Ed Dept awards $123M in grants promoting STEM innovation

educationdive | September 30, 2019

The U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Friday announced $123 million in new grant funds distributed to 41 school districts, nonprofits and state educational agencies, according to a U.S. Department of Education press release. Awarded states received anywhere between $1.4 and $8.6 million to fund innovative programs meant to improve academic achievement for high-need students. Of the grant money, $30 million was awarded to eight districts, organizations or state agencies in rural areas, while over $78 million was distributed to nearly 30 grantees to fund STEM projects and education. Out of the latter, an overwhelming majority also included a specific focus on computer science. The grants were awarded as part of the Education Innovation and Research Program (EIR), which was established under the Obama administration in 2016. At its conception, the program was to allocate approximately a fourth of its grant funds to support rural areas, and all funds were meant to help support grantees in finding innovated solutions to overcome persistent educational challenges facing underserved students and boost achievement.

Spotlight

Establish a $5 billion annual matching grant to help states address unmet need and improve student outcomes. This “federal-state partnership” would reward states based on measures of affordability, tax effort, and productivity. States would be required to use these grant funds to reduce unmet need or improve outcomes among low- and middle-income students. 2. Increase mandatory Pell funding by $9 billion per year, with expanded eligibility for middle-income households and capped at the fourth income quartile. This would reduce unmet need for low- and middle-income students, making higher education more affordable and accessible.

Spotlight

Establish a $5 billion annual matching grant to help states address unmet need and improve student outcomes. This “federal-state partnership” would reward states based on measures of affordability, tax effort, and productivity. States would be required to use these grant funds to reduce unmet need or improve outcomes among low- and middle-income students. 2. Increase mandatory Pell funding by $9 billion per year, with expanded eligibility for middle-income households and capped at the fourth income quartile. This would reduce unmet need for low- and middle-income students, making higher education more affordable and accessible.

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ONLINE EDUCATION

SU Prep Digital Teams Up With Google Public Sector to Develop Streaming Educational Curriculum With Universal Access

ASU Prep Digital | July 19, 2022

ASU Prep Digital, an accredited online K-12 school offered through Arizona State University, has partnered with Google Public Sector, to make remote immersive learning technology more accessible to students across the United States and around the world. ASU Prep Learning Cloud is a streaming solution that empowers schools to deliver innovative and interactive 3D learning experiences to students using low-bandwidth devices. The technology was developed on and is powered by Google Cloud.This new platform invites students to solve challenges by immersing themselves in interactive settings made possible by technology. For example, students can watch geologic formations emerge through simulations rather than reading about it in a textbook. Students can also explore human organs in 3D or examine a plastic mannequin. This brings topics like erosion, hydrolysis, and human anatomy to life. To successfully complete a lesson, students must think critically about the concept, explore it, and learn through discovery. Real-time, instructive feedback also helps contribute to a more individualized learning experience. “We’re turning students into explorers by embedding learning into the digital formats that students love, We spark curiosity by asking students to navigate 3D worlds, hypothesize, and discover knowledge by manipulating game-like simulations to solve real-world problems.” -David Sudarma, ASU Prep’s chief technology officer Advancing Accessibility The ASU Prep Learning Cloud represents an important step toward accessibility for students in rural areas, with limited broadband access, and districts where limited technology funding makes it difficult to deliver cutting-edge learning opportunities. This immersive cloud-based education technology can be experienced from mobile devices or Chromebooks, increasing accessibility for all learners, anytime, anywhere. Removing those barriers is especially important for a program like ASU Digital Prep, which can be instrumental in bridging gaps for districts where resources are slim. ASU Prep Digital has allowed us to partner and advance educational opportunities for thousands of K-12 students who might not have otherwise had access to the courses, credits, mentors, and teachers we offer, said Arizona State University President Michael Crow, who is widely known as a pioneer of online education. Crow’s vision has created a tech-enhanced learning environment across ASU, inclusive of pre-collegiate students via ASU Prep Digital. A key element of that vision is expanded opportunities in online education, which offers a path to higher education for students who are otherwise hindered from pursuing their education goals. In addition to its rapidly expanding K-12 enrollment, ASU Prep Digital’s School Partnerships continue to grow. The program supports entire school districts in states like Utah, Louisiana and Ohio, as well as schools in 22 states and 12 countries. Powerhouse Partnerships In addition to the full- and part-time students who enroll directly with ASU Prep Digital, the school also teams with private schools, public schools, and districts worldwide to offer a K-12 curriculum and one-on-one instruction in a virtual environment. The program’s latest suite of courses, which will be available this fall to partner schools via the ASU Prep Learning Cloud, powered by Google Cloud, can be used in compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As pioneers in their respective industries, ASU Prep Digital and Google Public Sector worked to develop the platform, which is based on game engine technology. The ASU Prep Learning Cloud features responsive design optimized for the most commonly used devices (e.g., Chromebooks, mobile phones) using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). “Our partnership with ASU Prep Digital has the ability to unlock new and innovative academic opportunities for learners across the country, We’re unleashing the power of Google Cloud to help make individualized, digital, and interactive learning the new standard in education.” -Steven Butschi, director of Education, Google Public Sector Courses integrate seamlessly into existing learning management systems, while supporting robust interactive features that personalize learning. The platform currently supports ASU Prep Digital partner schools, but in the future, could be rolled out to other educational institutions. As immersive technologies become more widely adapted in education, 3D learning environments such as augmented reality and virtual reality offer great potential for engagement and retention, Our collaboration with Google Public Sector is a terrific first step in expanding access to immersive solutions across many devices, and we’re working together to explore ways immersive technologies can be made even more universally available to eager learners. To preview a snapshot of ASU Prep Learning Cloud courses, visit: https://vimeo.com/623494408 or take a deeper look at the immersive platform here: https://vimeo.com/689344144/795e785a7c About ASU Prep Digital ASU Prep Digital is an accredited online K-12 school that offers a single online course or enrollment in a full-time, diploma-granting program. Because it is part of Arizona State University, ASU Prep Digital offers an accelerated path toward college admission and the chance to earn concurrent high school and university credit. For more information, visit asuprepdigital.org.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Outschool Selects Promoted to Optimize Marketplace and Increase Profitability

Outschool | July 26, 2022

Promoted, which is the only company to unify search, feed, ads, and promotions for top marketplaces, announced today that Outschool has selected Promoted to optimize the performance and profitability of its education marketplace. Outschool wanted to better match its classes with learners to increase search conversion rates, total GMV (gross merchandise value), and profitability. Outschool chose Promoted after weighing the costs and risks of building an order-of-magnitude greater infrastructure investment versus working with the experienced Promoted team to get a proven, real-time streaming data service with ML in place. Within a quarter, Promoted optimized Outschool search to increase conversion by about +11%, with more improvements planned for H2 2022. “Promoted is able to measure and report on data in real-time on search for us and use machine learning to better match teachers and students so we can very effectively increase conversion rates and make our customers and users happy. “The founders have deep experience in search optimization as ad engineers from Facebook, Pinterest and Google, and we have found the technology extends and compounds our existing engineering investments in search and discovery to directly increase profitability at a reasonable cost.” Kejia Zhu, Lead Product Manager, from Outschool Promoted and Marketplaces Right now, most large marketplaces have separate teams for ads, merchandising, search, and recommendations. They all work in separate departments and information is siloed. Even with expensive tech savvy engineers, these businesses do not have a unified data infrastructure that is measuring performance of everything in search feed, merchandising, and ads across the marketplace. When ads, listings, promotions, and search aren’t optimized together, conversions are low, revenues decrease, and it becomes a death spiral as more ads and promotions are shown to compensate, further driving away users. Promoted is the only provider that offers a complete and comprehensive solution to fix this problem for e-commerce apps and marketplaces. Promoted’s secret sauce is its ability to provide an entire measurement solution with a data service that measures and optimizes user engagement in real-time. Other ad tech or search vendors are measuring pieces with siloed data and/or only measuring ads, not giving marketplaces the complete picture. How it Works First, Promoted measures everything in its client’s app or marketplace, then they aggregate and join the data in real-time with reporting. Next, using AI-based data optimization, Promoted creates a complete picture of the data so they can predict conversion and clicks for the client’s search and feed. Once Promoted has this complete picture of performance on a marketplace, it creates a “unified currency” for optimizing trade-offs between the optimal user experience in search and feed, seller experience using ads and promotions, and marketplace profitability versus growth. “We are very excited to be working with Outschool and to so quickly increase conversions for its business,” said Andrew Yates, Co-Founder and CEO of Promoted. “Promoted gives top marketplaces and e-commerce companies one complete picture of how search, feed, ads and promotions are performing by measuring in real-time and then optimizing them using machine learning to increase conversions. By unifying this information, the entire marketplace works properly, and CFOs and COOs can set achievable goals for revenue and profitability.” About Outschool Outschool offers live online education experiences that connect real-life teachers with learners in small-group settings to explore everything from Minecraft, Pokemon and Cooking to Chemistry, Algebra and Literature. With over 100,000 online classes offered by teachers to learners around the globe, Outschool helps supplement what is often missing from a more traditional education. Outschool’s mission is to inspire kids to love learning by making education fun, social and self-directed. Classes on Outschool range from one-time enrichment lessons to semester-long core courses and weekly social clubs. Classes are offered across all subjects, and learners range from age 3 to 18. About Promoted Promoted is the only company to unify search, feed, ads, and promotions for top marketplaces like Outschool, Hipcamp, Teachers Pay Teachers, Snackpass, and other e-commerce unicorns. Promoted works by measuring everything in the marketplace using its real-time streaming data infrastructure. Then, Promoted maximizes conversions in search and feed through machine learning. Backed by Y Combinator, the company was founded by former ad engineers from Pinterest, Facebook, and Google.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

EdTech Unicorn EEO Joins Hands with Peking University -- Redesigning learning experiences for the new digital-forward model of education

EEO | July 08, 2022

In July, 2022, with the support of EEO's hybrid technologies, Peking University successfully concluded the first academic year of its Global Open Courses Program in partnership with a list of distinguished institutions, including Tokyo University, Nanyang Technology University, Moscow State University, Waseda University, University of Granada, Osaka University, Ritsumeikan University, Chulalongkorn University, Cornell University, and Cairo University. EEO was founded in 2014 with the purpose of building an inclusive and student-centered learning ecosystem through the power of technology. Since 2019, EEO and Peking University joined hands to collaborate on digitizing physical learning environments, constructing specialized archeology classrooms, and adopting hybrid learning methods. It is a nonstop journey for EEO and Peking University to explore how to better motivate students and support educators in experimental teaching strategies. The project of Global Open Courses Program focuses on how hybrid learning gives rise to an enriched learning experience and expands learning communities. Hybrid learning, a method that incorporates hybrid technologies and open educational practices, has witnessed increasing adoption in K12 and higher ed institutions globally. Teaching Economics as part of the Global Open Courses Program, Professor Huang Yiping successfully engaged students in the classroom and those joining virtually with group discussions and activities. "Our professor came up with eight topics for discussion, encouraging us to form groups with students overseas. And we have been keeping in close touch with students online as well." Li Yipin, a student in Professor Huang's class, reported. For many, the program's hybrid courses placed vast learning resources within reach. With abundant course offerings, students had extensive opportunities to explore emerging topics with a cohort coming from diverse background. The platform of choice, ClassIn, is an all-in-one solution for online and hybrid learning with interactive virtual classrooms, a school management backend system, student learning reports, and more. Currently under internal testing, the product will support more innovative teaching methods by transforming into an LMS, a platform that caters to each step of the learning process in addition to the already powerful synchronous in-class interaction. It is evident that EEO's product family is designed with the consideration of scientific methods, masterful teaching, and lifelong learning. ClassIn, one of the first online classrooms in the world, was released in 2015. Building on feedback from educators and in-depth research, EEO released ClassIn X, a new hybrid solution for the new era. The company is also in the process of developing TeacherIn, a curriculum co-construction platform. It helps teachers find like-minded partners, with whom they can design and share lessons. As of now, EEO has partnered with more than 60,000 institutions around the globe and expressed great passion to collaborate with international educators and institutions, sparking the creativity of teachers and creating innovative learning experiences for students.

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