Education-badge-blue2How can educators, employers and government leaders work together to prepare students for today’s technically-sophisticated labor market? And what kind of skills route students to good, 21st-century jobs? Panelists addressed these questions and more during a May 21 conversation hosted by New America Foundation.

Much attention has been directed to the “skills gap,” or the challenges employers confront in sourcing workers with the right qualifications for today’s fast-paced economy. Here are some lessons stakeholders shared at the discussion:

The U.S. is not alone in this fight

There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding skills in the U.S., from both the supply side — students weighing which postsecondary track or college major will land them a job — and the demand side — employers who are struggling in their search for highly-skilled workers. It is taking today’s college graduates more time to find a job, and recent graduates are more likely to be underemployed, noted New America Senior Policy Analyst Mary Alice McCarthy, citing a report from the New York Federal Reserve. (read more…)

This month’s SmartBrief on EdTech Product Showcase roundup is running today due to the Memorial Day holiday.

As the school year winds down, a number of new products are hitting the ed-tech shelves. Here’s what piqued SmartBrief on EdTech readers’ interest this month in Product Showcase:

Bringing STEM to Light: Teaching about Light and Optics

Educators can enroll to take a free online course this summer on the science of light. The five-week, self-paced class, Bringing STEM to Light: Teaching about Light and Optics, is designed for teachers with students ages 6 to 14 and will include a number of hands-on activities using Laser Classroom’s Light Blox Kit. The class begins June 22. Registration is open now for interested teachers.

Online service delivers special education instruction

PresenceLearning has launched a new service that enables students with special needs to receive live instruction from credentialed special education teachers. Schools can use the service for one-on-one instruction as well as with small groups. (read more…)

leadershipI recently delivered a talk at an advancement conference on the topic of identifying and communicating a school’s unique qualities and mission. During the presentation, an issue emerged that sits at the forefront of the minds of many of the professionals who were in attendance.

I spoke of the need for advancement personnel — development, admissions, recruitment/retention, communications, marketing, etc. — to connect deeply and continually with academic leadership. Too often, the two offices operate as independent silos, with each group focused almost exclusively on their respective domains without much awareness or interest in what is occurring across the hallway or elsewhere on campus.

Part of this dynamic may come from each group’s familiarity and comfort level. Academic leaders are usually promoted from the classroom. They excel as instructors and instructional leaders and prefer to talk about pedagogy, to engage with teachers and students, and to deal with the kinds of tasks that are typically associated with school function — scheduling, supervision, curriculum, etc. (read more…)

Every education conference features sessions about schools using technology to support teaching and learning in creative, interesting ways. But are schools and districts really nurturing innovative thought and practices? We polled SmartBrief on EdTech readers this month to take a pulse on whether or not innovation is a primary concern for their schools and districts.

As it turns out, schools are split down the middle on this issue. When asked if their schools encourage them to think of out-the-box ways they can use technology, 50% of readers responded “yes” and 50% responded “no.” Different barriers stand in the way of ed-tech innovation. Topping the list are tight budgets at 47%. Other obstacles include lack of time, tedious approval processes, limited tech-savvy educators and poor leadership support.

But educators do want to know how their peers are pulling off these projects. When asked what kinds of information they’re interested in, 56% of readers said they want details on the how – the nuts and bolts of the plans – from idea to deployment. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Infocomm.

InfoComm 2015 has it all: the lights, the sounds and certainly the action. Most of that flashy stuff happens in prime time — exhibition days on the show floor. So you may be asking yourself, “What is there to do before then?”

Decent question. The answer is pretty straightforward – plenty!

From education sessions to networking events, there are many things you can do prior to the opening of the exhibit hall. A great way to spend pre-exhibition time in Orlando (other than enjoying the warm Florida sun) is to learn, learn and learn, and with InfoComm University, you can take the next step in becoming a better AV pro. Learn things that you will find useful in your everyday job or fortify your foundation. According to industry professionals, nearly every student who has taken a class with us found that the training was useful and was handy in real world application. (read more…)