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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.

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?



Laptop or Longhand?

A paper entitled How Much Mightier Is the Pen Than the Keyboard for Note-Taking? A Replication and Extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), discussed in the The Chronicle of Higher Education shows that students who take notes by hand score better on factual questions compared to those taking notes on laptops. Researchers say their conclusions do not favor one method over the other and instead say note-taking methods are different and should be left up to student discretion. The  original study referenced was conducted in 2014 and showed students who took notes on a laptop may have taken more notes but had less retention of material. If this a topic of discussion at your school, you might want to see what the new research has to say.

The Beginning of the End of Snow Days

A flurry of recent articles brings home yet one more way that technology is changing education: In districts across the country, snow days are becoming relics of the past. Beginning on December 1, for example, the schools around Camden, Maine, will replace two snow days per year with so-called Remote School Days, when students will complete coursework at home using internet-connected devices.


Given that many employers around the country have been implementing work from home policies in recent years, it was probably inevitable that the idea would spread to schools. And for schools, there’s the logic of the initial investment: If they’ve spent money acquiring devices for every student, as many have done, there’s a strong argument to be made that they should maximize the utility of those devices—part of the rationale for buying them is to expand students’ opportunities for learning.

Collaborative Projects – 10 “Rules”

Collaborative projects with classmates for school can be either really fun or a real drag. Technology can help making everyone’s contributions “appear the same” in the final presentation, but there is so much more to the experience. That’s where the “10 Rules for Students and Teachers” comes in.  The “10 Rules” were originally written by Sister Corita Kent, an influential artist and educator, and popularized by composer John Cage. Themes in the “10 Rules” revolve around making the most of your learning experiences. Self-discipline is important, as is the need to follow a leader when necessary. These rules are good to talk about with your kids before they do a collaborative project or even to pass along to their teachers.

Schools Working to Make Tech Accessible to All

Schools are increasingly focused on ensuring that educational technologies are available to all students, including those with disabilities. To help with this mission, schools and other organizations are inviting software engineers to visit their classrooms to see first hand how the programs are used and how they can be improved to ensure accessibility. For example, they may discover that programs full of unlabeled pictures are totally useless to blind users who have no idea they’re there. It may sound like common sense, but often that is the missing link in the creation of affordable and effective educational software that is useful to all students.

Quiz Platforms – Pros and Cons

More teachers are using Kahoot, an online formative assessment platform, to determine in real time what students have learned. However, some teachers have reported that students are hacking the platform not only to get the answer key, but to play pranks on the teacher and other users. While many would argue it is a relatively harmless way for students to show off their coding skills, a Kahoot vice president says the issue is being addressed by the company.

Parents Sign A Pledge to Restrict Social Media Access of Kids Under 13

A Monmouth county New Jersey school district has asked parents to sign a pledge barring students' access to social media until they are 13 years old because they are not "emotionally mature enough to handle it," says Superintendent John Marciante. The district's request comes after an incident occurred between students in a chat room using the app House Party that led to a threat of a school shooting. Some feel that such a ban could never be enforceable, but it still brings up the question about the age appropriateness of social media platforms.

Some Thoughts on Teachers Hawking Technology Products on Social Media

More teachers are using their social media presence to act as paid brand ambassadors for education-technology products, writes Kipp Bentley of the Center for Digital Education. In a commentary, he asserts that these individuals should take steps to preserve their objectivity as educators and that school districts should adopt clear policies governing this practice especially when those products are being offered to students and parents. Is there an ethics policy in your district to cover this kind of interaction between teachers and families?

School Issued Devices a Plus Survey Shows

A recent study shows that students who are issued devices from their schools are more likely to use them for school-related tasks such as e-mailing questions to teachers, taking notes in class and collaborating with classmates, according the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Speak Up CEO Julie Evans cites research showing that for many students, emailing teachers with questions helps alleviate anxiety,. “It isn’t as if they need the teacher to respond to them in that moment,” Evans says. “It’s more that they want to share the problem with someone.” Of the students surveyed, 60% of those with school-issued devices reported e-mailing questions to teachers, whereas for students not assigned devices, only 42% reported e-mailing with their teachers.