Texas School District to Give iPads to All Teachers, Students

In the McAllen school district, officials last week announced a more than $20 million commitment to provide an iPad for all 25,300 students and 1,634 teachers.

And despite painful budget cuts, Superintendent James Ponce said the costly initiative—coined “Teaching Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community,” or TLC-3—was mandatory in the 21st century.

Should Kids Be Taught to Code? Growing Movement Says Yes

Think computer science should be a standard component of the public school curriculum? So does a grassroots group of educators, developers, parents, and industry leaders in the U.K. As part of a just-launched effort called Coding for Kids, they’re working to find ways to teach kids how to code and generally “support education of programming and computational thinking for the current and next generations.”

Adding computer science education early, Mulqueeny wrote on the petition, would “lessen the disparity between the sexes.” Waiting any later in students’ education poses a risk of “losing the female coders” to the geek-aversion phenomenon. 

They’re also challenging interested parties to commit to furthering the coding education movement and tracking commitments on Twitter through the #codingforkids hashtag.

Text messaging in schools

Over the last few months, there has been increased interest in using text-messaging at school. Although many schools do still have strict policies that forbid using cell phones in class, more are exploring ways to use text-messaging as a communication tool to bridge home and school.

There’s also been an explosion in new tech start-ups that offer services for just this purpose. They’re taking advantage of students’ and families’ access to cell phones, but more importantly perhaps, they’re tapping into the popularity of text-messaging among teens. They’re also working to make sure that the SMS communication is safe, that both student and teacher privacy is protected, and that records are kept so that any inappropriate behavior can be identified. Some of these startups include Remind 101, Cel.ly, and Snapp School. (You can read more about Cel.ly here.)


But just as text-messaging may be on the cusp of widespread adoption in schools, there are rumblings in other sectors that text-messaging is dead. Or more accurately, perhaps, that text-messaging should simply die.

Will YouTube Videos Ever Replace Teachers?

The “flipped classroom"—which switches the order of classroom instruction and homework—is the latest education craze. Instead of receiving in-class lectures from a teacher, students watch a video lesson on YouTube. The next day, they head to school and do homework under the teacher’s supervision. Flipped classroom advocates say the model is more effective because students have their teachers and peers with them to give them feedback when they encounter problems with homework.

But there’s a major flaw in this innovative model: the nation still has a tremendous digital divide.

The other element left out of the flipped classroom discussion is that watching a video is no more active or engaging than reading a textbook. 

The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator?

The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator?

A few good math smartphone apps for elementary school students

This article by The New York Times mentions several good apps for teaching math schools to your young children. 

Read the post

Facebook is Not Ruining Student Grades, Study Says

The latest of several studies to look into the relationship between Facebook use and low grades has a counterintuitive twist — some kinds of Facebook use are correlated withhigher GPAs.

“Facebook use in and of itself is not detrimental to academic outcome,” says study author Reynol Junco, a professor at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. “It depends how it’s used.”

All Facebook activities do not have the same relationship with grades. Posting status updates and using Facebook chat generally mean a lower GPA, while checking to see what friends are up to and sharing links suggest a higher GPA. In other words, social Facebook activities were correlated with lower grades and information-related Facebook activities were correlated with higher grades.

Great read about classrooms and their technology future

To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.

This conundrum calls into question one of the most significant contemporary educational movements. Advocates for giving schools a major technological upgrade — which include powerful educators, Silicon Valley titans and White House appointees — say digital devices let students learn at their own pace, teach skills needed in a modern economy and hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets.

“The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. 

And yet, in virtually the same breath, he said change of a historic magnitude is inevitably coming to classrooms this decade: “It’s one of the three or four biggest things happening in the world today.”

Read more from the New York Times

Why Colleges Shouldn’t Outsource Social Media

From my experience, if you are thinking about outsourcing your social media, you may want to reconsider: 

1. You know your school’s story best

2. Your “experts” are already at your fingertips

3. Agencies aren’t anymore “in-the-know” than you

 4. Agencies and consultants can be expensive

5. The Secret

Want to be let in on a little secret the social media experts don’t want you to know?

The truth is, there is no secret. That’s right, there’s no magic pill or formula that is going to launch your school to social media stardom. And more importantly it’s not about you, as much as it is about them.

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