Drones Take Off in Education

160108-F-LX370-002Unstaffed flying objects, unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely piloted aircraft. These are all alternative names for drones. According to two educators who have introduced them in the classroom, no matter what you call them, these small flying vehicles can be a useful response to drooping attendance, high discipline counts and low student satisfaction. Best, whether the subject is math, science, English, history, art or PE, there are drone lessons that can help bring abstract concepts to life for students.

As a K-8 math supervisor in Jersey City Public Schools, Kimberly Crowley wanted to figure out how to use drones to make math engaging for her students. Armed with a conviction that she could succeed, she got the backing of an associate superintendent who found funding to kick off the program for her to do a research project. Crowley held an information meeting and invited all of the schools in the district to send teachers who might be interested. This wasn’t going to be a mandated program, she insisted. She shared her idea with the teachers in a 30-minute presentation and asked for volunteers. Out of 50 people in attendance, while a few “rolled eyes,” another 24 emailed her as soon as she was done talking. They became her initial cohort…

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10 Steps to Achieving Active Learning on a Budget

Active learning is a great way to increase student excitement and participation, facilitate different kinds of learning activities, help people develop skills in small group work, promote discussion, boost attendance and give an outlet for technology usage that stays on track. It also requires remaking classrooms to enable that hands-on, collaborative student work — and that can often mean a six-figure price tag. But at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, a $12,000 experiment proved successful enough that the institution now sports two permanent active learning classrooms as well as a brand-new active learning lab. Here are the 10 steps this school with just under 2,000 students followed on its road to active learning victory.

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Turning Around an Enrollment Decline

There’s a difference between being part of a national trend of shrinking enrollment in two-year public institutions and having it hit your own college. While the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that two-year publics saw a 2.6 percent drop in student enrollment for fall 2016, Mesa Community College was facing a decline of 6 to 8 percent for the same period, one more data point in a series of waning enrollment numbers for the Arizona school. Surely, there was something that could be done to turn around enrollment retention.

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How to Use Games to Juice up Science Lessons

Tammie Schrader was never a gamer. But one day in a middle school science class she assigned a game on plant cells to her students to help them review the concepts. One student, a “really bright kid” who would typically “pick and choose” what he would work on, came into class the next day and handed her a thumb drive. On it was a version of a Nintendo Mario game intended to do the same thing. When a learner wanted Mario to jump up to grab a coin, he or she would first have to answer a plant question. If the answer was right, the student would get the coin; if not, he or she “would fall through the tube.” Schrader was impressed enough with the student’s hack that she put it on her interactive whiteboard to share with the class. All day long, she found, “kids wanted to play this game.” Soon, students from other classes were coming in before and after class and during lunch and asking if they could try it out too.

It didn’t take long for Schrader to call her principal in to see the results. The message: “OK, so I’m not meeting the needs of my kids. Even though I don’t use games, they do, and I think we need to start leveraging it.”

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9 Major Trends That Will Dominate Ed Tech

On a recent day in late October the mayor of Johnsonville was setting up a 125-gallon aquarium, which would eventually host a pair of bala sharks, a catfish, three oscars and live coral for real-life science lessons on saltwater habitats. Anthony Johnson’s fourth and fifth graders at Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury, NC refer to the tank as “Lake Johnsonville.”

Bringing the real world into the classroom is something a lot of teachers are trying to do. It’s something Johnson specializes in. His students are issued funds when they become residents, then they’re expected to pay bills, find work and learn by doing projects. And the mayor is a stickler for keeping schedules, so his students learn how to work with Google calendars to maintain their obligations and appointments. Earlier in the day, a student was waiting at home with his district-issued iPad, ready to connect Johnson to his mom for an online parent-teacher conference. “That kid set a reminder. He knew at 11:10 we needed to be on that call,” said Johnson. “When I turned it on, he was there waiting for me.”…

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Why One Professor Prefers Electronic Ink Over Fancy Tablets

There is no app store where people can acquire new uses for it. The interface is dim. And the stylus has to be recharged just like the device itself. Yet, at least one instructor wouldn’t give up his Sony Digital Paper, even for the most tricked-out iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface.

But then Akhan Almagambetov isn’t like most people. This assistant professor in electrical engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus disavows PowerPoints, has been known to rip up textbooks and is highly protective of his eyes…

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What You Need to Know About the 3.5 GHz Band on Campus

Rare is the campus with total coverage of cellular service. Maybe the problem surfaces for your institution in its basement-level spaces, or that oldest building on campus with walls built to bomb-shelter standards, or the newest, LEED-certified facility that uses energy-efficient glass or other construction materials that block radio frequency. Whatever the site or cause, it’s a big problem. Most mobile traffic originates inside buildings (ABI Research pegs it at more than 80 percent), so people get frustrated when they can’t use their devices to make a phone call — particularly in an emergency…

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IoT Has Arrived (Just Not in the Way You Expected)

If your idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) involves smart environments that hoover up data from wearable sensors for more efficient traffic patterns, alert a teacher when a student’s eyeballs have wandered away from the lesson or notify purchasing when the pencil stock has dwindled in the supply closet, maybe it’s time to crank back expectations and look at what’s really going on in K–12 with IoT…

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