Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: January 17, 2015
Prepared by June Weis


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Seventh Annual National TCTW Leaders’ Forum
Each year, SREB hosts a national forum convening state and local career and technical education (CTE) leaders to discuss the role and future of shared-time centers. The forum attracts approximately 300 participants from more than 180 shared-time centers and comprehensive high schools and provides a unique opportunity to focus exclusively on technology centers. All centers, whether they are a part of the Technology Centers That Work (TCTW) network or not, are encouraged to attend in order to better serve both the technical and academic needs of their students.
Elements of Evaluation
A Guide for Policy-Makers
Use this guide to delve into policies on teacher feedback and evaluation systems in SREB states. The state policies are organized across eight elements, each of which is an essential part of a complete evaluation system. Explore promising practices in the SREB region and compare notes across states.

Content developed by the Educator Effectiveness team of the Southern Regional Education Board.


Net Neutrality

FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Suggests That He Will Back Strict Net Neutrality Rules
Alina Selyukh and Malathi Nayak, Reuters, January 7, 2015
WASHINGTON/LAS VEGAS, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The top U.S. communications regulator on Wednesday endorsed the regulatory standard applied to telephone companies in remarks seen as the strongest indication yet that he planned to side with President Barack Obama on strict "net neutrality" rules.

Comments by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas appeared to show he leaned toward regulating Internet service providers (ISPs) more strictly under Title II of the U.S. communications law, as Obama has suggested.
FCC Will Vote On Net Neutrality In February
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are expected to vote next month on rules to govern how Internet service providers deal with the flow of content on their high-speed networks.
President Barack Obama has asked the FCC to put Internet service providers under the same rules as those imposed on telephone companies 80 years ago. The aim is to protect net neutrality, the concept that everyone with an Internet connection should have equal access to all legal content online, including video, music, email, photos, social networks and maps.
Advocates of regulating the service providers like utilities contend that the companies, if left unchecked, will create a two-tier system that funnels Internet traffic into fast and slow lanes. In that scenario, only the richest content providers will be able to pay the extra tolls to ensure that their online content is accessible through the fast lanes.
Internet service providers reject such regulation. They assert they would be prevented from recovering some of the costs for connecting to content providers that use large quantities of broadband.
This Is Why John Oliver Supports Net Neutrality
Katrina vanden Heuvel
, The Nation, December 2, 2014
In May, HBO comedian John Oliver opened his segment on net neutrality by saying, “The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” He then delivered an incisive thirteen-minute monologue that was anything but boring, drawing more than 7 million views on YouTube. Indeed, as Oliver demonstrated so effectively, while net neutrality may seem like a dull subject, protecting it is essential to not only the future of the Internet but also the future of our democracy. His rant even shut the FCC website down because of many comments.


Funding K-12 Schools

Cheating the Schoolkids: Corporations Don't Pay Their State Taxes, Either
Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams, January 5, 2015
Most of the attention to corporate tax avoidance is directed at the nonpayment of federal taxes. But state taxes, which to a
much greater extent fund K-12 education, are avoided at a stunning rate by America's biggest companies. As a result, public school funding continues to be cut, and the worsening performance of neglected schools adds fuel to the reckless demands for privatization. Inner-city schools are being devastated by this insidious process. Overall spending on K-12 public school students fell in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records over three decades ago. The cuts have continued to the present day


Community Colleges

Who Has a Stake in Obama’s Free Community-College Plan?
Eric Kelderman and Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Ed, January 9, 2015
President Obama’s proposal to make community college free is getting an enthusiastic reception from two-year colleges and their advocates across the nation. Not surprisingly, though, representatives of other higher-education sectors aren’t quite so bullish. One of their greatest fears: that the plan, if enacted, could end up pushing a large number of students away from their institutions and into community colleges.
Here’s a look at several groups of institutions with something at stake—and at how they’ve responded to the proposal.
Another note: The community college plan has a template in Chicago and Tennessee programs that basically cover the cost of tuition for any eligible student who wants to attend a two-year college or technical school.


Competency-based Education

Kentucky’s Commonwealth College – United We Stand
Al Lind, Posted to WCET, and Rus Poulin
Thank you to our guest blogger, Al Lind of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, for his update on their new competency-based college. The new Commonwealth College is the latest in a long line of innovations in Kentucky.  Commonwealth College is a statewide bachelor’s degree completion program in high-demand occupational areas for adults in an online, competency-based format at Kentucky public universities.
Supporting Competency Education in ESEA Reauthorization
Maria Worthen, Competency Education, January 10, 2015
A new Congress brings new hopes for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA reauthorization provides an important window of opportunity to realign federal policy to support and enable the transition to competency education.
The new Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander, has indicated his intention to consider an ESEA reauthorization bill in that committee by February. House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman, Representative John Kline, has said it will be a top priority. Both have announced plans to hold hearings in the next month.

Book Review

Educating Minds Online
James M. Lang, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 8, 2014
An outstanding new book provides a road map for truly effective teaching with technology. Administrators and faculty members at Northern Arizona University became early adopters of many technological innovations in education but also careful analysts of those online tools and strategies. That tradition, coupled with Michele Miller’s background in learning and memory, led ultimately to her new book, Minds Online: Teaching Effectively With Technology, published this fall by Harvard University Press. If you teach with technology in any form, at any level, I recommend you put this book at the top of your tottering pile of required reading on higher education. It’s an outstanding book that provides a road map for truly effective online teaching.


Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning

The “Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning” now available
John Watson, Keeping Pace, December 18, 2014
As digital learning becomes increasingly common, the need for new and up to date information is growing as well. But as editors of the new Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning describe, “many [researchers] new to the field thought that they were discovering K-12 online and blended instruction for the first time.” The editors, Rick Ferdig of Kent State University and Kathryn Kennedy of Michigan Virtual University’s Virtual Learning Research Institute, have created a handbook to act as a key resource for existing and new researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in the field. Amy Murin and I contributed the opening chapter, A History of K-12 Online and Blended Instruction in the United States. Other initial chapters lay the groundwork of the historical, international, and political landscape of digital learning. Subsequent sections share a synthesis of theoretical and empirical work describing where the field has been, what is currently known, and where researchers hope to explore in the areas of learning and learners, content, teaching, technological innovations, mobile learning, and other areas. Among the contributing authors are Michael Barbour, Kerry Rice, Susan Lowes, Leanna Archambault, Scott McLeod, and Cathy Cavanaugh.


Quality Counts just Published

A Fresh Approach to Ranking States on Education
Education Week, January 2015
This year's streamlined Quality Counts score card focuses on educational outcomes from early childhood on up. The 19th annual edition of Education Week's Quality Counts takes a fresh approach to the state report card.
The "State of the States" grading incorporates three key indices developed by the Education Week Research Center. The Chance-for-Success Index provides a cradle-to-career perspective on the role that education plays in promoting positive outcomes throughout a person's life. The school finance analysis assesses spending patterns and equity. Both categories have been updated for this year's report. The K-12 Achievement Index, last updated in 2014, rates states on current academic performance, change over time, and poverty-based gaps. Check these sites: Schools Seek to Strike a Balance on Rigor in Early Years and Quality Counts 2015: Report and Rankings


Future Trends and Thoughts

Curriculum of the Future: How Digital Content is Changing Education
Center for Digital Education, 2014
This Center for Digital Education Special Report takes a deep dive into digital curriculum, looking closely at the benefits and potential pitfalls involved in the shift. From innovative content delivery methods to the latest in open educational resources and other trends on the horizon, this report highlights case studies and best practices from education institutions that have already made the transition to digitally delivered learning.
13 higher ed tech tools and approaches to watch in 2015
Keith Button, Education Dive, December 5, 2014
Here are 13 ed tech tools and approaches from companies and institutions that you should keep on your radar due to their recent recognition.
Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart, January 6, 2015
Google’s Chromebook laptops have become more popular in the classroom than Apple’s iPad. IDC reported third quarter Chromebook sales of 715,000 versus Apple’s 702,000 iPads. There are four reasons that 2014 was the year of the Chromebook. First is that they are really cheap…read more.
4 ways a Republican Congress could impact K12 policy
Allie Gross, Education Dive, December 23, 2014
In January, the Republican Party will take control of Congress, with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) set to assume control of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
With that in mind, what important K-12 polices can we expect to see change or stay the same in the coming year? These are four hot topics in the space, where they currently stand, and how they might change, based on Alexander's stances — No Child Left Behind, Common Core State Standards, Charter Schools and Early Education.
10 ways a Republican-led Congress could impact higher ed in 2015
Keith Button, Education Dive, December 9, 2014
With Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate in January, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be “starting from scratch,” according to Sen. Lamar Alexander, the likely leader of the Senate’s education committee.
The Tennessee Republican is set to become the chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee when the next session convenes. In the House of Representatives, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is expected to continue on as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
As the debate over legislation that controls federal student aid funding begins from square one, the article describes a primer on Republicans’ viewpoints on 10 higher ed issues.
3 emerging technologies reimagining higher ed in 2015 and beyond
Roger Riddell, Education Dive, December 17, 2014
To get an idea of what the future of higher ed might look like in 2015 and beyond, Education Dive examined three emerging technologies — online learning, holograms and virtual reality — that could facilitate some of the space's biggest shifts in years. And the future looks bright, indeed.
6 tech trends for 2015 that will change our future
Lance Ulanoff, Mashable, December 22, 2014
Technology and innovation can be frustrating to watch in action. That’s because there usually isn’t much action — just incremental change with occasional flashes of brilliance. But the only way to truly understand what’s happening and why is to keep watching. Breakthroughs from years ago are finally leading to real products and services today. Others are inching forward with the promise of big changes in 2015 and beyond.  See also 10 startups to watch in 2015.
Is technology actually making higher education less efficient? 
Ryan Derousseau, The Hechinger Report, December 12, 2014
Professors say they don’t have enough help to use this technology effectively, haven’t seen results from it, and fear that the cost savings administrators keep insisting that technology will bring could mean their own careers are on the line.
What's Next for E-Textbooks?
Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, December 3, 2014
Technology is moving the digital textbook from print look-alike to next-generation learning platform.
The most anticipated innovations coming in 2015
Tuan Nguyen, Digital Life News, January 3, 2015
In the age of venture capital and crowdfunding, it's not at all unusual that by the time a technology or breakthrough reaches the marketplace, the narrative that carried it to this point has been unfolding for some time.
These days, I like to say the process of innovation takes place as much in a fish bowl as it does a lab. As such, the public is able to get at least some semblance of what to expect and just maybe even take a role in how it all plays out.

So with 2014 finished, here are some of the most anticipated innovations to keep an eye on in 2015.

Among innovations, check out Apple Watch, Google Glass, virtual reality, and smartphones. Don't forget to read about electric bicycles and self-tying shoes!

Digital Fluency 

5 Ways to Grow Your Digital Fluency
Eric Stoller, Inside Higher Ed, December 4, 2014
If you've ever tried to define "technology," you know that it can be daunting. A conversation about increasing digital fluency can lead to an epic list of considerations. There are so many different aspects to consider when it comes to things like technology, hardware, software, apps, social media, digital identity, and information systems. When we try to look at the big picture, it can sometimes stop us in our tracks and keep us from picking up new skills to add to our digital toolkit. In an effort to move the technology competency needle towards a more fluent space, Eric Stoller presents the following 5 ideas for increasing your skills when it comes to technology.

Guide to Implementing Digital Learning

Guide to Implementing Digital Learning
GIDL is a free web-based resource to support school and district leaders as they work to ensure that investments in digital learning spark positive results. GIDL includes six topic areas: planning, professional learning, content and software, broadband, devices and tech support.


What About Charter Schools?

Exposing the charter school lie: Michelle Rhee, Louis C.K. and the year phony education reform revealed its true colors
Jeff Bryant, Salon, January 1, 2015
A blockbuster report released by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy revealed, “Fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing, or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.”
The report, “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” combed through news stories, criminal records and other documents to find hundreds of cases of charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by forgoing safety regulations or withholding services.
The report made charter school scandals a nationwide story and received in-depth coverage at Salon, “Bill Moyers and Company,” the Washington Post and the Nation.


Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT)
What it is and why it matters (SAS)
The Internet of Things consists of three main components
  1. The things (or assets) themselves.
  2. The communication networks connecting them.
  3. The computing systems that make use of the data flowing to and from our things.
Using this infrastructure, objects or assets can communicate with each other and even optimize activities between them based on the analysis of data streaming through the network
CES 2015: FTC warns of Internet of Things security risks
Dan Worth,, January 7, 2015
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers untold benefits but will also create myriad security risks that pose major threats that must be addressed, according to Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
Ramirez said at the CES 2015 trade show in Las Vegas (PDF) that she had no doubt that "the IoT has the potential to transform our daily lives", but warned that it poses "significant privacy and security implications" as more data is collected.
The FTC Warns Internet Of Things Businesses To Bake in Privacy And Security
Natasha Lomas, Tech Crunch, January 8, 2015
The FTC has raised concerns about the complexity and privacy risks posed by the rise of an Internet of Things, with some 25 billion connected objects predicted to be online in 2015, and so-called smart home devices predicted to number around 25 million this year.Concerns about privacy could encourage consumer mistrust of IoT devices, the FTC has warned, having a knock-on impact on consumer adoption. To avoid that scenario it has detailed some of the measures it thinks IoT companies should take to mitigate privacy risks.
The Internet of Things and Education
Angel Brady, The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, February 24, 2012
So how does the Internet of Things exactly work? Each physical object would have a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag placed on the item or a 2D code or barcode. When this code or tag is read either by a RFID reader (also running an app to read it) or scanned by an app running on a computer or mobile device it would prompt your device to open up a page of information or send a command for an action to happen, like opening up an email client and sending a message or it would call a certain person in your address book. Two applications that will allow you to create tags and associate them with physical objects and have them execute a command are touchatag and Pachube .You can also just attach data (like text or images) to the physical object to describe it or have that object feed data into another program. How easier would it be for you to gather information about the objects around by just scanning them instead of opening a browser and having to search the Internet about the object? The relationship of the object and the data is already formed for you. With server space becoming more plentiful and Internet connections on mobile devices getting faster, the Internet of Things will become more of a commonplace reality and will find its way into the classroom.
So how can the Internet of Things be applied to education?  The author provides good examples.
IoT-LAB: a very large scale open testbed
IoT-LAB offers web-based reservation and tooling for applications development, along with direct command-line access to the platform.  Sensor nodes firmwares can be built from source and deployed on reserved nodes, application activity can be controlled and monitored, power consumption or radio interference can be measured using the provided tools.
What does the Internet of things mean for education?
Bryan Alexander, September 17, 2014
I’ve been tracking the Internet of things for a while, and am still trying to imagine how it fits into education.  I’m not sure if the IoT will hit academic with the wave force of the Web in the 1990s, or become a minor tangent.  What do schools have to do with Twittering refrigerators? Bryan offers five possible intersections.


Learning via Robot

Robot pal brings school to ailing student
Christina Corbin, Fox News, December 10, 2014
The high-tech VGO Telerobot sits at Max’s desk, with a real-time image of the boy, who sits inside his Durham, N.C., home controlling the robot’s every move through his computer’s Internet. When Max has a question he’d like to answer, a light signals on the robot, prompting the teacher to call on him. When the period is over, Max is able to drive the robot from one classroom to another. The VGO Telerobot also has a camera that enables the boy to take screenshots of the classroom board, which are then downloaded to his laptop so he has class notes available when he needs them.
For a 12-year-old boy who loves to play video games, the chance to attend school via a high-tech robot is “awesome.”

A New Learning Experience

An education prof. goes back to high school, finds technology is no longer a tool but a context
Tony L. Talbert and Jason Trumble, The Hechinger Report, November 27, 2014
Every student arrived with a smartphone. Ask a question, and instantly, thumbs began to effortlessly search for a digital answer. High school history had changed during my 21-year absence from teaching it. Now a professor of education at Baylor University, I returned to a local area public high school last fall on a research sabbatical, teaching tenth grade world history to more than 160 students.
The old teaching and learning paradigm where technology is a tool to be used for a singular purpose and then put away until it is needed again had made way for a new paradigm where technology is a context without a beginning and without an end. Simply put, in the lives of my high school students digital technology was an extension of themselves. Therefore, it was with this reality that I as teacher had to find a way to incorporate this new paradigm into my lesson planning and teaching method in order to more meaningfully inform and transform the minds and lives of my students.



Almanac of Higher Education 2014
Chronicle of Higher Education
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? Which have the highest percentages of nonresident aliens? Browse the charts and tables in these sections to find out.
The 5 Most Popular Educational Apps of 2014
Graphite by Common Sense Media, December 17, 2014
These are five top-rated apps from Common Sense Graphite's "Best Ed Tech of 2014" list. For complete reviews, and for each app’s "Learning Rating," visit the Graphite website.
NYTimes Offers In-School Access to Publication
D. Frank Smith, EdTech Focus on K-12, November 7, 2014
A new digital service from The New York Times is making it easier for K–12 students to access to one of the most respected news sources in the world.
The Times announced an in-school digital subscription model for K–12 schools on Nov. 6. The service allows students to access on the web through any device without a login, so long as they connect through their school's network. Pricing options for schools were not disclosed by the news release.
World Digital Library
Craig, Hase, The Scout Report, December 12, 2014
The World Digital Library offers a bounty of digital items that span 193 countries and over 3,000 years. One fascinating way to experience the site is to simply watch the featured items as they tick across the homepage, offering a view into ancient Arabia, medieval Europe, and Shackleton's explorations of the South Pole. Readers may enjoy the explore tab, which opens to categories such as Place, Time Period, Topic, and Language. In addition, the site features Timelines and Interactive Maps for United States History and Illuminated Manuscripts from Europe. Lastly, the search engine allows readers to locate their special interests among the 10,930 listings on the site. 
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