3 Ways to Recession-Proof the Education Technology Department

Shefali Vasave | July 14, 2022 | 293 views | Read Time : 2 min

3 Ways to Recession-Proof the Education Technology Department
Schools are an integral part of society, with roots entrenched in the economy and an unquestionable role to play in building the future of the country. The Great Recession in the mid-2000s demonstrated that while federal stimulus can promote the adoption of technology in public education budgets, during recessionary periods it becomes a challenge to continue building and maintaining technologically well-equipped schools.

As we move into another recession, educational technology leaders will have many tough decisions to make as they attempt to keep the impact of an economic slowdown away from the classroom. Technology leaders in schools must understand that the surge in demand for technology to maintain remote learning will not mitigate the decision to cut costs. To avoid affecting critical pieces of the technology department, here are three ways to recession-proof the technology department.

Outline the Costs Well in Advance
Technology isn’t cheap and it can make a dent in your education budget if not planned for. This is why it’s necessary to outline the costs, and maintain a budget for the renewal of standard hardware and software in order to leverage bulk buying discounts later.

Determine the Must-have Tech Positions
An economic slowdown will undoubtedly lead to some difficult conversations about which positions are crucial for the school. To avoid making the wrong moves, develop a clear blueprint of the roles and responsibilities of the positions that support every program. This will ensure you are able to anticipate the impact of a budget cut on the IT team.

Avoid Yearly Renewal Contracts
During a recession, many tech vendors experience an increase in operating costs that are then passed on to schools and districts. Consider signing multi-year contracts to lock-in costs at stable pricing. You might want to think about multi-year contracts for tech partnerships in areas like data management systems, assessment and student information, and teaching programs.

The recession is inevitably causing uncertainty, and the technology budget will remain a live wire, especially considering the fiscal aftermath left by the pandemic. For technology leaders, the goal must be to avoid the lasting effect of budget cuts on the technology department. Investing in multi-year pricing contracts, identifying critical team roles, and budgeting for renewals well in advance can alleviate some of the impacts.

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End of term: Tweaking your course for next term

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Article | June 13, 2022

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Article | June 15, 2022

In 2021, Class, a virtual classroom app that combines with Zoom, neared unicorn status after receiving funding from SoftBank Vision Fund II. But, with just 10 months and a string of top edtech U.S. investors to back it up, the app’s spectacular rise only speaks to the boom in online education in the past two years. Online learning has changed. It went from centering around accessibility to becoming the primary delivery method almost overnight. So when it comes to screen time, this newest addition to our already screen-filled lives is uninvited. Especially for children, it only meant that screen time was highly monitored during lockdown. And that change came with struggles. Between configuring the technicalities of accessing online classrooms and figuring out how to engage students, teachers have faced an uphill battle all along. There is plenty of research to suggest that too much screen time has negative health implications, but education has to continue at all costs. 2021 was full of stories of students finding creative ways of avoiding classes or not attending them. One 8-year-old found a loophole in Zoom’s app last year that locked her out of her Zoom class. Even Zoom’s technical team failed to find the issue. It led to a goose chase into discovering that the child was locking herself out by inputting the wrong password over 20 times. Screen Time Vs Screen-Tied Screen time has five types: television, video games, social media, music, and reading. The key is not just to regulate screen time but also the content that is being consumed. Technology may have evolved, but our ability to use it for long durations and to conduct sensory tasks like learning over the internet hasn’t. Between education, video-games, social media and TV, distribution meant calibrating what type of content should be consumed in order to reduce the negative impact. Approximately 75% of all teenagers own a smartphone today. In addition, a majority of young adults report video games as their go-to activity in their free time. While research on the use of video games may be inconclusive, prolonged exposure is nevertheless known to rewire developing brains. There’s also a high risk to susceptible minds with regards to unfiltered and harmful messages from social media, which is a massive source of increased screen time for children and teenagers. All these issues call for a meaningful control of screen time. But in a sea of endless information and uninterrupted content, how do you identify the right balance? Culling Unnecessary Content For educators, the aim is clear: to balance screen time so precariously that children do not lose their will to learn or play. Parents and educational institutions must identify the following objectives through the content they are letting their families consume: Developing digital skills to prepare children for higher education and digital careers Raising digital citizens that use online mediums to contribute to their communities Exposing learners to new ideas and concepts in a safe context Acquiring creative skills, interpersonal expression, and etiquette for engagement online There is no dearth of educational content online, but it is important to achieve a balance between the educational and the entertainment consumption of learners. On occasion, both can be combined through interactive shows and programs that do not expose learners to addictive behaviors. Designating screen-free times, activities, and even locations like meals, traveling, or bedrooms can help learners build a habit of controlling their screen time. To Wrap It Up There is no doubt that the pandemic provided online learning with a much-needed shot in the arm. This also means that screen time has exponentially increased. Thanks to both virtual schools and a complete lockdown on going outside, young learners were left with no option but to turn to their screens. Whether to connect to their peers, attend classes, or spend their free time, learners are faced with a barrage of screen time that can affect their ability to navigate a post-pandemic world. Parents and educators must take it upon themselves to lay down the guidelines that drive the harmonious use of electronics without encouraging total dependence on them.

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3 Inclusive Classroom Strategies to Use for Higher Student Enrollment

Article | May 21, 2022

In 2021, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that student enrollments were at an all-time low. Community college enrollment dipped by 11% while post-secondary enrollment saw a dip of 4.2% year-on-year. The impact of the last two years’ events clearly demonstrates the strain faced by all levels of educational institutions. The shift to the virtual classroom setup also saw parents and students recognize the importance of teaching and learning online. The significance of a virtual classroom is emphasized more than ever. It has forced schools to improve their online teaching infrastructure so that they can keep growing. But this has also affected inclusivity. According to UNESCO, school closures during the pandemic affected 1.2 billion children in 186 countries. In this article, we discuss why virtual learning is in dire need of inclusivity and inclusive learning practices. Why Does Inclusive Learning Matter in the Era of Zoom Classes? Edtech is a booming industry. In 2019, edtech investments reached a whopping US $18 billion. Further, the online education market is estimated to cross the $350 billion mark by 2025. There is no doubt that learning institutions are investing heavily in online learning. But inclusivity is still lagging far behind. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that 25% of secondary school-aged students from underprivileged backgrounds lack a computer. The writing on the wall is clear. Virtual learning is bound to widen the divide, and its impact will be felt most by underprivileged students. For educational institutions, delivering a positively inclusive learning experience online is essential to attracting students who do have access to educational technology. “In the higher education space, most schools were, and still are, predominantly focused on that in-person campus visit to do all those same things, but it’s expensive and it means only students and parents who travel to campus can get that real-life feel and experience.” - Matthew Pellish, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CampusReel Bringing Personalization to the Virtual Classroom Although virtual learning has stripped away the human touch that accompanies a classroom setting, there are ways to make it more engaging and meaningful. Engage students even before the class starts. This can be done by setting an agenda for the session beforehand and asking students to send in their queries and expectations from the session. Turning the greeting into a short discussion is a great way to engage everyone right off the bat. Tools like Zoom make it simpler to personalize every class with features like backgrounds and notes. Use the chat feature generously. Teaching and learning online has to be a one-sided flow of information for it to be effective. However, the chat feature empowers teachers to break the monotony. The best way to keep students attentive is through personalization. Attentiveness can be achieved by asking many questions, even if they are simply yes-or-no questions. It enables teachers to keep a check on engagement and pivot when needed. Simulating a Sense of Community A discussion on an inclusive learning environment is incomplete without mentioning student community building. Online teaching and learning is limited in its ability to provide a sense of community. Since students are physically separated from their peers, one-on-one connections are lacking. Despite the distance, there are a few solutions you can use to reduce the distance virtually. Identify the type of community you want to develop. Whether you’re offering synchronous or asynchronous courses, it is crucial to keep the student-peer-instructor link active. Create a loop of feedback between teachers and students to enable community building. Modern tools offer a number of ways to seek feedback that provides insight on teaching style and the general classroom environment. Create a classroom forum online. Forums offer the best of two-way interactions with a platform outside of the online class. This ensures constancy and inclusive learning even after the class is over. For those who weren’t able to attend due to technical difficulties or poor connectivity, they never lose track of what’s going on. Cultivating Two-Way Interaction Two-way interactions are an integral part of engaging learning experiences. Inclusive classroom activities online may not completely replace them, but much can be done to build a more involved form of communication. One way to design such activities is to use the Kanevsky and Keighly framework to engage students with the five Cs: choice, challenge, control, complexity, and care. Use screen sharing and remote access tools. Physical classrooms offer avenues for students to present to their peers. In a virtual classroom setting, this can be achieved with screen sharing. Empower students to retain better by making them present their perspective and understanding of different concepts. This gives other students the impetus to do the same. Initiate group discussions through your course management system. Inviting students to design the resources and collaborate on group projects will jumpstart in-depth discussions. Many course management systems allow students to share their notes with each other. This creates inclusive learning environment. Finally: Why Will the Online University Experience Will Attract More Students Although learning institutions are beginning to open up for the in-person learning experience, the effectiveness of a virtual classroom is undeniable. Like remote working, remote learning is gaining ground, and inclusive online teaching is inevitably important. A Cengage survey revealed that 68% of students prefer hybrid learning: a combination of online and offline course delivery. In addition, the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) found that the number of students who enrolled in online-only programs rose from 3.5 million during the fall to 5.8 million. Fostering meaningful, hands-on learning similar to that in a classroom is difficult. Even though student enrollment in online courses is rising, learning institutions are facing the challenge of delivering a highly engaging learning experience. But with an understanding of the learning outcome and the right tools, institutions can develop robust, inclusive classroom activities that every student will want to benefit from. Frequently Asked Questions Do students and teachers prefer online teaching and learning? According to a recent survey by Cengage, about 73% of students prefer some courses to be delivered fully online. In addition, 57% of teachers said they prefer teaching hybrid courses over online-only courses. Is online teaching and learning a growing trend? Yes. Online learning platform Coursera experienced a huge spike in enrollments. In 2021, enrollment increased by 32% and peaked at 189 million. What are the principles of inclusive education? The principles of inclusive education are: Togetherness Participation Acceptance Equality

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XLerateHealth, University of Kentucky to Expand Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Programming via Digital Learning Platform

XLerateHealth | August 18, 2022

XLerateHealth (XLH), a national healthcare accelerator based in Louisville, KY, in partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) through UK Innovate, has been awarded the first phase of a potential $3.25M multi-year grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the IDeA Regional Entrepreneurship Development (I-RED) Program (Award Number UT2GM148083). The purpose of the grant is to develop and launch a suite of experience-based entrepreneurship and commercialization training tools to address the needs of academic institutions across the Southeast U.S., including faculty, researchers, innovators and students. XLH and UK have led this effort since 2018 through the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership to increase the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovations in 25 academic institutions across the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states of Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. This NIH I-RED award will allow XLerator Network participants to build on prior work and develop, launch, test and validate entrepreneurship education and training tools that foster the translation of promising biomedical discoveries and technologies from research laboratories into commercial products “Based on our years of experience training biomedical entrepreneurs, we believe that effective entrepreneurial pedagogy is a combination of four elements: 1) informed high-quality educational content, 2) mentorship and coaching from experienced domain experts and entrepreneurs, 3) access to experienced talent to build a cohesive team, and 4) access to capital to fund the successful refinement of the technology/product and its commercial launch into the marketplace,” said Jackie Willmot, CEO of XLerateHealth. “We are proud to continue this collaboration and grateful to the NIH I-RED program for its support in bringing these resources to academic and clinician innovators.” “Through the XLerator Network, our partnership with more than two-dozen academic institutions in the Southeast IDeA region has created a framework for learning, testing, and applying entrepreneurship and commercialization best practices to advance the most promising health innovations in the region,” Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact at the University of Kentucky. “UK Innovate is thrilled that the NIH I-RED program will now catalyze that foundation and generate new education, mentorship, coaching, and commercialization tools for those partners and the region. As the academic lead institution for this new award, we are proud of this partnership and thank the NIH I-RED program leadership for its support.” Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact at the University of Kentucky About XLerateHealth (XLH) The XLerateHealth (XLH) mission is to cultivate and grow impactful healthcare innovation in the Midwest, Southeast and other areas of the country where great innovation often goes unrecognized and underfunded. Founded in 2012, XLH supports the development of healthcare innovation through its healthcare accelerator, which helps start-up founders commercialize their business and attract funding. XLerateHealth also leads the efforts to build and operate the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership with Academic Lead University of Kentucky along with 24 other academic institutions in the Southeast. The objective of this work is to increase the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovations in the NIH-designated Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states.

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Texthelp Releases U.S. Data Highlighting State of Learning for Students with Dyslexia

Texthelp | August 18, 2022

Today, Texthelp, a global leader in literacy and digital learning tools for education, released new survey results on the current state of teaching and learning for students with dyslexia. The survey, concluding in March 2022, reflects insights from more than 3,000 school staff representing thousands of schools across the country. The goal was to identify common problems in student teaching and learning that could be addressed, and to help build better, more inclusive learning environments. According to nearly half of the teachers surveyed, assistive technology is one of the top approaches that helps students with dyslexia, along with reading and phonemic awareness instruction. With one billion people globally living with a non-visible disability, such as dyslexia, it is critical that all students have the tools they need to understand and learn. How students digest information and communicate their knowledge looks different for everyone. More inclusive approaches to learning, such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL), are the future of education. "I have severe dyslexia and looking back, I could have benefited from having early access to assistive technology that was designed for people just like me," said Sierra Goodfellow, a current student. "Instead, I endured many barriers and obstacles while learning. It wasn't until much later that I finally found an assistive technology tool that understood me. I had thought something was wrong with me when really I needed a tool that was made for someone who thinks differently." "It would be extremely valuable for students like Sierra and teachers of students with dyslexia if the right accommodations were always available from the start, Texthelp. "All students should have a choice in how they learn. For Sierra, that was being able to understand the text by listening to it being read aloud." Martin McKay, Founder and CEO, Texthelp. More than 52 percent of teachers surveyed find 'a lot of value' in providing students with dyslexia access to assistive technology tools. However, more than 54 percent of the respondents said their district will only provide accommodations to students who show a need. Providing tools to only those students who 'show' signs of their disability or disclose their learning challenges leaves out many students who are either undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or are afraid to disclose their diagnosis to indicate the support that they need."It is critical that all school districts provide assistive technology tools to every student, whether or not they are neurodivergent, neurotypical, or physically disabled," said McKay. "Providing tools for all students can bolster inclusivity in the classroom and welcomes all types of learners. Students should be attuned to how they learn best. Thoughtful, inclusive practices in the classroom make learning easier and more enjoyable for everyone." Additional findings from the survey include: 52% find assistive technology tools to be highly valuable for students with dyslexia Assistive technology tools can benefit all students, especially those with hidden disabilities, such as dyslexia. Providing assistive technology tools with various capabilities that are designed using UDL principles is most effective in supporting student success. Most districts provide free tools, such as built-in tools (71.73%) and free accessibility apps (54.87%), to students as a source of reading/writing accommodations Free tools and built-in tools aren't accessible everywhere throughout a students' education journey. When using these tools, students are limited in where they can utilize their accommodations. Oftentimes, users cannot access these tools when taking tests or searching online, which can create more barriers than solutions. Respondents felt that the best ways to make assistive technology more impactful for students with dyslexia are: Having the ability to identify student needs and match those with appropriate digital learning tools (55.51%) Having teachers embrace assistive technology in the classroom (52.10%) More training for staff (50.55%) About Texthelp Founded in 1996, the Texthelp Group is a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood. It has led the way in creating innovative technology for the education and workplace sectors for the last three decades.Texthelp believes in a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers. It is focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. With over 50 million users worldwide, the Texthelp suite of products includes Read&Write, Equatio®, WriQ®, OrbitNote®, ReachDeck® and FluencyTutor® which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G-suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workplace with ease.In 2021, Texthelp acquired the Lingit Group, Wizkids and Don Johnston Inc. By combining capabilities and knowledge across the group, Texthelp can now provide a whole suite of literacy and numeracy support to a greater number of end-users across more geographies.

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Altium, IPC Education Foundation, and Arduino Announce Student Electronics Design Competition

Altium. | August 19, 2022

Altium LLC, the leading printed circuit board (PCB) design software company, is partnering with the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) and Arduino to launch the second annual student electronics design challenge. This competition aims to engage, educate, and enhance PCB design capabilities while developing STEM solutions to environmental challenges. The electronics design challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their talents and gain real-world experience. The Innovation for Environmental Change 2022 International Student Design Competition (#PCBeTheChange) engages student teams to help address common environmental concerns using Altium’s educational tools with Arduino hardware. Over 17 countries submitted entries to last year's competition, which addressed various local environmental issues, including city traffic, shoreline erosion, bushfire detection, honey bee endangerment, and more. Teams will use Altium Upverter Modular PCB design software and the Arduino Portenta H7 to create prototype designs that will improve the environment in each team's respective local area. The teams will be challenged to tackle one or more environmental concerns, such as air pollution, water quality, and solar energy capture. As Yu Hu, head of Arduino Education, elaborates, “At Arduino, we believe that it is very crucial to empower the scientists and engineers of the future to address the common challenges of our time by using technology for the benefit of many. Last year’s entries showed an amazing combination of ingenuity, curiosity, and technical skills in their designs, and we’re excited to see what new and innovative STEM solutions the teams will submit this year.” Participating teams will enter the design challenge while harnessing Altium Upverter Education and the Upverter Modular tool. Altium features multiple educational initiatives designed to support high school STEM teachers and students, along with programs to support college students and industry professionals. “It was fascinating to see 87 teams from around the world participate, leveraging the printed circuit board design knowledge they had learned from Altium’s Upverter Education, to address important environmental issues. We are excited to see more unique designs from this year’s contestants and are honored to again have the opportunity to provide the curriculum and tools students need for the contest. Rea Callender, vice president of education at Altium. Winning teams will be eligible to win cash prizes for each category: high school and college: $1500 (1st prize), $750 (2nd prize) and $500 (3rd prize), free access to IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, California from January 24-26, 2023. Designs will be displayed at the IPC Design Booth; awards will be presented at the IPC APEX EXPO STEM Outreach Event. Charlene Gunter, senior director of IPCEF shares, “We believe that opportunities and experiences like this will allow students to gain awareness and access to the electronics manufacturing industry and in turn help them reach their career goals. This collaboration with Altium, Upverter Education, and Arduino showcases our mutual goals of engaging and educating students in PCB design, and we look forward to seeing the creativity and solutions the teams will create this year.”Open registration for the design challenge is available now via Upverter Education and runs through Monday, October 3. Teams must submit their designs online by Friday, November 18. Competition winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 14, followed by virtual presentations for the first place and runner-up entrants. About Altium Altium, LLC (ASX:ALU) is a global software company headquartered in San Diego, California, accelerating the pace of innovation through electronics. For over 30 years, Altium has been delivering software that maximizes the productivity of PCB designers and electrical engineers. From individual inventors to multinational corporations, more PCB designers and engineers choose Altium software to design and realize electronics-based products. About Upverter Education Upverter Education, launched by Altium in September 2020, is addressing an important societal need by empowering STEM educators teaching engineering, electronics design, and robotics with free essential tools and classroom resources. The program has been honored with multiple awards, including the EdTech Breakthrough Award, for Best Engineering Learning Solution and the Gold STEVIE® American Business Award, further validating Altium’s innovative approach to supporting STEM education. About IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) The IPC Education Foundation creates awareness of the careers the electronics manufacturing industry has to offer students in high school and college by providing them with opportunities to access people, courses, and knowledge through key programs: 1) The IPC Student Chapter program provides scholarships, industry-standard education, industry connections, and access to hands-on competitions, especially with the support of industry experts and professionals; 2) IPC Video Subscription Libraries provide access to industry-relevant content to students in high school and college, and 3) a variety of engagement initiatives like in-person/virtual events, webinars, and classroom activities. About Arduino Arduino is the leading open-source hardware and software company in the world. Born to provide an easy-to-use platform for anyone making interactive projects, Arduino has reached a growing community and adapted to new needs and challenges, branching out into products for IoT, wearables, 3D printing, and embedded environments. As of today, the Arduino community included approximately 30 million active users.

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XLerateHealth, University of Kentucky to Expand Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Programming via Digital Learning Platform

XLerateHealth | August 18, 2022

XLerateHealth (XLH), a national healthcare accelerator based in Louisville, KY, in partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) through UK Innovate, has been awarded the first phase of a potential $3.25M multi-year grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the IDeA Regional Entrepreneurship Development (I-RED) Program (Award Number UT2GM148083). The purpose of the grant is to develop and launch a suite of experience-based entrepreneurship and commercialization training tools to address the needs of academic institutions across the Southeast U.S., including faculty, researchers, innovators and students. XLH and UK have led this effort since 2018 through the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership to increase the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovations in 25 academic institutions across the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states of Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. This NIH I-RED award will allow XLerator Network participants to build on prior work and develop, launch, test and validate entrepreneurship education and training tools that foster the translation of promising biomedical discoveries and technologies from research laboratories into commercial products “Based on our years of experience training biomedical entrepreneurs, we believe that effective entrepreneurial pedagogy is a combination of four elements: 1) informed high-quality educational content, 2) mentorship and coaching from experienced domain experts and entrepreneurs, 3) access to experienced talent to build a cohesive team, and 4) access to capital to fund the successful refinement of the technology/product and its commercial launch into the marketplace,” said Jackie Willmot, CEO of XLerateHealth. “We are proud to continue this collaboration and grateful to the NIH I-RED program for its support in bringing these resources to academic and clinician innovators.” “Through the XLerator Network, our partnership with more than two-dozen academic institutions in the Southeast IDeA region has created a framework for learning, testing, and applying entrepreneurship and commercialization best practices to advance the most promising health innovations in the region,” Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact at the University of Kentucky. “UK Innovate is thrilled that the NIH I-RED program will now catalyze that foundation and generate new education, mentorship, coaching, and commercialization tools for those partners and the region. As the academic lead institution for this new award, we are proud of this partnership and thank the NIH I-RED program leadership for its support.” Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact at the University of Kentucky About XLerateHealth (XLH) The XLerateHealth (XLH) mission is to cultivate and grow impactful healthcare innovation in the Midwest, Southeast and other areas of the country where great innovation often goes unrecognized and underfunded. Founded in 2012, XLH supports the development of healthcare innovation through its healthcare accelerator, which helps start-up founders commercialize their business and attract funding. XLerateHealth also leads the efforts to build and operate the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership with Academic Lead University of Kentucky along with 24 other academic institutions in the Southeast. The objective of this work is to increase the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovations in the NIH-designated Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states.

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Texthelp Releases U.S. Data Highlighting State of Learning for Students with Dyslexia

Texthelp | August 18, 2022

Today, Texthelp, a global leader in literacy and digital learning tools for education, released new survey results on the current state of teaching and learning for students with dyslexia. The survey, concluding in March 2022, reflects insights from more than 3,000 school staff representing thousands of schools across the country. The goal was to identify common problems in student teaching and learning that could be addressed, and to help build better, more inclusive learning environments. According to nearly half of the teachers surveyed, assistive technology is one of the top approaches that helps students with dyslexia, along with reading and phonemic awareness instruction. With one billion people globally living with a non-visible disability, such as dyslexia, it is critical that all students have the tools they need to understand and learn. How students digest information and communicate their knowledge looks different for everyone. More inclusive approaches to learning, such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL), are the future of education. "I have severe dyslexia and looking back, I could have benefited from having early access to assistive technology that was designed for people just like me," said Sierra Goodfellow, a current student. "Instead, I endured many barriers and obstacles while learning. It wasn't until much later that I finally found an assistive technology tool that understood me. I had thought something was wrong with me when really I needed a tool that was made for someone who thinks differently." "It would be extremely valuable for students like Sierra and teachers of students with dyslexia if the right accommodations were always available from the start, Texthelp. "All students should have a choice in how they learn. For Sierra, that was being able to understand the text by listening to it being read aloud." Martin McKay, Founder and CEO, Texthelp. More than 52 percent of teachers surveyed find 'a lot of value' in providing students with dyslexia access to assistive technology tools. However, more than 54 percent of the respondents said their district will only provide accommodations to students who show a need. Providing tools to only those students who 'show' signs of their disability or disclose their learning challenges leaves out many students who are either undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or are afraid to disclose their diagnosis to indicate the support that they need."It is critical that all school districts provide assistive technology tools to every student, whether or not they are neurodivergent, neurotypical, or physically disabled," said McKay. "Providing tools for all students can bolster inclusivity in the classroom and welcomes all types of learners. Students should be attuned to how they learn best. Thoughtful, inclusive practices in the classroom make learning easier and more enjoyable for everyone." Additional findings from the survey include: 52% find assistive technology tools to be highly valuable for students with dyslexia Assistive technology tools can benefit all students, especially those with hidden disabilities, such as dyslexia. Providing assistive technology tools with various capabilities that are designed using UDL principles is most effective in supporting student success. Most districts provide free tools, such as built-in tools (71.73%) and free accessibility apps (54.87%), to students as a source of reading/writing accommodations Free tools and built-in tools aren't accessible everywhere throughout a students' education journey. When using these tools, students are limited in where they can utilize their accommodations. Oftentimes, users cannot access these tools when taking tests or searching online, which can create more barriers than solutions. Respondents felt that the best ways to make assistive technology more impactful for students with dyslexia are: Having the ability to identify student needs and match those with appropriate digital learning tools (55.51%) Having teachers embrace assistive technology in the classroom (52.10%) More training for staff (50.55%) About Texthelp Founded in 1996, the Texthelp Group is a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood. It has led the way in creating innovative technology for the education and workplace sectors for the last three decades.Texthelp believes in a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers. It is focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. With over 50 million users worldwide, the Texthelp suite of products includes Read&Write, Equatio®, WriQ®, OrbitNote®, ReachDeck® and FluencyTutor® which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G-suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workplace with ease.In 2021, Texthelp acquired the Lingit Group, Wizkids and Don Johnston Inc. By combining capabilities and knowledge across the group, Texthelp can now provide a whole suite of literacy and numeracy support to a greater number of end-users across more geographies.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Altium, IPC Education Foundation, and Arduino Announce Student Electronics Design Competition

Altium. | August 19, 2022

Altium LLC, the leading printed circuit board (PCB) design software company, is partnering with the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) and Arduino to launch the second annual student electronics design challenge. This competition aims to engage, educate, and enhance PCB design capabilities while developing STEM solutions to environmental challenges. The electronics design challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their talents and gain real-world experience. The Innovation for Environmental Change 2022 International Student Design Competition (#PCBeTheChange) engages student teams to help address common environmental concerns using Altium’s educational tools with Arduino hardware. Over 17 countries submitted entries to last year's competition, which addressed various local environmental issues, including city traffic, shoreline erosion, bushfire detection, honey bee endangerment, and more. Teams will use Altium Upverter Modular PCB design software and the Arduino Portenta H7 to create prototype designs that will improve the environment in each team's respective local area. The teams will be challenged to tackle one or more environmental concerns, such as air pollution, water quality, and solar energy capture. As Yu Hu, head of Arduino Education, elaborates, “At Arduino, we believe that it is very crucial to empower the scientists and engineers of the future to address the common challenges of our time by using technology for the benefit of many. Last year’s entries showed an amazing combination of ingenuity, curiosity, and technical skills in their designs, and we’re excited to see what new and innovative STEM solutions the teams will submit this year.” Participating teams will enter the design challenge while harnessing Altium Upverter Education and the Upverter Modular tool. Altium features multiple educational initiatives designed to support high school STEM teachers and students, along with programs to support college students and industry professionals. “It was fascinating to see 87 teams from around the world participate, leveraging the printed circuit board design knowledge they had learned from Altium’s Upverter Education, to address important environmental issues. We are excited to see more unique designs from this year’s contestants and are honored to again have the opportunity to provide the curriculum and tools students need for the contest. Rea Callender, vice president of education at Altium. Winning teams will be eligible to win cash prizes for each category: high school and college: $1500 (1st prize), $750 (2nd prize) and $500 (3rd prize), free access to IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, California from January 24-26, 2023. Designs will be displayed at the IPC Design Booth; awards will be presented at the IPC APEX EXPO STEM Outreach Event. Charlene Gunter, senior director of IPCEF shares, “We believe that opportunities and experiences like this will allow students to gain awareness and access to the electronics manufacturing industry and in turn help them reach their career goals. This collaboration with Altium, Upverter Education, and Arduino showcases our mutual goals of engaging and educating students in PCB design, and we look forward to seeing the creativity and solutions the teams will create this year.”Open registration for the design challenge is available now via Upverter Education and runs through Monday, October 3. Teams must submit their designs online by Friday, November 18. Competition winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 14, followed by virtual presentations for the first place and runner-up entrants. About Altium Altium, LLC (ASX:ALU) is a global software company headquartered in San Diego, California, accelerating the pace of innovation through electronics. For over 30 years, Altium has been delivering software that maximizes the productivity of PCB designers and electrical engineers. From individual inventors to multinational corporations, more PCB designers and engineers choose Altium software to design and realize electronics-based products. About Upverter Education Upverter Education, launched by Altium in September 2020, is addressing an important societal need by empowering STEM educators teaching engineering, electronics design, and robotics with free essential tools and classroom resources. The program has been honored with multiple awards, including the EdTech Breakthrough Award, for Best Engineering Learning Solution and the Gold STEVIE® American Business Award, further validating Altium’s innovative approach to supporting STEM education. About IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) The IPC Education Foundation creates awareness of the careers the electronics manufacturing industry has to offer students in high school and college by providing them with opportunities to access people, courses, and knowledge through key programs: 1) The IPC Student Chapter program provides scholarships, industry-standard education, industry connections, and access to hands-on competitions, especially with the support of industry experts and professionals; 2) IPC Video Subscription Libraries provide access to industry-relevant content to students in high school and college, and 3) a variety of engagement initiatives like in-person/virtual events, webinars, and classroom activities. About Arduino Arduino is the leading open-source hardware and software company in the world. Born to provide an easy-to-use platform for anyone making interactive projects, Arduino has reached a growing community and adapted to new needs and challenges, branching out into products for IoT, wearables, 3D printing, and embedded environments. As of today, the Arduino community included approximately 30 million active users.

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