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Articles in the Educational Technology category

NBC releases details about 2012 Education Nation events

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Anne L. Bryant and NSBA President C. Ed Massey will participate in the 2012 Education Nation National Summit in New York City next week. The annual event gathers more than 300 representatives from education, government, business, philanthropy and media to discuss issues in the field, and NBC is featuring numerous segments on education on its news broadcasts to coincide with the event.

The event will take place from Sept. 23 to 25 and will be web streamed live at The agenda features a Teacher Town Hall, Student Town Hall, and the premiere of Won’t Back Down with a discussion before the movie. According to NBC News, the event “seeks to create a thoughtful, well-informed dialogue with policymakers, thought-leaders, educators, parents and the public, in pursuit of the shared goal of providing every American with an opportunity to achieve the best education in the world.”

NSBA encourages school board members to participate in conversations about education through NBC’s Facebook page and on Twitter @educationnation and share how school board leadership is making a difference in our public schools.

NBC notes that “Using the wide reach of the NBC News broadcast, and cable, and digital platforms, the 2012 Education Nation Summit will focus on successful examples of innovation in education.  Summit sessions, moderated by top NBC News journalists, and NBC’s on-air programming will highlight a series of case studies from communities across the country, providing tools, and takeaways for participants and viewers.”  Local NBC affiliates also may develop segments on education issues for their local news broadcasts.

On Tuesday morning, there will be “DECISION 2012 at Education Nation” with President Barack Obama sharing his vision for the nation’s education future in a taped interview. GOP presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney will be attending Education Nation and sharing his vision for the nation’s education future as well as answering questions from Education Nation Summit attendees.

Additional interviews and sessions during the summit include:

  • Interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  • Interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • Interview with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro
  • Addressing the skills gap: how stronger skills and higher levels of education can power America’s next great economic surge.
  • Higher education quality and accessibility
  • Blended learning, technology, and charter schools featuring former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida
  • One-on-one conversation with General Colin Powell
  • College/career readiness, business engagement, and turnaround schools with Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association and other panelists
  • Discussion on the education and skills with Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, and Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina
  • Early childhood education and parent engagement
  • Wraparound services
  • Discussion of “solutions-driven unionism,” and what that could mean for the future of education, and the challenges ahead with Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers
  • CEO discussion on how the top business visionaries are addressing our education challenges (college and career readiness, and career academies)

For more information and the agenda, read the press release about Summit and schedule details.

Additionally, NBC is promoting that this year’s Education Nation Summit “will highlight 10 case studies of schools and programs from around the country that have implemented focused solutions in their communities, and have seen demonstrable success as a result. Accompanying each example will be a robust digital toolkit with details on each program’s history, how it works and is funded, and its results. Case studies will be incorporated into the Summit program, as well as featured on-air across NBC News, and available for viewing and download at  beginning Monday, Sept. 24.”



Alexis Rice|September 21st, 2012|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Technology, High Schools, Mayoral Control, Online learning, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , |

Technology Leadership Network promotes new online community

NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network is supporting “Connected Educator Month,” a new program that creates an online community that helps educators connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learning activities, both within and beyond schools.

Connected Educators’ sponsors are hosting a series of keynote speakers to introduce educators to the program. Chris Lehman, a past recipient of TLN’s “20 to Watch” award and principal of the Science Leader Academy in Philadelphia is a featured speaker next month. Learn more about the events at

CEM Kickoff Keynotes

  • August 1, 5:00 PM ET Deborah Meier, Teacher, Principal, Writer, Advocate
  • August 1, 7:00 PM ET Chris Lehmann, Principal, Science Leader Academy, Philadelphia, PA
  • August 2, 11:30 AM ET Douglas Rushkoff, Author, Teacher, Documentarian
  • August 2, 7:00 PM ET Larry Johnson, CEO, the New Media Consortium
  • August 3, 11:00 EM ET Connie Yowell, Director of Education, the MacArthur Foundation
Joetta Sack-Min|July 27th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , |

Save the dates for 2013 Technology Site Visits

The National School Boards Association and the Technology Leadership Network (TLN) are pleased to announce the 2013 spring series of Education Technology Site Visits. One of the most popular components of the TLN program, these visits  showcase the visionary leadership and technology integration practices of TLN districts, whose very participation in the program is a sign of their interest in innovation.

Leading next year’s line-up is Miami-Dade County Public Schools from March 6-8, followed by Township High School District 214 in Illinois, March 13-15; Pennsylvania’s East Penn School District, April 28-30; and finally, Vancouver Public Schools in Washington from May 1-3.

More details and programming information are to come, but mark one or all of them on your list of things to do in 2013.



Naomi Dillon|May 31st, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs: Lost in cyber space?

NSBA has long been a leader in educational technology — and that’s no exaggeration. Through its Technology Leadership Network and its regular conferences and site visits, the association has championed technology in the classroom for more than 20 years.

So when NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant questions whether the explosion of online charter schools is causing “too many students to get lost in cyber space,” as she does in her recent Education Week blog, she’s hardly coming from Luddite territory.

“All this has taken place with no research to back it up,” Bryant writes. “In fact, what little research and anecdotal evidence exists on full-time virtual learning shows alarmingly low graduation rates, course completion and test scores.”

A new report from NSBA’s Center for Public Education, Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools, says the biggest takeaway from its study of this burgeoning field — and market, for profit-making companies — is how little we know.

For example, what impact would increased enrollment in cyber schools have on real communities, many of which have long seen the public schools as key to maintaining strong ties between citizens?

Writes Gary Obermeyer, of Portland, Ore., in response to Bryant’s blog: “While I am a strong believer in and advocate for online learning, I do not support the notion of ‘virtual schools.’ My primary concern is for the health and vitality of communities. Schools should be grounded in communities, so that students’ learning experiences can be tied to local issues/concerns, through which they learn to care about and contribute to the community.”

In fact, technology intelligently used can actually help tie communities together by giving disadvantaged students the tools they need to become more active participants. As Ann Flynn, NSBA’s director of education technology, writes in a letter to the editor this week to the Washington Post:

“Public schools must provide the technology resources that level the playing field for all students, thus allowing them to excel in core content and develop media literacy,” Flynn writes in response to a Post story on the widely varying use of technology in area schools. “The skills supported through appropriate interactions with technology will define the literate person of the 21st century; those without such opportunities will be left behind.”

Lawrence Hardy|May 19th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Charter Schools, Computer Uses in Education, Educational Technology, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

Bryant: “Virtual Schools Need a Grounding in Reality”

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant wrote a blog, “Virtual Schools Need a Grounding in Reality,” for “Transforming Learning,” published by Education Week.  Her commentary is based on the new groundbreaking report by NSBA’s Center for Public Education, “Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools.”

Bryant notes that, “Until we take a hard look at the potential and peril of virtual schools, lawmakers must tread much more cautiously.”

The report examines data on all types of online learning, but most notably finds that the data available on the fast-growing field of full-time virtual schools shows low rates of graduation, course completion, and assessment scores.

“The rate at which state legislatures have approved these institutions is remarkable,” Bryant writes. “What’s more remarkable, perhaps, is that the Center found these schools operate with few accountability measures, and states and districts are paying online providers from 70 to 100 percent of the costs of educating students in traditional schools, even though their actual costs should be much lower.”

Further, she writes, “All of this has taken place with no research to back it up — in fact, what little research and anecdotal evidence exists on full-time virtual learning shows alarmingly low graduation rates, course completion and test scores.”

Not all the news is bad, though. Through its 25-year-old Technology Leadership Network, NSBA has highlighted many successful examples of online learning through its Technology Site Visits and conferences, Bryant notes.

The Learning First Alliance is a coalition of 16 major education groups.


Joetta Sack-Min|May 17th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Online learning, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

Virtual Learning: Growing but untested, NSBA report says

Do K12 students benefit from taking some or all of their classes online? A new report by NSBA’s Center for Public Education, Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools, says that while online education holds promise for 21st century learning, researchers know relatively little about the performance of virtual schools, and the studies that have been done are troubling.

“Virtual learning is the future. It’s increasing,” said Patte Barth, director of the Center. “But we don’t have a lot of information about its effect right now, so I would caution people to start slow and monitor it very closely.”

“Online learning” can refer to anything from a single class, such as an Advanced Placement class that is not available at a school or a credit recovery class, to full-time K-12 virtual schools, to a combination online and face-to-face instruction. Programs can be created and operated by school districts, states, non-profit or for-profit entities, as well as a host of other sources, which can blur the lines of accountability. 

While the information on online learning is incomplete, several studies on the practice are not encouraging. For example, a Stanford University study covering the period 2007-2010 found that 100 percent of virtual charters schools in Pennsylvania performed significantly worse in math and reading than traditional schools in terms of student gains.

The research also shows that full-time K-12 virtual schools tend to show the least effective results in graduation rates, course completion, and test scores.  While full-time virtual schools enroll less than two percent of the nation’s public school population, that number is rapidly increasing, and much of the growth is with for-profit providers.

“A full-time experience is much different than one class, and the overall data for full-time virtual schools tends to be where the wheels fall off,” Barth said. “Most of the research we found raises serious questions about the accountability and monitoring of some of these schools.”

The report also examines the funding streams of four states: Colorado, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, and the researchers found that in most cases funding is not based on the actual cost to educate a child through virtual schools. Determining budgets—and sometimes, enrollments—of virtual schools is often difficult.

The report gives school board members and the public a list of questions to ask to ensure their taxpayer’s funds are being used by programs that produce better results for students.

The report was written by Barth, the Center’s Managing Editor Rebecca St. Andrie, and the Center’s Senior Policy Analyst Jim Hull.


Lawrence Hardy|May 14th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Board governance, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Computer Uses in Education, Curriculum, Educational Technology, High Schools, Online learning, Privatization, School Board News, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

Free webinar for school leaders on technology innovation

As school leaders, you are responsible for creating technology plans and approving technology purchases. As you know, the potential for the Web to engage students and build personalized global learning models is incredible. With increased attention to online and blended learning models, the key to success for schools is to incorporate the Web and new technology in a way that is simple yet robust, manageable, and scalable.

Where to start? You can join American School Board Journal and Google for a free webinar, Scaling Technology in Education. In this webinar, you will discover the new roles of the Internet in schools, classrooms, and other education environments. How can technology and the Internet help students learn the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century? You will learn how to manage and scale that technology from the classroom to the entire school system.

The webinar will held Thursday, May 3, at 3 p.m. EDT. To register, go to

Kathleen Vail|May 1st, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology|Tags: , |

Ed tech tours, programming focus on innovation

The National School Boards Association’s commitment to education technology is on full display during Annual Conference, where half-day workshops and off-site activities provide attendees an opportunity to see innovation in action and in diverse settings.

The activities are slightly different than the spring series of Education Technology Site Visits, which showcase innovative practices in school districts that belong to NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network, a cutting-edge cadre of more than 200 school districts, education agencies, and colleges of education.

Previous conference attendees have had a behind-the-scenes look at everyone from NASA and the Disney Corporation to Google and the United States Navy. This year’s offerings are no less impressive. Building on Boston’s historic roots and trail blazing ways, NSBA’s 2012 education technology programs include a series of inspiring, sold out tours.

“We look for things at the intersection of technology, creative management and innovation,” said Ann Flynn, NSBA’s director of education technology programs.

On Friday, for instance, attendees toured the new, LEED-certified Plymouth North High School to talk with students, school board members, community members, and architects on the design process community involvement in the project, before moving on to a working lunch at the Plimoth Plantation, where they learned how take their students to such sites through “virtual field trips.”

Today, board members will participate in a student-led walking tour through Harvard Yard, followed by a briefing on innovative technology practices that support 21st-century learning and international collaboration in a TelePresence classroom.

And on Monday, registrants will walk the halls of TechBoston Academy, a sixth- through 12th-grade pilot school in the Boston Public Schools. Founded in 2002 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the school offers a college preparatory curriculum where technology is the bridge that connects the students to their learning experience. Unique features include laptops for every student, extended-day programs, a project-based curriculum, and strong community, business, and university partnerships.

“At Annual Conference, we provide a snapshot of education technology that we believe is worthy of their time and allows them to take home best practices,” Flynn said. “But we hope and encourage them to come to the spring series of education technology site visits so they can get a more in-depth look at innovation across all levels and grades and what that innovation means for systemic change.”

Naomi Dillon|April 20th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, Technology Leadership Network|

Town Hall meeting looks at virtual learning

A new report by NSBA’s Center for Public Education, Searching for the Reality of Virtual Schools, puts online education in perspective with this statistic: “Americans currently consume 3.6 zettabytes of digital information a day.” That’s 3.6 to the 21st power, or “the equivalent in paper stacked seven feet high across the U.S., including Alaska.”

“The place of digital content in public education is therefore not a matter of debate,” says the report, which was distributed Friday at NSBA’s Delegate Assembly. “It is inevitable.”

That was also the message at the Delegate Assembly’s hour-long “Town Hall” session Friday morning on virtual learning. As far as board members are concerned, there are some encouraging aspects to virtual learning and some serious concerns as well. What they cannot afford to do is stand idle while this technological revolution unfolds, said Liz Pape, president and CEO of the nonprofit Virtual High School Global Consortium (VHS). To do so, to let others come to the table – or, more accurately, tables – that are shaping the development of virtual learning, would be to “be on the menu,” Pape said.

One more statistic: By 2019, Pape said, half of all high school courses will be on the Internet. Whether those courses support and enhance what public schools do, or detract from their core mission is something board members must have a voice in deciding.

Virtual learning has many advantages. Students who want to take AP courses that conflict with their regular high school schedules can take them online, Pape said. Other students can use online courses for credit recovery — and go at their own pace. Intelligently done, virtual learning allows for differentiated instruction and personalization.

However, one concern is the proliferation of for-profit vendors who are entering the digital learning market.

“Folks, if you don’t think this is about following the money, you’d better think again,” said Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association.

In 1997, Florida started the first statewide public online school, Florida Virtual School, Blanton said, and now there are 2.7 million students taking online courses.

Rick Lewis, executive director of the Ohio School Boards Association, said there is a big push among lawmakers in his state to attract more education entrepreneurs.

The growth in of online schools in Colorado also has been phenomenal, said Ken DeLay, executive director of the Colorado Association of School Boards. Unlike Ohio, which funds schools based on average monthly attendance, “virtual charters in Colorado are receiving funds for students they are not educating,” the Center report says.

“Once the ‘count date’ passes” in the fall, “they go somewhere else,” DeLay said. “It causes some of us to be cynical and say it’s all about the money, but that’s not always true.”


Lawrence Hardy|April 20th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2012|

2012 Magna Awards honors Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania school districts

Missouri’s Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, New York’s Monroe-Woodbury Central School District, and Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Public Schools have been named the grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) 18th annual Magna Awards program.

The Magna Awards are supported by Sodexo School Services. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will receive $4,000 in scholarship money during a special presentation at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference, to be held April 21-23 in Boston.

The Magna Awards recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: less than 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.

“The Magna Awards exemplifies strong school board leadership, creativity, and commitment to student achievement in public education,” said Anne L. Bryant, ASBJ’s publisher and executive director of NSBA. “This year’s Magna Awards recipients truly showcase the best practices and innovative school programs that are advancing student success.”

“Sodexo is proud to create learning-friendly environments that allow our partner districts to focus on doing what they do best—educating our children,” said Steve Dunmore, president of Sodexo Education-Schools. “We are honored to sponsor the Magna Awards and want to celebrate all school boards and communities that share in the commitment to further student well-being and achievement.”

Here is information on the grand prize entries:

• The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in Maplewood, Mo., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its outreach program for homeless high school students. School district officials worked with local churches and community volunteers to create Joe’s Place—a shelter for homeless male high school students. The shelter provides students with counseling and a caring home environment. Of the 14 students served by Joe’s Place, 13 have graduated from high school or on track to graduate. Six former Joe’s Place residents are attending college, one has joined the Navy, and two more are employed full-time.

• The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District in Central Valley, N.Y., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for an outreach program at an elementary school that serves a community with a large immigrant population. School district officials, with support from the school board, developed “English as a Second Language Family Night,” a program that provides literacy training for students and their parents twice a week. While the literacy skills of both parents and students improved, more parents volunteered for class activities. Parents also were more comfortable expressing themselves to school staff members.

• The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools are being honored as the grand prize winner in the over 20,000 enrollment category for its outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in the district’s schools. “Take a Father to School Day” is an annual event which invites fathers, grandfathers, and other male role models to spend a day at their child’s school. Since 2007, the number of fathers attending the event has climbed from 3,669 to 5,964 in 2011. The event was founded by Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Board Member Mark Brentley as a “call to action” for men to become more involved in their children’s lives.

ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from 300 submissions. This year’s nominations came from 44 states.

In additional to the grand prize winners, these school districts are also being honored:

Winners – Category 1 – under 5,000 enrollment
Balsz Elementary School District #31, Phoenix, Ariz.
Blue Ridge School District, New Milford, Pa.
North Salem Central School District, North Salem, N.Y.
Sanborn Regional School District, Kingston, N.H.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.

Winners – Category 2 – 5,000-20,000 enrollment
Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, Va.
Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Mo.
Boone County Schools, Florence, Ky.
Southfield Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.
Southwest Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas

Winners – Category 3 – over 20,000 enrollment
Johnston County Schools, Smithfield, N.C.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va. – 2 programs
Polk County Public Schools, Bartow, Fla.
School District of Osceola County, Kissimmee, Fla.

Honorable Mentions
Amelia County Public Schools, Amelia Courthouse, Va.
Bridgehampton Union Free School District, Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Lumberton Township Schools, Lumberton, N.J.
Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Calif.
Petersburg City Public Schools, Petersburg, Va.
Clover Park School District, Lakewood, Wash.
Henderson County Schools, Henderson, Ky.
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, Mishawaka, Ind.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.
Williamsburg/James City County Public Schools, Williamsburg, Va.
Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, Va.
Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette, La.
Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Ariz.
St. Tammany Parish Public School District, Covington, La.
Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista, Calif.

The 2012 winners will be highlighted in a special supplement to the May issue of ASBJ, and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 21, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ supplement, all honrees will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database.

Alexis Rice|April 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |
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