The Edtech Revolution: 2010 – 2017

School Devices People Isometric

In December 2010, The Journal –“the leading Technology based education publication for K-12 and higher education”– published an article with a 5-prong prediction for the following year. Will the cloud continue to reign? Will more schools embrace student-centric mobile devices? These were the pressing questions of the time – a time 8-months after the release of the first iPad and 6-months before the release of the first Chromebook.

Now, we know that edtech has been proven to improve test scores and overall classroom engagement. But, how does the 2010 vision for edTech match what’s actually happening today?
 

7 YEARS LATER…

 

1. “There will be more momentum for mobile devices in classrooms with an eye toward affordable alternatives to traditional 1:1 rollouts.”

The 1:1 initiative aimed for districts to issue each student a laptop for use in-school and at home. For some districts, the cost per student quickly became unrealistic to initially implement, leading schools to create alternate strategies.

Then there was the iPad. Appealing to all ages for all occasions, the iPad topped the market in the following years after its release. Given that many children were acquiring iPads for personal use, some schools adopted a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy. Districts even integrated the two models to cut costs.

However, it was the Chromebook (2011) that truly revolutionized 1:1. While the iPad cost anywhere from $300 – $400, Chromebooks were sold from $199. The cost, plus it’s easy manageability and durability, made Chromebooks a main player in the edtech game. In 2012, Chromebooks accounted for only 1% of the devices sold to US classrooms; now, they make up more than half of the edtech market.
 

2. “Web-based instruction will gain more traction at the K-12 level.”

2010 was also the year that the Common Core Standards Initiative was enacted in response to numerous indicators of low student academic performance. Although the Common Core itself elicits mixed feelings, its effect on edtech is unwavering: “Integral to the Common Core was the expectation that they would be tested on computers using online standardized exams. As Secretary Duncan’s chief of staff wrote at the time, the Common Core was intended to create a national market for book publishers, technology companies, testing corporations, and other vendors.”

Indeed, $2.3 Billion has been invested in US K-12 education technology companies since 2010. Globally, edtech spending is predicted to reach $252 Billion by 2020.
 

3. “More tech-based monitoring and assessment tools will be incorporated into to the instructional mix.”

In 2000, the FCC created the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA requires schools and libraries to install measures to protect children from obscene or harmful content in exchange for discounts offered by the E-rate program. Many schools employ the use of a web filter to meet these requirements; however, administrators required new solutions that extended protection to school-owned devices at home.

Monitoring now includes take home policies and cyberbullying & self-harm detection. Parents are engaged via student activity reports on school-owned devices.
 

4. “The cloud will help ease the financial burden on schools while helping to expand technological capabilities.”

1:1 + Common Core = $$$$$. Valerie Strauss, a Washington Post reporter, claimed: “The financial cost of implementing Common Core has barely been mentioned in the national debates. All Common Core testing will be done online. This is a bonanza for the tech industry and other vendors. Every school district must buy new computers, new teaching materials, and new bandwidth for the testing. At a time when school budgets have been cut in most states and many thousands of teachers have been laid off, school districts across the nation will spend billions to pay for Common Core testing.”

Ironically, the cloud brought us light. Along with Chromebooks came Google Apps for Education – a suite of free, cloud-based productivity tools that allow for easy collaboration and engagement on any device. Check out their “Impact Portraits” to see specific examples of how the GSuite has benefited school districts in a variety of ways.

In addition, cloud-based web filtering allowed schools to abandon appliance based filters – saving them time, money, and effort with utmost CIPA compliance.
 

5. “Teachers will have access to expanded professional development programs.”

In 2011, the FCC updated CIPA compliance requirements. By 2012, all school Internet safety policies had to include educational programs detailing proper online behavior, cyberbullying awareness and response. In order to impart this knowledge to their students, teachers also had to go through digital literacy training.

Now, many schools now provide digital training professional workshops to help teachers integrate online safety best practices in their everyday classrooms. Some states mandate digital citizenship training for students and administrators in order for school districts to receive funding. By the 2014 House Bill 5101, each Florida school district will be granted at least $250,000 for digital classroom development. In order to receive this funding, each district must submit a digital classroom plan. The proposal must meet Florida Department of Education criteria. This includes creating a device Acceptable/Responsible Use Policy for students and providing digital literacy training for teachers, both of which are intended to combat cyberbullying by teaching students to be good digital citizens.

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Now you can install Securly from a web browser

securly, web, network, self-serve, schools, web filter

We’re not only the leading cloud-based provider of Internet security for K-12 schools, but also the industry’s first self-servable web filter.  “With our self-serve update, Securly is realizing its long-held vision of giving IT Admins a product that can be set up in minutes,” says Paul Katcher, UI developer at Securly.

Since the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in 2000, web filtering has been required for schools that seek e-rate funding. Customarily, the industry has been heavily dominated by appliance hardware players.  Their products need to be shipped, painstakingly setup and often end up as bandwidth bottlenecks on K-12 networks that are increasingly turning to bandwidth-hungry applications such as streaming media.

By contrast, we have been cloud-based from day one. With no need for a hardware appliance, customers can deploy Securly with a few simple network configuration changes and benefit from functionality such as granular auditing and policies that they are familiar with. In doing so, they are assisted by our award winning support team based in Charlotte.

Setup can be independently completed through a web browser session without ever needing to speak with a sales or support person. With this update, Securly eliminates the complexity of network based web-filters with the simplicity of EdTech tools like Remind and ClassDojo.

We hope self-serve will save IT Admins time and frustration during the back-to-school rush.  For more information, contact support@securly.com.

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Introducing “Dr.House” – Our New Debug Tool to Automate Network Troubleshooting

tool, web filter, network, debugThe back-to-school rush is fast approaching, and we have just the tool to ease IT admins and school administrators back into the swing of things…

Meet Dr. House, our new tool that allows customers to certify that their networks are up and running correctly. Dr. House launches a series of automated checks meant to detect the most common network misconfigurations. It performs a variety of tests including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Checks for the presence of a caching server that could be impending filtering.
  • Makes sure that there are no rogue DNS servers without securly DNS configured.
  • Verifies that the Securly certificate is installed.
  • Confirms that all outbound IPs are registered.
  • Ensures that critical Securly services are reachable from the network.

 

Securly was founded on the premise of a quick deployment – the antithesis to the customary web filter setup experience. While other web filtering products require a physical appliance (that still needs to be shipped and laboriously setup), we have been cloud-based from the start.

In the weeks ahead, we will also become the industry’s first self-servable web filter; setup can be completed through a web browser session. Our own Jayesh Agrawal, a software engineer who was instrumental in implementing this tool, says, “The release of Dr. House is a huge leap forward in automating network misconfiguration detection. We hope that this tool will save customers time and frustration while easing the deployment experience.

For more information, contact support@securly.com.

 

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Introducing a Pause Button for Take-Home Devices

parent, time, device, school, screen

Kids spending too much time on their school issued devices?  With our new mobile app, parents can now shut off internet activity with a single tap. It’s really that simple.  Perfect for parents who want more control over their kids’ screen time on school owned devices.

It’s impossible for parents to keep an eye on their children 24/7.  Many parents we’ve encountered fear their child is spending too much time online, using their school-owned devices for online gaming and other time sinks.  Research has linked rising numbers of childhood obesity, disrupted sleep patterns, and under-developed motor/cognitive function to device overuse.  However, results vary greatly on this topic – and others cite that screen time is beneficial to child development.  Essentially, moderation is key.

Securly can help parents manage their child’s screen time.  Securly’s engineering team is furiously cranking away at making major improvements to our parent product. We already have 75+ districts across the country signed up to be “Partner Districts” for the launch of our Parent Portal + App + Email reports. Come Fall, these Districts will have one more awesome feature to look forward to that we think their parents are going to love – A Pause Button for take-home devices.

Oh did we forget to mention that this does not cost parents a thing?

Coming to school owned devices near you this Fall.

 

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13 Steps to Shape & Secure Your 1:1 Chromebook Program

chromebooks, web filtering chromebooks, 1:1 chromebook, filter chromebooks at home, chromebook filter

The following tips will help maximize the online safety and productivity of your students.  We will demystify the Google Apps for Education Admin Console, providing you with the tools to successfully optimize your school’s 1:1 program and edtech experience.  Taken from Best Practices to Shape & Secure Your 1:1 Program for Chromebooks.

The Google Apps cloud-based policy, simplified:

  1. Device Settings (Steps 1-3)
  2. User Settings (Steps 4-13)

>Chrome Device Settings

1. Enroll Your Device

To enroll a Chromebook into the school policy, make sure the device is first enrolled into the enterprise policy by keeping the “Allow devices to enroll automatically” setting turned ON for organizational units requiring admin management.  Students can then login without admins needing to individually login to each of these devices.  

chromebooks

 

2. Deactivate Guest Mode

Restrict Guest Mode to better audit student activity.  Otherwise, through a guest account, students can use the Chromebook without the district user policy in place.

chromebooks, 1:1 chromebook

 

3. Limit Sign-in Access

This allows students to use only their given school account for browsing the web, ensuring thorough auditing.

chromebooks

 

>Chrome User Settings

4. Display Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) Upon Startup

Via “Pages to Load on Startup” in settings, schools can set their Acceptable Use Policy  as the first thing students see upon opening a browser.  This serves to remind students of proper online conduct, digital citizenship best practices, and any other school policies they are bound by.

acceptable use policy, chromebooks, digital citizenship

 

5. Set Policy Refresh Rate to 30 Minutes

Select the minimum 30 minutes for time between policy refreshes to guarantee your students’ Chromebooks are updating with each new admin console change.
1:1 chromebook web filter

 

6. Enable Safe Browsing & Malicious Sites Protection

Choose “Always enable Safe Browsing” and “Prevent user from proceeding anyway to malicious sites” to protect your students from phishing and sites that involve platform independent vulnerabilities (identity theft, financial theft, password theft, etc).

chromebooks, online safety

 

Take Home Policy –  If the Chromebooks leave school with the students, there are two ways to secure the devices: a web filter proxy or a Chromebook extension.  Both solutions intercept and police network traffic to and from the devices.

 

7a. Change Proxy Settings for Take Home Policies

Arrange settings to point to your filter’s Proxy Autoconfiguration (PAC) file.  The PAC files allow you to control what traffic should be proxied.

home web filter, chromebook filtering at home

 

7b. Deploy Pre-installed Apps and Extensions

Using the “Manage pre-installed apps” wizard, search for the filtering extension of your choice on the Chrome Web Store, and deploy it to the organizational units that will take the devices home.

chromebooks, filter chromebooks

 

8. Block Apps and Extensions

Blocking all apps and extensions will prevent students from later installing games and other time-sinks.

chromebooks

 

9. Auto-authorize Plugins

Certain plugins require authorization from the students before they install or initialize.  However, in accordance with the whitelisting approach of only letting admin-installed plugins run, admins can auto-authorize requests so they are never presented to students.

chromebooks

 

10. Save Browser History and Disable Incognito Mode

Keep browser history turned ON for a complete report of online student activity.  Disallow incognito mode – it bypasses pre-installed security apps and can be used to evade the district filtering policy.

chromebooks, safe search

 

11. Turn Google Safe Search ON

If your district’s web filter does not support Safe Search for Google, apply this setting to enforce safe search directly via the Chrome policy.  Note: this safe search setting only applies to Google.  However, a variety of safe search websites are available for student use and some web filters are capable of enforcing safe search on multiple platforms.

chromebooks, google safe search, safe search, google image search

 

12. Disable Developer Tools

Developer tools can be used to circumvent district policy or gain unfair advantage over other students by reverse engineering of edtech applications that transmit insecure data or have confidential information hidden away in the code.chromebooks

 

13. Restrict Chrome:// URLs

Disable chrome://extensions and chrome://settings.  Chrome://extensions allow students to start/stop extensions.  Chrome://settings and other chrome://addresses provide settings or information unnecessary to students.

chromebooks

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The Key to A Successful Online Safety Policy

school web filter, online internet safety, 1:1 schools,

70.3% of students we surveyed did not know what web filter their school was using, if at all.  ALL of the students we interviewed were unaware as to what sites were prohibited on their school’s network.  Teachers themselves are often surprised and irritated by blocks to YouTube clips planned for class lecture.  Both teachers and students feel that they waste time trying to navigate their school’s web filter.  The solution is simple:  greater transparency.

Transparency may seem counterintuitive; isn’t the whole point of web filtering to screen content?  Well, teaching the school community about their web filtering system will optimize internet safety features and help students/teachers maximize web resources.  Students seek knowledge of the categories of websites that are blocked, which they feel would preempt incidents of being surprised upon being served a blocked page.  In fact, majority of students understand the rationale and support the concept behind web filters and safety measures that schools have put into place.   

By the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), schools are required to 1) employ technology protection measures and 2) educate students on appropriate online behavior.  The latter should:

 

In addition, IT Admins should notify teachers of protocol for whitelisting sites.  Each process is different depending on the specific web filter.  Most school web filters require approval from the IT Admin, others allow teachers to temporarily whitelist a website using Google Apps for Education.    

This simple tip should help schools safely integrate technology into the classroom!  For more information on creating a CIPA-compliant Internet Safety Policy, check this out!


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5 Tips for Student Engagement and Concept Retention

1:1 schools, education, elementary school, youtube for education, EdTech Update

Across the United States, the average school day is approximately six and a half hours.  That’s incredibly lengthy relative to the the average human attention span of 8 seconds.  In today’s world, students need even less than 8 seconds to access information or find an answer to their question with search engines and online databases.  This reliance poses a threat to the actual retention of knowledge learned in the classroom.

But how can we keep students learning and engaged amidst so many other distractions of 2016?  First, consider that all students learn in different ways.  Students are more receptive to different activities based upon their specific learning style (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic/Tactile, Interpersonal, etc).  Throughout the course of the day, vary lesson plans to accommodate all types of learners; this will keep students active and less likely to fall into a stupor.  To get started, here are five ways to keep students engaged:

 

1. Utilize Video Tutorials and Online Resources

Videos are a quick-paced and engrossing way to explain concepts.  Educational videos online usually span about 3-5 minutes and include graphics which illustrate the concept explained by an accompanying voiceover.  The use of color, diagrams, visuals, and sound effects appeal to both visual and auditory learners.

They are particularly helpful in describing processes or phenomena that are difficult to witness in everyday life.  Special effects and imaging allows students to see inside the human body, explore ocean depths, and visit the core of the Earth.   Youtube’s #Education page and TeacherTube are great sites to find educational videos.

Technology is now a large part of student life, especially as more schools take on 1:1 policies.  Embrace the functionality of online resources to make class as engaging and interactive as possible!  National Geographic’s build your own interactive map feature and an assortment of grade level appropriate educational games  can be easily integrated into the classroom.

 

2.“Gamify” the Classroom

In her TED talk, Jane McGonigal states that game-like atmospheres inspire people to “do something that matters” and allows gamers to cooperate and collaborate.  Games incentivize, but focus on an overarching goal.  Adapt lesson plans into a game structure where students receive recognition of their academic achievements.  Moreover, have students work together as a class to achieve a goal or get to the “next level” – this reinforces collaboration/cooperation over individualistic competition and comparison.  Edutopia.org writer Douglas Kiang writes extensively on how integrate gaming principles in the classroom.  For more information, see “Using Gaming Principles to Engage Students”.   

 

3. Do Collaborative Projects/Group Work

Take time to break into smaller sized working groups and give students a prompt that reinforces the content learned that day.  Working in smaller groups allows students to discuss material with their peers, gain different viewpoints of understanding, and further their own comprehension of a concept.  Providing students with an open-ended prompt spurs critical thinking surrounding the class material; this promotes the application of knowledge and a ‘hands-on’ approach to retention.  This also encourages outside research.  Younger kids can utilize these safe search sites to conduct online research.

Depending on the nature of the activity, group projects appeal to most types of learning styles.  For more information, the Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence has created a helpful guide for designing collaborative learning activities!

 

4. Reflect and Summarize In Various Formats

It’s quite easy to forget things within an hour –let alone a day– especially when presented with a lot of new information.  Research shows the benefit of summarizing topics learned at the end of a lecture with the Primacy-Recency Effect.  In short, students retain what is said during the first part of the lesson (approx. first 10 minutes) and the last part of the lesson.  Taking time to summarize also requires students to extract the key ideas of a topic/lesson.

Go a step further and allow summarization to be creative and flexible: students can (to name a few) illustrate/draw diagrams, create a song, choreograph a dance, write/read aloud a recap of the lesson.  This way, students are summarizing in the format that they are most responsive to (consideration of different learning styles!) and increasing retention by creating “sticky memories” (attaching a meaning/specific circumstance to the material which will later make the memory easier to recall).

 

5. Connect with your students

Lastly, it’s important to get to know your students.  Learn about their likes/interests and the traits which make them unique – it starts with remembering each student’s name.  You will be able to synthesize a curriculum plan that relays material in the most relevant way.  In addition, building a relationship with your students and expressing care for their success can inspire them to apply themselves more in the classroom!

 

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Web Filtering Anywhere

TomSecurly1

By Tom Walker

cloud-based web filtering, web filtering for schools, 1:1 schools

Web filtering is an effective tool to ensure online student safety.  Recent innovations have allowed web filtering to improve from a rather stationary service, to a mobile and easy-to-use necessity. Schools are starting to abandon inconvenient web filtering hardware in favor of flexible cloud-based solutions which better provide for 1:1 program safety measures.  And now, we can protect our students anytime, anywhere.

Web Filtering At School

When I think of web filtering, my mind always gravitates toward school web filtering. Why not? Web filtering has been prevalent in schools the last 15 years or so. Whether the goal is to keep students away from harmful sites or the need to monitor web activity, filtering has a solid place in K-12 schools. While at school, the walled garden not only benefits students, but also helps to keep malicious websites at bay. The ever increasing number of malicious websites and network intrusions can be problematic for school IT staff, thus filtering plays a key role in helping to block them.

What happens outside of school though? Many home routers have long employed filtering capabilities, but the features were generally quite limited. The home router was akin to the school filtering appliance. The home router could only filter at home, whereas the school appliance could only filter at school. Luckily, web filtering continues to adapt to the ever changing technological landscape thanks to the advances of cloud computing.

Web Filtering Outside of School

Over the last few years, one of the truly amazing advances in technology has been the ability to take your services with you. Whether it is having constant access to once static files or easily moving entire photo albums around, cloud based technology has changed the way we look at things.

With the advent of cloud based filtering, filtering outside of school with school centric policies has come to fruition. Not only do 1:1 programs have devices filtered at school, but the filtering can go wherever the device is. Additionally, features like safe search and utilizing safe alternatives provide an extra layer of protection for the users and devices in and out of school. With this approach, school staff can be a little less worrisome about the devices leaving school grounds. The students are kept safe online, as are the devices from intrusive viruses, malware, and ransomware.

Web Filtering Anywhere

Web filtering has entered a time where it can be done at from a multitude of locations. Like many other educational ideas and services, it is no longer confined to the walls of the school. School based policies can now travel along with the students, helping a 1:1 program stay consistent and benefitting all parties involved in the process. So when I think of web filtering, I no longer need to think of it as something that just happens at school. It can happen anywhere.


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Safe Image Search Resources for Students

safe image search, online student safety, 1:1 schools, security best practics

The rise of edtech and 1:1 devices affords teachers to encourage online research.  Recent Pew Research Center data suggests that the very nature of research has drastically changed: students quickly find just enough information to satisfy research assignments via big name search engines and stop there.  Transfer a few sentences and an image onto a Prezi slide and voila!  According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study, many teachers “see the combination of text and images on the internet ‘bringing to life’ the subjects their students are interested in, in ways that prior generations did not experience”.  They consider image access a wonderful asset of the internet.  Explicative images accommodate visual learners and captivate students.  

Google Safe Image Search is a great place to start research.  However, the internet is a forum for public exchange of information and Google Image results can be inappropriate or irrelevant for student use, not to mention biased.  Students may stumble upon unsavory content more often than not.   Similar can be said for Yahoo and Bing image searches.  Instead, have students use sites and databases designed for educational purposes, like the Creative Commons Safe Image Filter, to find the most credible and appropriate results.

 

Check out these sites to get the best images for research assignments:

Pics4Learning

Pics4Learning.com is a safe, free image library and the largest education image database on the web.  They supply school-friendly friendly photos which cover everything from geography to art, olympics to astronomy, and much more.  Searches for historical content are often times redirected to accredited archives; for example, a search for “Civil War” photos redirects to the Library of Congress Civil War Collection.  They also have lesson plans for teachers, equipped with matching images.

 

US Geological Survey (USGS)

This Federal agency includes a branch devoted to education which provides images, videos, labs, and online lectures on their website to educate youth about natural phenomena.  Resources are separated into three categories: “Grades K-6”, “Grades 7-12”, and “Undergraduate”.  Biology?  Geography?  Geology?  This is an extensive source for all things science. 

 

Big Picture Education

Big Picture is a biannual publication known for its coverage of biology.  However, you can use this site to find photographs, flowcharts, and diagrams in a wide range of topics for all ages.  When searching for “drugs”, Big Picture Education provides images for the willow bark, the origin of aspirin.  Like the previous two websites, BigPictureEducation.com also offers more than helpful image search results.  Their interface is user-friendly and useful for narrowing down results.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 12.05.01 AM

 

Photos for Class

Photos for Class guarantees age appropriate images, automatic citation, and Creative Commons (photos licensed for legal, public use).  Creative Commons kills two birds with one stone by ensuring legality, which in turn eliminates impropriety.  And they have a sense of humor: a search for “sex” results in a redirect to photos for “adorable dogs”.  Photos for Class sources from Flickr for stunning, high quality and well composed photos that are often editorial worthy!

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6 Pillars to Successfully Integrate Technology In Your 1:1 Classroom

1:1 schools, 1:1 devices, education, technology in schools, digital citizenship, online student safety

Inspired By Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA), United Kingdom

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a study on the correlation between test performance and technology usage in the classroom.  In the last quarter of 2015, they released their findings in “Students Computers and Learning: Making the Connection”.  In summary, their results suggested “no noticeable improvement” in standardized test scores (PISA) for reading, mathematics, or science in countries that heavily invested in classroom technology; thus, they do not believe expanding access to high-tech devices (1:1 Chromebook programs) will abate falling test scores.  

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at OECD, warns that this analysis “should not be used as an ‘excuse’ not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach”.  Gary Spracklen and his colleagues at IPACA stand by the effectivity of technology in learning and in response have created the Educational Digital Maturity Index (EDMI) –a 6-prong guide to achieve a great technologically-integrated learning environment.

 

Here are the six domains for success, each accompanied by a tip to aid you in applying each to your own classroom:

 

1. Digitally Mature Leaders  

Ask questions that assess how a leader integrates and dictates technology into his/her projects and to those he/she leads.

According to Forbes, many business leaders are “getting more involved in technology decisions than ever before”.  Business and technology have become truly complementary: Forbes gives the example of engine manufacturers relying on software to push forward production.  The same relationship can be envisioned for tech in the classroom, as an enhancement to traditional teaching methods – an interactive resource that broadens the mind, an unlimited wealth of information.

 

2. Digitally Mature Teachers

Address the ability of the teacher to instruct his/her students using technology.

The rise of technology was rapid, but teachers can gradually incorporate technology into lesson plans by using online news articles as a topic of discussion or showing videos to better illustrate a concept just learned in class.  For a more exhaustive list of ideas, check out “Integrating Technology in the Classroom: It Takes More Than Just Having Computers” by Education World or Scholastic’s “Teach With Technology” page.  There are a wide variety of resources available including Youtube for Schools and Google for Education.

 

3. Digitally Mature Students

Observe how your students interact with technology and make sure they know how to properly use their devices.

Resist the generalization that children are masters of technology.  Instead, provide a foundation for your students by teaching them the best technology practices and online safety measures.  This includes providing guidelines for how to advantageously conduct research on the web; students have to evaluate search results and sort for reliability, validity, and relevance.  Condition students to be their own best filter!  This in time can be more effective than school internet filters or even safe search.

Also remind students of what it means to be a good digital citizen and clarify proper online behavioral conduct.  Being a good digital citizen not only improves the user’s experience but also foils the growing trend of cyberbullying.

 

4. Digitally Relevant Curriculum

Examine lesson plans to ensure appropriate and effective technology use.

Technology is helpful, but not necessary in every facet of education – make it sure it enhances your lesson plan, and does not merely serve as a distraction or time filler.  Many established organizations such as Scholastic, BrainPop, PBS Kids, National Geographic Kids publish educational material online for classroom use.  OER Commons provides a database of free learning materials commonly used by teachers nationwide.  In addition, taking polls or mini quizzes using mobile devices before or after a lesson is a good way to assess student knowledge and retention rates.  

 

5. Robust and well designed infrastructure

Appraise your school’s capabilities, questioning whether the framework will be enough to support the tech innovations.

Not all schools are built equally, but the coming years will see the rise of “digital classrooms” according to EdTech.  Classroom make up hasn’t changed drastically in the last 50 years, but rapid growth is afoot.  In order to be equipped for the revolution, digitally mature leaders are already planning and making technical adjustments to ease the transition.  Schools can upgrade their Wi-Fi, double device connections per student; automate network access; and reinforce their online security systems.  

 

6. An understanding of how classroom spaces, buildings, and campuses support the use of technology

Notice the existing classroom culture, consider how the introduction of technology will interact with already established device policies.

This parallels robust and well designed infrastructure – make sure learning spaces are able to handle the introduction of mobile devices.  On a non-technical note, be sure to establish rules for device usage just like you have classroom policies that are age-appropriate.  Many school systems – especially those who allow students to bring their own device (BYOD) – create a contract and have consequences based on a 3-offense system that covers device loss, Appropriate Use Policy (AUP), cyberbullying, etc.  Check out this BYOD guide that a Washington Public School system provides its teachers for device management in the classroom.  

 

See Mr. Spracklen’s original post for a list of questions that will help you to evaluate your classroom in relation to the six domains.  

 

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