Category Archives: EdTech

Exploring the convergence of curriculum, assessment, and technology

Robotics and the NGSS

Four toys related to robotics that people may remember from childhoodIt’s been more than 50 years since The Jetsons came into living rooms and promised viewers things beyond their wildest dreams. Of course, not all of their predictions have come true yet, but since the show is set in 2062, science has quite a few years to catch up. Still, the world is pretty futuristic these days. Maybe you don’t have a car inside a briefcase, but you probably have a computer, a calculator, a jukebox, a camera, several books, video games, mail, and a flashlight all in a telephone in your pocket. And while you don’t have Rosie to vacuum your floors, you probably own, or know someone who owns, a robotic vacuum.

In fact, when you think about it, robots are everywhere. A robot almost certainly helped to assemble your car, and your latest order from Amazon was likely moved around the warehouse by robots. Maybe you have eaten at the new Boston restaurant where robots do the cooking. If you have been a patient at the UCSF Medical Center, it is likely that your meals were delivered by a robot and your prescriptions were filled by a robotic pharmacist. You may even know someone who has bought a robo-pet—be it a cuddly robotic kitty to keep a senior company or a robotic dog to load the dishwasher.

Where Is Robotics in the NGSS?

Continue reading

Impact of the NGSS

Why Do We Need the NGSS?

Introduction for elementary school children to coding through a robotics programme

To understand the impact of the NGSS, take a look around. What do smartphones, multivitamins, organic pesticides, self-driving cars, solar panels, and kevlar have in common? Science. Science touches everyone in the United States every day, yet the U.S. national standards for teaching K-12 science remained unchanged from 1997 until 2013. During that time frame,

  • researchers found evidence that neutrinos have mass in 1998
  • scientists discovered three new synthetic elements: livermorium (element 116) in 2000, moscovium (element 115) in 2003, and tennessine (element 117) in 2010
  • the human genome was published in 2001
  • Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006
  • the first clone of an extinct animal was born in 2009
  • NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012

Each one of these breakthroughs highlights how closely intertwined science, technology, and engineering are. With all of these advancements and innovations, the curricula for science were badly in need of an update. This is why the National Research Council (NRC), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), along with lead partners from 26 states, came together to design the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a comprehensive guideline for teaching science from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Continue reading

EdTech and Civics

Throughout history, technology has served as a driving force of human society. The advent of the internet and, subsequently, the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1990, altered how people interact with their environment, institutions, and each other. In the realm of education, this transformation has been no less profound. Technology and the ability to leverage electronic devices afford opportunities for improving and redesigning approaches to student learning. This is especially true within the context of civics education.

Computer-Assisted Instruction

Technology that allows content to be distributed in an online format is often referred to as computer-assisted instruction (CAI). Generally, CAI products have a fixed structure and employ knowledge-based pedagogical approaches. Think of an online civics textbook that a student can digitally access, or a website, such as CampusActivism.org, that provides consumable content and allows the user to engage with interactive features (online discussion forums, social networks, etc.). Thus, CAI products can be extremely effective in civics education.

Victory’s Boston Massacre performance-task lesson serves as an excellent example of a CAI tool. The lesson engages students in critical thinking exercises and explores the complexities of this historical event. As performance tasks guide students through each lesson component, they are given the opportunity to interact directly with the content. Students can assign weights of importance to individuals’ actions preceding the event, highlight sections of primary source text representing biased language or perspective, and interpret visually represented data. Ultimately, the students produce a piece of original, unbiased writing describing what factors most contributed to the event and a critical analysis of why the event occurred.

CAI programs allow for a wide distribution of material and provide numerous opportunities for engaging students in civics instruction. However, different applications of technology offer additional forms of instruction and learning outcomes.
Continue reading

Update on State Textbook Adoptions

As key states enter another round of adoptions, much of the market is in flux. The conflict over implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), along with policy changes and the growing interest in digital content and new types of instruction are affecting the decisions that state education departments and schools are making about their instructional materials. States must decide what to adopt (textbooks, supplemental programs, digital products, or a combination of materials), while publishers need to determine what best practices and content states demand, including what standards to align to.

When the Common Core was first developed in 2010 to level the education playing field, it was adopted by forty-six states along with the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia did not adopt the CCSS. By the fall of 2017, ten more states dropped out (Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) with a major standards rewrite or replacement, while Minnesota chose to adopt the Common Core only in English Language Arts.

common core

Though thirty-six states are still using the CCSS, it is difficult to determine how uniform the application of the standards is across all the states. It is also not clear whether the revised standards that states are developing differ significantly from the Common Core. Interestingly, most of the states that never adopted the CCSS or later repealed them are also textbook adoption states. To further complicate the situation, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in a recent speech that Common Core is dead at the U.S. Department of Education.

Continue reading

A Recipe for Personalized Learning

Personalized learningAs EdTech trends continue to evolve, learning companies are looking to develop additional tools and platforms that extend and emphasize personalized learning. Personalized learning products tailor instruction to each student’s unique needs and learning preferences through face-to-face teaching, technology-assisted instruction, and collaboration.

Victory builds successful personalized learning programs because we share the same goal as you: to help each and every student learn. Clients come to us with a range of technology projects, including:

• Immersive UI/UX design
• Mobile and web apps
• Online courses
• Platform development
• Web services integration
• Software maintenance

Creating personalized learning products is not an easy task. To develop successful personalized learning programs, Victory assembles teams that are proficient in instructional design and in integrating appropriate technology tools matched to each subject area. Our goal is to develop products that meet customer needs and improve both the user experience and the overall program effectiveness.

Continue reading

A Three Dimensional Learning Task

In many recent projects, we have taken on the challenge of developing three-dimensional learning tasks and lessons. We often start with a close reading of the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). The instructional designers then meet with subject matter experts to design a task with learning outcomes that measure specific performance expectations. In the example below, the task was designed to meet these three-dimensional learning goals.

Three-dimensional learningWe have already blogged about using the PhET Skate Park simulation to develop a performance task. We decided to take another stab at it, as a proof of concept for a three dimensional learning task. This task is a bit more challenging than our first one.

Please watch the video and then try the performance task. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Continue reading

EdTech and the Future of Education

Interview with Haris Papamichael (Part II)

Interview with Haris Papamichael about Ed Tech

This is a continuation of our interview with Haris to get his take on how technology is impacting education today.
As the Director of Educational Technology at Victory, Haris oversees all the educational technology projects at Victory from concept definition through planning and release. In order to best deliver quality products to learning companies, Haris stays on top of the constantly changing technology trends.

Rebecca: Currently many states and districts have requirements for online courses. How do you think this will impact the concept of “school”?

Haris: There will certainly be greater emphasis on online learning, as each year we’ve seen an increase in the number of online learning courses. That is no longer just a trend within higher education. Teachers are growing more comfortable acting as a facilitator. This means that there will be more collaboration and independent learning programs as students are allowed to plot their academic course of study.

The traditional role of the teacher will not disappear. Although traditional teaching, or direct instruction, is still a predominant model, there are now many alternative instructional methods, such as flipped classroom, blended learning, project based, and constructive to name a few. I think technology is a big component and driver of all of these different methodologies.
Continue reading

The Impact of Technology on Teachers, Students, and Instruction

Interview with Haris Papamichael (Part I)

Interview with Haris Papamichael about Ed Tech

We recently sat down with Haris to get his take on how technology is impacting education today.
As the Director of Educational Technology at Victory, Haris oversees all the educational technology projects at Victory from concept definition through planning and release. In order to best deliver quality products to learning companies, Haris stays on top of the constantly changing technology trends.

Rebecca: What are the most urgent problems we face that could be solved with educational technology?

Haris: Looking at the landscape of education, I have been consistently seeing issues with overcrowded classrooms, supporting creative teaching, and keeping students engaged. Each of these is a complex issue, but the solutions all can be enhanced with educational technology.
Continue reading

Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2018

Educational technology trends change at a rapid pace. This affects both the tools students use, how they use tools, and how educational needs are met. When you look at the ISTE timeline for the adoption of educational technology in schools, 2016 marked the transition from using technology to learn to transformative learning with technology.

educational technologyHow has it been going? Are we there yet? To find out, we studied our Top 3 EdTech Trends for 2017 and evaluated them for 2018:

  • Student-Centered Focus—EdTech enables students to transform their own learning.
  • Thoughtful Integration by Teachers—Teachers are a dynamic force for change when supported by ongoing professional development on technology integration.
  • Informed Decisions by Leadership—A recipe for success includes a clear, bold vision, along with investment in teams, empowerment of teachers, and effective communication to get stakeholder buy-in.

Let’s take a deeper dive on each of these key trends.
Continue reading

The Shifting Textbook Adoption Market

A recent White House report states that the textbook market is valued at about $7-8 billion, with California, Florida, and Texas being the key adoption states. However, the textbook adoption market is changing.

The Old-School Textbook Adoption Buying Pattern

In the past, publishers focused most of their textbook development efforts on two states: Texas and California. Textbooks for these two states would often become templates for textbooks sold nationally, but according to a recent EdWeek article, California, and Texas no longer dictate content in textbooks. Currently, there are 19 states that adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas, and publishers are finding that these individual states want customized textbooks.

What Factors are Driving Change in Textbook Adoption?

Continue reading