What We Can Learn from New Orleans’ Post-Katrina School Reforms

1200px-PostKatrina_near_Stanislaus_HallReforms put in place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005 turned out to have many positive impacts, according to a new report published by the Education Research Alliance. Two researchers, Douglas Harris from Tulane University and Matthew Larsen from Lafayette College, found that the move to state-controlled charters boosted student achievement, high school graduation rates, college entry numbers, the college persistence rate and the college graduation rate…

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Using VR to Help Students Understand Cultural Differences

Samsung's_Virtual_Reality_MWC_2016_Press_Conference_(26666393696)In an era ripe with mistrust and fear, it’s easy to set empathy aside. But what if we could step into the eyeballs of another person to get his or her point of view from the inside? Could that lead to greater understanding? That’s the idea for a project at North Carolina State University that uses virtual reality to help engineering students understand different cultural perspectives…

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Why Higher Ed Should Do More with Blockchain Tech

When Oral Roberts University hosted the one-day event, “Blockchain Essentials in Education,” all attendees received a blockchain-based certificate from the Tulsa university verifying their participation. Perhaps nothing else could have illustrated the potential of blockchain technology more appropriately.

As CIO Michael Mathews, the event’s organizer, explained, blockchain will be as important to transforming education as the internet was. He said he believes those colleges and universities that jump on the secure public ledger concept early enough and begin testing it out will be the ones who could see the biggest benefits…

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How K-12 Learning Can Cultivate True Collaboration

There’s a reason even superheroes need to work together in the movies today to conquer the bad guys. Attacking complex problems single-handedly doesn’t work anymore. And even smaller projects need multiple minds going at them for success. Yet, while collaboration is certainly a critical need for the 21st century, too often students are simply thrown together into teams to tackle group projects without first being prepared for the challenge…

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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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