eSchool News

eSchool News
eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
  • District Administration Solution Showcase on LearnBop
  • Should you treat your school like a business?
    The idea of treating students, parents and the school community as customers isn't an entirely new one, but it's still one that makes some school leaders balk. After all, schools are institutions of learning, and traditionally, they have not been thought of as businesses. But with the growth of charter schools and online schools, parents have other options to explore if their child's school does not meet expectations--and when students leave, so, too, does funding. And in an effort to increase parental engagement and ensure that parents and community members feel as though they are part of their children's school, the newly-passed Every Student Succeeds Act includes multiple methods to increase parental engagement, including expanded accessibility, regular two-way communication, and enhanced parent and family engagement policies. Some district leaders are taking action to make sure their students, parents and community members know that they are respected and valued. Companies such as K12 Insight are meeting school districts halfway, helping school leaders forge strong relationships with teachers, students and parents. Using Engage, a survey tool, and Let's Talk!, a communication management dashboard, K12 Insight arms school districts with the communication tools necessary to solicit feedback from stakeholders and to track progress in addressing that feedback or answering questions. In Indiana's Ft. Wayne Schools, Superintendent Wendy Robinson knew the district needed to change the conversation it had with teachers, staff, parents and students. "In the beginning, we were the only game in town. You treated people right and maybe some parents weren't completely happy with you in some situations, but they didn't have options," said Wendy Robinson. Along with a national focus on schools having increased competition from charter school, Indian has a very well-funded and well-organized school voucher system. Parents now have options. "Our district believes that one of our core goals has to be that we figure out ways to communicate with our parents and community members, because we value them." "We have to start out with the basic belief that if you don't value parents, students and community members, they won't stay with you. They have not have better options, but if we don't treat them with respect, there are OTHER options." "I don't go to stores where they don't have what I want, but I also don't go to store where they don't trust me or where they treat me as if it's an inconvenience for me to be there." "So when you think about the fact that we're not the only game in town, and the fact that we do value people, students and families, then the fact that if you look at [school] from what a customer would want, it's a whole different lens." "It's not that just because we're here, they'll come--we better make sure we can communicate, communicate, communicate and listen to our customers' feedback."
  • Curriculum Foundry integrates with Google Drive, Google Apps for Education's Curriculum Foundry, a solution for seamlessly accessing, organizing and sharing digital content, is now fully integrated with Google Drive and Google Apps for Education. The growing number of schools that use Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks will be able to share the learning objects, lessons, units and courses they have created in Curriculum Foundry through Google Drive. According to Google, more than 50 million students and teachers around the world use Google programs and, according to Futuresource Consulting, more than 50 percent of the devices sold to U.S. schools in the third quarter of 2015 were Chromebooks. With Curriculum Foundry’s new integration with Google Drive and Google Apps for Education, thousands of schools and districts around the country now have a seamless end-to-end solution for digital learning. Using Curriculum Foundry’s comprehensive set of tools, educators can build learning objects, lessons, units and even entire courses. Curriculum Foundry also provides districts with a searchable repository of high-quality, vetted and tagged open educational resources (OER) and other free digital resources. The repository includes content for all K-12 grade levels, aligned to one of the four core subject areas: math, English language arts, science and social studies. Authors can search by standard, grade, subject and item to identify just the right resource. Districts can add digital content they have created to their repository as well. “ developed Curriculum Foundry to support our continued commitment to helping schools make the transition to digital learning,” said Keith Oelrich, CEO of “Now with the solution’s Google integration, we are extending its powerful tools and resources to the increasing number of schools and districts that are using Google Drive and Google Apps for Education to support learning.” Google Drive integration allows districts using Google Apps for Education to share the learning objects, lessons, units and courses they have created in Curriculum Foundry. Students can launch the content directly from Google Drive or Google Classroom. Districts can also add content they have created in Google Drive to their library in Curriculum Foundry for future use. Without leaving the Curriculum Foundry Google App, teachers can seamlessly search for vetted, standards-aligned content from the Curriculum Foundry repository and their own district repository. In addition to Google Drive, items can be shared through Thin Common Cartridge and the Learning Management System.
  • Study: Adaptive, gamified approach can boost math scores
    A new study from WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research agency, commissioned by Front Row Education, Inc., found that students using the adaptive, gamified and data-drive technology showed greater mathematics achievement outcomes when compared with students who did not. The study included more than 450 kindergarten, first and second grade students in a rural school, and is based on student scores on the Northwest Evaluation Association's’ (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) in mathematics. The study compared classrooms in which teachers opted to use the Front Row technology, and those that did not over the course of the 2014-2015 school year. Examining test scores at the start of the year and again at the end, the analysis found that students given access to Front Row scored on average nearly 10 (9.86) percentage points higher, and approximately two months ahead in terms of mathematical achievements. “Since launching back in 2013, we’ve heard time and again from teachers on the impact Front Row has had on their student’s education; the ability to grasp new concepts more quickly, enjoying math for the first time and an increase in their test scores, to name a few,” said Sidharth Kakkar, CEO and co-founder for Front Row. “Where we struggled was quantifying these results scientifically, versus anecdotally. This study has revealed what we have known all along: Front Row is making an impact on students in a real and meaningful way, helping us to reach our goal of providing the best available instructional materials and technology for teachers globally.” As access to devices in schools increase, technology in the classroom is quickly becoming ubiquitous. It is critical that teachers choose technology that will truly have an effect on the education of their students and provide tangible learner outcomes. It can be difficult to know which programs will have the biggest impact, and studies like the one released today can be incredibly useful in helping to make informed decisions, especially if combined with positive word-of-mouth referrals from teachers who have implemented the technology previously. In addition to the Front Row math program, the company also provides a language arts program through Front Row ELA, which include both writing and reading components. Since launching in 2013, Front Row has continuously made new features available, along with updating the programs based directly on feedback from teachers. Today, Front Row Math is used in over 25% of U.S. schools, and continues to grow rapidly.
  • Don’t miss the latest STEM, policy and ed-tech news
    Every Friday, I’ll be bringing you a recap of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week. I can’t fit all of our news stories here, though, so feel free to visit and read up on other news you may have missed. In this week’s news: Top K-12 issues for the presidential candidates Many say the presidential candidates’ debates and discussions lack a focus on education—here are the issues the candidates should research This is how your infrastructure should look before your next tech rollout Follow these guidelines to create a technology infrastructure that support teachers and students 5 ways to make the most of virtual field trips While traditional field trips continue to offer opportunities to create memorable learning environments for students of all ages, a new wave of technologies have created new, virtual field trip experiences. Dremel 3D printer fuels Maker Movement The Dremel 3D Idea Builder empowers students to master key STEM concepts through hands-on learning and creativity.
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