No. 279 | June 15 2017

View in Browser
Share Instruct with your colleagues »


Edtech insights for decision makers
This issue is sponsored by

Thanks to Betsy DeVos & Co., “school choice” has become a hot-button issue in the US. But across the pond in Germany, choice looks a lot less like private school vouchers and a lot more like...democracy. At Dolli-Einstein-Haus elementary school, kindergarteners exercise their voting rights weekly through “kids’ councils,” collectively choosing everything from class activities to what’s served at snack. The one limit on their civil liberties? Teachers reserve the right to decide when a kid needs a diaper change—to which we say, fair enough.

Here at EdSurge, though, we still believe in unfettered freedom, which is why we’ve got a smorgasbord of options for you this summer. Keen to conference? Check out Fusion. Wild about webinars? We’re hosting one on personalized learning this upcoming Wednesday. Craving collaboration? Sign up for Tuesday’s Tech Leader Circle in L.A. It’s entirely up to you, readers, so choose wisely...


STUDENTS SPEAK ON PRIVACY: From high school to Harvard, students are beginning to ask, and in some cases demand, more transparency over how third-party companies and even their own districts can access their personal information. EdSurge reporter Jenny Abamu interviews students and privacy experts to learn what kids know—and ought to know—about their digital rights.

Or should education prepare young citizens to redefine the labor market? Joshua Cooper Ramo, the co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, prefers the latter. In this interview with EdSurge columnists Stephen J. Valentine and Reshan Richards, he explains how a great educator “needs to be a curator of connections, and an advisor and a guide. Somebody who pushes and challenges a great deal about how those connections are built and assembled.”


DATA PLUMBING: Data interoperability may not sound thrilling, but getting it to happen in K-12 education is important—and tricky. So how to save educators the hassle of manually entering names and numbers in spreadsheets? Our latest EdSurge Research Guide, created in collaboration with Project Unicorn, explores how schools and companies are wrestling with these headaches. Find out where perspectives align—and diverge.

GETTING COZY WITH DATA: Principal Stacey Walker can’t always remember what she ate for breakfast, but she can happily tell you the names of every one of her elementary teachers. She says it’s because of the feeling they created—and now she’s set on creating a similar experience at her school with data conferences. She shares how her school turned them from a dream to a weekly reality.

FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION: Stuck in a rut? Sometimes hip-hop offers a way out. At least that was the case for digital strategist Mike Lang, who got turned on to design thinking in part by hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. He says design thinking provides “students with a structure in which to operate as freely as they wish.”

OUT OF THE BOX: We all pay regular lip service to collaboration, but what happens when students just can’t work together as a team? Teacher Chrissy Romano-Arrabito has been through the in-fighting and bullying and come out the other side thanks to puzzle-solving program Breakout EDU. She reflects on how to use the program to help make your classroom feel more like a family.


WHY ‘AVERAGE’ IS A DIRTY WORD: Todd Rose is on a campaign to stop out the idea that there are ‘average’ students (or ‘average’ people of any type). Rose, who directs the Mind, Brain and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and wrote a book called The End of Average, says that it’s far more useful to embrace our “jaggedness.”

LET ME CLARIFY: “I get very nervous when I hear students being labeled ‘faster’ and ‘slower’; it seems that it’s just another way to sort them,” writes CompetencyWorks’ Chris Sturgis. Responding to our piece about defining competency-based education, she identifies three common misconceptions. It’s not about implementing flexible pacing or blended learning, but instead making sure every student is building skills for higher levels of study.


DON’T LECTURE THESE STUDENTS: What’s it like to be a student in what you feel is an outdated educational system? EdSurge talked with three college students from EdSurge Independent, our experimental student-led publication on Medium, to find out why they think higher education needs to change. Read highlights here, or listen to a recording of the conversation.

The following is a message from our sponsor

Join LEAP Innovations, educators, edtechs and other personalized learning experts at the LEAP InnovatED Summit in Chicago on August 28th!

Highlights include a keynote by Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, social emotional learning with CASEL, design thinking with IDEO, early childhood learning, college and career readiness, and more.

Early bird registration through June 30. For groups of five or more, use code SAVE20 to save 20%!


ISTE CHEATSHEET: San Antonio, one of America’s fastest growing metropolises, is about to get a whole lot busier. From June 24-28, thousands of educators, entrepreneurs and edtech enthusiasts will flock to Alamo City for ISTE, one of the biggest ed conferences around, and you won’t want to miss out. Here’s our list of the events we’re most excited to check out. Hope to see you there!

The influx of Facebook employees and their tech brethren to the San Francisco Bay Area has led to exorbitant increases in housing prices. So perhaps it’s only fitting that the $45 billion investment company tied to the social network’s power couple is giving back—at least a little. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committing $5 million to Landed, a startup that helps teachers pay housing down payments.

IMMATURE TECH: How can technology help the 36 million U.S. adults who lack basic literacy and math skills? A report from SRI and The Joyce Foundation explored how five tools were used—and to what effect. The result: “no conclusive evidence that the use of the products was more effective in raising students’ math or reading skills” than traditional approaches.

Sponsored by D2L.
PARENT PARTICIPATION: A nudge from federal legislation has sparked new interest in parent engagement. Reporter Linda Briggs asks educators about the challenges of developing effective parent outreach—and how technology can help. Meet the teacher who uses short videos to reach busy parents, then uses the LMS to track everything from student attendance to college prep. Learn another educator’s tips for writing emails parents will read.


CALLING ALL K-12 SCHOOL LEADERS! On Nov. 1-3, EdSurge in partnership with Digital Promise will be hosting the EdSurge Fusion Conference. This action-packed conference brings together leaders in personalized learning (including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Future Ready, LEAP Innovations, CUE, COSN, and NewSchools Venture Fund) to discuss topics including vision, research, implementation practices and the evidence for personalized learning. Apply for your spot today!

ENGAGING WITH ENGAGEMENT: Engaging students in the 21st century is no easy task, but personalized learning may hold the key to tapping into students’ individual passions. On June 21, join us for a free webinar sponsored by Edmentum about how personalized learning is changing engagement for students and teachers. RSVP here!

SEE YOU SOON, SOCAL: Are you a K-12 educator in Los Angeles? If you don’t want to wait until ISTE to connect with other folks, here’s an opportunity. On Tuesday, June 20, join us at our Los Angeles Tech Leaders Circle gathering for food, drinks and good conversation about personalized learning! If you’re a school-based teacher or administrator, sign up today—it’s free! We’ll see soon you next to the sand and surf.

EDSURGE PAYS TEACHERS: Ever graded an AP or College Board essay? Well EdSurge needs your help doing something just like that—but with edtech products. We're searching for ~40 educators to spend two (paid!) days with EdSurge reviewing the latest edtech products. More details, and the interest form, here.


EdSurge is featuring edtech tools handpicked by our readers. This week, we look at Adobe Spark, a presentation-enhancer recommended by 9th grade ELA teacher AJ Woods. Got a tool of your own to suggest? Give us a heads up—we love hearing from ya!

The Claim: Adobe Spark lets students (and their teachers) create animated videos, web stories and multimedia visuals that can be shared online via social media.

The Consensus: Woods says Spark provides a great way for her students to create short videos when exploring simple concepts. “I use it to have kids practice sharing a character’s point of view while reading a novel,” she says. “Or present on grammar topics.” She especially likes the multimedia aspect: “My students are really excited about choosing music and visuals for their videos. Plus,” she adds, “it forces them to use concise language because they have a limited number of words per frame.”

The Cons: Because the app is free, Woods says, options are somewhat limited. But she adds that overall “it was easier than PowerPoint and much more interactive.”


Kiddom is the easiest way to plan, assess, and analyze learning. With Kiddom, teachers plan curriculum, share assignments, track progress, and communicate with students in one collaborative learning platform. Students access and submit assignments, track progress, and get the feedback they need to demonstrate mastery. The best part? Kiddom is completely free for teachers and students.

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.

Instructional Coach, Humanities (2017-18) Alpha Public Schools
Alpha Public Schools is hiring an Instructional Coach to drive academic outcomes by supporting and coaching instructional staff.
Teaching • School • San Jose, CA

Calling All Teachers GigEd
​Teachers teach. They love to teach. But in today's world, they need more income. That's where we come in! Sign up for our beta today!
Teaching • Startup • Remote

High School Engineering Teacher (Los Angeles, CA) Bright Star Schools
Bright Star Schools is partnering with Project Lead The Way to build out an engineering career pathway for their high school students.
Teaching • School • Los Angeles, CA

Curriculum Designer Front Row Education
Curriculum designers are responsible for the creating the content behind Front Row. Everything you create will go into production and be used by students, teachers, parents, and school personnel.
Product • Startup • San Francisco, CA

Principal - Baxter Alliance College-Ready Public Schools
Alliance Alice M. Baxter High School is looking for a strong and dedicated instructional leader to serve as principal. Founded in 2014, Baxter will grow to graduate its first senior class in the 2017-18 school year.
Operations • School • Los Angeles, CA

Middle School Community School Director Brooklyn or Bronx Center for Supportive Schools
The full-time Community School Director is responsible for the day-to-day management of a community school strategy.
Teaching • School • New York, NY

Director of High Schools SPARK Schools
The Director of High Schools is responsible for designing, piloting, as well as successfully launching and leading SPARK Schools High School model.
Executive • School • Johannesburg, South Africa

Distribution and Partnerships Specialist, Education KQED
The Specialist will participate in managing education partnerships to expand our content offerings, reach and impact through maintaining a portfolio of educational groups implementing KQED professional learning service for teachers.
Teaching • Large Company • San Francisco, CA

Post an eventSee all events and meetups

ISTE 2017
The ISTE conference has highlighted the most important and influential trends in edtech, offering more than 1,000 sessions and learning opportunities in a variety of formats to accommodate many different learning styles.
Jun 25 to Jun 28 • San Antonio, TX • more than $250

EdSurge Fusion
500 school and district leaders are coming together around personalized learning and school transformation. Interested in being there? Read more here
Jun 25 to Jun 28 • San Antonio, TX • FREE for applying educators

Live Summer Google Training
K-12 teachers, start next school year with new tools and a new attitude! Learn "live" from experts! Topics include: Paperless Workflow With Google Classroom, Advanced Google Drive Tips, Master Classroom Management Tools.
Aug 2 to Aug 3 • Palm Springs, CA • more than $250

Webinar - How Personalized Learning is Shaping K-12 Engagement
Engaging students in an age of endless devices is no easy task. But can technology help us tap into students’ individual passions? On June 21, join us for a free webinar about how personalized learning is changing the rules of engagement for students and teachers. Panelists include AltSchool Open partner Garrett Wilhem, blended learning expert Amy Dodson, and Edementum program manager Tony Skuage.
Jun 21 3-4PM PST • Online • Free

Edtech Opportunities
Post an eventSee all events and meetups

OLC's Digital Learning Innovation Awards
​Online Learning Consortium (OLC) hosts an annual award showcasing the exemplary use of digital courseware to improve student success, especially among minority, first-generation and other underrepresented student groups.
Applications due June 30

Thanks for Reading

➔ Got any feedback? We love hearing from readers. Shoot us a note, critiques, a joke—whatever you've got!

➔ Interested in sponsoring this newslettter? Click here.
EdSurge is the leading edtech news & information resource for educators, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers. We help schools find, select and use the right technology to support all learners.

Tips? Email us at
EdSurge Newsletter
EdSurge Newsletter
EdSurge Newsletter
EdSurge Newsletter
Copyright © 2017 EdSurge. All rights reserved. Every student succeeds.
Our mailing address is: EdSurge 1801 Murchison Dr, Ste 220 Burlingame, CA 94010 USA

Add us to your address book

This email was sent to If you no longer wish to receive any emails from EdSurge, you may opt-out at any time.