State offers laptops as trade-in for school iPads
After hearing students and teachers overwhelmingly say iPad computers are used to play games in class, while laptops are better for schoolwork, Auburn and other Maine districts are sending iPads packing and returning to laptops.
The Maine Department of Education and Apple are offering Maine schools a “Refresh” swap offer at no additional cost.
Laptops and iPads ordered in 2013 can be returned for new and improved Apple MacBook Air laptops, which cost less than the Apple laptops three years ago.
Schools can also opt to get new iPads since both devices have been improved.
Before Auburn decided what to do, the district surveyed grades seven through 12 students and teachers, Auburn School Department Technology Director Peter Robinson told the Auburn School Committee.
The results were overwhelmingly in favor of laptops: 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students favored them over iPads.
The results "are pretty darn clear," Robinson said. The survey findings "made the decision for us."
Three years ago, after seeing success with the iPads in primary grades, "I thought iPads were absolutely the right choice," Robinson said. Now, he said, iPads have shortcomings for older students.
One teacher wrote in the survey that iPads "provide no educational function in the classroom. Students use them as toys. Word processing is near to impossible … I applaud this change.”
“The iPads are largely students’ gaming devices,” another teacher wrote. “The iPads are a disaster,” another said.
“WE NEED LAPTOPS!!!” one student said, three times. “IPads are easier to play games on and get addicted to,” another said.
Do one-to-one laptop programs improve learning?
Students who receive a laptop computer from their school tend to see a noticeable increase in academic achievement, a Michigan State University study reveals.
Michigan State University’s Binbin Zheng and colleagues analyzed past studies on one-to-one laptop initiatives, and Zheng’s own research, and found that such programs that take a comprehensive approach, including offering one-to-one program support to both students and teachers, saw higher test scores in English, math, science and writing, along with other benefits.
“In the past couple decades, one-to-one laptop programs have spread widely, but so has debate about whether they are cost-effective and beneficial to educational outcomes,” said Zheng, assistant professor of educational technology and lead author on the paper. “I believe this technology, if implemented correctly, is worth the cost and effort because it lifts student achievement, enhances engagement and enthusiasm among students, improves teacher-student relationships and promotes 21st century skills such as technological proficiency and problem solving.”
Correct implementation is key, Zheng emphasized, and simply distributing laptops to students will not boost achievement.
“Just putting a laptop before a student doesn’t really help them with anything,” Zheng said. “Technology should not be implemented for technology’s sake.”
But one-to-one laptop programs in which each student in a class, grade level, school or district gets a computer, can improve educational outcomes when there is teacher buy-in, suitable technical support and professional development for teachers, and appropriate implementation with the curriculum.
In addition to improved scores on standardized tests, students involved in successful one-to-one laptop programs also saw improved writing skills.
“Students received more feedback on their writing, edited and revised their papers more often, drew on a wider range of resources to write and published or shared their work with others more often,” Zheng said.
The researchers reviewed nearly 100 academic studies on one-to-one laptop programs dating back to 2001, although only 10 of the studies were scientifically rigorous enough to use in a statistical “meta-analysis” in the paper. Zheng said more in-depth studies are needed to further identify what works and what doesn’t with one-to-one laptop programs.
Librarians are taking the lead in the digital transformation
For library media specialists, finding high-quality digital resources is an ongoing challenge. Today, media specialists are being called upon to organize and share content for students and teachers alike.
Adobe Spark offers visual storytelling capability
Adobe has launched Adobe Spark, an integrated web and mobile solution for creating and sharing impactful visual stories.
Free and designed for everyday communications, Adobe Spark empowers anyone – including small businesses, social marketers and students – to create stunning visual content that engages audiences across multiple channels and looks great on any device.
“Today anyone can create content and share it via social media, but most people lack the skill, time and resources to create something that cuts through the online clutter,” said Bryan Lamkin, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Media at Adobe. “With Adobe Spark, anyone can create authentic, professional looking visual content for their project, passion, cause or business."
A new service that is part of Creative Cloud, Adobe Spark brings Adobe’s 30-plus years of technology and innovation for creative professionals to creative consumers. The Adobe Spark web app seamlessly syncs with Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video iOS mobile apps, allowing users to create, edit and share their story from wherever they are – regardless of their design experience.
The integrated solution consists of:
Adobe Spark web app: a browser-based web experience for creating social posts and graphics, web stories and animated videos.
Spark Post: an iOS mobile app that enables anyone to create stunning social posts and graphics in seconds.
Spark Page: an iOS mobile app that helps users create beautiful web stories.
Spark Video: an iOS mobile app that enables users to create compelling animated videos in minutes.
As part of its focus on everyday communications, Adobe Spark is designed to help solo entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed. Adobe is collaborating with Facebook Blueprint – a new global education and certification program to help agencies and advertisers achieve their business results through marketing on Facebook and Instagram platforms. Facebook Blueprint users will benefit from Adobe’s expert guidance through tutorial content on how to successfully market themselves on the Facebook and Instagram platforms using Adobe Spark.
Adobe Spark is also partnering with Change.org, the world's largest social change platform, to co-create training materials for petitioners and change agents. Petitions with a video receive six times more signatures than those without, and Change.org petitioners will gain access to Adobe Spark resources for creating effective explainer videos for cause-based and crowdfunding campaigns that further their causes.
A new plan to get high school students to take college classes
The costs of college textbooks and fees, as well as being responsible for their own transportation, proved too much for some students in Career and College Promise, a dual-enrollment program at Guilford Technical Community College.
A couple reduced the number of classes they were taking. The others left the program.
“My girls would have had to have dropped except for the fact we had a credit card,” said Pat Raines of Greensboro. She and her husband charged the textbooks, which she estimated cost about $400 or $500 a semester, for each of their granddaughters. The Raineses also charged the student fees for their granddaughters, for whom they have custody.
Their granddaughters, Andrea and Stephanie Raines, will have completed a full semester of college when they graduate from Western High on June 5.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Education want more students, particularly those from low-income families, not only to access dual-enrollment programs such as the one at GTCC but also not to have to worry as much about their costs.
The Dual Enrollment Pell Experiment, announced Monday, would reach about 10,000 high school students across the nation over three years and allow them to access a share of about $20 million in federal Pell Grants for dual-enrollment courses.
GTCC is the only college or university in North Carolina and one of 44 nationwide chosen to participate.
Dual-enrollment programs are “powerful ways” to introduce students to rigorous courses, particularly for those students in low-income families or who would be first-generation college students, U.S. Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell told reporters during a press call.
Students from public high schools would complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly referred to as FAFSA, to determine if they are eligible for a Pell Grant. Those eligible can only receive grants for up to 12 semesters, or about six years. There is also a cap on the maximum amount a student can receive in a year — $5,815 for 2016-17.
Accessing Pell Grants while in high school would count against those limits, but the expectation is that students would put the grant dollars to work to complete college on time and at cost, if not at a lower cost, Mitchell said.
“The hope is that this investment will accelerate students toward completion,” U.S. Education Secretary John King said during the press call. Whether that holds true will be a critical piece for evaluating the program, he said.
The cost factor
The courses students take in high school are major factors in whether they go on to college and how well they perform there, King said. Many students from low-income backgrounds lack opportunities to pick courses that could prepare them for college, he said. Picking those courses could lead to better grades, more students continuing their education after high school and higher college completion rates, King said.
Linda Whitlow, GTCC’s liaison for early middle colleges and concurrent enrollment programs, said she believes the U.S. Education Department’s experiment will draw more students to the Career and College Promise program at GTCC.