Shadoworks to enhance VR applications to education in 2019

Digitimes | February 14, 2019

Shadoworks Studio, founded in 2016 to develop VR and AR solutions, will focus its business on education, entertainment and industry applications in 2019, according to company chairman Andy Peng.In terms of education, such segments as cultural experience and simulation experience are what Shadoworks is actively tapping into, Peng said, adding that his company has teamed up with many education units promoting VR experiences. He continued that entertainment will be a sector seeing quieter development in 2019, and only a few top players among over 1,000 developers of entertainment VR solutions and games can manage to maintain profitable operations in the year. Based on his observation about the AR market, Peng said, AR mobile games have experienced constant quality upgrades, but it will take some more time for the industry to develop its market scale. Peng continued that one of the problems that need to be addressed is that the hardware battery life can hardly support high power consumption of software systems. He said that a handset's battery power will run out quickly if it is used to run AR games, and parents usually will not allow their children to play such games, which may affect the development of the AR mobile game sector.

Spotlight

Laziness is really an indicator of a student who is either disengaged or unmotivated or disconnected in some way. So how do we motivate or engage a student in the classroom so they don't present as lazy?

Spotlight

Laziness is really an indicator of a student who is either disengaged or unmotivated or disconnected in some way. So how do we motivate or engage a student in the classroom so they don't present as lazy?

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ONLINE EDUCATION

Anthology's Blackboard Learn Ultra Wins Gold Stevie Award for Postsecondary Learning Management Solutions

Anthology | August 26, 2022

Anthology, a leading provider of education solutions that support the entire learner lifecycle, today announced that its Blackboard Learn Ultra solution was named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award in the Postsecondary Learning Management Solution category in the 19th Annual International Business Awards® (IBA). The 2022 IBAs received more than 3,700 nominations from organizations in 67 nations and territories. "We're continuing to accelerate the development of new features for Learn Ultra with the goal of delivering the premier teaching and learning experience, and we're honored to see that work reflected in this recognition,. "The LMS is at the center of learners' educational journey and our team is focused on delivering innovation that fuels their success while also meeting the needs of faculty and institutions." JD White, Chief Product Officer at Anthology Blackboard Learn is Anthology's flagship learning management system, designed to support the student experience while enabling pedagogical best practices for faculty. Blackboard Learn Ultra delivers a simpler, more powerful teaching and learning experience that fosters student self-expression, offers a leading test-taking experience, and delivers the ability to surface actionable data insights that help learners, instructors and institutions meet their goals. With a modern, intuitive, fully responsive interface, Learn Ultra better engages students, removes barriers for instructors and clears the path to success. Last month, Anthology announced a 46 percent increase in the number of courses using Blackboard Learn Ultra, and a 30 percent increase in the number of institutions deploying Learn Ultra courses, year-over-year. Following the merger with Blackboard, Anthology tripled Learn Ultra development resources and increased opportunities for client feedback in the development process. The expanded resources powered the largest Learn Ultra release to date, delivered in July. "Statistics show that the stress and mental health experienced by students over the past couple of years has increased significantly. Products like Blackboard Learn Ultra are an essential tool to 'normalizing' the experience of students and helping them to reduce the mental health load. Congratulations to Anthology for creating a product that is making a significant impact in the lives of generations to come," commented one Stevie Award judge. The International Business Awards are the world's premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small - are eligible to submit nominations. "We're thrilled that we're able to return to celebrating Stevie winners in person this year," said Stevie Awards president Maggie Miller. "This year's class of honorees are as innovative, adventuresome, persistent and successful as we've ever had. We look forward to celebrating their achievements with them during our October 15th awards banquet in London.www.StevieAwards.com/IBA. About Anthology Anthology offers the largest EdTech ecosystem on a global scale for education, supporting more than 150 million users in 80 countries. With a mission to provide dynamic, data-informed experiences to the global education community through Anthology Intelligent Experiences™, we help learners, leaders and educators achieve their goals by offering over 60 SaaS products and services designed to advance learning.

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TALENT DEVELOPMENT

Orenda Education Merges With Think Together to Create Scalable School Improvement Nonprofit

Think Together | September 13, 2022

Think Together, one of California's largest nonprofits serving K-12 schools today announced it has completed the merger with Orenda Education, a top school improvement and professional development consultancy. Upon the close, the combined organization will serve more than 200,000 students across the state with more than $150 million in annual revenue. Moreover, the organization will be better positioned to rapidly scale their impact. "We're thrilled to bring our two organizations together in our combined efforts to improve student success and close the achievement gap,This merger is the natural evolution of Orenda's existing relationship with Think Together and solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring that the more than 2 million California students that are performing far below grade level have the support they need during the school day and beyond to succeed academically." Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth Over the past seven years, Think Together and Orenda have had an affiliate agreement in place while the full acquisition builds the long-term financial and operational capacities for Orenda to continue to scale. Orenda's work focuses on transformingeducation systems, either across a school district or by cohorts of schools, providing professional development to all levels of district staff, around a specific data-driven but people-centric school improvement model. Think Together partners with over 60 school districts and charter management organizations to provide more than 900 direct-to-student academic and enrichment programs at more than 450 school sites across California, serving more than 100,000 youth. Orenda Education works behind-the-scenes with school district leaders and educators to identify inequities in schools and then transform their systems to ensure all students have access to a premium education. "Think Together has always been an incredible partner, infusing the infrastructure needed to provide an efficient model for changing the odds for kids," said Orenda Education Founder and CEO Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle. "Our two models have always complemented each other but now, we can efficiently scale our vision for all students to receive the premium education they deserve." The acquisition comes as both organizations experience tremendous growth due in large part to new and renewed state investments in education to accelerate learning recovery efforts and provide educators with needed support amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Now more than ever, teachers, school leaders and administrators need to think outside the box to address the issues impacting students including socio-economic biases, social emotional learning, and more," added Barth. "Providing these much-needed supports to educators means districts and schools can provide the skills they need to teach, lead and counsel during and following a period of great disruption during the pandemic. Recently the U.S. Department of Education reported a dramatic decline in scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) known as the nation's scorecard. Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released last week. And, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country's high- and low-achievers. Orenda's approach to school improvement has proven to accelerate student outcomes, such as mastery of grade-level standards (measured by math and English language SBAC scores), improved A-G class completion rates, and improved graduation rates. They also provide administrative coaching, teaching strategies, and leadership clinics. To expand these services, Orenda was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research grant by the U.S. Department of Education to digitize and distribute their school improvement approach through an online platform that is effective and highly scalable to schools and districts in any geography, and to those who require less in-person support. Think Together adds Orenda to their growing list of services that support student education in and around the school day. Think Together's flagship afterschool programs support students in underserved communities with homework help, enrichment, social-emotional learning and physical well-being, all to enable students to strive for college or a fulfilling career. To provide high-quality programs, Think Together partners with philanthropic organizations like the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Breaking down the barriers to opportunity, equity and access in education by keeping students and their success as the centered focus is one of the most meaningful investments for our future generations" said Alyssa Santino, Program Director of the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Ensuring the educators, leaders and structures around students are supported and inspired and effectively trained with research-based, proven and engaging strategies is imperative for thriving students and communities. We are pleased to partner with Think Together and Orenda Education as they excel in this space and continue to transform the trajectory of students and the schools they attend." Barth sees the combination of direct services to students through expanded and early learning, coupled with equity-based professional development, as an effective combination to supporting student achievement alongside their school district and charter partners. Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent of County Office of Education in San Diego agrees. His former district, Lynwood Unified School District, realized astonishing improvements when partnering with both Think Together and Orenda, including increasing graduation rates from 56% to 90.8%, and A-G college eligible rates from 18% to 53%. Orenda provides the technical expertise for true district turn-around. The systems approach and professional development modules to build staff capacity ensures all leaders have the tools and resources to provide a premium education for all students, said Gothold. "With Think Together's financial and operational support, Orenda is well positioned to continue providing much-needed education innovation to schools throughout the state and beyond. About Think Together For over 25 years Think Together has partnered with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements, and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together's program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

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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