FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Spoke at Educational Technology Summit

Today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered a speech at  2014 Educational Technology Summit in Washington D.C., and laid out the next steps in E-rate modernization, specifically that “we must tackle the Rural Fiber Gap if we are to achieve our connectivity targets for all schools and libraries.” In his remarks, the Chairman said “we must still address the challenge of improving the broadband infrastructure to the building for many schools and libraries, particularly in rural America.”  The remarks, as prepared for delivery, are available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-chairman-tom-wheeler-remarks-second-ed-tech-summit.

The Chairman’s speech made clear that the next steps in the E-rate modernization process should:
·         Close the Rural Fiber Gap in schools and libraries.
·         Tackle the challenge of making the E-Rate affordable for every library and school across the country.

In addition, the Chairman called on education leaders and telecom providers to step up to the challenge of bringing equality to urban and rural schools and libraries across the country.  “For all our progress, our work to transition E-rate away from 20th century technologies to enable the support of 21st connectivity is not over.  We have updated the program to close the Wi-Fi gap. Next, we must close the Rural Fiber Gap.”

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Speak Up Surveys Open Next Week. Register your School now!



Speak Up 2014 launches next Monday!


Join the conversation about the use of technology for learning through Speak Up, a National Research Project.

The Speak Up National Research project annually polls K-12 students, parents and educators about the role of technology for learning in and out of school and represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder voice on digital learning. Since 2003, over 3.4 million K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, principals, technology leaders and district administrators have shared their views and ideas through Speak Up. Data findings are shared each year with federal, state and local policymakers to inform education programs, policies and funding.

Surveys are open for input October 6th – December 19th, 2014 at: www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2014.

For additional information on the Speak Up surveys, including FAQs, promotional materials and more please visit www.tomorrow.org/speakup.

Register as your school or district’s primary contact for Speak Up

As the primary contact for your district, school or organization you will be in charge of the promotion and encouragement of the survey at your selected organizational level. In return, you will receive free, online access to your aggregated results with state and national comparisons in February 2015.

Benefits of being the primary contact

  • Gain administrative access by assigning your school or district an administrative login password, which allows you to update school or district contact information, assign individual student survey passwords to schools, and more.
  • View your school/district survey counts at any time, and view your data once it becomes available (administrative password is required to view data results).
  • Ensure confidentiality of your surveys with your students by assigning a survey “secret password” for students to use to take the survey.
  • Keep up to date on important updates during the survey process, such as participation numbers.

Click here to sign up as your school or district’s primary contact! All we need are your name, email address, an administrative organization login password (to view weekly survey counts and other important updates during the survey period), and a student survey password (secret word students will use to access the survey).

If you have any additional questions regarding speak up registration, please contact the Speak Team at speakup@tomorrow.org.

Get a sneak peek of this year’s student survey questions before they launch on October 6th!

We’ve made our student survey questions available to view before Speak Up launches on October 6th. Click here to view the surveys for grades K-12, and check the website throughout the week as we update it to include more survey questions.

New topics include:

  • Blended learning
  • 1:1 computing
  • BYOD
  • Coding
  • Data privacy
  • Student self-directed learning
  • Ideal school mobile app
  • 21st Century skills
  • And more!

Speak Up has a new look!

We are happy to announce our new and improved banner for this year’s Speak Up survey! Be on the lookout for this banner when taking the survey:

survey banner

Speak Up on the Go!

Check out Julie Evans’s webinars from last month by clicking the titles below:

Engaging Students, Empowering Learning – New Roles for Digital Content and Games in the Classroom (BrainPOP)

In this webinar, Julie introduces a new white paper that highlights Speak Up research findings around teacher and student use of digital content and games for learning, and how administrators are increasingly supporting those efforts.

Engaging Parents’ Support for Emerging Technologies in the Classroom: Data Review and Discussion (Blackboard K-12)

Learn about new insights into the digital disconnect between students and educators, and stimulate conversations about how to effectively leverage new classroom models of innovation to drive both increased student achievement and teacher productivity.

As always, don’t forget to take the conversation online by mentioning @SpeakUpEd and @ProjectTomorrow on Twitter! Be on the lookout for more discussions regarding educational technology this month.

Thank you for your interest and continued support of Speak Up! Be sure to stay updated on all things Speak Up by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our Blog.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Speak Up Operations Manager, Jenny Hostert, at jhostert@tomorrow.org or via phone at 949/609-4660 ext. 17.

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It’s been determined: Online learning works!

Online Learning is Just as Effective as Traditional Education, According to a New MIT Study

Image via Shutterstock.com

More than 7.1 million students are currently taking at least one online course. Despite the apparent popularity, however, educators have given the trend low marks.

But a new study from MIT suggests naysayers should think otherwise. Massive open online courses are not only effective, researchers have discovered, they are as effective as what’s being traditionally taught in the classroom — regardless of how prepared or in the know students are.

Researchers’ findings have been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and co-author David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, knows they will be controversial.

“A number of well-known educators have said there isn’t going to be much learning in MOOCs,” said Pritchard to MIT News, “or if there is, it will be for people who are already well-educated.”

The group, comprised of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Tsinghua University, completed a before-and-after test on students taking “Mechanics ReView,” an introductory mechanics course offered on massive open online learning platform edX. Researchers then conducted a similar test on students taking the class residentially, discovering:

The amount learned is somewhat greater than in the traditional lecture-based course.

And that goes for even the least prepared, as reflected by their scores on pretests. Pritchard said improvement levels increased across the board, explaining that, even if a student with a lower initial score ends the online course with what would be equivalent to a failing grade, “that person would nevertheless have made substantial gains in understanding.”

Translation: Online learning outcomes are equal, or even better than, those produced in a traditional classroom.

If professors want to improve outcomes in either setting, researchers suggest an approach called “interactive engagement pedagogy,” where students regularly interact in small groups and participate in peer-to-peer learning.

Pritchard told MIT News the study is “just the start of a process of mining the data that can be gained from these online classes.” How long students spend watching lectures, or how often they pause or repeat sections, can all be recorded and used to discover what method of online learning works best.

MIT recently released its final report on what the school’s future will look like, education-wise. At the time, President L. Rafael Reif said the Institute will be engaging in bold experiments — exactly what this new research suggests. Faculty might even begin blending traditional, residential learning with online education to keep tuition costs low.

So, for the remaining naysayers out there, consider this statement by Reif:

As with any disruptive technology, MOOCs have been viewed with enthusiasm in many quarters and skepticism in some. However, the underlying facts are inarguable: that the rising cost of education, combined with the transformative potential of online teaching and learning technologies, presents a long-term challenge that no university can afford to ignore.

It’s been determined: Online learning works.

Read the article by Lauren Landry in BostInno at http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2014/09/24/mit-study-how-do-online-courses-compare-to-traditional-learning/

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October is Connected Educator Month!

Millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development opportunities as part of Connected Educator Month (CEM) the last two years. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, Connected Educator Month offers highly distributed, diverse and engaging activities to educators at all levels, with the ultimate goal of getting more educators more connected, spurring collaboration and innovation in the space.

Based on its success in 2012 and 2013, the initiative is poised to reach even more educators in 2014 through expanded partnerships and enhanced programming. To help CEM continue to scale, the US Department of Education is distributing the event’s management out to the connected community, led by the American Institutes of Research (AIR), Digital Promise (DP), Grunwald Associates (GA), and Powerful Learning Practice (PLP). This core team will further push out leadership for elements of the celebration to other groups, and empower individual educators to take ownership in a variety of ways as well.

Some of the other key ways we are hoping to build on CEM 2013’s success in 2014 (based on participant feedback, and general trends) include:

  • Making the event more fully global, to better incorporate learnings from around the world, supporting multiple countries in the development of full event slates as part of the celebration.

  • Making the event more fully mobile and blended, in reflection of the trends in educational practice and use.

  • A greater emphasis on collaboration and capacity-building in our planning, tools, and activities, as the logical next step beyond connection, and to address participants’ desire for a more action-oriented approach (led by the National Center for Literacy Education)

  • Launching a series of ongoing connected education initiatives during the month (our own and others) to keep momentum building throughout the year, as well as developing more year-round resources (like 2013’s district toolkit).

  • More events/activities that pull in other education stakeholders–parents, students, whole school communities, policymakers–to magnify the event’s creative impact.

  • Enhancements to features and programming to keep the event fully accessible as it continues to grow.

Thanks to infrastructure built in 2012-13, we’ve also got a lot more “runway” this year to work with participating organizations and individuals on event/activity development than ever before.

Connected Educator Month By The Numbers

Highlights of the 2013 event included:

  • 300+ major education organizations officially participating
  • 600+ national events and activities (many more local)
  • 1 million+ pages, other locations referencing, promoting or discussing the event
  • 14 million+ reached on Twitter alone

Funding Connected Educator Month

We need your help. Representatives from AIR (Darren Cambridge, Marshal Conley), GA (Peter Grunwald, Tom de Boor), PLP (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach), and others will be raising funds and reaching out for your support and collective ownership of the effort this year.

The original intent of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) was to fund CEM for one year, then turn it over to the community.  As the event has grown, it’s become increasingly clear CEM’s community-driven growth path includes directions that ED is constrained by policy from supporting, e.g. a strong emphasis on global participation.  The department will continue to be part of the core team developing the event, recruiting organizations to the cause, fostering collaborative events & activities, promoting it through all vehicles it has available, and participating at the highest levels (in 2013, the White House and President were involved). But with 14+ million reached in last year’s celebration, ED feels CEM is ready to be sustainably turned over to the community as originally planned.

As a result, we’re seeking funding and in-kind contributions from other sources, with ED’s blessing and support, providing a rare opportunity for close, visible association with–and an opportunity to impact–a highly successful and appreciated, increasingly international month-long online educational event that has grown rapidly year-over-year, with the potential to spread its reach and impact year-round.  More generally, this year’s event will provide a variety of new ways for organizations to get involved.

To get regular updates on all the latest CEM developments subscribe to our blogsign up for the CEM newsletter, or check in with Connected Educator Radio. For more information on CEM, see our reports on the 2012 and 2013 events, and/or this post by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan…

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Highbridge Hill Elementary Flipping Classrooms with Style

The Highbridge Hill Elementary School was the recipient of New Hampshire Society for Technology in Eduation’s Christ Nelson Memorial Grant Program in 2013.  At NHSTE’s Annual Meeting and Night of Networking, Wednesday, September, 24, the Team presented their work to the attendees.

The For more information about Highbridge Hill’s flipped classroom project take a look at their introductory blog post.

To see how Highbridge Hill Elementary School is doing in their Flipped Classroom project read their second blog post Flip Your Class.

Read about Highbridge Hill Elementary School and their Opening Party.

The Highbridge Hill Elementary School Flipped Classroom team had to present to their school board.  Find out how the presentation went and where they are headed next.  Read about the School Board Presentation from one of the team members.

The flipping has begun!  Read about how second grade teacher, Amy Conrad is using the “flipped classroom” concept to teach about addition in her recent blog post Flipped Classroom Blog-Addition with Regrouping

We’re Really Flipping Now!  The fourth grade at HHES had their first flipped assignment about the human body and then in class worked on creating cells, tissues and organs such as the stomach, lungs, heart and brain.  Read about how the teacher things things went well and issues that had to be resolved in the blog post We’re Really Flipping Now.

The 2014 Chris Nelson Memorial Grants have been awarded.  The 2015 grant applications will be released in late March or early April, 2015.

Read more about the Chris Nelson Memorial Grant Program on the NHSTE website at http://nhste.org/nhstegrants

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Future Ready Pledge Announcement from USDOE Office of Educational Technology

At the request of the Office of Educational Technology, US Department of Education, I wanted to share the following information with you.  This message is targeted to local school superintendents.  Please pass it along as appropriate, and consider taking the pledge.

Today the Office of Educational Technology, US Department of Education is releasing the Future Ready District Pledge, a roadmap to achieve success in the conversion to personalized digital learning and calling on education leaders like you to demonstrate your commitment to leading this transformation by signing the Pledge. Selected Future Ready District Pledge signatories will be invited to join us on Oct. 7th at the White House while others will participate digitally in a virtual signing ceremony.  Signatories will also be invited to attend Future Ready regional summits where they will learn more about the cutting edge of personalized digital learning, how to implement the technical infrastructure to support it, and how to access millions of dollars in funding to help actualize the commitments outlined in the Pledge.

As a leader you are on the forefront of the transition to personalized digital learning.  From the launch of the President’s ConnectED Initiative and the commitment of billions of dollars from the private sector, to the recent modernization of the federal E-Rate program, and the increased flexibility in federal funds, collectively we have made great strides in bringing high-speed connectivity to students across the country. The U.S. Department of Education is further committed to supporting you with new professional development tools and digital learning resources to build upon this foundation and help all schools and districts become #FutureReady.

We hope you will review and electronically sign the pledge today!

Thank you once again for your hard work helping our nation’s students become college, career, and Future Ready.


Seth Andrew
Senior Advisor, Educational Technology
Superintendent-in-Residence, Office of the Secretary

Future Ready FAQ

1. What is the Future Ready District Pledge?

The Future Ready District Pledge is a commitment by superintendents to work with educators, families, and community members to help achieve a district of Future Ready schools. The Future Ready District Pledge is designed to set out a roadmap to achieve successful personalized digital learning for every student and to commit districts to move as quickly as possible towards our shared vision of preparing students for success in college, careers and citizenship.

2. What are Future Ready Schools?

Future Ready schools successfully incorporate the infrastructure, devices, professional development, content and human capacity necessary to successfully implement the ConnectED Initiative and have become local exemplars of an effective transition to digital learning.

3. What do superintendents receive for taking the Future Ready District Pledge?

Superintendents will be invited to attend regional summits where best practices around digital learning leadership will be shared. Regional summit attendees may also have access to consulting services from leading information technology providers.

4. Why should a superintendent take the Future Ready District Pledge?

In addition to participation in the Regional Summits and consulting services, all pledging superintendents become part of an online community of Future Ready district leaders.

5. When does a superintendent take the pledge?

Superintendents can take the pledge via the Future Ready District Pledge page today! In addition, 100 select superintendents will take the pledge in-person during the Superintendents’ Summit at the White House. Superintendents nationwide will be able to view a livestream of the ceremony in their home district and virtually join the 100 superintendents in signing the Pledge.

6. I’m not a superintendent. How can I help to ensure my schools are Future Ready?

Please share the Future Ready District Pledge with your superintendent. Click here to share the Future Ready District Pledge.

7. What Future Ready resources are currently available?

The Office of Educational Technology’s website includes resources for Students and Families, Teachers, and District and State Leaders. In addition, several detailed guides will be released in conjunction with the Superintendents’ Summit.

8. Who should we contact with more questions?

For more information, please contact Seth Andrew, Superintendent in Residence, at superintendents [at] ed.gov

Additional links and information:

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5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator

Technology is a crucial part of what is happening in the classroom, and whenever a new hardware or software comes out, educators are thinking, “How could we use this in the classroom?” Although we should have different ways and options to reach all students, we far too often start thinking about the “stuff” instead of what our students need. For learning to be “student-centered”, then our questions should often focus on the student experience in the classroom.

Here are some questions that can help us create new and better opportunities for our students in their learning:

   1. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?

In my experience teaching professional learning opportunities, one of the hardest audiences that we can teach are educators. They have truly high expectations of their own learning, not only because they create those same environments for their own classroom, but their time is limited. Educators always have things that they could be doing, so if the professional learning is not engaging and meaningful, we often start thinking about all of the other things that we could be doing with our time to help our students.

These high expectations are something we need to tap into for our students. If we asked this question and started to empathize with the experience our students have in the classroom, it would really help us think about learning from their point of view. For example, if worksheets were handed out in a professional learning opportunity, some teachers would be bored to tears, yet do we do the same thing to our students? That type of learning is not about what is better for kids, but what is easy for teachers. We have to try and think about the experience from our student’s perspective.

2. What is best for this student?

When I think about my experience in school, I had some amazing teachers, but I don’t know if I really understood the way that I learned most effectively. I remember later on in school and university, that I would write notes from my teacher and go over them later (which would never actually happen) not because that is what worked for me, but that is what every other student did. Again, this was more about the teacher than the student. It is important to not only think about the perspective from the class as a whole, but to know each student and what works for them.

How do they learn best? What are some ways that they can show their learning? For example, if a student is trying to share their understanding of any curriculum objective, is writing it down every time the only way they can show what they understand? Could they create a video, share a podcast, create a visual, or something else? There are different ways that kids can learn so it is important that we not only know that, but they know it as well.

3. What is this student’s passion?

When I was in school, I remember constantly being asked to read novel after novel, even though it was not something that I found interesting. I know it important that in school we are exposed to different things, but I was never once asked to read any non-fiction in school, even though that is what I was interested in most. It was near impossible to get me read to a novel, but at any point in a day, I would head off to the library and read every Sports Illustrated that I could get my hands on, cover-to-cover. This is something that should have been tapped into in my school experience.

Relationships are the foundation of every great school, so we need to learn more about our students and what they love, and tap into them, One of the best experiences that I have ever had in school as an educator was “Identity Day”, where kids would share things that they loved outside of school in a type of display or presentation. There was such an enthusiasm to share their interests, and it is important that from this knowledge, we help to create better experience for our students that taps into these passions.

  4. What are some way that we can create a true learning community?

I remember once hearing someone say, “Why is it that when kids leave school, they have a ton of energy, and teachers are tired? Why is not the other way around?” The reality is, we often create experiences that students become dependent upon the teacher for learning. What would be beneficial for not only our students and ourselves, is if we can have them tap into the expertise of one another, not just the teacher. Things such as blogging, edmodo, google apps, and using twitter hashtags in the classroom, help us to open our students learn from one another. We need to embrace the idea that everyone in our classroom is a teacher and a learner, and tap into this community, especially in a world where we can learn so much from networks.

5. How did this work for our students?

At the end of the year, I would always ask for feedback from my students on my teaching. This would really help improve my teaching for the next set of students, but did nothing for the kids that were in my classroom that year. Getting feedback often throughout the year, not just in the form of grades, but through conversations, both open and anonymous to ensure our students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, helps us to reflect on how we are serving our students that in currently in the classroom. Reflection is a crucial part of becoming a better educator and learner, and should be a process that we embrace as teachers so that we can also see the benefits of reflection in learning for our students.

Again, to create new and better opportunities for our students, it is important that we empathize with the experience of our students and try to understand what it is like to be a learner in our classroom. Teachers need to be experts in learning first, before they can be truly effective teaching. Just because a pencil or a computer works for us in our learning, doesn’t mean that it works for each student. We have to remember that each kid is different and unique, and the more we know about them as learners, the better they will do. But it is also important that through this experience, it is not only teachers that understand how their students learn, but the students themselves. After their time with us, if they have a deep understanding of how they learn, they will be able to continuously grow after our time with them. That is a true measure of teacher effectiveness.

Read the entire article by George Couros on The Principal of Change at http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4789

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