There’s an App for That!
e-hallpass, the digital hall pass tool from Eduspire Solutions, is now available in the Google Play app store for Android users and the Apple app store for iOS users.
While the mobile app provides added convenience and ease of use, the browser version of e-hallpass remains accessible on any device/platform.
For more information on how to get started, visit the e-hallpass website!
Should Teachers Use Tech to Teach?
In this blog post from We Are Teachers, there are some great tips about teaching with technology. The main takeaways are to use EdTech tools to enhance student learning, not replace traditional teaching.
Many modern teachers have the goal of engaging students with learning activities that are fun as well as educational. The struggle is finding the balance between integrating technology to enhance instruction versus letting tech take over. This article does a great job of illustrating that fine line teachers should walk with five key steps:
Finding EdTech tools that are relevant to classroom lessons can be an excellent way to prepare and excite even the most apprehensive of students. Apps, games, and other tech tools are a fun way to break the ice and introduce new topics.
Tech tools make great building blocks that can connect the dots between lessons and concepts for students with a variety of learning styles, and they can replace more traditional, sometimes tedious classroom materials such as worksheets and one-size fits all activities.
EdTech tools make great facilitators of extra attention and support that struggling students need.
Igniting students’ natural curiosity about what they’re learning brings an element of motivation to lessons. Teachers can solidify their instruction by incorporating tools that introduce an element of inquiry to an upcoming unit.
- Make it fun
Attention and retention both increase when students enjoy what they’re learning. What better way to make learning fun than by introducing current tech tools?
Change the landscape of learning in your classroom by integrating technology according to these guidelines, and own your teaching!
The Likely Role of AR & VR in Modern Education
Image credit: Roundup Reads
Guest post by Patrick Foster of Ecommerce Tips
How Will AR & VR Technologies Fit Into Education?
The education system has always needed to have its finger on the pulse of the technology industry, because while the principles of pedagogy haven’t changed enormously over the years, the methods certainly have. And with today’s students facing a future that will be massively dominated by the digital world (and likelier than ever before to build careers in tech-related fields), it’s incredibly important that we prepare them using all available tools.
When it comes to AR & VR technologies, however, it isn’t always obvious how they can — or should — be used for educational purposes. They’re expensive, after all, and still far from achieving the kind of mainstream appeal that would clearly merit such expense.
Regardless of the extent to which they are useful now, however, there’s use in considering how they’re likely to be folded into educational practices sooner or later. Let’s take a look at how educators are (probably) going to be using AR & VR tech.
Allowing personalized learning experiences
In schools that have large class sizes, it can be challenging to give each student the kind of education that takes into account their personal abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Course materials are expensive and often cumbersome, and teachers simply don’t have the time to spend with students one-on-one.
What AR & VR tools easily allow is extensive personalization, and it isn’t limited by hardware. A classroom could have just one VR headset, for instance, but a separate account for each student, creating an entirely different learning environment catered to the student using it.
Throughout the entire duration of their time in schooling, their VR account could continue to develop in line with their choices and performances. Teachers could easily monitor their activity from elsewhere — imagine a class of students using distinct VR headsets with the teacher overseeing everything from a single monitor. It’s entirely possible, and (I’d say) quite likely.
Supporting advanced work and assessments
Finding unique ways to challenge students can be an issue for schools with limited ability to arrange field trips or personal tuition, and the many problems with conventional testing systems are well-established. Backed by intuitive development tools for teachers, AR & VR tech could greatly expand the range of options for both educational exercises and formal assessments.
Think about the difference between following a standard set of puzzles in a book and engaging with an AR-enhanced puzzle through a basic smartphone. The latter is not only going to be more interesting — it’s also going to be more complex. The more factors you add into the equation, the greater the challenge becomes, and you can take the puzzle in whatever direction you like.
You could even configure a work assignment to scale in difficulty and scope to respond to the student’s ability. If they start struggling, the software can step in, giving them some guidance and pointing them in the right direction. If they breeze through everything, the software can ramp up the difficulty. And when the teacher looks at the results afterwards, they can get a comprehensive breakdown of how everything went.
Providing new opportunities for students with disabilities
Bolstering accessibility is one of the greatest accomplishments of the technological revolution, and VR tech has the power to provide remarkable options for students who are simply incapable of having certain experiences. The internet provides so much for those with ambition but limited means, and someone unable to physically get out into the world can still thrive.
Just imagine what someone wheelchair-bound could do from the classroom. They could visit the seven wonders of the world in VR. They could forge entrepreneurial careers (the ecommerce world has a selection of industry-specific businesses for sale that can be run from anywhere — no store needed). They could build their own virtual world and invite others to join them.
And on the topic of shared experiences, think about how students could express themselves creatively. We all learn differently, and students who struggle to express themselves vocally (for instance) might flourish when given the chance to communicate through manipulating virtual environments. The possibilities are remarkable. It’s understandable for some to fear that the human element of education has been lost, but in this way, technology can actually play a part in bringing it back.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He’s been meaning to get an HTC Vive for some time, but keeps putting it off. Check out the blog, and follow along on Twitter @myecommercetips.
Can’t Get Enough EdTech? Why Not Get an EdTech Masters Degree?
Hi everyone! If you’d like to learn an edtech masters degree online, keep reading! As you’re probably aware, our sister company, Eduspire, is an innovative provider of professional development courses for teachers. Through their more than 50 ed-tech related courses, Eduspire seeks to reinvigorate teachers to more deeply engage their students through the effective use of today’s technology. Their goal is to transform teaching and learning through practical integration of contemporary technologies in K-12 classrooms.
And through Eduspire’s partnership with Wilson College, a Pennsylvania-based university, the Master of Educational Technology degree program has been making a big impact since its launch last November.
A New Kind of Masters Degree Program
The MET provides unparalleled flexibility through its more than 50 cutting-edge ed-tech course offerings. Participants choose ten 3-credit courses which they can complete 100% online from anywhere in the country. To see a current course catalog, click here.
Enrollment occurs on a continuous basis, so anyone can enroll at any time and, once enrolled, participants can complete the program at their pace (within 6 years).
Current and practical, with courses designed by practicing educators, each topic provides instruction in key educational technology areas.
Furthermore, the MET is affordable at just $515 per credit for the 2017-2018 year.
Contact Eduspire to Learn More
Interested in learning more about you can earn an edtech masters degree online? Simply complete this contact form and a program advisor will respond to your inquiry.
Undoubtedly one of the slower industries to adopt and widely use technology to reshape itself, education is finally coming around. Gradually, schools across the country are starting to allocate budgets toward digital initiatives and tech tools aimed at improving the learning experience and streamlining processes.
One example of a tech tool that has not yet been widely adopted in the education realm is the API (Application Programming Interface — or “under-the-hood” technical architecture that allow different systems to “talk to each other” and exchange data). Whether or not we’re aware, most of us enjoy the benefits of APIs every day through our use of mobile apps like Facebook, Uber, and countless others. Aside from the most well-known tech giants, companies in the finance, communications, and travel industries have caught on to the massive potential enabled by APIs — potential for growth and versatility.
We can’t help but to be excited by the EdTech Digest article titled “The Aspirational Thinking of the API Economy” by Micheal Heffernan for reinforcing the notion that the rise of APIs in the edtech space is going to create opportunities for automation and collaboration that, before now, have not been possible.
While the education industry has lagged behind other sectors in adoption, we are starting to see a new wave that will bring these advances to schools, teachers, admins, and students. Heffernan writes:
“By bringing systems together, APIs give users a sense of effortless mobility. Their simplicity makes all kinds of services instantly accessible. Customers gain massive benefits from speedier development cycles since the applications they use are constantly evolving behind the scenes, thereby offering a tangible sense of moving with change rather than resisting it.”
Imagine the possibilities when administrative functions, scheduling, attendance, learning management systems, and other edtech tools can all easily exchange data. The impact to personalized learning, to assessment, to mastery, and to actionable data would be magnificent.
Software companies and developers aren’t strangers to the education space — in fact, EdTech Digest (the source of the cited article) has an annual contest in which hundreds of software companies compete for title of the coolest school tool or trend setter in various categories — but most have yet to scratch the surface of the influence that APIs could have on education as a whole, not just as an industry.
Our company, Eduspire Solutions, has been developing applications that streamline and digitize administrative solutions within the context of education, primarily as standalone systems, but we are now moving in the direction of even more integration with data available from other school systems to improve functionality and user experiences.
Eduspire Solutions also supports developments of common standards around different data types to further facilitate this type of information exchange without the need for custom programming for each system’s API. Applications like our e-hallpass and FlexTime Manager seamlessly interact with system data from hundreds of schools across the country, creating a user experience that is truly integrated.
But this article on the API economy isn’t the first time we’ve felt a spark ignite our imagination about the future of edtech. Our guest post for GoGuardian, titled “Are Analog Processes in Schools Meant to Stay That Way?“, conceptualizes (and brings to life) real opportunities for modernization in the slow-to-adopt education space. Change is happening, and we’re excited for the future of edtech once APIs become a larger part of that change.
Personalized Learning is a Big Picture Concept
As we discussed in another of our blog posts called “Defining Personalized Learning,” there are many components and approaches to this very broad term. It’s not one-size-fits-all; there is no “personalized learning” policy manual that says a school or a teacher should perform in any specific way to ensure the delivery of a “personalized learning experience” to its students.
See What Education Experts Say About the Role of Tech in Personalized Learning
In this EdSurge article titled “Does Tech Support Personalized Learning — or Distract Us From What’s Really Important?” three experts in the field of education research participated in an EdSurge panel to answer this provocative question. Quotes from the panel discussion are contained in the article and there’s also a link to a an audio podcast version.
The main takeaways are as follows:
1. Personalized Learning is a broad “umbrella term” that the education community has given up trying to define. It includes various phases and approaches to differentiation and student voice and choice, many times with a technological component. However, the use of technology is not essential to the concept of personalized learning.
2. Personalized learning isn’t so much about the technology that is available, but rather the ideas that should be built around it — the who, what, when, where, and why. Without purpose, without knowing what a school or district hopes to measure and how it wants its students to feel about their learning experience — then the tech becomes an accessory that can quickly muddle an entire personalized learning initiative.
3. On the other hand, if the appropriate tool is found, it can be powerful. Much success has been had when schools districts lean on one or two core pieces of technology as opposed to bringing in every flashy edtech tool on the market. The greatest edtech triumphs occur when the consumer has a clear picture of what success looks like within the context of the target initiative, and then is able to use the data gleaned from the tool to close learning gaps in a more efficient, targeted, and personal way than before the initiative began.
4. Edtech tools are ubiquitous, some are over-promising, and there are just too many choices to really know what will work. The tool-finding becomes easier when a district assembles a core team in the early stages of their personalized learning plan, so that these core members can collaboratively rapid-test various solutions and weigh in on the impact and the pros and cons of each tool. Having just one eager and enthusiastic teacher whose mission it is to champion school edtech initiatives will likely lead to short-sighted decision making that doesn’t serve the whole population, and a crash-and-burn effect where the personalized learning initiative becomes a supernova of distraction that simply crumbles and isn’t brought back again. Personalized learning and edtech are still territories that many teachers approach with trepidation, so, for maximum buy-in and success, these plans must be designed to scale.
In short, personalized learning, to be done right, takes thoughtful planning from the earliest stages. Only once goals, a mission, and a picture of success are defined, can a cohesive team begin to evaluate tech tools to support the mission of creating a student-centered learning experience that builds bridges where bridges were needed.
10 Great EdTech Lists to Ring in the New Year
Many classrooms are full of activity in the busy weeks leading up to the holidays. There might be tests, projects, celebrations, and concerts while teachers have grades to submit and clean-up to tackle. It’s not unusual for some of the initiatives that had teachers inspired in the beginning of the school year to have lost some steam or even fallen off the to-do list — it’s just such a busy time of year and the days fly by!
EdTech Lists for 2017
But the promise of 2017 being right around the corner brings plenty to be excited for, so don’t give up on those ed-tech wish lists just yet, teachers! Check out this list of, well, lists we compiled from around the web to help you decide which classroom initiatives will be among your priorities for 2017.
From Around the Web: Exploring Technology’s Impact on Personalized Learning
In this EdTech Digest guest column post, titled “Getting Personal,” by Jason Wright, the evolution of personalized learning in education is explored, as well as the vital role technology plays in creating a student-centered learning environment.
What Exactly Is Personalized Learning?
Wright defines personalized learning as “a variety of learning experiences that are tailored to the distinct learning needs of individual students,” and explains that educators who practice this student-centered approach are more likely to enable students to reach their full potential thanks to increased engagement and greater retention of material.
How Does Personalized Learning Improve the Student-Teacher Experience?
Instead of focusing entirely on the technology tools available to educators who wish to exercise personalized learning techniques, Wright describes the ways in which such resources aid in student assessment metrics such as repetition and long-term memory, learning styles, on-demand learning, individual tracking, and students taking an active role in their education.
Providing links to external resources which further support his points on assessing individual student progress and students’ motivation to learn, Wright concludes his piece with a strong statement:
Personalized education results in better retention, higher performance, and improved engagement. Teachers should now look to technology to help them provide individualized learning to their students.
Want to read the full article? Click here.
Looking for Tech Tools to Support Your Personalized Learning Initiatives?
For examples of innovative technology tools that drive personalized learning, check out Eduspire’s guest post (on the Whooo’s Reading blog), titled “10 Personalized Learning Apps,” or take a look at our tools, FlexTime Manager and VoiceChoicer, unique software products which facilitate flexible scheduling and student activity voting and management.