VOLUME 40 / NUMBER 8
IDEAS AND TOOLS FOR ED TECH LEADERS
You can do this! How to help students thrive online.
HOW ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S DONE:
BUILD A MOBILE STEAM LAB
See page 24 for more.
PUT TO THE TEST:
ANKER PREMIUM 7-IN-1 USB-C HUB
See page 42 for more.
FROM T&L UNIVERSITY
SPECIAL SECTION: CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
CYBERSECURITY: WHAT K-12 LEADERS NEED TO KNOW
By Sascha Zuger How Indiana University created The Idea Garden to grow student edtech opportunities. By Carl Hooker and Lisa Nielsen Advice and resources to help prepare educators for emergency closures
By Curtis Carver In addition to deploying vendor solutions, there are practical steps districts can take to protect against cyber attacks.
HOW IT’S DONE
Reported by Sascha Zuger, Annie Galvin Teich and Christine Osadciw 3D printing from puppy paws to jet engines; enhancing music class with edtech; jumpstarting design thinking; implementing mental health tech tools; stopping a child predator; and using Google Apps for Education.
REVIEWS: FIRST LOOK
• Three Kid-Safe Headphones For Schools • Epson PowerLite 700U • FLEXSpace Offers Learning Space Planning Resources • Anker Premium 7-IN-1 USB-C Hub
DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS 4 EDITORS DESK New realities 6
TRENDING Resources, news and advice regarding the coronavirus, remote learning and digital tools; student privacy; STEM award winners; and more
22 BIG IDEAS • How Wireless Technology Can Untether Teachers • Using Blended Learning To Close The Achievement Gap • Building A Mobile STEAM Lab
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 APRIL 2020
omehow, my 19th-century Victorian house has become a 21st-century classroom. Three screenagers in action—the freshman in college, returned from her shuttered campus, is hunched over the laptop in the dining room. The others—10th and 8th grade respectively—are in various states of recline on couches and staring at devices. All have those white thingies in their ears and seem intent on...something. Is it work? Or is it Snapchat? As I type this in mid-March, an unprecedented education event is happening. Millions of students around the world are being told to stay at home, if they haven’t already been home for weeks. At the same time, educators are taking crash courses in elearning strategies. Sure, setting up a few online snow day activities/exercises is easy enough, but what about finishing up a semester—assessments, parent/ teacher meetings, the potential for cheating, the overall emotional fallout? Looks like we’re about to find out. Thankfully, it seems like people are coming together—edtech companies are offering services gratis and educators are sharing best practices online. For our part, Tech&Learning is hoping to be the hub for any and all information that can be helpful to our readers. I hope the words from our advisors here in these pages and up on techlearnALL HAVE ing.com can help. And if you have your own ideas, please THOSE WHITE feel free to share. THINGIES IN THEIR
EARS AND SEEM INTENT ON... SOMETHING. IS IT WORK? OR IS IT SNAPCHAT? — Kevin Hogan Managing Director, Content firstname.lastname@example.org
VOL. 40 NO. 8
www.techlearning.com FOLLOW US twitter.com/techlearning Group Publisher Christine Weiser email@example.com CONTENT Managing Director of Content Kevin Hogan firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Ray Bendici email@example.com 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, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban Senior Design Director Lisa McIntosh ADVERTISING SALES Sales Manager (West Coast) Allison Knapp, email@example.com Sales Manager (East Coast) Joe Rotondo, firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.techlearning.com and click on About Us, email email@example.com, call 888-266-5828, or write P.O. Box 8692, Lowell, MA 01853. LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS Tech & Learning is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGEMENT Senior Vice President, Content Chris Convey Vice President, Sales John Bubello Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Head of Design Rodney Dive FUTURE US, INC. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036
All contents © 2020 Future US, Inc. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/ all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions. Please Recycle. We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from responsibly managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. The paper in this magazine was sourced and produced from sustainable managed forests, conforming to strict environmental and socioeconomic standards. The manufacturing paper mill and printer hold full FSC and PEFC certification and accreditation.
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NEWS TRENDING ANDTRENDS THE LATEST NEWS & STATS AFFECTING THE K-12 EDTECH COMMUNITY
PUT TO THE TEST—4 STYLUS REPLACEMENTS Much mightier (and less expensive) than the sword By Brian Nadel With tablets right and left in schools, the big question: is what can you do if a student or teacher loses their stylus? Rather than expensive replacement tablet pens, these four alternatives can do the trick for a lot less.
WACOM BAMBOO ALPHA
INSIGNIA NS-MST32M STYLUSES Best Buy’s house brand, Insignia, has an alternative to an expensive replacement stylus that costs $20 for a three-pack. Based on rubber domed technology that should work with any tablet, they come in red, black and blue, have a shirt pocket clip and each stylus has an actual pen inside. Made of stainless steel, these styluses have been designed to last.
Priced at $15, the Bamboo Alpha is far from the least expensive stylus, but it’s worth it because the black and brushed aluminum pen weighs 12 grams and has a clip for a shirt pocket. The best part is that the Bamboo Alpha’s 6-millimeter rubber dome tip feels more like ink on paper; replacements cost a reasonable three for $5.
MUSEMEE NOTIER 2 Unlike its peers, the Musemee Notier has a thinner tapered profile and a small plastic writing disc, making it more comfortable to write or draw with. The stylus comes with an aluminum cap and is available in black, silver or red. It costs $14 and the Notier 2 includes an extra tip; three extra replacement tips cost $6.50.
ESR DIGITAL STYLUS FOR TOUCH SCREEN DEVICES Easily the most expensive of the four, the $30 ESR Digital Stylus delivers the precise feel of a real pen or pencil with a spring-loaded 1.4mm wide tip that provides instant feedback with the writing surface. Its built-in battery allows 10 hours of writing, sketching and doodling on a charge and can be recharged with a micro USB cable.
FOR MORE HANDS-ON TAKES ON THE LATEST AND GREATEST IN EDTECH, GO TO PAGES 39-42.
THREE KID-SAFE HEADPHONES FOR SCHOOLS
EPSON POWERLITE 700U
Headphones that are good for students to use in class
FLEXSPACE OFFERS LEARNING SPACE PLANNING RESOURCES
FLEXspace, the free online resource, features hundreds of examples of learning spaces from around the world
A short throw projector that lights up the classroom
ANKER PREMIUM 7-IN-1 USB-C HUB Missing ports? They’re here.
F I N D L I N K S AT W W W.T EC H L E A R N I N G .CO M
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How to Find the Best Digital Tools for Your School By Shannon Mersand
Selecting the right digital tools for your school is never an easy task. So where do you start? First, conduct a needs assessment. Here are important questions to consider: ■■ What are the needs of the school in terms of curriculum and functionality? ■■ What do you hope to accomplish by introducing a new tool or platform? ■■ Are you replacing an existing tool or product? ■■ Are you introducing a new opportunity for learning? ■■ Is the intent to substitute, augment, modify, or redefine (SAMR) what is happening in the classroom or school?
Once the need has been determined, the next step is to identify how to close the gap between the current situation and the ideal by selecting the right resources. Here are some important questions to ask during this phase: ■■ What does the resource purport to do? ■■ Does the scope of content and functionality meet the needs you have identified? ■■ What are the needs of your students in terms of differentiation? Does the resource address those needs? ■■ Is the product accessible for ALL students and educators? Is there text-tospeech functionality? Closed captioning on videos? Transcription of audio files? ■■ Does the resource conform to student privacy laws and policies? United States regulations are summarized by the Office of Educational Technology (https://tech.ed.gov/privacy/), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies in the European Union (https://gdpr-info.eu/). ■■ Is the content and interface engaging to students? ■■ Is the product intuitive and easy to use, or does it require extensive training? ■■ Is the product appropriate for the intended audience? ■■ Do the students and educators have access to technology (hardware and infrastructure) in and out of school to access the resource effectively and efficiently? ■■ How much does the product cost? Are discounts available through local or state agencies? Are there costs beyond the initial purchase? Are there additional hidden costs such as hosting or professional development for educators? ■■ Are there similar products that do the same thing, but in a more cost effective manner? ■■ How do students and teachers access the tool - will accounts need to be created, or is there integration with existing systems? ■■ Are you able to “try it before you buy it” with a demo or a free trial period? ■■ Is support provided during implementation to answer any questions that arise?
By the year 2025,
immersive technologies of XR— including augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality—will be as ubiquitous as mobile devices. That’s the opinion of nearly 9 in 10 respondents from the 2019 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report, a new survey by global law firm Perkins Coie LLP and the XR Association.
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In which sectors do you expect to see the most investment directed to the development of AR/VR/MR/XR technology or content in the next 12 months? (Please select up to 3 options)
STUDENT PRIVACY PLEDGE SURPASSES 400 SIGNATORIES More than 400 companies have pledged to support students’ right to privacy by safeguarding personal data The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) recently announced that more than 400 companies nationwide have now signed the Student Privacy Pledge, affirming their commitment to ensuring student data is kept private and secure. “Now more than ever, as our classrooms become increasingly connected and reliant upon technology, companies and schools must be held accountable for ensuring appropriate protections on students’ personal information,” said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum. “The Pledge is an important tool that helps companies better communicate and enhance their student data privacy policies while also providing a much-needed layer of transparency and legal accountability for schools and communities. We are pleased to see continued interest and growth in the Pledge from reputable and respected education technology companies around the country.” SIIA President Jeff Joseph said, “SIIA and our members are committed to safeguarding the privacy and security of all student personal informa-
tion. Six years and 400 signatures later, the Pledge remains the embodiment of that commitment. The Pledge has stood the test of time, serving as an important set of principles for companies, large and small, as they work to comply with an increasingly complex set of state and federal laws. Policymakers should look to the Pledge as an example of a strong industry commitment to protecting student privacy while enabling the creation of innovative new products designed to improve outcomes. We’re pleased to celebrate this important milestone and look forward to the next six years of the Pledge.” Launched in October 2014 with endorsements from President Barack Obama, the National PTA, and the National School Boards Association, the Student Privacy Pledge is asks companies that provide services to schools to commit to twelve legally enforceable obligations, including that they will not sell student personal information, and will not collect or use student personal information other than what is needed for the given educational purposes. A few of the Pledge’s signatories share their thoughts on the importance of this initiative: Apple: “At Apple, we build privacy into every product and service we make. We’re proud to be
a signatory to the Student Privacy Pledge, so that young people can benefit from classroom technologies without fear of their personal information being sold or stolen. We believe technology should serve students—never the other way around.” ClassDojo: “At ClassDojo, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. Communities of teachers and families across the country join ClassDojo to give their children an education they love. Those communities require trust. That’s why every ClassDojo product is designed to protect our community’s right to privacy, and to give people control over their information. Our commitment to privacy as a fundamental right made it easy for us to be one of the first signatories of the Student Privacy Pledge when it launched.” itslearning: “itslearning is a proud signatory of the Future of Privacy Forum’s and SIIA’s Privacy Pledge. As the first LMS provider to comply with the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), itslearning has long recognized the need to protect student data and has established a track record of doing so. We applaud the work of FPF and SIIA and look forward to our continued work as a Pledge signatory entrusted to safeguard the data rights of students.”
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TOP 25 LEARNING TOOLS FOR WHEN SCHOOL IS CLOSED By David Kapuler When faced with school closures, educators can keep the learning going online with the help of these platforms and resources.
Offers an online curriculum for ages 2 to 8 covering numerous core subjects including math, reading, and science.
From the creators of ABCmouse, this online curriculum is for ages 8 to 13 and features gamified learning for Math, Reading, and Science.
One of my favorites for remote learning, and teachers and students love it! A free site that lets educators create student accounts before then directing them to super engaging fiction, nonfiction and/or vocabularyfocused personalized writing activities in any subject. Enter instructions (with or without vocabulary), upload resources, and then share!
BrainPop and BrainPop Jr
A free visual- and studentbased response platform that allows educators to blend learning and flip classrooms in real-time on browser based devices. Students can interact with teacher-developed resources from home.
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Delivers online learning opportunities in numerous subjects by showing animated videos and then following up with brief assessments and quizzes.
A versatile learning tool that provides a digital canvas for multiple educational needs. The Ideas Lab showcases learning resources to be used remotely.
Chocked full of educational videos and premade playlists that can be assigned to students to view from home.
Create reading assignments for students in grades K-8 that can also be integrated into Google Classroom. Features a curated, COPPA-compliant database that provides assessment and language/ speech options.
Useful for flipping a classroom or lesson. Educational videos can be viewed remotely and followed up with assessments to gauge learning.
This online platform provides an abundance of engaging games, resources, and activities for grades PreK-6.
Offers hundreds of animated explanation videos, on subjects from biology to social media, that can be embedded and shared.
The Glogpedia features multimedia posters covering more than 80 topics across
nine disciplines, such as math, social studies and science.
Interactive math practice for grades K-5 that offers an easy-to-use interface and tracks student data.
One of the most used gamebased learning platforms that allows educators to create their own content-related quizzes and games.
A fast-paced vocabulary game site that also allows teachers to choose from existing work packs or develop their own. You can also track student progress.
A mobile learning tool that supports student engagement and collaborative learning. Also recently posted how to use Nearpod at home during school closures.
A teacher-curated trove of educational videos, lessons, quizzes and games.
More than 140 teacherdeveloped games for kids involving math, reading, literacy, typing, and more.
A new site focused on differentiated instruction through game-based learning that adjusts to the student as they progress. Also provides tracking and assessment tools.
SuperTeacherWorksheets Hundreds of worksheets and activities that can be printed for home use, ranging from math and science to literacy and phonics.
With this platform, ESL, ELL and foreign language teachers can flip a lesson and have students work at home with the help of numerous videos and activities.
A free mobile app for building vocabulary skills that assesses and adapts to a student’s vocabulary level in real-time.
Students can develop their creativity, critical
thinking, communication and collaboration through interactive digital stories and presentations.
A free site with an abundance of K-12 videos on a wide variety of subjects.
Dozens of educational videos covering topics that range from vector quantities to plate tectonics. 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 dkapuler@gmail. com and read his blog at cyberkap.blogspot.com
INTEGRATED AUDIO COLLABORATION SYSTEM KEY BENEFITS •
LENUBIO creates the most natural communication available for team collaboration between remote locations.With the integrated array mic and soundbar positioned below the display participants actually talk with each other just as they would in normal conversation. For impromptu meetings, a smartphone can be quickly paired with LENUBIO via bluetooth connectivity for exceptionally clear communication. Presentations become impactful with the professional grade high-quality audio delivered via stereo soundbar with subwoofer output.
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IMAGE CREDIT: ASSOCIATION FOR COMPUTING MACHINERY
ACM AND CSTA ANNOUNCE 2019–20 CUTLER-BELL STUDENT WINNERS The Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Science Teachers Association announced four high school students were selected for the CutlerBell Prize The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced four high school students were selected from among a pool of graduating high school seniors throughout the U.S. for the Cutler-Bell Prize. Eligible students applied for the award by submitting a project/ artifact that engages modern technology and computer science. A panel of judges selected the recipients based on the ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, and originality of their projects. The Cutler-Bell Prize promotes the field of computer science and empowers students to pursue computing challenges beyond the traditional classroom environment. Each Cutler-Bell Prize winner receives a $10,000 cash prize. This year’s Cutler-Bell Prize recipients will be formally recognized at the Computer Science Teachers Association’s 2020 Annual Conference, July 11–15, in Arlington, Virginia. The winning projects illustrate the diverse applications being developed by the next generation of computer scientists.
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KEVIN MENG Plano West Senior High School, Plano, Texas
Two years ago, Kevin Meng’s grandmother suffered from a slip-and-fall injury that resulted in skull fracture. This accident, which was suffered out of the view of cameras, got Meng thinking: what if we could see through walls? In his project, Meng uses VisionRF, a deep neural network model that accepts raw radio frequency signals and outputs continuous video of 15-point human skeletons behind obstruction. Because radio camera data on its own is harder to analyze, analysis through Raspberry Pi-based programming supports mobile, real-time interference. This results in accurate and complete predictions of the human skeletons. The implications of this project are broad and can be used to support military operations, monitor the health of patients non-invasively and aid first responders in search and rescue missions.
LILLIAN KAY PETERSEN Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Lillian Kay Petersen’s younger, adopted siblings faced food insecurity in their previous homes. Inspired by their experiences and the news of crop failures in Ethiopia, she became determined to help aid organizations in increasing food se-
curity in developing countries. To accomplish this, Petersen developed a tool to inform cost-effective nutrition interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, inclusive of predicting grain harvests, predicting acute malnutrition prevalence and optimizing the supply logistics of specialized nutritious foods. The tools can be adjusted to include-real time data, enabling aid organizations to adjust distributions accordingly. As the result of her work, Petersen was invited to speak at eleven aid and research organizations, including USAID, the USDA and the International Food Policy Research Institute. She was also an invited speaker at multiple conferences, including the 2018 and 2019 CGIAR Big Data in Agriculture Conventions in Kenya and India.
AXEL S. TORO VEGA Dr. Carlos González High School, Aguada, Puerto Rico
While identifying topics for his research project, Axel Toro Vega read that more than 36 million people in the world are visually impaired
and more than 217 million have some type of severe visual impairment. Toro Vega created an initial prototype consisting of an ultrasonic sensor mounted onto a pair of glasses. He continued to test different sensor arrangements and tweaked the software for a simple and efficient user experience. After gathering additional feedback after a presentation at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Toro Vega took his prototype further by integrating artificial intelligence. This project made Toro Vega realize the great accomplishments that can be reached through computer science and the core meaning of CS for Good.
ZEYU ZHAO Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Springs, Maryland
Inspired by his grandfather who is facing chronic kidney disease, Zeyu Zhao began researching the kidney exchange system in the U.S. and was shocked to learn that 3,000
kidneys are wasted each year and 13 people die daily, in part, due to failed matches. Zhao wanted to use computer science — specifically machine learning — to improve the current kidney exchange system. He created a datadriven approach to solving the kidney matching problem through the designation of a Graph Neural Network to guide a Monte Carlo Tree Search. Zhao identified baselines for his project and tested his algorithms against this baseline, thus improving the current kidney exchange by developing a data-driven approach to finding matches. The research from Zhao’s project could be extended to other applications, such as operations research. CSTA and ACM would also like to recognize Raghav Ganeth, who received an honorable mention for his project “Precision Medicine for Lupus Nephritis: Predicting and Profiling Patient Response to the Euro-Lupus Treatment Regimen through RNA-seq derived Transcriptomics and Machine Learning.”
4K HDMI USB 2.0 Single Gang Wall-Plate Extender with HDBaseT™
EX-4KU HDMI and USB inputs on a single-gang wall plate Uses HDBaseT™ 2.0 chipset Extends 4K video to 40 m (130 ft) 1080p to 70 m (230 ft) Receiver provides USB port with two outputs Supports all USB 1.1 and 2.0 peripherals including touch-screen LCDs Extends RS-232 for control Wall plate provides two USB charging ports for convenience HDCP 2.2 compliant
WWW.TEC H L E SINCE ARNING .COM SERVING YOU 1984
A New Wave in Connectivity
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BRITISH TEACHERS FACE SIMILAR EDTECH FUNDING CHALLENGES According to a recent edtech report from RS Components, a survey of teachers across the United Kingdom shows that our education counterparts across the pond face many of the same challenges when it comes to funding edtech. More than 60% of those in public education surveyed say that there is not enough funding for edtech, with more than half in public education and state-funded academy schools also saying that funding and resources have been cut.
IS THERE ENOUGH FUNDING FOR EDTECH? A ÂŁ4.6 million ($5.8 million U.S.) funding program was recently unveiled by the Department for Education (DfE) to test edtech in classrooms in the hope kick starting innovation and de-risk future investment by technology suppliers, as well as schools. Also like their American counterparts, teachers in the U.K. often use their own money to buy school supplies. The survey showed that 37% have purchased tech supplies for students and have, on average, spent more than ÂŁ40 ($51 U.S.) doing so.
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TERRY VINE/GETTY IMAGES
9 WAYS TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE WHILE TEACHING AND LEARNING REMOTELY
by Ellen Ullman As the world attempts to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus, both parents and students are setting up to work and learn at home. Glass half full: No commute, extra time with the family, and increased productivity. But for many people, working from home is a nightmare. Your wifi is slow, the fridge is too close, or you can’t figure out how to send emails offline. We asked school administrators that are managing these emerging remote learning systems— for their recommendations on making it work. If they can get teenagers to get off Snapchat, they can do anything.
be doing videoconferencing, be very intentional about your space—especially the background. If you have roommates, housemates, or children, you might want to put up a “Busy Working” sign.
7. Understand your home wireless capacity. If you need to engage via Zoom or Google Hangouts, can your in-home wireless support it?
3. Buy good headphones. (Or invest in a masseuse and a chiropractor.)
8. Ask for tutorials and other support. Can your company’s IT director create a webpage with “cheat sheets” and other resources? One K-12 technology director made short instructional videos using Screentastify and put them on a private YouTube channel. Another option is to have training sessions using Google Hangouts Meet.
4. Time management is paramount. Build a schedule for the day and hold yourself to it. Make sure to include breaks and time to stand up. 5. Have a backup internet plan. Whether it’s a hotspot or the nearest Starbucks, know what you’ll do when the guy down the street cuts down a tree and hits the telephone pool. (True story!)
Here are their suggestions. 1. Keep track of your passwords. That sticky note on your corkboard with all of your passwords didn’t make it home? No problem, as long as you use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane. 2. Find the right place to work. Consider lighting, sound, and other interruptions such as a dog who barks when the wind blows. If you’ll
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6. Ensure you have access to every resource you need. Many companies still have internal resources accessible only within the company network. Make sure your laptop has virtual private networking (VPN) software and that you’ve established communication protocol via email, phone, cell phone, and instant messaging. In addition, learn how to use a VPN in case you’ll need to remotely access servers or files while working from home.
9. Communicate regularly. Use Google Hangouts or other videoconferencing platforms to hold regular meetings. If people are isolated, these will serve as great morale boosters and keep everyone in the loop and on track. Tips gathered from the following people: Joe Kuzo, director of technology, Quakertown (PA) Community School District; Andrew P. Marcinek, M.Ed., chief digital officer, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, MA; Frank Pileiro, MAIT, supervisor of technology, Linwood (NJ) Public Schools; and Dr. Hank Thiele, superintendent, (IL) Community High School District 99.
Five Quick Distance Learning Activities For Teachers In A Pinch From the Teched Up Teacher, some activities for teachers who may need to come up quickly with a few weeks of distance learning lessons. By Chris Aviles, Regardless of the likelihood that schools are shut down on a local, state, or national level thanks to the coronavirus there are many great reasons every teacher should become familiar with distance learning best practices. Beyond the ability to one day abolish snow days or not lose instructional time due to other reasons schools may close, it turns out the tools and methods you would use to run a distance learning class are likely even more beneficial to students when everyone is using distance learning techniques while in the classroom together. Blended Learning is when students learn at least partially online while the teacher is in the room with them. I’ve been a long time proponent of blended learning. Blended learning allows the teacher to take on more of a support role
1. Blogging / Podcasting
Whether students watch, read, or listen to something you post in a learning management system like Google Classroom or Schoology, having them share their thoughts with you is a common online assignment. Instead of just writing a response or essay in Docs, consider having students create a blog on new Google Sites, or make a podcast on Soundtrap or Twisted Wave.
No one likes worksheets, but if you’re in a pinch most worksheets can be uploaded to Google Classroom. The thing is, having students print the worksheet and upload it when it is done is a bit much. Know these helpful tips if you don’t already have your worksheets made in your Google Drive. If you upload a PDF to Google Drive, right click on it, and select Open as Google Doc. Drive will automatically convert a PDF into an editable Google Doc that you can then fix and post for students. There are apps like Office Lens and Evernote Scannable that allow you to take pictures of your worksheets and convert them into a PDF that can then be edited in Drive with the above method. In a pinch, you can take a picture of your worksheet with your camera and upload the picture to Drive. If the picture is clear enough, you can open it as a Doc and Drive will convert the text in the picture into something you can edit.
2. Socratic Seminar / Debates / Discussions Responding to others thoughts and feeling as an activity in an online class has been around forever. Most remember it from college: the teacher poses a question, prompt, or topic for debate that students must respond to. After posting their response, learners must also respond to a specified number of other students’ responses. Not very exciting, but it works. Try making things more engaging by using Flipgrid so students can respond via video to each other.
3. Quizzes / Tests Whether for practice or the gradebook, assessing student learning with a traditional style quiz or test is still possible online. Google Forms has added ‘quiz’ features which allow you to create an assessment that is more robust than a paper test or quiz. You can insert pictures and videos, set answer validation, and even have the assessment automatically grade and ‘hand back’ student scores. Students can answer a variety of questions including the ability to turn in files or links as answers. Check out all the features here.
while empowering students through self-paced, self-directed learning made possible through technology. Whether you’re getting ready for distance learning because of an impending school shut down or you’re interested in bringing blended learning to your classroom, you’ll need to consider some important practices to get this type of learning to work well. I plan on jumping into these bigger questions like the best blended learning models, how to help students who fall behind or speed ahead, how to address students with special needs or lack of access, and more in future posts. But I wanted to write something now for teachers who may need to come up with a few weeks of distance learning lessons quickly. What types of lessons can students do online, from home? It’s similar to what they can do in the classroom, it turns out, only better.
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5. Show me what you learned One of my go to blended learning activities has always been show me what you learned. Show me what you learned is my way of challenging students to come up with their own creative, engaging way to do just that: show me what they learned during a lesson or unit. It can be a song or rap, a how to video, a book trailer, an infographic, an animation. Anything school appropriate. Why not let students decide their distance learning activites? Ask them to turn in something that shows what they learned for your lesson or unit! Distance and blended learning can and should be so much more than these five activities. The use of online learning tools especially when supported by the teacher while learners are in the classroom, seems to lead to better learning outcomes than more traditional classroom. But if you’re in a pinch, and those two weeks worth of distance learning lessons plans are due in a couple days, keep these activities in mind. Promise me, though, you’ll come back and learn more about blended learning when you get back to school.
Chris Aviles, a teacher from Fair Haven Schools, NJ, presents on education topics including gamification, technology integration, BYOD, blended learning, and the flipped classroom. Read more at Teched Up Teacher.
CREATING AN IDEA GARDEN TO GROW STUDENT EDTECH OPPORTUNITIES By Sascha Zuger The Idea Garden at Indiana University is a “thinker space” for students to engage in collaborative, cross-disciplinary experiences with cutting-edge technology, and that can be adapted for K-12 schools. Tech’d out learning spaces not only offer an opportunity to engage students outside the computer science field, but can be designed to foster connections between students and the greater tech community. We chat with Julie Johnston, Director of Learning Spaces, about the benefits of creating The Idea Garden, a unique learning space at Indiana University.
Who: Learning Spaces—a division of Indiana University Information Technology Services (UITS) Where: The Idea Garden, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN What: Creating a vibrant “thinker space” for students to engage in collaborative, cross-disciplinary experiences with cutting-edge technology. Idea Garden was born out of a concept to “think differently” and create a space for students to be introduced to the latest technology with a focus on solving problems and creating an entrepreneurial spirit. Ever-evolving, it wel-
comes change as a natural and positive feature of a successful learning space. Friendly staff create an approachable learning environment for those experimenting with emerging technology for the first time, leading the way in making meaningful connections with the greater tech community. The Idea Garden’s mission is to support students interested in 3D modeling and printing, AR/VR, and digital art. We are home to four touch-screen display tablets equipped with digital painting software, 3D modeling software, and slicing software for our 3D printers. We have a Lulzbot TAZ 6 for printing flexible filament, the other Lulzbot TAZ 6 prints in plastic. HTC Vive Pro virtual reality stations, an IQ Wall, the Samsung Flip and Google
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Tools & Ideas to Transform Your Campus
Jamboard encourage digital collaboration. By 2030, there will be a need for employees with advanced technology skill sets. The Idea Garden is providing an incubator space to inspire and welcome all students to explore and create, regardless of their field of study.
POSITIVE RESULTS Indiana University’s wide variety of degree programs benefit from referring students to the Idea Garden for additional support with emerging technologies. Over the past year, the Idea Garden had 20,000+ check-ins to the space. Students leave the university having had the opportunity to explore, design, and create with new and disruptive technologies. The Idea Garden is also a venue that allows for hosting activities and events to connect with technologists, entrepreneurs, and business executives. Students have been able to interact with Sony executives from Japan. Google, Apple, and Adobe are active partners within the space and visiting speakers such as TechPoint, Centric Indy, and Salesforce inspire students. As an instructor in the School of Informatics
TECH TOOLS ■■ Crestron Room Control ■■ Planar Interactive Video Wall ■■ Klipsch Sound System ■■ Skytech ■■ Oculus Quest VR ■■ Google Jamboard ■■ Samsung Flip ■■ Mersive Solstice ■■ 3D Printing Lulzbot Taz 6 ■■ Dell Canvas ■■ Microsoft Surface Studio ■■ Gaming PC’s Corsair One ■■ Virtual Reality HTC Vive ■■ Get live updates from Tech & Learning University
Students explore AR/VR in the Idea Garden.
recently said, “The Idea Garden has helped solidify IUPUI’s name as a place where technology is used in a creative manner, reflected upon critically, and disseminated to broader audiences.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE In creating a new space on the campus, we had to make a cultural shift from a staff with traditional technologist responsibilities to creating a dynamic environment for entrepreneurship and exploration. The space required full collaboration from teams in Advanced Visualizations Labs, Learning Space Design, Collaboration Technology, and Student Technology Computing. In doing so, we realized how powerful it is to bring all the elements and expertise of a team together.
PRO TIPS Exercise patience in adoption—you won’t open a unique space and have everyone start using it immediately. New concepts take time to evolve. Consider new ideas, partners, and technology— being an innovator is giving people something they need and want, before they ask for it.
FINDING FUNDING The Idea Garden was paid for through a special budget allocated for the space.
Students showcase their work in the Idea Garden space.
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Edtech in Action: How to use wireless technology to untether a teacher By Rick Cave
&L Leadership Summit attendee Rick Cave shares how West WindsorPlainsboro Regional School District has developed its Educational Classroom of Today (EdCOT)
Initiative: EdCOT (Educational Classroom of Today) Where: West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, West Windsor, New Jersey It started with a simple idea: What would a first grade classroom look like if you utilized wireless technology to untether the teacher from the front of the classroom? The result was EdCOT (Educational Class-
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room of Today), an initiative that has been embraced by teachers, students and parents alike. It has empowered students to take control of their learning, improved communication with parents, and created a repository for student work that is easily accessible by teachers anywhere, anytime. The initiative was based on the idea that good elementary instruction requires flexibility. Instruction can take place in a large group, in a small group, and all around the classroom. Therefore, technology should support movement by the students and enable the teacher to create learning centers wherever students gather. We realized that we could take advantage of new wireless technologies to support a classroom that would allow teachers and students to work in a location based
on instructional need, not the location of wires. Each EdCOT classroom was outfitted with a 65â&#x20AC;? LCD monitor, wireless digital media receiver, eight student tablets, one teacher tablet, and digital portfolio software. Combining the resolution, brightness and clarity of large monitors with a wireless digital media receiver means students can clearly see the shared screen of any device in the classroom. The setup is so simple to navigate that the first grade students manage its use when the teacher is absent. Two significant outcomes of the initiative have been improved parent communication and increased student independence. One teacher shared that many parents have raved about the high level of information they receive about the class even though the teacher received half the typical amount of email from parents. Students often determined what tools they would use for an assignment, what format to utilize, and which assignments they wanted to share. Now, what started as a way to allow the teacher to move freely around the classroom has quickly grown into a free flow of information between parents, students and teachers, that is collaboratively managed by both teachers and students. Rick Cave is the director of technology in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in West Windsor Township, N.J. E-mail: rick.cave@ ww-p.org; Twitter: @rcave
EDCOT (EDUCATIONAL CLASSROOM OF TODAY) IS AN INITIATIVE THAT HAS BEEN EMBRACED BY TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND PARENTS ALIKE. IT HAS EMPOWERED STUDENTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR LEARNING, IMPROVED COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS, AND CREATED A REPOSITORY FOR STUDENT WORK THAT IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY TEACHERS ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.
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Using Blended Learning to Close Achievement Gap By Annie Galvin Teich
y adopting blended learning, Dayton Public Schools has successfully recalibrated its tools and strategies in its core instruction program Using software for core instruction practice and data for targeted face-to-face intervention and instruction, Dayton significantly boosts student achievement. Who: Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, Superintendent Where: Dayton, Ohio Public Schools I came to the district in 2016 as the Assistant Superintendent for curriculum and instruction, in part, to improve student test results. The district was in danger of being taken over by the state—specifically, the Academic Distress Commission from the Ohio Department of Education. When I became superintendent after two years, we stopped using software that wasn’t delivering results and focused on core instruction and quality interventions delivered through a blended
curriculum. To close our achievement gap, we recalibrated our tools and strategies in our core instruction program: Software: We chose MindPlay for reading intervention and ALEKS for math intervention. Both are adaptive programs. ALEKS assesses the achievement gaps and then takes the students to the right place to resolve the gaps. MindPlay takes students to their actual reading level, keeping students in their zone of proximal development. When students begin to answer incorrectly, it takes the student back to master the content before moving
TOOLS USED 4 XMindPlay 4 ALEKS 4EDINCITES (Formative Assessments) 4NWEA (MAP Benchmarking)
forward again. Blended Learning: Four days a week, students work with the software that supports our core curriculum. On the 5th day, they meet face to face in small groups with their teacher who uses the data generated from the programs to pinpoint and correct any gaps so students are moving forward to their mastery level. The goal is to have every student participating in a face-to-face meeting with their teacher at least once a week to discuss their progress. Data: Data is now an integral piece of our process and our success. We’ve done intensive training on assessments and moving students forward in mastery based on their individual data. Also, I meet every six weeks with all principals to review their data for ALEKS and MindPlay, as well as demographic data, to ensure they are monitoring the use of the program data as well as online formative assessments. Professional Development: Teachers received intensive data training and now participate in ongoing professional development. The goal is for teachers to become proficient and efficient with using data to inform instruction and learning. I shut down the schools for a mandated day to deliver intensive training and modeling of gradual release strategies, so that we could shift our culture from intervention to core instruction. With 26 buildings, the district did 13 days of PD with two buildings attending per day.
RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES We piloted MindPlay with grades 3, 7, and 9 two years ago. These grades were chosen because in Ohio, third graders must pass the reading test to be promoted; 7th grade is transitioning to content reading; and 9th graders are in transition to high school. After we received feedback from our staff, we implemented fully during the 2018-2019 school year for grades 3–9 and some 10th. We saw a major improvement in student performance on the state exam. Shifting our teaching strategies, emphasizing data, and increasing professional development has made all the difference. The results in the first year helped stabilize the district, forestalling any need for the state to take over our schools. Our district moved from an “F” to a “D” in one year. Our gap closing score improved for our ELL, special education, and poverty students to a “C” from an “F” the previous year. This school year, we have just finished up the grades K-8 and 9–12 assessments and have new benchmark data to use further closing our student achievement gaps.
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Edtech in Action: Building a Mobile STEAM Lab Edtech in Action is a new series of articles from Tech & Learning event speakers and attendees, highlighting the kinds of topics and discussions that occurred at T&L events. By Lisa Spencer
elow T&L Leadership Summit attendee Lisa Spencer shares how Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland is building its own mobile STEAM lab.
Initiative: Building a mobile STEAM lab Where: Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland All of the other districts I spoke with that had a mobile lab of their own had utilized contractors or outside entities to complete the work required to transform the bus. I figured, “If our students are able to build a house, surely they can complete the interior work required to revamp a bus.” I viewed this as an awesome opportunity to merge the two thoughts. A mobile lab and student involvement, while at the same time, address one of PGCPS’ goals and an overarching goal throughout the United States. Specifically, the goal of providing learning opportunities encompassing science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in a fun, yet challenging, thought-provoking way. Croom Vocational High School was the school selected. Under the guidance of their teachers, students enrolled in the carpentry and electrical courses completed the flooring and cabinetry work, and installed counter tops. Currently, the students and teacher in the electrical class are preparing to start the electrical work. In regard to the exterior of the bus, last school
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Prince George’s County turned a nus into a mobile STEAM lab. year we hosted a “Cover The Bus” contest for students enrolled in the Graphic Arts program. Drawings were submitted and the student who submitted the winning drawing received a Chromebook, donated by one of our vendor sponsors. We have ordered supplies, tools, and equipment ready to serve students at all levels, K-12. As soon as the electrical work is completed, the bus will be driven to the shop to be wrapped, showcasing the student drawing. We are expecting to have the STEAM Lab roadshow ready immediately after spring break. I can’t wait!
I want to thank and share our great appreciation for the vendor support received [from Hartford Computing Group, Inc. (HCGI)] who donated Home Depot cards to assist with purchasing the wood and laminate materials and [Lenovo donated] computing devices toward achieving this endeavor. Lisa Spencer is the Director of Instructional Technology & Support for Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland.
IS YOUR SCHOOL IS READY FOR A LONG-TERM PANDEMIC? 6 QUESTIONS TO ASK By Carl Hooker
hese questions can help guide you to see what kind of plan is in place should the unfortunate happen. It’s been interesting to watch the world react to the COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the “Coronavirus”. In the age of social media and instant notifications on our mobile devices, it’s made this pandemic seem like the worst on record when in fact, it’s not even close. That said, as with any disaster or pandemic, there comes an increased awareness to how schools and districts respond to it. Many schools are on alert, creating plans and awaiting guidance. While others, like this school in Seattle, shut down as a precaution. Recently, I posted the question of how schools prepared for a long-term closure using Facebook, Twitter, and group texts as ways to crowd-source responses. Those responses varied from “packets, we’ll just give them lots of packets” to “we’ll use Google Classroom to hand out assignments.” Neither of these responses are inherently good or bad, but it does open the door to a slew of questions schools and districts need to be asking themselves when it comes to continuing the learning even when the building is closed to students. This is a cumulation of those responses crowd-sourced from school administrators across the globe. As every district is different, it’s impossible to come up with a one-size-fits-all approach to long-term closure. However, I do hope these questions can help guide you as you see what kind of plan you have in place should the unfortunate happen. Being from Texas, I know that weather can cause long-term closure as well (see Hurricane Harvey). For the purposes of the following questions, I’m going to assume that it’s a pandemic and that it’s affecting
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the entire community and surrounding districts. I will also post some ideas and solutions that were shared with me in the hopes of sparking an idea for your school or community.
1. How will you deliver learning to your students? I purposefully put “learning” instead of “content” as too often times we default to what we know. Learning online looks a lot different than learning in a physical classroom. Some mentioned using LMS platforms like Schoology or Google Classroom to deliver the learning to their students but this assumes that A) they have devices and B) they have internet access (see next question). Also, most of the responses pertained to students in grades 6 and up. Some had some measures for 3-5 students while most had no plans for online learning when it came to K-2 students. Ideas/Solutions: As mentioned, using LMS platforms seemed to be the most common response to this question, with Google Classroom being mentioned the most. Sometimes these can be online assignments, digital worksheets, or journal prompts. Some mentioned using live chats, YouTube, and Google Hangouts as a way to supplement the learning, including having “office hours” where teachers take 10-15 minutes to check in virtually with each of their students. A couple of districts mentioned their teachers creating lessons on Nearpod and using the “student-paced” option to send work home as it tracks their answers and allows them to upload work. Andrew Wallace from South Portland Maine Schools shared another creative solution. In his district, they send home a “one page cheat sheet” with passwords and usernames for online resources like Newsela, Tumble Books, Overdrive, and BrainPop (which already has a new lesson on the CoronaVirus – see below) In Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Kyle Berger deploys a Classlink portal for all teachers, parents and students to access resources. Of course, this all still assumes that all kids have devices and internet at home which leads me to my second question.
2. How many of your students DO NOT have online access at home and how do you deliver learning to them? This is a question many schools may already know the answer to. Online survey tools like Survey Monkey and Bright Bytes can help collect this data (ironically, you have to be online
to take the survey) or you could collect this information during school registration. Regardless of how you collect it, you’ll likely have a percentage of students without access that you’ll have to plan for. Ideas/Solutions: There were a WIDE variety of ideas and solutions for this question. Bonnie Blan from Southwest Christian School was able to leverage discounted internet access for families in need using Kajeet and the BroadbandNow initiative. Others mentioned giving out hotspots as it would be likely that students wouldn’t be able to go to places like McDonald’s or Starbucks during a quarantine (although some adults might risk it for coffee :). With either of these solutions, you would need to set these up well before disaster strikes, but I like that schools are solving this issue regardless. In general, the responses from educators seemed to indicate that you should be prepared to have some analog mixed with digital. Writing in journals and reading are easy enough for ELA, but having prompts for writing helps. Some schools mentioned having students check out extra books out of the library just in case.
3. How prepared are staff and what is their role? Like Jennifer mentioned, setting up a bunch of brand new tools during a stressful time like a long-term closure wouldn’t be wise. Staff will be worried about their own families as well as their students. Anything that is implemented would either need to be put in place beforehand or easily deliverable to a teacher’s existing curriculum and instruction. While not ideal, this could mean just sending home paper or digital worksheets, but even that can be a challenge. Ideas/Solutions: Having a plan in place with deliverables to staff would be a smart thing to create and have on hand regardless of a global pandemic. These can range from having some one-page step-sets that show teachers how to deliver a variety of content on your LMS of choice to an internal website with a range of ideas for online learning. Schools can leverage tools like Microsoft Teams as a way to collaborate or have conversations or create Padlet walls that students can post ideas on. Any and all solutions should be web-based, device agnostic and able to work on a smartphone as that may be the only online access they have. One bit of advice from Jennifer Pearson, a Tech Coordinator who works at the International School of Nanshan Shenzhen in China – “There should be a plan. The plan should be consistent and NOT introduce a bunch of new techy tools.”
4. Are these days recognized by your state or country as actual instructional days? As you might imagine, each state and country has different rules around this. Here in Texas, we count instructional days based on the actual amount of minutes our students are physically in school. While there might be exemptions made, currently those days won’t count and schools would presumably have to extend the school year to make up for the loss of days and weeks while shut down which would likely push through the end of June. While I think learning should still continue even if your state or country doesn’t recognize it officially, this brings about many other questions, including contract lengths of your professional teaching staff. Ideas/Solutions: Some states, like Illinois, recognize a handful of “eLearning Days” that can oftentimes come about due to poor weather. These days are counted as official instructional days and were recognized by the state, which means no make-up days at the end of the year. Phil Hintz from Gurnee D56 in the Chicago area was a part of a handful of districts that ran the pilot for eLearning days starting in 2016. While not a solution for weeks of closure, the framework they built was around giving students windows of time to complete assignments and using Title 1 funds to get those without access Kajeet Hotspots.
5. What role do other “non-classroom” professionals play? In an average school building there are many professional, salaried staff working alongside the classroom teachers. Some of these teach special area subjects like art, music and PE. Others include counselors, nurses, and campus administration. While the majority of the interaction of students will come from the teacher in an eLearning concept, these staff still have a role to play. Ideas/Solutions: Principals are the go to source for school-to-home communication. They should be posting updates regularly to both parents but also to staff and help identify families that might not have online access at home. They also have to set expectations for teaching staff in making sure online instruction is consistent. Special area teachers should continue to serve students and provide instruction whether it be having students post a video of them doing pushups on a FlipGrid or capture their art and reflect using a digital portfolio tool like Bulb. Counselors and nurses can provide support to families in need either through one-on-one at home visits or through online video chat tools.
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Those professional staff on salary can rest easy knowing that they are still getting their paycheck every month, even if the school is closed. Sure they may have to work some extra days, but they aren’t clocking in to work an hourly job. Custodians, administrative assistants, cafeteria workers and teacher aides don’t have that luxury. For them, a shutdown could be a devastating hit to them financially if they aren’t working. Ideas/Solutions: There are still roles for many of these staff to play even if the building is closed, but they may be very different compared to the normal school day. Custodial staff should do a deep cleaning of the building and prepare it for the eventual return of students. Admin assistants can help connect teachers with students and vice versa as they have access to parent contact information. Cafeteria workers can help provide and deliver meals to those families in need. Teacher aides can use tools like Google Hangouts to meet with those students they serve and check in or assist on the work that they have to do at home. In some cases, while human contact in masse is to be avoided, they can also make one-on-one home visits like the counselors and nurses. While the building may be closed, there is still plenty of work to be done and these staff are vital to keeping things running efficiently as well as helping our students with special needs. In summary, there is a LOT to consider before shutting a school down for a few days or even a few weeks. The questions above are just the tip of the iceberg, but they come from a multitude of librarians, teachers, and administrators across the world that genuinely care about keeping the progress of learning happening despite the closure of a physical building. What plans does your school or district have in place? If I’ve learned anything from this post, it’s that we all are better when we work and collaborate on ideas together. Cross-posted at hookedoninnovation.com Carl Hooker has been a part of a strong educational shift with technology integration since becoming an educator. As Director of Innovation & Digital Learning at Eanes ISD, he has helped spearhead the LEAP program, which put oneto-one iPads in the hands of all K-12 students in his 8000-student district. He is also the founder of “iPadpalooza”- a three-day “learning festival” held in Austin annually. He’s also the author of the six-book series titled Mobile Learning Mindset, a guide for teachers, administrators, parents and others to support and embrace mobile learning in our schools.
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PLANNING FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLOSURES Here are some ways schools can prepare By Lisa Nielsen Schools being closed is nothing new. There are spring and winter breaks. There are snow days. There is summer vacation. At these times teachers, schools, and districts may decide to give students homework packets with various activities. Parents need to figure out childcare. These days we have the Coronavirus looming and already being the cause of school closures in various cities, countries, or just at particular schools. In the age of technology, planning for secondary students has become a bit easier as many schools already use platforms like Google Classroom, Schoology, or Microsoft Teams. Additionally, childcare is not as a big
of a concern for older children, but what about elementary school students? Here are some ways schools can prepare:
Communication Communication is key. Once you have a way to stay connected, families can be informed and updated as needed.
ONLINE PLATFORMS Parents Facebook is where parents already are and the learning curve for most is non-existent. Set up a private group, using your school’s email address. Send the link to join to all your parents. Designate
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6. What about itinerant and paraprofessional staff?
group administrators and moderators. Set the group rules. Start important discussions, such as: ■■ Help parents connect around childcare needs. ■■ Give parents tips for home learning ■■ Provide the latest news
join. Find out how they provide learning for students. ■■ Library: Go to the library and have your child pick out lots of books.
Learn how to use Facebook Live to speak with parents and encourage them to comment on the Livestream.
If you don’t have one, set up a community for students in a platform such as Google Classroom, Teams, or Schoology. Have all students log in during class. Try to ensure parents can help their students log on. Practice having students engage in the platform. If you have very young students, practice with a very simple prompt and have them respond with emojis. The point is getting them used to the platform. Experiment in class with things like video conferencing.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY. ONCE YOU HAVE A WAY TO STAY CONNECTED, FAMILIES CAN BE INFORMED AND UPDATED AS NEEDED.
Phones There are schools where many families may not have access to devices or Wi-Fi. Don’t forget about the power of the telephone. In some districts, Microsoft Teams is set up so that up to 250 people can be in a call. If you don’t have this set up, see if you can arrange that. Free Conference Call is another option. Make sure that you have as many phone numbers as possible, and have a number set up for families to call as makes sense. Google Voice might be a good option for this.
Childcare Have families start thinking about this now. Encourage them to connect with each other. Encourage them to connect with teachers and other school staff who may be able to help. Suggest they think of family members such as grandparents who can come visit and help with childcare needs.
LEARNING Here are some ideas for keeping the learning going when school is closed.
General ■■ Breaks: Encourage families to start by thinking about the learning that happens over summer and breaks. ■■ Homeschooling groups: Find some local and online homeschooling groups they can
Online Resources ■■ Common Sense Media: Not sure what’s best for online learning? Common Sense Media has you covered with ratings, reviews, and recommendations for apps, movies, websites, games, and more. ■■ GoNoodle: Help your children and yourself stay active and mindful with GoNoodle ■■ Thrively: Find the right kids activities, educational games, and apps for your child. Show your kids just what they can do with Thrively. Joining is free. Kids get a strength assessment and then suggested online and face-to-face activities. A forced school closure whether due to virus, disaster, or other unwanted circumstance will be challenging. However, if districts, schools, parents, and students work together to stay connected and be prepared, there is an opportunity for everyone to learn important lessons and become more connected. Cross posted at The Innovative Educator Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Tech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal.
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CYBERSECURITY: WHAT K-12 LEADERS NEED TO KNOW By Curtis Carver
verall, there are lots of things going on in cybersecurity today, which can be characterized in three themes. 1. Depth of defense still works. You have to look at all possible angles of attack, and then prepare from there accordingly so that you have an end-toend defensive strategy for your district. The fact that you’ve prepared for ransomware but haven’t prepared for a denial of service attack or a phishing attack means you’re wide open. You’ve got to have a blend of technology, policy and education training and awareness approaches to address the growing cyber threats. 2. All threats are not equal. The current threat du jour is phishing, and most IT departments have been ineffective in addressing it. You really need a strong educational approach so that staff are able to determine what is a “normal” and what is an “abnormal” email address, and what to do when something abnormal happens. Be practical with how you handle that, especially with folks who are repeatedly clicking on phishing messages. For example, we do active phishing training and we have about a 12% click rate, but if you have someone who has clicked on every message of a 12-message campaign, you have a problem. They are not understanding the threat, and then the question becomes whether they’re a viable employee going forward. Coupled with that is how you do password management. We’ve spent a long time saying you need to have a unique password for every account, and it’s wonderful to put that in policy, but that’s a CYA effort. What is really helpful is providing software that helps users generate unique passwords, and they keep track of that. Moving beyond policy and helping staff to do the right thing is critical. 3. Focus on practical security. Do security that actually makes a difference. More is not always necessarily better. Do the math and determine what risks you’re actually trying to ameliorate and figure out how to do that.
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CYBERSECURITY IF YOU TOOK A MILLION PCS, IT WOULD TAKE 43,000 YEARS TO BREAK A 15-CHARACTER PASSWORD, AND WHEN YOU COUPLE IT WITH TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION, THERE’S JUST NO REASON TO CHANGE IT EVERY YEAR BECAUSE THE AUDITORS OR COMPLIANCE STAFF IS NOT GOOD AT MATH. My favorite example for this is passwords. Lots of folks say, ‘Hey, we’re going to change passwords every 90 days, and it’s got to be an eight-character password, and we’ll remember the last ten.’ Well, on a 2015 laptop, I can break an eight-character password in two hours. So the fact that you change it every 90 days is meaningless. All you’re doing is driving your users crazy. At our institution, we have 15-character passwords and couple it with two-factor authentication, and we say your password is good for life. And the reason why? Because we’re good at math. If you took a million PCs, it would take 43,000 years to break a 15-character password, and when you couple it with two factor authentication, there’s just no reason to change it every year because the auditors or compliance staff is not good at math. What are some current big challenges in cybersecurity implementation? 1. Doing risk calculation. What do I prioritize first? With all the threats out there, it can be very daunting. 2. Finding a proper balance. We’re in a heavy threat environment, and that environment is smart, and it will continue to mature and grow increasingly sophisticated. As that’s occurring, you have to have countermeasures in place. For example, we had a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack last year; we successfully defended against it. The attacker then morphed their approach, and because they could tell we were being successful against it, they morphed again, requiring that we counter again. From a user perspective, no one knew this kind of fight was taking place because we were able to shield
them, but for us, it was a two-month battle with a combination of technology and policy. On the positive side, we were able to stop it; if this attack had happened in 2015, we would’ve been down for two months. But because of our investments, no one even noticed we were under this significant attack. So preparing and conveying to senior management the need to prepare. You have to be on the front edge of the curve or you’re just crushed. What advice do you have for public school districts? 1. Take a human-centric approach to security. You have to put your employee who is trying to do work for your district at the center of the conversation. Try to figure out how you can protect them, and in the least intrusive possible way. Avoid putting security at the center of conversation, or using fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as the organizing principle of the case to improve security. The role of security is increasingly important, but there needs to be increasing rigor around how it is deployed so that it’s effective and practical. 2. A common mistake is believing that if you improve cybersecurity policy, that’s all you need to do. For example, a CIO may think that ransomware attacks don’t work if you have a backup, so they’ll write a policy that everyone should have a backup of their current work. Well, that’s meaningless. What would be meaningful would be to deploy a backup system that’s easy to use for everyone, and then that policy can be implemented. Do we still need the policy? Absolutely. But enable the right behavior for the policy with the right technology deployments. You want security to be actionable by all your employees, and it’s not going to be actionable by everyone if you’re just writing it down in a policy and then saying, ‘Go do this,’ and then not providing the appropriate resources to do it. 3. Build a positive security culture. You want to build an environment where all staff buy in and have accountability. It’s one thing to say, ‘Don’t click on phishing messages.’ When I first started here, when we had a report of a phishing attack, it took us about 800 minutes to close out that attack, meaning we went in, deleted it from all 25,000 mailboxes and we built an access control list that went into the routers to block that attack from coming in. Today we do it in 2 minutes--from the moment it’s reported, we delete it from 25,000 mailboxes and block it at the perimeter. So if you check your email more than 2 minutes later, you’d never even see the attack.
Ask your employees to help you build a positive security culture. Say ‘Hey, help be a champion of the organization and report phishing attacks.’ We did this and got a large spike in both people not clicking and in people reporting phishing attacks immediately. It’s one thing to not click, but it’s another thing to be part of a community that defends, a part of a neighborhood watch that protects the entire district. 4. With less funding for resources, school leaders should focus on practical solutions in terms of deployment. That ability to improve the speed of how you handle certain circumstances and the agility to handle attacks becomes increasingly important. 5. As school districts typically can’t pay for the talent they need and need to rely on outside consultants, it’s important to be careful in regard to which ones are brought on board. Any potential
YOU WANT SECURITY TO BE ACTIONABLE BY ALL YOUR EMPLOYEES, AND IT’S NOT GOING TO BE ACTIONABLE BY EVERYONE IF YOU’RE JUST WRITING IT DOWN IN A POLICY AND THEN SAYING, ‘GO DO THIS,’ AND THEN NOT PROVIDING THE APPROPRIATE RESOURCES TO DO IT. partner needs to have to have an understanding of what it really means to teach at the K-12 level, who the students and faculty are, and what time constraints exist--they need to be aware of the annual K-12 cycle and be respectful of the tremendous pressure on faculty and students to maximize classroom time once the school year begins, and how any window to introduce change just evaporates. Curtis Carver is Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a member of T&LU’s advisory board. He has spent decades in educational IT, including stops at the University System of Georgia and West Point.
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HOW it’s DONE School and District Leaders Share How They’re Making IT Work
3D Printing, Puppy Paws to Jet Engines Using 3D printing to foster STEM skills and design creativity By Sascha Zuger Whether constructing a 3D printer from a kit or letting students’ imaginations fly (and then expecting them to ground those wild ideas through engineering skills), one grant-savvy Wisconsin Tech Teacher credits his bounty of talented young tech minds to one idea: “If you build it, they will come.”
Who: Nels Lawrence, Technology & Engineering Youth Apprenticeship/CO-OP Coordinator Where: Kaukauna High School, WI—2019 National Award Winner for Manufacturing Career Pathways What: Using 3D Printers for puppy prosthetics and other engineering challenges
mentioned it to my student, Ben Brochtrup—now an aerospace engineer major at UMN—who got excited and started designing.
POSITIVE RESULTS The main value of offering tech like the 3D printer is drawing out design creativity. Students had to push themselves to learn the drawing skills to do an original project rather than going to the web and printing a ready-made file.
I first read about 3D printers online in 2009, and called a guy named Bre BIGGEST CHALLENGE Pettis to ask if I could buy a kit (I did not know that at the time the Makerbot The puppy project involved many versions. We worked through troubleshootcompany was probably running out of his apartment in NYC— later sold for ing and redesigns half a dozen times. We had five different types of printers as well millions). I got a pile of parts back, no instructions. Challenge one. Bre put some as a new liquid process one. When trying the first model on the puppy with velcro, info online and we built the printer. Challenge two was how to use it. Lucky for we realized cracking could be an issue. We experimented with plastic infused with me I had two future computer tech pros as students in my class who mastered the metals, carbon fibre and then did more tests using a Vernier Structures & Materials Linux software and we started printing. Tester. We decided to use wood fibre-infused plastic to offer flexibility during stress Today, we have three printers in the Fab Lab attached to the library, several and movement. at the middle school, and eight more outside my door. I learned quickly I wasn’t Meanwhile the puppy was growing, so Ben also created a screw-in atgoing to get anywhere without money, so I started writing tachment so the bottom portion could be switched out and grants (earning from $500 to $200,000), and supply my students expanded for length. outside the school budget. TECH TOOLS Between offering great materials and college credit through FINDING FUNDING the local community college and the University of Wisconsin Grant money is out there. Look for your state resources; ■■ Creative Programs Oshkosh, the program started attracting the top talented and many offer big value grants in tech. Don’t discount smaller ■■ Solidworks very gifted students. In fact, one passed me walking down the independent grants. They all add up. hall today holding a jet engine he had built first in plastic on the ■■ Inventor 3D printer, a second following that in metal. (I asked, he was on PRO TIPS ■■ Blender his way to an interview with MIT.) I suggest educators look for a way to use the printer as a ■■ Slice program— The school allowed me to run classes with small numtool, not just a way to download cute stuff to print. Students Simplify 3D bers and it was in one of these engineering classes where need to have some design skills and then apply engineering the puppy paw prosthetic was designed. I already had a unit brainstorming and development looping to actually learn with ■■ College credit courses where students design and document some sort of assistive this tool. Create lesson plans in engineering. Let the students teach all of the major device for humans, so when I heard about this golden retriever design something that could actually work—that’s the exciting 3D design systems puppy who was missing part of his front leg, it made sense. I part about engineering.
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HOW it’s DONE Enhancing Music Class With Technology Combining students’ love of music and technology to amp up band, chorus and more By Sascha Zuger One New Jersey district is combining two of its students’ deepest loves—technology and music—to not only amp up band and chorus class, but bring a new level of harmony to subjects throughout the curriculum.
Who: Dr. Christie Riso, Satz Middle school Music teacher and Band Director; Christina Nigro, Satz Middle school Music teacher and Chorus Director Where: Holmdel Township School District, Monmouth County, NJ What: Enhancing Music Class with Soundtrap and other Tech
come into high school already having some background, we will be able to go deeper into composition/orchestration techniques as well as mixing/mastering techniques. We’re hoping that having more students exposed to creating music with technology in the middle school will encourage more students to participate in high school.
POSITIVE RESULTS Our students were excited and started to create music immediately using the vast sounds and loops included with the program. Then we started to use the musical instruments in the program to create music from scratch, recording real musical instruments in the classroom. We have created mindful meditation music projects for the entire district to use, a loop ABA song, personal podcasts with music and sound effects, and Mashups like a Radio DJ by importing mp3s and mixing songs.
In today’s world, students are very fluent in technology, and very into today’s music as listeners. All the different tech platforms available give them so much access. Combining the two was inevitable in order to reach TECH TOOLS students who are nonmusic majors. We created a curriculum that would make learning music relevant, and something ■■ Soundtrap Music Program that they can eventually use in real world jobs. Soundtrap is a program similar to Garage Band, used in the music industry. ■■ Adobe Spark (When News 12 came to visit they told us that this program is ■■ Garage Band even similar to their film editing program.) ■■ Logic Pro We also offer advanced middle and high school ■■ Chromebooks courses: Music Tech I and Music II classes (Music Tech ■■ Google Classroom I class uses GarageBand, Music Tech II uses Logic Pro which is professional sequencing program). If students
BIGGEST CHALLENGE SoundTrap can be accessed from any computer, laptop or even a downloadable app on your phone and works well with Google classroom (all projects can be exported as mp3 and uploaded). Of course, in any new program there are some challenges—the usual issues with wifi, program glitches, students forgetting to save their work. It’s also hard getting quiet recordings when the entire class is working on a project with microphones. Students would work in a quiet section of the hallway to record with the microphones and then rotate so other students could have a chance. We hope to create a small recording studio for this purpose.
PETER MULLER/GETTY IMAGES
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and to let the students figure things out by exploring the program. It helped them get fluent in the music technology very quickly. Try combining the music tech into other subjects. Our students created their own rap song using lyrics from poems suggested by Mrs. Lisa Imbro, an English teacher. Game Design teacher, Christen McCafferty, is working with the class to create music to accompany games students are designing. Another project is Changing a Nursery Rhyme into a Horror Story, done by creating the soundtrack and then adding images using Adobe Spark.
FINDING FUNDING There is a free one month SoundTrap trial that you can use to see if it will benefit your school. We used that first to show its benefits and then had it transferred over to a full program once the district music budget paid for it. (All the student’s work remained in their accounts and were just transferred into the school version.)
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HOW it’s DONE Jumpstart Design Thinking and Innovation With 3D Printing By Annie Galvin Teich Educators are looking for opportunities to teach students the skills that will best prepare them for college and career. Design thinking is a process to help them solve real-world problems. Specifically, it is a problem-solving process that puts people at the center of an inquiry. “It allows students to think about the challenges the world is facing,” says Laura McBain, Director of K–12 community and implementation at the K–12 lab at Stanford University’s design school. “It puts them in the driver’s seat to be really engaged to solve those problems, to feel empowered to change the world.” Design thinking is a useful framework when teaching in-demand 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. The iterative design process al3D printing allows students to test their designs with high-quality models. lows students to focus on a solution for a particular problem, interview and gather data from the people who have the problem, and refine and test potential solutions until they Learning to use design thinking and 3D printers gives students an advantage. get to the one that resolves the problem. “Having the technology in school prepares them [students] to fabricate and build and test and gives them an edge that none of us had a few generations ago,” said USING 3D PRINTING TO SUPPORT Willy Wong, Professor at Parsons School of Design
THE DESIGN PROCESS
3D printing allows students to test their designs with high-quality models. It also facilitates STEM thinking within the design process, which provides real-world practice that they will encounter in their careers. Other student outcomes include practicing the finding/defending/presenting of design decisions as well as applying advanced 3D printing skills to communicate those design decisions.
3D PRINTER AND DESIGN THINKING TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION
Students use design thinking to develop their 3D designs.
To find out how you can jumpstart design thinking and efficient 3D printing in your classroom, visit https://www.makerbot.com/3d-printers/sketch-classroom
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A new cloud-based 3D printing solution by Makerbot removes any apprehension an educator new to 3D printing might have. It maximizes student access with multiple printers so that teachers have increased classroom engagement without slowing down the learning process. With MakerBot Cloud, teachers have seamless classroom management at their fingertips. Students can queue up their designs and print them without a hitch. By making 3D printing more available to students, it boosts the opportunity for student innovation as they test their designs to solve real-world problems. The Makerbot SKETCH Classroom is a reliable 3D printing platform that gives students the access they need and sets teachers up for success. It includes: ■■ 2 MakerBot SKETCH Desktop 3D printers. ■■ 600+ curated lesson plans created by Makerbot Certified educators. ■■ ISTE-certified 3D printer training for both teachers and students. ■■ Allows you to certify 2 teachers and 10 students in real-world problemsolving, design thinking, and 3D printing. ■■ Cloud-based integration manages student projects and allows direct printing from TinkerCAD
HOW it’s DONE Implementing Mental Health Tech Tools To improve mental health access, a California school district is employing a care concierge and an online platform. By Sascha Zuger We often use a concierge to arrange spa treatments and restaurant reservations. One California school district is employing a care concierge and online platform which can help students and school families access mental health.
Who: Don Ross, Director of Student and Support Services Where: Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, California What: Using Care Solace platform for 24/7 Mental Health Access At Elk Grove Unified, we recognized the need to support our students, families and staff with the ability to access behavioral and/or mental health support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Our partnership with Care Solace, and their ability to assist students and families in navigating access to these services with an online platform, was a perfect fit. The process is simple: Users simply go online, answer a few questions, and are then immediately connected to a Care Concierge expert who coordinates care with a mental health or substance abuse provider. To use Care Solace, individuals answer ten basic questions in order to receive an extensive list of referrals to applicable care providers. The system also filters by age, gender, zip code and special requests. We started with a soft roll out, giving our in-district support providers (social workers, school psychologists, mental health therapists and school counselors) an overview of the services and training for how to conduct a warm hand off. We then trained our administration. After about a two week soft roll out, we conducted a district-wide campaign to let our students, staff and community know about this service.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE So far, there have not been any challenges or obstacles reported. We mostly get questions about who can access the service. Again, any student, any member of the student’s family, our EGUSD staff and any member of their family, can use the service.
PRO TIPS Before we entered our partnership with Care Solace, we had several product demonstrations for our service providers, directors and program specialist and school staff. We wanted to make sure that people with differing perspectives were able to see the product and ask questions. We involved many departments throughout the school district.
FINDING FUNDING We currently use Medi-Cal funding. (Care Solace takes into account all types of private insurance including Medi-Cal, Medicaid, and Medicare and those that have no insurance.) EGUSD’s partnership with Care Solace provides access to services for students, staff, and families at no cost.
TOOLS THEY USE Care Solace is an online resource with a live 24×7 concierge line. We also have a system of positive behavioral support throughout the school district, and we use a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to focus on developing the social emotional learning skills of our students so they are prepared for academic and life success.
Buy-in was immediate. During the first week we had an overwhelming posi-
tive response to the service. We are seeing better outcomes for students. We want to help students build healthy minds, healthy bodies and healthy learning now, and forever. Our goal is to ensure students and their families are connected to the support and resources they need.
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HOW it’s DONE How We Used Technology to Stop a Child Predator in His Tracks Here are five reasons our 1:1 school district is using a student safety platform to monitor email and documents. By Christine Osadciw
We live in a world where danger can be lurking around any corner, ready to turn our children into unknowing victims. That may sound extreme, but it’s something that administrators, educators, and parents must be aware of in our society. Fortunately, districts have tools at their disposal to help thwart these dangers and keep their students both physically and emotionally healthy. We learned this firsthand when a child predator from Michigan targeted one of our 11-year-old students last year. In early 2019, he attempted to send pornographic content to the sixth grader. Thankfully, Gaggle, our student safety platform, intercepted the file before the student even saw it– blocking the content from the district server and placing it into quarantine to ensure it wouldn’t be in the system.
EARLY WARNING STOPPED THREAT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN The story doesn’t end there. The file was sent to the local police department and our district worked with the police in a four-month investigation that resulted in the conviction of a 36-year-old male in Michigan. Because the platform shows the exact date and time of the file coming in—thus establishing a reliable timeline of events—it was all the proof that the police needed. If we didn’t have that video, this predator may have never been caught. The video also helped the police thwart the predator’s other attempts to contact children. During the investigation, for example, law enforcement discovered that the man had also contacted a youth in his own area. That means that we’ve effectively stopped him from affecting more children going forward.
TAKING A PROACTIVE STANCE TO STUDENT SAFETY Put in place for the 2018-19 school year, our student safety solution helps keep our students safe when they use district-issued devices on a 1:1 basis (students in grades K-8 have tablets while those in grades 9-12 receive laptops). Here are five reasons we chose to use it: To keep students safe in the digital world. We had previously discussed the monitoring of student email, but weren’t sure how to effectively implement the process. We got to a point where a lot of our web-based products were requiring an email from a student. In other words, it was blocking us from using some of our instructional tools, so we decided it was time to determine how to implement this while making sure that students would be safe. To support a move to Microsoft or Google Education apps. When we rolled out Microsoft Office 365 for students in grades 6-12, including email and OneDrive accounts, we knew it was time to focus more closely on student safety. We chose Gaggle’s student safety platform because it monitors for us without us having to block the students from corresponding as they need to.
To support good digital citizenship. Our platform is helping our students become better digital citizens. For example, I like that the system gives students a warning when they use inappropriate language. It holds them accountable and keeps them aware of what they’re doing, reminding them that this is a professional setting. To ensure responsible device usage. We hand out school-issued equipment, which means students are expected to follow our responsible use policies. What we’re filtering is for our students’ own protection and wellbeing. We’re not doing it to be “Big Brother.” We’re looking for red flags for their own safety—or someone else’s safety. It’s for their own good. To keep the threats out. It’s all too easy to just think that technology is going to make things easier for learning and instruction, but there are so many pitfalls that go hand in hand with that. With our student safety solution, pornographic files, such as the one that the apprehended child predator used, go into an archive folder. An administrator then has to go in and pull that file out if he or she wants to save it. In our case, the file in question was sent to our local police department to do its investigation. With all of the different online tools that our students have access to today, keeping them safe is getting more and more difficult. If we didn’t have our student safety platform, we wouldn’t be able to manage this. We need its powerful combination of technology and their safety experts to help us better understand—and respond to—what’s coming and going. Christine Osadciw is Executive Director of Technology at East Irondequoit Central School District in New York.
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HOW it’s DONE Using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to creatively engage and make ‘app’ier students. By Sascha Zuger When creating a new Chromebook-friendly curriculum, one Google-certified educator got creative with GAFE. (Now her students are very, very appy.)
Who: Debra K. Segiet - Creative Tech/ PLTW teacher Where: Churchville Middle School, Elmhurst CUSD205, IL What: Using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to creatively engage students. I took the job at Churchville during the first year of the Middle School 1-to-1 Chromebook deployment (now all 3-12 grade students use Chromebooks while K-2 uses iPads), so the previous Microsoft Office-dependent curriculum was null and void. Our goal was to always make sure our students are college, career, and life ready, so I started creating lessons that utilized the Google Apps for Students use Google slides to create animations. Education (GAFE) in fun, creative ways. Luckily, I work alongside two other amazingly creative tech teachers. One of my favorite lessons to teach students conment of learning and expanded collaboration, as the apps can be TECH TOOLS ditional formatting while creating art is the Google Applied shared with others. Digital Skills - Make Art with Google Sheets. My students con■■ Padlet tinue making them even after completing my class. I have added BIGGEST CHALLENGE an animation component using Google Slides. The students Some of the apps and extensions offered as part of the ■■ Pixlr Editor create multiple sheets of their Pixel spreadsheets art, changing Google Web store had to be vetted for students under the age ■■ Piskel each slightly. They take screenshots of each sheet and use “slide of 13. We also had to work closely with our district tech staff to transitions” to animate. unblock the ones we could use. ■■ CoSpaces My 8th graders love creating their own product ad. Each ■■ Scratch student brainstorms a new product idea, creates several images PRO TIPS ■■ Tynker (free lessons) using Google Draw, downloads those as PNG files, and brings Get Google Educator Certified. (Level 1 is only $10 and them into Google Photos using the animation feature. They then there are free prep units/practice tests at https://teachercenter. ■■ CodeHS (free lessons) add the .gif to a class Google Slide show, create a slogan and add withgoogle.com/certification) Discover new apps in GAFE and ■■ Code.org a sound file to play with the slide. other extensions that can be added through the Web store and ■■ WeVideo Google Drive. POSITIVE RESULTS Educators love to share! Follow Google experts like Jake ■■ Chromebooks The students love the innovative, engaging curriculum we Miller @JakeMillerTech, Tony Vincent @tonyvincent, Kasey ■■ iPads built. Since the Creative Tech course is part of the Unified Arts Bell @ShakeUpLearning, Alice Keeler @alicekeeler, and Jennie ■■ Dot & Dash Robots department, students travel through a wheel of five courses that Misong Magiera @MsMagiera. exposes them to Art, Family and Consumer services, IndusAlso check out applieddigitalskills.withgoogle.com for courses ■■ Ozobots trial Tech, Music and Creative Tech. Positive concrete aspects for your students. ■■ Spheros included ease of use and the ability to apply what was learned in Creative Tech to their core classes as they learned many ways to FINDING FUNDING ■■ littleBits express their understanding. Just as important was their enjoyAnother great thing about GAFE—it’s free!
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THREE KID-SAFE HEADPHONES FOR SCHOOLS Headphones that are good for students to use in class By Brian Nadel
chools should be a safe zone where no damage can be done to students but, most classrooms daily use headphones that can harm the hearing of the youngest students. That’s because they fail to limit the level of sound the headphone pumps into students’ ears These three school-friendly headphones are not only inexpensive but include an electronic circuit that limits the amount of sound that kids are exposed to. While the World Health Organization suggests restricting sound levels to 85 decibels to prevent hearing damage, some headphones pick 93 decibels as the cut-off point under the assumption that they will only be used for brief periods. Happily, the headphones come in a variety of colors and shapes, and any of the three can help make the classroom a safer place for hearing. By limiting the hearing damage, not the learning, these headphones can make schools a safer place to learn. What they can’t do is stop students from cranking their phones and earbuds to 10 during lunch.
from 20- to 20,000-hertz with outstanding clarity considering that at $15, the Connect+ is about as inexpensive as quality headphones get. More info: lilgadgets.com/products/connect
BUDDYPHONES DISCOVER The Onanoff BuddyPhones Discover may be available in only blue and pink versions, but that’s just the start of customizing the headphones. Each set includes six vinyl stickers with a variety of animals, mermaids and even blank spaces for a class name or a personal painting. The headphones don’t fold up but have soft ear cups and have been designed and manufactured to take a beating at school every day. They also have a built-in stackable splitter that allows up to four listeners to share a source. Inside, the headphones have 30-millimeter speaker drivers that reproduce the full spectrum of human hearing from 20- to 20,000-hertz, while limiting the audio exposure to 85 decibels, potentially preserving a student’s hearing. With a 30-inch cord, the Discover headphones have a gold plated 3.5-millimeter jack. Price, like the Connect+, is the best part, at $15 each. More info: onanoff.com/collections/headline/products/buddyphones-discover-2019
PUROBASIC WIRED VOLUME LIMITED HEADPHONES
LIL GADGETS CONNECT+ While the Connect+ headphones limit volume exposure, they do so at 93 decibels, not the WHO’s recommended 85 decibels. Don’t worry, the company explains that the higher limit won’t cause harm if use is limited and the kids take breaks every hour, exactly how headphones are used in schools. The headphones come in seven colors, fold up and include a 40-inch nylon braided cable with an inline microphone and 3.5-millimeter jack; the entire cord can be unplugged when not in use. There are two bonuses for schools: the headphone’s passive noise reduction can turn a boisterous classroom into a quiet zone while Connect+’s Shareport allows audio to be listened to with a second headphone. With 40-millimeter speaker drivers, Conenct+ conveys the full range of audio
The PuroBasic headphones not only make a colorful statement but can limit the sound level and preserve a student’s hearing all while being among the comfiest headphones available. Available in four colors, the headphones don’t allow the volume to rise above 85dB yet continue to deliver smooth and balanced audio from 20- to 20,000-hertz. The headphones have soft ear cups that feel good, regardless of whether it’s worn by a tiny 6- or burly 16-year old. PuroBasic headphones not only fold up when not being used but come with a protective bag. When they need to be used, the PuroBasic headphones connect via an extralong 4.5-foot cord that contains a built-in microphone and a 3.5-millimeter audio jack. At $30, they may not be the cheapest headphones around, but they sound good and can comfortably help safeguard a student’s hearing. More info: purosound.com/ products/purobasic
FOR MORE OF THE LATEST PRODUCT RELEASES, VISIT US ONLINE AT TECHLEARNING.COM. WWW.TECHLEARNING.COM
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EPSON POWERLITE 700U A short throw projector that lights up the classroom
has audio-in and -out jacks and a A By Brian Nadel built-in 16-watt speaker. Price: $1,990 The PL700U includes several (with Brighter Futures educational discount) he Epson PowerLite 700U may be large and lack the cool interactive ways to adjust and control it, starting with its functional control panel. Its remote control can do features of other short-throw projectors, but it is an imaging poweranything from blanking the screen and audio and house capable of brightening up any lesson. moving an on-screen pointer to changing inputs and At 6.7- by 19.4- by 17.2-inches, the PL700U is a lot of projector; Color Mode. It uses a pair of AA batteries and had a 30-foot add in its feet and the projector sits 0.7-inches taller. It can be installed range. straight up on the floor or a table a couple inches from the screen Regardless of whether you use the built-in wired Ethernet or or mounted on a wall. Underneath, it has four threaded mounting the optional Wi-Fi module, the PL700U works with control systems holes, three adjustable legs and Epson sells an economical $109 wall PROS from Crestron, AMX, Extron and PJLink. There’s also Epson’s iPromounting kit that allows you to tweak its position to get the image • Very bright jection app that is surprisingly easy to set up and use. Download the just right. One thing is certain, this 25-pound projector will likely • Excellent focus iOS or Android app and take control of the projector. In addition, to require two people to set up and adjust. an on-screen remote control, the app can project Acrobat files, imRather than a conventional lamp, the PL700U’s illumination • Laser illumination ages, Web pages and even a live feed from the phone’s camera. starts with a blue diode laser that’s rated to last 20,000 hours of use. • Quick on and off With it you can say good-bye to changing projector lamps every other year. Inside, the projector has three WUXGA (1920 by 1200) QUICK STARTER CONS polysilicon LCD panels whose images are combined and sent to the The projector worked well connected to an Apple Macbook Air, • Large classroom’s screen. Acer Revo desktop and an HP X2 Chromebook as well as a Gefen • Loud fan 8X8 matrix video switcher. It was a fast starter, taking 5.6-seconds to BIG PROJECTOR, BIG IMAGES put an image on-screen and 1.9-seconds to shut itself off. Happily, it Rated at 4,000-lumens the PL700U is among the brightest short-throw projeccan set up a split screen from two separate HDMI inputs. tors available. The PL700U can create super-sharp images that are from 5.8- to On the test bench, the PL700U yielded a massive 4,980 lumens of light, 20 nearly 11-feet (measured diagonally), making it a good choice from anything percent over its 4,000-lumen spec, putting it in the upper echelon of short-throw from a standard classroom to a mid-sized lecture hall; it can even be used to projectors. Its focus was pinpoint sharp and there’s a focusing lever next to the project digital scenery in the auditorium. projector’s dust filter. The PL700U’s five Color Modes include the super bright Regardless of how it’s set up, the PL700U can compensate for being installed at a Presentation and Dynamic modes as well as the more realistic sRGB and Cinema horizontal or vertical angle of up to 3-degrees and Epson’s Quick Corner correction presets. It also has a Dicom Sim setting. can create a perfectly rectangular image in a minute or two. Like other short-throw With all that hardware to cool, the PL700U has a massive fan and Epson devices, this projector lacks an optical zoom, but it does have a 1.35X digital zoom. recommends setting the projector up at least 20-inches away from walls to allow With all the ports you’re likely to need in the classroom, the PL700U has a enough air in. The fan created 45.6 dBA of noise at 36-inches, much louder than removable cable cover that makes everything look neater. There’re three HDMI other projectors and still its exhaust was a hot 122 degrees Fahrenheit. inputs, one of which is MHL-ready for a phone POWER PROJECTOR or tablet, as well as conWhen it’s running at full blast, the PL700U used 337 watts of power and nectors for VGA and 1.2-watts when it’s idle. Together, this adds up to $71 a year in electricity bills if composite video. There your school pays the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. There are no are three Type A USB 3.1 lamps to replace but the 700U has a $43 dust filter that needs periodic replacing. connectors, one of which Put it all together and the PL700U is economical to use at about $114 a year. is for Epson’s $100 Wi-Fi In the final analysis, the PL700U costs $2,290, but only $1,990 with Epson’s adapter, as well as a Type Brighter Futures educational discount. It should fit into any classroom by deliverB port and a RS232 serial ing bright, sharp and realistic images. A big bonus for schools is that the PL700U connection. The projector includes a three-year warranty and adding an extra year is only $99.
FOR MORE OF THE LATEST PRODUCT RELEASES, VISIT US ONLINE AT TECHLEARNING.COM.
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FLEXSPACE OFFERS LEARNING SPACE PLANNING RESOURCES FLEXspace, the free online resource, features hundreds of examples of learning spaces from around the world By Ray Bendici
hen school planners look to restructure learning spaces, they often first turn to the web to find inspiration and research whether they should renovate an existing space or build a new one. Even though there’s an abundance of professional showcases online, very few websites provide detailed examples of real-world education spaces, or offer a community of colleagues who can offer practical guidance and inspiration. Enter FLEXspace, the Flexible Learning Environments eXchange, a free online resource that allows users to document and showcase learning spaces, share resources and best practices, work collaboratively with district partners, and connect with a worldwide community. The platform features images of hundreds of classrooms, lecture halls, computer labs, makerlabs, hallways, common areas and other active learning spaces, all of which are uploaded by users, who are educators with a higher ed or K-12 affiliation, says Rebecca Frazee, associate director of FLEXspace and a faculty member of the Learning Design and Technology Program at the School of Journalism and Media Studies of San Diego State University. Once users create an account, they can immediately browse, search, or filter results by areas of interest, such as by computer lab or makerspace. Easy-to-use templates make it simple to upload images. Construction details, tech specifications, furniture information, and teaching elements can also be added. Users can also like other designs, and build collections and idea boards to share with planning teams. “We spent a lot of effort to make FLEXspace very user-friendly and intuitive,” says Frazee. The toolkit area features research, evidence of impact, and research instruments. “For example, if a user wants to do post-occupancy study—‘Was it worth it to build the room?’— tools are available to do that,” says Frazee.
Also available are planning guides and tools to organize a focus group or conduct a survey.
GROWING COMMUNITY Currently, FLEXspace has nearly 5,000 registered users, representing 1,300 schools from 65 countries around the world. The first-ever FLEXspace conference is scheduled for August 4-6 in Philadelphia. “We had no idea when we started this that it would catch on as well as it has,” says Lisa Stephens, executive director of FLEXspace and senior strategist, SUNY Academic Innovation, Office of the SUNY Provost. “When our small task group started presenting it at a couple of conferences, hands shot up immediately and people asked, ‘How can we become part of this?’ And we knew we had a tiger by the tail.” Stephens was part of the team that originally developed the platform for the SUNY system to determine whether the funds being spent on learning spaces were being maximized. The goal was to allow the three key stakeholders—the staff involved with pedagogy, IT and facilities—to all communicate and collaborate through an integrated planning system, Stephens says. FLEXspace has partnered with Educause and its Learning Space Rating System. Users can rate spaces using the LSRS, which can then be used to assess existing spaces. Strategic enrollment data can be overlaid in the process to better facilitate planning. Once a user has the quantitative data, they can explore examples in FLEXspace, says Stephens. “Some people have called FLEXspace a virtual field trip that allows you to see what other schools have done,” says Stephens. “It can be the glue to see what peers are doing and benchmark against that.” More info: FLEXspace.org
FOR MORE OF THE LATEST PRODUCT RELEASES, VISIT US ONLINE AT TECHLEARNING.COM. WWW.TECHLEARNING.COM
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ANKER PREMIUM 7-IN-1 USB-C HUB Missing ports? They’re here. By Brian Nadel
OVERALL RATING: A Price: $40
hat shiny new notebook you now use in class everyday works well with the school’s network, the online curriculum and the battery lasts all day. It has one serious flaw, though, its single USB C port can’t accommodate a mouse and a keyboard. Enter Anker’s Premium 7-in-1 USB-C Hub that can provide access to the ports you’ve been missing. Able to move over 5Gbps of data, the dark gray Premium 7-in-1 USB-C Hub has the most needed ports for teachers and students, weighs less than 4 ounces and has an 8.5-inch connection cable that’s just long enough to be able to attach the device to the lid of a notebook with Velcro. When it’s plugged in to a computer, the hub provides a variety of conventional ports. ■■ A pair of Type A USB 3.1 ports for a mouse, keyboard or flash drive; ■■ HDMI for sending video to a display or projector at up to 4K resolution; ■■ Two USB C ports for newer accessories and charging a computer; ■■ A flash media reader that works with full-size- and micro-SD cards.
MISSING LAN In fact, the only thing the Premium 7-in-1 USB-C Hub does without is a built-in RJ-45 connector for tapping into the school’s wired network. With most schools blanketed in Wi-Fi, this should not be a big concern. It can also be easily resolved with an inexpensive USB-to-Ethernet adapter, like Anker’s $18 device. It is connection central and using the 7-in-1 hub couldn’t be easier: just plug it into the computer and its ready to distribute data and power. There’s no software to load or configuration changes to make. I used it daily with several computers, including a MacBook Air, HP Chromebook X2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 to connect with a mouse, keyboard, flash drive, SD car and Epson PowerLite 700U projector. Unfortunately, doesn’t include first-generation Dell XPS systems and newer iPads that have a USB-C port.
PROS • Small and light • Self-powered • Lots of ports and flash card reader • LED light CONS • Doesn’t work with iPads • No wired LAN port
USB-C POWERHOUSE The best part is that hub is self-powered, although this comes at the expense of the battery life of the notebook it’s plugged into. On its own, the hub uses just 0.15-watts. Add in a mouse and keyboard and the power draw rises to 0.6-watts. If you want the 7-in-1 hub to charge a notebook, tablet or phone, you’ll
need to plug an AC adapter into its USB-C port marked PD for power delivery. Able to deliver up to 100-watts, the hub can charge up even the largest laptop. To show it’s delivering data and power, the 7-in-1 hub’s white LED ring lights up. Despite its name and including a protective travel bag, the price tag on the Premium Anker 7-in-1 USB-C Hub is anything but premium. At $40, it comes with an 18-month warranty, making it one of the best buys among USB hubs. In other words, it’s an inexpensive way to fill in for the things that your new USB-C notebook can’t do on its own.
FOR MORE OF THE LATEST PRODUCT RELEASES, VISIT US ONLINE AT TECHLEARNING.COM.
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