Tech & - ISTE 2022 Live Best of Show Awards - August 2022

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ISTELive 22 Best of Show Awards By Erik Ofgang, Diana Restifo and Ray Bendici

20 Integrating Computational Thinking for Digital Problem Solving By Annie Galvin Teich

24 Big Learning in the Big Easy

By Jonathan L. Wharton, Ph.D.


The Benefits of International Esports for Students By Erik Ofgang


The Time to Obligate ESSER Funds is Now By Susan Gentz


By Ray Bendici


30 The Virtual Office Hours Learning Curve

The State of the Digital Divide

#NYCSchoolsTech Summit & Beyond 2022


By Ray Bendici

By Erik Ofgang

27 36

5 Group Publisher Christine Weiser

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ISTELIVE 22 BEST OF SHOW AWARDS This annual awards celebrates the products, and businesses behind each one, who are transforming education in schools around the world. By Erik Ofgang, Diana Restifo, and Ray Bendici


ech & Learning’s Best of Show Awards at ISTELive 22 celebrate the products, and businesses behind each one, who are transforming education in schools around the world. Tech & Learning’s panel of judges awarded the products and solutions to exhibitors at ISTELive 22 Live who show the greatest promise to the industry, according to the U.S.’s most

tech-savvy and knowledgeable educators. “It was great to be back in person at ISTELive22 and see so many examples of innovation on the exhibit hall floor,” says Christine Weiser, content director for Tech & Learning. “Our judges chose the following winners as examples of excellence in terms of value, quality, ease of use, and versatility. Congratulations to our winners!”


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ISTELIVE 22 follows and features hands-free AI Auto Tracking, 12X Optical Zoom, PoE+ and USB connectivity, and when not in use, automatically rotates the camera head 90° downward for privacy. The judges called it “very slick,” and liked that it works well with Zoom.

Designed for young learners, the AE-25 universal headphone/headset limits sound to 85dB, offers a noise-canceling microphone that minimizes ambient noises, and comes with SideKick, AVID’s exclusive microphone management system. The judges liked the flexibility of the hardware itself in being able to withstand whatever younger students can put it through.


The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 is powered by AMD Ryzen 5000 C-series processors, and has a FHD-webcam with flare-reducing technology, a Corning Gorilla Glass cover, and 10-hour battery life. Our judges said, “It offers students a great alternative to the standard, basic Chromebook, with the best of both worlds when it comes to laptop and mobile devices capabilities.”


Eduverse Expeditions is an immersive library of VR & AR content that helps schools take virtual field trips to the next level by providing exciting expeditions to see landmarks and cities, and experience different cultures. It comes with 360-degree photos and videos, 3D models, and educator resources, and is free for schools that have Google Expeditions kits.



The M5 USB document camera is a plug-nplay, easy-to-use, yet high-quality document camera for both the classroom and home use, with an 8MP camera, Ultra High Definition resolution, and frame rates up to 60FPS. T&L’s judges called it “a solid document camera,” and particularly liked the peer-to-peer connectivity and the motorized, remote-controlled camera.


BenQBoard Mainstream RM03 Education Smart Boards feature the industry’s only antimicrobial touchscreen and pens to help prevent the spread of germs, EZ Write 6 license-free and intuitive annotation and collaboration software, wireless screen sharing, and centralized management solutions. T&L’s judges said, “Super easy to use and connects to all devices wirelessly or with a cord.”


The DL30 enables teachers to fully move about the room while the camera automatically


The versatile VB130 combines 4K video with a built-in audio soundbar and microphone, plus features advanced AI combining SmartFrame technology with voice tracking, 4X Zoom, and USB connectivity. “The AverMedia video bar is amazing!” said the judges, noting that it’s big enough to fit on a large whiteboard yet small enough to mount on a laptop.


The WDC30 features three layers of wireless protection — Wi-Fi 6 encryption, ISO

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BEST OF SHOW AWARDS EAL6+, and FIPS 140-3 — and eliminates the cybersecurity risks caused by app- and network-based WPS. It allows teachers to present simultaneously. “Great solution for connecting to any projection system, projectors, or panels,” said our judges, adding that it’s ideal for mobile needs.

activities, hands-on lessons and activities, and design challenges via “This 3D printer brings the world of CAD to a younger generation with easy-to-use lesson plans and activities,” our judges said.



CleverLive digital signage is a cloud content management platform that lets users share content via an app, control content displayed on screens remotely, and send pre-set messages for announcements and presentations. Our judges liked the template library, adding “This product provides schools with a communication tool that is easy to use and accessible from anywhere.”

The MimioPro 4 interactive display features anti-glare tempered glass and Level 7 Mohs for smoother writing, a built-in array microphone, and CleverShare so students can mirror content from their devices. T&L judges: “Its ability to be used as digital signage, collaborative work space, and its 20 touch points makes this product invaluable in the classroom.”


EOS Education offers training solutions focused on technology integration, with training and certification services, and customizable research-based programs that can be facilitated in-person, virtual, or a combination of both. T&L’s judges noted the critical need for this kind of PD to increase STEM programs in schools and to better support students.

BOXLIGHT MYSTEMKITS is an online lesson platform that includes ready-to-print 3D models, STEAM design challenges, virtual STEM kits, and lesson plans for the MyBot robotics system and Labdisc portable sensors. Our judges said, “WIth 3D printing, virtual STEM kits, and interactive projects, teachers can increase student interest and engagement in STEM and STEAM.”


MimioConnect is an easily integrated blended learning platform that can be accessed from anywhere at any time, and features whiteboarding and classroom management tools as well as a library of more than 10,000 premade lessons. The judges appreciated how it solves the problem of students working from home at the same time class is happening in the classroom.



Robo 3D printers are ready to use right out of the box and include standards-aligned

PebbleGo is a curriculum-connected, supplemental learning tool with informational articles, ready-made activities, and literacy supports for K-5 students of all abilities. Our judges loved the built-in lessons and its user-friendly nature, adding, ”The standard alignments make it so easy for teachers to find resources related to research topics.”


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ISTELIVE 22 free fast-charging and device management system for up to 30 devices that is also customizable and allows educators to organize devices as needed. Tech & Learning’s judges praised Fuze Cart’s simplicity and efficiency, adding, “This product eliminates the need for numerous wires in charging stations.”



ClassLink Analytics+ allows teachers and leaders to measure and track student engagement and access usage analytics for all the digital resources used on school-owned devices. The judges said, “ClassLink Analytics helps district leaders make informed decisions by having access to quick snapshot data,” and “helps them understand where they should be investing their time and money.”


The 8086MAX is an interactive panel with magnetic, blackboard extensions and a 4K Ultra HD integrated display, with access for nine devices and ten points of touch. The judges called it “amazing,” adding, “They outdid themselves with this product and have solved problems that most Interactive panels have not figured out yet! I want one right now in my classroom!”


A mobile and wire-



The NL72-L features an Intel Jasper Lake processor that handles multiple tabs, video chat, and streaming, a rotating camera that provides 360-degree views for video calls, and the latest security software and automatic updates from Google. The LTE capability allows flexibility for remote learners to keep in touch from anywhere, or connect to a network via wifi.


ClassLink offers an array of tools that enable digital learning, including a single sign-on student portal, analytics to measure and track student engagement, a rostering platform, data security features, and more. “ClassLink is the perfect one-click solution,” said our judges. “They have really thought of everything with their platform!”.

CodeMonkey is a coding for kids program with courses and curriculum for students to learn how to code in real programming languages as well as teacher PD resources. T&L’s judges said it offers more detailed planning compared to similar products, adding “We enjoy the user-friendly dashboard and engagement that the activities offered.”


Codelicious is a series of K-12 curricula with a focus on programming, graphic design, and engineering that is grouped into four grade bands and features building animations, interactive games, and datacentered applications. “Codelicious makes block coding and even higher-level coding easy for everyone,” said the judges. “It’s a perfect addition to any computer science curriculum.”

CTL CTL CHROMEBOOK PX11E The PX11E features Intel Jasper Lake processors, WiFi 6 with MU-MIMO technology, and a lightweight, slim, and

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BEST OF SHOW AWARDS rugged design. It has a Google AUE of June 2029, and enables students to maximize their productivity by taking advantage of a faster and more powerful processor that makes it easier to run multiple apps simultaneously.


The PX14EX features a Intel Jasper Lake processor, WiFi 6, MU-MIMO technology, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, and an Intel Quad-Core 5100 processor. It offers a lightweight, slim, and rugged design and has a Google AUE of June 2029. It can run multiple applications simultaneously, and has the latest in processors, connectivity, graphics, and security.


aligned courses covering core, elective, CTE, world language, and advanced or technical education subjects. The judges appreciated how the curriculum focuses on the development of real-world skills, identifying students’ passions, and cultivating perseverance and grit.


EdOptions Academy is an accredited, fully virtual school that pairs research-based online curriculum with state-certified online teachers, program management, and student and instructional support services. T&L judges: “This product is a wonderful option for districts wanting to develop a blended learning opportunity for students. Highly recommend how robust and customizable this product is.”


PlanWise is a Chrome Extension for Google Docs that improves formative assessment practices and provides professional learning development for teachers. Tech & Learning’s judges said, “This product would be valuable to new teachers.”¶


i-Ready combines diagnostics, assessments, and insights with instruction in reading and mathematics to create individualized learning programs. The diagnostic, administered at the beginning, middle, and end of the year, provides educators with actionable criterionreferenced and normative data. Our judges said, “i-Ready continues to be the best option for smart online assessments.”




Edmentum Courseware offers online curricula with more than 400 customizable, standards-

tool that helps students plan, write, and revise their essays, offering immediate diagnostic feedback on grammar, spelling, mechanics, usage, and organization and development. The judges praised the expertise provided by ETS.¶

Exact Path offers evidence-based adaptive diagnostic assessments, mastery-based curriculum, automatic remediation, and individualized learning paths in math, reading, and language arts. “ExactPath is a really nice tool for taking assessment scores and standards from annual and quarterly summative assessment companies and projecting a unique learning path for students to improve their areas of deficiencies,” said the judges.

The Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Service is a web-based instructor-led writing

Edge•U is an instruction-focused professional learning system that offers concise professional learning opportunities to support educators with the challenges they face every day.Edge•U received the ISTE Seal of Alignment for the Educator Standards in February 2020 and April 2022.¶


RapidIdentity SafeID enables academic institutions to stay ahead of account takeovers, targeted ransomware attacks and breaches


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ISTELIVE 22 by detecting and resetting compromised passwords–before criminals have a chance to use any. Our judges liked the easy-to-use format, noting “Extra safety and security is essential in current times.” ¶

intelligently manage hardware, software, and systems-related help requests, allowing teachers, staff, and students a streamlined way to submit data-rich help requests. “The intuitive features of this product makes it easy for staff and students to submit help tickets,” said the judges. ¶

whiteboards, audio and video screencasting tools to support learning in-person or virtually. Our judges said, “Kami offers an interactive platform where students and teachers can streamline workflow and be more productive. It’s the new way to design engaging lessons.”¶


Impero Classroom is a scalable classroom management software that supports five different operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS, Mac, iOS, and Android, and also allows teachers to use sites such as Google and YouTube. Our judges said, “This product gives a level of autonomy for educators to use programs such as YouTube in safe, educational ways.”¶


iiQ Assets helps K-12 districts to manage district devices with time-saving deployment tools that let agents assign student devices in seconds, automatically track ownership and storage information, and securely sync MDM and SIS data. Our judges called it a “good solution for asset management, maintenance and tracking of district devices.” ¶


iiQ Ticketing helps K-12 IT teams to



The Elevate USB-C Charging Cart helps to save time and money on charging AC adapters. The wireless cart allows users to easily connect devices, swap out charging cables, or service charging hubs. Our judges liked its “solid form and function.”¶



LEGO Education BricQ Motion Prime fosters an understanding of forces, motion, and interactions by providing hands-on learning experiences to middle school students (grades 6-8), without the need for technology. Our judges liked the standards-based lessons and added, “What better resource to engage students in play and STEAM learning than LEGOs?”¶

The Active Charge Power Banks enable charging of devices in use and at-the-desk, with portable 65W USB-C power banks. Users keep devices active without the hurdles of running power strips or AC adapters across the floor. “It gets the job done,” said Tech & Learning’s judges.¶



Kami is an interactive learning platform that enables the use of text, drawings, images,

LEGO Education BricQ Motion Essential encourages students to discover physical science through sports and action. Offering two standards-aligned curriculum units, it includes videos, printable worksheets, and lesson plans. “LEGO Education BricQ Motion Essential works with teachers and students to create and problem solve without requiring technology,” said our judges. ¶

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LEGO Education SPIKE Essential is a STEAM tool for grades 1-5 that integrates literacy, math and social-emotional learning into lessons. ”Perfect for grades 1-5, LEGO Education SPIKE Essential is a scratch-based coding program that will engage students with hours of options to create and learn through STEAM lessons,” said our judges.¶


LEGO Education SPIKE Prime integrates colorful LEGO building elements, easy-to-use hardware, and an intuitive drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch. Our judges liked the program, especially the ability to easily change to Python.¶


LEGO Education Professional Development is a personalized, competency-based learning program that inspires teachers to learn, practice, and master the skills needed to facilitate hands-on playful STEAM learning with their students. Our judges especially liked the self-guided aspect of the program.¶


Lightspeed Alert helps keeps kids safe by scanning online documents and desktop applications on student devices for warning signs in browsers or apps (including in social media), on or off campus. Our judges deemed it necessary for school safety. ¶


With Lightspeed Analytics’ comprehensive data analysis, education leaders can track, measure, and analyze digital engagement at the district, school, class, and student level while personalizing learning by identifying what applications and tools each student uses. “It’s easy to pull the reports you need,” said our judges.


Lightspeed Filter helps scale student safety with cloud-based, device-level protections, functional across all devices, operating systems, and learning environments—both on and off campus. The judges called it “easy to navigate.”¶


MackinVIA is a free digital content management system that provides schools, students, and educators with easy access to their collection of eBooks, read-alongs, audiobooks, databases, and videos. “Resources are vetted and safe, which is a top priority for schools. Teachers can even import their own resources,” said the judges.¶


Mango Classroom allows world language and English learners to increase their language proficiency and become true global citizens. Mango can serve as the main component or a complement to any curriculum. The judges liked the huge number of languages available as well as the lessons, feedback, and practice, saying, “It’s a great addition to any curriculum.”¶

MAXCASES EXTREME SHELL-L CUSTOM-FIT CASE FOR CHROMEBOOKS/LAPTOPS The MAXCases Extreme Shell-L delivers robust, full-coverage protection in a new lightweight and budget-friendly design, available for most popular education Chromebooks/laptops. ¶


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ISTELIVE 22 to create their own interactive game-based lessons or choose from the thousands of premade lessons and templates available for K-8,” said the judges.¶

The School Safety & Dismissal Platform PIKMYKID PIKMYKID


Flocabulary engages students in K-12 standards-aligned hip-hop videos and instructional activities that increase reading comprehension. “Flocabulary is an incredible K-12 music-based program that offers students the opportunity to create music by exposing them to academic vocabulary and standardsbased lessons. Students become engaged in their learning and remember the concepts because they are singing and writing music,” said the judges. ¶


Whether using interactive lessons, interactive videos or gamified learning, teachers get real-time insights into student learning with Nearpod. Teachers can upload content and make it interactive using Nearpod’s formative assessment and richmedia features. “The lessons offer interactivity through drawing, videos, gameplay, quizzes, and much more,” said the judges. “Nearpod is an essential component to any classroom.”¶


Pikmykid is a platform that offers a combination of dismissal management, safety and emergency tools, parent messaging, and real-time reporting to ensure school safety. The judges said, “PikMyKid is an incredible and safe way to dismiss students and put an end to those long car lines.”

Cloud-based classroom management, online safety, and IT management platform allows teachers to deliver FASTER CAR LINES learning and take control of their classrooms. “Its interoperability with multiple systems, classroom management features for in-school POWERGISTICS and at-home learning as well as internet SAFER SCHOOLS CORE16 USB safety features makes this an ideal product for teachers and IT staff,” said our judges. ¶ The Core16 USB Core ENGAGEDTower PARENTS is a vertical device storage tower for laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and INFORMED DECISIONS other devices that can be wall-mounted, or placed on NETSUPPORT INC. a stand or roller for mobile NETSUPPORT DNA use. “This product solves IT asset management and online safety the problem of tangled power cords with its ANNOUNCE solution, NetSupport DNA, helps technicians wireless charging solution,” the judges said. track, monitor, and manage school-wide technology, while its online safety toolkit creates a safer learning environment. The judges called it a “solid assetminutes management teachers reduction in program,” and liked the internet safety save on training average traffic congestion 4.6 STARS ON CAPTERRA every week per school and alignment with ISTE Standards.¶ LOVED BY 2000+ SCHOOL







Nearpod Math is a supplemental K-8 math program that features 5,000+ new standardsaligned lessons, videos, and practice activities. “Nearpod Math allows teachers the ability


The Sora K-12 student reading app helps students read more by delivering equitable access to the books students need for learning and enjoyment. “Sora has been a game changer for schools. The ease of use, its accessibility features, and the ability to access on any device encourages even the most reluctant readers,” said the judges.¶

The ActivPanel with ActivSync is a new interactive panel that features secure sign-in options, streamlined connection to content, flexible lesson delivery software, and personalized user experience. Tech & Learning’s judges called it “an incredible panel that comes with terrific software to enhance the learning experience.”

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ISTELIVE 22 Educators can use it to understand wholeclass progress in under five minutes or dive deeper to assign, guide, and track individual student performance through dashboards. The tool can also be used to supplement core ELA curriculum and aligns with the science of reading. All these features impressed the judges.


Accelerated Reader is an independent reading practice program that helps K-12 students to become lifelong readers and supports more than 220,000 fiction and nonfiction books and articles across a wide range of levels. Our judges felt it was a nice compliment to Freckle, another tool from Renaissance, and predicted Accelerated Reader would continue to be used by many schools.



Star Assessments are an award-winning suite of valid, reliable assessments for reading, math, and early literacy, in both English and Spanish, and used by more than 30,000 schools. The judges were impressed by the suite’s features, including the computer-adaptive Star Reading (K-12), Star Math (K-12), and Star Early Literacy (preK-3).


myON is a digital reading platform that provides students with 24/7 access to thousands of fiction and nonfiction books and news articles in English, Spanish, and other languages. The judges were impressed by the multimedia reading experience the tool provides and its features, which include illustrations, professionally recorded audio, and annotation tools that help make each text engaging.

Freckle is an adaptive and targeted practice program that helps educators to effectively differentiate math, ELA, science, and social studies for students at all levels, and continuously adapts to students. The judges were impressed by its “delivery of ‘just right’ math and ELA practice content.”


The Flip Pro is available in 75- and 85-inch clear UHD models, and comes with fast immersive touch latency, a shatterproof film and multitouch feature, plus simultaneous connectivity for up to 50 devices at a time. The judges were impressed by these and other features, such as a versatile selection of connectivity options (USB, HDMI, DP and screen sharing) plus USB-C for video control and charging.



Lalilo is a personalized standards-aligned early literacy practice tool for K-2 learners.


Schoolzilla is a powerful K-12 analytics solution that gives district and school leaders relevant data they can use to answer questions about how their district, schools, and students are performing. The judges were impressed with the tool’s near real-time dashboards that can integrate with more than 135 education data sources, including student information systems, interim and state tests, and Star Assessments.


SchoolStatus integrates the many data systems a district is using and then pairs that data with

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ISTELIVE 22 communication tools that enable educators to

on to a smartboard delays instruction. This product

have data-informed conversations and build

solves that problem by not requiring students and

relationships with stakeholders. The T&L judges

teachers to log on to be able to collaborate.”

called it a “great solution for parent engagement and communication.”

TURNITIN TURNITIN DRAFT COACH Turnitin Draft Coach is a Google Docs and Microsoft Word add-on that helps students improve their academic writing and research skills by providing



feedback to support proper research, including citing their sources effectively and delivering high-quality academic writing. The judges praised the tool as a

OTIS for educators is an online professional learning

great way for students to self-check and revise their

platform that offers courses on how to effectively

work before submitting, adding, “We wish we had this

The Shmoop Heartbeat provides students immediate

integrate technology into instruction. The judges were

when we were in school.”

self-guided feedback after they answer interactions

impressed by the platform’s on-demand library and

about themselves, helping them improve their

calendar of live sessions, which makes it easy to access

academic and life outcomes. The judges were intrigued

hundreds of courses, with topics on STEM, SEL,

by the concept and said it “paints an interesting

literacy, ENL/ELL, and more.

picture on measuring SEL/soft skills.”



TUTORME TUTORME TutorMe is an online tutoring service that matches

OrbitNote is a web app PDF editor that provides

students to qualified tutors in a virtual space. The

Lumio is the digital learning tool that transforms

a suite of tools for reading, editing, collaborating

platform is designed to mirror a one-on-one, in-person

lessons into active, collaborative learning experiences

and interacting with PDFs, including audio notes

tutoring session with live video and voice functionality,

for students to engage with on their devices, no

and text-to-speech. The judges were impressed by

which is accomplished without the constraints of school-

matter their location. The judges said, “This product

the affordability and versatility. “Students can draw,

day scheduling and travel. The judges were impressed

provides resources for educators that increase student

highlight and even add shapes to a document,”

with the service’s functionality, which matches students

engagement and interaction.”

the judges said. “A non-readable document can be

with a tutor within one minute, on average.

scanned in just seconds and turned into readable text.”

TEXTHELP EQUATIO Equatio is a STEM tool that creates expressions



digitally and opens up ways for educators and students to create, solve, explore and collaborate on math and

The SMART Board 6000S Series allows an entire class

the tool’s accessibility features. “Students can speak,


to work directly in the embedded whiteboard without

type, or draw their problems directly onto their

Spintronics offers students the opportunity to better

logins so teachers don’t need to interrupt the lesson to

devices,” they said. “What a great way to help students

understand electronics with the help of 149 puzzles

get students signed in. The judges said, “Having to log

understand the process of solving math problems.”

incorporated into a graphic novel. By reading and

science content. The judges were impressed with

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ISTELIVE 22 solving, students learn increasingly sophisticated

students with interactive training and core

electronics concepts. The judges called it “a great

knowledge to help create an in-house repair center

introduction for students that teaches important 21st-

at a school or district with elearning modules and other resources. The judges said the academy provides a “wonderful opportunity to create and scale student tech teams at your school.”

century skills.”

UPPER STORY TURING TUMBLE Turing Tumble uses 60 challenges incorporated into a graphic novel to teach students how to build mechanical computers powered by marbles and, in so doing, practice problem-solving skills, teamwork, and


communication. Turing Tumble meets educational standards in science, engineering, math, and coding. The judges were impressed with the way the program uses comic book missions to challenge students.

VIVACITY TECH VIVACITY TECH This polyester, water-resistant fabric sleeve fits

UWORLD UWORLD LEARNING TOOLS FOR AP EXAMS Learning Tools for AP Courses help educators empower students to pass their AP classes and exams and earn college credit. The Tech & Learning judges said, “This product is a great solution for students taking AP-type exams and supports teachers by providing them with data and feedback.”


STUDENT REPAIR ACADEMY (SRA) Vivacity Tech Student Repair Academy provides


all 11.6-inch devices and includes scratchfree microfiber lining, high-density foam for protection, a student ID window for identification, hideaway handle pockets, and a padded shoulder strap with swivel snap hooks. The judges praised it for its sleek, solid protection.

The Wacom Intuos digital pen is battery-free and has more than 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, giving teachers a digital drawing and writing experience that feels like a traditional pen and paper. The judges called it “an affordable option for teachers who want to be mobile and stay in the learning zone with their students.”


MOBILE CHARGING STATION Vivacity Tech’s Mobile Charging Station is a multi-functional surge protector tower that offers simultaneous device charging for up to 16 devices, four USB-A and four USB-C charging ports, and eight AC outlets. The judges called it “the next gen of mobile charging stations” thanks to its ability to accommodate multiple types of USB ports.


WeVideo is a video-editing and creation software platform that helps students to create, communicate, design, problem-solve, and think critically while creating videos. “WeVideo is an incredible video-editing and creation software,” said the judges. “It is very user-friendly and so fun.”

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Focused, Comprehensive, and Confident Literacy Learning Educators are looking for the best ways to accelerate learning to help students catch up to grade-level work. Lexia offers high-quality literacy curriculum and professional learning built on the science of reading to help educators ensure success.

© 2022 Lexia Learning LLC, a Cambium Learning® Group company

All For Literacy





Computational thinking is about processing information systematically and logically By Annie Galvin Teich

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sing computational thinking deepens content learning and digital literacy as students work to solve problems and develop transferable skills The process of computational thinking is now embedded in learning standards for computer science, the NGSS science and engineering practices, and ISTE’s competencies for computational thinking. As an essential literacy and part of the K-12 computer science framework, computational thinking (CT) provides an opportunity to create a framework for engaging, interactive learning. During a recent ISTE panel, K-12, state DOE, and university educators outlined the benefits and challenges to integrating computational thinking across the curriculum. While CT is the foundation of many STEM processes, such as programming, data science, and machine learning, it can also be used to create new tools, design solutions for real-world and academic problems, and communicate with others by automating computer-supported solutions.

COMPUTATIONAL THINKING BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES Adopting CT as an essential literacy expands our capacity to solve problems by automating repetitive information processing tasks that are an essential part of increasing technological innovation. The CT process includes four stages: 1. Decomposition: breaking the problem into multiple parts 2. Pattern recognition: looking for similarities and trends 3. Abstraction: putting aside what is unnecessary and focusing on what’s important 4. Algorithm design: creating a computer artifact with step-by-step instructions to solve a problem “Computational thinking is a problem-solving framework that


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incorporates the technology that has become so prevalent in our society,” said Bryan Cox, Lead Computer Science Program Specialist at the Georgia DOE. “Because technology is being used to evolve every area of society, even core content classes are benefited from integrating CT into the instructional practice and student experience.” Some of the challenges to integrating computational thinking include: • CT professional learning siloes the skill development • Little skills transfer without a focus on problem-solving • Not enough coherence in how CT is defined • Little validation of skills and recognition of teachers Computational thinking is about processing information systematically and logically, as a computer does. “Computer science for everyone is the goal,” said Cox. “CT integration is less disruptive, engages everyone, mirrors the real world, and doesn’t require new teachers.” Using the computer as part of the problem-solving process puts machine learning to work helping students apply the process across the curriculum and deepen content learning. Computers are good learners, never get tired, and provide consistent outcomes. Dr. Lauren Margulieux, associate professor of Learning Science at Georgia State University, believes the value for higher education is that it is an opportunity to incorporate CT into teacher training programs to build their professional skills as another tool in their tool kits, much like their ability to integrate technology across the curriculum. Also, it’s an opportunity to learn how to automate some of the processes they don’t like to do, such as creating algorithms to grade scientific projects or constructing digital media for instruction purposes. “In Georgia, we integrate CT into project-based learning for K-12,” said Cox. “It is also part of our STEM and STEAM certifications. CT is part of the new digital literacy and everyone needs it: teachers, students, parents, admins, everyone. “

Diane Doersch, Director of Technology for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Initiative at Digital Promise and co-chair of CoSN’s DEI committee, shares tactical guidelines that can support school district efforts to diversify their staff.

BIG LEARNING IN THE BIG EASY Tech & Learning’s recent Regional Leadership Summit in New Orleans was an event full of learning, networking, sharing, and working together to prepare for the challenges ahead By Ray Bendici


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n the run-up to ISTELive 2022, Tech & Learning’s recent Regional Leadership Summit was an opportunity for district leaders to come together in an intimate, relaxed, face-to-face setting on the beautiful (if hot!) campus of Loyola University in New Orleans. Attendees were able to talk candidly about how to recover from the impact of COVID while focusing on the needs of students and faculty with a future focus. Edtech luminaries Carl Hooker and Adam Phyall enthusiastically co-hosted the day, which kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Diane Doersch, Director of Technology for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Initiative at Digital Promise and co-chair of CoSN’s DEI committee, who shared best practices and approaches for diversifying school staffs. “Acknowledge inequity and that there is a choice

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between ambivalence and action,” she said, adding that being an ally is commendable, but it’s important to take advantage of opportunities to support diversity and representation by actively targeting, recruiting, and hiring diverse candidates. After the keynote, attendees met with industry partners and participated in small group discussions focused on important topics related to strategic planning, including data privacy and cybersecurity, equity and access, career and college readiness, esports, professional development, learning realignment, and rethinking learning spaces. They also got to participate in Carl Hooker’s “APPMazing Race” in which they divided into teams to tackle a set of challenges that emphasized collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity.

BIG LEARNING Carl Hooker (standing, left) and Adam Phyall (standing, right) led an inspiring day of professional development for district leaders and industry partners.

Attendees kicked off the AppMazing Race led by Carl Hooker and Adam Phyall.

Throughout the day, attendees participated in interactive workshops and activities.

Tech & Learning Innovative Leader Award winners Jennifer Parker and Kate Grunow (center) celebrate their AppMazing Race victory with teammates Tracy Daniel-Hardy (right) and Lakisha Brinson (left)


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BIG LEARNING District leaders and industry partners came together to talk candidly about how to focus on the needs of students and faculty with a future focus.

Also at the event, the winners of Tech & Learning’s Innovative Leader Awards were announced during a live episode of Phyall and Hooker’s “UnDisruptED” podcast. Honorees included: • Best Implementation of Digital Curriculum: Dr. Jennifer Parker and Kate Grunow, Macomb ISD, MI • Best Overall Implementation of Technology: Eric Crespo, superintendent, Weehawken Public Schools, NJ • Best Overall Implementation of Technology: Ron Dodson, Ph.D.,

Deputy Superintendent, Hoover City Schools, AL • Best Implementation of Data Privacy: Phil Hintz, Director of Student Information Services (CIO), Barrington School District 220, IN To top off the day, attendees enjoyed dining at one of NOLA’s finest establishments, Arnaud’s, where they were able to reflect, discuss, and toast another terrific event. We look forward to seeing you in-person at a future Regional Leadership Summit in the year ahead!

THE STATE OF THE DIGITAL DIVIDE Despite progress closing the digital divide, millions of students remain on the wrong side of it. Advocates say the solution is more funding that includes digital knowledge education. he digital divide and homework gap persist despite intense efforts from schools, districts, and municipalities across the country to close these since the start of the pandemic. Approximately 16 million students across the U.S. and 400,000 teachers do not have adequate internet or device access at home according to reports from Common Sense Media. “Even in the best states that have the smallest digital divides, one in four students are still in the K-12 digital divide,” says Amina Fazlullah, senior director of Equity Policy at Common Sense Media. This is despite efforts to provide all students devices and access through a variety of creative means including hotspot-enabled mobile buses, municipality-owned broadband, and even a pilot program that provided internet via a drone. “Yes, a lot of devices went out,” says Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. “Not all those kids are gonna be able to keep them over the summer, though. And a lot of those devices are pretty

locked down to make managing them more reasonable for the district.” She adds, “We don’t have enough devices out for adults, for households in general, or for kids when they’re not doing schoolwork.” This lack of whole-family access leads to a “knowledge gap” that creates a digital divide even when a student officially has device access. In addition, devices vary in quality and will break and/or become outdated eventually. “Whatever you did two years ago, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re good right now,” Fazlullah says. However, the events of the past two-plus years have helped raise awareness of the problems around the digital divide.

FUNDING AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) allocated $7.1 billion for school connectivity through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and has connected more than 12 million students so far. However, these funds are currently temporary.


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By Erik Ofgang





Common Sense Media advocates for creating a permanent fund. “We estimate it will cost about $6 to $11 billion in that first year,” Fazlullah says. “Then we had said that an additional $4 to $8 billion annually would be required to permanently address the K-12 digital divide.” As high as this price might sound on paper, Common Sense Media estimates that it would save money overall because students without connectivity do less well in school, and ultimately, contribute less to the U.S. economy. Existing funding could also sometimes be put to better use. The Federal Communications Commission provides need-based access to households that qualify through its Affordable Connectivity Program. The program can be used for mobile data or a wireline connection but is limited to one discount per household. Many opt for the mobile data connection except it often provides less value. “Using ACP for a wireline connection means they do not have the restrictive data cap that often comes with a mobile data plan and it usually has higher capacity to support multiple household members being online,” Siefer says. She’d like more outreach around this topic to help people make informed decisions about their connectivity.

KNOWLEDGE AS NEEDED AS CONNECTIVITY In addition to providing more households with connectivity, schools and municipalities need to support students and their families with better

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digital training, say advocates. “It’s not enough just to have the students know how to do what they need to do,” says Daniel Noyes, co-CEO of Tech Goes Home. “You’ve got to have parental or caregiver involvement. If you get a parent or a caregiver more involved in their kid’s education, that student will do better.” The need for parental knowledge of technology became abundantly clear during the pandemic. “All of a sudden education was primarily in a digital world, and you’ve got adults who have no clue what the digital world is. It’s no surprise that those students suffered,” Noyes says. Going forward, he says, municipalities, districts, and funding allotments should keep this knowledge gap in mind. School leaders and classroom educators can also share stories of their struggles with connectivity in order to help bring more national and statewide attention to the issue. For example, Common Sense Media has a page for collecting these experiences. Ultimately, Siefer says, society needs to realize that addressing the digital divide is an ongoing and evolving process. “This is not a problem that we can solve quickly,” she says. “It’s not a problem that we can solve once because technology is going to keep changing, and how we use technology is going to keep changing. The fact that we have broader inequities in society, those things mean we will always be struggling with the digital divide.” Thanks to our partners on the following pages for supporting this event!




Offering virtual office hours may not be your first choice, but it can be effective for everyone if approached properly. By Jonathan L. Wharton, Ph.D.

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may be an anomaly in academia but I enjoy office hours. Many college faculty loathe setting aside time to help students with assignments and addressing their concerns. But students get to know faculty and vice versa in these moments. During this ongoing pandemic era, I was initially concerned about having online or virtual office hours. Yet, some students preferred meeting virtually. It was a learning curve for me and I discovered online office hours can be helpful, although don’t replace the directness of meeting in-person.

VIRTUAL OFFICE online platforms including Blackboard, WebEx, and Teams. Programs such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and Zoom are also available. Most faculty found Teams helpful because you can arrange your Outlook schedule to accommodate online office hours with specific students and classes. Unfortunately, the majority of my students did not want to participate in online office hours and there were some initial glitches. For example, students often logged on and interrupted an ongoing discussion and I would ask if they could meet afterward. A virtual waiting room or breakout rooms can be ideal for situations like this. With virtual office hours, there really isn’t an organic way to share ideas in the same way during in-person office hours. It’s also difficult to measure nonverbal communication online because recognizing students’ reactions or concerns can be more telling in person. But I found that if you plan with specific students or if students inform you when they would attend virtual office hours, an online meeting can be efficient. The more organized you are with students in knowing their concerns before the virtual office hours, the more likely they are to attend. Holding virtual advising sessions with my major advisees has also been helpful. This includes course registration and general advisement concerns. Many of my advisees prefer these virtual meetings because they can plan their schedules around it, particularly if they are working while attending classes, as so many of our students are at SCSU. Virtual advisement allows them to still engage and inquire away from campus especially if there are barriers to meeting in-person.


• Consider having virtual sessions by appointment or virtual group sessions • Virtual waiting rooms or breakout rooms can be helpful for organizing students • Ask students about their preferences and offer both in-person and virtual hours

BACK TO BEING IN-PERSON – AND VIRTUAL My office hours tend to bring in students of various majors and we end up discussing future projects, internships, and additional opportunities. Certainly, there’s campus gossip too but I have been proud of having engaging office hours at Southern Connecticut State University and my prior college, Stevens Institute of Technology. Sometimes office hours were also held outdoors as I would bring camping chairs or use campus picnic tables. When the pandemic closed SCSU’s campus, I was stumped how to hold class as well as office hours. I suggested outdoor class spaces to university officials and I was asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett to discuss outdoor teaching for her OutFront show. I even purchased two dozen camping chairs so students could feel comfortable with having in-person class again.


Over recent semesters, I experimented with several approaches to holding virtual office hours. My university also went through multiple

Of course, I missed in-person office hours. When we returned to campus, however, even partially or through hybrid approaches, I held both in-person and virtual office hours. Sadly, fewer students visited my office and I didn’t have the usual 3 to 12 students during a two-hour period. It was crushing since I couldn’t tell if students grasped class concepts or they didn’t share their college experience during the semester. But I’ve discovered that virtual office hours are most impactful for students who want to plan and discuss exactly what they have in mind for my class and their academic pursuits. It is a reminder that there are so many students who prefer, or need, to have a set appointment. After all, flexibility and access between students and instructor are key factors to having successful online hours. Virtual office hours should be an option in addition to in-person office hours. Similar to last semester, I plan to hold in-person office hours this coming fall semester and will offer students the opportunity to schedule a virtual appointment. As an educator, I want to learn how to make virtual meetings work, and through experience, have discovered these can be helpful.


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THE BENEFITS OF INTERNATIONAL ESPORTS FOR STUDENTS Students who participate in international esports compete with their peers in other countries, learn about different cultures, and develop leadership skills By Erik Ofgang


idar Abdullin’s interest in mentoring students in international esports has little to do with, well, gaming. “I’m not a gamer myself,” says the elementary school teacher at the Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait. Instead, Abdullin is passionate about the ways in which esports and international gaming competitions help students develop leadership and other life skills that go beyond the particulars of a given curriculum and help prepare students for


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future success. The North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) organizes several international events including the upcoming MENAcraft, a Minecraft competition that will feature teams from the U.S., Middle East, and North Africa. Educators and students who have participated in such events say international esports help students learn about other cultures while developing real-world skills.

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Satomi Itagaki’s students at the Rissyukan High School in Yanaguchi, Japan, recently competed in NASEF Farmcraft 2022. The event challenges students to successfully create farms and grow food in Minecraft. To learn more about agriculture, Itagaki’s students visited a farm. “They talked to farmers about the current issues,” Itagaki says. The students put this knowledge to good use, coming in third place in the competition in the senior division. Students said – via email and with the help of a translator – that participating in the event helped them improve their English and get a broader perspective on the world. “I think I’ve become a global person. I’m glad I got involved,” Yuuka Okada said. “I can use English now, just a bit,” Momoka Lori said. Ayako Nakahara learned about no-till farming, a method of farming that decreases erosion. “Since it does not use machines, it is kind to the soil and CO2 emissions can be suppressed, so I think it will suit the world in the future,” Nakahara said. Students in the U.S. also learned a lot from the experience. “At some point, they realized that they’re not just playing video games anymore, that they’re actually learning things and enjoying it, and that’s where the joy comes as an educator – watching that experience happen,” says Jeanna Dawson, owner of Eastside Esports in Atlanta, which works with kids after school.

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When Dawson’s students learned they would be participating in an international competition with other students, they discussed how they would approach a cultural exchange. “They were like, ‘What exactly do we want to share? We have to be specific in what we share,’” she says. They were also eager to learn about other cultures. Dawson is the state lead for MENAcraft in Georgia and can assist other teams in the region who are looking to get involved. There are similar region leads for other parts of the U.S. and world. Educators looking to launch a general esports program should reach out to people who mentor existing esports programs to get tips on best practices. While many educators who facilitate esports are gamers, Abdullin stresses this is not a prerequisite in developing esports coaches. “If you’re not a gamer, it doesn’t mean anything,” he says. “You just need to organize the students.” Once you do that they can help lead the program where it needs to go – and that might just include participation in a global competition.


THE TIME TO OBLIGATE ESSER FUNDS IS NOW Millions in ESSER funds need to be obligated by schools and districts before the rapidly approaching deadline of September 30 hen the first obligation deadline for ESSER funds was announced upon the passage of the CARES Act back in March 2020 it seemed like there was plenty of time to formulate a plan, get the dollars out the door, and be reimbursed by the state for the purchases. Fast forward to July 2022, and with just over two months left until the first deadline (September 30), some districts and states have done a better job of obligating funds than others. According to the Department of Education Covid Data Tracker, ESSER funds have been mostly obligated, but there are definitely still some dollars that must be spent – and STAT! For instance, 75% of Nevada’s ESSER funds had been obligated as of the last reporting period, which means that there is still approximately $29 million still unobligated for spending. The list goes on like this with states having even more funding still to be obligated with the quickly approaching deadline – Virginia: approximately $38 million; Vermont: approximately $8

million; Maryland: approximately $43 million. The regulations for Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) funds state that, “Any funds that the SEA fails to award by the one-year deadline must be returned to the Department for reallocation consistent with the CARES Act.” The same goes for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. The GEER Fund feels largely forgotten. Districts appear to have been so focused on planning for ESSER monies that they didn’t ever ask for these dollars. The Governors allocated some out of this fund at the very beginning of the pandemic, but after the initial plans for spending, the allocations seemed to really slow down. Like ESSER, some states still have an astonishing amount of money in these GEER funds. Some states have spent down, but again, there are others that have significant resources sitting in the fund. For example, Colorado:


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By Susan Gentz


ESSER FUNDING approximately $25 million; Maryland: approximately $30 million; and Georgia: approximately $45 million. Similarly to ESSER funds, any funds that a governor fails to award by the one-year deadline must be returned to the Department for reallocation to the remaining states. There are absolutely implications for education, but also implications politically. Why are the governors holding on to these funds, just to release them back so another state can take them? For years states and districts have dreamt of having financial resources such as these, and now that it is available, they do not appear to be taking full advantage of this opportunity. (If I were running for governor in any of these states and my opponent let this money go back to be given to other states, that would be a major campaign point for me.)


One of the biggest hangups of these funds is that these are one-time funding. And although a fiscal cliff is looming in 2024, that should not freeze us from doing what we can with the remaining funds and time that are guaranteed. Although masks, HVAC systems, and sterilization tools seem to have had their day in the sun, it’s now time to turn our attention to the data that we knew we would all see. NPR recently reported on some of the findings.

“Even students who spent the least amount of time learning remotely during the 2020-21 school year — just a month or less — missed the equivalent of seven to 10 weeks of math learning, says Thomas Kane of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.” The focus of the remaining dollars must be teaching and learning. Emergency remote learning was rough, we all know that. But now that the gates have been opened to allow online learning, these dollars would be well spent on teaching teachers how to teach online. Parents have indicated in surveys that if the option for online learning is there, they will take it, and the families most likely to stay are from disadvantaged subgroups. Along those same lines, new learning models should be explored. If a district wants to focus on accelerating learning, there has to be multiple pathways available. Advocates for personalized learning have been beating this drum for decades, but for the students who have some remedial work to do, it’s a matter of what kind of life they will have access to upon graduating from the district. When ESSER and GEER were first established, my advice to district leaders was to think outside of the box. Use these funds to really transform learning for students. I stick by that sentiment now and would add to start thinking about a sustainability plan for when the federal dollars run out. Don’t let the fear of losing the dollars in two years stop you from doing something truly impactful for students now.




n August 17, the Tech & Learning is partnering with New York City Department of Education to present the annual #NYCSchools Tech Summit & Beyond 2022, a one-stop live and virtual event for education technology. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of this annual professional development conference, the event will be back in person at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, with selected sessions available via streaming. NYC state staff can earn CTLE credits through either option, as long as it’s done in real time, but any educator looking for a robust day of ideas and inspiration can attend. During this special hybrid event, attendees will participate in dozens of thought-provoking sessions in which they will hear best instructional practices, gain edtech insights, learn about new technologies and strategies, network with colleagues, and connect with solution providers. Attendees will also get to hear from education leaders from around the world. This year’s keynote speaker is Roya Mahboob (at right), an entrepreneur and Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO who has used her success and expertise to help educate and empower Afghan women and girls. She founded the Digital Citizen Fund and the Afghan Girls Robotics Team, and has worked to build innovation/tech centers across Afghanistan. She was named to TIME’s 2013 list of 100 Most Influential People, and received the 2014 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award and The Advancement of Gender Equality through Education Award. Some of the main topics featured include: digital inclusion and citizenship, library and media support, parent outreach and coordination, special education and assistive technology, computer science, literacy, and much more.

WWW.NYCSCHOOLSTECHSUMMIT.COM EDUCATORS FROM BEYOND NYC ARE WELCOME! Thanks to our partners on the following pages for supporting this event!


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