Ed tech's growth breeds district IT 'management nightmare'

Schools are the second-most targeted industry for ransomware attacks, with more than 49 incidents already this year, according to a new report from security technology company Absolute evaluating K-12 digital trends.  There have been more than 700 cybersecurity incidents in schools since 2016; meanwhile, funding for education technology has increased by 62% since that time and shown no signs of slowing down.  While making digital access more equitable, the growth has created a “management nightmare.” The report states, “Within a few years, K-12 [information technology] leaders have gone from managing a couple of operating systems, a handful of apps, and a few hundred devices to managing hundreds of versions of operating systems, apps, and extensions; and thousands of devices.” With the growth of tech in classrooms, schools have become easy, lucrative targets. But many of the incidents might be preventable if administrators took better precautions, including educating students and staff and investing in strong IT personnel.

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Continuing Education

Collaborative Classroom and FluentSeeds Merge to Expand Impact from Birth Through Grade 8

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

Today, Collaborative Classroom and FluentSeeds announce a merger into a single nonprofit organization to serve educators and other adults responsible for nurturing children's language, literacy, and social and emotional learning from birth through grade 8. With this merger, Collaborative Classroom is uniquely positioned to provide seamless support for children from birth through early childhood and beyond, ensuring kindergarten readiness and long-term academic success. Collaborative Classroom's evidence-based literacy and social and emotional learning programs and wraparound professional learning serve students and educators in grades K–8, with some programs extending through grades 9–12. Collaborative Classroom is one of the largest education nonprofits in the country, supporting educators in all 50 states in over 1,000 school districts. FluentSeeds supports adults, including parents, family and community members, child care providers, and other educators, with ©SEEDS of Learning, a rigorously-researched and proven set of literacy and social and emotional frameworks for children from birth through age 5. FluentSeeds currently serves more than 4,000 adults and 30,000 children in a variety of environments including home, community child care, pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten, and K–2. On a daily basis, this newly merged organization already impacts nearly 2 million children across the nation. Collaborative Classroom President and CEO Kelly Stuart says, "Bringing FluentSeeds into the Collaborative Classroom family of programs is especially exciting because it allows us to support children throughout their earliest years—a long-term goal of our organization. We know how crucial the first five years are for children's social, emotional, and early literacy development. FluentSeeds' expertise and offerings perfectly position us to serve even more children." Stuart adds, "Collaborative Classroom's and FluentSeeds' instructionally aligned and consistent, research-based frameworks are already used together with great success in schools and districts across the country. Recently, The Oakland REACH released a study on the impact of their tutoring programs that utilize SEEDS and our SIPPS® program. We are confident this merger will impact children from the beginning of their literacy journey and ensure their success as confident, fluent readers." FluentSeeds Executive Director Kate Horst says, "The gift of SEEDS and its impact on early literacy and social-emotional development will continue to spread in an ever-widening circle, thanks to Collaborative Classroom's mission, people, programs, and professional learning. Their deep literacy expertise and commitments to evidence and impact align with our strong foundations of birth to kindergarten professional development and SEEDS quality interactions. We are delighted to bring our FluentSeeds staff, friends, and partnerships into Collaborative Classroom's excellent programming and far-reaching impact." The new organization will operate under the banner of Collaborative Classroom, and Kelly Stuart will continue to serve as President and CEO. FluentSeeds' Executive Director, Kate Horst, will serve as both a senior advisor and a member of the Collaborative Classroom Board of Trustees. Susan Wally, Chair of the Collaborative Classroom Board of Trustees, says, "On behalf of the entire board, I want to welcome Kate Horst to our board and share our excitement and optimism as Collaborative Classroom expands its ability to support young learners through this merger with FluentSeeds. These two extraordinary organizations share a commitment to helping all those who teach and support young learners to access high-impact, evidence-based strategies and quality resources. We look forward to using our combined expertise and expanded scale to build vital literacy and social-emotional skills for our youngest children, as well as those who have already begun their K–12 journey."

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Education Technology, Talent Development, Online Education

Bridge2Rwanda Extends Partnership with IXL to Support Students Developing English Language Skills

PR Newswire | January 30, 2024

IXL, the personalized learning platform used by 15 million students worldwide, has announced an extension of its partnership with Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a nonprofit dedicated to creating global education opportunities for high-achieving African students. B2R educators will continue leveraging IXL's award-winning platform to deliver targeted English language arts (ELA) instruction, helping learners build and master literacy skills essential for securing university scholarships. In total, B2R has used IXL to support 500 students across eight different training programs since the partnership began. Despite encouraging improvements in literacy rates, limited access to resources and a nascent reading culture pose significant challenges to educational achievement in Rwanda. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in enhancing socioeconomic outcomes, Bridge2Rwanda was established in 2007 to empower Rwandan high school students with high-quality reading and writing opportunities. B2R's ultimate goal is to build a thriving community of well-educated African leaders who will accelerate their nations' growth and improve the lives of others. B2R began using IXL Language Arts in 2019 to support the English language development of 30 high-achieving scholars from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Burundi. In 2020, the nonprofit relied on IXL's all-inclusive platform to ensure that its English language learners (ELLs) developed essential ELA skills during distance learning. After two years of an impactful partnership, B2R made IXL an integral component of its new intensive English training and college preparatory program, Isomo Academy. The inaugural class of 120 Isomo Academy scholars quickly embraced IXL's tailored support, built-in instructional resources, and engaging learning opportunities. During the first week of Isomo Academy's eight-week training program, educators use IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, to pinpoint each student's English proficiency level, helping them understand individual strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these insights, the diagnostic then generates personalized skill recommendations to challenge and support learners at the right level. Additionally, B2R educators use the diagnostic to track student growth each week to ensure that students are progressing and mastering essential ELA concepts. Bridge2Rwanda educators also rely on IXL's comprehensive curriculum to help students build the skills that they need to become strong communicators. Each day at Isomo Academy, students take writing and reading classes that are paired with intensive language and communication seminars. Additionally, students work on IXL skills that align with their classroom lessons. The combined approach allows educators to engage students at their individual levels, assign homework, and differentiate learning beyond the school day. "IXL bursts bottlenecks for Bridge2Rwanda scholars by eliminating language barriers," said Luke Dreiling, Lead English Teacher, Bridge2Rwanda. "This enables them to excel in their studies, advance their careers, and contribute significantly to the growth of African communities." "Bridge2Rwanda's dedication to expanding educational opportunities for young African students is commendable. We are excited to continue equipping even more bright and ambitious learners with the tools they need to confidently pursue their dreams on a global scale," said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. "At IXL, we are committed to leveraging education as an instrument of empowerment to break down language barriers and ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive." IXL's impact on English language learners IXL Language Arts gives teachers a systematic way to troubleshoot each student's unique reading and writing roadblocks, and put them on the path to success: Among schools with a high percentage of ELLs, research demonstrates that those using IXL outperformed non-IXL schools on Smarter Balanced Assessments in ELA by as much as seven percentile points. IXL's comprehensive curriculum provides more than 2,400 adaptive skills that span early literacy, reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and advanced concepts, such as persuasive writing. Each IXL skill is adaptive, ensuring that ELLs feel confident that they are perfectly challenged and supported at the right level when developing fluency. IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, pinpoints students' grade-level proficiency in key ELA strands, and generates targeted next steps to help students grow from where they are. As English language learners progress, these personalized recommendations stay up-to-date, ensuring that they always have a clear path toward mastering ELA concepts. As students learn and practice, IXL provides in-the-moment support and resources for self-remediation. For example, video tutorials guide learners through the building blocks of reading, writing, and grammar to provide additional support during learning and independent practice. If a student answers a problem incorrectly, IXL provides a step-by-step explanation of the right answer so that students can learn from their mistake and solidify their knowledge of that skill. Educators also rely on insights from IXL Analytics to track student progress, monitor readiness for exams, and differentiate instruction to fill knowledge gaps. Up-to-date reports help teachers uncover areas of challenge for each student and identify patterns in mistakes in order to provide targeted reteaching.

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Corporate Education and Training, Online Education

Academic Partnerships Completes Acquisition of Wiley University Services

PR Newswire | January 02, 2024

Academic Partnerships (AP), a company that assists primarily regional public universities in expanding access and impact by supporting their online programs, today announced that it has successfully completed its acquisition of Wiley University Services, a line of business previously owned by Wiley (NYSE: WLY). The combined company will support over 125 colleges and universities in 40 U.S. states and internationally. "AP is in the business of transforming lives through education, and the acquisition of Wiley University Services better enables us to do just that," said Fernando Bleichmar, Chief Executive Officer of AP. "This is an exciting day as we combine our talent, capabilities, and resources to more effectively meet the growing demand for high-quality, affordable online degree programs and ensure our university partners and their students thrive." AP primarily assists regional public universities with launching and maintaining their online programs. It is committed to expanding access to high-quality, high-return on investment, affordable, and workforce-relevant online education, especially for working and adult students. Wiley University Services works with institutions to deliver career-connected education programs aimed at helping students achieve their goals. With the completion of the acquisition, the combined company will provide universities with a best-in-class partner to support them in delivering programs online so more students can access affordable education, improve their careers, and meet employer and community needs. The combined company will deliver new strategic benefits to university partners and their students, including: Additional resources to support and scale high-demand, affordable online degree programs in critical areas like nursing, teaching, business, technology, and public administration for both regional public and private nonprofit universities; Enhanced infrastructure and technology to serve a diverse student population, including working adults, through graduation; Improved opportunities across the university partner network; and Advanced technology and enhanced support services based on best practices from a combined company.

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