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The Trials and Triumphs of a District’s Quest to Modernize Its SIS

As our district worked on a transition to a more powerful student information system, we ultimately saw it as an opportunity to modernize our system, while having the ability to bring staff and parents into the modern age. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making a shift to a new SIS:

  • Set high but realistic expectations
  • Look at and listen to what your stakeholders need
  • Remember implementation is the first step
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Stand Out or Stand Aside

In an era of choice and mobility, the strength of your brand could very well determine your district’s future viability. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to recreate SCPS’ success in your district:

  • The perception problem
  • The fractured experience
  • The identity compromise
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IGNORE THESE FINDINGS AT YOUR PERIL: Project RED Announces Significant Results from Phase III Research

America has failed to capitalize on the promise of technology to drive dramatic improvements in student achievement. Over $100 billion dollars has been spent on education technology over the past 35 years, with little or nothing to show for it. Standardized test results have been stagnant for decades. Other methods used to measure student skill level, understanding, or performance have faired the same. All other industries have at least embraced cost savings that could be realized through efficiencies gained by implementing technology.

Building on seven years of research, and now a recognized name in more than 1,000 districts, Project RED III brings a wealth of new research-based evidence on what really works and what doesn’t work. Read about the Phase III findings on:

  • Leadership
  • Communications
  • Instruction, Pedagogy, and Assessment
  • Professional Learning
  • And a Financial Brief
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How Technology is Revolutionizing Education

The days when a class of students marched into the school’s computer room to spend an hour on a desktop machine learning how to use a spreadsheet are just about over. Today you are more likely to walk into a classroom and see students, each with a tablet, scattered about, working independently or in small groups, on assignments designed to meet their individual needs.

Technology is enabling the growth of personalized learning and thus the transformation of education as we have known it for generations. This is how:

  • How schools are organized
  • The school calendar and seat time requirements
  • What a textbook is
  • How students can learn at their own pace
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Bridging the Student Data Privacy Gap

The responsibility that schools and districts take on when bringing technology into their buildings is enormous. They need to ensure that every product or service meets their instructional or administrative needs, is safe for users, complies with federal and state privacy laws, aligns with their district data privacy and security responsibilities, and is cost-effective. They do it all with fewer resources and support than industry has on hand to accomplish similar tasks and do it at scale, sometimes across several hundred products each year. It can make the purchasing process seem like a long climb, but on the privacy and security front, there are some things every education technology company can do to make it easier.

I’m talking about putting in the time, energy, and effort to build trusting partnerships with school and district clients. It is not easy. However, understanding what’s happening on the other side of the table can provide a roadmap to getting it right. To keep it simple, start with 3 key ingredients to build trust:

  1. Clarity
  2. Competence
  3. Cooperation
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Life Lessons in Leadership

We may traditionally think of school administrators and teachers as the drivers of change in a school or school system. However, the reality is that when it comes to leading change to maximize technology tools for learning, educational technology vendors who effectively partner with their school clients often take on a leadership role in assisting their school leader clients.

It is incumbent upon educational technology vendors to be cognizant of—and incorporate into their professional practice—some of the same essential leadership skills that successful school leaders practice. The following three skill sets are taken from a book I recently co-authored with Michael Barrett titled, Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby.

  1. Listen
  2. Learn
  3. Leverage the talents of others
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Making a Makerspace Happen: Start With the Cart

Building a makerspace environment across a school or district can seem daunting. One of the business maxims we adopted at St. Raymond School is “do it right the second time.” Focus on getting a project started and then worry about the details. Read More »

Spring Branch ISD Partners with BloomBoard

BloomBoard and Spring Branch Independent School District have partnered to launch multiple new competency-based professional learning programs to over 2,400 educators across the district. The new programs are designed to provide a path for educators to demonstrate measurable competency in the skills they've acquired and earn recognition for their professional growth through micro-credentials. Read More »

The State of Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is the ed tech phrase of the year and a key concept for how digitally delivered teaching and learning will make the most significant impact on teaching and learning, but what is it? The variety of products and practices that claim to personalize learning differ vastly, making the term hard to understand.

We concluded that rapid new developments in the areas of adaptive assessment, data analytics, customized content, and adaptive instruction in recent years are the reason why “personalized learning” is not a well understood concept. There are currently at least three generations of personalized learning on the market:

  • Longitudinal data
  • Adaptive assessment
  • Adaptive instruction

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Data-The Key to Customized Instruction

In the 1950s public education was a monopoly. Students had to attend their neighborhood schools. Education has evolved into a market with options. Many states and districts now allow students to attend a variety of publicly funded and regulated options, and market forces are growing.

Data is the cornerstone for the development of educational improvement at the student, teacher, school, and district level. Data is key for school districts to effectively compete in the education market. Until the school and district effectively use data, there will be no gains in the greatest benefits in the use of digital curriculum and assessment. Read More »