Cool Tool | Sparkup Magical Book Reader

CREDIT Sparkup Magical Book ReaderThe Sparkup Magical Book Reader enables parents, relatives and friends to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book, so that the children in their lives can listen, read along and feel connected even when apart. This helps kids to practice their reading skills while also providing the emotional connection of a loved one’s voice. The Reader can store up to 50 books at a time, and is a perfect way to encourage children to read even when they’re not at schoolFurthermore, the Reader enables children to create their own multimedia experiences. A child armed with imagination, blank paper and something to draw with can create his/her own short book and bring it to life with the Reader, adding sound effects, voice narratives and even music. Designed for children ages 3 through 8, the Reader attaches to the top of a book and records the user’s voice while tracking each page via its built-in camera. Afterwards, any time the device is re-attached to that book, the camera recognizes its images and plays the appropriate recording for each pageIt is available for purchase on Amazon or for $59.99.

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Cool Tool | eduCanon 

CREDIT educanonHere’s an online learning environment to create and share interactive video lessons. Teachers begin with any YouTube, Vimeo, or TeacherTube video content (screencasts, Khan Academy, Minute Physics, TED, NOVA, etc.) and transform what is traditionally passive content into an active experience for students. By time-linking activities that students engage with as the video progresses, the content is segmented into digestible components — increasing student engagement and, through their real-time monitoring — informing the next day’s lesson planning. eduCanon is used in a 1:1 student learning environment. Teachers have used their interface in class as a blended tool, assigned students an eduCanon lesson as homework in a flipped setting, and even asked students to create their own eduCanon lesson as a higher-Bloom’s project! It’s flexible enough to suit the resources and teaching style of any classroom


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Trends | Impact of EdTech on Math Scores

CREDIT ST MathA new study measures the impact of an edtech program on state math test performance, and finds it’s making a positive difference. The independent research firm WestEd measured the impact of MIND Research Institute’s ST Math® program in 209 second through fifth grades – including more than 19,980 students at 129 schools across California – that fully implemented the program. One year of ST Math could move a school that was performing at the 50th percentile in the state up to the 66th percentile in the state, the study found. “We have to move beyond educational technology just being innovative and exciting, it needs to demonstrate a measurable impact on student learning and ST Math continues to do just that,” says Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector. The ST Math program exemplifies a blended learning approach, which not only has students use computerized math lessons, but makes the teacher the central hub of the digital learning ecosystem. Teachers received training on how to use ST Math to supplement their core curriculum and connect the visual puzzles students encountered on the computer to the math concepts and standards they were teaching in their classroom lessons. Additionally, schools received year-round support from MIND’s educational consultants. Learn more.

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Infrastructure as a Service

A brief discussion of smart cloud choices for educational institutions.

GUEST COLUMN | by Adam Stern

CREDIT Infinitely VirtualInfrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud offerings have been flirting with commoditization over the past several years. IaaS behemoths can drop prices to kill competition, but as customer cloud strategies mature, pricing isn’t the only way to select an IaaS provider. In fact, the low-cost, bare-bones IaaS cloud offerings of the mega-providers usually don’t offer educational institutions – especially small and midsize schools and school districts — the professional services they need. More nimble IaaS providers, which cater to the up-and-comers, are differentiating themselves from their larger competitors by providing value-added services, giving institutions the option of selecting those services that best fit their IT cloud server hosting needs.

Providers are focusing offerings around features not easily commoditized, creating a buyer’s market for educational institutions considering moving to a cloud server.

Taking a step back, IaaS is a type of cloud computing platform in which the academic organization “rents” its IT infrastructure, lock, stock and barrel — storage, processing, networking, and other resources. Organizations access these resources over the Internet (in other words, via the cloud) on a pay-per-use model. With traditional cloud server hosting services, IT infrastructure is rented out for specific periods of time, with a pre-determined hardware configuration; the client pays for the time and configuration, regardless of actual use. With an IaaS cloud computing infrastructure, however, schools can dynamically scale the configuration to meet their changing needs, and are billed only for the services they actually use.

IaaS providers are focusing their offerings around features that are not easily commoditized to avoid competing with their larger counterparts. This is creating a buyer’s market for educational institutions that are considering moving their infrastructure to a cloud server.

Traditionally, IaaS providers offered storage capacity to their customers, and the customer had to tackle data and application assessment and migration on its own. But recently, IaaS providers are offering professional services, such as disaster recovery, data center and migration services, making the transition to cloud server hosting an easier process for schools and colleges.

Because some educational institutions have distinct requirements for cloud hosting, some IaaS providers are tailoring their value-added services to specific types of institutions. For example, universities engaged to any significant degree in the health sciences often prefer to move securely from their private cloud environments to public cloud environments on a private VLAN. Accordingly, schools in those markets should consider IaaS providers that include utility-based billing and private-to-public cloud bursting technology among their offerings.

These specialized offerings not only make IaaS providers more competitive and differentiated, they give educational institutions greater choice – a true win-win.

Adam Stern is founder and CEO of Infinitely Virtual in Los Angeles. Find him on Twitter @iv_cloudhosting

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Cool Tool | Book&Table  

CREDIT Book&TableThis is a web platform that enables great educators to run a professional test prep or academic tutoring business through innovative technology and community partnerships. Using the platform, educators help students learn through personalized courses and one-on-one tutoring. The mission is to bring students together with outstanding, well-respected educators. Courses are personalized for learners’ needs and designed to help students increase their test scores, prepare for college admissions, and master K-12 subjects. Students connect on a personal level with their instructor and utilize Book&Table’s web technology to enhance their overall learning experience.

 The company also repurposes collaborative workspaces, offices, and bookstores in order to create unique classrooms in intellectually stimulating environments. They find classroom partnerships that benefit both local businesses and learners. Some of their classroom partners include WeWork, LearnLaunch, eSpace, and New Work City.

 Check them out.

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