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Digital Education's Top Stories of 2015

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By guest blogger Leo Doran

A look back at this blog's most-viewed posts reveals that readers were most interested in such varied topics as the best ways to ensure "active" use of educational technology in learning environments, potential changes to federal data-privacy laws, and questions about whether bias clouds popular assumptions about how to improve schools.

Other popular posts from the blog examined the research on blended learning and how teachers use technology, the wisdom of virtual pre-schools, and questions about cyber-charters. We've ranked them below in order of page views—highest to lowest.

1. Is 'Grit' Racist?

Many education leaders today are convinced that K-12 schools should be promoting resiliency among struggling, economically disadvantaged students. But as lead Digital Education author Ben Herold reported from a recent ed-tech conference, skeptics counter that those efforts are based on racist constructs.

2. Blended Learning Research: The Seven Studies You Need to Know

Michelle Davis assembled a one-stop compilation of the most authoritative studies on what reseearch says about how to effectively incorporate blended learning in classrooms.

3. U.S. Millennials Know Technology, But Not How to Solve Problems With It, Study Says

In a study that measured success in problem-solving with technological tools, Americans youths fared poorly. This post looked at a report examining those shortcomings.

4.  Virtual Preschool: Yes, That's Now a Real Option

Are packages of digital educational content aimed at toddlers worth the pricetag?  This entry looked at the premise—viewed with skepticism by a number of leading early childhood experts—that "virtual preschools" can offer an effective alternative to traditional preschools.

5. Cyber Charters Have 'Overwhelming Negative Impact,' CREDO Study Finds

A review of a study that found raised serious questions about cyber charter schools' performance. CREDO's director is quoted as saying that the math scores they found were so bad it was "literally as though the student did not go to school for the entire year."

6. iPads, E-Readers, and Early Literacy: Emerging Research From AERA

Digital Education's coverage of the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting taught us that the human element remains key even in blended educational environments.

7. Major FERPA Overhaul Under Consideration in U.S. House

A look at a proposed congressional update to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The bipartisan measure failed to pass Congress.

8. How Teachers Use Ed Tech: 8 Research Studies You Need to Know

We collected and summarized the findings of eight key studies district leaders should know, in coming to understand how technology influences classroom teaching.

9. Minn. Student's Tweet About Kissing Teacher Leads to Suspension, Lawsuit

Balancing school behavioral policies with what students do on public social media platforms at home is a thorny issue.  In this case, an ill-advised tweet sparked a suspension and a legal battle.

10. Digital 'Slavery Simulation' Game for Schools Draws Ire, Praise

Teaching the history of slavery to students is a challenge, particularly if the goal is to personalize the experiences of slaves while featuring historically accurate, but age-appropriate content. This post looked at a publicly funded digital-learning game that sought to do just that, and ended up sparking controversy.

Keep checking back on the Digital Education blog in 2016 for our coverage of emerging ed-tech trends, breaking news, and analysis.

Photo: Adult observers, behind a two-way mirror, watch teachers working with students using technology in the Catalyst laboratory in Mentor, Ohio. The district uses the laboratory to allow teachers to experiment with blended learning strategies, under the observation of peers. --Photo by Dustin Franz for Education Week


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