digital literacySmartBlog on Education is shining a light on education technology innovations during May, exploring the latest products and tools and the hottest trends in ed-tech. In this blog post, English teacher Mike Saenz discusses the benefits of an online curriculum.

Let’s get this straight first; teachers teach, and the curriculum (whether it’s a textbook, or an online package) is a tool the teacher uses to teach. I make this point first because often when discussing the best form of curriculum, the teacher is left out of the equation. The question is essentially, “Does the student learn better out of a textbook or online?” This confuses education with self-education and imagines a student alone in a room with a notepad and a textbook or alone in a room with a laptop.

Fortunately, education properly achieved involves teachers. Among other things, the teacher critically examines the given curriculum, cuts some of the material, replaces it with others and finds supplemental materials to re-emphasize the material he finds most important. (read more…)

textbooksWelcome to SmartBrief Education’s original content series about the unique stories of teacherpreneurs. These are the innovative individuals confronting challenges, creating solutions and bringing them to market. In this post, Todd Brekhus, president of myON™ shares advice to help educators embrace the entrepreneurial spirit.

After working as a teacher’s aide in high school, I fell in love with education and its power to improve young lives. While I’m no longer in front of the classroom or behind an administrator’s desk, I still think of myself as a teacher as I guide a new cadre of educators in my role as entrepreneur and industry advocate. Being an educator today can take many different forms, and there’s more opportunities than ever for ambitious practitioners to continue to follow their passion in education while embracing innovation, whether they’re in the classroom or in the boardroom.

What I’ve learned along my journey from English teacher to executive is that not everyone is ready or able to make the transition, but anyone can embrace the entrepreneurial spirit to foster educational change. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by ISTE.

Convincing others to accept and share your vision while providing the tools to self-navigate the process of change can be daunting. But take a moment to consider the following:

People already know how to change. They do it every day. They encounter a detour on the road to work and have to take a different route. They go to the grocery store and discover that their favorite cereal has been moved or discontinued. Somehow they still arrive at work and find breakfast food. They know their vision and navigate the change to find a solution.

Of course, we are acutely aware that organizational change is not as simple as driving to work or shopping for breakfast cereal. So how does a leader make sustainable change in an organization? William Bridges states in his book Managing Transitions, Change is situational. Transition is psychological. Getting people through the transition is essential if the change is actually to work as planned. (read more…)

Most school districts want to be seen as “innovative.” To some, that means deploying the latest and greatest technology tool or initiative, such as tablets, makerspaces or one-to-one computing programs. To others, it means implementing a new schedule – such as flexible periods, common times, or “20% time” – that supports a different way to provide instruction. And still others will embark down a road of instructional shifts, such as differentiation, project-based learning, inquiry learning, portfolio assessment, or a myriad of other activities designed to improve educational delivery. We refer affectionately to all of these as “shiny objects.”

All of these are potentially good activities, but districts need to ask themselves two questions before initiating these types of programs: “What are we?” and “What do our students need us to be?” These questions are the guiding pieces to establishing a vision for the future and a subsequent mission.

If your school district doesn’t have a clear vision for what it is and what it needs to be, all the above mentioned activities, no matter how “innovative” they seem, will not help to move it forward. (read more…)

Education-badge-blue2As part of SmartBrief Education’s coverage of Path to Workforce, we’ve teamed with the Association for Career and Technical Education to share CTE articles written by educators, for educators. In this blog post, our guest blogger examines the true measure of success for CTE students.

One of the unique features of CTE is the multitude of people it serves. CTE teachers provide services to students in high school, students seeking transfers, people seeking careers, incumbent workers seeking to differentiate themselves in the market and dislocated workers looking for a new set of skills and a fresh start.

We are proud to be a solution to educational needs in a workforce that is increasingly mobile and where people are seldom staying in one location or even in one career path during their working lives. While we are nimble and always trying to keep up with the times, it seems that sometimes how our success is measured hasn’t always kept pace. (read more…)