The Learning Counsel presents journals, papers and briefs on critical topics in Digital Education.
Most will require registration in order to access them, but they are all free.

Staying the Course of Learning: Broken Devices Can Derail Your Remote Learning Program

When remote learning became the primary (and sometimes only) way to educate our students, it suddenly became necessary for every student to have a device that always functions. Few school districts were completely prepared to make the transition to 100 percent remote learning. Most have experienced unexpected challenges along the way. However, one challenge is basic to the continuity of learning: To learn remotely, every student requires a device that functions properly at all times. When learners’ devices stop functioning properly, learning stops. Period. You need immediate, cost effective solutions for deployment, protection, service and device replacement. Here’s what you need to know.

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Engagement is Essential for Special Needs Learners

During this time of remote and hybrid instruction, schools are finding difficulties as they attempt to engage students with demonstrated learning differences. What is needed is an interactive digital learning tool that is easily accessible from all devices, fun, and encourages active participation. Identifying and utilizing the right tools to engage special needs learners in remote and hybrid learning is solving one of the greatest challenges facing educators in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Download this whitepaper to learn about some of the programs which capitalize on easy-to-use UI/UX design principals and are helping educators truly engage this unique population.

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The High Cost of Vaping in Schools

Few issues have impacted American schools as quickly as vaping; it may in fact be the greatest preventable health crisis ever. And the real cost has yet to be measured. Aside from the headline-grabbing deaths over the past year and the recent news that vaping may leave students more susceptible to severe illness from COVID 19 and other viral infections, the ongoing expense of treating a generation of nicotine-addled patients may take a lifetime to assess. But the costs run even deeper.

There is the drain on faculty resources, the drain on teacher resources, the cost of student suspensions and its impact on achievement and graduation rates, the subsequent decline in school ratings and the inevitable decline in property values and tax revenues. Lawsuits, which are happening across America, often require a cash outlay of a million dollars or more. And hiring additional counselors and nurses can be a seven-figure cost on top of other expenses. Many superintendents privately confess they are at their wit’s end. But help is here.

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Creating the Ideal Lab

Computer labs have come back in a huge way. If you’d like one for your school, here’s a step by step guide.

Once thought to be easily replaceable with an iPad or Chromebook, the computer lab has come back in a big way – not as a replacement for personal computing devices, but as a real, practical conduit to career readiness. Today’s computer labs are purposeful. Relevant. They give students real world experience on professional-grade equipment, allowing them to sample careers, gain employable skills and receive industry certifications. And as computing power has escalated, prices have decreased. Today, high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools are creating career labs of the future for less than the cost of classroom furniture. If you’d like one for your schools, it’s very easy to do. And, it’s proving to be to be a primary catalyst for student enrollment, offering parents a powerful incentive to choose your schools.

To learn what you need to do to create your own Lab of the Future, download this Learning Counsel Journal Poster.

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Workflow: A small word with big benefits

The term Workflow in the age of digital transformation typically involves the transportation of information associated with certain processes triggered by rules to accomplish a goal. That’s a somewhat simple definition for what can be a very complicated scenario for school districts as well as higher education. In today’s world, the overburdening of technology in schools presents both a problem and an opportunity. The problems are evident within virtually every school organization, such as multi-platform fatigue, lack of systems interoperability, organic deployments lacking adequate change management or professional development.

The opportunity exists within most school organizations as well – to realize the fantastic promise of technology to create the conditions for improved business and personnel operations as well as individual learning paths and true student-directed personalized learning.

The Learning Counsel has identified workflow as the missing link in education performance for academics and business operations – the elusive “last mile” to help manage these intricacies and provide efficiencies for teachers, staff and students, saving time and resources in certain areas, for instance with administrative processes, to open up the needed space for true personalization in learning, aiding teacher retention and reducing transportation costs.

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Life-Hacking at School for Professional-Grade Skills

Smartphones and Chromebooks have changed the face of learning. But with all their functionality, smartphones and Chromebooks with their 12-inch screens are primarily devices for consumption, not professional productivity. All the while, industry is experiencing a critical shortage of skilled workers. In fact, experts predict that over the next 10 years, over 2 million skilled labor positions will go unfilled.

In order to meet the needs of industry and prepare our students with marketable work skills, schools need to think old-school. Professional skills require professional equipment.

The idea of computer labs, replete with the latest software, is making a big comeback. Savvy schools are taking the concept of computer labs into the mid-21st century, creating professional learning stations that prepare students with real-world, employable skills that can accelerate career paths and change the narrative from an uncertain future into one of immediate employment upon graduation. These CTE-enabled Labs of the Future are becoming extremely popular with students, and because of all the money available for CTE, are readily fundable.

Want to get one for your school? Here’s what you need to know.

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Student Retention: A Richer Learning Experience

Today, Student Retention Demands a Richer Learning Experience
Here’s how you can compete:

Enrollment loss hits everyone hard. There are few easy answers and a lot of questions that need to be answered. Why is enrollment in such steep decline? Will this trend accelerate? If left unabated, how much enrollment loss is possible? And perhaps the most important question of all: What is needed to bring our students back?

First and foremost, students are leaving traditional public schools seeking a richer learning experience. And family concerns about student safety are fueling the exodus away from the traditional school experience to a richer, more consumer-like learning experience. These concerns can now be realistically answered by almost any school or district in America. The richer experience learners crave, as well as a safer learning environment is easily available within the traditional school setting.

School and district leaders are fortifying their networks to deliver ever-increasing student opportunities. Almost everything that is available to students at home, in private schools or in charter organizations is also available for students attending traditional public schools.

With an understanding of the opportunities available and the types of rich learning experiences students are selecting through alternative schooling, savvy administrators can match and even surpass those experiences, eliminating the reasons parents are moving their children to alternative schooling.

For more information, download our free Journal Poster:

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Remaining Relevant with Career & Tech-Ready School Networks

School administrators nationally are worried about remaining relevant. Losing students to alternatives is at an all-time high and continues growing unabated. Everything from how to teach with technology to what to teach for subjects is under review in most schools as they scramble to avert losses. The fact is, most parents expect students to learn digital skills as the foundation for virtually all future employment.

With an understanding of the opportunities available and the types of rich learning experiences students are selecting through alternative schooling, school and district leaders can create and even surpass those experiences and counteract the reasons students are choosing alternatives to traditional public education.

Download this whitepaper to view some steps to create those experiences and also learn how three programs are making a difference.

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Unlock Limitless Learning

Because tomorrow’s leaders are sitting in our classrooms today.

There has never been a time in history when it was more possible to unlock limitless learning for students of all ages. Even the youngest learners now have an opportunity to engage in meaningful learning. Previously, we would ask young learners, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Now we can simply ask, “What would you like to do?” Children are finding learning pathways, collaborating with others across the globe and making real-world contributions. At the same time, their teachers, parents and grandparents are enriching their own lives, those in their communities, friends and strangers across the world.

Personalized tools are leveling the playing field by granting access for the first time to learners whose individualized learning styles and abilities once precluded them from an equal access to education. Collaboration tools are linking learners with ease, creating synergy and encouraging creative thinking and problem solving. In education, silos are breaking down, merging professional learning, technology and curriculum into one powerful stream of teaching and learning. The only limit that still exists is our own imaginations.

Download this Journal Poster to find out how three groups are unlocking limitless learning.

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Vanquishing Small Group Instruction Challenges for Good (The New Equity with Instructional Audio)

Most schools know that getting a shift away from whole-group-only to small group instruction is magical for driving engagement and more learning, but how do they get teachers to do that more often? In addition to enhancing the effectiveness of whole group learning, Instructional Audio Technology allows teachers to truly monitor and manage small group instruction in a way that encourages student participation while amplifying teacher effectiveness.

Download this brief to find out about this exciting shift in teaching.

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My Teachers Can Use Google’s G-Suite, Now What?

To stay competitive with other schools and the fast rate of change happening in the outside economy, great leaders always have their eye on what their next steps will be. Other industries have devised complex and beneficial workflow designs to manage the otherwise cumbersome flow of documents within their systems. Yet education seems woefully behind the curve, with many institutions stopping at document creation and some lightweight sharing capabilities across the internet. This can be both dangerous and easily correctible. By following these best practices, education document workflows can become more efficient and help us answer these important questions: What’s next for education? Where is teaching and learning really going?

Download this brief to find out what the future looks like for education and the next natural stage to take your workflow beyond Office Suites.

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The Digital Point of Divergence

There is a big difference between curriculum that is merely digitized and new digital resources. Telling the difference can lead to better learning results. To digitize is to barely alter the formerly analog object, to make digital is to use the full depth of technology to transform.

The distinct point of divergence is within the design because it is digital. It’s the content itself and not just the framework system.

Download this brief to learn more about digitized versus digital, leveraging teacher humanity with high quality digital curriculum resources and systems for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

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School Network Moles and the Emotional Toll of Breached Data Security

Considering the high value of hacked data on the open market, the threat of an ever-present data breach is a fact of life for school districts. The effects of a data breach can be far-reaching, including the loss of privacy for students, the loss of financial records of employees, almost-irreparable damage to the district’s reputation and the loss of millions of dollars to the defense of lawsuits. And that doesn’t even include the emotional toll to the district’s staff.

Download this paper to learn more about the data treasures you are really protecting as a school, the points of threat, handling the emotional human side, and what’s next in practical network security steps.

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Digital Transition: Personalized Learning and Professional Development

As schools advance the use of technology in education, additional skills are needed for both students and teachers. Autonomous learning, also called student-centered learning is tied to the change in focus in the classroom from the teacher to the student. In this Personalized Learning environment, teachers need to have the skills to be facilitators, and explicitly direct student learning while also developing larger professional roles in designing and leading schools.

Personalized learning is based on the concept of allowing students flexibility and a voice in how, when and where they learn while tailoring that learning based on individual student need. For students to thrive in a personalized model they must have critical autonomous and digital learner skills. These skills fall under the social emotional skill set. Teachers need to ensure that they are explicitly teaching these skills at each grade level.

At the same time, teachers need support as they integrate technology into instruction to engage students in their learning. Teachers are integral to a student’s success. Thus, a large variety of professional development opportunities, coaching and instructional supports are necessary in order to expand and deepen the teachers’ skill sets and knowledge.

Download this Journal Poster to learn how three school districts are meeting these needs.

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Beating Back Enrollment Loss by Bridging to Personalized Learning Pathway

Almost every school today needs to counteract enrollment loss to opt-outers who are part of the growing “choice” movement, all seeking alternatives that will suit their individual needs. We now live in a society with a shopper-mentality when it comes to education.

What’s the fix? Dubbed an “Un-LMS,” the new student-centric personal learning pathway systems (PLPS) are the mirror opposite of traditional Learning Management Systems. It’s a revolution in the form of delivery. This type of system allows schools to start flipping the organizational construct to a new flow of learning that enables teachers and schools to truly personalize and promises increased student achievement. What are the differences from prior systems? How can schools pilot a personalized learning pathway system?

Download this whitepaper to find out why these new systems are imperative for schools today, and how they should empower teachers. Learn the key components and how the mix of them with workflow and interface equal a compelling difference for learning experience and impact. Finally, consider the steps of implementation or a pilot of this latest evolution of technology for schools to meet today’s expectations.

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Digital vs. Paper Books: Let’s Do the Math!

Few curriculum buyers are fully familiar with the cost-structure difference when transitioning from paper to digital books. Not just price difference on a per-book cost, but a structural model shift that allows for limited-time-access leasing, customized school collection subscriptions, and other incredible new cost efficiencies that are just not possible in print. Additionally, few educators are aware of the attendant learning gains because of how software transforms the experience of books and therefore the quality of learning.

Download this whitepaper to take a closer look at the real costs involved with Digital versus Paper. Learn how the benefits of digital expand beyond cost considerations. Get educator views on the transition and see how new dimension envelope books with administrative values.

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Re-Knit Networks for the Remodeled Campus

What happens when the digital incursion of devices and software starts amping up the mobility of students? Starts causing rearrangement of classroom furnishings while network cables form trip hazards everywhere? Starts altering expectations of access even from student’s homes?

Better internet is, in truth, the act of re-knitting your networks. Calling it “re-knitting” provides an apt image of the threads of coverage in schools, and questions how well they are held together. It’s also a good way to describe what your network professionals have to do. First, they have to somewhat unravel what is there that is inadequate, and then they have to re-do certain parts, or many of the parts, as they work to meet new demands and prepare for more in the future.

Download this Journal Poster and learn about what three different schools did as they journeyed along the road of more devices and digital curriculum.

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Next Level Serious Address of Digital Equity in Education

Most school executives are not aware of a lack of digital equity beyond just making sure students have a computing device. Yet, a second-level inequity of both slow and completely unavailable network access requires a second-level seriousness. This is particularly important as schools unleash digital curriculum and thousands of websites among their students – many creating enormous drag on already slow networks with video streaming.

Find out what education leaders and the industry are doing to solve the next level of equity concerns for all students’ learning – both their efforts and the rewards.

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From Data Dolt to Superhero

Micro-data is an observation data-point collected on an individual subject—a statistical unit, as in one question with answer, one quiz, or one piece of personal identity. Being the modern data superhero is using this small data for personalization.

The problem with introducing this interesting new data management idea is that a lot of school executives and teachers see ever-increasing data collection, and the drive to personalization as a sort of peril. Additionally, personalization ultimately means changing a teacher’s routine to give very focused attention to each student—a burden on top of an already enormous load.

Yet, remaining a data dolt is the equivalent to keeping one’s “head in the sand” on collecting, analyzing and using data, especially without regard to encouraging new tech developments. It’s resistance to an evolution in practice that refines the blunt instrument of human teaching and learning interaction into a masterwork. Small data, not just big trends, is the trick.

In this brief, learn the villainous data issues that keep leaders from getting to real personalization from data collection, and discover five steps to becoming a superhero.

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Categories of Digital Curriculum Characteristics

Download the update! This new edition is a treasure of information. “The 100+ Digital Curriculum Characteristics,” was formerly the “71 Characteristics.” It has been added to, edited, and researched so that schools can differentiate between types of digital functions inside the curriculum they purchase. This document is the authoritative standard for definitions of software functions inside educational digital curriculum.

Originally there were six categories, which have been expanded to eight to include “Business Model” and “Hostile Characteristics.” A great team of educators, including L. Beatriz Arnillas of Its Learning, who was with Houston ISD when she started the work, and Dr. Karla Burkholder, Director of Instructional Technology, of Schertz-Cibolo-Universal ISD in San Antonio, Texas, have worked hard to bring this document to teachers and school leaders.

Learning Counsel gives a special big thanks to these leaders and all the members of the User Interface Learning Group on the website. New members and contributors are welcome!

To join, click here.

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