K-12's premier ed tech gathering got underway Sunday evening with a keynote from award-winning journalist and activist Soledad O'Brien, and its first full day Monday was nothing short of eventful. Between Google's virtual expeditions delivered via its Cardboard viewers, panels on best 1:1 practices, and talks from federal officials, there was plenty to digest at the end of the day.
Alma and Versal among new Google Classroom partners
- Alma Technologies, Inc. revealed Monday morning that its increasingly popular all-in-one suite of classroom management and student information system tools will now integrate with Google Classroom via that platform's API.
- Student rosters in Classroom will now automatically sync with Alma, Classroom will be manageable from Alma, and school administrators will be able to see when teachers sync with Classrooms, or delete or detach classes the school doesn't want synced.
- In a release, Alma President Jack Macleod said, "Our educators really deserve time-savers like this – such innovation is long overdue, and this is just the beginning." Google Classroom Product Manager Zach Yeskel added that the seamless integration is just the beginning of such partnerships.
- Additionally, free-to-use open online course and lesson publishing platform Versal is among an initial round of companies taking advantage of Classroom's new "Share" button.
Google shows off Cardboard's virtual 'Expeditions'
- Speaking of Google, the tech giant also had its new Cardboard viewers on-hand to demonstrate "Expeditions."
- Expeditions were announced last month and are essentially virtual field trips with a teacher guiding students along — think the Magic School Bus, but without the bus.
- During Education Dive's Expedition, for example, we were guided through a museum's dinosaur exhibit, with Cardboard providing a 360-degree view as we turned our heads in any direction.
What works and doesn't work in 1:1?
In a morning session, California tech chiefs Robert Craven (Tustin Unified School District), Andrew Schwab (Union School District), Jim Klein (Las Virgenes Unified School District), and David Malone (San Francisco Unified School District) gathered to share best practices when it comes to putting a device in every student's hand. Among the issues discussed: infrastructure, bandwidth, servers, battery life, WiFi, filtering, learning environments, and professional development.
Be sure to keep an eye out for an in-depth recap over the next few days.
Northwest Evaluation Association unveils Skills Navigator
- NWEA, the organization behind the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, on Monday revealed it is launching a K-8 assessment platform for math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and language usage dubbed Skills Navigator.
- The platform aims to identify skills students are ready to learn, monitor evidence of learning and progress toward mastering those skills, and make instructional resources abailable to help meet those needs.
- Partnering with NWEA on the platform to provide instructional resources is Knovation, which the organization chose due to its rigorous 127-point certification process for vetting materials.
Feds talk sharing innovation success stories, tackling 'homework gap'
In separate sessions, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Richard Culatta, director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, discussed the latest in classroom tech.
We caught up with both officials prior to the event. Top of mind for Rosenworcel is the "homework gap," an issue compounded when some students don't have the same access to digital tools and resources available at school and necessary to complete homework assignments. Culatta, meanwhile, is preparing for the department's launch of its new "story engine," a resource collecting innovation success stories from districts nationwide.
ORIGO Stepping Stones' effectiveness verified by Johns Hopkins study
- A new study from Johns Hopkins University details the effectiveness of ORIGO's K-5 math curriculum, Stepping Stones, in Ohio's Worthington City School District.
- According to the results, 50% of the 3,000 students tested improved at a faster rate than a virtual comparison group, and nearly 60% met or exceeded "Hybrid Growth Targets." For first graders specifically, that number was 80%.
- All 11 schools in the district used Stepping Stones during the 2013-14 school year, the focus of the Johns Hopkins study.
Samsung boxes the 1:1 classroom
- Samsung announced its Classroom in a Box, which will launch in collaboration with McGraw-Hill Education.
- According to a release, the Classroom in a Box packages will include either 30 GalaxyTab 4 Education 10-inch Tablets or 30 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook 2s with Intel® Celeron Processors.
- Also included from McGraw-Hill: professional development curriculum; 30 one-year licenses for Thrive ELA and Math for grades 3-8, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry; and 30 30-day trial licenses for the ALEKS adaptive learning solution for math in grades 3-12. The Google Chrome Management Console is also part of the bundle.
- The release did not include pricing information.
Panasonic forges partnership for K-12 broadcast consulting
- A new partnership between Panasonic and consulting firm JDL Horizons will boost the tech firm's K-12 education solutions.
- Specifically, the collaboration will enhance its "Studio in a Box" offering, with JDL providing consulting services in areas like studio design, studio setup and basic or advanced training, media production personal development training, and “Fundamentals for Live Broadcast Production Bootcamp,” according to a release.
- Panasonic is also offering special interactive display pricing at the show, with its TH-65LFB70U 65-inch interactive display marked down 41% to $3,999 and its TH-80LFB70U 80-inch interactive display available for 50% off at $9,999.
Learning.com's 21st Century Skills Assessment, EasyTech lessons updated
- Learning.com is bringing a new interface to its 21st Century Skills Assessment, as well as new lessons for its EasyTech solution.
- The update to the 21st Century Skills Assessment will feature an interface resembling computer operating systems and let students transition seamlessly from the desktop to tablet version, and vice-versa.
- EasyTech, which provides lessons on a variety of software for grades 3-5, will include new middle school lessons on spreadsheet, presentation, and image editing software; effective Web searches; and digital collaboration.