Digital Tools and Distraction in School | Edutopia

By Mary Beth Hertz

As computers become less expensive, many schools are opting to bring low-cost machines such as Chromebooks into the classroom. While this has opened the door to exciting new learning opportunities, with these devices—as well as students’ smartphones—come new challenges, including the distraction factor. How do we teach students to integrate technology into their schoolwork and their learning while also making sure that they’re staying focused on the task at hand?

Focus and Multitasking

In “Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus,” Katrina Schwartz refers to studies showing that the ability to focus on a task has been linked to future success. She quotes psychologist Daniel Goleman: “This ability [to focus] is more important than IQ or the socioeconomic status of the family you grew up in for determining career success, financial success, and health.”

Source: Digital Tools and Distraction in School | Edutopia

Cyber safety boot camp at Solano Community College – Times Herald

By Richard Bammer

Third-party programs that may lead to “back door” intrusions. Differences between Windows and Mac operating systems. Good advice about ways to safeguard personal identifier information online. Social media tips.

Those were among the questions and topics aired Monday during the first day of the first-ever Cybersecurity Summer Camp, a weeklong program for Solano-area high schoolers, at Solano Community College in Fairfield.

Some 20 students signed up for the free weeklong program, but only 16, all of them boys, showed up in the morning in Room 503 inside the campus administration building at the Suisun Valley Road campus.

Source: Cyber safety boot camp at Solano Community College

SCC to host cybersecurity summer camp – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The Stuxnet worm entered Iran’s nuclear facilities through hacked suppliers in 2010, the first cyber strike distributed by the Internet. Some 40 million people were affected by a hack that stole credit and debit card data from Target stores on or before Dec. 22, 2013.

Elite North Korean cyber warfare agents are believed to be behind the November 2014 Sony Pictures hack. More recently, American intelligence officials are convinced Russian state actors, via a computer hacking, meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

In a new world of cyber warfare and crime, governments, corporations and individuals are increasingly forced to secure their sensitive data, and cybersecurity skills are becoming a valuable self-marketing tool, say organizers of the Cybersecurity Summer Camp at Solano Community College in Fairfield.


Source: SCC to host cybersecurity summer camp

Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District trustees heard an update on Measure S projects completed to date and potential projects for the future at Thursday’s school board meeting. The presentation was delivered by Roxanne Egan, the Measure S bond director.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for projects for the district’s seven schools. The bond funds were initially going to be issued in three series: Series A, B and C. Due to low interest, Series B and C were consolidated into one bond issuance. Series A projects were announced in 2014, and 11 have been completed so far: technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, phone system upgrades at all the schools, renovated playgrounds at all the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary, fixing the softball field bleachers at Benicia High School, repainting the exterior at Benicia High, installing new camera security systems at all the schools, upgrading the fire alarm system at Benicia Middle, upgrading the IT server and replacing the clocks, bells and PA systems.

Two projects are currently in construction at Benicia High: a renovation of the George Drolette Stadium and fire alarms. The former is expected to be completed over the summer while the latter is estimated to be completed by October, Egan said.

Source: Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer

Technology Doesn’t Drive Blended Learning Success … or Does It? – Education Next

By Thomas Arnett

Blended-learning proponents can point to a growing number of schools that consistently achieve extraordinary student learning results. But is technology the key to their success?

Recently, I visited five blended-learning schools in Las Vegas and the San Jose area that are earning accolades for serving low-income and minority students and achieving strong student learning outcomes: Dr. Owen C. Roundy Elementary, Vegas Verdes Elementary, and Elaine Wynn Elementary, three franchise schools in Las Vegas’s Clark County School District, and Hollister Prep and Gilroy Prep, two charter elementary schools operated by Navigator Schools in the San Jose area. All five schools use some variation of the Station Rotation or Lab Rotation blended-learning models for core instruction in math and English language arts. But even though blended learning is a deliberate part of their instructional approaches, it didn’t seem to be the differentiating factor driving their success.

When I observed their classrooms and interviewed many of their teachers and administrators, the thing that stood out as the likely key contributor to student learning was high-quality teaching practices, inspired and supported by effective school leadership. This should come as no surprise given that education research consistently shows that the quality of a school’s teachers has a bigger impact on student achievement than any other school-level factor.

Source: Technology Doesn’t Drive Blended Learning Success … or Does It? – Education Next : Education Next

Torlakson Announces CA Schools Mobile App Release – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the release of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) first mobile application that offers detailed information about California’s 10,000 public schools.

The CA Schools mobile app, developed in-house by the CDE and available for iOS and Android systems, lets users locate nearby schools based on their current location and provides a wealth of details, including contacts and directions, demographics, test scores, and a school’s California School Dashboard profile page.

“Never before have we put so much school information literally in the hands of our students, parents, and community members and made the information so accessible and user-friendly,” Torlakson said. “Home buyers can check out schools in their prospective neighborhoods. Parents heading to a child’s away game can map directions to the host school. There are all kinds of potential uses.”

Source: Torlakson Announces CA Schools Mobile App Release – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Vallejo school board to decide numerous items – Times Herald

By John Glidden

A charter school petition, Internet services, and creation of an advisory committee to assist with selection of a superintendent search firm are all before the Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board Wednesday night.

District staff is recommending trustees approve an application for a third Mare Island Technology charter school. If approved, the MIT Griffin Academy Middle School will have an initial charter from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.

MIT currently operates two charters: A middle school and high school.

• Also before the board is a proposed 10-year agreement with Zayo Networks to provide Internet services for the district. The VCUSD currently pays $31,200 per year to AT&T for Internet and phone services, a student information system, site surveillance, paging systems, clocks, fiscal accounting and online curriculum.


Source: Vallejo school board to decide numerous items

Making Student Data More Usable: What Innovation Theory Tells Us About Interoperability – Education Next

By Thomas Arnett

As schools adopt blended learning, many are eager to use the floods of student learning data gathered by their various software systems to make better instructional decisions. We are accustomed to the ease with which we can use data from multiple systems in other domains of life—such as when we use GPS apps on our smartphones to search for dinner options, check operating hours and customer ratings, and then get traffic-optimized driving directions. So it isn’t hard to imagine an ideal world in which all student data flows seamlessly and securely between software applications: a concept known as data interoperability.

But currently, data interoperability across education software tools remains more of a hope than a reality. Often, the software that schools use only provides educators with the data that software developers have deemed necessary or relevant for teachers. Each piece of learning software usually has its own proprietary dashboards and reports, and the software typically does not tag, categorize, or provide access to its data in a way that makes data easy to share across systems.

Source: Making Student Data More Usable: What Innovation Theory Tells Us About Interoperability – Education Next : Education Next

Vacaville Unified donates 55 computers to Markham Elementary families – The Reporter

By Michael Morris

In the technological age we live in, computers have become essential in everyday life.

But for families with students enrolled at Edwin Markham Elementary School, today marked the genesis of that experience countless people take for granted.

The Vacaville Unified School District donated 55 fully functioning Dell Optiplex 755 computer workstations Thursday in the multipurpose room at Markham Elementary. Distributing 25 computers in the morning and another 30 that night, 55 families left with a computer; even if that meant walking their new PC home in the rain.

“Nowadays access to a computer and the internet is almost a human right,” said Steven Berry, a computer technician for VUSD. “You can’t do much anymore without a computer when it comes to education, finding a job, or anything like that. By giving these families a computer that they didn’t have before, we’re helping improve their life.”


Source: Vacaville Unified donates 55 computers to Markham Elementary families

Keen eye on biotech at Markham Elementary – The Reporter

By Joel Rosenbaum

Michael Silva, of Vacaville and a bioengineer at Genentech, works with a group of Markham Elementary School students while he teaches a five-week pilot after school program on the Exploration of Biotechnology. The program is sponsored by the Vacaville Public Education Foundation and the Solano College Biotechnology program.

Source: Keen eye on biotech at Markham Elementary

‘Matthew Turner’ ship launching Saturday – Benicia Herald

By Donna Beth Weilenman

A labor of love that began nearly four years ago with the laying of a brigantine’s keel will take an important step forward Saturday when the “Matthew Turner” is launched in Sausalito. Named for the famous shipbuilder who constructed record-setting vessels in Benicia, the Matthew Turner is patterned after the “Galilee,” the ship that covered the distance from Tahiti to California under sail at such speeds that the produce it carried arrived fresh enough to sell to awaiting customers.

The Galilee still holds the speed record – 22 days – for ships under sail from Tahiti to San Francisco.

Alan Olson, who founded the Call of the Sea and Educational Tall Ship education programs, has been dreaming of the day a ship built along Turner’s own designs would become the San Francisco Bay Area’s tall ship.

At one time, the Hawaiian Chieftain held that honor. That ship is an original design that recalls the packet ships that delivered mail and cargo along the Pacific coastline and inland via rivers, or outward across the ocean.

Source: ‘Matthew Turner’ ship launching Saturday

New G Suite Apps to Boost Your Effectiveness | Edutopia

By Jacqueline Fiorentino and Danielle Orfanidis

We’re fortunate to teach in an era in which 1:1 classrooms—with one device for each student—are increasingly the norm. Still, we’re constantly asking ourselves: Are we utilizing this omnipresent technology to the best of our abilities? How can we be sure that its use supports our students’ academic growth? Let’s face it: A worksheet is still a worksheet, even if it’s stored on Google Drive. Dr. Linda Darling Hammond has found that for technology to be used effectively in the classroom, three key criteria must be met: Learning must be interactive; the technology must be used to explore, design, and create rather than to “drill and kill”; and there must be the right blend of teachers and technology.

Source: New G Suite Apps to Boost Your Effectiveness | Edutopia

Solano College site of planned business ‘hackathon’ – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Small Business Development Center will host a 48-hour start-up “hackathon” for teens and young adults.

The two-day business program will have participants bring their toothbrushes, pillows and overnight bags and, with little rest, work for 48 hours to develop and present to the competition’s judges their idea for the next great start-up, reminiscent of an Amazon or Google, according to an announcement for the event.

First- and second-place winners will be chosen and given a variety of business-related prizes.

Source:  Solano College site of planned business ‘hackathon’

Students learn teamwork, science for next generation – Daily Republic

By Susan Hiland

A group of dedicated high school students spent their weekend learning some new skills that they will then pass on to the younger generation.

The 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology program was held at the 4-H offices on Texas Street for high school students to learn how to teach science to elementary and middle school students in an after-school program for approximately one hour during the week.

Mia Baez is a freshman at Rodriguez High School and for part of her community service requirements she is doing the 10-hour program. She is the youngest in the group, the others are all high school seniors.

Source: Students learn teamwork, science for next generation

VCUSD eyes replacing paging system – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo City Unified School District is seeking to replace its internal paging system, a move which is estimated to cost about $200,000 to $250,000.

The VCUSD Board of Education will review the request during its meeting Wednesday night.

“For general announcements and emergency pages, it is recommended that wall-mounted speakers designed specifically for paging purposes be installed and tied into a paging system that is housed locally at the site, but can be monitored and administered centrally, according to a district staff report. “In addition, several schools are utilizing paging systems that are more than 30 years old and cannot be administered centrally.”

District staff is recommending that a control system, along with wiring, and speakers be installed at each school site to allow for paging services and emergency broadcasts.


Source: VCUSD eyes replacing paging system

Benicia High offers computer clubs for tech-savvy students – Benicia Herald

By Jasmine Weis

One of the many privileges of being a student at Benicia High School is having the opportunity to enroll in any number of the diverse range of clubs the school has to offer. In recent years, several computer and technology based clubs have made their way onto the list, keeping in pace with the increasing popularity of technical careers and growing number of tech-savvy consumers. I had the opportunity to talk with Maddie Beyer and Victoria Travao, both juniors involved in tech clubs, and gained some insight into what these clubs have to offer.

In search of something to keep her occupied with after school, and with a little encouragement from her teacher, Mr. Andreas Kaiser, Beyer decided to join the Computer Refurbishing Club. The club was established a few years ago by Mr. Kaiser, after the science department was granted new laptops, leading to an influx of old laptops with no place to go. Members of the club are allowed to take the computers home, where they first wipe the drives, then install new software and better operating systems to make them run faster. For people like Beyer, who entered the club with little prior experience dealing with computers, the process is broken down by more experienced members, one of whom even, according to Maddie, “made an instructional manual for the newbies.”

Source: Benicia High offers computer clubs for tech-savvy students

How Gaming Connects to SEL and Career Readiness | Edutopia

By Maurice J. Elias

What kinds of jobs will our students have, and how well are we preparing them for the future? The World Economic Forum, a not-for-profit foundation, is reaching out to educators worldwide. Their call to educators includes redefining what it means to be educated and prepared for work and civic participation—as well as an integration of technology.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 report titled New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology, “To thrive in the 21st century, students need more than traditional academic learning. They must be adept at collaboration, communication, and problem solving, which are some of the skills developed through social and emotional learning (SEL). Coupled with mastery of traditional skills, social and emotional proficiency will equip students to succeed in the swiftly evolving digital economy.”

Source: How Gaming Connects to SEL and Career Readiness | Edutopia

What EdTech Entrepreneurs Should Know And Do About Student Data Privacy –

By Barbara Kurshan

Successful edtech entrepreneurs are data-driven in their approach to innovation and seek to measure the impact of their solution on the problem it attempts to address. The data they use often comes in the form of “Big Data,” which Lev Manovich (2011) defines as “data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time.” Given the possibilities Big Data offers for assessing impact, many edtech entrepreneurs incorporate ways to gather user data when developing their products. Other edtech entrepreneurs try to obtain student data from schools/school districts and typically encounter challenges in doing so. While Big Data provides the opportunity for edtech entrepreneurs to create innovative technology solutions to address critical problems in education, it also has ushered in a wave of privacy incursions. For ethical and legal reasons, edtech entrepreneurs must understand student data privacy laws and related privacy issues.

Source: What EdTech Entrepreneurs Should Know And Do About Student Data Privacy#1dbe973048b2

New Legislation to Promote Media Arts Education – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

Legislation introduced Monday will help California showcase its role as a world leader by improving media arts education so students will be better prepared for jobs in movies, animation, video games, virtual reality, and other media arts fields, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced.

Torlakson sponsored AB 37, which Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell introduced Monday. This is the first day bills can be introduced for the start of the 2017-2018 legislative session. O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, is Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

“This is an exciting step forward to improve our students’ education in the fascinating and creative world of media arts,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school teacher and coach. “I want to thank Assemblymember O’Donnell for introducing this measure and preparing students for media arts opportunities in 21st century careers and college.”

Source: New Legislation to Promote Media Arts Education – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

County 4-H’ers to hold SET training – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The 4-H mission, to engage youth to reach their fullest potential, continues in Solano County with another two-day SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) training session.

High school students are invited to take advantage of a chance to perform community service, learn new skills, experience teaching firsthand, and have fun.

The 10-hour training will be held at the Fairfield 4-H office, 501 Texas St., from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 and 1 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22.Teens must participate in both days of training. Deadline to register is Jan. 20.

Source: County 4-H’ers to hold SET training