eSchool News

eSchool News
eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
  • SETDA launches digital learning implementation guide
    A new and free resource addressing six focus areas aims to help school leaders implement digital learning initiatives effectively. The Guide to Implementing Digital Learning (GIDL), from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), is a free web-based resource to support school and district leaders as they work to ensure that investments in digital learning spark positive results. “Digital learning is more important today than ever before. Our students are digital natives and when students utilize technology in the classroom, they are true 21st century learners," said Tom Luna, Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction. GIDL was developed through the input of state educational technology leaders who collaborated across state lines to develop guidance and aggregate resources for, and examples of, effective digital learning implementation. SETDA is proud to have partnered with the Tier I GIDL sponsors, Copia and Curriculum Associates that contributed related resources. The Guide to Implementing Digital Learning is free to access here. SETDA also will host a free webinar for educators and other interested parties on January 15, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET, which will feature the insights of state educational technology leaders on effective digital learning implementation and on how to best use The Guide to Implementing Digital Learning. Reserve your seat today by visiting http://tinyurl.com/setda-digitallearning. “With the announcements of new state and federal investments in support of digital learning, including $1.5 billion annually in new E-rate support for school broadband, it is critical that leaders consider the full range of issues in implementing and scaling up new digital learning opportunities,” said Douglas Levin, executive director of SETDA. “Our intent in releasing The Guide to Implementing Digital Learning is to help schools and districts assess, plan and execute digital learning opportunities more effectively.”
  • Disney donates $55M in apps, books
    At the White House Summit on Early Education, The Walt Disney Company announced a $55 million in apps and books through First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational materials to educators and programs serving children from low-income families. The commitment is part of President Obama’s Invest in Us initiative, a challenge to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, public officials and the public to build a better nation through high-quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. The donation is part of Disney Publishing Worldwide’s launch of Disney Imagicademy, a new, innovative learning brand for families with children ages 3 to 8 designed to inspire a lifelong love of learning and creativity. Disney Imagicademy offers parents a way to expose their children to fundamental educational concepts in a fun and uniquely Disney way, combining the Disney characters and stories families love, with a research-driven curriculum developed in conjunction with top academic and education experts. (Next page: Details of the grant) “For almost 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has captivated generations of children through experiences that not only entertain, but inspire them to explore, create and imagine,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We are proud to help expand access to early childhood education in America through a $55 million in-kind donation—including hundreds of thousands of apps from our Publishing division’s newest brand, Disney Imagicademy." As part of the three-year commitment, Disney will provide $5 million in Disney Imagicademy apps to First Book and other non-profit organizations, and $50 million in books to help foster a love of reading in young children from low-income families. In addition, Disney will provide $1 million in funding to First Book to spread the magic of storytelling and help children in need gain access to critical resources around the country. “We’ve worked hard to bring these types of learning tools to children in need, and now thanks to Disney and the strength of our network, Disney Imagicademy is accessible for free to kids in need throughout the country the same day it is available to the general public,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “Disney’s in-kind donation over the next three years is First Book’s largest gift targeting early childhood programs.” First Book research shows that the after-school programs, shelters and clinics, museums, libraries, Head Start classrooms and others that make up the First Book Network are in need of web-based tools and interactive learning programs that help children read, learn and achieve, both inside and outside of school. Through First Book, the first two Disney Imagicademy apps – Mickey’s Magical Math World and Disney Imagicademy Parents – will be available for free through the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.org) for teachers and educators that serve children from low-income families at the same time these products become available to the general public.
  • Making learning limitless
    The education technology movement has shifted from an experimental phase to the new norm. Standards are changing and teaching methods are evolving because students today are better enabled to not only understand technology in the classroom, but are the drivers for the change. On Dec. 12, leaders from Samsung, NAF (National Academy Foundation), SOTI, and the Verizon Foundation are joining students in Omaha to roll out the National Academy Foundation Samsung School Solution Initiative. Each device has SOTI MobiControl installed to help students and faculty experience a classroom without walls. Sitting with students, we witness the command and confidence they have when using technology, wanting to learn more. Teachers become facilitators and coaches; students direct their own learning. These students want to share their knowledge and collaborate more than ever before. (Next page: More details on the learning program) When we hear quotes like “Elearning has impacted my grades because whenever I need to turn in something I can have it right there. I don’t have to go to a computer or charge my computer at home to do it. I can just do it on tablets; it’s really easy it’s really convenient I can do it almost anywhere,” it helps us realize the true impact of what technology is making possible. We sat down with several students to learn more about what benefits they get from the tablets. What we heard was eye opening. The confidence and pride they have in being able to utilize cutting-edge technology was great. Teachers and administrators are tasked with bringing technology to students. A paradigm shift is taking place because traditional ideologies no longer seem to apply. For example, organizations such as NAF (National Academy Foundation), Samsung, the Verizon Foundation, and SOTI have partnered to deliver Samsung School’s digital classroom package to schools and students in inner-city communities. The initiative delivers modern teaching with technology and devices combined, creating new possibilities for educators and their students. The program dynamically blends technology with educational content, increasing the impact of the curriculum.
  • Deeper learning has significant impact
    New research reveals that students who attend schools with a focus on deeper learning are more likely to graduate on time and demonstrate higher achievement and test scores, as well as an increased likelihood of college attendance.
  • Pearson unveils new approach to social studies education
    Developing an understanding of social studies--where our society has been and where it is going--is crucial to success in today’s fast-paced, interconnected world. Last month, Pearson unveiled new secondary social studies programs designed to engage every student in the love of history, geography, government, economics, and culture to provide a foundation for success in civic life as well as college and career. Created through a collaborative process involving educators, experts and students from around the country, Pearson’s next-generation social studies programs align to the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. The framework, developed and launched last year by the National Council for the Social Studies, shifts the emphasis from delivering content to preparing students for life beyond the classroom. Kathy Swan, project director and lead writer of the C3 Framework, collaborated with Pearson on the development of the new programs. Swan, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Kentucky, said: “While much of the content in social studies hasn’t changed, if we are going to engage today’s students in learning this important subject, we must transform our instructional approach. Today’s technology provides us with a new way of immersing students in learning about history, geography and culture by personalizing content and actively involving them in thinking in different ways.” (Next page: How the new social studies programs are designed) The new programs combine best practices, curriculum standards, and technology. Students connect to digital content and actively learn, investigate, and acquire key content knowledge through print and digital resources. Then they extend their understanding by applying what they just learned in quick recap exercises. Through formative and summative assessments, they demonstrate understanding of what they are learning. “If we are going to educate 21st century learners, it is crucial that we take a 21st century approach, integrating all of the powerful tools and resources that we have available into an engaging and interactive learning environment,” said Bethlam Forsa, Pearson’s managing director for learning services. “Through our collaboration with educators, experts, and other leading education organizations, we reimagined social studies to develop programs that will provide students with a foundation for success in college, career and civic life.” Pearson collaborated with NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBCUniversal News Group, to produce the program’s myStory videos, developed to help students make personal connections to people and places all over the world. In addition, for the 2015-2016 school year, schools using Pearson’s new grades 8-12 social studies curriculum will have access to NBC Learn’s library of more than 17,000 premium education videos. “NBC Learn is uniquely able to bring historic and current events to life through the combination of original productions and a deep digital video archive of news stories by our world-class journalists,” said Soraya Gage, vice president and general manager, NBC Learn. In addition, Pearson worked with the nonprofit, non-partisan Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), to develop the Civic Discussion Topic Inquiries for all of the new programs. Pearson also integrated CRF’s project-based learning model, Civic Action Project, into the company’s longest continually published title, “Magruder’s American Government,” which was first available in 1917. “Exploring civics through project-based learning provides students with a real-world view on how government works and the ways that citizens can help solve or influence a problem, issue or policy,” said Marshall Croddy, president, CRF. “Pearson’s new social studies curriculum provides us with a powerful platform for involving students in learning civics through this model.”
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