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Saturday, December 10, 2016

KIDS are getting their first phone at the average age of six | The Sun

"Parents are forking out earlier and earlier for their youngsters’ mobiles, research revealed yesterday." according to Patrick Gysin, The Sun.

Photo: The Sun

Ten years ago children typically had to wait until they were at least nine before being given a mobile.

These days most know more about phones than their mums and dads, the survey of 2,000 parents and youngsters found.

More than nine in ten children with mobiles said playing on them beat traditional board games such as Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders.
A third of the parents claimed new technology and phones helped kids “learn quicker”.

When their children were asked to guess the age of a Nokia 3310, which first came on the market in 2000, most said it was “from the 1920s”.

When children were asked what they thought phones would be able to do in the future, some suggested ‘teleportation’ and others said ‘invisibility’.

Andrew Cartledge, of — which was behind the study — said: “They simply can’t imagine a world without phones.

“What is great is that parents are encouraging this interest, and seeing it as a positive thing both in learning and play.”

But dad Gary Cunningham, 41, who has kids aged 13, ten and eight in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, said: “Mine aren’t getting phones until they save enough money to buy them.”

Mobile phone providers and networks now offer packages aimed specifically at kids, with parental controls to limit what they can access online.

They also come with features like ’emergency reserve funds’, which allow kids to make calls in situations they urgently need to, even if they are out of credit.

Parents are always advised to buy kids ‘pay as you go’ phones, to keep their spending from getting out of control.

Source: The Sun   

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Working together to engage all students | Herald Review

Photo: Joe Silko
"For generations, Northeastern Minnesota communities have supported high-quality education to prepare our children for a successful future." summarizes Joe Silko, Education Innovation Partners Director.

However, as population declined, enrollments plummeted. Today, enrollments are less than half what they were 25 years ago, resulting in a drop in state education aid of more than $140 million each year. Consequently, many school districts – especially the smaller ones – struggle to provide our kids with the education they need to be successful in the 21st Century.

In 2011, educators throughout the region decided to make the numbers work in our favor. With the support of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) and the Blandin Foundation, we banded together to form Education Innovation Partners (EIP). Our goal is to ensure all students in Northeastern Minnesota engage in learning that is inspiring and relevant and that prepares them for the future they choose – regardless of their Zip Code.

Today, EIP is a collaborative of 21 school districts and five community colleges throughout Northeastern Minnesota committed to improving learning opportunities for our 22,000 students by supporting our 1,500 teachers and instructors. We have secured millions in new investment in education from many partners – the federal and state government, IRRRB and the Blandin Foundation – and we’re always seeking additional support for our top three goals:

Source: Herald Review

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Friday, December 09, 2016

OLC launches three new scorecard modules for institutional assessment | Education Dive

"The new scorecards are designed to help institutions offer stronger assessments of classroom engagement, course accessibility and usage of best teaching practices." continues Education Dive.  
Photo: Education Dive
Dive Brief:
  • Campus Technology profiles three new offerings from the Online Learning Consortium, designed to help academic officials create more detailed views of classroom efficiency and engagement with students in digital or blended learning environments.  
  • The three new modules measure course design, classroom engagement and accessibility for students across a broad range of academic ability or learning experience. 
  • More than 400 colleges and universities use the OLC scorecard resources, which now offer five review and assessment tools for improving student outcomes. 
Dive Insight:  

Many colleges and universities utilize dashboards to gather information from students, faculty, and staff about institutional performance, strengths and weaknesses. But a system of tools designed around the best practices of peer institutions is a good system by which schools can measure the effectiveness or reach of their own engagement strategies, and to add elements which they may not have considered along areas of race, gender, age or income. 
While these tools are designed specifically for online learning courses, all colleges serving a diverse pool of students could also utilize these scorecards to ensure high-levels of engagement, and to present the data to state and federal lawmakers to demonstrate efforts for accountability and good fiscal stewardship of money invested in the academic enterprise. 

Recommended Reading:
Online Learning Consortium adds scorecards to evaluate digital offerings

Source: Education Dive 

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Dickinson State one of best for online learning | The Dunn County Extra

"Dickinson State University has been named one of the nation’s best colleges for online learning by, a leader in higher education information, resources and rankings." inform The Dunn County Extra.

Dickinson State was recognized five times by ACO, which generated its rankings by analyzing cost and quality metrics of thousands of U.S. colleges with online degree programs.

“We wanted to honor the colleges and universities setting the bar for online learning,” said Dan Schuessler, CEO and Founder of “These schools are going above and beyond the industry standard to help make online education programs more affordable.”

Only public, not-for-profit institutions were eligible for the ranking. The primary data points used to identify the Best Online Colleges of 2016 include the following:

Regional accreditation

In-state tuition and fees

Percent of full-time undergraduate students receiving institutional financial aid

Number of online programs offered

Student-to-teacher ratio

Dickinson State was also recognized by (AC) in 2016.

“At our mission is to help students find a path to a rewarding, quality education that won’t leave them crippled by student debt,” said Lisa Wright, public relations coordinator for AC. “We love connecting students with institutions that match those ideals and we’re pleased to feature DSU.”

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Grants Support Teachers Pushing Blended and Online Learning | T.H.E. Journal

"One teacher is developing open physics curriculum; another is evolving a tutoring program in a blended format; and a third is working on competency-based math lessons." reports Dian Schaffhauser, writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications.  

All three of these instructors, alongside several others, have been the recipients of teacher grants from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning intended to help them continue creating or expanding personalized learning programs that incorporate blended and online learning components.

The foundation is a charitable organization set up by K12, an education technology company that produces online curriculum for schools and families.

Educators from 33 states submitted proposals for grant amounts of up to $10,000, according to Amy Valentine, the organization's executive director. "Applications came from a variety of school types, including full-time district-based online, parochial, online charter and blended programs, as well as from traditional schools that do not currently have technology-rich programs in place," she said. 
"From this pool, seven grants were awarded to teachers transforming practice in their schools and districts using technology to personalize learning."

The grants are intended to support technology, tools, curriculum, platforms, planning and professional development.

Among those who received the grants was Peter Servidio, a fifth-grade teacher and coordinator of distance learning at Holy Savior School and Saint Dominic Academy in Maine, who is implementing a roadmap for delivering digital lessons to rural students and modeling a replicable program for Catholic schools in the state. Servideo received $10,000.

Steubing Elementary School's Vanessa Jimenez in San Antonio, TX received a grant to continue development of a blended dual-language kindergarten literacy program that uses online resources and allows students to compile digital portfolio for documentation of their work and their thoughts about it.

Micah Johnson, a seventh grade history teacher at Headland Middle School in Alabama, is developing project-based modules that use blended learning to help geography students living in a farming community connect to the land and their community.

Third-grade Teacher Julia Lyles at Heritage Elementary School in Kentucky is expanding an open, competency-based blended math model and curriculum for her students.

Joshua Miranda, a teacher at Massachusetts charter school City on a Hill, is working on a tutoring program for numeracy and literacy that uses OER content and personalized instruction in a blended learning environment.

Science educator Anthony Schmidt, who teaches at Schurz High School in Chicago, is using a flipped classroom model and open physics curriculum with his 11th graders.
Read more... 

Source: T.H.E. Journal

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On the Differences Between Cats and Dogs | Chronicle of Higher Education

Galen Leonhardy, teaches English and humanities at Black Hawk College in Illinois. "A letter to my writing students on why they have more freedom to create than they seem to think."

Adam Niklewicz for The Chronicle Review

Dear Students,

In this college course, you were assigned to write an essay explaining which is better, cats or dogs. And what every one of you submitted turned out to be a basic five-paragraph essay, the kind your high-school teachers told you to write for college-entrance exams.

Your essays seemed written for schoolteachers whose daily lives are filled with managing 150 postpubescent adolescents — amid the ever-present necessity of avoiding any kind of off-the-beaten-path instruction that might give a high-school administrator or a fearful parent a reason to invade their classroom. Those teachers were often bravely doing what they could to prepare you for college-level writing. But the fact is: They have neither First Amendment rights while on the job nor the rights of academic freedom that liberate college teachers from administrative and legislative domination.

As I’ve mentioned in class, I do have those liberties (for now, anyway), which means I can let you write about any topic you want, in any way that you want to write about it. Yet even knowing that, you chose to write an essay that you could crank out, clean up, submit for a grade, and then forget.

Your essays weren’t "bad." Your writing, as a group, tends to be fairly clear and the paragraphs mostly focused. But it’s not the kind of essay writing that honors the legacy of Michel de Montaigne (the Frenchman who invented the concept of essays) nor the kind of essay writing that would capture and hold the attention of college-literate readers.

Rather, the style you chose would get you through the socially constructed coronary blockage of an overcrowded high-school classroom. Or, it would get you past the requirements of a high-stakes barrier examination read by folks enchanted into believing that a concoction brewed of Alexander Bain’s 1860s paragraph prescription, Victor Pudlowski’s 1950s five-paragraph form, and Barrett Wendell’s 1880s-era daily writing theme is the love potion to produce Jerome Bruner’s pedagogical scaffolding.

So, yes, you wrote a fairly clean five-paragraph essay. Well done.

But this is a college-level writing course. Your college-level readers are looking for you, dear students, to engage thoughtfully with ideas and to produce insightfully delightful essays. As composition instructors, we value publication as a kind of ideal of accomplishment and would love to see our students’ writing published in local newspapers or on websites. But that would involve more than writing five clean paragraphs.

In an article well-known in composition circles — "The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year" — Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz argue that "students who see writing as something more than an assignment, who write about something that matters to them, are best able to sustain an interest in academic writing throughout their undergraduate careers."

Sommers and Saltz argue that if you are going to learn how to do the kinds of rhetorical backflips necessary for college-level writing, you first need to see yourself as a neophyte writer and then come to understand writing as a tool for locating yourself within academe: "When faculty construct writing assignments that allow students to bring their interests into a course, they say to their students, ‘This is the disciplinary field, and you are part of it. What does it look like from your point on the map?’ And freshmen respond by writing their way into a small corner of academia, gradually learning to see themselves not as the one mistake of the admissions committee but as legitimate members of a college community."

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

Plug-In+Reboot 2017 registration now open | Miami University

"Registration for Miami University’s 3rd annual Plug-In+Reboot is now open. This year’s event will be from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Jan. 18, at King Library." inform Campus News.

Photo: Curt Bonk
Attendees will participate in presentations, hands-on workshops about teaching with technology, and sessions aiming to reinvigorate their bodies and spirits.

Curt Bonk, a professor at Indiana University and an authority on emerging technologies for learning, will give this year’s keynote speech. He will present “Education 20/20 meets Education 3.0: Visions of Our Changing Learning World” at 9 a.m. in 322 McGuffey Hall.
Bonk authored Empowering Online Learning, The Handbook of Blended Learning and other widely used books. He will lead two workshops for limited groups with a deep dive into using technology to enhance engaged learning.
The Technology (Plug-In) sessions will include:
  • Technology “test kitchen.”
  • Course Showcase. * Teaching with social media.
  • Engaging students with technology. * Web and document accessibility.
Wellness (Reboot) sessions will include:
  • Chair massage.
  • Calming foods and green tea.
  • Aromatherapy.
  • Blood pressure checks.
  • An exercise “Sample Platter.”
Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided, and the day will end with an ice cream social.
Participants can enter to win theater tickets, a Fitbit, Adobe Acrobat Pro, fitness center passes, PhotoShop Elements and Premier Elements 14 and more.
To register and view the full event schedule, visit

Source: Miami University

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‘We have 20th century teachers educating 21st century students: we must improve professional development’ | TES News

If we are to better educate our kids, we need first to better educate their educators, says Tom Whitby, author, educator, blogger and founder of #edchat.

The flipped classroom; maker movement; project-based learning; blended learning; student-centered learning; hour of code; collaboration; direct instruction; and lecture: there are passionate teachers advocating each of these methods as the best way for kids to learn. I am sure there are others I have not mentioned.

Each of these methods to teach can be effective with many groups of students. The burning question should be, however, which is the best way to affect the greatest education reform? The focus for change in education seems to be in finding a way to best teach our students. The focus is targeting student learning. That assumes that once that method is found all will be right with the world of education and PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment) be damned.

I think that may be the wrong focus for reform. I believe that if we want to affect the greatest number of students by the way they are taught, we need to better educate their educators about the way they teach.

A combination of several methods might be the best path for students to learn. The focus should target what and how we teach teachers, not students. There are hundreds of thousands of educators who are familiar with many, if not all of the strategies mentioned here. Many are aware through their social media connections. The problem is that there are millions of educators who are far less connected, informed, or educated. Many of the uninformed educators may be far less connected to communities where discussions and collaboration with these topics go on daily.

I am becoming more of the belief that, at this point in time, we are not going to get all educators connecting, collaborating and creating through digital connections with other educators around the world. We do need to look at the benefits of these digital connections and find a way to create that resulting collaboration within the schools in which our teachers work without digitally connecting, those who will not connect.

Collaboration has become an integral part of professional development. We need to not only endorse collaboration, but we need to support it. It is a key to adult learning and teachers are adults. We must approach all PD through andragogy, an adult’s learning, and not pedagogy, a child’s learning. Teach adults as adults. 
Read more... 

Source: TES News

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Felicity Coughlan: Blended learning done right could save us | News24

Photo: Felicity Coughlan
"A key buzzword at the moment in the education space is “blended learning”, but very few people would have heard this term before the higher education crisis forced the hand of public universities to introduce this delivery method ahead of this year’s final exams." notes Dr Felicity Coughlan, head of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa’s largest private education provider. 

Even now, few people understand what blended learning entails, save for the fact that somehow technology and the internet are involved. Although many universities turned to “blended learning” as a way to ensure students are able to complete their academic years, and this strategy indeed went some way toward fulfilling its aim, it is now important that the public understands what blended learning is and isn’t; particularly as it is expected that higher education institutions will increasingly incorporate this method of delivery into their programmes.

As one public higher education institution noted at the time of the nationwide protests, teaching and learning would be “taking place by means of a variety of different approaches, including blended learning, which relies heavily on digital and online materials. Each faculty and discipline is developing its own approach to teaching and is communicating with its students accordingly”.

While one understands the approach taken, simply taking the materials and instruction that would have been delivered via contact method and then delivering them via electronic methods does not equate to blended learning.

Introducing blended learning components to the curriculum takes time and planning and needs to be part of the course design. It is something that needs to be done right – not added as an afterthought.

Successful blended learning programmes require careful strategy and crafting over long periods of time, with the input of teams of experts from various fields. Simply posting content on an online platform is not blended learning – it is really just another form of making learning content available.

The advantages of blended learning opportunities – if properly done – are many. But the pitfalls, if blended learning is not introduced as part of a strategic, pro-active programme, are legion.

On the plus side, blended learning allows students greater autonomy over their time and preparation. They can work through concepts and content more than once; they can engage with others who are working through the same content, and they can get individualised input from the lecturers or tutors supporting them online.  In addition, these students also get to master a new set of skills related to working online that are invaluable in the modern knowledge economy.

On the other hand, the downsides are pretty much the same as they would be for any other form of self-directed learning, which has not met with huge success in South Africa, and particularly where students do not receive the crucially necessary support from their higher education institutions.

Simply put, if students do not have the self-discipline to self-pace their learning, they will be left behind very quickly.

Source: News24

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Early math knowledge related to later achievement | Vanderbilt University News

Photo: Joan Brasher
"A new longitudinal study conducted by Vanderbilt has found that children’s math knowledge in preschool is related to their later achievement—but not all types of math knowledge were related equally." notes

Early math skills inform later achievement, according to a new Vanderbilt study. 
Photo: iStock

The findings suggest that educators and school administrators should consider which areas of math study they shift attention to as they develop curricula for the early years.

Photo: Rittle-Johnson (Vanderbilt)

“Counting, calculating, and understanding written numbers already get a lot of attention from teachers and parents, for good reasons,” said Bethany Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, who led the study. “However, comparing quantities may merit more attention in preschool, and patterning knowledge may merit more attention in both preschool and the early elementary grades.”

Common Core content standards for school math include shape but not patterning knowledge, and they focus little on comparing quantities. Since patterning skills in the early years predicted math achievement in fifth grade in this study, Rittle-Johnson and her co-authors suggest that teachers and parents engage young children in activities that help them find, extend and discuss predictable sequences in objects (patterns) and compare quantities, without needing to count, such as estimating who has more pennies or more Halloween candy.

A next important step will be to systematically vary how much of this content young children receive and look at their math achievement over time.
Read more... 

Additional resources
Professor Bethany Rittle-Johnson talks about the genesis of her research interests, and why Peabody is the ideal fit for students.
Watch the video

Source: Vanderbilt University News and Vanderbilt University Channel (YouTube)

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