Michio Kaku peers into education's future, ISTE makes major announcements
Though Monday was the first full day of the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2016 conference, the festivities kicked off in Denver Sunday evening with an opening keynote from world renowned theoretical physicist, futurist and popular scientist Michio Kaku.
The Big City All-Star Band from Winnipeg played familiar tunes like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Footloose” as attendees filed in to the Colorado Convention Center’s Bellco Theater, and if the crowd packing the arena-style seats and the Four Seasons Ballroom’s overflow space was any indication, this year’s ISTE conference is bigger than ever.
But before Kaku could take the stage, the organization had an important announcement to make: the launch of the 2016 revamp of the ISTE Standards for Students.
That wasn't all, though. ISTE is also partnering with Microsoft on resources meant to inspire the design and development of schools that weave tech into their culture and environment. Among those initial resources are a blueprint for transformation via the ISTE Essential Conditions and Microsoft Transformation Framework; an edX partnership for professional courses in change leadership, design thinking, gameful learning, deep learning, and ambitious teaching and learning; and new tools for 21st Century schools developed in the Microsoft Showcase School program.
While Kaku's keynote ultimately spanned the breadth of where technological innovation and the digitization of a number of industries is heading, his words on the classroom of the future were of particular note. Despite concerns that the development of increasingly complex artificial intelligence will eventually see teachers replaced by robots, that simply isn't the case. Though Kaku said that many "middleman" jobs in a variety of industries will fall by the wayside, teachers are among the roles that will still need that human touch because of experience, knowledge, know-how, innovation, imagination and creativity. Dropout rates as high as 80-90% in some online courses illustrate this, he said. Educators will simply see their role shift more toward that of mentoring, career guidance and curation.
HMH to offer curriculum-based VR field trips via Google Expeditions
- Through a new content partnership with Google, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will offer virtual reality field trips aligned to science and social studies curriculum.
- In the coming months, HMH Field Trips for Google Expeditions will expand from its current four VR field trips available on the Expeditions Android app to well over 20, which will also be available on iOS, according to a release.
- The current field trips take students into the Wild West, the Florida Everglades, natural bridge caverns and a swamp-based community, where they’ll learn how people use natural resources, and free teacher guides are also available to HMH customers.
Samsung partners with Pearson on literacy solution
- Samsung and Pearson announced a partnership focused on improving reading comprehension via a new tech solution: the Samsung Literacy Lab.
- The platform pairs Pearson's iLit software with Samsung's Chromebook 3 or Galaxy Tab E devices to boost students' vocabulary, comprehension and writing skills.
- Samsung Literacy Lab is available in packs of 10 that include the devices, iLit licenses and a day of professional development, and is recommended for grades 3-12.
That's not all: Samsung is also making a VR push in the classroom
- Virtual reality is among the next big things to revolutionize the classroom, and Samsung is making its play with its own headset and new research on K-12 educators' views on the tech.
- Among the findings of the tech giant's survey: 85% of teachers agree that VR will have a positive effect on students and 60% want to make it part of their classroom experience, but only 2% are actually using VR content at all right now.
- The company delved further into the topic in an afternoon panel featuring Free Tech 4 Teachers' Richard Byrne, Beaverton School District's Ben Lloyd, Labster's Jan Stålberg, and Nick Uhas of Fab Lab and Nickipedia.
New Funds For Learning stats detail highlights of latest E-rate filing period
- Funds For Learning, a firm that helps applicants navigate the regulatory process around the FCC's E-rate program, issued new stats Monday, revealing that the latest filing period saw the fastest funding decisions in the program's history.
- Notably, the period saw over $1.2 billion in requests for funding for large bandwidth connections and internet service, though requests for discounts on voice service were higher than other categories.
- The complete data from Funds For Learning's survey will be released in the fall and is likely to play a role in improving the E-rate program once shared with the FCC and lawmakers.
IXL unveils full science and social studies curriculum for grades 2-5
- IXL Learning, which describes itself as “an educational technology company that delivers an immersive learning experience,” on Monday unveiled its full IXL Science and IXL Social Studies, rounding out its core curriculum offerings for grades 2-5.
- IXL Science focuses on utilizing interactive activities to teach complex topics, while IXL Social Studies aims to go beyond rote memorization and encourage critical thought in the analysis of diverse viewpoints on historical events, according to a release.
- The company also offers IXL Analytics visual reports with each subject, giving educators easy access to data on student progress and pain points — and even without a subscription, students are given access to 10 free practice questions daily.
itslearning debuts new learning management platform
- A new learning management platform unveiled by its learning on Monday aims to increase efficiency around several of the “most important and frequent” tasks performed by educators regularly.
- The new platform, which goes live July 1, offers a simpler, modernized interface meant to feel like an extension of the physical classroom, encourages best practices, and is more mobile-optimized than its predecessor, according to a release.
- Additionally, the platform’s library of teacher-created and third-party resources now includes more than 20 million objects, 5 million of which are OER, and offers easier navigation for finding and sharing those resources.
Dell sets sights on engagement, creative learning with new displays, software
- Dell on Monday revealed three new displays and new software aimed at boosting engagement and creative learning.
- Among the company's new monitors are its first interactive-touch, 70" HD monitor (C7017T) and new HD projectors (S560T & S560P) that can create a 100" interactive display on any wall, according to a release.
- Additionally, the new Chrome-based Dell Classroom software was designed based on customer feedback to facilitate more classroom engagement between educators and students, with Dell Activity Light functionality allowing students to digitally raise their hands or ask teachers a question privately.