technologies: The Internet of Things
Contigix, 2014
Few emerging technologies can excite the imagination like the Internet of Things. Conceived in the 1970s, today the Internet of Things refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. This technology is commonly used to automate customer checkout, inventory control, and loss prevention in many of the world’s largest shopping centers. Beyond that, the principles demonstrated by those humble devices are now being applied to a new generation of “smart” objects and devices that provide users with new dimensions of convenience and luxury.



Bandwidth’s Role in the Modern Digital Classroom
Kristina Sescon, Trapp Connect, August 11, 2014
With latest changes in E-rate and ConnectEd initiatives, Internet Bandwidth’s role to support education technologies is more essential than ever.
Pre-K to 12th grade education software and digital content spending is estimated to be $7.96 billion, according to The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). Yet an estimated 72% of public schools have connections that are too slow to fully support and leverage the advantages of digital learning, according to according to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that tests school broadband speeds and works to upgrade Internet access.
The federal E-rate program, overseen by the Federal Communications commission (FCC), provides $2.3 billion annually to provide bandwidth to schools and libraries to virtually every school in America. In 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectEd initiative, specifically designed to tackle the issue of insufficient bandwidth connectivity for educators and students, throughout the country.
“The average school has about the same connectivity as the average American home, but serves 200 times as many users, and fewer than 20% of educators say their school’s Internet connection meets their teaching needs.” (


Disruptions: Apple and Google

How Apple and Google Are Disrupting Education and Changing the World (Infographic)
Top Degrees Online
More than 30 Million students (all levels of education, including college) are using Google Apps for education in 2014. More than 7 million: K-12 students use Google Apps for education.
Apple announced $1 billion in revenue on 2013 educational sales of iOS and Mac products, including iPads, which took a staggering 94% tablet market share in schools.


Almanac of Higher Education 2014

Almanac of Higher Education 2014
Chronicle of Higher Education
Academe by the Numbers
The Chronicle’s 27th annual collection of data on colleges answers perennial questions like how much faculty make and which colleges are growing the fastest. This year’s Almanac also gives you new ways to compare institutions. Which colleges have the most students enrolled in online courses? E-books, online education, and other technology are a growing presence on campuses. More than a dozen tables and charts reveal how professors and students use such tools.


Trends in Education Technology

30 Trends In Education Technology For 2015
Terry Heick, TeachThought, May 19, 2014
What’s trending up for 2015 school year in terms of education technology? iPads are still the standard but other platforms are making headway. That should be fun to watch over the next 3-5 years.
Educators are getting better at spotting crap edtech, but waste still abounds. There are even some educators who are against technology in the classroom at all. Schools are getting better at thinking tech-first (not in terms of priority, but design). But they are still struggling to meaningfully integrate edtech at the learning model and curriculum level.
What’s trending up, what’s trending down, and what’s in that awkward middle ground of education and education technology? 30 guesses are noted.


OER vs. Publishers

The Unruly Playground: Free OER and Paid Digital Materials
Frank Catalano, EdSurge, July 27, 2014
Is the relationship between Open Educational Resources (OER) advocates and traditional educational publishing companies like a playground dominated by bullies? Or more like two groups of kids, ignoring each other as much as possible as they play?
If current activity is any indication, it’s a little of both--and neither. The industry is ready to play nicely with OER. But it doesn’t appear to know how.
That was the perspective expressed during the 2014 Content in Context conference, hosted by the Association of American Publishers preK-12 Learning Group in Washington, D.C. The opening keynote session was all about OER as seen from three viewpoints: the hands-on OER educator, the long-time education-publishing executive, and the edtech company curriculum designer.



eTextbooks are as polarizing as ever in higher ed
Denny Carter, eCampus News, August 8, 2014
The eTextbook revolution has been coming for quite some time, but if recent national survey results are any indication, acceptance of nontraditional textbooks isn’t even close to critical mass.

The survey, conducted by and released in July, showed that four in 10 students said they had been assigned an eBook for a college course, meaning non-print books have yet to crack the 50% threshold in higher education.

Tools for Tracking Students

Teachers Deserve Better Tools for Tracking Subskills
Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart, July 28, 2014
The good news is that a growing percentage of students are learning, practicing and applying math in several engaging modalities most providing frequent instructional feedback. The same is true in other subjects, just a little more slowly. The bad news is that most schools have no way to combine the assessment information from multiple sources in ways that are useful for driving instructional improvement or managing student progress.
The solution to this problem requires clarity around common expectations and how those expectations will be assessed and a common tagging scheme for content and assessment. It would be useful to have a couple recognized/widely used practices for combining and using assessment data in competency-based environments and better growth measures to compare progress in different environments.
That all seems doable, right? Well, not so fast. Talking to school leaders, gradebook vendors, and assessment providers, there appear to be four significant problems. Read more,


Internet Security

Securly Announces the Release of Social Post Monitoring for Schools, Digital Journal, August 4, 2014
Securly, Inc. — the world’s leading cloud-based provider of Internet Security for K-12 schools — today announced features that would make the most popular Social Networking websites a “walled garden” for student use. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have become de facto hangouts for children in their teens. They have also become prominent attack vectors for cyber-bullies and sexual predators.


Net Neutrality

Network Neutrality: Definition of Net Neutrality
Open Computing Facility, University of California, Berkeley
Simply put, net neutrality is a network design paradigm that argues for broadband network providers to be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks. In essence, it argues that no bit of information should be prioritized over another. This principle implies that an information network such as the Internet is most efficient and useful to the public when it is less focused on a particular audience and instead attentive to multiple users.
Bold Obama Stand Shakes Up Net Neutrality Debate
Ashley Alman, Huffington Post, August 6, 2014
“One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here,” he said. “You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more but then also charge more for more spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster or what have you. And I personally — the position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users.”
The president said an open Internet will allow for “the next Google or the next Facebook” to enter the arena, and succeed.
Save the Internet
On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. And on May 15, the FCC voted to propose a new “open Internet” rule that may let Internet service providers charge content companies for priority treatment, relegating other content to a slower tier of service. Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. We must stop the FCC from moving forward with these rules. This article discusses how we got here.


Helicopter Teachers

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher
Steven Conn, Chronicle, August 5, 2014
Rarely do students hear that their education is their own responsibility or that it must be worked at rather than simply consumed. This article compares helicopter parents with students’ expectation of teachers.


Common Core

“Getting Schooled”: Back to teaching in the era of Common Core
Laura Miller, Salon, August 3, 2014
A writer returns to a profession transformed by economic inequality, standardized testing and capitalism. Before coming out with his new book, “Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher,” Garret Keizer published popular treatises on privacy and on quiet; each was about how modern Americans enjoy less and less of those two blessed conditions. In that light, you could call “Getting Schooled” a book about books. One of its less happy refrains has to do with how little books rate in the lives of the public high school students Keizer taught when he returned to the profession after a 14-year hiatus.

Support Slipping for Common Core, Especially Among Teachers, Poll Finds
Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, August 19, 2014
Results of a poll released on Tuesday show strong public support for the idea of shared academic standards, but much weaker support for the standards that have been put in place by 43 states and the District of Columbia: the Common Core State Standards.
The poll of 5,000 adults, conducted this past spring by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, shows that more than two-thirds of adults support the idea of shared academic standards. But when they were asked about the “common core” specifically, support dropped by 15 percentage points.
“The words ‘Common Core’ elicit greater antagonism than does the concept of common standards itself,” the report said.


eRate Rules

New eRate rules invite a new approach: Managed Wi-Fi
Dennis Pierce, eSchool News, August 19, 2014
The FCC’s extensive eRate overhaul includes a new type of eligible service, managed Wi-Fi, which could lead to more outsourced networks in K-12 schools.

[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools. Read the first article here.
On page 49 of its “Seventh Report and Order,” a 176-page document that rewrites the rules governing the $2.4 billion-a-year eRate, the Federal Communications Commission refers to a new category of service that is eligible for eRate support: managed Wi-Fi, or “managed internal broadband services” as the agency refers to it.


Where Do You Live?

The 10 best (and worst) places in America to educate your child
Elizabeth Hines, Alternet, August 12, 2014
A comprehensive new study ranks the quality of education by state, from the best (New Jersey) to the worst (D.C.). Now WalletHub, an organization that bills itself as “the leading personal finance social network,” has entered the fray with the release of a new report, 2014′s States with the Best & Worst School Systems. The report analyzes, “12 key metrics — from student-teacher ratios and dropout rates to test scores and bullying incident rates,” to determine what it has categorized as the “best” and “worst” public school systems across the country.



EdTech Magazine Summer 2014
EdTech Focus on Higher Ed, August 18, 2014
Are you familiar with this magazine?

NSDL Bilingual Collection
The NSDL Bilingual Collection makes K-12 math and science resources available to teachers of students who are not proficient in English. The NSDL Bilingual collection provides quick and easy access to high-quality resources that are either non-text based or have English and non-English portals. These resources are selected from the larger NSDL collection. The majority of the non-English language resources are in Spanish, but there are also many resources in Portuguese, French, German, and Italian. In most cases, only the link to the English portal is listed and there you can find the link to the non-English portal(s). In a few cases, the English and non-English language portals appear with separate links.
11 Amazing Evernote Features Every Teacher Should Know About
Med Kharbach, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, July 28, 2014
Evernote is a powerful note taking web tool and mobile app. It is definitely an elemental component of teacher’s workflow. Evernote enables you to take notes in both text and audio format. Your notes can also include images, videos and even files. Evernote is available across different devices so that everything you do with Evernote on your computer can be automatically synced to your Evernote account on your phone or tablet. Note: Evernote is essential for creating this WON.
Excellent Gmail Tips for Teachers
Education Technology and Mobile Learning, August 14, 2014
Gmail has several hidden features that are just wonderful. Knowing these features will definitely enhance your emailing experience and ultimately increase your productivity. In today’s post I am sharing with you one of these hidden features: using operators in Gmail advanced search.
Just like Google search, Gmail advanced search also supports the use of operators to conduct quick and targeted searches. Search operators are query words or symbols that perform special actions in Gmail search. These operators allow you to find what you’re looking for quickly and accurately. They can also be used to set up filters so you can organize your inbox automatically.


Just Interesting

Attack of the killer office chairs
Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune, August 4, 2014
An hour of sitting loses us 2 hours of life, says expert on obesity. Levine’s basic argument — backed by years of research — is that the human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Rather, we are structurally and physiologically intended to be upright, running from saber-toothed tigers and gathering wood and tending crops and such. But the notable dearth of saber-toothed tigers and the conveniences of modern life have stealthily eliminated the need for constant standing and moving about. Find ways to move while you work, before your office chair successfully kills you.

Digital Media in Everyday Life
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Ill.
An ongoing research initiative by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Through the Digital Media in Everyday Life research initiative, The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago seeks to better understand our audience and their relationship to technology and digital media in order to inform the development of our own digital initiatives.
Our definition of “audience” is necessarily broad, and includes visitors to the Museum as well as users of all our online, mobile, and social media experiences. Therefore it is not only important for us to understand what mobile devices visitors might bring into the Museum, but also how users behave online and in social networks, which of activities and media they spend time with, and their attitudes towards digital experiences in general.
This study is based on a national survey of adults and youth conducted by MSI in August 2011. Presented in a three-part report, the study captures the digital lives of a broad spectrum of users in a time of rapid change. We hope the data will suggest new and deeper points of connection with a population seeking and consuming information in new ways, and who expect technology to make experiences more immediate, personal and empowering. Understanding this diverse audience and their interactions with digital media will help us design intuitive experiences that engage these groups in unique and meaningful ways. Download the study.
Copyright © 2014 Southern Regional Education Board, All rights reserved.
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