Tech & Learning - February 2020

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How to protect schools from online treachery




























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5 Benefits of Getting an Online Master’s Degree in Education By Lucas DeWitt Rethinking Digital Learning Through Creative Content and Delivery By Gary San Angel





Reported by Sascha Zuger Learn how to share lessons with the SMART Learning Suite, do virtual PD, engage students by letting them create ebooks, upgrade your infrastructure, and more!

By Dr. Travis Paakki The 50+ million students in our nation’s schools deserve to have their information protected. Here’s how districts can address this looming crisis.


33 FIRST LOOK: PRODUCT REVIEWS BY BRIAN NADAL 33 Acer Chromebook Tab10 34 Dell Chromebook 31— 2-in-1 35 Photoshop Express, Snapseed & Moldiv Shoot It Out



T&L’s Winter Conference Product Roundup

DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS 4 EDITORS DESK Higher and higher—Tech and Learning goes to college! 6

TRENDING First look at Samsung’s DeX Desktop Experience software. Is IT Worth it? The End of the Road for Windows 7. Top 25 Education Sites & Apps For 2020.

14 BIG IDEAS • FETC 2020’s Focus on STEM. • Carl Hooker’s Look Back at Bold Predictions from 2019. • Social-Emotional Learning and Technology: Friends or Foes?


Tech & Learning (ISSN-1053-6728) (USPS 695-590) is published monthly (except July and December) by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Tech & Learning, PO Box 8746, Lowell, MA 01853 Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices.


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note FEBRUARY 2020



ou probably don’t want to talk about it. Most education leaders don’t even want to think about it. Unfortunately, the issue of cybersecurity is a hugely important topic of conversation. Thankfully, some district executives like Dr. Travis Paakki, Senior Director, Office of Technology and Information Services, at Portland (OR) Public Schools are willing to share. His manifesto (page 26) is a hugely important document for any district techie looking to protect his or her schools from phishing, ransomware, or any other sort of attack. He writes: “Thanks to a barren regulatory landscape, IT and information security issues seldom get due attention unless (or until) a data breach or other major incident is experienced. Add to that the fact that district leaders often rise through the academic ranks and therefore have little exposure to the operational demands and liabilities of running a large, data-rich enterprise. As such, it should be no sur“THANKS TO prise that malicious hackers are coming to see the country’s A BARREN school districts as appealing and easy targets.” REGULATORY Paakki goes on to itemize concrete steps to fortify disLANDSCAPE, IT tricts. I’m excited that he will further share his insights at AND INFORMATION our March Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. Along SECURITY ISSUES with keynote speaker Doug Levin the The K-12 CyberSELDOM GET DUE security Resource Center, I am hopeful Tech&Learning ATTENTION UNLESS will continue to both shine a light on this issue and offer (OR UNTIL) A DATA solutions to keep students safe. As always, I encourage BREACH OR OTHER you to share your own district stories with us. By sharing MAJOR INCIDENT these experiences, all districts gain insights into protecting their own. IS EXPERIENCED.”

— Kevin Hogan Managing Director, Content


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VOL. 40 NO. 6 FOLLOW US Group Publisher Christine Weiser CONTENT Managing Content Director Kevin Hogan Contributing Editor Annie Galvin Teich Advisors Carl Hooker, Andrew Wallace, Marianthe Williams, Steve Baule, Jean Tower, Hank Thiele, Jenith Mishne, Frank Pileiro, Patricia Brown, Phil Hintz, Ken Wallace, Rick Cave, Chris Aviles, Diane Doersh, Mike Jamerson, Rico D’Amore, Todd Dugan, Grace Magley, Andrew Marcinek, John Marcus, Laura Chesson, Jon Castelhano, Karen Fuller

Production Manager Heather Tatrow, Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban

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Tired of carrying around a bulky notebook or tablet all day from class to class? Samsung has an app for that. The company’s DeX Desktop Experience software is a unique program that lets teachers and students put all their schoolwork on their phones. With the power to redefine how schools deal with digital media and curriculum, DeX can be a real eye-opener. Used by first responders and the military as a way to do without bulky computers, the key is that in addition to using the phone for calls, texts, social

media postings and Web work, you can plug the phone into a display and interact in a full desktop environment that’s looks and feels a lot like Windows and macOS. In other words, there’s no need to carry a phone and a computer around anymore. Teachers and students can take notes, draw geometric shapes or sketch a social studies map on the phone directly and then plug it into a display, keyboard and mouse for heavier tasks, like writing or grading essays, doing Web research and interacting with online curriculum. For more cool new product reviews, go to page 33



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IS IT WORTH IT? Everyone agrees at this point that tech in schools is a net benefit, but there are still some concerns about the cost. This recent report from Gallup proves that most educators want to put their money where their mouths are. Some results: ■ Digital learning tools are integral to teaching and learning in and out of school. About two-thirds of teachers (65%) say they use digital learning tools to teach every day; 22% use them a few days a week, and 13% use them once or less per week. More than half of teachers (53%) report that their students use digital learning tools every day to learn. About seven in 10 students report using digital learning tools outside of school for schoolwork at least a few days a week. Many teachers would like to use digital learning tools more often to teach. About half of all teachers surveyed (53%) say they would like to use digital learning tools to teach more often; 44% would like to use them about as often as they use them now. About six in 10 teachers who use digital learning tools a few days per week or less say they would like to use them more often to teach.

agree they see great value in using digital learning tools in the classroom now; slightly more among each group strongly agree or agree they see great value in using them in the future (85%, 93% and 95%, respectively). ■ Schools and districts use a variety of strategies to purchase digital learning tools. While a majority of teachers report using both purchased and free digital learning tools, about one in four (27%) report using only free tools in their class(es). More teachers who use digital learning tools once or less per week than those who use them daily say they use only free tools (40% vs. 24%, respectively). Most principals (77%) say students and teachers use both free and purchased digital learning tools; fewer principals (7%) than teachers (27%) say they use only free tools. Similarly, most administrators (85%) say students and teachers use both purchased and free digital learning tools in their

school district; like principals, few administrators (5%) say they use only free tools. Schools pay for digital learning tools in a variety of ways, but most educators report that the district and the school purchase the digital learning tools they use. Studies show teachers spend, on average, more than $479 per year on classroom supplies,4 so it is not surprising that more than four in 10 teachers (43%) report purchasing digital learning tools with their own money; more than three in 10 principals (36%) and administrators (33%) say teachers purchase their own tools. Teachers who use tools daily are more likely than those who use them once or less per week to purchase their own tools (46% vs. 28%, respectively). Many principals (61%) and administrators (75%) say they apply for grants to purchase digital learning tools. For the full report, go to:

■ Teachers, principals and administrators see great value in using digital learning tools now and in the future. Teachers (81%), principals (88%) and administrators (92%) strongly agree or



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THE END OF THE ROAD FOR WINDOWS 7: THREE OPTIONS FOR SAFE SCHOOL COMPUTING By Brian Nadal January 14th marked a difficult day for both schools and Microsoft. After a long run, it’s the beginning of the end for Windows 7 with the company no longer promising free security updates for the venerable operating system. With roughly one in four computers still using Win 7 – and at least as many in schools – what is there to do? Windows 7 debuted in the fall of 2009 and quickly became the operating system of choice at home, work, and school. Fast forward a little more than a decade and its end of life should come as no surprise to anyone other than a hermit living in a cave. That’s because Microsoft has been telling the world that Windows 7’s days were numbered for years. It stopped adding new features to the software years ago and has only been updating critical security flaws for the last year. As of January, it won’t even do that anymore. It’s not as if these computers will stop working tomorrow, but after Windows 7’s retirement party is over and the cake is gone, these computers will become more and more vulnerable every day. Security flaws and backdoors won’t be patched as they are revealed, and you’ll be on your own as far as operating system security goes. How do you deal with this huge change in the computing landscape? There are three main alternatives to consider, but none of them seem to be particularly appealing. Here are your options.

1. GET A DIFFERENT OPERATING SYSTEM The most obvious solution is to use this as an opportunity to leave Win 7 behind by changing to Windows 10, macOS, or Linux software. Likely, most of the machines at your school will be

compatible but it will take time, money, and effort to make the move. Expect some disappointment and the potential for a rough transition with some software needing to be left behind. Microsoft’s Desktop App Assure program can help this transition for schools or districts with more than 150 PCs.

2. PAY FOR EXTRA SECURITY Several consumer and business security companies plan to continue to provide Win 7 support for at least a year. If you get their malware protec-

does is delay the inevitable action of moving to a more modern and secure operating system. Microsoft has a site dedicated to smoothing the move away from Windows 7, but it focuses on getting new Windows 10 computers. This is a luxury that many schools cannot afford, even with the company’s buy-back program, which trades old computers for credit to buy new ones. There is another way: Microsoft may be ending its free security program for Windows 7, but it will be offering extended security coverage of Win 7 systems with security patches and updates for a price. This service used to be for its big enterprise customers, but Microsoft has opened it up to small and medium businesses, including schools. Called Extended Security Updates (or ESUs), Microsoft promises three years of paid security support, but it won’t be cheap. The costs will vary but for many it will escalate from $50 for the first year to $100 for the second year and $200 for the third (and last) year of security support. In other words, it’ll likely be cheaper to give up the ghost and move to a more modern and secure operating system than to limp along with Win 7.


tion, it will help keep the systems clean but there’s nothing a hacker likes more than an unsupported computer with security weaknesses. While the protection won’t be airtight, it will be better than a naked machine and provide the time needed to formulate a plan to create a more secure future for your school’s computers. On the other hand, all it

My warning is that if you try to muddle through this computing sea change without making any changes, it will likely not end well. That’s because hackers and ransomware purveyors are looking exactly for this sort of opening and have been targeting municipal governments and school systems of late. All it will take to bring down a network of school computers is clicking on the wrong email or downloading the wrong file. At that point, “puff ”, the entire school’s computers and all their data can be compromised. Windows 7 may not be in the rear-view mirror quite yet but there is a lot you can do to keep your school’s computers safe and secure. It’s the best example I can think of where being proactive is the only way to survive.


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By David Kapuler

It’s the time of year again for my favorite annual sites and apps. This year’s list includes a wide variety of educational tools, from student response systems to curation tools to multimedia resources. Many are new and some are free.





WAKELET - Wakelet lets educators bookmark any item on the web (i.e. article, blog, tweet, etc.), curate them in stunning visual ways, and invite others to collaborate. Wakelet is great for digital storytelling, professional development, digital portfolios, newsletters and more.

GOOSECHASE - An innovative site/app (iOS/Google Play) for creating digital scavenger hunts. Includes plenty of templates for educators to create their own scavenger hunt, integrated into any curriculum.

EDUCANDY - A wonderful site for creating educational games easily. Teachers simply enter questions and Educandy creates the game. Students play online or using the Educandy app.

WALNUT - An excellent new site/app for finding educational videos and then taking quizzes to assess learning, similar to BrainPop. This is a great way for educators to assess learning and differentiate instruction.






MOBILE PERMISSIONS A fantastic free new tool for educators to send parents permissions slips via their phone or mobile device. Parents can then electronically sign and submit payment while educators can monitor it all from their teacher portal.

DOGONEWS – DOGOnews is an excellent site for creating reading assignments for grades K-8 that can then be integrated into Google Classroom. This is done through their curated safe (COPA compliant) educational database that provides assessment and language/speech features.

VIDEOCLASS - A great site for educators and students to find standards-aligned educational videos on a multitude of subjects, including math, physics, English, literature and more. Teachers can upload their own videos, create a screencast or even earn extra money by charging to download their videos.

PARLAY - Parlay is a very innovative online tool that educators are using to take classroom discussions to the next level. Features include a robust library of discussion prompts (with resources), online discussion roundtable, and “live” verbal roundtables. Students review the materials provided and submit thioe own responses.

MATH ATTAX - A superfun highly-addictive free mobile (iOS/Google Play) math game with a simple interface that helps students with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

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5 KNOWORD - A super fun vocabulary game with an educational portal where teachers can create their own word lists and track/ monitor students.






LOOP - An interesting new student response system in which educators create an online classroom and post questions for students to answer. Teachers can create groups for any class and compare data between groups. Responses can be anonymous to encourage student engagement. Helps teachers assess student learning and differentiate instruction.

WHILE TRUE: learn() - A innovative new iOS game that educators can use to not only integrate game-based learning into their instruction, but also introduce STEM skills such as programming, coding, and logical thinking.

BACKCHANNEL CHAT An amazing site/app for creating backchannel chats that educators can use for classroom brainstorming and assessing learning. Teachers maintain full control over the discussion, with the ability to remove messages if needed.

FISHBOWL - A new social network/community where teachers and other professionals can post questions, share resources, or collaborate on best practices.





NOWCOMMENT - A great learning tool which allows educators and students to annotate online documents to facilitate engagement and learning.

FUNECOLE - A wonderful digital learning solution for grades 1-6 that focuses on computer science, digital literacy and SEL (social emotional learning).



CODELICIOUS - Codelicious is a customizable computer science curriculum designed to help educators integrate STEM into their classroom with courses on Scratch, Javascript, video game development, graphic design, engineering and more.

ADAPTEDMIND - An excellent online curriculum for math and reading grades K-6 that uses educational games to make learning fun.

CLASSROOMQ - An easyto-use innovative tool that acts as a digital hand raising device. Designed by two teachers, the site allows kids to ask for help without interrupting the flow of instruction.

23 EDUCATION Galaxy This innovative learning platform provides online assessment, practice and instruction for K-6 students. Programs are aligned to state standards and free accounts are offered to educators.

NEWLEARN.IO - A new professional social network for teachers to find educational resources curated by common core standards. Search for resources by keyword or by standard.

15 KOLIBRI - An interesting new site for finding interactive resources, videos, lesson plans and quizzes. Topics include math, storytelling, socialemotional learning and more.

20 ONECLASS - A fantastic all-in-one solution for students looking for homework help, study guides, tutors, and more.

24 BOCLIPS - A great place to find vetted educational videos. Perfect for schools where YouTube is blocked by filters.

25 COURSE Hero - Students can find online tutors in a variety of subjects, while teachers can earn extra income by signing up to become an online tutor.

David Kapuler is an educational consultant with more than 10 years of experience working in the K-12 environment. For more information about his work, contact him at and read his blog at


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5 Benefits of Getting an Online Master’s Degree in Education By Lucas DeWitt


ur world continues to rapidly change and evolve at an unprecedented rate-- no one can argue with this statement. In fact, that might be one thing that all Americans, no matter their political affiliation, would agree! As educators, how can we keep pace and prepare our students for this everchanging world and global economy? This question has been, and will continue to be, a driving force for us in the educational community. I am in my third year serving as the at Buena Vista University, and as a former K-12 teacher and administrator, I know that being prepared and confident in meeting these educational evolutions is key to helping our students thrive. In order to meet these changes, it is imperative teachers that we have the tools and are prepared to help lead that charge. Institutions of Higher Education like Buena Vista University are playing a key role in helping teachers “keep up” with the break-neck speed of these transformations is through innovative new forms of professional education. For example, earlier this year Buena Vista University partnered with Discovery Education to launch the Technology Integrationist Track now available within our Teacher Leadership, Curriculum, and Instruction Master’s Degree Program. Here are five key benefits of gaining your online master’s degree in education: You are experiencing the future in education. A digital platform with students utilizing one-to one-devices is the norm in many of your classrooms. For you to be able to teach and make the

best connections with your students, it is important that you have also learned in that environment and seen the educational process from the lens of a student. Participating in this approach to learning will not only make you a better teacher because of your experiences within the class content, but you will also gain an appreciation for how successful online learning can be when correctly implemented. You model for students how to apply knowledge. We are no longer in a “fact gathering society.” Anyone can access information and answer any question on their device. As a teacher, it is important that you work through ways to apply your new learning so you can help your students “use their knowledge.” With your continued growth as a teacher, you will see how to make the necessary connections for students to develop and compete. Problem solving, interpretation, analysis and authentic application are all essential to the development and learning process and are the cornerstone of you earning your master’s degree. In addition to gaining these needed necessary skills to better educate your students, you also gain additional compensation as you evolve as a master level teacher. You are not bound by geography. In an online graduate program your discussions, interactions and teamwork connect you with other educators from throughout the world. You will engage in dialogue, research and evaluation with teachers from all parts of the United States, as well as international teachers! A virtual classroom also allows you to see inside other localities of the world and develop and grow as an educator as you can empathize with diverse learning situations. This diversity and cultural exchanges help prepare you for your new changes and experiences hap-



pening in your own communities. You engage in new networking and social interactions that are pivotal to your growth as a teacher and a leader. We are not meant to be isolated. An online graduate program allows you to network and develop relationships with teachers and leaders that are not in your normal everyday interactions. This connectivity helps you to learn from the best in the field and share experiences that previously were not available. You engage in a flexible learning environment. Through an online master’s degree program, you are able to work, interact, contribute to research and engage with others in the educational community on your own time and in your own location. As educators we are “controlled by the bells” of our school day. An online program allows you to have the needed flexibility to work at your own pace, in your own space while gaining valuable experiences that you may apply to your classroom. The future of work is changing with every passing moment, and there is tremendous value in earning your graduate level education in an online environment. The adage, “you get better or you get worse, but you don’t stay the same” is a mantra that today has never rang truer. Teaching is an incredibly difficult field, and we need to work together to grow and help each other meet our teaching potential. By taking the next step in pursing your graduate level education, you are continuing to grow and helping to meet the needs of our everchanging world. Lucas DeWitt is the Director of the Graduate Programs for Teacher Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction at Buena Vista University, as well as a certified K-12 teacher and school administrator. He can be reached at



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Tools & Ideas to Transform Your Campus

Rethinking Digital Learning Through Creative Content and Delivery By Gary San Angel Distance Education Specialist at the University of Southern California


ectures lasting an hour plus simply become too painful to digest when we have adapted to consuming our information in videos that are 60 seconds or less. This is where creative content producers and versatile studio spaces come into play in the education environment. Over the past seven years, I’ve worked to develop the Soto Studio at the Health Sciences USC campus in the Department of Preventive Medicine. What started as a small green screen distance education studio has grown into a fully-equipped audio and video podcasting and live streaming production studio space. We are on the verge of opening up a new world of game-changing possibilities that promise to transform higher education and distance learning. If it sounds expensive to you, you might be pleasantly surprised!

RETHINKING CONTENT One of the earliest changes we made to content was in long-format lectures. We quickly and effectively chunked these out into shorter videos. Each segment is focused on a clear learning objective, no longer than six minutes in length, and easily digestible by anyone watching it. To achieve this, we improve the professor’s workflow by adding a teleprompter to a lecture. This allows them to see their

Professors use the distance education studio to deliver lectures.

The Soto Studio at the Health Sciences USC campus is a fully-equipped audio and video podcasting and live streaming production studio space. slides and have their eyeline properly set on camera. The result is that a professor appears to be speaking directly to the student viewer. These recordings are used online and prior to a classroom meeting. Then, in-class time can be used for groupwork and discussion – a format that flips the traditional approach and, in turn, increases in-class engagement.

RETHINKING WORKFLOWS Our success in this space is owed to our ability to utilize new technologies in everyday workflows. A very exciting key aspect to that is the freeto-use network protocol NDI (Network Device Interface). NDI was developed by NewTek and allows video-audio-metadata sources to be simply shared across standard IP networks with other NDI-enabled devices. There are hundreds of NDIenabled devices on the market with more being added all the time.! Imagine a lecture hall or classroom environment. It could even be as specific as a mock surgical procedure in a medical school. NDI-enabled pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras are mounted to the walls and connected to the university’s network. Those signals are sent via the network to the main control room – in a different building, perhaps across town – and those PTZ cameras are controllable via NDI over the network. The content can be switched live if necessary as nearly all production switchers today are NDI-enabled. Lower third

graphics can be added in via NDI as well, just like you’d expect on live TV. NDI will even record all of your camera streams plus your mixed output which can be edited. The widely used Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools like Premier Pro and Photoshop are NDI-enabled. There is no cost associated with NDI, and because higher education tends to be one of the most effectively networked environments, there is a huge benefit to adopting an all-IP video workflow and sending all video signals over a network. Because this is network based, it raises some intriguing possibilities for the future. As the Keck School of Medicine – where the studio is located – and the main USC campus are separated often by Los Angeles’ famous traffic, it would be technically possible to connect the two locations via the network. This would allow for remote studios to be set up across both campuses while control and live switching is done in another location. No more requiring a technician by onsite. No more asking professors to add hours of travel time to their days. Adding a distance education studio this is a simple and effective upgrade that can be taken on today. But, it requires you first build the sandbox. Create a production studio or recording space, utilize free tools such as NDI to support you, and work with colleagues across programs and institutions to create templates for building innovative content.


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FETC 2020: A Focus on STEM and Underrepresented Students By Eileen Belastock


ccording to the National Science Foundation, students need in-depth, high-quality educational STEM experiences to succeed in our “information-based and highly technological society.” Yet a 2018 report indicates that STEM education is not an equitable experience for all school districts and students. It’s another case of the haves and havenots—school districts in low-income areas with limited funding resources struggle to provide students with access to computer science classes, comprehensive STEM programs, and adequately equipped science labs. Even more disturbing is the fact that underrepresented students—including girls, students of color, students with learning disabilities, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds—are not regularly presented with learning opportunities that expose them to challenging STEM materials. FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference) recognized this challenge with a focus on STEM at this year’s conference. By featuring a wealth of STEM sessions, workshops, learning labs, and school tours, attendees experienced


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proven strategies and solutions to combat the growing numbers of students with little or no exposure to STEM projects.

STEM KEYNOTE No one is more aware of how urgent it is that we ensure that all students, especially those in the underrepresented Justin Shaifer categories, than the FETC STEM keynote speaker, Justin Shaifer. Shaifer, aka “Mr. Fascinate,” is the founder and executive director of Fascinate, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides culturally responsive lesson plans and experiences to students across the US. At FETC 2020, this high-energy 24-year-old engaged attendees with his STEM keynote presentation, “Bring STEM to Class: A Practical Guide to Education.” Shaifer’s goal is “to be for STEM what ESPN is for sports” and to inspire young people to “embrace their inner nerd despite their surroundings.”

STEM SESSIONS Echoing Shaifer’s mission to bring STEM education to every classroom and every student


are the courageous, committed, and visionary edtech leaders, educators, and support staff who presented at FETC 2020. Within the six edtech strands that have become synonymous with FETC, numerous sessions focused on innovative practices and solutions to ensure that students are positioned well for the yet-to-be created STEM jobs that will be available when they graduate. Sessions such as Coding in K–8 Classrooms: Empowering Creativity and Content Creation, Cross-Curricular STEAM Integration for Every Classroom, and Collaborating across Curriculums Using Digital Tools and Maker Space highlighted the importance of ensuring that makerspaces are not the only places students learn science, technology, engineering, and real-world math applications. These sessions reflected the belief that, when integrated across curriculum areas, coding exposes more students to STEM education—resulting in students who are more engaged, energized, and active participants in their learning. Educators recognize the issues, but they don’t always have the skills to connect and engage underrepresented students in areas such as STEM. Sessions on Encouraging Underrepresented Populations to Engage and Stay in STEM, Engaging Students in 21st-Century Skills through an Engineering Mindset, and Hero Elementary: Designing Accessible Digital Experiences to Promote STEM Equity showcased how classroom teachers can champion inclusion by connecting students to content-rich STEM experiences while supporting their needs and learning struggles. When school districts have the necessary funding and educators have the tools, skills, and resources to provide multiple opportunities for students to have hands-on STEM learning opportunities, the playing field becomes level for underrepresented students. FETC 2020 provided opportunities for edtech leaders and educators to learn about the struggles of underrepresented students, to interact with colleagues on common issues, and to leave with strategies and solutions to the barriers many of our students experience in STEM education. Eileen Belastock, CETL (@EileenBelastock) is a Director of Academic Technology in Massachusetts.


By Carl Hooker


or the past several years I’ve made some bold predictions about the future of technology and its impact in schools and society. They range from semi-realistic to too-silly-to-be-true, but some do come true. It’s always interesting to look back and judge how I did before posting predictions for the new year.

Prediction: Virtual Reality takes fright . . . er . . . flight in the classroom OUTCOME: Getting close While some would say this prediction was a bit of a softball toss considering the fact VR has been around for more than a decade, recent explosions in inexpensive hardware have made this kind of flight much more attainable. I still think we’re only scratching the surface of this prediction and I’ll be interested to see how technology progresses in 2020.

Prediction: The Universal Translator will make learning a foreign language obsolete


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A Look Back at Bold Predictions from 2019

OUTCOME: No lo creo (I don’t think so) Like most new things in tech, the first generations of these translators are still pretty awful. I don’t think foreign language departments or language immersion schools have much to worry about . . .yet. However, my guess is that people who worked for Blockbuster thought similar things about Netflix and Redbox . . . and we know how that ended. Not very bueno.

Prediction: Alexa will accidentally burn down someone’s house OUTCOME: Nailed it . . . unfortunately Yes, this was a strange and morbid prediction loosely based on my story from the previous year about “When Smart Homes Attack.” However, about two months after I made this prediction, a


retired firefighter returned to his home and found that his third-generation Echo Dot had was on fire. While this wasn’t exactly what I predicted (I’d thought some sort of stove would turn on by accident), the incident does raise awareness of the power of AI as we put it into our homes.

Prediction: Netflix will launch an EDU version of its service OUTCOME: Still out of service While many other video streaming companies are out there vying for clicks and views, the major player in paid video streaming is still not taking my calls or emails to launch NetflixEDU. It sounds like a wasted opportunity to me—though it’s more likely that they want to avoid major copyright infringement. Somehow, though, it has to work . . .

Prediction: Restaurants will post non-device zones similar to non-smoking areas OUTCOME: Going unplugged is trending It’s becoming more and more of a status symbol for fancy restaurants to block and ban cell phones. However, it’s not just fancy restaurants that are doing this. I took a blurry picture of a sign banning cell phones at a BBQ joint outside of Ft. Worth over the holidays (it was blurry because someone yelled at me as I took out my phone).

Prediction: Someone will write a blog/paper using only predictive text OUTCOME: It has been predicted This one was definitely silly, but I thought I would put it out there and I even tried to write a sentence in predictive text. I will say that Gmail is getting better at completing my sentences for me (at what cost? who knows . . .), but we’re still a few years away (maybe?) from an entire blog post being written this way. Yes, there are tons of social media bots out there doing this to manipulate us daily (reminder, it’s 2020—election time), but not a blog post. However, someone at The New Yorker took my idea and ran with it in an October 2019

article titled “The Next Word.” That’s close enough for a win for me!

Prediction: A couple will get married over Facetime OUTCOME: Still illegal, but not for long I did some more digging around this prediction. It’s technically possible to have a proxy marriage, and Facetime could facilitate that. However, that still hasn’t happened. That said, it’s interesting that there’s a wide variety of Facetime marriage counselors out there.

Prediction: There will be a FortniteEDU for schools OUTCOME: Won the Battle Royale I might have cheated on this one a tad, as I knew Mike Washburn was working on this behind the scenes. I chatted with him a bit last month when I was being interviewed on his recent OnEducation podcast. While we didn’t bring up the topic on air, he mentioned some recent developments on this front. In December, he posted a link on his twitter account to Epic Games hosting an interactive 3D contest for teachers.

Prediction: A SMART toilet will save someone’s life OUTCOME: Not fully flushed-out yet I’m a CES nerd, so when I saw these trending last year I thought there might be a chance that someone would buy one and that it would save their life via early detection. As of this writing, to my knowledge it hasn’t happened yet, but someone did write just a few weeks after my prediction about the future of these devices and our health. This prediction isn’t totally down the toilet yet (although my puns are starting to stink).

Prediction: LearnFest ATX will again break the rules when it comes to conferences OUTCOME: It was a game-changer (and ender)

Little did I know when I wrote that post that it would also mark the end of my 13-year tenure with Eanes ISD. However, we did do some pretty epic things to finish out the event, including the still-never-attempted “Dueling Keynotes” using silent disco headphones. What a great way to end my run in the district and kick off the #NextChapter of my career as speaker/consultant. I’ll miss that event, and iPadpalooza that came before it, but I predict there might be other exciting events in my near future . . . stay tuned.

Prediction: Robotics enter mainstream curriculum OUTCOME: We will See-3PO if it happens I think this groundswell is continuing to grow and we’ll see more and more examples of teachers using coding and robotics in inventive ways to showcase student learning. I’ve been lucky to advise on one of the companies (Trashbots) and have seen them work really hard on integrating STEM into mainstream curriculum without a ‘heavy lift’ for classroom teachers. I’m excited to see the future of robotics in our schools.

Prediction: This will be the year my children’s book series finally gets published OUTCOME: Progress, just not published I predicted this for three years and finally started down the path to production. By soliciting the help of my best friend, fellow educator, and amazing artist Chris Parker (@kreyus), I might have finally overcome the final roadblock holding this project back. I’m hoping for a summer launch of this new series. So there you have it. Overall 2019 wasn’t a bad year for my predictions, although there were some surprises. I’ve got some ideas brewing for 2020. Here’s a hint: it’s time to be bold. Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) is an educator, speaker, entrepreneur and author of the Mobile Learning Mindset book series. Read more at


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Social-Emotional Learning and Technology: Friends or Foes? By Nikki Schafer


f you’re in the world of education and you haven’t heard the acronym “SEL,” you’re probably in the minority. SEL stands for “SocialEmotional Learning,” the label given to the “soft skills” that students need to be successful. Skills like collaboration, self-awareness, self-regulation, and decision making are all part of a broad category that many in education are looking at as essential for success beyond the classroom. Students today are coming to school with more trauma, more fears, more anxiety, and more needs in general than ever before. Learn-


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ing how to cope with these challenges is vital, but many students still struggle with finding socialemotional balance. There have been many theories about why social and emotional skills are not as strong among students today as they could be. One theory is that as access to technology grows, social and emotional skills decrease. Authors like Dr. Jean Twenge lend credence to the idea that technology is to blame for the decrease of social and emotional skills. In her book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adult-


hood, Twenge lays out the differences between previous generations and the one she has named “iGen”—a term for students growing up after the infiltration of smart devices into society. Twenge’s argument is that we can become obsessed with the immediate gratification and overwhelming amount of information available at our fingertips. If it’s used as more than the tool that it is, a smart device can seriously impede the development of social and emotional skills. While technology is not blameless as social and emotional skills decline, it can also open up opportunities for social-emotional well-being. Here are just a few examples: ■■ Mindfulness and meditation apps are available on smart devices. What used to require an in-person guide can now be achieved from the comfort of your bedroom, opening up the benefits of self-awareness to thousands more than ever before. ■■ Google Forms and other collaborative tools can engage students who are uncomfortable talking about problems but are willing to write about them. Teachers can then have access to that information in real-time, students don’t worry about the embarrassment of speaking in front of the whole class, and follow-up can be done discreetly. ■■ Companies are designing user experiences for the education sector with SEL in mind. Beyond the companies that are creating mindfulness practices, all content-area designers are looking for ways to integrate more “soft skills” into their programs. ■■ Virtual and augmented reality can provide students with immersive experiences that can foster empathy. With this technology, students can visit other places and times, such as concentration camps in Cambodia, to understand the horrors of genocide that they would never experience without technology. ■■ There are endless opportunities to use Hangouts and other virtual conference technology to expand learning and access to professionals including school psychologists and AP teachers. As educators, we can help our students focus on the positive uses of technology to support social emotional well-being. We can model what it looks like to have a disconnected conversation. We can allow them to use the tools available to them to improve their lives. And we can guide them to know when enough is enough and their connected devices are beginning to adversely affect their mental health. Nikki Schafer is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Omaha, Nebraska.

HOW it’s DONE School and District Leaders Share How They’re Making IT Work By Sascha Zuger

Sharing Lessons, a SMART Solution One district in Georgia is using SMART Learning Suite to enhance their education goals and share lessons amongst students, teachers and parents. A bonus of the tech is that it can incorporate content in PDF or PowerPoint form, so teachers do not need to redo their projects to match a new formatting system. Lessons are shared using Microsoft Sharepoint and SMART Exchange, putting a copy of the lesson in the hands of every student.

Who: Bobby Brian Lewis, Instructional Technology Coach Where: Bibb County School District, GA What: Sharing Lessons using SMART Learning Suite In an attempt to become a SMART Notebook District, we are in the process of training over 3,000 teachers in the tech. We are training teachers through three sessions per school, then requiring them to create artifacts to demonstrate what they have learned in the training program. They then upload their artifact to SMART Exchange (a place to share and locate resources for SMART) to

Lessons are delivered on the SMART Learning Suite. with a digital copy that can be used 24/7. SMART Learning Suite is a great way to provide personalized learning to ALL students.


Students at Bibb County School District (GA) use a SMART Learning Suite for their lessons. help educators in our district and beyond. To include the whole school community, we held a Showcase Day for students, principals, and teachers to share their progress and artifacts with each other online, using SMART Learning Suite.


TECH TOOLS ■■ SMART notebook


■■ SMART learning suite

Right now the SMART Learning Suite is free. We purchased a license for various software used.


■■ Microsoft Sharepoint

This helped our students by provided a digital copy that could be viewed at home 24/7. We now can upload any pdf, power point, or SMART Notebook file to SMART Learning Suite Online and then share a digital copy to students, parents, and other teachers. This puts any paper document in the hands of all stakeholders

■■ SMART Exchange

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Our biggest challenge is having time to train teachers with their busy schedules, but in the long run we are able to show them that SMART learning Suite can save them time. Our Instructional Technology department was able to share SMART Learning suite this past June with Principals, District coaches and assistant principals at our Leadership conference. We were able to show and share how Smart learning suite could be used. Buy-in was almost immediate because students, parents, and teachers have a digital resource that can be viewed by all.

■■ Clear Touch Interactive Display ■■ iPad

PRO TIP The best tip is to always bring the students in on the discussion for implementing anything. With this in mind, we trained a group of students on the tech so they can be on-the-ground support in the classroom for educators and other students.

HOW it’s DONE PD-Casting, A Virtually Perfect Plan to Share Ideas After brainstorming ways to peer coach, two virtual charter school teachers use their affinity for distance learning tech and podcasting to reach fellow educators around the country.

Who: Emily Sattler-7th Grade History Teacher/ Allison Keefe- 7th Grade ELA Teacher Cyber Sisters Podcast: Where: Agora Cyber Charter School- King of Prussia, PA What: Using Podcasting for Peer PD The two of us have always worked very closely at Agora. Since we teach virtually, peer coaching virtually as well was a natural fit. We hoped that the accountability and support of trying new tech/tech-infused pedagogy together would encourage us to take bigger risks in our cyber classrooms. We have met so many fantastic educators through conferences and professional organizations that we decided why not ask some of those fantastic people we admire to coach us through their personal specialties? It’s been a journey so far. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail-forward, but we always keep learning. We record two episodes a month on Zencastr, one with a guest and one just us to reflect. Since Zencastr is web-based, we don’t need any special equipment. All of us can be in different locations, and all hear each other just fine. Once we finish recording, Allison gets the solo tracks to edit into the finished podcast. While she is doing that, Emily works on the show notes with some examples and items from our classes so people can see what we did.


(Thank goodness for the powers of editing!) There has been a steep learning curve on producing a podcast, but you would be surprised how many people will reach out to lend their advice... even if those people are just the generous souls who produce tutorials on Youtube.

FINDING FUNDING We stuck to products that are free, or at least have free versions. Right now, we aren’t paying anything for hosting or the website. That might change if we continue or if we get a much bigger listenership.

PRO TIPS First, find a podcast co-host that you connect with. We really enjoy our “reflection” episodes together, because it’s basically a recording of our conversations. We enjoy spending time with each other and talking about education. Also, you don’t have to limit yourself to someone who works in the same school as you; it’s really easy to implement virtually. Finally, be prepared to devote a lot of time to the project, especially at the beginning to get everything set up. That’s where most of our time investment was.

The Asara Middle School uses virtual coaches for PD.

It’s been a blast! We’ve made new connections with educators via Twitter and continued conversations we started with friends at conferences. We’ve gotten to connect with and learn with teachers across the country— both cyber and brick-and-mortar alike. There is something really magical about creating a space to collaborate together, and we feel really lucky to have so many amazing people step in to be our “coaches”.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE Learning how to sound edit and create the website took some trial and error! The last episode we recorded with a guest had some serious tech issues. We had to stop the recording and restart it in the middle several times.

TECH TOOLS ■■ Zencastr to record ■■ Castbox to host ■■ Bulbapp for the show notes ■■ Logitech Bluetooth Headset ■■ We reference other products that we are using/trying in the various episodes and list contacts within each episode’s show notes.



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HOW it’s DONE Reading Students through Digital Storytelling After brainstorming ways to peer coach, two virtual charter school teachers use their affinity for distance learning tech and podcasting to reach fellow educators around the country.

Who: Michael Hernandez, Film/ Broadcast Journalism/Photography Teacher (Grades 9-12) Where: Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach, CA What: Getting a Read on Students through Digital Storytelling When I first started dabbling with ebooks in my cinema class a few years ago, the kids were like, “Why are we making books when this is a film class?” I would explain, this is film production, what we’re really here to do is tell stories and find unique ways to do so. I had them create experimental videos as part of the unit and put them together to create their own book. They had to think of a collection of these videos and how they would pull together to make a story that was cohesive and more interactive, offering a little bit different way for the audience to connect with the story. One student had taken a creative writing class so he had been writing poetry. He used Students record interviews for their ebooks. his poetry as a voiceover in his experimental video. So within the book, he had text and some of the text had links to the video he TECH created. It made it really dynamic for his readers and got the kids to really think differently about how they tell stories. I saw it not only as enhancing the final product but a challenge to how they ■■ iMac think about my curriculum. ■■ Macs

POSITIVE RESULTS This sort of storytelling made them brainstorm unique ways they can convey their knowledge and information. It’s something I think is missing in some classrooms — giving kids opportunities to show what they know in ways that might suit them best. Not every student is good at tests, not everyone is good at writing essays. While those are important things to know, it’s nice that we offer opportunities for students to create authentic projects they can share with the world. When I see what they create, the way they express their thoughts, it tells the story of the students themselves. I am reading the student and their experience in a way I don’t often get to while sitting in the classroom.


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■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Student newscasts are broadcasted to a global audience.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE A lot of school districts use Chrome Books, but that restricts to students to…basically typing. It kind of defeats the purpose of tech in the classroom. You have to pay extra to do anything. Pay extra for video editing, extra for a video camera. People making buying decisions don’t think about those the wealth Students get real-world video experience. of free tech they are missing out on when they opt for Chrome. With all of the myths that are out there about the evils of screen time, perhaps we miss the tech benefits in being openminded about embracing their phones and using them for good. It behooves all of us as educators to embrace these tools that are already in their hands, so we can teach kids how to use them properly and productively.


iPhones Apples Suite Finalcut Pro Pages Adobe Rush Adobe Spark Post Instagram Twitter Book CreatorChrome

I don’t get funding directly from the school, all of our tech works from parent donations. But most high school kids have smart phones and there is a lot of free software. Teachers shouldn’t be dissuaded based on budget, most of our students have iPhones — you can use iMovie and it’s free. You can use Adobe Spark or Pages, it’s free.

PRO TIPS Consider the value in not only the content and knowledge exhibition, but in how that proof of learning is shared. One of the big things that I get to teach are real world projects. My kids make projects that impact them and their peers. Projects that make them think and feel differently. They don’t make dumpster projects that go in the trash once they get the grade.

CONNECT WITH ME The newscast my students produce is seen by audience members around the world. You can see their work by following them on Instagram @mustangmorningnews


Upgrading Network Infrastructure Ensures Reliable Connectivity for Testing and Learning Aging infrastructure could no longer support state testing and digital learning initiatives.

to deploy the VoIP phone system and update its network for pervasive connectivity throughout the district. The service also includes cloud manageThe Cradlepoint server keeps DCPS ment, 24x7 support, and a limited up and running. Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) serves the urban, suburban, and rural areas lifetime warranty. The district can now of Jacksonville, Florida. The effects of the DCPS aging network were interfering rely on Cradlepoint’s wired line failover solution. DCPS can automatically send with schools’ teaching and state testing. Network unreliability was caused by older traffic through the wired link if the wired connection fails—ensuring constant products incapable of handling the amount of traffic needed to keep a robust conconnectivity for teaching and learning. nection. Because the equipment had not been updated for more than a decade, The Cradlepoint solution has saved the DCPS IT team time and effort DCPS was losing instruction and testing time to failing network connections. because the network has significantly fewer issues to troubleshoot. The NetCloud The district had to continually ask the state for time extensions to complete Manager software allows them to manage all the devices from a single location. state testing due to their failing systems. If the testing window is lost, so are the And as the district responds to the need for greater student security and safety, benefits from the state testing. The delay in the testing data hampered they are interested in Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for support of instruction. The unreliable backup connection also became a problem mobile assets like video to see attendance on the bus and to capture TECH TOOL when DCPS decided to move its analog phone system to VoIP sysany safety incidents. tems. The old networking equipment couldn’t handle the volume of “Cradlepoint has already proven themselves with their branch ■■ Cradlepoint traffic passing through the primary or secondary wired lines either. services, so the decision on what products to include as funding The district chose Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for branch becomes available is easy and stress-free,” said Stephen McLaughNetCloud Manager by deploying a branch performance router. This allowed DCPS lin, supervisor of network operations.


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HOW it’s DONE PE and Tech, Winning Teammates One school shows that phys ed and technology don’t have to compete for student’s attention, they are shooting for the same goal.

Who: Jean Augustine Secondary School Kinesthetic Learning Department; Tyler Robinson (Department Head, @JASSphoenix); Lindsay Smockum (@ MsSmockum); Stacy Burnett (@burnett_stacy); Tom Leca (@CoachLeca); Victor Kass (@CoachKass) Where: Peel School District School at Brampton, ONT, Canada What: Using Tech Tools to Enhance PE “To be honest, there was a time when I would not allow “screens” in the gym whatsoever. I embrace meeting students where they are at to engage them, but I had concerns about students being distracted instead of physically active. When I joined Twitter I began to see how tech could be harnessed to augment a PE program. I was able to observe tons of best practices from other PE teachers and share ideas with them. Tech was a key part of students’ lives and therefore was an integral part of their learning in school. A tech tool should only be used if it provides a more effective means to improve student learning, not just for the sake of swapping an old technology for a new one. In the end, tech became a regular part of my daily practice as a teacher and continues to be important to this day.” — Victor Kass “Every cohort, every class is different. However, scaffolding it right from grade nine allows them to build the skills they need for the rest of the courses in our department. For example, they learn how to use iMovie during the creation of their Target Games videos in grade nine and then that skill is continued in Grade 10 Fitness, Grade 11 Net/Wall & Invasion/Territory focus courses, etc. Therefore, it is the students’ expectations that this is just part of the course when they enroll. Most kids have devices, but the department having iPads to fill the gaps (especially with iMovie) definitely helps create buy-in because there are no excuses. Assessments predicated on 21st century learning means that buy-in is essential for success.” — Tyler Robinson

POSITIVE RESULTS “Our students are now able to obtain valuable, objective feedback about their personal fitness and movement competence. (We are also able to create an equitable platform to evaluate student learning.) With the use of video feedback, students can self-assess their performance during game play and analyze their strategies and tactics. They can demonstrate their learning


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regardless of athletic ability. Improved participation has followed, as students are focused on explaining/critiquing their decisions and choices during game play rather than comparing their athleticism with other students. Because of this newly leveled playing field, collaboration improved and enable all students to have a voice. Perhaps most importantly, tracking fitness test data allows students to adjust goals and see improvement no matter their original fitness level— a strong starting point to becoming healthy adults leading active lifestyles.” — Lindsay Smockum

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE “In our journey to engage modern learners some obstacles we’ve seen include: students who do not have access to devices, learning which angles are best to film, logging in/out ofGAFE Ed Tool apps daily, learning to navigate the online platforms, wifi/ privacy connectivity, the learning curve associated with new tech Students use tech to record fitness levels. tools- vs -the timeline of use, and the correlation between student use of social media platforms and engaging with the curriculum in an effective way. We are pretty lucky to have the support to order and have access to equipment like pedometers, Chromebook carts, tripods and about 18 HPE Department iPads for our classes to use daily; for some of the students who may not have devices. We have also learned that long term if you guide, monitor, and empower the students they will act responsibly- even with social media. Leadership roles help with the ‘responsibility’ of tracking, posting, filming, collaborating, and editing data to be used/shared. Students’ “tech IQ” is sometimes even higher than the teachers, letting them navigate the tech with relative ease.” — Victor Kass

TECH TOOLS ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Tech is now encouraged in gym class at the Peer School S.D.


■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Technique Delayed Camera iMovie Instagram Snapchat (for stories/ gifs, but also content) Youtube playlists Google Classroom/ GAFE Tools Remind Wireless Speakers Coach’s Eye Sports Stats

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O’See Video Delay iPhone iPads Team Shake FitRadio Spotify Skitch Fixture Maker BaM Video Delay Seconds —Tyler, Tom, Stacy, ­Lindsay, Victor

K-12 INFORMATION SECURITY STRATEGIES By Dr. Travis Paakki Senior Director, Office of Technology and Information Services, Portland (OR) Public Schools


work at one of the top 100 largest districts in the country in terms of student enrollment, and like most school districts, we struggle with information security. Our IT department is under-resourced in a way that no similarsized private industry business would even consider attempting. Strangely, though, I’d say we are lucky. In spite of such under-resourcing, we have dedicated information security staff, which is a lot more than many of the other nation’s districts could say. Thanks to a barren regulatory landscape, IT and information security issues seldom get due attention unless (or until) a data breach of other major incident is experienced. Add to that the fact that district leaders often rise through the academic ranks and therefore have little exposure to the operational demands and liabilities of running a large, data-rich enterprise. As such, it should be no surprise that malicious hackers are coming to see the country’s school districts as appealing and easy targets. Many of us in K-12 remember the FBI memo about K-12 information security released on September 13, 2018. The subsequent face-palm came near the end of the document after reading the recommendation that parents and families should contact their school systems to learn about information security measures. Some of us had good answers when they did so, others not so much. If it was a slow news day in your area, this one got phones ringing. Further, on Wednesday, July 24, Louisiana declared a state of emergency


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Research and Recommendations

when three of its districts had their technology assets taken hostage in ransomware attacks. If K-12 lags even five years behind its private industry counterparts, we can expect these to continue for some time to come. The threats to our student and staff privacy, as well as our business and operations groups, are clear and well-documented. For smaller districts, the issue can seem insur-


mountable. When reviewing the National Center for Education Statistics data on K-12 school districts, one of the critical problems plaguing K-12 information security becomes apparent: Approximately half of the nation’s K-12 students attend school districts where total enrollment is less than 10,000 students. This smaller student population means fewer resources for IT, including fewer – if

any – dedicated security staff. Indeed, even in larger districts, information security is often a side-job and lacks the formality of a plan, proper funding, a framework to build on, and adequate measures for reporting.

BUT WHY? Earlier research suggested that those responsible for information security in school districts had an appropriate amount of knowledge regarding information security best practices (Brown, 2016). One of the challenges information security professionals often face is getting the organization to understand that information security is not a technology problem, but rather one of culture and prioritization. My research (Paakki, 2019) focused on discovering what information security staff could do to improve information security and what I came to understand was something not altogether unexpected. Nonetheless, the findings were not explicitly stated elsewhere: K-12 lacks essential strategies for improving information security. For my research, a strategy was generically defined as a method or plan which will bring about a desired future state. The definition could then refer to budgets, laws, culture, board and organizational structure, standard practices, ethical expectations, and others. Working with information security leaders from around the country, I was able to compose a picture of strategies that were essential to information security in other industries and then extrapolate that to apply to K-12. Those strategies included: • Prescriptive laws, standards, and norms – FERPA is the K-12 go-to, and while helpful, it includes no mandates for information security roles, nor a viable penalty for a lack of due diligence. In the absence of a new law that may take years to come into effect, norms can be used to demand ethical behavior by district leaders. By establishing a K-12 industry norm for cybersecurity practices, information security can be elevated to where it should be. Not just in terms of minimum requirements to be compliant, but broadly in terms of the sets of actions and behaviors necessary to demonstrate ethical stewardship of data. • Appropriate staffing and funding – Based on research from Gartner, information security should account for 5-7 percent of the overall IT budget, which itself should typically between 2-10 percent of the size of the entire organization’s budget (depending on the industry). In K-12,


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that overall IT number is usually 3-5 percent of larger district expenditures (Council of the Great City Schools, 2018). Also, understand that to stand up an effective information security practice, additional money will need to be spent first to build infrastructure and capacity before the 5-7 percent sized security team can perform sustaining operations. • A culture of information security – Just as modern organizations request that staff members evaluate actions through an equity lens, staff must also employ an information security lens in their day-to-day work. Organizations with successful information security practices view it as a shared responsibility. In those organizations, information security efforts are promoted and endorsed by senior leadership so that all levels of staff within the organization understand its impact and importance, as well as underscoring the fact that information security is not and cannot be viewed as merely an IT issue. • Use of a security framework – The NIST Cybersecurity Framework or the CIS Controls are tremendous resources for setting information security targets for an organization and assessing progress towards those targets. Every subject in my research had at least one framework that they assessed their organizations against and found it


vital to communicating the “why” of the money and resources they were requesting, as well as the “what” of directing the team’s work. • Augmenting security staff – In all cases, the definition of what is and is not considered information security varied. For instance, is anti-virus part of the desktop group or the security group? Are firewalls a network team responsibility or a security team responsibility? Augmenting security functions by creating dotted-line relationships, supplemented with managed security service providers, is a way to track security responsibilities without creating impossible staffing obligations. Additionally, as cyber risk insurance policies evolve, pre-incident audit and post-incident response and remediation coverage can serve as advocacy and capability for constrained security teams. • Leveraging auditors and transparency mechanisms – Auditors are the best way to garner an informed, impartial voice supporting the efforts of the security organization. By assessing against the chosen framework, auditors can recommend and aid in prioritization of what work needs to happen next. All of this reduces the burden on transparency and reporting from the security leader. The result: an interdependent set of information security strategies essential to school IT security success (see illustration above). It is comprised of a foundational set of strategic layers that each subsequent layer could then be constructed. As an example, staffing and funding, and a culture of security exist in the scope of the laws, regulations, and standards of the organization. A security framework implementation is dependent on the staffing, funding, and culture of the organization, and so on. This structure forms a pyramid of layered strategies necessary for the improvement of information security in a school district.

INFORMING STAKEHOLDERS Based on my research, I compiled a checklist for board members and administrators to review with their IT staff. If strategies were found to be lacking, district leadership could direct resources to fund them accordingly. Parents and families, for instance, could ask if districts have implemented some or any of the strategies to address student data privacy concerns. For each of the stakeholder groups, it is important to instill a drive to implement these strategies: • Administrators need to respect the idea that they are not just running academic institutions. They are also running


unbelievably complex businesses, with computerized operational systems containing sensitive information. If they don’t understand these functions, they must appoint those that do. Also, they must insist on reporting both to leadership and the public to prove those appointees understand and act as responsible, ethical stewards of the data and the school systems in their care. Administrators need to embrace that information security is a cultural and people issue, not a technology one, and they must champion security efforts. Also, administrators must ensure that funding needs to be available for reasonable protection of district data and resources. • Board members need to insist that budgets are allocated in a way that not only addresses the educational needs of the students, but also protects student and staff data privacy and district assets from being compromised in a costly cyber breach. They need to demand reasonable transparency and force the district to address problems in a timely fashion.


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• Parents and families can range in skill from the talented information security professional to the completely inexperienced. All of them have a vested interest in the safety of their children’s information, and that district funds are spent wisely. They need to use their influence to ensure that all the other stakeholders listed here engage appropriately using their voices and votes. • Lawmakers have ignored K-12 education. FERPA and its amendments are a start, but the law is woefully out of date, and state laws often focus on vendor obligations. Laws should be enacted that dictate student ownership of data and the obligations of districts to protect the data with which they are entrusted. Those laws must have designated responsible parties for information security, senior leadership accountability, and viable punitive repercussions for a lack of compliance. These are long overdue and will force districts to prioritize spending and staffing properly. • Industry can choose to engage in a lowmargin, high-volume market like K-12 by


supporting outsourcing at a district, regional, or state level. Additionally, local businesses can combine efforts to create a SOC that can service area districts using staff and resources they donate towards the effort as a way to build their own staff ’s skills and populate a pipeline of future staffing options.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SMALLER DISTRICTS Now I come back to the districts that enroll 9,999 students or fewer. Can smaller and more rural districts be expected to maintain staff to address information security? Much like the case with HIPAA, the answer is, “yes.” They are required to protect data because they have it, and there should be no sliding scale of liability based on size. That said, there is no way small districts can adequately address information security obligations with only in-house expertise. These organizations must seek ways to share and/ or transfer that risk to organizations that are

better equipped to perform these expert tasks. Volunteers, educational service districts, managed security services providers, and/or consortia of districts with similar needs can help small districts to collectively address their information security needs, but they must be obliged to do so. Whatever the solution, saying “we can’t afford security” can no longer be an excuse.

WHAT’S NEXT? A lot. It was surprising to only be able to identify a comparatively few resources about K-12 information security versus almost any other industry I examined. Rather than delving into this enormous topic in this already lengthy post, I will open the conversation with the following: • Education – Superintendents and administrators need to be taught technology awareness and information security fluency as a part of the basic educational requirements associated with getting their credentials. The board and public should also be educated through annual reporting on the state of their schools’ information security posture so

they can demand resolution or at the very least, a plan. As always, it is our role to provide education to those that are willing to listen. • Advocacy – Now is the time to work with senators and congressional representatives to ensure that school funds are increased to deal with the obligations for information security. You can insist that privacy legislation mandates the creation of a district information security program, names a person responsible for information security, establishes viable penalties, and mandates reporting on the health of such programs. • Action – I will be repeating my findings to any administrator who will listen. I ask that you do the same. We in the K-12 information security space should create achievable information security plans, and report on progress towards their milestones. Demonstrate good security practices, and raise a brave voice when you witness a bad practice or situation which puts the district at risk. Too often, we allow ourselves to be the keeper of the knowledge about vulnerabilities and issues. Sharing that information not only informs but transfers some of the risk for inaction to those

who should be owning it. The 50+ million students in our nation’s schools deserve to have their information protected. With your help, we can address this looming crisis. We can demand that the districts in this country treat their vital business systems – and the student and staff data they contain – with the same reverence and due care that a private industry counterpart does. We must do this to make sure that today’s students enter society with clean slates and that the staff that serves them can focus on their education. Dr. Travis Paakki has worked in Education Technology for 10 years. He has focused on Information Assurance, ERP systems, and Architecture. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in Information Security and an MBA with a focus on IT Management from Western Governors University, and a doctorate in Computer Science with a focus on Information Assurance from Colorado Technical University. He works for Portland Public Schools as the Senior Director of the Office of Technology and Information Systems.

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Put to The Test: Chrome-Plated Tablet


hromeOS systems aimed at the classroom come in all shapes and sizes these days from all-in-one desktops all the way down to small tablets, like Acer’s Chromebook Tab 10. It’s cost, size and battery life emphasize the role it can take in early education. At 0.4- by 6.8- by 9.4-inches and 1.1-pounds, the Tab 10 is one

of the smallest and lightest tablets around. The rounded corners

For video con-

help make the system rugged, but it lacks anything like Gorilla glass to protect

ferences, field trips or student

the fragile display. The back of the pad’s diagonal texturing makes it easier to hold

movies, the Tab 10 has a 2MP camera facing the user

and harder to drop.

and a 5MP one facing away. Its stereo speakers sound

Acer’s $40 protective case is a good start and brings the package up to

good considering its size but are not loud enough for

1.8-package. Like origami, it can be folded to create a tablet stand

the whole class to hear.

and allows access to the system’s on/off switch, volume control, USB C port and stylus but not the SD card’s slot. If that’s not enough protection, Max Cases makes a slightly lighter plastic cover that can render the Tab 10 just about indestructible. The $27 rigid clear case has soft bumpers and a pull-out stand, but neither it nor the Acer case include a keyboard.

Over a three-week workout, the Tab 10 never let me down,

PROS • Inexpensive • Small, thin and light • Excellent battery life • Includes stylus

regardless of whether it was used on its own or connected to a pro-

CONS • Case lacks keyboard • Large power adapte

of YouTube videos for 8 hours and 45 minutes with short hourly

The Tab 10’s 9.7-inch display is bright and shows the quadXGA resolution of 2048 by 1536, which makes for detailed images, but is well below the Chromebook X2’s larger and higher resolution screen. Able to respond to 10 independent touch in-

jector. I used it to write out and model sentences and run through different equations with the Desmos graphic calculator. Later, I used the stylus to sketch a timeline with photos and paintings using ArtCanvas. The system’s 4,500 milli-amp hour battery pack played a variety

puts, the bonus is its Wacom EMR pressure-sensitive stylus. The pen doesn’t require charging or a battery and was just as good for showing how to factor equations as it was for drawing maps for a history class. It might prove to be a little small for the hands of a high-school senior, but the stylus should be perfect for smaller children. While there’s a place to stow the

breaks, well short of the 12-hour battery life for HP’s Chromebook X2. Still, it should be plenty for a full school day of classes and enough left over for some homework on the bus ride home or at the library after school. On the downside, the Tab 10’s included

45-watt power adapter is large and requires a grounded outlet. The system worked with a smaller power adapter, but it might take longer to charge the tablet. Inside, the Tab 10 has WiFi and Bluetooth radios for connecting to an

pen when it’s not being used, the Tab 10’s stylus lacks the ability to open an app

802.11ac network as well as to accessories, like speakers, a keyboard and mouse. I

by clicking the top (as the Surface Pro can) or to be easily tethered to the system

also used a generic HDMI adapter to stream the Tab 10’s screen to a BenQ projec-

or case.

tor. On the downside, unlike Samsung’s DeX full-screen desktop emulation, the

Designed to stand up to the rigors of schools, the Tab 10 is based on a six-core OP1 processor that runs at 1.0GHz. It comes with a comfortable 4GB of RAM

Tab 10 it filled only about two-thirds of the projected image. With a one-year warranty, the Tab 10 costs a reasonable $280, about what a

and 32GB of storage space, which should prove to be more than enough to tackle

basic Chromebook goes for; a year’s extension of coverage adds $115. Overall, the

most educational roles for students and teachers. If more storage is needed,

Tab 10 takes a step forward with a small and light Chromebook tablet that has the

schools can add microSD cards of up to 256GB.

flexibility to teach a room of students.


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OVERALL RATING: B+ Price: $350

DELL CHROMEBOOK 3100 2-IN-1 Put To The Test: The Chromebook that Bends Over Backwards


f you’re looking for a Chromebook that does more than the basics yet doesn’t bust the budget, Dell’s Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 system provides a lot of computer for the money. It can not only work as a traditional notebook or tablet, but its rugged design means that it will likely be around for a long time. A traditional convertible design, the Chromebook 3100 has

three distinct computing personas: it can be a keyboard-centric notebook for typing papers or taking exams, but flip the screen over the back and it’s a tablet or stop halfway and the system can stand on its own for small group interaction or viewing videos. There’s also a more traditional non-convertible Chromebook 3100 that costs $50 less. Built around a rounded plastic case, the Chromebook 3100 weighs in at 3.1-pounds and occupies 11.5- by 8.0-inches of desk-space. At 0.9-inches, it is a few ounces heavier and significantly thicker than Samsung’s Chromebook Plus, despite having a smaller 11.6-inch touch screen that shows 1,366 by 768 resolution versus the Chrome-

PROS • Inexpensive • Fold-over convertible design • Rugged • Repairability CONS • Low resolution screen • No stylus included

book Plus’s 12.2-inch higher resolution 1,920 by 1,200 display. The screen worked fine with up to 10 fingers at once or a

storage on Google’s servers. With a micro-SD card slot that can accommodate up cards that hold up to 256GB, it is a system that can hold a student’s entire middle- or high-school education. As far as connectivity goes, the Chromebook 3100 is a mix of old and new with two USB-C ports, either of which is used for charging the system, as well as two traditional USB 3.0 ports. The system has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in and connected easily with everything from several wireless networks to a keyboard, speaker and a BenQ projector (using a generic USB-C to HDMI adapter). The system’s two cameras cover the territory well, regardless of whether they’re used for a keyboard-based notebook in an online parent teacher videoconference or taking pictures of the school’s basketball game. While the Web cam produces images of just un-

generic stylus, but the system lacks and active stylus for precise drawing and

der a megapixel, in tablet mode, the world-facing camera can capture 5-megapixel

notetaking. Dell plans to add a model this Spring that includes a stylus, but the

stills and videos.

$29 pen won’t work with existing Chromebook 3100 models.

REAL-WORLD PERFORMER TOUGH ENOUGH To put it lightly, the Chromebook 3100 has been designed to stand up to

It may not be a power system, but it performed well over three weeks of daily use, and never let me down in a series of educational endeavors. The Chromebook

abuse. It uses Gorilla Glass and passed 17 of the military’s stringent Mil-Std

3100 scored 425 and 800 on Geekbench 5’s series of single- and multi-processor

810G criteria for ruggedness and the system survived drop tests from as high as

tests. That’s a 15 percent performance improvement over the more expensive Sam-

48-inches, 12-ounce spills onto its keyboard and 40,000 opening cycles for its

sung Chromebook Plus with a faster Celeron 3965Y dual-core processor.

hinge. In other words, it stands a legitimate chance of outlasting just about every other piece of classroom technology. Its 19.2mm keys feel good on the fingers and I was able to type quickly and

As powerful as it is, the Chromebook 3100 is a battery miser, running for 12 hours and 40 minutes of viewing YouTube videos with short hourly breaks. That’s an extra 40 minutes of use compared to the Chromebook X2. It will likely

accurately. Unfortunately, like the X2, the Chromebook 3100 lacks backlighting

translate into a full day of work at school with enough time leftover at the end of

that might help in a darkened classroom.

the day for gaming or homework.

Powered by a Celeron N4000 dual-core processor, the Chromebook 3100 nor-

Inexpensive, rugged and adaptable to different teaching and learning situa-

mally runs at 1.1GHz but can go as fast as 2.6GHz, when needed. It includes 4GB of

tions, the Chromebook 3100 can stand up to punishment at school while saving a

RAM and 64GB of local solid-state storage as well as two years of 100GB of online

few bucks along the way.



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s a learning tool the tablet has been proven day-in and dayout in a variety of schools with online curriculum, e-books

part is that if you shop carefully, it can all be free. While Apple’s Photo Booth and the iPad’s built-in image editing tools are

and the platform’s ability to squeeze a full computer into

good, they are rudimentary with the ability to alter the basics. Using an iPad Pro,

something small, light and cheap. Add image editing to the

I sifted through dozens of free image-editing apps for tablets and came up with

tablet’s triumphs because there’s a wide assortment of apps

these three programs that take image editing to a new level and easily fit into the

for everything from changing a photo’s color balance and

classroom. They, however, each focus on a different aspect of turning raw images

contrast to making an image fit on social media to creating collages. The best

into works of art.

PHOTOSHOP EXPRESS Adobe’s Photoshop may be the standard of comparison for image editing but there are several choices for tablets, including the free Photoshop Express app. Available for Androids, Chromebooks, iPhones and iPads, Photoshop Express squeezes a lot of potential into a small package but lacks things provided in Adobe’s paid programs, like Lightroom CC. While Express requires students to register, this allows them to tap into their online Creative Cloud account for instant access to gigabytes of images. Adobe also provides lots of teaching resources from lesson plans to how-to guides. To get started, just pick an image from the iPad or shoot one directly into Express’s interface. With the ability to do everything from changing formats and adding stickers to correcting for red eye and dehazing images, the app has loads of potential. Below the image is a row of editing tools, including cropping, applying Themes, adding text and framing the image. The beauty of Photoshop Express is that each of these editing choices provides several potential changes. For example, cropping not only lets you cut the image freeform but to correspond to specific aspect ratios, such as for an Instagram or Facebook posting. On the downside, for some of the processes the identifying text for the choices can get misaligned, making it hard to figure out which is which. While it lacks truly advanced techniques, like turning the image into tiles or folding it geometrically, Photoshop Express does a lot with a little, and can turn students into image artists.



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SNAPSEED Attempting to streamline image editing on a tablet, Snapseed has a simple, straight-forward process that can let students ignore the nitty-gritty and concentrate on the result. In other words, it lets the creative juices flow. Created by Google, Snapseed is free and works with Androids, Chromebooks and iOS systems. You don’t have to register but Google provides only minimal help in getting started. That’s OK because most of Snapseed is self-explanatory and several third parties have created lesson plans for this app. Using its editing and effects starts with tapping the “+” link on its plain opening page. After that, pick from among system’s gallery of images, the most recent ones or shoot directly from the tablet’s camera. In addition to a useful auto-adjust and preset Themes, like Fine Art, Structure and Pop, Snapseed places a wide variety of editing techniques in front of students. Feel free to play with the image’s brightness, contrast and color saturation. I was able to take this to a higher level by adjusting the image’s warmth as well as play-up or -down its shadows and highlights. There are add-on filters for giving the image a vintage look, adding drama to the image and making a photo to appear as if it’s from an old movie. I spent a bit of time playing with the double exposure effect that layers images on top of each other for a ghostly effect. The good news is that each filter has several choices available, making it great for experimentation. Nothing is saved until you accept the changes. One of the easiest ways to add everything from a frame or text to a sophisticated lens blur, many of the effects are complicated but Snapseed’s interface makes them seem simple and a matter of picking the one that looks best.

JELLYBUS MOLDIV Rather than concentrating on photo editing, Moldiv is the easiest route to making all sorts of artistic collages. Advanced tools for adjusting and enhancing images take a back seat to assembling pictures together into an integrated whole. The program can be used with iPhones, iPads, Androids and Chromebooks. JellyBus has rudimentary tutorials and third parties have created guides for a wide variety of projects online, including making holiday cards. Moldiv provides a competent image editor with dozens of filters for making changes, but the focus is on collages. The first step is to choose the template you want to use from the hundreds available. There are simple quadrants, ones that end up looking like tangram puzzles and templates that are very complex with large and small slots for pictures. All can be adjusted by dragging the border between images and even rounding the corners of the images. Beware, the program may be free, but it displays ads and there’re extension packs that cost between $2 and $5 that add to the program’s depth. Still, the base Moldiv has plenty to bring out the inner artist in all of us with a variety of solid and patterned backgrounds. It’s the best bet for arranging photos for printing as a poster or viewing online. There’s nothing to register. Just tap on a section and then grab the first image from the tablet’s gallery or shoot from the tablet’s camera. The shot is automatically placed in the frame. Keep going with other shots and then add a caption and you can save it as any of three resolutions. The key to Moldiv’s success is that regardless of which images you use, the app automatically adjusts their brightness, color and tone. The result is that all the shots look good together. Along the way, the app has several YouTube how-to videos that can help get the project going. If you’re looking for a way to document a school assembly, graduation or play, there’s no better way than to create an artistic montage with Moldiv.



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The new decade kicked off with some exciting new products for education being exhibited at FETC, Bett, and TCEA. Below find a sampling of these new offerings for K-12 schools.


911inform launched its all-encompassing platform to help emergency response teams improve managing communication and connected-building control related to emergency situations. The solution is designed to improve the future of public safety and next-generation 911 globally.

lessons, in partnership with Circle Media, ranging from how to protect user names and passwords to respecting others online to prevent cyberbullying.


Boddle Learning, an educational game that makes practice and assessments fun for students and easy for teachers, launched fourth and fifth grade math on its platform. Boddle’s standards-aligned math content for grades 1-5 helps teachers deliver differentiated math practice, save time creating and grading assessments, and quickly and accurately identify and address learning gaps.


Adventure 2 Learning, a leading videobased learning platform, launched its second generation educational technology platform. This new platform provides teachers with a better user experience in addition to more on-demand, interactive videos and more supplemental resources to enhance the way students learn, from Pre-K to 8th grade. Videos focus on core curricula, social and emotional topics and mindfulness, and were developed or curated in response to educators’ requests. Adventure 2 Learning has also expanded its program portfolio with Digital Life

Book Creator introduced its latest update, with more than 200 changes to increase accessibility. Some of the newest features include: voice typing in 120 languages; the ability to auto-generate and edit captions for videos; appropriate color contrast; a feature to magnify text size when typing; full keyboard navigation; the ability to create transcripts from recorded audio; Open Dyslexic font; and improved screen reader support.


Carnegie Learning introduced LiveLab, part of MATHia, which illuminates each student’s progress through math concepts in real-time so teachers can guide, intervene

and coach effectively. LiveLab’s indicators help teachers assist struggling students and recognize students for hitting milestones. Carnegie Learning is also working on a HoloLens integration so teachers can use augmented reality to know how students are performing just by looking at them.


CKEditor launched a free online builder, which allows users to easily customize and test which type of rich text editor best fits their needs. Users can add such features as track changes, comments, real-time collaboration, spell checking or math equations. The builder is intended for Learning Management System vendors who would like to enrich their offering with collaboration features.


Class Solver showcased its new feature, “boost,” which automatically corrects issues with class lists—such as if a student doesn’t have a friend in the class, or if a classroom is imbalanced—with the click of a button. Previously, schools could spend up to weeks manually creating class lists to get the right groupings for the year ahead.


Diamond Assets announced the release of Clarity: Powering the Apple Refresh. This free service provides a refresh timeline and


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Conference Product Preview


other information to assist Jamf customers in assessing their inventories for current and multi-year technology life-cycle planning.


enCode Create introduced new guides for all code projects in its computer science curriculum and online courses to help teachers alter assignment expectations and deliver differentiated instruction for students with different educational needs, from high achievers in need of an extra challenge to learners who require more scaffolding and support to stay on pace.


Epic Games launched their new “Teach with Interactive 3D” hub, where secondary teachers can download free lesson plans for teaching with Unreal Engine, Fortnite Creative and Twinmotion. To celebrate the release, the company has also launched a contest to help teachers learn how to build a lesson plan using interactive 3D tools, with all lesson plans and tools free to download.


Epson showcased new projectors built specifically for the K-12 education environment to increase student engagement and offer both convenience and affordability. The new display solutions will provide advanced connectivity options and a variety of multi-device tools to create collaborative learning environments. New features include ultra-bright, vivid images; low-priced, long lasting lamp life; advanced network connectivity; Epson iProjection with built-in moderator function; screen mirroring with Miracast®; and easy setup with flexible positioning.


Flinn Scientific’s WhiteBox Learning System now includes drones, This system offers a hybrid approach to engineering

design while addressing various learning styles. Students create and analyze a threedimensional model, learning through simulation and unlimited design iterations. The skills acquired help drive students focus on STEAM careers while engaging them in the design thinking process. Teachers can personalize their control center for classroom management.

35 lesson plans to teach coding, robotics, AR/ VR and Internet of Things (IoT).


Kami announced a Microsoft integration, available in February, that will allow users to log into Kami from Microsoft single sign-on, auto-sync and open Kami files through OneDrive, use existing LMS integrations to open Kami files stored in OneDrive, and more.


Girls Who Code is dedicated to inspiring, educating and equipping girls with the computing skills and confidence needed to pursue 21st century opportunities. The organization launched new features for its free, interactive after school curriculum. The free curriculum and resources are utilized by Girls Who Code Clubs, and new offerings include a Clubs Fund grant of $300 per club and a $100 Community Partner Fund.


Illuminate Education introduced advanced feature setup services for eduCLIMBER, a new service that shepherds districts through the creation of tools such as early warning systems and unique forms to focus staff procedures and benefit student progress. The services enable districts to set up performance bands to accurately describe student progress; create dynamic forms to drive data-informed actions; develop and automate tools for tracking student progress; and configure data collection settings to track incidents and inform student growth.


Kai’s Clan, a collaborative coding experience with augmented and virtual reality, celebrated its official launch at FETC. Kai’s Clan is an all-in-one platform with more than


The KIBO robot kit from KinderLab Robotics introduced screen-free STEAM coding to children 4 - 7. Adding to our existing 160 hours of classroom curriculum, we are excited to announce our new KIBO Activity Cards at FETC. Perfect for self-directed stations and centers, these 20+ cards provide easy-to-follow and colorful activities, enabling teachers to easily set up a “KIBO Corner” to engage kids as they build, create art, code, and play with KIBO.


Kokomo24/7 Solutions introduced Safety Cloud, an AI-driven, cloudbased platform designed to give schools proactive insight to help reduce bullying, suicide and disruptive learning events. Safety Cloud consists of three products: an incident management system, anonymous reporting system and emergency operations center. It analyzes up to eight years of school district data to help identify potential safety risks.



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Conference Product Preview LEARNICS

Learnics introduced ThinkingApp, which allows students to record and submit a record of their online activity. The new analytics provided by Learnics will then give insight to help teachers support struggling students by better understanding their time on task, search terms and popular websites accessed.


LEGO Education is celebrating its 40th birthday with the worldwide launch of its newest educational tool, LEGO Education SPIKE Prime. The hands-on STEAM learning solution combines 528 LEGO bricks, easy-to-use hardware and a drag-and-drop coding language with 32 lesson plans. With teacher training, getting-started guides, and free lesson

RockerOtt 10: The RockerOtt 10 seat features a 10 degree angle, encouraging the student to lean forward, making them more engaged – facilitating active sitting while providing lower back support. The super-light foam core creates just the right firmness and helps to improve cognitive development and well-being. GENCI Collection: The GENCI seating are individual benches that nest within each other, providing space efficiency. GENCI’s light and agile modular design allows for endless configuration to support group sizes, interaction and dynamics. It also allows for collaboration in a non-formal or creative setting. When the seating needs to be disassembled, students can work as a team to quickly nest the pieces together.

plans, SPIKE Prime is designed to be as easy and intuitive for teachers as it is for students. Three in-person training courses delivered by LEGO Education Academy-certified teacher trainers are also available to ensure teachers have everything they need to confidently and successfully integrate SPIKE Prime into existing curriculum and daily lesson planning.

personalized space that accommodates their learning styles and needs. In addition to storage underneath, Ondo and Indira offer comfort and ergonomic support with the option of two cushion styles – curve back and straight back.


NoraNivel introduced a series of seven new educational furniture products to transform learning spaces. NorvaNivel furniture’s flexible, lightweight components work together and can be easily configured in just 60 seconds. The following are the new 2020 NorvaNivel pieces being launched in January 2020:


Ritmo: NorvaNivel added castors and steel framing to teachers’ and students’ favorite activity table, making it even more mobile. A U-Channel was added to the center of the piece to provide tabletop storage and a power module. Additional storage is available underneath through storage tubs on both sides. The writable surface is proven to facilitate collaboration and creativity. This is a key piece for any and all STEAMSPACE classes.

Onda Junior Seating (for Grades 2-6) and Indira™ Senior Seating (For Grades 7-12): The new mobile two-seater Onda and Indira offer a whole space solution for small and large group learning by connecting with other tables, bookcases and pieces. This empowers learners to create

STEAMSPACE 2.0 Starter Collection: The design features in the 2.0 Starter collection allow customization for any STEAM task, and collectively turn any classroom into a fully functioning STEAM studio. The piece can easily be moved from room to room and set-up anywhere – while providing more storage space. Benches and caddies are carpeted to access small parts on work surfaces. In addition, interchangeable magnetic surfaces allow students to carry, store and

change out work areas. Slabwrx: Slabwrx is a mobile collaboration starter tech bar, where learners naturally gravitate to for sharing, learning and supporting each other. Depending on the activity or the accompanying seating, the tables can be raised up and down.


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Conference Product Preview



Lesson Planet introduced Learning Explorer, a learning resource discovery and management solution for districts that helps teachers save time by finding, planning and assigning standards-based curriculum using an intuitive drag-anddrop interface. This all-in-one solution allows teachers to search a library of PreK12 curated OER and educational publisher content, organize lessons into courses and assign them to students.


Luxor showcased the KwikBoost EdgePower, an innovative device that attaches to the edges of desks and tables, providing a cord-free battery charging solution. Charging is reported as a leading barrier to successful implementation of 1:1 and BYOD classroom programs; the KwikBoost EdgePower addresses this issue by providing a convenient alternative to power strips and extension cords.


ManagedMethods, a G Suite and Office 365 data security and student safety platform for K-12 schools, will launch its new Login Analyzer product, which will allow districts to monitor their user accounts to detect and protect against an account takeover and take the steps required to remediate it. This product is designed to protect against cybersecurity incidents, of which there were more than 300 reported in K-12 districts in 2019 alone.


Mentoring Minds will showcase its newlyacquired K-12 software platform, which currently functions as a modular formative assessment solution, but will soon deliver capabilities of an IMS, as ThinkUp! Standards Mastery System content is migrated into the platform. The solution

enables teachers and administrators to collaborate, manage their ThinkUp! curriculum and deliver assessment. Teachers and administrators also gain insight through advanced data analytics.


MIND Research Institute launched an all-new version of its flagship solution, ST Math. Based on 20 years of neuroscientific research and the belief that every student has the potential to deeply understand and love math, ST Math uses spatialtemporal games to present math concepts visually for students in grades preK–8. This patented approach leverages the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning abilities to solve math problems. The mastery-based and standardsaligned ST Math offers equitable access to learning through challenging puzzles, nonroutine problem solving, and informative feedback.


NAECAD launched its new Certification Program (NAECAD-CP) to provide quality and accessible professional development for competitive esports coaches and directors. The NAECADCP creates a context of professional development to assist organizations hiring high school and college esports coaches and directors and formalizes certification levels to be recognized within the competitive esports ecosystem. Courses are delivered on a mobile platform, allowing participants to learn any place and at any time.


Ozobot announced the launch of Ozobot Classroom, a new learning management system that measures STEAM. Educators can sign up for Ozobot Classroom for free, enabling them to manage students and Ozobots, get live lesson insights into online and offline student activity, maximize participation in coding and CS, and improve retention across all subjects.


Pathways for Learning launched CEP: Classroom Education Plan, through which teachers can see clearly how best to engage their students to provide enrichment and improve outcomes. CEP analyzes academic and non-academic real-time data from both teachers and students to inform classroom decisions, customize researchbased strategies and support teachers via a moderated teacher learning community. Educators are also invited to become part of the CEP pilot program.


Promethean, a global education technology company, shocased the next-generation of its award-winning ActivPanel at the 2020 winter conferences. Following extensive user research, Promethean



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Conference Product Preview designed the ActivPanel Elements series to deliver innovation and ease-of-use that matters to teachers and students, as well as the security and manageability trusted by IT professionals and administrators. Specifically, the Elements series employs a groundbreaking unified menu to control all apps and settings on the panel, and source switching across connected devices. This means teachers can move seamlessly between content and resources with greater confidence and less training time required, and no need to manually switch inputs across hardware. Another powerful feature is Promethean’s proprietary new Vellum writing technology, which brings together elements of hardware and software to make the writing experience natural and enjoyable.


Sero! introduced its version 2.0 conceptmapping assessment, including a number of new features: summative and formative techniques; analytics with process and outcome measures; visualization to show change and enable comparison; LMS integration; mobile optimization and more. Sero! provides valuable insights into student learning with authoring, scoring and analytic tools that combine the cognitive benefits of concept mapping with the power of the cloud. Educators can register online by February 28, using code FETC20, to redeem a free one-year subscription.


Rhombus Systems, which seamlessly combines sensing technology with video security and AI to make it easier for organizations to manage their security, released a suite of three new sensors—Asset Tags, Door Sensors and Environmental Sensors—that work in unison with the company’s enterprise security cameras to provide real-time sensing data and corresponding video footage.


School Technology Associates introduced the SchoolTRAK Positive Attendance integration for Skyward® SIS, the new module for SchoolTRAK, which includes all of SchoolTRAK Tardy Kiosk’s functionality to set time thresholds for tardy and absences, with the additional features of attendance tracking for Skyward SIS. The integration provides a real-time snapshot of who is actually where and when in a school, not only where they are scheduled to be.


SMART Technologies released ToolSense technology, which bridges physical and digital learning by incorporating tactile tools, is available on the SMART Board® 6000S series. The technology is exclusive to SMART and is not seen anywhere else on the market today. Fundamental to this new technology is that it’s intuitive – like having a 6th sense – just pick up the pen, or object and interact with the board. The interactive display automatically recognizes a physical object and produces a digital interaction.


Spelling Shed—which has had half a billion words spelled across more than 15,000 schools in over 100 countries since its initial launch two years ago—released an entire re-mapping of its content to match state


standards. The new curriculum alignments will encompass progression, lesson plans, activities, word lists and game content.


Sphero released a new littleBits Educator Starter Kit, an open-and-go introductory kit designed for any K-12 educator looking for a flexible STEAM solution. This entrylevel kit gives teachers and parents the tools and support needed to confidently learn how to incorporate play-based coding at school or at home.


Dreamscape­­—a free English language arts (ELA) resource for grades 2-8, created by literacy and gaming experts—launched a State Test Prep feature with levelled questions resembling those featured on state-specific assessments, to help students prepare for ELA exams. The initial launch will include preparation for the STAAR and EQAO assessments with more coming in 2020.


STEM Minds released the STEM Minds Online Academy, a blended learning online platform with 15 courses including over 30 STEMulators—games that support eLearning and eAssessment in the classroom. The platform empowers teachers to use 3D design, robotics, coding, electronics, digital media programs and more to teach STEM.


Swivl showcased the new face detection added to its tracking algorithm. With this new feature, Swivl rotates and records video while always keeping the teacher and/or students in frame. Combined with the recently launched Swivl Teams platform, video collaboration is now easier and more powerful for students, teachers, coaches and administrators.


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Texthelp introduced new features to WriQ®, a writing assessment tool that helps teachers track and score students’ writing progress. The tool now gives students instant access to immediate feedback on their writing, without relying on teacher intervention, enabling them to track their progress daily, weekly or monthly and work toward easy-to-reach stretch goals.

WEBINARS Enhancing Print-Based Learning: 4 Things Education and IT Leaders Should Know Sponsored by: Epson America and PaperCut

The Latest K-12 Digital Content Trends & Strategies That Make a Difference Sponsored by: OverDrive Education

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Vernier Software & Technology has partnered with SAM Labs to teach middle school students important coding and computational thinking skills through datacollection STEAM activities. Students can use a variety of Go Direct sensors with SAM Labs STEAM Kits and the Google Workbench programming canvas to collect real-time experiment data and bring their SAM Labs projects to life.


What Ed Tech Apps Work Best for Learning?


The new tools help large education organizations set up and manage the gamified K–12 keyboarding curriculum TypingMaster Inc., a leading provider of engaging keyboarding courses, has updated its gamified keyboarding instruction solution TypeTastic to better serve large districts and even entire cities or states. TypeTastic offers a keyboarding curriculum for students in grades K–12 in an engaging, game-based environment. Beginning with introductory games, TypeTastic walks students through motor-skills training, touch typing, numbers and symbols, and typing fluency, with timed tests throughout to monitor student progress. The new update adds an administrator dashboard that empowers education leaders to manage several schools from one spot. TypeTastic is also now integrated with Clever for single sign-on (SSO) and simplified rostering. For districts that haven’t implemented Clever, the upgrade offers CSV importing to mass upload students.

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Cambium Learning Group’s Voyager Sopris Learning today announced that LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling), the company’s landmark professional learning that provides educators with the background, depth of knowledge, and tools to teach language and literacy skills to every student, has earned accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Authored by literacy luminaries Dr. Louisa C. Moats and Dr. Carol A. Tolman, LETRS for elementary school teachers is backed by more than 30 years of evidence-based, scientific research and more than a decade of proven success.


Writer’s Workbench (WWB) showcased the new online version of its program, now available for iPads, Macs, Chromebooks and Windows systems. WWB—which grades writing mechanics, provides feedback and guides writers on how to fix their writing without fixing it for them— now includes 26 focused analyses to allow writers to focus on one or more potential problems with their writing.



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