3 must-dos for caring for your mobile devices
While mobile learning continues to work its way further into educational institutions, administrators and educators are faced with a new set of related issues. Chief among them: How will our teachers and students learn to use these devices? And What happens when students break or lose their tablets?
Skyward expands use of the Ed-Fi Data Standard
Skyward, a K-12 school administrative software provider, has broadened the use of the Ed-Fi Data Standard in a move that it hopes will dramatically improve data interoperability between districts and state agencies.
Unifying, standardizing and organizing data is a major challenge for many education agencies. Because each state agency typically creates its own regulations, SIS vendors are required to develop one-off approaches to meet the customization of local data-reporting requirements. Due to the complexity associated with making these adjustments and supporting ongoing changes in data needs by the agencies, school districts generally also have to commit additional resources to maintain compliance.
Technology from the Ed-Fi Alliance is designed to facilitate secure data exchange among multiple K-12 data systems in use at the school, district and state education levels. By playing an active role in the Ed-Fi community that is growing rapidly across the United States, Skyward is broadening support for the Ed-Fi Data Standard to its customers.
“Our customers continually praise Skyward’s expertise in supporting state compliance requirements and we see technology from the Ed-Fi Alliance as an approach that improves data accuracy and reduces the time needed to meet state compliance requirements,” said Ray Ackerlund, vice president of sales and marketing at Skyward. “The data interoperability and re-purposing of data allows our customers to capitalize on efforts from other states that have already aligned with the Ed-Fi Data Standard.”
Along with reducing time and costs to meet state requirements, the utilization of the Ed-Fi Data Standard by Skyward addresses data integration and reporting challenges many school districts currently face. Skyward customers using Ed-Fi technology experienced improved data accuracy, increased interoperability between systems, timely reporting submissions and more control at the local level, among other benefits.
Students use tech to drive career exploration
As the school year ends, some students in low-income rural areas may feel that their time in class hasn’t brought them any closer to going to college or getting beyond a minimum wage job.
However, students in north central and south central Kentucky are plotting their career paths and even finding the grants, scholarships and other funds to pursue their paths, thanks to the efforts and initiatives of the kid-FRIENDLy (Kids-Focused, Responsible, Imaginative, Engaged, Determined to Learn) Project (http://www.kidfriendlyky.com), a program funded in 2012 by the largest Race To The Top-District (RTTT-D) grant awarded.
The kid-FRIENDLy Project focuses on student empowerment, supporting students’ building daily habits of goal setting, teamwork, critical thinking, communication, creativity and problem solving, making them leaders of their own learning. The program also promotes personalized learning strategies, including online and off-campus work environments, flipped classrooms, student teaming, and emphasis on students’ learning needs, preferences and responsibility.
Next page: The program's impact
“When I started high school, I had no idea what I was going to do after graduation,” used to be a common refrain among students in the area, but now many are taking action for their future career paths while still in high school. They are deciding on professional fields such as civil engineering or psychology and researching which colleges have the courses best suited for helping them realize their goals. Individuals interested in positions in the agricultural field have joined organizations like FFA and 4H in addition to deciding on postsecondary education options.
The RTTT-D grant has made it even easier for students to consider and prepare for their future career paths by funding the development of a related WIN Learning Career Exploration and Planning mobile app for kid-FRIENDLy.
The WIN Atlas app helps students identify potential career interests and gain insight into the relationship between their education and career pathways. It includes an Interest and Work Profiler feature that aids in the development of an individualized learning plan by helping students choose a career pathway that matches their interests, priorities and work values.
Waterford Early Learning helps prepare Mobile County students for kindergarten
Connecting families with high-quality early learning programs is among President Obama’s top priorities. It’s also important to Alabama’s Mobile County Public Schools (MCPS), and the district is using research-based software from the nonprofit Waterford Institute to prepare young children for success in kindergarten and beyond.
Districts tighten social media rules among teachers, students
School officials are tasked with trying to figure out how to embrace the seemingly limitless educational advantages of the internet and social media tools, but preventing them from being used to initiate and foster covert, inappropriate relationships among staff and students.
“There have always been inappropriate relationships between teachers and students,” said Gretchen Shipley, a San Diego attorney who has created a practice around education and technology. “But I think it has been more of a growing problem because the breaking down of barriers with social media and the ease with which you can talk with each other.”
It’s a dilemma for school leaders across the nation.
The New York Department of Education has a seven-page set of social media guidelines that instructs teachers to use “school-based” social media platforms to communicate with students and recommends against employees using personal social media sites to contact students.
In Missouri, the legislature passed a law several years ago banning all electronic communication between educators and students, but after a legal challenge by the state teachers union, a judge ruled the law unconstitutional. The legislation has been rewritten to direct each district to create its own policy, making it remain unclear if a district ban would be considered unconstitutional, Ms. Shipley said.
“Everyone is trying to figure out what to do between what the courts are deciding and given the challenges of the increasing number of sexual abuse by educator cases,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
The issue is relevant in districts across Pennsylvania. In Plum, where two teachers were arrested in February and charged with institutional sexual assault for their relationships with female students, superintendent Timothy Glasspool said his board is not considering a policy banning social media or cell phone contact between teachers and students because “it may violate the First Amendment rights of individuals.”