15 Dec

Does Price Matter When Buying the Latest Portable Computer?

Android Tablet: Who should buy?

If you want to buy an Android tablet, you are probably in one of two main categories: (1) those who want to use the device to watch movies, read books, listen to music, and play casual games; or they want to change their device to make the most of it.
Android tablets will appeal to those who primarily want to consume entertainment since the starting price can be significantly lower. That means more money forever, and cheaper 7-inch tablets like Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are more than capable of playing Netflix, Hulu Plus, music, and reading books.And just as the iPad can interact with other Apple devices, Android tablets can be a great companion to those who already own an Android smartphone.

iPad: Who should buy?
The iPad is an excellent tablet for those who want to experience beyond media consumption. While the iPad is excellent for watching movies, listening to music, and reading books, it can also be used to make movies, make music, and write books. Apple’s suite of software and desktop applications, such as iMovie and Garage Band, make this solution possible, and an increasing number of third-party applications lend substance to the App Store.

The iPad is also the perfect tablet for those who are a little intimidated by technology. Apple has opted for a more straightforward design, which means fewer adjustments, but also involves more comfortable handling. The simple design means you enjoy using a tablet with less time learning to use it.

After all, the iPad is an excellent companion for those who already own Apple products. iPhone users will love the iCloud Photo Library, which lets you share photos between devices, and Apple TV owners love to be able to send the iPad screen to their widescreen TV wirelessly.

Tablets work in the price range, so the purchase decision is a last-minute investment. For example, the Amazon Fire is perfect for a high-tech multimedia toy on a budget, while the iPad Pro is more suitable for someone who can use it as a stand-alone productivity tool.
Remember that you can buy accessories for the keyboard or the stylus, which improves the usefulness of your device, but increases your overhead spending.

Is it the right price?
You can pay a lot for a tablet, but it is not necessary. Tablets range from over $1,000 at the high end to under $50 at the low end, so you have many options, no matter how much or how little you want to spend.

Less than $100
You can find many low-cost Android tablets for less than $100 and Amazon’s 7-inch Fire tablet, a small, reliable device that costs around $50. However, at these prices, it is limited to tablets with low memory and low-resolution displays, and you will not find many that have screens larger than 7 inches. You will need to do your homework before buying to make sure you get a decent device.

$100 to $200
If you have a tight budget but you do not want to dunk in the basement, choosing under $ 200 is a great place to look. Most tablets in this price range are between 7 and 8 inches and run on Android, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7 inches. Storage capacities are still limited, with 8 or 16 GB being the norm, but you’ll occasionally find a tablet with 32 GB of storage on board.

$200 to $300
Pay a little more and get a bit more power and more details, such as higher resolution screens. At $ 269, the Apple iPad mini 2 low-end offers a display of 7.9 inches by 2048 by 1536 pixels, but its storage capacity is limited to 16 GB. In this area, you will also see larger 9 and 10-inch tablets.

$300 to $400
Here you will see more of the most important tablets of the highest quality. Here are the high-end tablets of 7 and 8 inches, as well as the low-end tablets of 9 and 10 inches. For $319 you get a 32GB iPad Mini 2, while for $399 you get a 16GB iPad Air or a 16GB iPad Mini, or the Google Nexus 9 Tablet for $ 399 and a wide selection of Samsung Galaxy Tablets.
$400 and more

The upper segment of the tablet market is a reasonably large segment, but here, tablets from secondary devices become legitimate substitutes for laptops. You get faster processors, bigger screens, more features, and more storage space (though you’ll always find some 16GB models here and there). You will also see tablets with integrated mobile broadband here. Tablets in this area include the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, high-end Android tablets, and Surface Pro 4.

15 Apr

The Significance of school testing headphones with the New Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

In Dec 2015, Chief Executive Obama finalized the new, bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is expected to change the scenery and atmosphere of education since the No Child Left Behind Act. Here is an explanation of when, where, and why school testing headphones will become a significant component of a school’s gadgets list with the new standards.
Technology Increasing Together with Education
As we have resolved earlier in our post on top education styles in 2017, technological innovation will carry on growing in importance and usefulness in the classroom. The new ESSA will not only indicate that growth but also motivates it. The marketplace itself facilitates the use of technological innovation in the classroom, not only as an assistive tool for students but in to stay “future ready” for changes and requirement of technological innovation. The invoice, therefore, shows a guarantee to spend more funds on technological innovation as academic resources, and plus the use of computer systems and cellular phones, school testing headphones too will develop in importance as well.
Increased Accessibility to Pre-Kindergarten Classes
The ESSA also is designed to improve access pre-kindergarten for all students, which will help quickly boost the academic, social, psychological, and physical development of youngsters. With it come resources that are necessary for pre-school older kids, who are also suffering from a beginning access technological innovation at both house and college events. Children in pre-school might use iPads for academic activities and events, and headphones like the Hamilton Bend Phones–which develop with kids and secure hearing with a weak disturbance threshold–will become useful for these kids to be successful at a beginning age.

Growing Significance of Songs and the Arts

The new invoice also details assistance for music and the artistry, in addition to STEM topics. This aid in the art can lead to a need for educational institutions to have top quality headphones for music sessions and laboratories, where only headphones will be required in purchase for students to complete projects or take examinations. For these situations, we suggest noise-canceling headphones with quantity management, which can help students pay attention to their work or evaluation components either of the sessions, at home or in school, without diversion. Because many music assessments include hearing carefully and determining specific notices, appears to be, equipment, machines, and more having top quality school testing headphones will help students listen to the sound with quality and differentiate variations. Educational headphones are also appropriate outside music sessions and will be required in arts-focused topics such as movie, literature, interaction and production, and more.

Rigorous Classroom Standards
One of the most basic changes that will affect the classroom atmosphere includes enhanced specifications for the program to become educationally extensive for all students. Wanting to close the gap between classes in private and rental educational institutions and indicate their rigor in public schools the new law will help all students prepare for universities and professions under more complicated specifications.
With that come new methods to show and increase the program that will include the students’ attention in different ways. From hearing about audio books to getting referrals, watching movies, and more, audio/sound gadgets will become essential resources to help students succeed. Many educational institutions and regions with extended sessions have their students and staff using technological innovation for many projects and depend on top quality gadgets to show and evaluation components for their program specifications, as well as Advanced Positioning examinations and Worldwide Baccalaureate sessions.
Overall, a lot of planning will be required for a university or region to meet the changes in the ESSA. We estimate that a need for top quality sound and visible high quality will be necessary for students to learn and be successful eventually.
Are any particular headphones safe for kids?

Professionals also suggest that the period spent listening to headphones should be limited to two hours a day (for kids and parents), even if the volume level is defined at 85dB. Limiting the volume level on earphones you give to your children is a wise decision if you want to help protect their hearing, but some professionals warn against children using any types of headphones. While the World Health Organization (WHO) and EUROPEAN UNION state that 85dB is a good safety limit, the USA Environmental Protection Agency and USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 70dB as the usual daily noises exposure level. That 85dB level is extracted from functional studies of noise exposure and hearing loss for parents, not kids.

The problems are that 70dB is very silent and will likely not drown out ambient sound, so 85dB becomes the norm despite it being extremely damaging to an immature person’s hearing.
There are other factors why even 85dB is unsafe for kids, especially when using earphones or earbuds. Children’s ears are very sensitive to noise damage, possibly due to growing and development of nerve fibers and other cells. Also because of their smaller sized external auditory canals, the eardrum is much closer to the sound source.

Incidental challenges with screenings
Depending on your state health care or education department, the ability to hear tests are usually administered to students in quality grades K, 1, 3, 5, 9 and sometimes grade 7.

A school & college health professional nurse, speech-language pathologist or a checking out audiologist usually does school screenings. However, the sanitary screening conditions are not always ideal. For example, tests in some cases take place in a gymnasium. Depends on where children take the tests, poor sound, reverberation and ambient noise can impact results.

Secondly, the children may have an ear infection or cold or the upper respiratory tract infection that daytime, which can impact hearing, the fit of the over-the-ears headphones or the attention span of the child also sometimes affect the screenings.

15 Feb

History of the SBAC and How it Rose to a Nationwide Movement

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was created in 2010 with the aim of producing a universal assessment system to help students be well prepared for college and careers. The creation of the tests aimed to produce a vigorous assessment of the new, challenging common core state standards (CCSS) and help educators and school districts align teaching to these new standards. The SBAC originally consisted of a consortium of 30 states that submitted a proposal for a $178m federal grant to develop a new, groundbreaking series of tests for students. In 2014 the federal grant came to an end and the SBAC was transferred to UCLA and became a public agency.

 

The SBAC is funded by the memberships of the 16 states, that currently offer the tests, and all tests have been available for students to take since April 2015. Testing costs around $28 per student for the full package of resources and although it can cost states a significant amount of money to introduce, the resources that are included can actually end up saving money and time for educators. Around 220 colleges nationwide accept the high school summative SBAC tests as evidence for college readiness for credit level courses.

 

The progressive tests were created using a dynamic process of field-testing and in Spring 2014, 4.2 million students took the first field tests which facilitated the evaluation of over 19,000 assessment items. This allowed for the first set of achievement standards to be set, which were a starting point for discussion about achievement standards across the states that took part and as a baseline measure for the future.

 

The SBAC is designed to be a valid and reliable approach to student assessment, providing actionable data to provide interventions to help students succeed. For states offering the tests, the SBAC provides three components developed by nearly 5000 teachers nationwide:

 

  • Formative and practice assessments with a digital library of resources for students and educators.
  • Interim assessments
  • Summative assessments towards college and career readiness in English, Language Arts and Math

 

The SBAC summative tests are available for students in grade 3-8th and high school and are all administered via an interactive online platform. The tests take between 2.5 – 4 hours for each component and are either marked digitally or by qualified professional scorers. The marks for each assessment are available in 2-3 weeks for parents, educators and students. Each student receives a result of 1,2,3 or 4 on each test with 1 representing a student who is minimally qualified and 4 a student who is thoroughly qualified.

 

The movement towards rigorous and valid assessment helps both states and the nation ensure that students are leaving high school with a diploma that prepares them for adult life. The SBAC provides a way to ensure that every student succeeds and every school district is accountable for that because of the tests.

 

15 Nov

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Tablets

Buying a tablet can be an amazing experience. With its help, you can access great portability, lots of amazing apps and immediate access to the features that you might need. There are many tablets which deliver perfect results for business and other models are perfect for day to day users. But you do have to wonder, how can you pick the right tablet? Believe it or not, the entire process is easy if you know where to look and what you should look for. Because of that, we created a list with all those things you need to know when you purchase a tablet.

Pick the right brand

There are multiple tablet brands you can choose from, each one coming with its own unique set of features and benefits. You can either opt for Apple, Samsung tablets, Microsoft, Amazon tablets and so on. Of course, each one comes with its own operating system and features so you do get quite a different experience. It’s a good idea to go through trial and error. Find a local shop that allows you to test at least one model as this way you will see whether that tablet will suit your needs or not.

iOS or Android

The operating system is crucial for any tablet. Based on it you will be able to get access to a different App Store, applications and features created specifically for your device. There are many differences between Android and iOS, but you can also find quite a bit of similarities. iOS is great if you are a person that wants to access intuitive menus, wonderful native apps and a good selection of movies, books or music. On the other hand, Android has a larger selection of apps, it helps you access better customization options. You can also opt for Windows tablets that use the Microsoft tile system. These are good for working with familiar tools such as Power-Point for example.

Screen size and resolution

The screen size is up to you. Some people like the idea of having a tablet with a very large screen, so you can opt for 10 inch models or even 12” models like the iPad Pro. On the other hand, you can also pick tablets like 7” or 8” models if you want. The latter ones will fit in your pockets, so they will provide you with a better portability. Even so, the value you get here is amazing and you should think about the screen size beforehand. You also should think about the overall resolution. A higher resolution will provide more pixels on the entire screen. Thus, the visual experience will be more detailed. Opt for the highest possible resolution if you want to get the very best results.

Memory and CPU

A quad core CPU is standard on the medium-range models. Some newer tablets are featuring octa-core processors, while the less expensive ones will bring you single core or dual core processors. Usually, quad core processors are ok from a performance standpoint and affordable.

When it comes to the necessary internal memory, keep in mind that some tablets don’t allow you to add a memory card. Because of that, you will need to opt for more internal memory. Nowadays, it’s recommended to stick to around 32GB as an entry level, if you install a lot of apps or if you play lots of games you should consider 64GB or 128GB models.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

There will be times when you want to connect to the web, so a good Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection will come in handy. While most tablets have great connectivity features, including all the above. For the best results, you should still check if they have these features before you purchase.

Budget

Based on your budget, you might be limited to a certain set of tablets. Usually, a good tablet should be around $300, some models are over $400 and they are considered as top of the line. Entry level tablets can be found at $100 and if you don’t want as much processing power as a premium tablet you can easily get good results with $200 models. Remember that you should stick to your budget when you buy a tablet. There will always be some more expensive models with better features, so try to keep that in mind as it will help you quite a bit. It will not be easy to do that, but in the end results can be very well worth it in the end.

Waterproof or not

There are a few models which are waterproof, but these will usually have less processing power. Most of the time these are created specifically for professional users and they aren’t dedicated to regular users. Still, you can find yourself getting such a model if you want water-resistant tablets. If you want a good table that you use daily and you live in areas where it rains a lot, waterproofing can be a very important thing for you so try to keep that in mind.

What do you want to use it for?

You can find Tablets for professionals, for home use or for gaming. For example, models like the Nvidia Shield are created for gamers, whereas Microsoft Surface or the iPad Pro are designed with the business users in mind. Regular tablets come from different makes and they can be suitable for most home users without that much of a problem.

If you want to use your tablet solely for gaming, you do need to opt for a more powerful one. on the other hand, if you just want to use it at home for web browsing and e-mail, you can stick to the lower end models.

Conclusion

Yes, it can be very challenging to find a good tablet that suits your needs. But if you take your time and study the market you will find it very easy to pick the right model. Keep in mind that you should stick to your budget. Don’t rush, see what you want to use the tablet for and results can be very interesting to begin with!

08 Nov

10 Signs You Should Invest in Tablets

In the past few years, more and more people started to be focused on the idea of purchasing a mobile device. Usually, when you must choose between multiple devices like this you either have to pick between a tablet, mobile phone or a laptop. Laptops are heavy and smartphones can have a tiny screen, but tablets are a great middle ground that deliver a larger screen and good processing power for an affordable price. But is it a good idea to invest in a tablet? Will it last more than a tablet and how can you get the best results from it? Let’s find that out right now.

  1. Tablets are great for reading

A major benefit for many users is that tablets are very good for reading. Unlike e-readers that have e-ink screens, tablets have a customizable screen, the ability to change brightness and opacity as well as many other similar features. This makes it a lot easier for you to read the content you want and in the end the entire reading experience is a lot more interesting.  Plus, tablets bring you the ability to read multiple types of files. From PDFs to long web articles, comic files and so on, all of these run natively on a tablet while an e-ink reader will struggle with them.

  1. Portability

One of the main reasons why you have to consider getting a tablet is the portability you will receive. There will be no need for docking stations, tablets are portable and you can easily take them with you whenever you want. They work great for businessmen but regular people can also use them during their travels. It’s really nice to have a tablet when you need to access the web, stay in touch with friends/colleagues or when you need to enter a videoconference while on the go.

  1. Internet Connectivity

Some tablets allow you to connect to your 4G network or they can easily connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot. One thing is certain, you never have a problem finding a good internet connection nowadays so you can always reach anyone regardless of where you are. Thanks to owning a tablet, you will be able to get in touch with your family as fast as possible and results can be second to none all the time!

  1. Tablets are stable

Yes, unlike computers, the tablet OS is a lot more stable. There will be a few crashes here and there but you just need to restart the unit and you are back on track. This is great if you want to access special applications or features on your device and the results you get from here can be quite impressive in the end. That alone, combined with a very good debug system and plenty of reset options, makes using a tablet very easy and safe.

  1. Affordable

A great benefit brought by any tablet is that it helps you get access to great mobile apps on the inexpensive side. A tablet is a lot cheaper when compared to high end mobile phones or even regular laptops, so you should consider investing in a tablet if you want to have the very best results. Keep that in mind and the experience will be worth it in the end. Plus, you can use the extra money to purchase accessories or invest in other electronics of your own choosing.

  1. Tablets are great for multimedia

You can use a tablet to listen to your favorite music, you can watch videos on it or you can share content on social media. Yes, tablets are perfect for social content creation and they can deliver amazing multimedia features. They are a delight to use and the experience you get is a very good one. Plus, you don’t have to carry an iPod or similar unit around, you get a complete round of features in the same device which is very important.

  1. Great for business and productivity

Tablets give you access to the Google Play and iOS App Store, mobile app stores that are filled with great productivity tools that will help boost your productivity and take it to new heights. All you should do is to download the ones which seem promising and based on trial and error you can pick the right one to suit your needs.

  1. Easy to customize

One of the main benefits of owning a tablet is that it offers you endless customization options right from the start. This makes the experience simple and a lot more immersive than ever before. All you should do is to pick the right tablet for you and customize it in any way you want.

  1. They help you manage your time a lot better and easier

Time management can be very troublesome and stressful for all of us. But if you’re not careful you can easily find yourself losing most of the day dealing with day to day issues and postponing the most important tasks. With that in mind, a tablet will help you better manage your daily tasks by delivering special tools and apps that help you do exactly that. If you want the very best results, you just should get a good tablet and results can be amazing.

  1. Tablets adapt to your needs

All tablets are versatile; they are units that you can use for specific tasks depending on your needs. It doesn’t matter if you are a coach that schedules his team or an artist that creates beautiful art pieces, you can easily use a tablet to do all of that and so much more. It’s a delightful, unique experience and one that will pay off very well in the long term.

As you can see, there are many signs and reasons why you should invest in a good tablet. If you want to boost the way you work, you want to better manage your tasks or access the web while you are on the go, getting a tablet can be a very good idea. Plus, tablets can easily adapt to your own needs which is exactly what you want to have in the end! So, consider purchasing a good tablet soon as you will be very impressed with its versatility, usability and quality!

01 Nov

Comparing laptops to computers; what is best for your student?

Computers came into existence a long time ago. From the size of a football field, to a room, to a table and now to a lap; computer systems have also progressed as the World has moved forward. Being permitted only to influential offices when they were initially introduced and only being operated by a professional, now they have been given access to every human on earth. As a student, it becomes a tad tough to decide whether laptops are better or computers are more appropriate. Thereby, we shall see the pros and cons of various aspects of both, as to decide which one will serve the purpose better.

  1. Cost price: Due to the fact that desktop computers are larger and have more than one component attached to them that can vary per package, the prices are also in a wide array. However, the lowest price you must pay with the maximum number of gadgets is also pretty minimal and you can still attain a perfectly good setup. On the other hand, laptops do not have that much hassle attached to them, but to have the best package like speed, memory space, durability and sleekness you must pay a lot more. Thereby, judging by pricing, laptops can be heftier on the pocket of a student or an educational institution if they want the best one available in market.
  1. Handiness: Desktop computers not only have a monitor but also a processor that is quite heavy. To transport it from one place to another you need quite some time and effort. Furthermore, all the wires attached to a switchboard, to the monitor and the keyboard also need to be detached and carried along making it a very troublesome process. Howbeit, laptops have everything they need in their system so you can merely pick it up and put it in another place. As a student, that is the biggest advantage you can get because you can carry it wherever you want.
  1. Processor power: Since desktop computers have a larger sized processor, the power it harnesses is also proportional to its size. This means that more activities that involve heavy power can be done on the computer like gaming. Laptops have smaller sized and lesser powered systems, on which you cannot do very dynamic activities. In case of students, it depends on the type of study they have and how much work they need off the system. If the student is a graphic designing course, he must prefer a computer because they can install all his software easily. On the other hand, if they are fifth graders, a laptop will do just fine.
  1. Assembling: Arranging, setting and starting up a desktop computer is a cumbersome process owing to the large number of components involved. Thereby, it also takes up more area. To the contrary, laptops only need to be inserted with a battery the first time, and every time after you just need to click the power button to get it in use. So, for educational institutes that install them or students, laptops can save a lot of precious time, as well as space in the room. 
  1. Keyboards: In case of desktop computers, you need to purchase an additional keyboard, but there are so many options to choose from. There are different sizes, various types, numerous colors and eye-catching themes to your liking. In the case of laptops, the good part is that the keyboard is already installed so you need not buy an additional one, however you cannot customize it to your liking. Again, their ease to a student depends on the type of educational program he/she is in. If they need a larger keyboard with more features, then a computer would do. However, if his scope of studies does not require any fancy keyboards, a laptop is all he/she needs.
  1. Size of screen: In the case of screen size, both the subjects at hand are equal. Monitors, whether of the laptop or the desktop computer, come in all size ranges. You can pick the one you want. Both of them can also be connected to any external monitor like a television screen with a single cable so you need to worry about the size.
  1. Improvement: Everything changes after a while, new advancements and gadgets come into existence and you think about updating. Since the desktop computer has all externally attached components, you can change any one of them at any time as per your requirements. Diversely, the laptops and their components are not removable, meaning that you cannot upgrade them except for the hard-disk, memory and such. You can only purchase a brand new laptop. In this case, desktop computers have a clear advantage because as soon as a component wears out becomes out-dated you can change it.
  1. Repair: Same goes the case for repair. Since the components can easily come off, you can repair them, replace them and upgrade them with ease. However, laptops usually need to be sent to an expert to get it back into shape because you cannot repair it on your own, neither can you replace any component. Here, also desktop computers have a significant advantage.
  1. Fashion statement: Well, we cannot rule out the trends of the modern world can we? And that is laptops. While desktop computers still exist, they are now being considered obsolete, and laptops are readily taking their place more or less because of their portability and smoother designing. So if you want to follow the bandwagon effect, or simply to fit into your surroundings, a laptop will be a more probable choice.

In conclusion, whether you need a desktop computer for your student or a laptop, depends widely on the subject of the study, the requirements of the syllabus, the classroom ethics and the ease of the student. After assessing all these factors in light of the pros and cons mentioned above, the student plus the teacher can decide which of them is more suited.

04 Oct

What are the benefits of Tablets vs. Laptops for Schools?

Education has taken a giant leap forward, with digital tools in common use in classrooms. Students today may not even know what a blackboard is. If they do, they may consider it something like a dinosaur. But when it comes to tablets and laptops in the classroom, students are giving an astounding affirmative vote, but they are showing a definite preference according to most studies. The digital divide will be hard to cross later if teachers are not using at least these two tools in the classroom. There are some who favor the tablet, and others who use the laptop as the go-to tool.

One source, Techcrunch, writes that kids today are at home using their tablets more than the laptop for accessing the internet, playing games and watching videos. The article about the subject reports that tablet use is rising across the board, and that is has become the device that children feel that they must have. Their source is a research company by the name of Ofcom. Teachers can capitalize off this tablet obsession by making tablets a common tool in the classroom. And they can use them in the same ways that kids use them at home, by spinning things a little differently.

In order to get the necessary curriculum into the classroom through tablet use, teachers can make or use existing videos that help with content enrichment, exposure and even tests. The teacher can also use tablets for playing learning games. A teacher can create learning stations with such games, or activities that reinforce learning. There is a flood of games on the internet that help students to grasp and master content. For Math alone, you will see learning sites like Mr. Mussbaum, coolmathgames.com and many others. Mussbaum and some others specify that their games are for tablet users, although they may be configured for laptops as well. Some of the games are arcade style, while others are delivered in other forms.

Tachertube.com, watchknowlearn.com and many other sites have an explosion of educational videos that cover content ranging from the solar system to various cultures around the world and the animal kingdom. As one site indicated, namely edudemic, teachers can expose students to new content knowledge, supplement the learning that’s taking place in the classroom and inspire them through educational videos. There is even a YouTube channel specifically dedicated to education.

The same article, which explored the use of laptops, has dropped 68% while tablet use has grown from 15%-42% since 2012. It’s important to mention that the article credited the drop of smartphone ownership as part of the reason why the tablet holds more appeal than the laptop.

One master teacher, who indicates that they were trained to use laptops for teaching, reported that she found that students preferred tablets over laptops. She cited a few reasons for the preference, as follows: the tablet is smaller and lightweight, the tablet is easier to store and they have faster start-up times. She said she finds tablets great for creating content. Narrated screencast and digital storytelling are two high potential learning platforms geared toward creating content that seem easier for students to navigate with tablets versus laptops.

This same teacher, who is also an educational technologist, pointed out that she likes laptops for the older students because they can learn trouble-shooting through the devices. She felt that students need a basic grasp of computers, and that laptops can give them that experience.

Online curriculum and apps seem to be here to stay. Both have changed the landscape of the teaching and learning experience. Both are accessible through laptops and tablets.

Joseph Morris, Director of Market Intelligence for the Center for Digital Education, reports that classrooms are continuing to evolve with new technology.

On the center’s website, it indicates that a new Horizon Report came out in September 2016 to show where classrooms are needing to go in order to optimize use of learning technology in the near future.

Samantha A. Becker, the NMC Horizon Project senior director was quoted as stating, “We believe it’s important to set a precedent that technology that’s not in service of promoting better teaching and learning practices is just a set of devices.” She is also researcher and lead writer of the series of Horizon reports.

One article stayed away from the tablet versus laptop argument, and instead focused on the fact that educators needed to look at the features and conveniences that they want a device to offer. That being said, it seems that the decision is a matter of who is making the important decision, and what their goals and anticipated lessons will involve

17 Aug

Hygiene Practices with Classroom Headphones

You’ve seen children listening to their favorite song or playlist, with each sharing half of an earbud. That’s what they do. Children don’t often stop to think that sharing is not always caring. In fact, teachers have to be the ones to ensure that the earbuds which are shared during instruction, independent practice, testing, and at stations do not contaminate the string of listeners who come behind each other to use them. With low budgets on the district and school level, teachers already fork over a lot of money for paper, pencils and other supplies – and they often do it out of their own pockets. So, if earbuds have to be recycled during the year, a few precautions can keep the woes at a minimum. Here are a few ideas.

Sanitizing Spray

An ear infection and its fluid build-up, excess wax and such are not the type of thing you want students sharing while they learn or take tests. We all have microbes in our ears, this includes adults, but may be especially true with children. Sanitizing spray is handy, doesn’t require a lot of manipulation, and they are easy to use. They don’t take up a lot of storage space. You can even buy spray that is scented, so that when you clean the earbuds, you also release a nice fragrance in the air.

Sanitizing Wipes

There are all kinds of sanitizing wipes out there. Ones with Clorox bleach are nice and very serious about eliminating germs. With a proper swipe, and a few seconds drying time, you’ve eliminated a lot of nasty microbes. After a child uses the earbuds, you can either wipe them down thoroughly yourself, or have an assigned mature student to do it after you train them. It also helps to wash those hands after this procedure – after you properly discard of the wipes of course.

Gel Hand Sanitizer

A lot of teachers say this is their handy go-to cleaner for earbuds and other shared or often-touched items. Available in a variety of formats and fragrances, gel hand sanitizer will vanquish germs if it is of the right formula. With common core requirements in most states, this will give you one more way to ensure that children who use them can be reasonably assured that they are not picking up the last classmate’s germs.

Regular Cleanings

Regular cleanings are a must. It’s a good idea to go back over the earbuds with some type of sanitizer at the end of the day after all the children are gone. After all, children are so prone to sticking the earbuds in their ears when they are passing by, such as while lining up to leave. You might not see this, but children are mischief makers as much as they are learners. They may do it just to be doing something, especially the fidgety ones.

So, if Loren and Aiden are going to have to stick an earbud into their ear and sit at a station to take a test or to watch/listen to video or audio/video content on an important area of content, then you have to make sure you are giving them each an optimally clean learning or testing experience.

Parents

Parents, when you see sanitizers showing up on the school supply list, be sure to buy them and have your child report to school with it, along with their other supplies. Teachers use them for purposes such as described. On Back-to-School Night, make sure you ask your child’s teacher what procedure she or he has in place to make sure children don’t share germs during the constant back-to-back use of earbuds. If you have time, volunteer to help out in your child’s classroom. If the teacher hadn’t thought of a procedure, visit the classroom some day and help her or him come up with a procedure for cleaning earbuds properly. Do it early in the year before bad habits take root.

Teacher Beware

If you’re the teacher, you should have a written procedure for this. You should also teach children, and have them practice the procedure. This will spare you from a lot of confusion and earbud sharing.

10 Aug

The Technology Hurdles of SBAC Testing in the Classroom

Even giant leaps forward in technology, education and other fields comes with some setbacks or deficiencies. Often they can be worked out over time. The SBAC or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is one nifty example. This test gives students who are exposed to it a leg up on the question stems which are aligned with their grade level. It’s available for students in grades 3-8, and high school for the core subjects. Questioning stems refers to the way the questions might be worded and the kinds of questions that would be presented. Even the advance exposure of the SBAC brings some glitches. Clearing the hurdles is possible, but they do exist. Here are a few:

On Screen Reading

There’s a certain amount of eye strain involved in reading content on screen. Called Computer Vision Syndrome, the American Optometric Association suggests that 70% of Americans suffer from this malady. The problem presents itself as stress on the eyes. For children it may include a negative impact on their normal vision and development. The brain is said to not respond the same way to characters on the computer that they do characters on paper. Pixels and points on the screen all converge to make the images, but there is not always the fluidity people expect. There are all kinds of recommendations for writers and others who are on the computer a lot. The idea is to give the eye muscles a break. Looking away periodically is one of them. Wearing computer eyeglasses is another. For testing, students are conditioned to stay on task for the duration, so they may need retraining in order to even grasp the idea of taking short seconds long eye breaks. In addition, not all students who are prepared to take the SBAC test can go out and get an eye exam and glasses for onscreen reading.

The same difficult dynamic applies to those who take the SBAC test, as it is an online test. Students used to paper test may be some of the most difficult ones of all to struggle with taking a test where they have to constantly look at the screen.

Pause Feature

Students taking the test can put their computer on pause for up to twenty minutes. If they return and resume the test in 20 minutes or under they can return to the same section when they are done with their break. They can even go back and work on (modify, change, review) answers in that same section. If the student keeps the test on pause for longer than 20 minutes, they may not be able to do any further work on the page they were working on before the pause.

Taking Audio and Video Notes

If students are not used to taking notes from audio and video, this test may present them with some frustrations. Without the value of prior experience at note-taking from audio and video, students will often have problems keeping up with the speed of delivery of audio and video content. Students may also struggle with organizing the notes as they watch or listen to content if this balancing act is not familiar to them. The best solution for them is pre-test experience with shorthand note-taking, note-taking technology or experience organizing notes efficiently through a program like Cornell Notes (from AVID). When it comes to note-taking in general, practice makes perfect. It is more so true with taking video and audio notes.

18 Feb

Arkansas Dismantles the Core

Arkansas has been one of the oldest adopters of Common Core, bringing it into the state July 12, 2010. Taking this involvement a step further, they are also one of the governing members of PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, a collection of states that works to write yearly assessments based on the Core standards. While there has been a growing amount of recent controversy, this southern state has performed the most peaceful coup as they work to find standards that fit their own state.

 

Initial Controversy

Starting in 2010, the state has been slowly transforming its standards to those aligned with the Common Core, having now fully implemented all changes. However, not all individuals were happy about this toward the final stages of implementation. In 2014, legislation was filed trying to block funding for the Core. This failed to get very far.

Then, during Asa Hutchinson’s run for governor in 2014, he stated that, if elected, he would found a task force faced with the responsibility to study they Core’s standards and make recommendations based on what they found. He was indeed elected and, in early 2015, founded a team comprised of 16 people. It actually proved to be a successful venture.

Following this, a bill was proposed in 2015 that would remove Arkansas from PARCC. This failed and the state ran its first statewide PARCC exam that same year. Yet this bill didn’t remain quiet. Instead of giving up completely, it was toned down, merely asking that the committee’s decisions be considered going forward. Interestingly enough, the committee called for the state to not administer PARCC tests but ACT tests instead.

 

Slow Dismantling

As it stands, Arkansas is now fully set on going after the ACT assessments, citing the four hour test as being much better for college preparation determination than the eight hour PARCC. In addition, the committee found that the ACT is also aligned strongly with Common Core standards, making it an ideal replacement.

The overhaul didn’t stop there, though. In fact, the Department of Education decided to appoint their own team of educators to review the standards and make recommendations due by July 1 of this year. These new standards will then drop the Common Core moniker and become one that belongs to the state itself as requested by the governor.

In Arkansas, it would seem that protests against the Core are not loud and boisterous like in other states. Instead, opponents have slowly but surely worked their way into positions of power and have been dismantling it from the inside. First to go was the assessment. Next is the Core itself. However, this hasn’t been bad because the changes have been easy to adapt to. With the Core in place now and only recommendations being made in the future, this upheaval has proven to be healthier for the state’s educational system.