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5 Ways to Maximize PD and Networking at Conferences

The summer conference season is ramping up -- are you ready? Conferences are a wonderful opportunity for professional development and networking. But maximizing what you can get from a conference takes a little legwork. Use these five tips for your next conference. Plan Your Schedule Are you the type who decides what sessions you’ll attend the morning of the conference, when you get the printed program? So many conferences nowadays have their schedules online or, better yet, available as a mobile app. Many conference schedules include planning tools that allow you to search the schedule by keyword, speaker, or topic, and add sessions to your personalized schedule. You can also see who else is attending sessions, and view more

Teachers, Students: Design Your Own STEM Learning Game

It’s official: the 2013 STEM Video Game Challenge is now accepting student submissions! It’s a nationwide game design competition for middle and high school students inspired by President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign. The greater purpose of the competition is to get youth interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, but to also tap into students’ often natural passion for playing and designing video games. Since its inception in 2010, the contest has been jointly presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and game-based learning product publisher E-Line Media. Each year, students are eligible to win prizes for both themselves and their school. This year’ more

From Robots to Apps: Learning Technologies That Stood Out at This Year’s Consumer Electronics Show

From motorized spider vehicles to therapeutic animatronic baby seals, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had, well, just about everything one could imagine—including plenty of new technology designed specifically for young learners. Although we weren’t lucky enough to be there, several of these exciting innovations caught our eye.  So, from robots to apps, here’s a few of our favorites from this year’s show: We couldn’t have a round-up of CES standouts without including the Lego Mindstorms EV3, the latest generation of programmable robots unveiled by LEGO Education last week. The robots are the third addition to the platform, first released in 1998, although more

Apps for Learning That Can Be Fun Too

PBS Kids Interactive has a history of producing strong, multiplatform content for children, and it has been particularly successful with transmedia storytelling in bridging the gap between TV and mobile. As Wired’s GeekDad writer Daniel Donahoo put it, PBS Kids is “setting up a platform that demonstrates how to convert existing content and characters into digital content that both respects the mobile space, but also the children who will be engaging with it.” Donahoo interviewed PBS Kids Interactive vice president Sara Dewitt to discuss what PBS Kids strives for when creating interactive, mobile content, and how they achieve these goals. One of the most interesting takeaways from the interview was Dewitt’s more

"Digital Is" Builds a Community for Educators

We were excited to see our new Learning Ratings initiative featured by the National Writing Project on their site Digital Is, an online resource for educators to share their thoughts and collaborate on ways to use new digital media in the classroom. In case you missed it, the initiative is our new way of evaluating what apps, websites, and games have the most learning potential. Digital Is blogger Erin Wilkey called the Learning Ratings Initiative “a fantastic resource for educators.” Well, we can wholeheartedly return the favor because Digital Is is a fantastic resource for educators as well. Digital Is defines itself as an “emerging knowledge-base created and curated by its community of members,” as well more

Raspberry Pi Launches Summer Programming Contest for Kids and Teens

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, purveyor of the new, affordable, credit card-sized computer of the same name, just announced a new summer programming contest for kids and teens. Contestants must create a software application that impresses the judges. The programs can do whatever the creator chooses and can be written in any code language, providing it runs on Raspberry Pi. The competition, which runs from August 4 to September 1, has two age-based categories: youth ages 13 and under and teens ages 14-18. The foundation will award winners in both categories with a $1000 cash prize, and up to five runners up in each category will receive awards of $200. The only potential drawback to the contest is that all entrants must grant all rights to more

Updates From A “Mostly Electronics-Free Summer”

Last month, Wired’s GeekDad writer Jenny Williams decided to engage her kids in a summer-long experiment, one devoid of technology and “iThings,” as she calls them, for the most part, at least. The goal? For her kids to rediscover life without an iDependency. “My hopes for this experiment are manifold,” wrote Williams, who says that techo-toys provide constant, immediate gratification, which, in turn, zaps her eight-year-old son’s sense of imagination. “I want my son to be more physically active. I want my son to experience boredom. I want my son to play with his other toys,” she said. There are, of course, a few caveats. Her kids are allowed to Skype with their dad and check their more

Technology and The Common Core

By Merve Lapus, educational program manager at Common Sense Media We had a great time at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Diego June 24-27 hosting two panels on digital citizenship in the classroom. We also learned a lot from the 30+ simultaneous sessions and the countless exhibitions, and hopefully the participants at our panel learned something new as well. If there was one thing that surprised me the most in co-hosting the panel, it was the centrality of technology in the Common Core standards. Technology is mentioned in 78 standards. Yet there is no funding dedicated to purchasing digital tools.  Schools need to dig into their own pockets to fund these purchases. More more

School’s Out: Tips on Summer Fun Without the Summer Slide

Summer is upon us and with it, the infamous “summer slide.” You know, that time of year when school lets out and kids get a much needed, but occasionally regressive, break from their usual learning routine. The key to avoiding it? A recent Motherlode post in The New York Times says it’s reading – and it doesn’t quite matter what children read, so long as they just read. So the vampire trilogy or Teen Magazine is just fine. According to a recent study, as Motherlode blogger KJ Dell’Antonia reports, children who don’t read over the summer lose 2–3 months of reading development while those who do gain a month. And the effect is cumulative. “Every two or three years the kids who don& more

The Great Digital Badges Debate

You may have read about Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure, or “Digital Backpack,” that was launched last year and the MacArthur Foundation’s subsequent badge-creating competition, we wrote about it here.  To simplify it a bit, badges are a new method of validating learning that doesn’t always happen in the classroom. The merit of badges, however, has been a polarizing debate for academic experts. According to a recent article in Education Week, there are two schools of thought about this new way to acknowledge skill-building. Advocates see the badges initiative as creating new opportunities to assign real-world value to students’ interests and skills, and to acknowledge that these skills are more