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In Successful Edtech, Pedagogy Comes First--Devices Second

In terms of student proficiency, today's classrooms are more diverse than ever. We're "detracking" students previously sorted by ability. We're mainstreaming those with special needs. And we're serving more and more students who are just learning English. In these classrooms, teachers face a seemingly impossible task--providing effective instruction to all the unique students under their care. Educational technology (edtech for short) can play a significant role in mitigating and solving this growing dilemma. Read More »

Technology and Productivity in K-12

In the past two decades there has been a massive investment of technology in K-12 education. Hear from BLEgroup members about key elements needed to increase rates of learning, why only a few school districts have achieved it, and why it will take time for productivity in schools to increase.

  • Focus on pedagogy
  • More adaptive assessment that makes it easier and more effective for teachers to identify missing skills and point them to appropriate materials for individual students
  • Increased granularity of metrics
  • Support for school districts in finding and identifying the quality of the vast amount of new digital material
  • Ongoing professional development that combines knowledge of the materials, use of data analytics, and use of technology
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Rumbles on the Road

As I travel across the U.S. and internationally I hear and see many common challenges in ramping up K-12 education systems to truly meet the needs of all K-12 students and provide them with the knowledge and skills that are critical for their futures.

  • The need for change which leverages and maximizes the power for learning that access to digital media provides
  • Effectively implementing that change
  • The need for vendors to assist their school clients in all phases of implementing new technologies
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To Improve Education in America: Embrace Blended Learning

There is one trend in education that I truly believe can have a great impact on our educational system: blended learning. Both educators and the businesses that serve educators need to embrace blended learning in order to improve education in this country. Improving education in the U.S. is simply an imperative in today’s global economy.

Why is blended learning so important?

  • Blended learning improves student engagement.
  • Blended learning improves the retention of information.
  • Blended learning better serves a wider variety of students.

Read More »

Smaller Districts Comprise the Majority of Market for Technology and Have Distinct Needs

Through our vetted assessment and planning work we have identified the challenges and potential solutions needed to support smaller school systems. This article outlines five concrete components critical to the success of smaller districts, recognizing that the major factors of the transition from print to digitally-delivered education are organizational, including managed change, policies, funding, sustainability, and systematic implementation.

  1. Knowledge of Availability and Quality of Digital Educational Materials
  2. Lack of Integrated Management Systems
  3. Need for IT Organizations That Address Both Instruction and Technology
  4. Inadequate Effective Professional Development for Teachers
  5. Effective Procurement Processes for Digital Materials Linked to a Cost-Effective Cloud Repository System for Materials
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Implementations: A Recipe for Success

The quality of implementation is one of the most critical components to the success of any rollout. Having experienced implementations firsthand from both the school side and the vendor side, there are clear commonalities as we review successful rollouts. The components most evident in these successful implementations include:

  • Establishing a vision embedded in teaching and learning
  • Starting small and going slow to go fast
  • Building your supports—expanding your kitchen
  • Leveraging your connections—not reinventing the wheel
  • Telling your story

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A View From the Schools: Procuring and Implementing Digital Materials—What We Want Vendors to Know

This article on procurement is a summary of a panel presentation Eliot Levinson, CEO of BLEgroup, coordinated at the CELT Summit on Procurement and Implementation. Hear a variety of approaches that the following leading-edge education decision-makers are using to address procurement and implementation of digital content:

  • Jeff Mao, Senior Director of Learning Solutions, Common Sense Education, and former Director of MLTI in Maine
  • Amy Creeden, Director of the Race to the Top Grant in Middletown, New York
  • Sheryl Abshire, CIO, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, and former member of the E-rate board
  • Manuel Isquierdo, former Superintendent, Sunnyside Unified School District, Tucson, Arizona
  • Read More »

    Greater Vendor Collaboration—Not Technical Integration

    Up until now, integrations among LMS vendors, content providers, and student information systems have typically been technical in nature and often taken place in response to tender opportunities or individual client requests. What if these integrations weren’t reactive and limited to technical capability but were instead more proactive and creative? Can we collaborate as an industry to combine our individual solutions, allowing an outcome greater than the sum of its parts?

    Reasons why now might be a good time to explore this idea:

    • Time to move beyond the innovators and engage the masses.
    • Technology ecosystem is more accessible.
    • Leveraging combined knowledge and understanding will benefit all.

    Read More »

    Time to Rethink “Generations”

    With changes in hardware and performance drastically changing at a rate of months, not years, why do we still refer to groupings of birth years, or generations, as roughly 18 years? These generational time frames need to be revisited, particularly by K-12 education companies, in light of the speed of current technological and societal changes. With demographic planning, K-12 companies can look to the future with reliable accuracy for product development, marketing, and delivery. Read More »

    Personalized Learning: Why Formative Assessment Just Makes Sense

    The notion of personalizing education would have been laughable to those who started our American schools and most unwanted by immigrant parents a hundred years ago. Through research, we have learned a great deal about what makes teachers and schools excellent. Perhaps the confluence of education technology and increasing expectations for student learning to support a shifting economy have created the drive for personalized learning.

    • Personalized learning creates an opportunity to break away from traditional assessments.
    • Formative assessment provides a constant and consistent flow of information about individual student progress toward standards-based, personal learning targets.
    • Providing teachers with highly specific learning data for each child through formative assessment teacher tools is what accelerates learning.
    • Read More »