Where does personalized learning end and special education begin? — from edsurge.com by Stefanina Baker


It’s the start of a new school year and the air is full of promise. I’ve set up my room, made my copies and attended all of my meetings. As students flood into the school, I’m charged with positive energy and hope.

But as I peruse my class list and the academic data that accompanies it, anxiety sets in. I’ve committed to personalizing learning, but how can I do that for every student in my inclusion classroom when the range of abilities among them is so vast?

This is my third year teaching at William Penn High School in the Colonial School District in New Castle, Delaware. Dually certified in special education and English Language Arts, I teach an ELA inclusion class to 11th and 12th graders, which means I serve students with and without Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in the same setting. Additionally, I manage a caseload of 18 students with IEPs, and enter goals and progress for over 60 other students.

A core element of my job has always been to consider how I can tailor instruction to meet the needs of each student—that’s the crux of special education. IEPs are legal documents designed to include specific goals, objectives and strategies for how to modify instruction to meet each student’s needs. Personalized learning doesn’t seem that far off—but meeting the needs of every student in an inclusion class when some have IEPs and some do not can get hairy.

It also raises some questions around where special education practices and personalized learning intersect.


Does personalized learning mean every student gets an IEP? Does it mean that students who had an IEP no longer need one because now every learner is receiving tailored instruction? Can I use the same measuring tools to gauge growth for all students? Should it be different than how I was teaching before?


I’d like to see special education take a front seat in conversations about personalized learning.





Penn State World Campus implements 360-degree videos in online courses — from news.psu.edu by Mike Dawson
Videos give students virtual-reality experiences; leaders hopeful for quick expansion


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State World Campus is using 360-degree videos and virtual reality for the first time with the goal of improving the educational experience for online learners.

The technology has been implemented in the curriculum of a graduate-level special education course in Penn State’s summer semester. Students can use a VR headset to watch 360-degree videos on a device such as a smartphone.

The course, Special Education 801, focuses on how teachers can respond to challenging behaviors, and the 360-degree videos place students in a classroom where they see an instructor explaining strategies for arranging the classroom in ways best-suited for the learning activity. The videos were produced using a 360-degree video camera and uploaded into the course in just a few a days.




Supporting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Tools, Technology and Key Resources to Cultivate Academic Success — from accreditedschoolsonline.org


Students with hearing disabilities face unique challenges inside the classroom. Many common learning modes that people take for granted — lectures, discussion groups and even one-on-one conversations — can be a struggle for those who have any level of hearing difficulty. However, that doesn’t mean a college degree is out of reach. Today’s wide range of tools, devices and systems can help students who are deaf or hard of hearing thrive in an educational setting. This guide focuses on those resources, tech tools and expert tips that students of all ages can use achieve academic success.






The SIIA CODiE Awards for 2016 — with thanks to Neha Jaiswal from uCertify for this resource; uCertify, as you will see, did quite well

Since 1986, the SIIA CODiE Awards have recognized more than 1,000 software and information companies for achieving excellence. The CODiE Awards remain the only peer-recognized program in the content, education, and software industries so each CODiE Award win serves as incredible market validation for a product’s innovation, vision, and overall industry impact.





Connecting the education community with research on learning — from digitalpromise.org


When designing a program or product, many education leaders and ed-tech developers want to start with the best knowledge available on how students learn. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Although thousands of academic articles are published every year, busy education leaders and product developers often don’t know where to start, or don’t have time to sift through and find studies that are relevant to their work. As pressure mounts for “evidence-based” practices and “research-based” products, many in the education community are frustrated, and want an easier way to find information that will help them deliver stronger programs and products — and results. We need better tools to help make research more accessible for everyday work in education.

The Digital Promise Research Map meets this need by connecting education leaders and product developers with research from thousands of articles in education and the learning sciences, along with easy-to-understand summaries on some of the most relevant findings in key research topics.


Also see:















From DSC:
I’d like to thank Jenny Zeeff for the reminder on this resource. Though I’ve posted this item before, Jenny reminded me of this set of resources that might be very useful to someone else out there as well.




Telepresence robots to beam psychologists into schools — from zdnet.com by Greg Nichols
Researchers in Utah are experimenting with robots to solve a pressing problem: There aren’t enough pediatric psychologists to go around.


Researchers in Utah are using an inexpensive robotic platform to help teachers in rural areas implement programs for children with special needs.

It’s another example of the early adoption of telepresence robots by educators and service providers, which I’ve written about here before. While offices are coming around to telepresence solutions for remote workers, teachers and school administrators seem to be readily embracing the technology, which they see as a way to maximize limited resources while bringing needed services to students.








How Blippar Education supports special needs students to improve learning — from blippar.com



Firstly, high school teacher Katrine Pinkpank’s class made individual, blippable posters for their Earth Day projects in April. When passers-by blipped these posters – all of which were hung in beautiful frames in the hallways – they were taken to a video of the students doing their Earth Day presentation in front of the class. One student in the class is legally blind, so the braille on his poster was used to trigger the blipp.  These hallway boards have become living, breathing, 3D tributes to the work of our students.

In Room 407, students used Blippar in many different ways. Wendy Thompson, an early adopter of the technology, used it for a Women’s History Month project where students created an app-smash between Blippar and Trading Cards. The students created trading cards about famous women in history – such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frida Kahlo, and Mary Shelley – then used Blippar to add photo galleries, hyperlinks, and videos so people passing the bulletin board could scan the cards and view pop-up content about these remarkable women.

Secondly, the class made the school newsletter blippable.

Using Blippar and Tellagami, the students created talking digital avatar videos that illustrated their post-secondary and transition goals.


From DSC:
Though this posting focuses on the use of Blippar, an augmented reality app, I also think beacons (such as from Estimote), machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and apps like locly could be used to relay information from students, teachers, and faculty members who could record and provide presentations concerning their work — with pieces of their work being located out in the hallways or actually anywhere on a campus. When someone approaches a piece in the hallway, a pre-loaded application on that person’s mobile device — such as locly — would be activated to display a “card”/link to the video describing that piece. The author, creator, designer doesn’t need to be physically present in order to tell people about their work.


Also see:

Elements 4D
NASA’s Spacecraft 3D
Anatomy 4D


From DSC:
The folks who worked on the Understood.org site have done a great job! Besides the wonderful resources therein, I really appreciated the user experience one is able to get by using their site. Check out the interface and functionality you can experience there (and which I’ve highlighted below).


We need a similar interface for matching up pedagogies with technologies.






Also, there are some excellent accessibility features:






From DSC:
When you read the article below, you’ll see why I’m proposing the aforementioned interface/service/database — a service that would be similar to Wikipedia in terms of allowing many people to contribute to it.


Why ed tech is not transforming how teachers teach  — from edweek.org by Benjamin Herold
Student-centered, technology-driven instruction remains elusive for most


Public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students. They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content. And nearly three-fourths of high school students now say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet in the classroom.

But a mountain of evidence indicates that teachers have been painfully slow to transform the ways they teach, despite that massive influx of new technology into their classrooms. The student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule.


From DSC:
A note to Double Robotics — can you work towards implementing M2M communications?

That is, when our Telepresence Robot from Double Robotics approaches a door, we need for sensors on the door and on the robot to initiate communications with each other in order for the door to open (and to close after __ seconds). If a security clearance code is necessary, the remote student or the robot needs to be able to transmit the code.

When the robot approaches an elevator, we need for sensors near the elevator and on the robot to initiate communications with each other in order for the elevator to be summoned and then for the elevator’s doors to open. We then need for the remote student/robot to be able to tell the elevator which floor it wants to go to and to close the elevator door (if if hasn’t already done so).

Such scenarios imply that we need:

  1. Industry standards for such communications
  2. Standards that include security clearances (i.e., “OK, I’ll let you into this floor of this public building.” or “No, I can’t open up this door without you sending me a security clearance code.”)
  3. Secure means of communications






doublerobotics.com -- wheels for your iPad



A major request/upgrade might also include:

  • The ability for the Double App on the iPad to make recordings, have an auto send option to send those recordings to the cloud, and then provide transcripts for those recordings. This could be very helpful for accessibility reasons, but also to provide students/learners with a type of media that they prefer (video, audio, and/or text).




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