eSchool News

eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
Updated: 35 min 57 sec ago

Google Glass targeted as symbol by anti-tech crowd

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:04

Glass, Google’s high-profile entry into the world of wearable tech, may help launch a revolution if it’s released later this year as expected, CNN reports. But test models already on the street have begun playing a more unlikely role — as symbols in a simmering fight over Silicon Valley’s impact on the city of San Francisco. It’s a local story, but one with ramifications everywhere as Google on Tuesday made the connected headsets available to the public for the first time in a one-day sale. While our smartphones drop easily into pockets and tablets get zipped up in cases or backpacks, wearables such as Glass are, quite literally, in your face all the time…

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International ed tech: Portugal’s success story

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 02:00

Education stakeholders highlight an international perspective on ed-tech integration

As the U.S. struggles with stagnant performance on international assessments, it could learn from other countries’ successful ed-tech initiatives.

During the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) 2013 senior-level delegation visit to Portugal, ed-tech advocates explored the country’s successful technology initiative and identified key takeaways for U.S. education leaders policymakers.

Portugal’s initiative grew out of economic decline, poor student performance on international tests, and sparse home internet access. In response, the government launched the National Technology Plan for Education, with an overall goal of creating a “knowledge-based society” and using technology and internet access to make the country’s education system not just current, but top-notch.

(Next page: The ed-tech program’s impact)

14 Tech Supplies That Made School Tolerable in the ’90s

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 13:52

Seat belts everyone! Time for an educational field trip on The Magic School Bus back to the 1990s, Mashable reports. The clunky technology of the ’90s paved the way for innovations in today’s classrooms, and growing up in that time period was an adventure. Children today would scratch their heads at a floppy disk. And who would know what to do with Microsoft Encarta when a quick Google search is so much easier? New gadgets, trends and advancing technology have provided the education system with fancier tools, but we look back fondly at the learning resources of our past. So buckle up and pack your Trapper Keeper, because it’s time to ford the river down memory lane…

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3D printing and Star Trek?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 02:00

The latest 3D printing technology calls to mind real-world applications of fictional, futuristic technology

3D printers have garnered attention in education as of late, due to their ability to generate unique objects and their capacity to engage students and drum up interest in STEM subjects such as engineering.

In fact, 3D printers help students make real-world connections between their classroom learning and careers and technological applications.

As the technology advances, many think it is approaching “Star Trek status,” as they liken 3D printing to the original series’ replicator technology.

(Next page: How is 3D printing moving us closer to Star Trek?)

How to avoid classroom cheating

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 01:30

Technology presents cheating challenges and opportunities

Snapchat—snap a photo with a smartphone and the image disappears 10 seconds after the receiver opens it. Great for selfies, but also for sending answers on a test. The evidence of cheating, though not the effects, is gone within 10 seconds.

Can teachers keep pace with the inventiveness, the sheer creativity of cheaters, often using the latest tech gadgets they use for accessing their electronic textbooks?

Like doctors who want to heal, educators choose teaching because they love to learn and want to share that passion with anybody, especially the young.

For teachers, it is emotionally and intellectually exhausting to chase cheaters who obstruct the learning process, who play a game of accumulating points for non-learning. Grading a research paper can become a legal interpretation of what plagiarism is, placing burden of proof on the teacher, providing due process for the student, and complying with the school policy on cheating. Helicopter parents are known to bring lawyers to conferences about a student accused of plagiarizing. The real tragedy: students lose the opportunity to learn.

(Next page: Steps to avoid cheating)

Young Teachers Stick Around, Bringing Tech Savvy

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:20

Mayra Lara has been laid off three times and bounced among high schools during her seven-year teaching career in the Los Angeles school district, the Wall Street Journal reports. Concerned about once again losing her job, she moved in with a friend and hunted for work outside of teaching two years ago. “I was so worried about long-term job security I started to think about leaving the profession I desperately love,” she recalled. But Ms. Lara stuck it out and now is part of what some call a new generation of teachers. She began her career in 2007 along with about 200,000 others—one of the largest groups of beginners to join public schools in a single year…

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New app helps students with special needs

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 01:30

Assistive technology app helps students with special needs communicate

“I want chicken nuggets.”

Those were the first words Cassie Banda-Garcia’s parents Jojo and Sofia Garcia could clearly hear her say.

“The first thing she said was ‘I want chicken nuggets,’ not ‘I love you’ or anything like that, she said ‘I want chicken nuggets,” Sofia Garcia said laughing.

In the past few months, Cassie, who has difficulty speaking because she has Down syndrome, has been using the Proloquo2go — a symbol supported communication application that gives a voice for people who cannot speak — on her iPad.

“Without the iPad, she would get very frustrated with us,” Sofia Garcia said. “Her comprehension skills are there. She understands everything and she wants to communicate with us but she could not verbalize it and that made it very frustrating.”

(Next page: How the app helps students with special needs)

What we really need to know about ed-tech

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 14:52

Those “5 Things You Need to Know About EdTech” posts seem to crop up on Twitter every couple weeks — Tech isn’t the Point of EdTech, EdTech is about Learning, EdTech is Exciting, Mind/Shift reports. But for those who’ve heard and read it all before, here’s a completely different take on that headline. 1. There is no such thing as “free.” If you didn’t pay for it, then you yourself are the fee. The data you produce and the connections you open up are generally worth a whole lot more to the longer term business plan of any ed-tech startup than the dollar you might spend to download an app. The CEO of a well known ed-tech startup on the West Coast recently remarked to me: “Our business strategy is the typical Trojan Horse scheme.” Yup. And if you think this is the rambling of a lone-wolf… well you might want to start chatting with some folks who do biz dev for ed-tech. Free is the new expensive…

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Myths and facts about online speech therapy

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 02:00

Online speech therapy meets a number of schools’ and students’ needs

Online learning extends educational opportunities to a number of different student groups, and those needing special interventions are able to benefit from expanded learning opportunities, too.

One fast-growing online intervention is online speech therapy, which connects students with highly-qualified speech therapists who might not otherwise be accessible to students, whether due to geographical limitations or funding issues.

As part of eSN’s Special Education Week, we’ve pulled together these seven facts and myths about online speech therapy, from PresenceLearning’s resources.

(Next page: Seven online speech therapy myths)

When are tech tools worth the investment for schools?

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:24

An ed-tech discussion at a national conference stalled for 10 minutes while organizers struggled with a high-tech method of figuring out who was in the room, according to the Hechinger Report. The exercise highlighted new software that has spread to classrooms around the world — and proved a perfect case in point for the discussion, “The Cutting Edge of Technology: Exploring the trade-offs in schools’ early adoption of technology.”

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Here’s how digital content and teachers align

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 02:32

Great teachers use digital content—but what needs to be in place to encourage that use?

As digital content becomes more commonplace in districts across the nation, some school leaders and educators wonder: what’s involved in a digital content transition?

During the 2014 National School Boards Association conference in New Orleans, a panel of experienced educators sought to answer that very question.

“We’re undergoing a cultural change in our country, and it’s broader than just schools,” said moderator Joseph South, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Educational Technology. “Digital is part of every aspect of our lives. In some places, digital is embraced wholeheartedly, and in other places, it’s kept at bay.”

(Next page: Preparing staff for digital content)

Most schools don’t teach computer science

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 02:00

 Though an in-demand skill, most schools fall short when it comes to computer science

Would it surprise you to know that most schools don’t teach computer science — not even the basics? It should, especially given that there will be about 1 million more U.S. jobs in the tech sector in the next decade than computer science graduates to fill them, according to, a nonprofit launched last year to promote computer science in schools.

Failure to teach students basic theory behind how computer technology works has several implications–none of them positive. First, employers are clamoring for qualified people to fill tech-related jobs. Yet students aren’t introduced to this potentially high-paying field as they take the first steps toward a career.

This is particularly true for women and minorities, two groups woefully underrepresented in technology jobs. Earlier exposure to computer science careers not only points more people toward the industry, it also eases stereotypes about who “belongs” in these jobs.

(Next page: Here’s how schools are lacking in computer science)

XP phase-out a problem for schools

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 01:00

Schools find that many operating systems will be outdated after the XP support expiration

In less than a week, Microsoft Corp. will end support and updates for the 12-year-old Windows XP, and some state education systems are struggling with how to move forward.

If a recent survey by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is any indication, this means the operating system of choice for more than half the schools in the state will become outdated.

Dennis Small, OSPI educational technology director, said last summer the office took a survey of schools in the state and determined more than 50 percent of districts still used Windows XP on their instructional computers.

Though this is similar to national trends, he said, it is still worrisome considering schools will no longer have up-to-date software.

(Next page: How one district handled its XP migration)