How to save money and time with asset management software
Lost textbooks? Old paper-pushing systems? Asset management software is keeping track of textbooks and more for these districts, and saving them money in the process.
3 barriers, 3 fixes for school broadband
Nationwide, 23 percent of school districts still do not meet the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) minimum broadband access goal of 100 kbps per student, according to a state-by-state broadband connectivity report from the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway.
The top three barriers to meeting the FCC's minimum broadband goal, according to the report, include:
Access to fiber: School districts without fiber are 15 percent less likely to meet connectivity goals.
Broadband affordability: Districts that do meet the 100 kpbs per student minimum pay an average cost of $5.07 per Mbps--those that do not meet the goal pay more than double, at $12.33 per Mbps.
School district budgets: The average internet access budget in districts that meet the FCC's connectivity goal is $4.93 per student--more than 2.4 times the $2.08 per student budget for districts that do not meet the broadband connectivity goals.
In all, 20 million more students have been connected to high-speed broadband over the past 2 years, according to the report. In 2013, just 30 percent of school districts met the Federal Communication Commission's minimum broadband access goal. In 2015, that jumped to 77 percent.
Despite meeting connectivity goals, most districts still have to increase the amount of broadband they purchase in order to keep up with demand, which is growing in K-12 schools at a rate of more than 50 percent per year, EducationSuperHighway says. In fact, the typical school district will have to triple its bandwidth in the next three years.
Three things can help connect all of the nation's students to school broadband:
Connect 9,500 schools to fiber: Twelve percent of schools that need a fiber connection do not have one, and EducationSuperHighway estimates it will cost roughly $1 billion to achieve connectivity.
Ensure every classroom has wi-fi: Districts can leverage the $3.4 billion in funding availble for internal connections over the next four years to ensure every classroom has wi-fi.
Make broadband affordable: Continually focusing on affordability, and striving to lower the cost of broadband access to $3 per Mbps, would help 12.2 million students meet the FCC's minimum access goal. If remaining districts invest $0.25 per student per year, every student would be able to meet the FCC's minimum goal.
Collaboration tool supports global discussions
A newly launched collaboration feature from Participate Learning (formerly called appoLearning) gives educators a way to invite colleagues down the hall or across the country to discuss and share their Collections in real time.
With Participate Learning’s Collections, teachers can find and curate educational websites, apps and videos for improving student outcomes and place these in a digital folder.
Educators are asked constantly to focus on personal professional learning. While Twitter chats, class blogs and conferences are valuable for finding resources and ideas, the depth of collaboration on these channels is limited by either medium or time. Educators can compile spreadsheets of resources to take advantage of the burgeoning number of internet-connected devices in their classrooms.
But most say handmade lists are cumbersome to share. And when educators with a cache of best practices hand out or email their resources to colleagues, they rarely come with sufficient explanation.
Instead, Participate Learning’s new collaboration feature lets educators post comments back and forth in real-time as they make suggestions for improving one another’s Collections. One teacher likened the features available on Participate Learning to “Google + Pinterest + Dropbox.”
Through Participate Learning’s collaboration and Collections, educators recommend apps or websites or videos to one another on topics ranging from ADHD to zoos. Or they can build Collections together on shared topics of interest such as Common Core State Standards.
“Teachers are demanding answers for how best to use the technology filling their classrooms; many are overwhelmed by what they get when searching the internet for resources,” said Alan Warms, chief executive officer of Participate Learning. “We deliver thousands of apps, videos and websites, which expert educators have already vetted, for teachers to search and build Collections with; once a Collection is built, collaboration can happen immediately.”
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What happens when college and career readiness starts in kindergarten?
Ask a third grader what she wants to be when she grows up, and she might say “a doctor.” Adults know that anyone with a doctorate is technically a doctor, but for a young mind their idea of what a doctor is or does is narrow. It is only through repeated exposure to careers that students begin to expand those definitions and begin to think about their futures. At the Kankakee School District in Illinois, where I graduated from and now serve as superintendent, it’s a process that begins as early as preschool.
Research shows that the earlier and more often you talk with young children about careers, the more students will envision themselves going to college and working in those fields. Without the consistent conversations, a student may never pursue secondary education or have a solid career at all.
From the time a student walks through the door of a school in Kankakee School District to the time they walk across stage to receive their high school diplomas, they are constantly transitioning to their next stage of life.
At Kankakee, the magnet and gifted-student programs traditionally got most of the district’s focus, creating a significant achievement gap for students on the general education track, which was filled with watered-down expectations, creating a slippery slope that pulled the entire district down. At one point, half of students in grades two through nine failed to meet local assessment expectations. The way our community and school is structured, with high-achieving magnet programs, there is really no excuse for us to be a low-performing district. Something drastic had to be done to level the playing field, and college and career readiness looked like the best way to do it.