Top 10 of 2014, No. 10: Mobile devices and mobile learning
Each year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed tech conversations. No. 10 on our list for 2014 is mobile learning.
This year, educators focused on putting mobile devices in students’ hands in an effort to help them learn valuable technology skills that will carry them through college and the workforce.
Initiatives such as one-to-one pilots and bring-your-own-device programs popped up in more and more districts across the nation as school leaders sought to personalize learning and extend technology’s benefits and opportunities to all students.
But this year, things took a turn. Chromebook sales surged and the iPad juggernaut began to ebb. Overall mobile adoption in schools also rose—here and abroad as mobile learning continues on a path toward mainstream adoption.
In research and surveys, teachers say mobile technology gives them, and their students, more access to a diverse variety of learning materials and opportunities. It also boosts student engagement.
Read more about how mobile learning and mobile devices are changing education
Assessing the virtual school experience in Maine
A typical school day for Maggie Mader looks a little different from the kind most people picture.
On a recent Tuesday morning, Maggie, a 16-year-old competitive horseback rider, gets ready for her hour-long biology class. But her classroom is her pink bedroom, where the walls are decorated with trophy ribbons and a shelf over her desk is lined with textbooks and notepads. Pulling on a headset, Maggie boots up her school-issued desktop computer and logs in to Roger Young’s biology class.
While most students would then go on to other classes in other subjects, perhaps hit the cafeteria for lunch or participate in an after-school activity, Maggie is headed for the stables, where she keeps her two horses, for a four-hour workout there.
Maggie is a sophomore at Maine Connections Academy, the state’s first virtual charter school, which opened in September after a two-year struggle to meet state charter commission requirements. Today the school enrolls 300 students in grades 7-12 from around the state.
Supporters say virtual schools, in which students receive lessons at home by computer, learning on their own schedules, are good for those who may find traditional schools an imperfect fit, from top athletes in intense training to students who have been bullied.
There are some, however, who criticize virtual schools for taking money away from local school systems, and question the quality of the education and the fact that local boards of virtual charter schools outsource much of their management to out-of-state for-profit companies that are beholden to shareholders. Maine Connections Academy received approval to open only after significantly changing its business plan so that its Maine-based board would hire the teachers and administrators directly.
Maine Connections Academy Principal Karl Francis said a virtual school is second nature to young people, who are savvy about using technology in the classroom.
App of the Week: An anger management tool
App name: Calm Counter Social Story & Anger Management Tool
What is it? Calm Counter is a visual and audio tool to help people calm down when they are angry or anxious. The app includes a social story about anger, and audio/visual tools for calming down.
Best for: Students ages 6-8
Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
Features: The app opens up to a “I need a break screen” that vocalizes “I need a break” when it is tapped. The screen then transitions to a red screen with an angry face and the number ten. With each tap the screen transitions to a calmer face and color. In this way, the app prompts the user to count backwards from ten followed by a deep breath.
The app also includes a simple social story with line drawings about anger. The social story talks about feeling angry and things you can do, like counting to ten, breathing deeply and taking a break, to calm yourself down.
The settings screen allows you to choose from male, female or no vocals for counting back from ten and for reading the social story out loud.
$200,000 Follett Challenge deadline set for Jan. 9
It has never been easier to enter the Follett Challenge as contest organizers have streamlined the application process and now provide valuable resources and tips to help schools and districts make their entry stand out among their peers. The deadline to enter the fourth annual competition is Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.
A total of $200,000 in products and services from Follett will be awarded to the winning entries. The Follett Challenge is designed to empower educators with a platform to tell the world about how their innovative teaching and learning programs are preparing students for the demands of the 21st century.
Applicants are required to submit an online application, plus a three- to five-minute video. To help entrants, the contest’s website (www.FollettChallenge.com) features a comprehensive, online resource guide, including links to free images, video, music, and audio to help save entrants time searching for these resources. Also, Sue Adelmann, a Follett Challenge judge since the inception, is featuredin a video where she lends perspective into what makes a successful application.
“I’ve read every application, watched every video and I’ve seen a lot of awesome work out there,” said Adelmann, vice president of market intelligence for Follett School Solutions. “There are some great resources on the Follett Challenge to get entrants started when they’re ready to go forward.”
Organizers have also shared a case study from Belleville (Ill.) West High School – the most recent Follett Challenge grand-prize winner – that outlines how to make entries work within the parameters of the judges’ scoring rubric. Eighty percent of each entrant’s score will be based on the judges’ opinion of the entry, with the remaining 20 percent based on the number of votes generated for the school’s video.
Why the Modern Data Center Needs More than Legacy Security
With thousands of student records at stake, data security should be every leading educator’s priority. The data center has made rapid development with virtualization and cloud computing, but many school and districts continue to use traditional legacy security, leading to unnecessary complexity and opening the door to potential breaches of personal data.
Deep Security 9 from Trend Micro™ offers advanced protection from disruptions and data breaches, all managed from a single multi-function dashboard. Its seamless integration across multiple cloud environments empowers users to continue doing what they do best with peace of mind.