Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: August 2015

This issue of Worthy of Note focuses on four of the 10 Critical Issues in Educational Technology: data analytics, instructional innovation, e-learning support and professional development.

Educational Technology

  • A review of where educational technology stands now and what its future looks like according to 56 educational technology experts from 22 countries is found in the NMC Horizon 2015 K-12 report, which highlights expected trends over the next five years. A few trends to watch:
    • Deeper learning: connecting classroom experiences to experiences outside of school
    • Rethinking traditions: Questioning traditional education paradigms and reimagining them — including some moves toward competency-based education
    • Blended learning: a view of students as consumers and creators
  • Challenges are also reviewed such as:
    • Professional development:  a growing need to incorporate technology into teacher training programs.
    • Personalized learning and teacher’s role: the difficulty for teachers to adequately serve the needs of all students when many are on different educational paths.
Data Analytics
  • States Eager to Collect College Students’ Job Data[ce1] ”The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 25, 2015, Lance Lambert
    • Colleges and universities have been asked by policymakers to consider their roles in our country’s employment landscape. A majority of states have built longitudinal data systems (LDSs) to link graduates to post-college earnings. Some states, such as Florida, are already using this information to make financial decisions for funding public colleges and universities. President Obama’s budget   for 2016 allocates $107 million to LDS creation. Most states are funding both the K-12 and higher education systems to collect and connect their data. Some limitations are readily evident such as the inability most states have to track graduates that go to work outside of the state. The federal government does not hold the power to build a national LDS, though more collaboration between states and more federally orchestrated funding appears to be the current trend.
  • Nine Ways to Doom Your Data Analytics Efforts
  • Campus Technology, March 12, 2015, Michael Hart
    • While the move to data-driven decision-making has been widely accepted and adopted in the higher education world; the majority of colleges and universities do not have a chief data officer to guide the effort. This article lists the most common obstacles to avoid to achieve successful data analytics in higher education as institutions move to embrace data analytics.
      • “Reinvent the wheel”
      • Aim too high
      • Assume everyone’s talking about the same thing
      • Rely on averages
      • Believe you know what you’re doing
      • Choose security over transparency
      • Neglect institutional leadership
      • Give your president the whole picture
      • Think this is going to be quick and easy
  • No Child Left Un-mined? Student Privacy at Risk in the Age of Big Data
  • The Intercept, June 27, 2015, Farai Chideya
    • As data collection on every student increases, many parents fear the data may not be as private or secure as they would like for it to be. While education technology is making strides in individualizing learning and reducing drop-out rates, the same technology could leave children marked by childhood school performance for the rest of their lives. Some analysts worry that the educational metrics being applied to each student’s achievements will be used in unintended ways. They worry too that private companies are difficult to control, and once they are bought out or dissolve — or sell-off units — their data is less secure. Pearson, an educational services company, announced in June that it was selling its student-performance tracker division, Power School, to a private equity firm. This sale poses a potential risk for the millions of student records held by Power School.. Overall, most experts agree an overhaul of big data privacy in the U.S. is needed, especially when it comes to student data.

Instructional Innovation
  • Best Educational Apps for iPad for Teachers
  • Educational Technology, June 1, 2015
    • This document provides a list of some of the best iPad apps curated for learning and instructional purposes. It is divided into 19 sections with each containing a list of apps for a specific need. The sections include apps that facilitate presentation, screencasting, video creation, file storage, whiteboard, PDF annotation, audio recording, note-taking, blogging, book creation, comic apps, digital storytelling apps, apps for grading, mindmapping apps, portfolio apps, apps for creating posters, apps for creating timelines, apps for creating word clouds and speech-to-text apps.
  • 1o Indispensable Android Apps for Teachers
  • Educational Technology, May 13, 2015
    • From the top trending apps in the education section of Google Play, this list compiles some must-have apps for those using Android operated devices. These apps are the most popular, according to user reviews and downloads. A wide variety of educational task needs are covered, including assignment management, messaging for students and parents, paperless classroom aids, quiz design and others.
  • FlipCon Offers Wide-Ranging Sessions on the Flipped Classroom”  
  • THE Journal, June 9, 2015, Dian Schaffhauser
    • FlipCon is a convention for educators in K-12 and higher education where flipped learning practices are on display at Michigan State University. This conference is hosted by the Flipped Learning Network and includes sessions for those familiar and those new to the subject of flipped learning. This is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction is taken from the group learning space to the individual learning space with emphasis on flexibility and learning environment. All virtual sessions will be recorded and attendees will have access to them through December 2015.
  • A For-Profit School Startup Where Kids Are Beta Testers
  • NPR Ed, May 4, 2015, Anya Kamenetz
    • AltSchool is a tech company and a small for-profit school that is experimenting with different classroom styles, learning models and class structures. The entire school is just one small class — although a few AltSchools are located in San Francisco and New York. Students are recorded and observed all day at school. The observations are for analysis in order to improve teaching techniques or assess student mastery. The school uses software that combines elements of a learning management system and a social network and is altered as often as necessary to improve function. This software is what the school’s founder Max Ventilla hopes to export to other schools. He calls it an operating system for education.
  • Using Classroom Tech Most Effectively: Engage Students in Deeper Learning
  • SmartBlog on Education, June 2, 2015, Joli Barker
    • To promote deeper learning, student engagement is essential. When students explore content in four brain-based learning areas, it can enhance this engagement. These areas are imagination, curiosity, adaptation and passion. Barker suggests various ways to use classroom technology within each of these areas. Suggested methods include digital content creation, research and sharing.

E-Learning Support
  • E-Portfolios Link Academic Achievements to Career Success
  • Campus Technology, June 17, 2015, Dian Schaffhauser
    • At Portland State University, a new online business degree program documents students’ academic and professional growth using e-portfolios. The innovation came with the launch of the online program in 2013. By starting this program with a blank slate, the administrators have been able to control the course development process, including designing core courses that would fit multiple programs. Over the three years of the program, students complete parts of their e-portfolio; this process was built into the courses of the degree program. By year three, students share this e-portfolio on a career-oriented social networking site. This design could help students prepare for their careers and gain valuable technology skills for the workforce.
  • Blue Collar Town Leads Tech-Assisted Learning Revolution
  • The Hechinger Report, May 31, 2015, Jennifer D. Jordan
    • In 2014, West Warwick, Rhode Island, had the first school district to put a computing device into the hands of every student and teacher from kindergarten through 12th grade. District leaders hope to enhance student learning with this blended learning, including technological and digital interaction and instruction combined with traditional classroom instruction. Rhode Island plans to become the first fully blended learning state in the nation. Teachers quoted in the article speak to the need to fully embrace blended learning in order for it to be effective. Most students and teachers there seem to find the transition positive and productive.
  • 12 Mobile Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2015
  • Educational Technology, May 7, 2015
    • As technology in the classroom increases rapidly, we see a rise in mobile device use. Of the numerous trends in mobile learning, this article identifies the 12 most promising and popular for instructional and learning needs.
  • New Report Evaluates Digital Courseware’s Impact on Student Learning
  • eCampusNews, January 15, 2015
    • In January, SRI Education published a report analyzing the past five years of education technology investment in digital courseware by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Initiative. As with any course innovation, the hope is to increase student learning. The report identifies several features that have  a positive effect on student learning. Some named include instructional designs for entire courses instead of only using digital courseware as a supplemental resource, learning effects being higher in community colleges compared with four-year colleges, and courses in mathematics being more effective than other subject areas. Important recommendations for funders from the report include: invest in courseware designed for re-use, funders should consider the help of third-party evaluators to provide evidence of effectiveness, and examine long-term impacts.
  • Clear Objectives and Ease of Use Key in Distance Learning
  • Campus Technology, June 18, 2015, Leila Meyer
    • According to a recent Eduventures survey, student success in online courses can be maximized if students receive clear objectives and technology that is easy to use. In spring 2015, Eduventures, a research and advisory company, surveyed 28,000 students (mostly over age 25) who were pursuing online degrees or certificates. Key findings include the importance of good course pacing and peer interaction. Findings also showed that a majority of low-performing students were distracted by family or personal obligations that hindered their success. Recommendations include aligning courses with objective design standards, following a quality assurance process, and making effective use of a learning management system (LMS).
  • “Four Features to Look for in a 21st Century LMS”
  • THE Journal, June 10, 2015, Dian Schaffhauser
    • In today’s market, there are more choices than ever for learning management systems (LMSs). While LMSs are pervasive in the higher education landscape, many public school districts have never implemented an LMS. For those that are considering adopting one now, some key characteristics to look for include:
      • An intuitive interface that mimics consumer social networks;
      • Collaboration that goes far beyond standard teacher-student communication;
      • Assessments with analytics responsive enough to drive instruction for that day, week or month; and
      • The capacity to provide a structure for organizing digital learning resources and sharing them locally and broadly.
    • The article expands on these points and includes some additional points for LMSs to consider: ability to integrate with other systems, a reference check with others using a potential LMS a district is considering, and a pricing comparison.

Professional Development
  • Professors Know About High-Tech Teaching Methods, but Few Use Them
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 10, 2015, Casey Fabris
    • Forty percent of the professors surveyed in a recently published Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation survey are interested in using innovative techniques and technologies, but only half of those have used them. The rates vary across different types of technologies, and the article reports the corresponding rates of use with the types of technology or innovation, including flipped classrooms, open-source materials and tools like Skype. A larger percentage of respondents had tried the flipped classroom approach, with 29 percent reporting having tried this method. Group projects are also a popular method, but that approach is not considered innovative or new.
  • Student Affairs and Technology: Good or Bad
  • Inside Higher Education, April 20, 2015, Eric Stoller
    • Over the past five years, the author has been examining and writing on the issue of technology in student affairs, and he shares that the same themes have been appearing throughout this time. One of the most important is the influence of leadership on organizational culture and how this relates to technology adaptation, experimentation, innovation, creativity, fear and dissonance. If leaders adopt social media and technology more keenly, the organizational impact is higher. The trickle-down effect from leaders is evident in technology use or disuse. Stoller gives specific examples of his experiences with technology adoption.
  • 10 Ways to Change a Higher Education IT Culture”
  •  Campus Technology, June 11, 2015, Michael Hart
    • A simple 10-step process helped transform the IT culture at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse beginning in 2010. At that time, school morale was low, and the IT needs of more than 10,000 students were underserved. A new chief information officer was hired and tasked with transforming the IT environment, promoting teamwork and encouraging collaboration. These 10 distinct mandates have now been built into all IT service-related activities with much success, and the culture has been transformed.
      • Increase communications
      • Be innovative
      • Build relationships
      • Create a vision
      • Create a strategy
      • Earn trust
      • Take risks
      • Accept failure
      • Have empathy
      • Empower the staff 
  • The Four C’s of Tech Implementation
  • THE Journal, June 4, 2015, Julie Davis
    • This article discusses what can happen in a classroom once technology is integrated and organizes the effects into four categories.
      1. Critical thinking: Since facts are easily accessible, teachers can focus on guiding students to look critically at issues.
      2. Communication: The capacity for continuous communication with parents and teachers becomes available and should be used properly to keep all parties current on assignments and requirements.
      3. Creativity: Technology provides many opportunities for innovative content creation that can enhance a student’s learning experience.
      4. Collaboration: Students can work with teams beyond the four walls of the classroom  and more easily than in the past.
Prepared by Caitlin Daugherty, policy analyst, August 2015. For more information, contact Wanda Barker, director of SREB’s Education Technology Cooperative, at

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