No. 362 | January 17, 2019

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Edtech insights for decision makers
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As the partial government shutdown drags into its fourth week, schools have mostly been spared from its most dramatic effects, which has furloughed nearly 400,000 workers and forced the same number to work without pay for the time being. Some are taking temporary gigs as substitute teachers.

Except in Los Angeles, where schools have been facing a shutdown of their own as more than 30,000 teachers strike for salary increases, class size caps at 39 students, more support personnel and an end to the spirling growth of local charters. Inside district schools, things are slow. Those who show up are treated to all-day movie marathons, including those of questionable educational value (“Ice Age;” the Korean zombie flick “Train to Busan”), and a slew of films like “Lincoln” and “Selma” that one parent called “theoretically historical.”

Negotiations are ongoing, although teacher and union rep Glenn Sacks wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the raises were almost a done deal; the remaining deadlock concerned funding for students. “As a teacher, my loyalty is to my students,” Sacks says. “We’re fighting this battle for them, and they will be the victors.”


CAN YOU HEAR US NOW? That’s what educators hoped to get across as they protested Verizon’s new fees, which threatened to disrupt access to Remind’s school-messaging service for its 7 million Verizon users. Their efforts appeared to be rewarded on Wednesday night when Verizon said it would not impose its planned fee hike on Remind after all.

DRIVING SOCIAL CHANGE: When library media specialist Jacquilyn Whiting asked her students what bugged them most about social media, topics like time wasting, overspending, digital permanence and inauthenticity topped the list. Then she asked them to use design thinking to solve those problems. Check out the unique solutions she says are some of the most empowering student-led work she’s ever seen.

THIS NEW HOUSE: As Chicago tutoring center The House scopes around for expansion funding, founder Gil Gibori already knows the brands he wants to model it after: WeWork, the Apple Genius Bar and Whole Foods. Using sleek furniture and open design, it’s aiming to create an optimal environment for learning. But is it only for the rich?

Sponsored by Amazon Web Services (AWS)
NEXT-LEVEL NOTES: Today’s note taking looks very different than it did in the days of cursive shorthand, says Fred Singer, the CEO and founder of Echo360. Now it’s getting an even bigger upgrade. Using Amazon Transcribe’s automated speech recognition technology, Echo360 captures video of classroom activity and turns lectures into easily searchable and referenceable video content that students can access anywhere.

READY, SET, GO ABROAD: Twice per year, EdSurge creates a calendar of K-12 and higher education technology events in the U.S. and beyond. Each year, as the list grows, the font gets smaller and smaller—and there are still plenty of events to include. That’s why, in 2019, we’re offering something new: an additional calendar dedicated to edtech events happening outside the U.S. Download it for free here.


LONGTIME LISTENER, FIRST-TIME CALLER: We’re considering some changes to our weekly podcast, and we’d like your input. So we’re hoping you’ll take a quick 3 minutes to answer our listener survey. This will also help us get a better sense of who is listening, so we can find sponsors to support this free series. Those who fill it out will be entered in a drawing to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

MULLING OVER MOOCS: Much has changed since the NY Times dubbed 2012 the “Year of the MOOC.” The premise then was that free online courses would make high-quality education accessible for all. Many now charge a fee; some even offer degrees. How will this industry continue to evolve—and how will universities respond? Find out at our next SF Edtech Meetup on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30pm in San Francisco. RSVP here!

Follow your EdSurgents @tonywan, @jryoung, @sydneyfjohnson , @byemilytate and @stephenoonoo for the latest news and scoops as they hit the wire.

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GETTING AN ‘A’ IN AI: Artificial intelligence powers Amazon’s recommendations engine, Google Translate and Siri, for example. But few K-12 schools teach the subject. That may be changing soon as new curricula from AI groups roll out with hands-on units focusing on problem-solving, coding and ethics. Can a gentler approach make AI seem less “scary and cold” to students?

CHANGING COURSE: When English teacher Meghan Tufa sat through her first parent conference led by a student, she found it well-intentioned, if imperfect. Goals were often unrealistic and the conversation was surface-level. After a retooling, students now reflect on personal growth and set learning goals based on GPA and other data. Here’s how simple changes make conferences more meaningful and actionable for students.

WIDE OPEN SPACES: Recent studies show that faculty attitudes towards open educational resources are improving. But as OER takes off, definitions of what’s really “open” varies among schools, nonprofits, policymakers and publishers. So, where is open education today? Here’s what Nicole Allen, director of open education at SPARC, and Julie Lang, the OER Coordinator for Penn State University have to say.

SIZING UP SECURITY THREATS: An increasing number of district leaders are realizing the importance of bolstering their network security, a new report from the Consortium for School Networking has found. And their budget priorities reflect as much. Still, one area of security response remains neglected: Just 12 percent of districts have a dedicated employee to handle security issues.


Google Classroom is getting a makeover. (Google blog)

Digital Promise’s Learner Variability Project adds new learning models for grades 3-6 and 7-9, each of which are based on learning science research.

Speaking of learning science, IgnitED Research, a new 12-part series from The Learning Accelerator will tackle a new topic (i.e., the myth of learning styles; using extrinsic rewards) each month.

In California: Big spending increases for early childhood education, special ed and the state pension fund are all part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget. (EdSource)


Itching to try out genius hour in class? (And maybe build leadership skills at the same time?) If so, David Hotler, a technology integration teacher at The American School of Madrid, has a tool to try: Genius Hour by The Future Design School.

The Claim: Genius Hour is a concept, popular in some companies, where people spend 20 percent of their time on a passion project. This tool wants to help students do the same.. The turnkey software, billed for grades 6-12, includes curriculum and the organization frameworks, such as design thinking templates. The app features teacher notes, timelines, printable PDF handouts, videos, student instructions and slide decks.

The Consensus: “You won’t have questions,” Hotler promises teachers who use the software to try Genius Hour. “All you need to do as a teacher is be excited and follow the script.”

The Cons: Hotler says his students are particularly drawn to the videos—to the point where he wishes there were more of them. “One drawback might be if you aren't ready to commit the time needed to make it impactful,” he says. “I would however argue that it’s easy to use this alongside your core curriculum.”

The Cost: One-time cost of CAD $495 (about US $373).

Know a great a tech tool? Fill out our short Google Form and let the world know!

EdSurge Jobs
Looking for a job in edtech? You’ve come to the right place. EdSurge has the leading edtech jobs board with over 400 openings from schools, nonprofits and companies.

First 8 Memphis, Executive Director First 8 Memphis
First 8 Memphis is leading the implementation of Shelby County’s first, formal high-quality Early Childhood Education system and seeking a founding Executive Director. The ED will be a strategic leader and experienced manager of people and projects.
School Leadership • School • Memphis, TN

Online ESL Teacher Gogokid
We are seeking experienced and enthusiastic teachers who are passionate to provide exemplary individualized and engaging educational experience for our students online.
Teaching • Large Company • Remote

Head of Schools KIPP Texas: Austin
KIPP Texas: Austin a network of free, public, open enrollment schools for low‐income and historically underserved students is hiring for a new Head of Schools. The Head of Schools is responsible for the overall quality of KAPS school programming.
School Leadership • School • Austin, TX

Soulful Mathematician Millennium School
Millennium School, a "lab" middle school in San Francisco with a foundation in developmental science and social-emotional learning, is looking for a creative, experienced, and soulful Math teacher with a progressive teaching philosophy.
Teaching • School • San Francisco, CA

Head of School Khan Lab School
Seeking innovative school leader to manage and support teachers and other staff, build strong, productive relationships with students and families, ensure consistent execution of the instructional program, and partner with KLS founder Sal Khan.
C-level executive leadership • Non Profit • San Mateo, CA

Head of Summer Programs Avenues: The World School
Avenues: The World School seeks a dynamic Head of Summer Programs to execute the strategic vision, planning and marketing of our NY Campus summer program: language immersion camps, enrichment programs, and online summer courses.
K12 school operations • School • New York, NY

Science Teacher 2019-2020 (Washington State) Summit Public Schools
​Summit Public Schools is searching for talented sciences educators in the California, Bay Area. This is a great opportunity to join a vibrant, growing organization that is dedicated to transforming public education for its students!
STEM teacher • School • Multiple

Curriculum Designer DreamBox Learning
DreamBox Curriculum Designers (Teachers) empower students to deeply understand mathematics with confidence while also helping teachers monitor student progress and support differentiation.
Curriculum design • Startup • Bellevue, WA

Post an eventSee all events and meetups

Learnit hopes to unite the global learning community and lead an honest conversation about the current state and future of learning, can revolutionise education, and ultimately change the world. The event will feature over 100 international speakers.
Jan 23 to Jan 25 • Westminster, England, GB • more than $250

2019 LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference
The LearnLaunch Across Boundaries conference, now in its 7th year, brings together a community interested in driving innovation to transform learning and increase achievement using digital technologies.
Jan 31 to Feb 1 • Boston, MA • more than $250

Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning
Join us at the east coast's premier K-12 conference on personalized learning in sunny Atlantic City, NJ in March 2019! Share your progress and learn from others who are "Personalizing Learning for Career Readiness"!
Mar 13 to Mar 15 • Atlantic City, NJ • more than $250

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