eSchool News

eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
Updated: 29 min 19 sec ago

Four special-education innovations from ISTE

9 hours 26 min ago

These four innovations in special-education technology were on display at a special event during the annual ISTE conference in Atlanta

RoboKind’s robot-based ‘autism intervention tool’ is now ready for schools to deploy.

A software program that can boost the memory and attention of students with disabilities, called the “most innovative medical advancement of 2012” by the National Institutes of Health, was among four special-education technologies highlighted during an event at the 2014 ISTE conference in Atlanta.

ISTE stands for the International Society for Technology in Education, and its annual conference is the largest ed-tech trade show in North America.

More than 16,000 educators and administrators gathered in Atlanta for this year’s conference, including a few dozen special-education teachers and administrators who attended a special event on June 30, hosted by the public relations firm C. Blohm & Associates.

For this event, C. Blohm partnered with the Inclusive Learning Network (a special-education focus group affiliated with ISTE), Arc Capital Development, and the Atlanta Braves to showcase four innovations in special-education technology—including a robot with very natural-looking facial expressions that is helping students on the autism spectrum learn social cues.

Also shown during the event was a “cognitive cross-training program” from a company called C8 Sciences, developed by Dr. Bruce Wexler, a neuroscientist at the Yale School of Medicine.

Built on the theory of neuroplasticity—the idea that our brains can change as a result of experience—the program combines computer games and physical exercises to help students with ADHD or other learning disabilities develop eight key areas of “executive functioning” that form the basis for all learning.

The human brain is like a muscle, said Myron Pincomb, an investor in C8 Sciences who was on hand to discuss the program. “If you’re very specific in how you exercise it,” he said, “you’re going to get specific results.”

C8’s ACTIVATE program is being used in some 130 school districts, Pincomb said, including Virginia’s Fairfax County Schools—where about 3,000 students have seen measurable gains in their working memory, sustained attention, and impulse control, while also reducing the time it takes to process information.

(Next page: Three more innovations in special-education technology)

10 ways to tell you’re a tech-savvy educator

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 02:00

How tech-savvy are you? Read on to find out…

Technology is a necessary part of formal and informal learning today. After all, students will need tech skills as they move into college and the workforce.

Using tech in the classroom today will help students develop and build those essential tech skills so that they can compete on a global scale.

And often, today’s educators and administrators learn much of their tech skills from students, who are tech experts in their own right. Tech-savvy teachers take the tech skills gleaned from students and use them for academic and instructional purposes.

15 OER tools for educators

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 21:15

Educators will find this list of OER tools useful as they explore and expand OER use

As educators and students clamor for relevant and engaging digital content, many are turning to open educational resources (OER)–educational materials that are free to use under a special license.

These materials can be organized into content repositories that make it easy for others to locate and use them. In fact, several states are doing just that, as they make efforts to curate and catalog OER into large content repositories available to educators, students, and parents.

On the following page, you’ll find OER tools, reports, and information, as well as resources where you can search for materials that suit your specific needs. Each resource features a short description taken from information provided online.

(Next page: 15 OER tools)

Shutterfly launches new education service

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:12

The Photo Story Classroom service from Shutterfly allows students to build high-quality photo books using iPads

Teachers in the pilot schools used the Photo Story app to have students demonstrate their understanding, or for personal self-expression.

Shutterfly, the popular online service that enables users to create photo books, cards, and stationery and share these with their friends and family, has launched a new service geared toward schools using iPads.

Shutterfly’s online tool is Flash-based, so last year the company created a native app for using its service on iPads. Called Photo Story, the app takes advantage of the iPad’s touch-screen capabilities; users can draw on or annotate photos using their finger, and they can also record audio to create digital stories.

The Photo Story app from Shutterfly has been downloaded more than 750,000 times—and now the company is making a push into the education market as well.

This past spring, Shutterfly tested its Photo Story app in some 40 classrooms, said Lara Hoyem, senior director of photo books for the company.

When asked if using Photo Story with their students was valuable, all but one of the participating teachers said yes. Teachers said the app helped engage their students, improved their writing and tech skills, and gave them a voice and a broader audience for their published work.

“We discovered it was relevant for all grades and all subjects, and not just for ELA classrooms or for elementary schools,” she said.

(Next page: More details about Photo Story for the classroom—including examples of how it can be used)

New mobile devices for schools shown at ISTE

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:59

New devices from Samsung, Panasonic, CDI, and HP were among those on display at the nation’s largest ed-tech trade show

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 for Education is compatible with the Samsung School service, which enables teachers to manage the devices from their classroom.

School leaders now have more choices than ever when rolling out mobile devices for learning, and several of the latest devices for schools were on display at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference earlier this month.

Apple’s iPad already has a significant presence in schools, and Google Chromebooks are on the rise as well. At ISTE 2014, many companies demonstrated new devices running on Google’s Android operating system and Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro.

For instance, Samsung showed its Galaxy Tab 4 for Education, a 10-inch Android tablet designed specifically for schools.

The Galaxy Tab 4 comes with a “backpack-ready” protective case, and its screen is made of scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, said Jen Langhan, director of mobility product marketing for Samsung Education.

What’s more, users can have two application windows open at once—but maybe the Galaxy Tab 4’s biggest selling point is that it’s compatible with the Samsung School initiative, which includes software that allows teachers to manage Samsung mobile devices in their classrooms.

With Samsung School, teachers can share their screen with the class, monitor students’ screens, and freeze or control students’ devices. They can also create a customized Lesson Toolbar for instantly launching an app on all student devices, sending a resource or URL, or initiating a group activity.

Group collaboration features within Samsung School enable students to contribute simultaneously on a shared screen, or merge individual assignments into one to submit seamless group projects.

The Galaxy Tab 4 retails for $369, with volume discounts available. It ships as a “blank slate” for schools to fill with apps from the Google Play for Education store, Langhan said—but other tablet makers have opted for a different approach, creating devices that come bundled with educational software for added value.

(Next page: A new ed-tech device from Panasonic; low-cost devices from CDI; and more)

Three terrific virtual tours for the classroom

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 02:00

Access these science, space, and history virtual tours for a truly transformative classroom experience

Virtual classrooms may be the norm in the future

The benefits of virtual field tours are well known: They’re inexpensive—often free—and are less time-consuming than a real trip.

But researching which virtual field trips are best can prove labor-intensive, and many resources are out-of-date.

Know of any other great virtual field tours that didn’t make the list? Be sure to leave your suggestion in the comments section below.

(Next page: Virtual field trips and tours)