No. 304 | December 07, 2017

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Edtech insights for decision makers
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Are you an HQtie? The cute-but-cloying pet name (that rhymes with cutie) describes devotees of the new iPhone live streaming game show HQTrivia, which is picking up major press as the future of TV. Every day at 9 p.m. EST (and 3 p.m. on weekdays), hundreds of thousands of people fire up their smartphones to answer 12 general knowledge questions for a shot at winning a share of a $1,000 jackpot. On Twitter, some younger fans confess to sneaking out of class or hiding phones under their desks to take part in the earlier game, which usually lasts about 10 minutes.

But if kids are so engaged in learning trivia, why not just play together? That’s what one fine arts class in Illinois is doing, according to one high school junior who tells EdSurge playing the game as a class sure beats watching paint dry (literally). After getting their teacher onboard, students now huddle around screens, trade answers and share a little spontaneity for a few minutes a day.

All of us get excited when it’s time to take a little break in class and play it, he says. “It’s actually really cool to hear several phones playing the same audio at once; it’s like surround sound.


CODE BREAKERS: Too often girls fall into coding and computer engineering jobs by chance, indicating the playing field still isn’t equal for everyone. That was one of the major takeaways from speakers such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg at recent event in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. EdSurge’s Tina Nazerian reports on how states and districts are stepping up with a new series of cash and commitments for coding.

GOOGLE’S GLITCH: On Tuesday afternoon, Adam Henderson began receiving a flood of reports from across his district’s 17 schools saying their Chromebook devices were no longer working. The tech director at Nassau County Schools in Florida was not alone. A glitch in Google’s network update caused many district Chromebooks to lose their WiFi settings, disrupting lessons and planned activities. Here’s what we know about the outage.

THE SWEET SOUND OF LEARING: Former middle school orchestra conductor Troy Strand says music teachers know a lot about making learning personal for students. Strand is applying four practices from his prior life as a music teacher to his new role as digital learning specialist for White Bear Lake Area Schools in St. Paul.

AN ASSEMBLY LINE OF CODING STUDENTS? What does it really mean to prepare students for a future in coding careers? Clive Thompson, a freelance writer for Wired and The New York Times magazine, thinks the reality is not as rosy as people think. Thompson recently talked with EdSurge about the future of programming work in the United States and what students from low-income communities will face in their future job searches.


SHOULD YOU TAKE THAT MONEY? After a high-level resignation and a lot of negative press, Baltimore County School District announced that its interim superintendent and school board members will now be forced to follow stricter rules on accepting payments or gifts from outside groups. The decision raises a question: Where do districts draw the line between effective professional development and activities that compromise their decision making?

FACEBOOK’S new messaging service is aimed at connecting trusted adults with kids as young as six. The ad-free service still collects data from users, and might help the social giant win back younger users from competing platforms.

FORCE AND FRICTION: Profit and education don't always mix well. But Paul Young, a recent graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education thinks business and education aren’t inherently at-odds, and that entrepreneurs can do good by students and teachers while still pursuing financial returns. He writes: “the application of entrepreneurial thinking to the problems of education can inject a much needed fresh perspective on an ‘industry’ that is traditionally slow to evolve.”

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

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PUT ME IN, COACH: It’s no debate that video is cheap and easy to record these days. But is smartphone video appropriate for observing and analyzing teacher practice? And once video is recorded, what’s the best way to share and review it? One CEO-turned-author tackles these and other big video coaching questions to help schools get started on the right foot.

FROM MEETUP TO STARTUP: At Marzano Academy, the nation’s first school led by Dr. Robert Marzano, third-grade teacher Claire Cummings recently turned her classroom into a startup. How? A local tech Meetup in Las Vegas inspired her to incorporate everything from flexible seating to implementing user feedback protocols to prepare her students for the skills they’ll need in the future. Here’s how she did it.

BROOKLYN 1st GRADERS GO HARD FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE: This week, educators around the country are celebrating the Hour of Code, an international effort to bring awareness to computer science. But at Emma L. Johnston Elementary school (P.S. 241) in Brooklyn, students use words like “algorithm” and “loops” year-round—and with remarkable ease. EdSurge reporter Jenny Abamu visited the school to see the unlikely strategy their teacher uses: unplugging the tech.

KNEWTON CHALLENGES TEXTBOOK PUBLISHERS: Knewton has raised heaps of funding with a pitch to provide artificial intelligence to major textbook publishers to make their courseware more adaptive. Under its new CEO, Knewton is becoming a publisher of its own courseware by curating open educational resources on top of its adaptive technology. But can the company overcome its reputation for overhyping its technology?


Growth, rather than test scores or wealth of a district, may be a more effective metric for measuring school success. (New York Times)

Which works best for students: teacher-lead instruction or inquiry-based learning? McKinsey crunched the data and came up with an answer. (Quartz)

A new Digital Promise report explores the intersection of computational thinking and coding for today’s computer science education.

Google is donating $1.5 million to Chicago Public Schools and Chance The Rapper’s nonprofit SocialWorks to further coding instruction. (Google)


Pre-made trivia games like HQTrivia can be a lot of fun (see top of this newsletter), but if you want to create your own, you might consider Kahoot, suggests Michelle Underwood, a computer lab teacher at Manila Elementary in Utah.

The Claim: Kahoot is a formative assessment tool built on game-based learning principles. Teachers can create quizzes studded with multimedia and issue them to students as “challenges,” which can be played live in class or assigned as homework.

The Consensus: Underwood uses Kahoot for informal assessments. “It is a fun, game-format way for kids to review,” she says, adding that students love it and they can even “borrow and refine others’ work.”

The Cons: Underwood doesn’t have any, but Kahoot does not provide comprehensive analytics or track long-term growth for specific students.

The Cost: Free for educators, although the company is now experimenting with a paid version with more data-tracking tools for larger organizations.

Have a favorite tech tool you’d like to share? Fill out our short Google form and let the world know.

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