When Dr. Sally Lindgren, director of technology and innovation at Great Prairie Area Education Agency (GPAEA) in Ottumwa, Iowa, created Room 21C — a flexible classroom that includes movable furniture paired with technologies such as Promethean ActivTable displays and large-screen TVs — only one such room was in use. Today, seven districts in Iowa have redesigned learning spaces that follow the 21C model.
Infrastructure is not a major issue to bring computer science to schools, according to Eugene Lemon, president of the Golden Gate chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association.
“To me, the bigger issue is the lack of trained staff, of teachers, to teach computer science concepts,” he says.
Lemon’s is a common refrain. While some states like Rhode Island are providing access to necessary training, districts elsewhere may be on their own.
Thanks to a new Swedish entrepreneur, kids have yet another way to learn STEM skills, eSchool News reports. Curly Bracket, developed by Johan Wendt is a textbook with a twist: It’s a graphic novel. When the protagonist Curly solves a problem, she uses computational thinking and elements of coding to find the answer.
“In the book, Curly doesn’t solve her problems using any super powers; she simply pays attention to her studies and learns as a coder would. This is what we want to introduce to all kids,” says Wendt in the article.
Curly Bracket started with an October 2016 Kickstarter campaign and books will be out in February 2017.
Makerspaces, like any other new technology initiative, take some trial and error before they can succeed. However, there are strategies you can take that will help your project go more smoothly. Below, find four best practices for building makerspaces that help students reach for the stars.
1. Marry Analog and Digital
While 3D printers, mini computers and robotics might come to mind when thinking about a makerspace, experts say it’s important not to forget the basics such as arts and craft supplies, Legos, scissors and cutters, grinders, metal, sewing machines and Styrofoam – or whatever works in your school. “Kids love cardboard,” agrees Chris O’Brien, the founder of Lower Bay Learner’s Guild, which helps New York schools create makerspace and project-based learning spaces. “They can use it for any number of things. It excites the imagination.”
2. Teach Your Teachers
While the proliferation of technology within the classroom has made it customary for districts to provide some form of entrée to the internet, many are now faced with the task of revamping existing wireless networks to optimize manageability and accommodate the explosion of mobile devices across all campuses. These six tips can help IT professionals and school administrators prepare.
The Sandy Hook tragedy has proved to be a major turning point in the way that schools think about and respond to crises, says Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, which works with schools to improve their security posture.
“Before this, a lot of officials had not been willing to empower their teachers and facilities staff with the authority and tools they needed to respond immediately to threats and emergencies, but that’s all changed now,” he says. “As a result, schools are willing to use more and new kinds of technology, and vendors are responding with innovative, user-friendly technologies and products.”
Here are some of the latest and greatest security capabilities available to schools:
One of Microsoft's biggest announcements at its annual developer-focused Build conference on Wednesday was the practical applications for Conversations as a Platform.
During the conference's opening keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Conversations as a Platform could revolutionize business productivity and give transactions a personal flavor. By combining voice and image recognition technologies with artificial intelligence APIs, Microsoft's engineers have created applications Nadella referred to as "chatbots" that can assist users in anything from an everyday business transaction to helping the blind visualize the world around them.
A recent effort by Florida legislators to make computer programming count as a foreign language died between the senate and the house.
According to the bill's history, it "died in messages" on March 11, after it passed the state senate by 35-5 vote. A spokesperson for the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeremy Ring, said another effort would have to be made in the next term, and under another senator.
The legislation would have made Florida the first in the country to try such an initiative, though Texas has a similar rule, allowing students to take coding courses as languages only after they've attempted and scored poorly on other languages first.
John King Jr. was confirmed Monday as the new US Secretary of Education.
The vote to confirm king was passed Monday by the Senate in a 49-to-40 vote.
King has served as acting education secretary since December, after former secretary Arne Duncan stepped down. Before joining the US Department of Education in 2015, King was the education commissioner of New York State.
In a statement, President Barack Obama applauded King's confirmation.
"In this role, John will continue to lead our efforts to work toward high-quality preschool for all, prepare our kids for college and a career, make college more affordable, and protect Americans from the burdens of student debt," says Obama.
A new, Google-themed portal for Internet searches designed to keep kids' searches safe — Kiddle.
Though not affiliated with the search engine giant, results found through Kiddle's search engine are powered by Google, tailored to the needs of kids, according to the site. The top seven results will be sites that have been "handpicked and checked" by Kiddle editors to ensure they are perfect for kids. The remaining results will be filtered by Google to ensure they are appropriate for kids.