Source: San Diego Virtual School 

OW logoContinuing advancements in online education have everyone from students to school administrators rethinking high school and college coursework. Gone are the days when a physical classroom was required for a comprehensive education.

San Diego Virtual School is a leader in online education throughout Southern California. With our individualized approach, free classes and extensive curriculum, SDVS offers all the advantages of a traditional learning enterprise with the flexibility and customized, tailor-made coursework – all at your fingertips!

We’re just one element of the fast-growing online education revolution. Why are online classes so popular, and will this surge continue far into the future? Many education and business leaders think so. We’ve compiled some strong opinions about online education and its overall benefits for students. Taken collectively, they make a great case for online education’s bright future. Here are a few reasons why virtual schooling is here to stay:

INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING

As opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach, online education offers tremendous flexibility as far as scheduling and time management go. And this has an empowering impact. According to Beth Te Grotenhuis, president of Odysseyware: “One of the biggest benefits of online learning is that it empowers students to learn in a time, a place and a way that best fits their personal learning style and need.”

FLEXIBILITY FOR CAREER-MINDED STUDENTS.

Online education accommodates busy work schedules, allowing students to gain valuable instruction while still working part-time or even full-time hours. As the time constraints of a traditional education diminish, this opens the door for anyone looking to better themselves in a virtual classroom environment.

SIGNIFICANT COST SAVINGS OVER TRADITIONAL INSTRUCTION METHODS.

Typically, textbooks alone cost hundreds of dollars per semester. But with the comprehensive structure of many online education outlets, the required reference texts are already in place. It might seem like small change to many students, but this advantage adds up to big savings.

REAL-WORLD SKILLS DEVELOPED IN REAL-TIME.

Anthony James Green, the founder and president of Test Prep Authority, offers an interesting take on the burgeoning online education market: “Online education isn’t just a matter of convenience and efficiency – it’s a matter of necessity. Any student who aspires to become a knowledge worker, or to function effectively in the 21st century, needs to be familiar with the internet and with modern computing technology. In thirty years, those who aren’t comfortable using computers and internet basics will be on the same level as those who are illiterate today.”

If you’d like to learn more about online education in the San Diego area, call an SDVS advisor at (619) 713-7271. You can also visit our contact page for more information on coursework, locations and other resources.

Thanks for reading the SDVS blog!

Seasoned client success executive joins rapidly growing student identity and access management company

Aegis_logo finalAegis Identity Software, Inc. a leading provider of Identity and Access Management solutions for the Education marketplace, announces the appointment of Jat Pannu as Chief Strategy Officer. In this role, Pannu will lead strategic initiatives and partnerships to leverage and scale Aegis Identity Software’s proven capabilities for the success of its clients and larger programs.

Pannu is a seasoned Global Services and Client Success Executive with over 18 years of proven success in Management Consulting, Customer Success, Strategic Planning, Product Development, System Integration, Enterprise Software and Services Management.

Aegis Identity Software has built an enterprise-class software platform designed for managing digital identities in both the higher education and K12 education marketplaces. Pannu’s experience will be instrumental in bringing further awareness of Aegis Identity’s proven reputation in the identity management market to universities, colleges and K12 districts alike.

“Aegis Identity Software’s innovative approach to managing digital identities in a large scale and fast paced environment, such as education, provides a unique higher ed and K12 platform that empowers educators, students, administrators and parents,” said Pannu. “I am profoundly honored to join Aegis Identity Software in this newly created position, and very much look forward to working with this dynamic team to further enrich the platform and tools available to educational agencies for the advancement of student performance and teacher effectiveness.”

“Jat is an enormously accomplished client success executive who brings a tremendous depth of experience in both higher education and K12 to our firm. We could not be more proud to have someone of his caliber join our team,” stated Bob Lamvik, President, Aegis Identity Software, Inc. “He shares our values and our focus on innovation, and he places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience. He has shown himself to be an extraordinary leader throughout his career and his proven track record in decisive leadership will enhance our ability to bring the most advanced product to university and district IT administrators.”

For more information about Aegis Identity Software, Inc., please visit http://aegisidentity.com/identity-software

Source: Association of American Editors

teacher coach logoToday we feature a guest blog by Dr. Jared Scherz, where he offers some ideas for teachers to enhance their professional growth and their experience as professional educators.

Respect
Teachers need to be treated like professionals, offered meaningful feedback but allowed and encouraged to provide input of their own. If adjustments are needed, they are informed not punished or demeaned. They need administrators who recognize their job is to support the learning process, not micromanage it. A little bit of appreciate goes a long way for an educator.

How can teachers help their administrators offer more respect:

• Share your wishes, wants, needs as opposed to your demands or expectations. For example: “What would really help me most, is knowing what you value as well as what you aren’t happy with so I don’t get discouraged.”• Let your school leader know how you feel when it doesn’t seem you are being respected. For example: “I’m not sure if it’s what you said or how I took it, but I want you to know that I’m struggling with what you said. I hope you’re open to talking about it.”

• Model respect by offering it even when you don’t believe you are receiving it. For example: “I respect your position and I hear your feelings about this. I’m sure you have a perspective on this I’m not fully aware of.”

• Remember that conflict is scary and most of us shy away from direct confrontation. We are fearful for our jobs and may not feel comfortable with that type of tension. Practice in this area is critical.

• Many of us will say that our administrator isn’t approachable: “I could never do that because they aren’t open to it and it would be dangerous.” Always respect your own gut feeling on this although remember that this may be fear talking. Surprising things happen when you take risks.

• Measure success based on your risk taking and not the outcome. If you like the way you experimented with asserting yourself, then the accomplishment has already taken place. Outcomes are out of our control so don’t dilute your effort.

• Respect also means the autonomy to be creative in your craft. With the focus on outcome measures, some degree of freedom seems sacrificed, helping teachers to feel stifled. Creativity is the life blood of a teacher. Finding new and innovative ways to capture students’ attention and stimulate their interest is the challenge that many teachers thrive off of. Look for ways to make the curriculum your own.

Reflection
Teachers need to see themselves clearly in relation to others. Reflective practitioners can look inward and understand who they are and what they need. They are able to understand how their life experiences impact who they are and how they teach, able to make adjustments to better serve their clients.

• Teachers’ best tools are their own selves. Sensing what a child needs, intuiting the obstacles to learning, and modeling accountability are just some of the way educators help their class. The better we know ourselves, the easier this is to do. Example: The most memorable experience my daughter had in third grade is when her teacher apologized after snapping at the students, letting them know she had a bad day and letting them know what she would do differently next time.• Appreciate how our early and current life experiences influence who we are as an educator. Explore our attitudes about effort, behavior, and relatedness and see if you can link these to the scripts you had growing up.

• What are the current stressors in your life and how are they impacting your ability to be patient, attentive, and enthusiastic in your class? Consider what impact health, relationships, and family are having on you and then consider how they may be impacting your work. Consider what supports are needed to help you reduce stress, such as exercise, diet, and talking with a friend.

• Consider professional development strategies such as reading, coaching, counseling, workshops, continuing education and other forms of growth.

• Take a class in an area you aren’t interested in such as cooking, gardening, or mechanics.

• Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, experiments, etc… to help hold yourself accountable but also to appreciate your own evolution as an educator. 

Resources
Teachers need resources to do their jobs well. If teachers are paying for supplies, unable to connect with others who can help guide and support, or recreating the wheel because they don’t have access to tools and tips to do their jobs easier, they will use up valuable time and energy that can be spent with self-care and preparation.

• Do you have a list of resources for your professional and personal self: academics, behavior, and personal? Ask your colleagues to help you put together a resource list that you can continuously build throughout the school year.• Do you regularly look to a blog to stay current with the latest and greatest trends? Ask others who they follow and check out a few different options depending upon what your preferences are.

• Do you have an emergency contact such as WeAreTeachers Helpline to get immediate support on a given issue? Keep an urgent/emergent list of contacts that are both anonymous and open so that you don’t have to search for them when you are most in need. (You can always email AAE!)

• Encourage parents to donate time, money, and supplies to help you in the class. Parents recognize that funds are limited and will often be willing to donate in service of their children’s education.

• There are several websites that help teachers raise money such as: startdonating.com, freetech4teachers.com, donorschoose.org, and adoptaclassroom.

• Consider partnerships with local businesses who would like to market their product or service in exchange for donating supplies or funding projects. 

Our needs will not be met unless we express and negotiate for them. Even if they are, it is always more satisfying to know we have earned what we receive.

Dr. Jared Scherz is the founder of TeacherCoach, which offers customized personal growth and professional development opportunities through coaching and courses. He is a licensed psychologist, educational consultant, and author of several books on education. Dr. Scherz has been a coach, consultant, and therapist for over 25 years and is currently working to integrate personal growth with professional development to support the whole teacher. 

Source: District Administration

Technology changes the way school districts buy digital resources

myON logoThe move toward personalized learning and the ability to deliver resources via the cloud are transforming the way districts purchase digital content for math, reading and other parts of the curriculum. As this landscape changes, district also are spending more on digital resources.

“We are consciously moving a lot of educational software to web-based, subscription-based tools,” says John David Son, director of instructional technology at the Naperville school district in Illinois. “When you think about educational software, it’s important to think about the opportunity for students to personalize their own learning—and they need to be able to access it regardless of device, location or time of day. Web-based software gives us that flexibility.”

Naperville’s budget increases about 2 to 3 percent annually, and the district spends about $350,000 each year on digital learning resources, says Son.

Based on survey data from the 2011-12 school year, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) estimates that revenue from digital content for instruction grew almost 20 percent, with upswings in every area except reading/ELA—which still dominates the market for online instructional resources.

“Districts are slowly but steadily spending more budget dollars for digital learning resources,” says Karen Billings, vice president for SIIA’s education division. “Overall budgets are not increasing, so we surmise that districts are purchasing fewer print materials.”

The amount districts spend on a digital resource per pupil can be as high as $60 a student, although materials are mostly in the $4 to $8 range, says Farimah Schuerman, managing partner of Academic Business Advisors LLC, a consulting firm that provides services to education industry companies.

Protecting student data

Ed tech providers collect massive amounts of information about students through online platforms, mobile applications and cloud computing.

Districts must therefore be vigilant about keeping the information out of the hands of non-educational commercial interests and other third parties.

“Districts need to know their vendors’ student data privacy and security policies. How vendors treat the student data that may be acquired from use of the software has become more important over the last year,” says Karen Billings, vice president of the education division at Software & Information Industry Association.

Most vendors are sensitive to the issue and are eager to comply with district policies and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Billings adds.

Many vendors post policies on their websites or embed them in applications, says Mike Lorion, Common Sense Media’s vice president and general manager of education.

The organization’s School Privacy Zone campaign is led by a panel of chief information officers and chief technology officers from the biggest districts in the country, representing nearly 3 million students. Privacy, safety and consumerism are among the key issues the panel is investigating.

“Districts really want to know how they can make sure they are holding student data in the proper way,” says Lorion. “Developers care about these issues, too, and want to create ed tech that districts can use and trust.”

The panel met in June and plans over the next year to develop a process for districts to vet products for privacy. Common Sense Media will then provide privacy ratings in its product reviews.

The comprehensiveness of the solution is a key factor in pricing. A core math program that provides deep instruction on the fundamentals for elementary grades and covers a full curriculum will cost more per student than a game-based math app that addresses a particular learning challenge, such as fractions or decimals. “The price varies a lot, depending on the audience and the materials,” Schuerman says.

Three factors are driving the increase in purchasing digital content:

  • Browser-based materials that support personalized learning with varied modes of instruction and 24/7 availability
  • Availability—more devices are available today to access the software
  • Software can be accessed via vendors’ servers, avoiding the need for expensive and time-intensive infrastructures

Districts always need to consider the availability of broadband internet access in their region before licensing a cloud-based solution, says Michael Chai, Pearson’s senior vice president of school product technology. “Losing connectivity even for a minute gets in the way of learning.”

For example, Iowa City School District opts for the cloud whenever possible. “The advantage of cloud hosting is we don’t need as much staff to manage it,” says David Dude, the chief operating officer and chief technology officer.

“Some of the systems are pretty complex, and it’s nice to have the vendors be the experts,” Dude adds. “We don’t have to worry about the details of how their system works.”

However, Iowa City hosts solutions that require a lot of bandwidth—like those with video—at the district level or with a hybrid model. For example, an educational product that has occasional high definition video might have all of the text served from the district’s central data center. But when a student clicks on a video, it might be delivered from a server in the school building.

“This way, we take bandwidth to copy the video to the replication server only one time.” says Dude. “Then the actual streaming of the video is confined within the school’s local network.”

Vendor models

The move to the cloud has pushed vendors to change their pricing models. In the past, the cost of software was usually based on the number of machines it was installed on. Some specialized vendor solutions—such as career and technology courses—are still sold that way.

But the most common arrangement by far is an annual charge for each student accessing the software in the cloud. “Subscriptions are the modern-day equivalent of software licensing,” Billings says.

Pearson’s fee arrangements vary based on a district’s budget process or are tied to the rate of growth of the student population. For example, in some districts or states, instructional materials are a capital expense and need to be paid for in a lump sum.

A rapidly growing district might be better served by a subscription model that has a variable range for number of students. This way, a district will have a clear picture of its monthly and annual expenses. “We work with thousands of schools and districts with a variety of unique needs and we use the model that works best for them,” Chai says.

Another model still in limited use is pricing software based on the number of buildings in which it is installed. “Some schools have 2,000 students and others only 150, but we pay the same amount,” Dude says.

School Improvement Network offers districts a range of options, from per-student licenses to per-school or even per-teacher licenses. The most common plan is assigning a license to every user. All of the company’s products are available in the cloud.

Most vendors are flexible about adjusting fees or transferring subscriptions when a student leaves mid-year. Billings says open education resources and 99-cent apps have driven down costs and forced vendors to repackage their offerings.

“A vendor might set a price for just one part of a comprehensive premium program. That gives teachers the flexibility to see if it’s viable before they pay for more features and benefits,” Billings says.

And what about all those free apps? “From our experience, free doesn’t always mean free,” Son says. “They don’t come with any support or access when you need training materials or when parents have questions about the software. The costs come in other places.”

Kecia Ray, executive director of learning technology at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, says many district leaders no longer ask all of their educators to use the same software.

“We are coming upon a shift in the way that school districts and vendors develop their partnerships, and it’s very exciting,” says Ray, who also is board chair for ISTE. Selection criteria

Of course, the most important factor when evaluating software is whether the product supports instructional goals. “Our process starts with our content experts,” Son says. “They evaluate it from an instructional standpoint and whether it aligns with Common Core State Standards.”

The next steps are to determine the tech support required and the costs, including hardware, software, vendor maintenance and data centers—which come with their own expenses, such as electricity, cooling, upkeep and staffing.

“Some of these expenses are shared with other needs, so we prorate accordingly,” says Dude. “If the vendor is hosting it, we need to determine whether there are any challenges with accessing it.”

Among these challenges are configuring filter and firewall settings, ensuring adequate bandwidth and making sure the vendor is available to troubleshoot problems.

“It’s a curriculum decision first, but it’s the IT area that has to make sure it works,” Dude says.

The “perfect scenario” is to have an academic/instructional administrator team up with an IT colleague to review a product, Ray says. “As long as you have that congruency, you can be very successful in making the right decisions on behalf of your school.”

Pricing factors

John Campbell, CEO of Cambium Learning Group, says price is impacted by many factors, including the number of students served; perpetual license vs. subscription; single-year license vs. multi-year; and the support and training included.

Some districts bundle hardware and curriculum content into one bid to gain savings, says Pearson’s Chai.

And Ray adds that Nashville Public Schools gets better pricing when it enters licensing agreements of two to three years. The district also checks with regional consortia for pricing discounts.

More district leaders require that software integrates with their learning management system (LMS). This way, students and teachers are presented with the resources when they log in to the LMS and are more likely to use the products.

Jim McClafferty, president of Brain Parade, suggests district CIOs ask certain questions of prospective vendors:

  • What support will the vendor provide?
  • What planned enhancements are expected in the product?
  • Are multi-year commitments and discounts offered?
  • How many other customers does the vendor work with?
  • Does the vendor have local resources?

The reason to ask about enhancements is to determine whether updates will cost money and if a vendor will invest in a product or devote resources elsewhere, says McClafferty.

A vendor with lots of customers is likely to be a long-term player. But district leaders must ensure that the vendor also has the capacity to provide adequate tech support. A smaller vendor with fewer customers may be able to give a district more attention, but may only be in business short-term, McClafferty says.

Vendors with local resources may be able to provide additional opportunities. For example, because of low travel costs, a vendor might share a new product with a district that is close by, he says.

When buying licenses or subscriptions, districts must try to estimate the number of students and educators who will use the software, says Bill Odell, vice president of marketing for Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance, which inventories all software on a district’s network.

Violating a licensing agreement can be costly, Odell says. Every $1 spent on a software license means $3 in penalties. “[But] you don’t want to pay for licenses you are not using,” Odell says. “Sometimes districts get so fearful about being out of compliance, they overbuy.”

To Learn More

Resources

myMAGICALSummer reading challenge winners announced

myON logomyON, the leading provider of personalized literacy solutions for schools, held its myMAGICALSummer reading contest from May 12th to August 25th 2014. The results are in, and myON is proud to announce the winning school and students who read the most books as a collective campus and individual readers.

The summer reading contest was designed to minimize the summer slide while motivating students to find the magic in reading. Summer break is the perfect opportunity to continue exciting and engaging kids in reading.

myON awarded the top school that read the most number of books as well as four individual students who spent the most time reading over the summer. The top elementary school, Pershing Elementary School of Berwyn South School District 100 in Berwyn, Illinois, received a special myON banner that promotes reading, myON backpacks for every student as well as $500 dollars to be used as the school saw fit.

“I am overwhelmingly proud of the perseverance of our students as they develop as readers.  I’m equally proud of the commitment that our staff and parents provided to our students this summer so there would be no summer reading lag. Our students love the wide variety of genres available on myON. Accessibility to good literature coupled with supportive adults was the key to our students’ summer reading success!” said Marilyn McManus, principal of Pershing Elementary School.

“The Pershing School community should be commended for their unwavering commitment to literacy.  Through their involvement in our Virtual Summer School program and myON’s National Summer Reading Contest, they were able to challenge the notion that the “summer slide” is inevitable.  It makes me proud, as Literacy Director, that students who may not have otherwise had access to high-quality reading material were able to access a library of over 4,000 books this summer,” said Berwyn South School District’s Director of Literacy, Jeremy Majeski.

The student portion of the reading contest was broken up by grade level: Pre K-5 and 6-up. The student from the Pre K-5 group that spent the most time reading, Kevin P. from Sunset Park Elementary School, in Florida, and the winning student from the 6-up group, Edneisha B. from Turner/Bartels K-8 School in Florida, were each awarded an iPad, while a runner-up from each bracket, Nathan Z. from Annette Winn Elementary in Georgia (Pre K-5), and Schlindlyne B – Turner/Bartels K-8 School in Florida, were each given an iPad mini.

“It’s great to see so many young people discovering their excitement for reading, especially over the summer,” said Todd Brekhus, president of myON. “Literacy is the foundation of all academic success.  Each child reading on myON is given the tools to truly personalize their experience, reading what interests them and at a level that challenges them to be a better reader.  Using fun and engaging contests, like myMAGICALsummer, is another great opportunity to get kids excited about reading.”

myON has more than 7,000 titles kids can enjoy anytime and anywhere on the award-winning digital literacy platform. For more information, please visit www.myON.com.

Source: EdTech Digest

Navigating the best course forward through complex technology implementation issues.

juliecarterWith the growth of technology immersion in the classroom and the rise in availability of digital content and tools, navigating the best course for implementation can be a daunting task, even for the most sophisticated organizations. Experienced administrators Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson (both formerly named “20 to Watch” Education Technology Leaders by the NSBA) have launched a new company focused on helping schools plan and execute their technology goals. GreyED Solutions focuses on a personalized approach to visioning and planning for both schools and the edtech industry, emphasizing that the education landscape is not black and white. Strategies for technology implementation as well as product marketing and messaging must be personalized to represent the unique needs and challenges of every organization. In this interview, GreyED Solutions co-founders share with us their insight into the creation of their company, the challenges facing schools with implementations today, and advice on where to start and what to avoid as you begin your implementations. 

Victor: Where did the vision and desire to build GreyED Solutions come from?

Julie: With our experience in K12 education we know first hand the challenges, triumphs and intricacies of well-executed implementations. Having championed some of the best technology implementations in the country we quickly realized the demand for support and assistance as we fielded questions, lent support, shared materials and worked to share our successes so other schools and districts could benefit from what we learned. Julie’s administrative experience comes from her leadership at Minnetonka Public Schools where she served as a classroom teacher and media specialist before becoming the executive director of technology. Rob’s experience stems from his work as the director of technology for Andover Public Schools and more recently in his current role as the executive director of information management services for Omaha Public Schools.

RobRob: Over the past several years we have consulted with districts nationally helping with the assessment and design of technology planning. GreyED Solutions was born out of the realization that every district has its own unique culture and fingerprint, where merely replicating models and materials does not equate success. While there is an enormous amount to be gleaned from the success of others, modifications to best fit your individual organization are necessary to ensure successful implementation. The vision of GreyED is to perpetuate the success of technology enhanced learning through personalized services which recognize implementations are not black and white.

Victor: Working with both schools and the industry is unique – why did you choose to focus on both?

Julie: We believe that it is essential for the edtech industry to understand the challenges and needs of today’s learners. Bringing leading educators together to engage in collaborative discussions with the edtech industry makes for the most innovative,

Bringing leading educators together to engage in collaborative discussions with the edtech industry makes for the most innovative, successful and purposeful uses of technology that will positively impact students. 

successful and purposeful uses of technology that will positively impact students. By using our industry knowledge we are able to impact the design and development of edtech products and we can introduce districts to great products and services that can enhance and accelerate learning in their classrooms. For us, schools and the industry work together hand-in-hand for the betterment of today’s learners.

Victor: What advice do you have for schools beginning an implementation? Is there a place to start?

Rob: Establishing your vision and desired outcomes is the place we recommend you begin. What is it that you want your students to be doing or be able to do as a result of your implementation? Beginning with the vision and listing out your desired outcomes allows you to stay focused on your goals while designing the remainder of your plan. Don’t get hung up on the perfect vision statement, but rather focus on articulating or depicting a picture of the learner and what he or she will be able to do as a result.

Victor: Why do you think schools struggle with implementation processes? and/or How do you help districts with their implementation process?

GreyED Solutions logoJulie: The implementation process is a daunting task because there are so many phases to planning and development and often numerous stakeholders to plan for and report to. Often schools are focused on the “what” rather than the “why” and begin a conversation about the product or service rather than the end result. As an example, when a district begins an implementation focused on a 1:1 initiative, we often hear and see conversation and questions about the device itself, not about the rationale or desired outcomes from the initiative. The danger here is the missed opportunity to engage stakeholders, understand the desired outcomes and design the communication, professional development and infrastructure around the stated goals. Schools also struggle in large part due to the lack of internal capacity to plan and design such initiatives. Using a third party to facilitate this process allows you to seek advice from an objective party who has championed other success stories and can leverage the best of your organization to design an implementation plan to meet your needs.

Rob: GreyED’s approach is focused on our LEARN process where we 1) Listen to your needs, desired outcomes and challenges as it relates to technology and instruction, 2) engage your stakeholders through surveys and interviews to capture multiple viewpoints within the organization 3) Analyze the information gathered, 4) Recommend goals to meet your long term objectives, and 5) help you create next steps for your implementation that are attainable and measurable.

Victor: What are the most common implementations you are seeing happen in schools?

Julie: The most common implementations we are seeing are personalized learning efforts that are commonly coupled with a 1:1 initiative. While the devices remain varied in these implementations, we are seeing a rise of BYOD in districts that have an existing population of high device ownership. We believe the personalized learning approaches are naturally pairing with 1:1 as the technology is being used to leverage opportunities for adaptability and individual creativity to personalize the learning experience in ways not previously possible.

Victor: What are some of the missteps you see districts making with their implementations?

Rob: The most common missteps we are seeing are a disconnect between the technology and the teaching and learning. For example, we see initiatives that are scaled on the technical side to be successful in terms of the infrastructure, capacity for bandwidth and high-density wireless and plenty of devices in the hands of students. However, the teacher preparedness and the transformation of the teaching and learning has not grown to scale to match the technology that is in hand. While some have seen this as a ‘if you build it they will come’ scenario, we have seen this to be detrimental to implementations where the technology becomes a glorified device for taking notes or projecting content and has not transformed or impacted student learning.

Julie: The flip side is just as detrimental to an initiative when a district has well-prepared teachers who have transformed their pedagogy and the infrastructure cannot support the devices. In these cases, the frustration seen in the classroom from the teachers and students

We hope the impact of today’s technology immersion efforts have transformed the teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom to shift the conversation towards the products and outcomes students are demonstrating and creating rather then discussing what types of devices to implement.

often halts any success as the technology is seen as unreliable and therefore not used because teachers feel the need to prepare two lessons in the event the technology is unusable.

Rob: When these two are in balance and the infrastructure and teaching and learning are ready, the misstep we see here is districts going too far too fast. While you may have laid excellent groundwork and gained significant progress, be careful not to spread your resources too thin to support and sustain an implementation that does require time and dedicated support from your organization. We are a big believer in going slow to go fast and recommend that curricular focuses can be one way to scale an implementation to assure all students have the benefit of devices without undertaking an entire district in one single rollout.

Victor: What benefits are you seeing from districts moving to devices in the classroom?

Julie: There is no question that one of the biggest benefits of devices in the classroom has been the increased use of formative assessments for teachers to monitor and adjust their instruction. Teachers report the ability to make corrections quickly and shorten the length of time on student follow-up creating a tighter feedback loop. We are also seeing data driven decision-making that is allowing for tailored learning experiences, saving teachers what they need most, more time.

Rob: Devices in the classroom are also pushing pedagogy out of the ‘talk and chalk’ technique and truly moving the teacher into the information facilitator role, rather than being the information keeper. Schools are seeing increases in student engagement, higher levels of collaboration and increased communication.

Victor: How do you feel your responses to these questions may be different if we asked them of you in 5 or even 10 years from now?

Julie: In 5 to 10 years, we hope the impact of today’s technology immersion efforts have transformed the teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom to shift the conversation towards the products and outcomes students are demonstrating and creating rather then discussing what types of devices to implement. We believe the ‘device’ truly will be agnostic in these conversations with the increased use of cloud-based technologies and cross platform compatible digital curriculum and we can finally say we have ubiquitous computing!

PR with Panache! is thrilled to welcome the addition of GreyED Solutions and Learningpod to our growing client family!

greyed logoFounded by nationally recognized education leaders Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson, GreyED Solutions helps schools plan and execute their technology implementation and integration goals while also supplying EdTech providers with industry insight to aid in the development and refinement of their products and services.

For more information about GreyED Solutions, please visit http://greyedsolutions.com/

learningpod

Learningpod believes great education should be available to anyone who wants to teach or learn. With the goal of helping their community members build the largest library of free, online practice questions in the world, Learningpod allows educators to create sets, or “pods,” to help students questions study for quizzes and tests. Learningpod provides free access to over 50,000 high-quality questions on any exam or subject.

For more information about Learningpod, please visit http://www.learningpod.com/

Source: EdTech Times

MacToSchoolwebNew

EdTech Times spoke to Robert Baker, co-founder and CMO of Mac to School - a California based company that sells recertified Apple products to K-12 market. Please join us in learning about Robert and his company.

Company at Glance:

Website: www.mactoschool.com  

Founders: Robert Baker / Justin Sanderson

Founded: 2012

Category: Computer Hardware

Product stage: Market

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MacToSchool

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/mac-to-school

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/mactoschool

ETT: What is the market segment your company is in?

RB: Mac to School sells recertified Apple devices to the K-12 market.

ETT: How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?

RB: Apple devices are amazing learning tools. The one downside, they are expensive. So the question became, how do we deliver these devices into the hands of more students?

ETT:  And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?

RB: We took a look at the entire lifecycle of Apple devices in K12. We knew that while Apple devices are initially expensive, they do outlast their PC/Chrome counterparts and deliver great long term value. We found that we could use our expertise in Apple service to recertify devices and deliver Apple equipment that could give educators more access to the Apple ecosystem at a fraction of the price.

ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?

RB: We are 100% focused on the Apple K-12 market. We stock thousands of iPads, MacBooks and iMacs in multiple configurations to meet the unique needs of our education customers. We work closely with schools across the country to unlock the most value out of their existing Apple devices through our Apple buyback program. Service is our greatest differentiator. Our post sale support and warranty process is the best in the industry. We’re constantly working with our education customers and industry partners to find new ways to improve the Mac to School experience.

ETT: Please describe your business development strategy. What we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones?

RB: Our business development strategy is to continually improve our service by engaging our existing customers and to further build awareness in the education market. In the next 12 months you will see our team at more education shows and events throughout the country. An upcoming milestone for us is moving into a larger facility that will allow us to process more devices.

ETT: Could you tell us about other startups that you have been a part of and what your role was?

RB: Mac to School was born out of MacService. MacService is a nationwide mail-in Apple repair company that we started over a decade ago. My role was to help build the company’s service reputation into the gold standard in the marketplace. Many of the same lessons we learned on how to take care of customers translated directly over to Mac to School. 

ETT: Did you or do you currently have a mentor who is/has been helping you through the startup stages of the company – who is that mentor?

RB: We’re lucky enough to have a great network of industry veterans who have been instrumental in helping us navigate the early stages of building the company. Part of my job is reaching out to those that have been in edtech on both sides of the equation and learning from their experience.

ETT: Where is education technology market going in the next few years?

RB: It’s exciting to see how edtech startups are using the power of today’s devices and the Internet to enable dynamic learning. I’m of course a die-hard Apple fan, but I strongly believe that devices choice and diversity makes for a better learning environment. Businesses are finally coming around to allow their employees to pick the device (Apple, PC, Android) that is going to help the employee work more effectively. I see education technology also moving in that multi-platform direction where educators have the freedom to pick the device that is going to allow them to teach most effectively. 

ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market – especially whose service or product is tied to one company such as Apple?

RB: We often get asked, “why not sell recertified PCs or Chromebooks?” Our answer is those markets don’t work with our business model. The margins, customer expectations for service and quality, just don’t fit with how our culture is set up. My advice for someone starting any business is to focus on where your value is and work really hard to execute that. Knowing when to say “no” to a product or feature is just as important as knowing when to say “yes.” Find out how to match what you’re good at with what you’re customers want and you’ve got a winning combination.

EdTech Times thanks Robert for sharing with us his insights and thoughts, and we recommend you learn more about Mac to School by visiting their website at: http://mactoschool.com/

Source: EdTech Digest

naikuwebNaiku studentA unique and comprehensive cloud-based software that helps transform teaching and learning through more effective assessment, Naiku is used across all subjects and grades to provide deeper and faster insight into student knowledge for informed instruction that better engages students and truly supports the personalization of learning. Comprehensively used for student assessment, from instant student polling and formative quizzes to benchmark and summative tests – teachers can create, import, and share items and assessments with their team, school, or district using the platform. Teachers can instantly view student and class proficiency for any learning standard, either for each individual assessment or longitudinally over time, and collaborate with others for informed and differentiated instruction. Meanwhile, students are actively engaged in their learning: in addition to answering a wide variety of question item types, students can express their confidence and provide justification and journal about their answer. After test submission, they can review and reflect on their performance and knowledge by viewing each question, correct answer and automatically supplied answer rationale along with their answer, confidence, and justification; these research proven self-assessment processes accelerate student learning. In addition, they can automatically be provided instructional resources such as videos, ebooks and more – all personalized for them based on their proficiency.

Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson to provide personalized EdTech services to solution providers and educators

greyed logoToday the K-12 and EdTech industries are getting the solution they have been seeking with the launch of GreyED Solutions.  The new company, headed by nationally recognized education leaders, will help schools plan and execute their technology implementation and integration goals.  GreyEd will also supply EdTech providers with industry insight to aid in the development and refinement of their products and services.

GreyED Solutions was co-founded by Julie Carter, former executive director of technology for Minnetonka Public Schools, and Rob Dickson, current executive director of information management at Omaha Public Schools. Carter brings years of successful consulting experience in both the K-12 and EdTech industry. During her time at Minnetonka, she oversaw one of the best 1:1 computing efforts in the country and was named a Tech & Learning “Leader of the Year” as well as one of NSBA’s “20 to Watch” in 2010.  She has since continued consulting with districts nationwide to support various implementations.

Recently named 2014’s “20 to Watch” from NSBA, Dickson’s other accomplishments include leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education, launching one of the fastest growing virtual schools in the nation as well as advising district leaders nationwide with their technology planning and integration efforts.

“With the growth of technology and digital content in the classroom, EdTech vendors need to hear the voices of educators now more than ever,” Carter stated. “We facilitate the discussion between supplier and consumer; it is our mission to utilize the dialog to foster the development and improvement of EdTech products and services, thus ensuring the most innovative and successful technologies in the hands of students.”

Drawing from years of experience in technology and administration, GreyED Solutions’ industry expertise provides districts nationwide with technology implementation solutions, designed to empower today’s learners. Through their personalized LEARNing (Listen Engage Analyze Recommend Next Steps) process, GreyED Solutions helps schools and districts achieve their technology goals. By gathering leading national educators and administrators together for Feedback Forums, GreyED Solutions also aims to help organizations within the EdTech industry develop and refine their products and services based on current market needs.

“We could not be happier to make this announcement. As current and former district administrators, we recognize the challenges that administrators and EdTech service providers face in today’s tech focused environment,” said Dickson. “We are here to ease the strain on both sides.”

For more information about GreyED Solutions, please visit http://greyedsolutions.com/