Creativity abounds with SXSWedu 2014

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Who would like to buy me tickets to SXSWedu in Austin? Going once, twice, three —

SXSW looks like an amazing festival, held every spring featuring film, interactive, music and conferences with panels of speakers, workshops, Meetup events and a trade show. There is also SXSWedu, an expo for educational innovation, SXSWeco for those environmental conservationists and SXSW V2V for techie startups on the prowl.

This year’s conference has a few discussions I’m interested in:

Permission Engines: Facilitating Creativity (SXSWinteractive)
What do Googlers and Burning Man have in common? Find out here (hint: it’s in the title)

STEM Challenges for Digital Citizens
Amazed by Amplify, I’d definitely drop in.

Apple for Teacher: Education Ripe for Disruption
This interview may make you redefine the status quo.
Just think of the opportunities we can unlock by making education as addictive as a video game.

iStories: Teaching with Social Video Self-Modeling
Learn how to demonstrate a concept, create step-by-step instructions and showcase prompt as a student video with social stories.

Rethinking Teaching and Learning: Competency-based
Every discussion poses questions; some pertinent like these.
What system changes must be made for students to have coherent and goal focused educational experiences?

Interactive Chocolate
Because everyone loves chocolate.

Tickets may be a stretch and I’ll try to make it there at least in spirit. Until then I’ll seek out PanelPicker to vote for the content I want to see (whether as a virtual attendee or a real one).

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Checking back with Amplify

Here’s an update to one of the EdTech companies I’m following – Amplify

Who is Amplify?
Education technology think tank. Data-driven power house. Formally known as Wireless Generation. A Brooklyn-based subsidiary of News Corp., Amplify is ahead of the game with their educational games, tablets, CC curriculum and assessments.

The need.
Why all this buzz of technology changing education? Using technology to enhance the classroom experience; those old Apple II’s from the seventies to overhead projectors and SMART boards is nothing new. But now we have Google Glass. We have UX developers thinking about accessibility and designing software addressing how people learn best. I’d say, the last ten years alone has drastically shifted education in a positive way.                                                                                                          

Education policy, standards and reform have made an impact not only in the classroom, but on the state and federal level too. The FCC is redesigning the E-rate bill, providing funding to schools trying to connect to the Internet. Which means…this can ‘enormously accelerate the deployment of tablets and other digital tools into classrooms.’

The tablet.
A breakthrough in the market, Amplify is the first company of its kind  to offer its own tablet with its own educational platform. But don’t get your undies in a bunch, the tablet is only deployed as a pilot program to a few select school districts around the US. Soon the tablet might be stocked on the shelves next to the iPads, Surface, Galaxy, and Kindles. And you could walk in to Best Buy expecting to buy a family-friendly Android tablet and leave with an Amplify. I predict in the coming years (or maybe December 2013) other companies like Pearson and McGraw Hill will follow suit and offer their own mobile devices.

MOOCs, not just for Higher Ed.
The three leading MOOC providers are EdX, Coursera and Udacity; and only EdX at the moment is offering classes to high school students. Amplify has also began offering MOOCs to AP computer science students looking to score on the College Board’s test. Now that’s a way for MOOCs not to destroy the name of our invaluable American education.

The mastermind.
Joel Klein, CEO said this about education technology, “We think that for education to really be affected by technology in a positive transformative way, the technology is going to have to learn more about teaching and learning.”

A taste of Amplify

There are those who talk and those who do. Amplify is doing something awesome. They are bringing classroom instruction to the tablet. Sure there’s been talk of other companies aligning their digital content with the Common Core, but Amplify is taking it one step further.

I’ve been following Amplify since first seeing Joel Klein, CEO on a late night special with Charlie Rose. Said to change the way teachers teach and the way students learn, Amplify’s products help to envision change in the most conducive ways.

The Amplify tablet, designed for K12 curriculums comes equipped with Google Play for Education, the Merriam Webster dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica and a sleuth of ebooks and other apps. Guilford County Schools in North Carolina is the first district to offer tablets to its students, meeting Obama’s Race to the Top federal funding program. For the 2013-2014 school year, 20,000+ students and teachers will receive tablets thanks to Amplify.