Articles in the Educational Technology category

Celebrate Digital Learning Day today

Today, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is proud to be a core partner in the first-ever national Digital Learning Day. This event celebrates innovative teaching practices that make learning more personalized and engaging and encourage exploration of how digital learning can provide more students with more opportunities to get the skills they need to succeed.

“The National School Boards Association has been an advocate for the use of technology to enhance teaching and student achievement for more than two decades,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “On Digital Learning Day, we must ensure that all students have access to these resources or we will see the digital divide widen.  Devices and content alone will not transform education.  Policies and targeted resources must also be aligned to ensure teachers have the essential professional development opportunities that are necessary to maximize learning in this exciting new age of content.”

Today, a majority of states, hundreds of school districts, thousands of teachers, and more than a million students will encourage the innovative use of technology by trying something new, showcasing success, kicking off project-based learning, or focusing on how digital tools can help improve student outcomes.

To see real examples of the positive impact digital resources are having on learning, visit here to participate in Digital Learning Day’s virtual town hall meeting today from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. NSBA will be hosting a Technology Leadership Network site visit February 19-21 in the Texas’ Klein Independent School District, one of the districts featured during the virtual town hall. To learn more about Klein Independent School District’s technology initiatives go to:

Naomi Dillon|February 1st, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology|Tags: , , |

The week in blogs: The sum total of value-added teacher evaluations

Many criticisms of value-added teacher evaluations are based on misconceptions of how the systems work and how they should be used in a comprehensive teacher evaluation program.

That’s what Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at NSBA’s Center for Public Education, points out in a series of blogs appearing this week in response to comments by education historian Diana Ravitch and Washington Post education blogger Valerie Strauss. All totaled, the three blogs provide a good introduction to what value-added is — and, perhaps equally important, what it isn’t.

“As the Center for Public Education report Building a Better Evaluation System states, value-added scores can be an effective tool in accurately identifying effective and ineffective teachers,” Hull writes, “but they should be used within the context of a comprehensive evaluation system that includes observations and other qualitative measures of a teacher’s performance.

Is education technology the key to solving our K12 problems? That’s an exaggeration, of course, but Time columnist Andrew Rotherham says we’re often seduced by what technology can do and consider it a panacea. No Luddite he, Rotherham presents a compelling argument for being purposeful and realistic when you consider new technology for the classroom.

Lastly, read Brett Nelson on Forbes (who comes to us via Joanne Jacobs’ blog) on why students should delay college for two years and get what he calls “grownup training.”

“Specifically: six months spent working in a factory, six in a restaurant, six on a farm and six in the military or performing another public service such as building houses, teaching algebra or changing bedpans,” Nelson writes. “. . . I’d reckon that grownup training would put undergrads deeply in touch with 1) why they wanted to go college in the first place, 2) what a special opportunity college really  is, and 3) more than a vague notion of what — and better yet — who they wanted to be when they grew up.”

Lawrence Hardy|January 28th, 2012|Categories: Center for Public Education, Educational Technology, Teachers|Tags: , |

Interview with Khan Academy’s Sal Khan

It began innocently enough in 2004 as a way for Sal Khan to tutor his young cousin, who was struggling with math and lived miles away. Within two years, those virtual lessons blossomed into a full-time career and the KhanAcademy, an online library of 2,600 YouTube videos and counting that currently draw more than 3 million viewers a month and fans like Google and Bill Gates, who sends his own kids to the free site for help with school work.

Covering mostly math and science, Khan’s low-key, straightforward and concise approach to brain-jarring concepts like quadratic equations and the phases of mitosis have taken the education community and students by storm.  

Khan, who is a keynote speaker at NSBA’s 2012 Annual Conference in Boston in April, carved time out of his busy schedule to talk to ASBJ Senior Editor Naomi Dillon about his journey toward “helping people learn what they want, when they want, at their own pace.”

So you’re an educator to the masses. Would you say that’s an accurate description?

Different people have different views on what an education is, and we don’t pretend that just experiencing on-demand video by itself is the panacea to solving education’s problems. But what we think we’re giving, at minimum, is an alternate way to tackle the material. If students missed a day at school, if their mind wasn’t engaged when it was happening in class, if they need to remediate things from previous years they’re definitely getting that. And I actually don’t think that should be understated, because frankly I think a lot of the reason why some students have trouble progressing is because they have gaps in their basic knowledge.

Few people realize how difficult it is to transfer knowledge from one person to the next. Did that come naturally to you?

I wouldn’t want to pretend by me recording these videos that I’m doing everything that a teacher does. I once volunteered teaching seventh-graders when I was in Boston. It didn’t take long for the classroom management to go through the door. I did not know what I was doing in terms of being able to handle 30 kids. But the part about explaining concepts, that is something I am into, and that’s hopefully the value I’m bringing. There’s a methodology to learning and my videos are about sharing that methodology to other people: “Let’s think this through; let’s do what seems logical; let’s try to find the pattern between things; and let’s do it in a conversational way.” You should feel like it’s a story even if it’s a math problem.

Where did this drive and appreciation for learning and education come from?

I think it’s a human instinct to love to learn and understand the world. But I think, what’s happened for most people is they become frustrated with one topic or another, or have a bad experience along their education, and they kind of fall off and start to believe that they don’t like learning. When really, they just don’t like being frustrated, they just don’t like being talked down to, and they don’t like when the information is going past them.

Explain why we don’t see you in your videos – just a black screen and a drawing tool with a multiple array of colors, a whole setup you call “The Forum Factor.”

When I decided to make the first videos I didn’t have any production equipment or a background in video production. I just got a cheap $20 head-set to record my voice, used screen capture software and just started using Microsoft paint. My cousins liked it. Other people gave good feedback. And now, although we have the ability to do more, we realize that [this way] is not only easier to produce, but it focuses on the content. It’s more intimate. It feels like we’re sitting next to each other as opposed to me at a white board talking to you.

Your videos are known for being brief and concise, lasting no more than 10 minutes. How do you know how much material to cover and when to stop?

I have found with most concepts 10 minutes is actually about enough time. You can get about two or three pretty decent concepts across in that time. If it requires more complex development I will say, “Hey, let’s just take a break,” and I’ll just resume it in the next video.

Besides the actual lesson, what do you want the viewers to take away from the videos and the exercises on the Khan Academy?

What we’re hoping to do is give students a genuine love for learning and, frankly, I hope I can make students see what I see: a world that’s fascinating, a world that’s full of mysteries to be solved.


Naomi Dillon|January 26th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2012, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

What K-12 issues will Obama address in the State of the Union?

Education Week‘s Politics K-12 blog is speculating what education issues will be discussed in the president’s State of the Union address tonight.

Education Week‘s Alyson Klein noted, “In giving this election-year State of the Union speech, Obama may brag about some of the steps his administration has taken on education, including creating the Race to the Top education redesign competition, and offering states wiggle room under key parts of the No Child Left Behind Act if they agree to take-on the administration’s reform priorities.”

Klein went on to mention, “Last year, President Obama asked Congress to pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the law. But it never happened, and now the administration is moving ahead with a waiver package that Obama’s own secretary of education thinks is stronger than any of the legislation under consideration. So, if I were a betting woman, I’d guess there won’t be much talk about NCLB this time.”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting a Twitter chat during the State of the Union address tonight starting at 9 p.m. EST.

Join the Twitter chat by using hashtag #EdSOTU and share your thoughts about the president’s speech and his plans for K-12 education.

By using #EdSOTU in your tweets, you will become a part of this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #EdSOTU.

Alexis Rice|January 24th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Race to the Top (RTTT)|Tags: , , , |

NSBA to host Twitter chat on education issues during State of the Union

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting a Twitter chat during President Obama’s State of the Union address,  starting at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Join the Twitter chat by using hashtag #EdSOTU and share your thoughts about the president’s speech and his plans for K-12 education.

By using #EdSOTU in your tweets, you will become a part of this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #EdSOTU.


Alexis Rice|January 23rd, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Educational Technology|Tags: , , , , , |

In support of digital learning

Earlier this month, Ann Flynn, NSBA’s director of education technology programs, participated in a lively discussion on the impact and power of technology in schools. Hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the webinar highlighted successful schools and initiatives that advance and utilize digital learning.

Speaking of initiatives, the panelists– which included award-winning science teacher Jason Pittman, Jayne Marlink of the California Writing Project and the Alliance’s Bob Wise—also spent time discussing the inaugural Digital Learning Day, the flagship event of the Alliance’s Center for Secondary School Digital Learning and Policy, which recently released the report, “The Digital Learning Imperative: How Teaching and Technology Meet Today’s Educational Challenges.”

NSBA has joined other leading education organizations as a core partner of Digital Learning Day, the culmination of a year-round national awareness campaign to improve teaching and learning, utilizing the power of today’s technology tools.

Marked for February 1, Digital Learning Day will feature a nationwide, interactive town hall meeting and a request that everyone do one of three things: start a conversation, try one new thing and showcase success.

Naomi Dillon|January 18th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, School Board News|Tags: , , , |

The importance of school board professional development

Check out the  Education Talk Radio show from Friday, January 13, 2012 with National School Board Association‘s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant discussing our upcoming 2012 Annual Conference in Boston and the importance of school board professional development and leadership.

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio
Alexis Rice|January 13th, 2012|Categories: Conferences and Events, Educational Technology, Leadership, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

2012 Ed Tech site visits announced, marks 25 years

The National School Boards Association and the Technology Leadership Network (TLN) are pleased to announce the 2012 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.

This year’s roster of host districts is no exception and as always encompasses a diverse set of districts from across the country.

“Through NSBA’s technology site visits school leaders are able to see education technology innovation in action and develop their own successful technology initiatives,” said Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology. “This is a great opportunity for school leaders to witness classrooms where curriculum goals drive technology decisions.”

Leading this year’s line-up is Klein Independent School District in Texas, whose site visit runs Feb. 19-21, conveniently coinciding with the American Association of School Administrators Annual Conference, which concludes on the 19th in Houston.

Located less than an hour away, Klein ISD is a highly diverse district serving 46,000 students. Visionary leadership and job-embedded professional development are critical factors in the district’s many accomplishments, which include the deployment of more than 8,600 Tablet PCs. And no wonder, the district is led by Jim Cain, who was named one of 2010’s “Tech-Savvy Superintendents,” by e-School News.

Klein’s tour is quickly followed by Alabama’s Cullman City Schools, which also boasts a 2010 “Tech-Savvy Superintendent” in Jan Harris. Under Harris, Cullman has experienced significant gains in student achievement since launching its 1:1 Laptop Initiative in 2006. Serving 3,000 students, Cullman was the first district in Alabama to provide laptops and wireless Internet access to students and educators and is a former TLN Salute District and a CoSN Team Award-winner. Cullman welcomes TLN visitors from Feb. 29 to March 2.

Though the next site visit kicks off April 1 in Surprise, Arizona, Dysart Unified School District No. 89’s whole-hearted adoption of technology is no sleight of hand. With a student population of some 25,000 students, Dysart’s enrollment has more than tripled in the last decade, making it the fastest growing district in Arizona and the second fastest in the country. Recognized as a 2010 TLN Salute District and home to a pair of previously named “20 to Watch” educators, Dysart provides Instructional Growth Teachers at each campus and has developed iPal, the district’s Integrated Data tool to provide dynamic assessment data, online curriculum maps and professional development opportunities.

Nevada’s Clark County School District rounds out the circuit in late April, immediately following NSBA’s Annual Conference. As the fifth largest district in the nation with nearly 310,000 students, Clark County encompasses both Las Vegas and its outlying communities. Ranked first in last year’s Digital School District Survey, Clark County is a leader in using technology to provide enterprise systems that support the business of learning and provide engaging 21st century experiences for all students. From cyber-bullying prevention initiatives and Bring-Your-Own-Device pilot programs to online professional development and the extensive use of social networking systems, this visit offers examples of innovation that can be applied in districts of any size. See for yourself between April 25 and 27.

“Site visits offer administrators, teachers and board members a unique opportunity to travel together with a shared focus on how the technology innovations they are seeing compare to their current initiatives or may potentially influence their future decisions,” Flynn said. “Staff and board members from the host districts connect with individual attendees who share their roles to address specific concerns and issues unique to their particular job responsibilities while ensuring all participants leave with an understanding of how technology is helping address the district’s “big picture” goals and objectives.”

Registration for these dynamic learning opportunities is now open and accessible here along with full agendas and more details about the districts and the TLN program.

Naomi Dillon|December 1st, 2011|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Board News, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , , , |

Steve Jobs’ edtech legacy

The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs has triggered an outpouring of worldwide support by individuals touched by the innovations he enabled. One reporter compared Jobs to the Thomas Edison of our generation, and indeed his vision has transformed the way we create, connect, and communicate much as Edison changed the lives of those in the past century. We take the contributions of Edison for granted now, rarely thinking of his innovations with electric lighting or the phonograph as “technology”. They were simply devices, that over time, changed the world. The collection of devices attributed to Jobs’ vision, from the early computers to the latest iPads, are already regarded for what they enable us to do to simplify day-to-day living and learning, rather than just being the newest cool gadget.

His innovations allow adults and children alike to interact with their world in ways only previously imagined in science fiction. Many adults recognize the convenience of having the power of the Internet in the palm of their hand, the ability to manipulate content with the touch of a finger, the option to carry a lifetime of favorite tunes, or download applications to simplify everything from airline schedules to paying for parking meters. Yet some of those same adults have not embraced the idea that these tools can have the same transformational impact on education for today’s youth. Jobs’ Apple was among the earliest technology companies to recognize that their devices could impact learning and invested heavily in research known as Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow. Those early studies paved the way for desktop hardware manufacturers from IBM to Dell and a host of software developers. Fast-forward to today, and we see Apple again paving the way in the education marketplace with innovative learning tools like the iPad. Parents of autistic students have said it is a device that it empowers their children, while the multitude of applications allow teachers to create engaging, real-world learning experiences for all students.

As an observer of education technology for 20+ years, I believe Jobs’ greatest legacy is the foundation he helped establish to transform how students learn. He provided the vision and the tools, now it is up to the rest of us to ensure they are implemented in such a way to become as seamless and effective as Edison’s contribution to electricity. Perhaps when devices like the iPad are accessible to all children, the next generation’s Edison will find his or her calling and we will see a new model for learning in our K-12 institutions.

Ann Flynn|October 6th, 2011|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , |

Remembering Steve Jobs

Over the years, School Board News Today and our other blogs have posted many times about Apple and Steve Jobs. In 2010, Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak was a keynote speaker at NSBA’s Annual Conference. Check out these postings from our archives:

Share your thoughts about Steve Jobs, post a comment.

Alexis Rice|October 6th, 2011|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education, Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Board News, Teachers|Tags: , , |
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