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Traditional Schools Still Shown to Outperform Digital Schools

EdSurge reports enrollment in virtual schools continues to grow, but research by the nonprofit National Education Policy Center has reported that these types of programs may be less effective than traditional schools. Michael Barbour, who teaches instructional design at Touro University California, says students in brick-and-mortar schools tend to outperform those in online and blended learning (a combination of online and traditional learning) programs. He finds this biggest issue to be a reliance by online instruction on evaluation by multiple choice questions that don’t promote analysis or deeper learning.

The Pros and Cons of Telehealth Programs at Schools

Some school districts are expanding students' access to health care and are curbing absenteeism through telehealth programs that provide students with virtual access to counselors, social workers, psychologists and other health professionals. About 85% of students who have a virtual health visit while at school return to class, says Amanda Martin, Center for Rural Health Innovation's executive director. But experts report that virtual visits with a medical professional are more effective when school nurses are involved, so many telehealth services offer a dual approach to care.

Districts Revisiting Drone Policies

Is your child interested flying drones? It is important to know if your school or district has a drone policy if your children are going to be taking their drone to school for fun or even a project – whether school is in session or not. The Sentinel reports some school districts are considering adopting policies on the use of drones near schools. One district recently changed its own policy to ban the use of drones on district property unless the drone, and where it will be flying, has been approved by the superintendent.

Is There Gender Bias in the Voices of Digital Assistants?

Neowin reports the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is voicing concerns about the widespread practice of making the voices of digital assistants female, which it says reinforces gender bias. UNESCO is urging corporations and governments to consider a gender-neutral persona for digital assistants and to make software development teams more evenly balanced between genders.

Why Middle School is so Important to the Future of Technology

Paula Grisanti, CEO of the National Stem Cell Foundation, asserts that future space travel, medical cures and other scientific breakthroughs will be made possible by the middle school students of today. In her recent article in The Courier-Journal, she explains why it is vital to attract their interest to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at that critical age, citing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s report that “the US needs approximately one million more STEM professionals than it can produce at current graduation rates”.  The National STEM Scholar Program, in which Grisanti's foundation is a partner, gives middle-school teachers training, classroom projects and other resources designed to spark a lifelong interest in STEM subjects and is something worth mentioning to your child’s teacher if your middle school is looking for ways to further integrate STEM into the classroom.

Should Schools Limit Virtual Reality (VR) Time?

Most schools don’t have the budget for elementary students to visit the penguins in Antarctica, but they can do it using virtual reality headsets. Teachers say by exposing students to distant people, cultures and animals, it helps boost vocabulary and content writing, but researchers are cautioning that there in not much known about the effects of this technology on young children. As more schools integrate virtual reality in the classroom, experts advise limiting VR time use to minutes at a time, not hours. Despite these concerns, proponents for the technology argue that immersive media is not just a passive experience for children and allows students to engage with content in new ways.

Avoiding Issues on LinkedIn

Writing in Forbes, Adrian Dayton discusses the seven “dumbest” things people do on social media/business recruiting site LinkedIn. The unprofessionalism Dayton outlines includes filling a bio with overblown adjectives, adding nonsensical hashtags to posts, and making romantic overtures, which is reportedly an increasing problem. Creating more than one profile confuses potential connections, and abandoning a profile signals a lack of seriousness. These are all good tips on what to avoid for both adults and high school students, as many are beginning to use the platform as part of the college application process.

Using Digital Tools to Help Kids with ADHD Stay Organized

For kids with ADHD and concurrent learning and developmental disabilities like dyslexia, spectrum disorders, fine motor delays, or sensory integration issues, online tools such as learning management systems can help them stay organized and on top of their papers and assignments. Educational therapist Ezra Werb says in Edutopia online that new online tools can help students track assignments and deadlines and even follow teacher feedback on their work. For example, students with learning differences often struggle to read teachers’ handwritten comments crammed into the margins of essays on lined paper, but with a learning management system, students can submit a typed document and receive direct feedback from their teachers in comments typed on the side of the page. These comments are tied to specific phrases in the students’ text, so it’s easy to see exactly what the teacher is referring to. Students can easily access them, and better yet, they can then respond to the teacher’s comment, creating a dialogue or conversation that the student can refer back to later. Is your school using a learning management system to promote organization and communication for students with learning differences?

 

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Accessible Digital Books Campaign Expands

There are currently more than 711,000 books in Bookshare, a digital reading platform for people with reading barriers including dyslexia, blindness or cerebral palsy, and that number is growing every day. Working with more than 850 publishers across the world, the library adds as many as 100,000 titles every year, according to Brad Turner, vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech, the nonprofit that runs Bookshare. But with more than 1 million books published each year, it would be impossible for Benetech to keep up with conversions, so Benetech is now working directly with publishers such as Macmillan Learning to embed accessibility features into all e-books at the time of publication. These resources can useful to all readers, not just those with reading impairments or disabilities, and Benetech argues that having the publishers add them to the books as they are published makes good business sense.

Libraries Find Social Media Useful to Reach New Audiences

Libraries from New York City to England and Singapore are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to overcome the stereotype of being stuffy, dusty places, and boost engagement among patrons and entertain book lovers. In one example, the New York Public Library gained 100,000 Instagram followers after launching "Insta Novels," Marguerite Reardon writes for CNET. Insta Novels are digitized versions of classics designed for teens to be read on a smartphone. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was the first classic to get the treatment.

 

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