Today’s Modern Educator regularly shares recent news about topics of importance to educators. In this news roundup, we’ve focused on stories about educational technology (EdTech) including how educators are having issues finding research into the efficacy of EdTech, how EdTech is being used to improve writing standards, a Microsoft partnership to create an agriculture curriculum, and the replacement of snow days with “e-learning” days. Keep reading to find out more:
Educators Struggle To Find Solid Research On EdTech
Educators across the country are not satisfied with the information generally available to keep them informed about the usefulness of educational technology (EdTech), according to a new survey conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX). The “Education Research Perspectives Survey” asked more than 1,100 tech-savvy teachers, district staff, school administrators, and technology leaders from all 50 states where they get information about EdTech and how satisfied they are with that information. More than 90 percent of educators rely heavily on general web searches — and nearly half rely on vendor information — to learn about educational technology tools, according to the survey. But just 24 percent believe that EdTech vendors “are well equipped to conduct reliable EdTech research,” and just 10 percent believe media organizations can do so. Read the article here.
Using EdTech to Improve K-12 Writing Standards
While global communication has grown and improved over the past two decades, the same cannot be said for K-12 writing skills. A 2015 study by Gary Troia at Michigan State University found that K-12 writing standards and student writing achievement are stagnant from a decade ago. What’s more, Troia says that nearly 25 percent of K-12 students in the United States are not performing at a proficient writing level. He takes aim at the Common Core standards for writing and says that though some ideas are strong, others are still not asking enough of student writing. So, if Common Core suggestions are not enough, what is needed to truly transform the writing landscape of K-12 classrooms and learners? The truth is, EdTech apps and tools that can help improve K-12 writing standards already exist, but they aren’t being leveraged properly. Read the article on which EdTech tools can help to improve K-12 writing standards here.
Future Farmers Of America, Microsoft To Develop Tech-Based Agricultural Curriculum
The National Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Microsoft Philanthropies have partnered to allow the National FFA to implement new technology-based curriculum materials to more than 11,000 agricultural education teachers across the country. The “Blue 365” partnership will see supplementary curriculum based in coding, artificial intelligence, science, research, and entrepreneurship brought to the forefront of pre-existing agricultural education classes already being taught in districts across the country. School districts will be able to choose which aspects of the new curriculum they will integrate into their classes, depending on the region’s agricultural needs. This partnership will allow kids to see that they can use cutting-edge technology and skills to build their careers right where they grew up and based on what they learned in FFA chapters, of which there are over 8,600 nationally. To find out more about this partnership, read this article.
South Carolina District Moves To Replace Snow Days With ‘E-Learning Days’
School districts around the country have been looking to e-learning as a way to address school closings. In Indiana, for instance, about 170 public and private school districts have been approved to use e-learning programs. Now a district in South Carolina, Anderson County School District 5, which has approximately 14,000 students, has been selected to pioneer an e-learning program for its K-12 students. One consequence of establishing the pilot program: no more “snow days.” By moving to e-learning days, the school district can stick to the schedule established at the beginning of the school year and avoid the expense of tacking on extra days at the end. It will help the students, since many children don’t come to school for the makeup days at the end of the year, after exams and graduation. The district expects real-dollar savings, as well. Read more about this innovative pilot program here.