Math gets all the love--at least that appears to be the case in the edtech world. But applications of automated essay scoring have been growing steadily for 15 years. The shift to digital instructional materials, preparations for state online assessment, and a new crop of writing apps is adding new energy to digital ELA.


You can extend your impact with social media. Schools, districts, networks, nonprofits, providers and startups, can leverage social media to efficiently communicate, effectively build brand awareness, and gathering feedback on customer experience.


I'm a big fan of flex model secondary schools; there at least 10 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School. In short, these models create options fast, can leverage community assets, and create a picture of the future of personalized competency-based learning.


Two recent reports point to the importance of so called non-cognitive skills to success in college and work. A University of Chicago literature review funded by the Lumina and Raikes foundations said, "Students must develop sets of behaviors, skills, attitudes, and strategies that are crucial to academic performance in their classes."


"The future of our education system and the future of the country are inextricably tied," said Imagine K12 co-founder Tim Brady. He said transformation is "not a matter of if, only how" and #ik12 plans to be part of "ushering in the how, keeping student outcome front and center."


A brewstorm (a lightning round of Pabst-powered edu-visions) at Matt Candler's 4.0 Schools last Wednesday was the kind of gathering that could only be held in a handful of cities. New Orleans has always been a creative hotspot, just not in education. When I visited in the spring of 2005, the academic performance, the condition of school facilities, and the level of corruption were unbelievably bad -- in some cases worse than what I had seen in South Africa the month before.


A policymaker at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) Virtual School Symposium (VSS) said, "We want to advance competency-based learning, what kind of bill should we introduce?" Let's start by looking at the 10 design elements of a competency-based system (an update of a May blog).


When I joined the iNACOL board three years ago, I was hoping to see a shift in emphasis from virtual schools to a focus on helping all schools incorporate online and personal digital learning. That shift was evident in the name, Inventing the Future of Learning, and content of the Virtual School Symposium program this week in New Orleans.


This July the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a network of more than 460 academies across the U.S. serving more than 60,000 students, launched a student certification assessment system to drive real college and career readiness. Recently, NAF partnered with ConnectEDU to track college and career readiness by providing real-time reports on engagement and academic progress.


Virtual schools and online courses work better for some kids than others. Some of variance is provider based; some of it is student based. In most cases, there is not very good data on students or providers. A new report explained, "Most state accountability and data systems can't easily provide the information about individual student growth on mastery outcomes that is necessary to produce the answer."


The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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