Virtual reality: not the edu-fad it is made out to be?

TES | January 29, 2019

The lift doors closed, and I ascended to the 45th floor. When they opened again, it was not to a generic corridor but to a plank extending out from the building.I was experiencing acute anxiety and the inevitable vertigo associated with looking down from a skyscraper. I froze – I could not leave the safety of the lift. I had failed.Throughout, part of my brain had known that I was in the safety of a classroom in the sixth-form block at my school and that the plank, in reality, was an expanse of carpet extending in front of me.But despite knowing that I was in no immediate danger, I was terrified. My senses had been hijacked by virtual reality and some primal sense of survival deep inside me had kicked in. Try as I might, I could not overcome it.The "Plank Experience" has been part of our IB Diploma psychology unit on fear and anxiety for a couple of years now. It is an extraordinary way of approaching the topic. It is one of many examples of how virtual reality is transforming the classroom experience of pupils.In the past six months, Year 7 went to Africa, Year 3 have been to the Pyramids, Year 4 visited the Vikings, Year 5 went to Ancient Greece and Year 1 even travelled into space.All these "school trips" are available in the classroom within a matter of minutes – a further bonus is that there’s no disruption to the curriculum, no additional paperwork, no buses to order, and the hi-vis jackets can stay in the cupboard.

Spotlight

The pandemic has accelerated new changes in the world of work, like: increasing digitization, gig industry, education technology etc. — but how can India's schools help young learners keep up with this?

Spotlight

The pandemic has accelerated new changes in the world of work, like: increasing digitization, gig industry, education technology etc. — but how can India's schools help young learners keep up with this?

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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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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Cariloop Launches New Capabilities to Help Employees Navigate the Education System

Cariloop | July 21, 2022

Cariloop, the Caregiver Support company that pairs caregivers and their families with dedicated Care Coaches as they plan for and manage the health and well-being of their loved ones, is launching an entirely new education support offering in response to the demands from employers and employees during the pandemic. “In the early days of 2020, we began helping employees and their families with more pediatric care cases, and then COVID-19 brought this incredible need to assist with finding child care options as school closures as well as daycare and babysitter availability changed daily,” said Wendy Whittington, Chief Care Officer of Cariloop. “We realized that we had discovered an untapped need amongst employees in helping them navigate the complexities of the education system more effectively. Similar to the healthcare system, the education landscape presents its own challenges and requires a deep level of expertise in understanding it.” To provide the highest quality of service for employees navigating the education system, Cariloop assembled a Center of Excellence with Education Coaches who all have highly relevant backgrounds, credentials and experiences, including masters and doctoral level educators, guidance counselors, school social workers, school nurses, school administrators, and subject matter expertise in ESL and special education. In addition to coaching members and answering general education-related questions, the Cariloop Education Coaches will be more hands-on as they navigate the education landscape alongside the families. For example, they can attend IEP and 504 meetings as a companion to the parent; assist members with the application process and provide insight into approaching college application essays; finding available scholarship opportunities or financial options; and provide more customized support or care options for children with specific learning challenges or behavioral difficulties. This will allow working family members to stay more focused and productive at work, and relieve the burden of caregiving related to educational needs that contribute to mental stress and well-being issues. “Over the last several years, millions of working parents have been forced to become education system experts with a vast majority of them worried about the long-term development plans for their children. “With these new capabilities online, we are now equipped and stand ready to help provide that peace of mind to all parents, students and caregivers who have been trying to solve these challenges totally and completely alone. ” Michael Walsh, CEO of Cariloop In addition to its new education support offering, Cariloop can also help working caregivers navigate the healthcare system with its team of Care Coaches specializing in pediatrics, adult and elder care support. About Cariloop Cariloop provides a human-powered Caregiver Support Platform to help working caregivers and families plan for and manage the care of their loved ones. The Platform pairs caregivers with a dedicated, experienced Care Coach who guides families through the many decisions they make over the length of their caregiving journey, all while collaborating on a digital care portal that helps families securely communicate across all their devices and store important health, financial and legal documents.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Zovio Announces Agreement to Divest OPM Business to University of Arizona Global Campus

Zovio | August 02, 2022

An education technology services company that partners with higher education institutions and employers, announced today that it has closed on an agreement to transition its online program management (OPM) business to the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). Over the past six months, Zovio has taken steps to implement a process designed to unlock shareholder value by rightsizing the company, accelerating growth of subsidiaries and exploring strategic alternatives, which included the potential divestiture of all three of its businesses. In May 2022, Zovio completed the sale of TutorMe, for $55 million and used a portion of the proceeds to repay bridge financing. This left the company debt free and allowed Zovio to satisfy obligations stemming from a decision of the Superior Court of California while the company appeals the decision. Continuing to execute on its strategic alternatives process, Zovio and UAGC negotiated, signed and closed on an asset purchase agreement with an effective date of July 31, 2022, after receiving approval from their respective Boards of Directors. Under the asset purchase agreement, UAGC is acquiring Zovio's operations and assets that previously provided services to UAGC through a long-term Strategic Services Agreement. "Zovio has been at the forefront of providing innovative online learning products and services for almost two decades, We are pleased to have reached this agreement with UAGC and are excited about their future," - Zovio Chief Executive Officer, Randy Hendricks. Zovio will continue to support the continued growth and expansion of Fullstack Academy and simultaneously explore strategic alternatives for that business. About Zovio Zovio (Nasdaq: ZVO) is an education technology services company that partners with higher education institutions and employers to deliver innovative, personalized solutions to help learners and leaders achieve their aspirations. The Zovio network, including Fullstack Academy, leverages its core strengths to solve priority market needs through education technology services. Using proprietary advanced data analytics, Zovio identifies the most meaningful ways to enhance the learner experience and deliver strong outcomes for higher education institutions, employers, and learners. Zovio's purpose is to help everyone be in a class of their own. For more information, visit www.zovio.com.

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