Much like books, libraries have been rumored to be on their deathbed for many years now. And, much like books, they still remain vital in the 21st century, even if their appearance, programming, and types of resources offered may have changed over time. In celebration of the continuing importance of libraries, the American Library Association is once again sponsoring National Library Week April 13 – 19. This year’s celebration revolves around the theme “Lives change @ your library.” The honorary chair for the event is noted author Judy Blume, whose books have changed countless lives over the years.  Continue reading

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“What role should OER play in schools? And what does it mean to publishers, now that it’s in more widespread use?”  To open this year’s Content in Context Conference (CIC), Frank Catalano of Intrinsic Strategy will moderate a lively Opening General Session panel discussion titled “OER: The Good, the Bad, and the Reality,” which will address these and other OER-related issues. While many publishers fear that these generally free materials may cut into their business, other companies are trying to make peace with OER. As Catalano noted in a recent interview, “Businesses have to realize that OER is not going away. How do we move in next to it?”  Continue reading

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The stereotype that girls do not play digital games is outdated, according to the Speak Up 2013 survey of students, teachers, administrators, and parents. The survey indicated that 42% of girls in grades 3-5 and 37% of girls in grades 6-8 said they regularly play games on tablets, compared to 38% of boys in grades 3-8. The report, titled The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations, also found equal levels of game play on smartphones among girls and boys in elementary (28%) and middle school (45%).  Continue reading

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More than half of students (55%) in the United States describe themselves as “engaged” in their education, as opposed to just 31% of teachers, according to an Education Week article about a new report released on April 9 by Gallup Education. The report, titled State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education, provides a synthesis of polling data and research conducted over time by the Gallup organization.

“The best educators know that for students to achieve meaningful, lasting success in the classroom and beyond, they must be emotionally engaged in the educational experience,” says the Gallup website’s Education page. “This means educators must focus on students’ hope, engagement, and wellbeing—the predictors Gallup has discovered matter the most.”

In its response to the report, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) focused on the report’s emphasis on the key role of principals. “Gallup’s insightful State of America’s Schools report validates what decades of practice bear out: A highly skilled principal is the lynchpin to schoolwide success,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti in a statement.

To access the full State of America’s Schools report, click here.

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At the state and district levels, many educators and eligible partnership grantees are unsure how they might use federal funds for technology-related products and programs. With that in mind, Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology within the U.S. Department of Education, issued a letter earlier this year to increase understanding of how to use federal grant programs to support “innovative technology-based strategies to personalize learning.”

The letter outlines how federal funds may support the use of technology to improve instruction and student outcomes. It gives examples from ESEA (Titles I, II, and III) and IDEA of how funds can be used to support technology initiatives in the following areas: 1) professional development, 2) student materials, resources, and support, 3) educator communication and collaboration, and 4) devices. To learn more, read the full letter.

President Obama has made support of educational technology a key aspect of his overall education platform. For example, as noted on this blog, the President announced on February 4 major funding from four companies to support the ConnectED Initiative to provide high-speed Internet connectivity for nearly all schools within the United States. This initiative is part of the overall National Education Technology Plan.

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