Welcome to our periodic Worthy of Note!
SREB Educational Technology Cooperative
Worthy of Note: September 25, 2014

Prepared by June Weis
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10 Critical Issues in Educational Technology
SREB, Educational Technology Cooperative
SREB’s Educational Technology Cooperative recommends that policy-makers in SREB states address these 10 education technology issues now. Without adequate progress, states may fall short of goals for education improvement, and key policy initiatives may fail.

The intent of the 10 Issues effort is to help states understand these policy issues, build consensus around priorities and — most important — create action agendas to address them. The ultimate goal: a policy environment that leverages technology to improve public education in SREB states.

The issues are K-20 in scope, critical to public schools as well as higher ed. States need leadership across this continuum to best allocate funds and focus improvements on students. The Cooperative will work with states on these issues through 2015, then assess and update the issues and process.

Data Analytics

Lessons Learned with Institutional Data Analytics
Webcast from WCET Oct  9
Data analytics is trending at institutions across the U.S. Many have complex programs while others are just starting the conversations. Join our presenters on October 9, for a facilitated discussion about what the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned from developing, deploying, and evaluating institutional data analytics initiatives. The webcast will include:  Jennifer McGrath, Vice President Academic Affairs for Rio Salado, Karen Vignare, Vice Provost, University of Maryland University College, and Moderated by Matthew Milliron, Senior Director, Civitas Learning.
12 Big Data Definitions: What's Yours?
Gil Press, Forbes.
The traditional database of authoritative definitions is, of course, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).  Here’s how the OED defines big data: (definition #1) “data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges.”
Learning analytics don't just measure students' progress – they can shape it
Rebecca Ferguson, The Guardian, March 26, 2014
From online forum debates to predictive essay writing software, data showing how students learn can help universities adapt their teaching.
Analytics in Higher Education; Benefits, Barriers, Progress, and Recommendations
Jacqueline Bichsel, EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, August 2012
One of the major barriers to analytics in higher education is cost. Many institutions view analytics as an expensive endeavor rather than as an investment. Much of the concern around affordability centers on the perceived need for expensive tools or data collection methods. What is needed most, however, is investment in analytics professionals who can contribute to the entire process, from defining the key questions to developing data models to designing and delivering alerts, dashboards, recommendations, and reports. (This very extensive report provides a wealth of information on the topic.)

Blended Learning

Knocking down barriers How California superintendents are implementing blended learning
Michael B. Horn, Anna Gu, and Meg Evans, Clayton Christensen Institute, September 14, 2014 
School districts across the United States are implementing blended learning to boost student achievement. We convened several California school district superintendents to answer the question:
What are the barriers, real or perceived, to implementing blended learning in your district?
After a morning of answering that question, we then asked:
Have you found solutions to or ways around these barriers?
Given that 93 percent of California’s public school students are enrolled in district schools, the answers matter, as superintendents around the state struggle with antiquated regulations and processes that inhibit their ability to innovate and better serve students. Our hypothesis, borne out of the discussion, was that for each barrier one superintendent identified, another superintendent in the room would have a solution. This paper summarizes the answers to both of these questions. We hope it will help other California superintendents who are struggling to implement high-quality blended learning work around these barriers by employing cage-busting leadership. The barriers the superintendents identified fell into three categories.
  1. Redesigning teacher roles given state policy and teachers union contract provisions;
  2. Purchasing and managing technology and infrastructure;
  3. Recognizing online classes as valid for the University of California and California State University systems.
(Download the full policy brief.)

Competency-based Education

Hire Education Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution 
Michelle R. Weise and Clayton M. Christensen, Clayton Christensen Institute, July 2014
The economic urgency around higher education is undeniable: the price of tuition has soared; student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion and is greater than credit card debt; the dollars available from government sources for colleges are expected to shrink in the years to come; and the costs for traditional institutions to stay competitive continue to rise.
At the same time, more education does not necessarily lead to better outcomes. Employers are demanding more academic credentials for every kind of job yet are at the same time increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with the variance in quality of degree holders.
An examination of online competency-based education unveils the tectonic shifts to come in higher education. Over time, the industry-validated experiences that emerge from the strong partnerships between online competency-based providers and employers will ultimately have the power to override the importance of college rankings and accreditation
Just Start (Part 1)
Bill Zima, Competency Works, August 19, 2014 
To engage in the process of continuous improvement, the crux of leadership, one needs to begin…. The person most responsible for the construction of the path to change for any school is the principal….
Why do we exist? At Mt. Ararat Middle School, our purpose statement is “Focus on Learning.” Every decision we make is fed back through that statement. If it does not show that we are focused on learning, we make another decision.
After a strong purpose statement is created and accepted by the full staff through a power vote, it is time to create a list of Hows. These will be the behaviors, that when executed, will lead your organization to the vision…. Read more to find out decisions that were made.
Let the Lifting Begin (Part 2)
Bill Zima, Competency Works, September 11, 2014  
This is the second post in the series on how to get started in converting your school to competency education. See Part 1, Just Start.
Futurist author Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is merely a dream.”
To help move the purpose and the vision of the school from the dream state to a reality, we needed action. We created a three-year professional plan, identified what needed to happen the first year, and then created action plans for those items. The primary activities were developing a framework of skills, scoring scales and assessments. Read more for directions to achieving this vision.
Is This the “Dark Horse” of Online Education? 
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, August 14, 2014
It’s a perfect storm of economic factors and available technology that’s making competency-based online education the real disruptive innovation for colleges and universities, say Michelle Weise

Broadband Access

Study: $3.2B needed to Connect 99 Percent of Students to Broadband
D. Frank Smith, EdTech Focus on K-12, June 10, 2014
ConnectED’s goal comes with a hefty price tag for the FCC’s E-Rate program. The cost of subsidizing hardware to connect 99 percent of students at public K–12 schools could reach $3.2 billion, according to a new report from two educational nonprofit organizations: COSN and Education Super Highway, June 10, 2014
Improving Broadband Access for Schools Across Arkansas 
Arkansas August 11, 2014
LITTLE ROCK, AR – August 11, 2014, The Arkansas Department of Education unites forces with Education Superhighway to provide high speed Internet to students across the state.

The governor is announcing the partnership with the national non-profit today. The Arkansas Legislative Council's Executive Committee is in the second phase of a study on how to upgrade Internet access in every classroom across the state.

The estimated $200,000 study will pay for consultants to go inside classrooms and see how well the schools are utilizing the Internet and where improvements can be made. Read more for details.

Wearable Technology

Apple Watch: Coming to a Classroom Near You? 
Rebecca Koenig, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, September 10, 2014
Wearable technology has entered the mainstream. The Apple Watch, announced on Tuesday, ushers in the possibility that, one day soon, campuses across the country will contend with students who are literally attached to their gadgets.
“These wearable technologies will become like appendages,” said B.J. Fogg, a consulting professor at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab. “To remove those capabilities will be like tying one hand behind your back.”
While the prospect of the new device may thrill technophiles, it may also make professors and administrators uneasy. After all, a classroom of students with miniature computers strapped to their wrists could seem like an instructor’s nightmare. Continue reading….A further note: Wearable Computing Devices, Like Apple’s iWatch, Will Exceed 485 Million Annual Shipments by 2018 Wearable computing devices are projected to explode in popularity over the next year and with a wave of new gadgets set to hit the consumer market, could soon become the norm for most people within five years. ABI Research forecasts the wearable computing device market will grow to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018.

Future Immersive Computing
ABI Research
The mobile device market is the largest consumer electronics market in the world. As such it is subject to huge innovation in multiple different areas. In order to remain competitive, device OEMs, mobile carriers, OS and software vendors, and silicon providers must remain in tune with this rapidly changing market.

Major innovation is centered around the User Experience (UX) with an emphasis being placed on input/output, sensors, connectivity, displays and also immersive solutions such as gesture, speech, and facial recognition. Security, memory and storage, power solutions and user interface (UI) also look set to be areas of high innovation.

Several resources on wearable technology are included in many current research topics.

Harkin Proposal

Higher Ed Groups Respond to Harkin’s Draft Proposal 
Inside Higher Ed, September 2, 2014
Dozens of higher education interest groups submitted comments last week on Senator Tom Harkin’s draft proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The American Council on Education submitted a consensus letter, signed by 20 other higher education groups that laid out provisions, which garnered widespread support as well as concern.  Read further updates here (September 18, 2014).


Cutting Costs and Quality? 
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, September 2, 2014
An institution’s decision to drop print books for eBooks may rankle traditionalists, but at the University Colorado at Boulder, it’s the open-to-innovation crowd that is speaking out.

Higher Ed Policies

When innovative higher education policy doesn’t work—and what to do 
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, September 10, 2014
In summary of the 11 papers, researchers found that despite “considerable experimentation aimed at improving access to college and attainment of degrees, the 50 states often have been ineffective in broadening college opportunities and graduation rates for their residents. In many cases, states pursue policies that just don’t work.”

Tablets and Learning

Survey: 9 in 10 Students Say Tablets Will Change How They Learn 
Joshua Bolkan, THE Journal, September 8, 2014
Ninety percent of students said tablets will change the way they learn and 89 percent said the devices would make learning more fun, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for Pearson.

The survey of 2,252 students in grades 4-12 found that 81 percent of those surveyed said tablets help them learn in a way that's best for them and 79 percent said the devices help them do better in class. Black and Hispanic students, at 88 and 86 percent, respectively, were even more likely to say that tablets help them learn in their own way than white students, who only agreed 79 percent of the time. Similarly, black and Hispanic students were more likely, at 83 and 84 percent, to say that tablets help them do better in class than white students, at 77 percent.

Read other key findings of the report.

Common Core

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior
Andy Smarick, Education Next, September 12, 2014
We seemed to have welcomed good manners back to the Common Core debate. That doesn’t mean we’ve seen more advocacy either on behalf of the standards or knocking them, only that the tenor appears to have changed for the better. At least for the time being, detractors are no longer paranoid Neanderthals, and supporters have ceased to be communists on the federal or Gates Foundation dole.

Student Achievement and Online Courses

The First Hard Evidence on Virtual Education 
Martin R. West, Education Next, September 12, 2014
Matt Chingos of Brookings and Guido Schwerdt of the University of Konstanz are out today with a new Program on Education Policy and Governance working paper that provides, to my knowledge, the first credible evidence on the effects of online courses on student achievement in K-12 schools.  The bottom line is that Florida high school students taking Algebra or English I online perform at least as well on state math and reading tests as do students taking the same courses in a traditional format.  That is, their results do not demonstrate the superiority of fully online instruction for promoting student achievement, at least in its earliest iterations.  But the results should nonetheless be encouraging to proponents of the potential for online learning to open up new, high-quality educational options for American students.

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the nation’s largest statewide virtual school.  Indeed, its 462,000 course enrollments in 2013 represented more than half of all enrollments in state virtual schools nationwide. (For the backstory on how FLVS managed to grow so quickly, see Bill Tucker’s analysis here.)


Could Video Games Measure Skills That Tests Can’t Capture? 
Anya Kamenetz, Mind/Shift, August 11, 2014
Video games used in educational situations are not just measures of what the student already knows, but attempts to measure whether they are prepared to continue learning when they’re no longer told exactly what to do.
GlassLab Opens Opportunity for Education-Game Makers
Benjamin Herold, Education Week, August 19, 2014
Goal is to help developers show evidence of learning. Developers hoping to transform digital learning games from lightweight classroom fun to serious instructional tools could soon have access to powerful new technologies to help make that happen.
GlassLab, a nonprofit made up of a highly regarded team of learning scientists, assessment designers, and software developers, announced last month that it will make its assessment and analytics engines available for free to third-party developers of digital learning games, beginning with an initial cohort of five groups this fall.
Why you should care about gamification in higher education 
Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, August 19, 2014
New studies, data reveal that gamification is more than just a fad; helps students later in careers. Gaming in education has, for the most part, been a K-12 trend, with its popularity relegated to supplemental learning for elementary school students. But gamification, from its implementation at MIT to its praise from the job industry, has much more serious implications for college students—and perhaps it’s time higher education got serious about incorporating game design.
7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning
EDUCAUSE, March 11, 2014
Educators have long understood that the interactive dynamic of games has the potential to benefit teaching and learning, and recent years have seen considerable activity surrounding the use of game mechanics in higher education. Download this resource.

Student-built Apps

Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two 
Ariel Kaminer, New York Times, August 27, 2014
Colleges and universities are reacting by either trying to shut the students down or collaborating with them.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom: First Impressions 
Konrad M. Lawson, Chronicle of Higher Ed, August 26, 2014
Beyond a clean interface, Google Classroom in its current form does not offer anything that Moodle or a host of other learning-management systems do not already provide.
A week with Google Classroom
Karl Rivers, Classthink, September 15, 2014
Google Classroom has been available for a few weeks now, and while it’s admittedly lacking in features, we’ve been intrigued by Google’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) alternative.

We’ve been trailing Google Classroom with our teachers and while the overall opinion is very positive, there are a few changes and bug fixes that would make using Classroom even simpler. Check these out.

Open Source Online Platforms

A Platform for All Purposes 
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2014
EdCast, a new online education platform provider, wants to use open-source software to help institutions teach courses to on-campus and online students all at once.

New IEEE Standard

802.11ac: The New Standard for Very High Throughput 
Overview: A new IEEE standard is in the wings ready to make its debut on the wireless market stage: 802.11ac.  

802.11ac builds upon the success of 802.11n that is now the predominant WLAN standard in the market. 802.11n brought improvements in data rates and link efficiencies; however, consumer and commercial trends have created demand for a new set of capabilities that are addressed by 802.11ac. Consult this Website for information about why 802.11ac is needed and major features.

Too Much Data?

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise
Natasha Singer, New York Times, September 14, 2014
Technology companies are collecting a vast amount of data about students, touching every corner of their educational lives — with few controls on how those details are used.

Charter Schools: The Facts

Charter schools: Finding out the facts: At a glance
Center for Public Education
For almost two decades, charter schools have evolved as a way to experiment with education innovations and provide public school choice. The charter school concept has attracted significant interest—and scrutiny—from the nation’s education leaders. While sometimes hailed as a model for raising student achievement, charters also are often misunderstood among the public at large. In fact, despite the unprecedented attention given to charter schools by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the majority of Americans have little understanding of this growing sector of American education. Since charter schools are poised for another growth spurt, understanding what charter schools are, and especially whether they work, is crucial. From the available research, it seems that the attention paid to charter schools outweighs the effect they have had on public education, either good or bad. Read more: What Are Charter Schools?

Annual OECD Report

Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
This annual publication is the authoritative source for accurate and relevant information on the state of education around the world.
Featuring more than 150 charts, 300 tables, and over 100 000 figures, it provides data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries, as well as a number of partner countries.
It results from a long-standing, collaborative effort between OECD governments, the experts and institutions working within the framework of the OECD Indicators of Education Systems (INES) programme and the OECD Secretariat.

Teacher Evaluation

Trends in Teacher Evaluation: At A Glance
Center for Public Education
For decades, teacher evaluations were little more than a bureaucratic exercise that failed to recognize either excellence or mediocrity in teaching. As such, evaluation represented a missed opportunity for giving teachers valuable feedback that could help them improve their practice. Increasingly, this is no longer the case. Since 2009, over two-thirds of states have made significant changes to how teachers are evaluated. For most states, the change was motivated by incentives available through the federal programs Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind waivers, and Teacher Incentive Fund. Read more…

PDK/Gallup Poll

The PDK/Gallup Poll of The Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools
PDK/Gallup Poll, Part 1, September 2014
Each year, the PDK/Gallup poll allows educators and policy makers to track public opinion about one of this nation’s most important institutions: its public schools. The folks at PDK and Gallup apparently had so much to report in this year’s annual poll of public attitudes toward public schools, they had to release it in two parts. Part 1, which we summarized here, addressed the Common Core State Standards and perceptions about public schools more generally. Part 2, released this week, focuses primarily on public attitudes about the teaching profession. What they have to say should provide comfort to beleaguered teachers.
PDK/Gallup Poll Part 2, October 2014

Mobile Technology

Mobile "Edutainment" Means Serious Learning at Georgia Regents University
Toni Fuhman, Campus Technology, September 18, 2014
For GRU, developing mobile technology that both entertains and instructs is not just a theoretical goal — it's a whole new approach to education.
Survey: Students' Mobile-Device Use Rising
Benjamin Herold, Education Week, September 16, 2014
A growing number of U.S. students regularly use laptops, tablets, and smartphones for schoolwork, but just one in six attends a school that provides all students with their own such mobile devices.
The results are part of a newly released study from Pearson, an education publisher headquartered in London and New York. The study is based on a survey of 2,252 public, private, and home-schooled students in grades 5-12 in February and March 2013.

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media
Common Sense is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.  We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.
Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. We offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music.  Our Topic Centers and Parent Blog help families understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.
Common Sense Education provides teachers and schools with free research-based classroom tools to help students harness technology for learning and life. Our K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum and interactive games teach students how to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world.  And our revolutionary educational rating system, Graphite, helps educators discover, use, and share high-quality digital products that propel student learning.


12 iPad Apps You Should Consistently Use in Your Class Next Year 
Scott Hagedorn, Teachers Use Tech
As I near finished my first year having 1 to 1 iPads with my 5th graders, here are twelve resources my class will be using regularly next year.
6 Great Things You Can Do with Google
Google has recently announced the official release of Google Classroom in more than 40 languages. Google Classroom is a new tool in Google Apps for Education that helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes. As a teacher, here are some of the key features you need to know about Google Classroom.
The Digital Education Newsletter 
Digital Education is a free electronic newsletter/magazine that focuses on educational information and communications technology (ICT).
It's aimed at teachers, advisers, and principals — anyone, in fact, who has a professional interest in educational ICT. It's read by thousands of people, including employees of government bodies and local authorities, as well as teachers in the UK and the rest of the world.

New higher-ed app boosts collaboration in real-time 
Michael Sharnoff, eCampus News, September 11, 2014
Lucidchart aims to improve the professor-student learning dynamic through interactive charts and diagrams. Higher-ed faculty and staff are always looking for new timesaving tools to deliver instruction more efficiently and effectively.  If you’re searching for new and innovative ways to present complex material to students, you might want to take a closer look at Lucidchart.
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