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March 24, 2015

Table of Contents

CoSN K-12 Report: Assessment Readiness, Money, & Privacy Top Priorities for School Technology Leaders
Showbie iPad App for Classroom Workflow Now Available for iPhone and Web
McGraw-Hill Education Releases New Version of Building Blocks Supplemental Math Program
Lerner Publishing Group Launches Audisee eBooks with Audio
SETDA Publishes Brief on the Quality of Digital Content for Learning

CoSN K-12 Report: Assessment Readiness, Money, & Privacy Top Priorities for School Technology Leaders

According to CoSN’s (the Consortium for School Networking’s) 3rd annual K-12 IT Leadership Survey, school system technology leaders expressed greatest concern for assessment readiness, funding, and the privacy and security of student data.

The new findings, released recently at the association’s 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, provide K-12 leadership and stakeholders with a clearer sense of education technology challenges and priorities.

Key findings of the report include:

For the second straight year, assessment readiness is the number one priority for IT leaders, yet less than 30 percent report they are fully prepared for online assessments.

Despite 30 percent reporting budget increases, 54 percent still indicate that they do not have enough money to “meet overall expectations of the school board / district leaders.”

K-12 IT leaders are increasingly worried about the privacy and security of student data; fifty-seven percent said the issue is more important than it was last year. In 2014, CoSN launched the Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning initiative to help district technology leaders overcome this growing challenge.

Respondents expect their instructional materials to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years.

K-12 IT leaders are not as well compensated as their counterparts in the private sector. Private sector CTOs in the bottom 10 percent of the private earnings range still earn more than the average K-12 IT Leader.

Female K-12 IT leaders earn less than their male counterparts. Among leaders in the lowest salary range, 65 percent are women.

K-12 IT leadership lacks diversity – 88 percent of leaders are white. While that percentage somewhat aligns with the general population of whites in the United States (78 percent), it does not reflect the make-up of the K-12 student body, which is projected this year to have a majority non-white population.

Leaders have extensive education technology experience. A remarkable 89 percent have been in education technology for more than six years, 42 percent for more than 10 years, and 31 percent for more than 20.

Leaders are very busy. Seventy-four percent are in charge of both instructional and administrative technology.

Fifty-eight percent of CTOs / chief information officers / district technology directors report to their superintendents — a best practice identified by CoSN.

The K-12 IT Leadership Survey was conducted in partnership with MDR and sponsored by SchoolDude.

For more about the survey, including previous year results, please visit: cosn.org/itsurvey2015.

Source: CoSN, cosn.org

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Showbie iPad App for Classroom Workflow Now Available for iPhone and Web

Showbie, the maker of the Showbie iPad app for classroom workflow, has announced a new version of the app extending its use beyond iPads to include iPhones and access from any web browser. The company organizes the paperless classroom by making it easy for teachers to assign, collect and review student work on their mobile devices. Now offering more flexibility for on-the-go teachers and students, Showbie provides a complete workflow solution for schools deploying a 1:1 device rollout.

With more platform options, Showbie makes it easy for teachers and students to streamline their relationship and improve how they communicate. Students can turn in their homework assignments as easily as taking a “selfie”− they snap and submit. Unlike other general classroom apps, Showbie allows teachers and students to annotate directly on photos and PDFs – no switching between apps – making completing assignments and grading fast, effective and personalized. Showbie also stands out from other apps with its voice note capability that provides another feedback option. Voice notes open up the app to younger students who are not yet able to type and help teachers differentiate for all types of learners.

The new version of Showbie works with iPads and iPhones (iOS 8 or later) and on any web browser including Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. With these new options, teachers and students can access the app in multiple ways in the classroom, from home, or on-the-go. In addition to extending Showbie to more platforms for mobile and web use, the app will now be available in 10 more languages to keep up with growing global demand. New languages include Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and Arabic.

The Showbie app version 2.0 is now available worldwide exclusively through the App Store. The web version can be accessed at showbie.com. The basic app is free and a subscription version with additional features is available for teachers at $9.99 a month. A school-wide version is also available directly through the company at showbie.com.

Source: Showbie, showbie.com

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McGraw-Hill Education Releases New Version of Building Blocks Supplemental Math Program

McGraw-Hill Education has launched a new version of Building Blocks, a supplemental math program that uses personalized lessons and research-based learning paths to improve student math skills and confidence through games and adaptive learning technology. The new version includes 50 percent more games, increased support through Grade 8 based on Common Core and state standards, and iPad accessibility.

Based on more than a decade of research, Building Blocks has been shown to drive learning gains in math skills. The program was developed by and reflects the research of distinguished authors, Doug Clements and Julie Sarama. As a complementary solution for mathematics intervention and early childhood education programs, Building Blocks tailors instruction based on each student's unique understanding and learning trajectory. Students play a series of games based on their abilities or as assigned by the teacher, and progress automatically through the program once they master each math concept.

If a student struggles to understand a particular concept, Building Blocks will deliver content and games designed to improve his or her fundamental understanding through targeted remediation and feedback. This allows students to develop the necessary math skills at their own pace, aligning the learning experience with students' natural development.

The Building Blocks software update includes several new capabilities and features:

  • Expanded Support through Grade 8: While the previous version of Building Blocks supported students in Pre-K through Grade 6, the newest iteration supports students up to Grade 8.

  • Comprehensive Reporting: With access to comprehensive reporting on Common Core standards and learning trajectories, teachers, parents and administrators gain actionable insights on student performance and improvement areas.

  • More Activities: The updated version of Building Blocks features approximately 50 percent more activities, with 215 games and 56 drills. New activities cover topics including fractions, decimals, algebra and geometric measurement.

The software update also features a comprehensive and easy-to-use teacher management system that allows teachers to create assignments and benchmark student progress against the designated learning trajectories or Common Core standards. This provides teachers with deeper insights into student comprehension, which improves learning outcomes.

Building Blocks comes standard with McGraw-Hill Education's PreK-8 math intervention product, Number Worlds, or as a standalone product. Compatible with iPad and other devices, Building Blocks is now available for purchase.

Source: McGraw-Hill Education, mheducation.com

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Lerner Publishing Group Launches Audisee eBooks with Audio

Lerner Publishing Group has announced Audisee eBooks with Audio from Lerner Digital. Starting with 80 titles available across age levels, interests, and genres, Audisee eBooks with Audio feature fixed formatting with sentence highlighting and fluent, professional audio narration. The product is now available on a wide-range of devices including both tablets and computers.

Audisee eBooks with Audio are an engaging solution for reluctant and struggling readers, on-grade readers, auditory learners, and ELL/ESL students. Readers will be drawn to the wide selection of titles—from curriculum-oriented nonfiction to award-winning young adult fiction. They include titles for readers in grades 4–12 and are available in both single-and multi-user formats for schools and libraries.

For more information, including an online demo of Audisee eBooks with Audio and to sign-up for a free trial, please visit audiseebooks.com.

Source: Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., www.lernerbooks.com

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SETDA Publishes Brief on the Quality of Digital Content for Learning

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the principal membership association of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders, recently released a policy brief for state and district education leaders focused on considerations and strategies regarding the quality of digital content for all students. The brief, Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning, examines the policy and practice considerations regarding strategies to ensure digital content quality, including the exploration of the specific quality-control challenges and opportunities associated with open educational resources (OER). The brief describes digital content’s unique characteristics and traditional state/district instructional materials quality-review practices. The brief also provides recommendations for state and district policy to inform/strengthen state strategies for ensuring digital resource quality.

“Education leaders need a clear path to help ensure that digital content is of high quality, aligned to state academic standards and focused on learning experiences. Education leaders should take proactive measures to ensure that the digital content provided in K12 education is of superior quality,” stated Lan Neugent, SETDA Interim Executive Director.

“This policy brief provides important elements of consideration for educational leaders regarding the quality and implementation of digital content,” shared Carla Wade, Digital Learning/Educational Technology Specialist, Oregon Department of Education. “The recent explosion of devices and digital content in K12 settings requires a shift in policies and practices, and this policy brief helps to further inform educators and the public of the need to provide quality assurances.”

The brief and an archive of a related webinar, which included an overview of the paper and examples of state OER initiatives are available on the SETDA website: setda.org/events/webinars/public-events/#!/ensuring-the-quality-of-digital-content-for-learning.

The brief was prepared in partnership with Foresight Law + Policy, LLC, an education consulting firm providing legal, policy, and communications services.

Source: SETDA, setda.org

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