What goes into measuring the success of edtech?

What does “quality” mean in assessing statewide digital efforts?

The 21st Century Classroom podcastThe Foundation for Excellence in Education recently released its 2014 Digital Learning Report Card. According to this report, Vermont does not support digital learning. In fact, all of New England is a digital wasteland. But what does the data really say? How are these researchers quantifying “digital learning”?

And how can we use this report to look at other measurements of success with edtech?

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Student voice as a social justice issue

Eminent education researcher speaks at UVM

student voice as a social justice issue

Emily Nelson, Eastern Institute of Technology Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand researcher Emily Nelson PhD spoke this past week to Vermont educators about how student voice — the concept that students need an active role in determining the course of their education — is a social justice issue and a fundamental right of students everywhere.

“When we talk about ‘students’,” Dr Nelson told the crowd, “what we really mean is ‘humans in a student role in a compulsory setting.'”

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U is for Ubiquity

Ubiquitous learning is not the same as ubiquitous computing

ubiquitous learningWe hear a lot of hype about e-learning, blended learning, MOOCS, and mobile learning. But even a quick investigation of these trends reveals that effective teaching and learning are as elusive as ever.

Yet ubiquitous computing — that is, anytime, anywhere access — is only a stepping stone to ubiquitous learning.

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T is for Timelines

Timeline tools for transformative learning

timeline tools for transformative learningTimeline tools can serve two important purposes: concrete help with project planning (for PLPs, 1:1 rollouts, PBL) and for displaying evidence of learning in an easily digestible format.

But the online, anytime/anywhere, collaborative nature of such tools can unlock meta-learning for students, providing them with a platform for bolstering collaboration and project-planning skills.

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S is for Student-Led Conferences

Steps to a student-led conference

steps to a student-led conferenceSome of my most poignant moments as a teacher occurred around the table of a Student Led Conference. Truly. My eyes have welled with tears at the sheer emotion shared. I’m a believer in giving students the voice and the power to be at this table.

It requires a strong level of planning and structuring by the teacher, though.

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R is for REAL Reflection

Getting real about student reflection

getting real about student reflectionAh, reflection. It may bring to mind an introspective moment, perhaps gazing into the still waters of a mountain lake and seeing a slightly puzzled person staring back. That’s not the kind of reflection we are talking about here.

Reflection in a 21st Century learning sense is a key component of personalized learning.

Reflection allows students to construct knowledge, make personal connections, and ultimately become self-driven learners. More like a trailside break on a wilderness trek than a lazy lakeside afternoon. Continue reading

Q is for QR codes

QR codes unlock learning anywhere

QR codes unlock learning anywhereThese simple workhorses of technology — ink and blank spaces on a screen or page — can be incredibly powerful in making learning an anytime, anywhere endeavor, and turning the world into a classroom.

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P is for Performance Tasks

Using performance tasks as a way to measure student knowledge

using performance tasks to measure student knowledgeWhen working with a group of middle school science teachers recently whose goal was to increase the depth of knowledge in their shared common assessments, we explored using Performance Tasks as a way to measure student knowledge and skills gained, as they apply them in novel and real situations.

It’s the “do” in the KUD (know, understand, and do) that so often gets left behind, but is so important in the world of deep learning.

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Serious PD fun with Chatterpix

“Candy apps”, or how to have fun and still learn anyway

how to have fun and still learn anyway


During a five minute reflection, if a student is given one minute to find a picture and mark the mouth, then he or she still has four minutes to try to come up with something interesting to reflect about. So this is four minutes more than they may have spent if they were asked to just write, or required to use a tool that they weren’t that interested in.

–Life Legeros

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O is for Online Collaboration

Online collaboration extends student learning networks

online collaboration extends student learning networksOnline collaboration takes on new significance as students extend their learning network in conjunction with more personalized and meaningful learning: they can use online networks to learn with mentors, with community partners, remote collaborators and with asynchronous and synchronous group work.

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