Voice from the Field RSS Feed

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
Read More »

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

Read More »

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 »

      Addressing the Revolving Door: Teacher Burnout and Attrition in K-12 Education

      My experience as an urban school educator has shown me that the story remains the same. School teams start the year at 100% with big promises and a deep understanding of the impact that stability of staff and leadership have on a school. Then it happens. Month by month and year over year the door begins to turn, and one by one, teachers begin to slowly drift away from the passion they once held for their profession. One of the most prevalent reasons given for the constant revolving door of educators—both new and veteran—leaving the profession is teacher burnout.

      • Teacher burnout is real.
      • It impacts schools every day.
      • It is imperative to remember: this is a solvable challenge.
      Here is what I did to increase staff retention from a 72% average to 88% in one year.
      Read More »

      Designing the Ideal Personalized Curriculum

      As the Title I teacher for at-risk students in my district, I’ve seen firsthand how once low-achieving students can come alive with a teaching style and instructional tools that click with them. The ed tech industry has done a great job thus far in helping teachers move beyond that “Sage on Stage” to more interaction with students. But there’s so much more support we need from ed tech companies to support teachers in truly engaging students and having them increase their learning and their confidence.

      Here are just a few:

      1. Assessment drives instruction.
      2. Don't stick to just one type of content.
      3. Offer some freebies.
      4. Just get started.
      Read More »

      Getting Students Ready for the Real World

      It’s a daunting time to be entering the workforce, and as a credit recovery teacher and online learning coordinator, I have seen countless students worry about their future career paths. It’s my job as an educator to equip students with lifelong skills to serve them well for college and/or careers after they finish high school. I want to encourage edtech companies to help make the transition from school to career much easier for students (and their teachers!).

      1. Get personal.
      2. Help students see the big picture.
      3. Offer a variety of CTE courses and materials and opportunities.
      Read More »

      Make Mindful Use of All Components of the Blended Learning Definition

      Few people, even experts, use the whole definition of Blended Learning as published by the Clayton Christensen Institute and reposted throughout the online/digital learning world. Developing a true blended learning experience that works for all students takes intentional, mindful use of all three parts of the definition:

      • Delivery
      • Location
      • Connected Instruction
      Read More »