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If you weren’t able to make it to Philly for ISTE this June, or if you went but feel like you couldn’t see EVERYTHING, never fear! MDR was there and we’ve prepared this Top 10 list of the big takeaways from this meeting of the minds between educators and EdTech.

#1: AI and the Good Digital Citizen – ISTE CEO Richard Culatta talked about the future of AI and how to prepare students, “The language of future problem-solving will be the language of AI. Students won’t just have to work with AI in their future careers,  but will have to consider things like the ethics of building things with AI, how to program it to make moral decisions, and what it means to be human.” We saw this idea repeated across the conference with an emphasis on how students will use Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills to:

  • Make their communities better
  • Respectfully engage with people who have different beliefs
  • Shape and change public policy
  • Assess the validity of online sources of information

Understanding that “emotions are the gatekeepers to cognition” can help providers balance advances in AI with the need for the human element.

#2: How AI Can Be Useful for Edu – from the session AI in Education Unpacked: Broken Promises, Plentiful Perils and Incredible Opportunities, we took note of the caution that machine learning is only as good as the data that was used to train the algorithm. A key virtue of human and machine learning is understanding and that takes a lot of the right data. Speaker Andreas Oranje from ETS recommended ways for educators to use AI productively right now:

  • Check on scoring and other biases
  • Security to ensure achievements are fairly earned
  • Reading and writing tools that help all students gain confidence to learn more
  • Tools to help teachers target instruction based on student’s skill gaps

#3: Riding the Hype Cycle – Speakers Abbie Brown and Tim Green, both professors in Instructional Technology,  curate, evaluate and disseminate tech trends in their blog.  They use Gartner Groups’ model of “the Hype Cycle” to evaluate Ed technology along axes of visibility vs. time:

Marketers should plan for how to address and capitalize on each stage of this cycle.

#4: EdTech Procurement: Educators and Providers Weigh In – Dr. Jennifer Morrison of Johns Hopkins University surveyed 335 Districts & 50+ Ed Tech companies with a focus on improving student achievement through introduction of technology. Highlights of what she found include:

  • Overall, district participants were generally satisfied with the procurement process
  • District participants most often indicated relying on pilot tryouts, then rigorous and non-rigorous evaluation evidence
  • Participants most often described references as being a critical source of information
  • Vendors most often noted product features were a key selling point of their products
  • While both noted the importance of end-user involvement for technology adoption, end-users did not appear to have a prominent role in the ed-tech procurement process

#5: Using ESSA to Fund EdTech – From this panel discussion, it was clear that the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant, authorized under Title IV-A of ESSA, is a flexible source of federal education funding that can support a wide range of critical activities and programs. ISTE strongly urges state and district leaders to think of technology as working collaboratively with the other two funding categories (well-rounded education and safe and healthy schools), not competitively against them, for example: schools can use School Climate money for Digital Citizenship funding.

#6: The “e” in eSports is for Education – eSports are huge and were a big topic at ISTE. The Fortnite ProAM, eSports League of Legends had more viewers than Game 7 of the 2017 World series. Gaming is a hook for learning and helps build skills that transcend sports like how to communicate, collaborate, and respect and value team members. With gamification being applied in lessons and classrooms, these “plays well with others” skills are more important.

#7: The Digital Badge – Creating online spaces for teachers to congregate, collaborate, build community and gain skills has become a priority for big players in education like Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc. These spaces also provide a platform for flipped PD delivery: rather than depending on externally offered seminars or lectures, educators can take control of the process, earning the badges and certifications that best fit their professional development needs. Educators are on board: to date, the Apple Teacher PD Program has already issued over 1.5 million badges.

#8: From STEM to STEAM – The addition of Arts to the STEM definition is being widely adopted and dovetails with the trending focus on SEL. Emotional and social skills are necessary to the project-based learning so frequently seen in STEM curricula. The arts encourage creativity which helps students develop aptitudes that are universally valuable:

  1. An experimenter’s mindset
  2. Whole brain thinking
  3. An innate desire to be a creator (and not just a consumer)

#9: Jobs of the Future – By 2022, AI will eliminate 75 million jobs and create 133 million jobs, according to World Economic Forum. So what will the role for humans be? Providing leadership that ensures technology and content are infused with compassion. The transformation necessary to embrace this future has already happened:

  • Students are different
  • The ways they learn/consume/share media is different
  • Jobs are different

This transformation is about people, not devices. Parsing out the jobs only humans can do, and developing those skills and capabilities, will be education’s task. 

#10 Education is Forever – One overriding theme from ISTE 2019 is that whatever area of societal or economic transformation you focus on, education has a role to play. Learning is lifelong, self-directed, adaptable and multi-disciplinary. As MDR celebrates our 50th year, we’re thrilled to be part of an industry that is so vital and valuable. We hope you had a chance to stop by, visit with us, and have a celebratory cupcake!

The post Top 10 Things You Should Know About ISTE 2019 appeared first on MDR.

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Thanks to EDmarket Association for sharing our guest contributed article.

“Nothing ever changes in education.” It’s not surprising that this is a common perception, after all, there is a good possibility that the schools in your town are more than 40 years old. However, while the structures may look the same or have kept the same name, it is a different story when you look inside. If those old, familiar walls could talk, there are a few things they would likely tell say.

Namely, that the education industry—just like any other industry today—has undergone unprecedented change, affecting schools, educators, the way education marketers reach them, and the data these marketers are using.

Change can be disruptive and has impacted the education industry in many ways. Consider the major legislative initiatives that altered the education landscape in recent years. Common Core State Standards were adopted across the country, initiating widespread changes in teaching techniques and assessment.  Then numerous states walked away from Common Core, choosing instead to adopt their own unique standards. National standards, such as the Next Generation Science Standards and the ISTE Standards for Students, came on the scene, presenting new guidelines for student learning.

The Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) morphed into the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and schools were faced with the mammoth job of interpreting and applying the new rules. And the drive toward privatization has led to exponential growth of charter schools, while public districts have reorganized and consolidated, and many local schools have closed.  The growth of online and virtual schools has also presented new opportunities and challenges for states and school districts around the country.

While change may be a disruptor, it also sparks innovation. The flip side of the challenges of transformation is the opportunity it creates. Take technology, for instance. Not too long ago, schools and teachers were struggling to adopt technology in a meaningful way. The question, “do we need computers in schools?” was being asked on a local and national level. Today technology is virtually embedded in the classroom, in school administration, in assessment, and at home.  Asking “do we need computers in schools?” is like asking generations decades ago, “do we need pencils and paper in schools?”

Read the full article in the Summer 2019 EDmarket Essentials Magazine.

The post Connecting With Educators in a Time of Unprecedented “Churn and Change” appeared first on MDR.

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By Lindsay Walker – Co-Founder of Launch Code After School

Over the past three decades, coding and computer science have created a new world of growth and opportunity for the generation of youth that is being raised alongside these technologies. Each decade has brought about innovations, such a personal computers, the Internet, and cellular phones which have in turn revolutionized the way that people live, work, and learn.

As technology evolves, so does the need for education and training. Not only does the technological revolution change what it is that students need to learn and be trained on, but there is also a need for more creative and analytical thinkers to understand and utilize these new technologies in all domains and fields of work. As research in education evolves, and schools undergo reforms and adapt to the modern world, the thinking on how creativity and real-world skills can be fostered evolves as well. Coding presents an amazing opportunity to encourage depth of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge in a fun and innovative arena. Students who code have new means to create and explore, leading the way in technological innovation for their generation.

Levels of Understanding

As the need for individuals who can create and innovate with new technology advances, so does the thinking on the hierarchy of learning. Educational researchers use Bloom’s Taxonomy to describe the different levels of understanding students achieve as they work with educational material in increasingly sophisticated ways. Simply memorizing a term or fact according to how it was presented and defined is a very low-order level of understanding. True learning requires higher order processing and connection building that most academic classes, by and large, fail to address. The revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy value the ability to synthesize new materials above all else.

Source: University of Arizona (https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/itet/article/view/16506/17351)

Coding to Create Higher-Order Skills

When a student creates a coding project, they address a broader range of understanding. A good coding class asks students to first remember and understand concepts such as abstractions, control structures, syntax, and loops. They then apply this new knowledge by creating projects that are built around these concepts. The real magic comes in when students are asked to address the top three levels of understanding through designing and synthesizing their own code based off of knowledge and skills they have gained.

Another interesting movement being embraced by ed-tech companies and schools alike is the project-based learning (PBL) model. Through real-world challenges and problems, students address questions and problems in the same way a professional working in the industry would. Students take an active role in formulating questions, researching needs and background information, and formulating a process to address a real-world need. Students are not only asked to acquire certain sets of knowledge, but also to formulate and implement a plan, gaining valuable understanding that can only be acquired through experience.

Implementing Coding & Project Based Learning

After students have done some basic coding and had some experience applying coding and computer science concepts by following along with lessons and example projects, they have the opportunity to start building their own program.

New coders need specific criteria and suggestions for how they can use code, and guidance in breaking down a need or problem into programmable steps. At this point, students are learning to analyze, evaluate, and create unique artifacts that not only equip them with the knowledge software developers possess but also the ability to produce and implement program code. Knowledge in the form of understanding and memorization is not enough to prepare 21st-century learners. Coding provides the perfect opportunity to develop the creativity, habits of mind, and skill set that enable students to be useful practitioners.

Nearly any challenge you encounter with technology and computer programming is set in the context of an applicable, real-world problem. Computers were created to be programmed by humans to do repetitive, calculating tasks more quickly and diligently than a human could ever do. In order to create these computing programs, however, students must first learn to break a problem into discrete, programmable steps. 

Testing and Learning

It is almost never the case that the program you implement to solve a problem works well the first time. As an example, to program an application that takes an order at a restaurant then sends that order to the kitchen, you must design both a way to interact with humans on both ends, and also the code to transmit that information.

As the app is tested out with human users, flaws are inevitably revealed. A good coding education guides the students through the challenges of modifying their programs and creations through experimentation with this real-life problem to make sure that the users understand how to work with the program, and every possible use case of the application is considered. As students test out their app, they will iterate on ways to make it easier for customers to use the app to create an order, and add in features and order combinations as customers request them.

This also teaches another valuable skill, the ability to fail and persist. Unlike a model that reinforces memorization and acing a test, this model encourages students to understand the learning process that goes along with failure, and how to implement a project from beginning to end. Coding provides opportunities to create video games and simulations, program applications, and work with robotics and automation to solve problems in more ways than ever.

Applying Academic Skills

It’s not hard to imagine all of the ways that coding and technology can enhance traditional academic subjects. Publishing software, games, and apps provide new ways for students to express themselves and learn about the English language. Students can address social needs by creating an app or coming up with an affordable robotic solution for communities in need. A deeper understanding of scientific phenomena through analysis and modeling software make difficult science concepts more accessible than ever. Mathematics is at the heart of computer science, and the ability to formulate algorithms and use logic and numbers to solve problems is the foundation of computing.

It won’t be easy, however, to integrate all these principles into an institution that is as old as society itself. For the time being, creative educators, passionate parents, and active communities will need to continue to find ways to solve this problem. Innovative companies have the opportunity to create tools and solutions and empower the next generation.

Lindsay Walker, Co-Founder, Launch Code After School
Lindsay has been an educator for over 10 years, teaching middle and high school mathematics, science, and technology across the world, top public school districts, as well as in urban and high need areas. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has her Master’s in Integrative STEM Education from the University of Texas Austin. She continues to learn and explore the most current technologies and languages developing content in C#, Unity, MIT App Inventor, Python, web development, and more. Lindsay’s wide range of technology and computer science tools and languages helps her create Launch Code After School‘s innovative computer science education curriculum.

The post The Digital Age – Inspiring Creativity in Education appeared first on MDR.

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Let’s start off by explaining what influencers are and how they can help your business. An influencer is someone with an audience of followers and a platform to engage with them on, whether that’s online via a blog or website, on social media via Instagram or Facebook, or even in-person at live events.

Brands can partner with influencers to talk or write about your company or product and share that content with their community. In a typical influencer marketing partnership, brands will compensate the influencer to promote your company to their audience, either with money, free product, or a free trial of their service.

Education Influencer Marketing

In the education arena, influencers are usually individuals with established independent credibility on the topic of education and are generally current or former teachers or administrators, education enthusiasts, professional content creators, or edtech experts. Using them to promote your products allows you to tap into their relationships with their followers and connect with parents, students, or schools.

Working with education influencers is a great way to spread the word about anything from a new product launch, to raising awareness of a cause, to promoting a free classroom materials for teachers. Word-of-mouth from a trusted source has always been an excellent method of marketing and social media makes it easier than ever to get the word out. As one of the fastest-growing online marketing channels, influencer marketing is proving to be an effective revenue driver, delivering on average a 6X return on investment.

The 5 W’s of Disclosure For Influencer Marketing

Now that you know what an influencer is, let’s talk about how they obtain credibility. Disclosure about compensation is imperative for influencers to maintain integrity with their audience – followers are usually ok with them posting paid or sponsored content, as long as the influencer is honest about it! Aside from just wanting to hold on to precious followers, it’s just as important to the brands working with influencers that disclosure is clearly marked on any sponsored content relating to their company. Here are five basic rules that brands and their influencer partners should always follow to achieve and maintain reliability and trustworthiness.

1. Who needs to disclose?

Everyone! No matter how big or small an influencer’s audience is, average joe or giant celebrity, they must always disclose that they have received compensation for promoting a product–even if it was only free product instead of actual dollars. If they hide the fact that they have received some form of compensation from your company, and their followers find out, you both will lose credibility.

2. What do disclosures look like?

Disclosures don’t have to be anything fancy. They should be simple, upfront, and easy for the audience to understand at a glance, aka: state your disclosure in plain English. Influencers should let their followers know what they have received and why. If there are character constraints such as when tweeting, a simple #Sponsored or #Ad lets everyone know that they have been compensated to write about a particular topic. As long as they are upfront about their material connection to your company, you will be in the clear.

3. Why should influencers disclose sponsored content?

In order for influencers to grow and maintain a following, they need to be seen as trustworthy. And in order to gain a follower’s trust, they must be honest about what they are writing about and be upfront about any financial arrangements with brands or companies they are promoting. Hiding the fact that they were compensated for a specific post or piece of content will lead their audience to question them; upfront honesty is always the best policy with influencer marketing.

4. Where should disclosure occur?

In the beginning of a post, or as close to the beginning as possible, is always best. If readers have to click to another page to find out that a recommendation was actually an endorsement, they will probably not be happy and will wonder why the influencer tried to bury it. We like to say the disclosure should be above the fold whenever possible. In an Instagram post, that would mean within the first 2 lines of text in a caption, since captions are cut off with a “see more” link after that. Stating disclosure at the end of an endorsement or caption is better than nothing, but it MUST be at least in close proximity to the content (not on another webpage, for example). Again, be transparent!

5. What is the risk of not disclosing?

Not to scare you, but not disclosing a compensation arrangement between a brand and an influencer could lead to fines by Federal Trade Commission for engaging in unfair or deceptive marketing practices. And brands are the ones who will be on the hook for the influencer not disclosing the relationship. Not to mention, killing your credibility amongst your followers.

So bottom line, and we can’t say this often enough, influencers are a great way to get the word out, but they must be transparent about the nature of your relationship upfront. Your followers, and your legal department, will thank you!

The post Understanding the 5 W’s of Influencer Marketing Disclosure appeared first on MDR.

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What are the hot topics for educators right now?  Check out what school officials, teachers, principals, and all types of educators are most interested in from our educator communities from the past two weeks.  This is where we share with you the topics that get the most buzz with educators!

Are you interested in sponsoring an article like one of these, to get your brand in front of teachers?  Reach out to us today! These DIY Classroom Cubbies Will Make Your Classroom Organization Shine

Give your kids some space of their own.

Looking for a way to organize your students’ stuff? You can buy premade classroom cubbies and storage systems from a variety of places, but sometimes the cost is prohibitive or the options just don’t fit your space. If that’s the case, check out these creative classroom cubbies solutions instead. There are ideas to fit pretty much any budget and skill level, so your classroom will be Marie Kondo-ed in no time! Read more >>

5 of the Coolest EdTech Tools We Found at ISTE 2019

We can’t wait to use these in our classrooms.

Sending a teacher to ISTE 2019 makes bringing a toddler to Target seem like a sane idea. WeAreTeachers is thrilled to be here at ISTE in Philadelphia this year. For those of you overwhelmed by it all (and you peeps who couldn’t come this year), we’re trying our hardest to curate the coolest EdTech tools you can use in your classroom. Here are a few of our favorites: Read more >>

35 Things You Never Thought You’d Say Until You Became a Teacher

Seriously? Did I just say that out loud?

For teachers, there’s almost no such thing as a normal day. Students, no matter how old they are, do some pretty strange things over the course of the school day. Often times, you find yourself stringing together sentences that you would have never guessed you’d say. Like ever. Read more >>

The Secret to Classroom Management—No Matter Where You Teach

Our students—like all of us—are often facing invisible challenges. Empathize first, and the rest will follow.

I’ve been teaching middle school for 12 years. I’ve been in an urban school in which 99 percent of students receive free lunch for nine of those years. And I’ve tried a lot of classroom management strategies with varying degrees of success. Read more >>

Interviewing Potential APs? We’ve Got the Questions to Ask

Finding the right candidate requires asking the right questions.

Finding an assistant principal to meet your school’s needs is a challenging prospect. After all, you’ve got to find that one person with the skills and the ability to do the job who is also the right fit for your leadership team, staff, students, and broader community. To help, we’ve rounded up a few queries to add to your repertoire of assistant principal interview questions. Read more >>

These Principals Have Us Rolling With Unbelievable Never-Have-I-Ever Moments

When you’re a principal, no two days are the same.

There’s never a dull moment in the life of a principal. Just when you think it’s been unusually quiet or without incident for a few days, you’ll get something totally different or unimaginable to deal with, like the moments described below.

Thanks to all the principals who contributed stories for this piece—yes, we kept our word, and you are all remaining anonymous! We know the life of a principal is not easy, and we appreciate having some insight (and a few laughs) about what goes on during your day. Check out these unbelievable principal life stories about parents, staff, and students. Read more >>

Are you interested in sponsoring an article like one of these to get your brand in front of teachers?  Reach out to us today!

The post Educator Hot Topics! appeared first on MDR.

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Thanks to Business 2 Community for sharing our guest contributed article.

Late summer and fall is the time when parents and their kids are shopping for backpacks, binders, and the latest styles as students head back into the classroom. But teachers are making plans much earlier. They spend springtime finalizing their lists for the following school year.

March through June is when lists start showing up on school websites, which means brands that start reaching out to consumers in September are months too late. Brands that want to reach the coveted top spot on back-to-school lists need to be creating awareness. It’s a market worth spending a little extra time reaching. Back-to-school spending topped $80 billion in 2018.

Our research also shows that 73% of educators request specific brands — Crayola, Elmer’s, or Expo, for example. Some also recommend specific stores, especially if the school has an official retail partnership. Getting your products or retail store name-dropped on school shopping lists could drive millions in revenue when parents head into stores to buy all the items their children will need.

Read the full article on Business 2 Community here.

The post Now is the Time to Get in on the $80 Billion Back-to-School Market appeared first on MDR.

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Google for Education has recently compiled a list of the hottest trends relating to technology in the classroom. The information was so compelling that we thought you should know what they had to say. The following eight topics have become a top priority for educators and parents around the world.

1. Digital Responsibility

Like it or not technology is here to stay. More than 39% of young people in the U.S. will have a social media account by the time they are 12 years old. The average amount of time Americans under the age of eight have spent with mobile devices each day has tripled between 2013 and 2017.

Teaching technology safety has become an imperative. Many of today’s younger teachers have grown up with technology. They understand its benefits and its dangers. They recognize the importance of teaching their students how to use technology in safe and responsible ways.

Teachers around the world agree that online safety must be part of today’s curriculum. They believe that children must not only learn how to use technology, but how to navigate it to avoid danger. As a provider of classroom technology tools, you are who teachers will be looking to for guidance and support.

2. Life Skills & Workforce Preparation

While many standard school subjects remain important, parents and educators would like to see school curriculum incorporate some more practical subjects as well. They want to see social and vocational skills mixed in with standardized testing. In a survey, 75% of parents think budgeting should be part of the school curriculum, while 71% want to see CPR taught in schools.

The concern is about how current curriculums will prepare students for adult life. It has become apparent that academic success is not the only type of success. Social skills, vocational training and basic life skills such as how to balance a checkbook are equally as important to leading a successful life. It is why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has become a hot topic in recent years.

Teachers and administrators are working on incorporating SEL into their normal curriculum because they see the benefit. They believe that SEL can reduce discipline problems, increase academic success, and better prepare students for the real world.

3. Computational Thinking

Problem solving and digital skills have become a major concern for parents and teachers who want to see students develop these skills so they will be better prepared to join the workforce.

It is estimated that 92% of future jobs will require digital skills and we can’t even predict what today’s students will face in tomorrow’s job market. That is why   STEM education is growing in school curriculums, so graduates will be prepared to handle whatever tech challenges come there way. Digital skills such as problem solving, coding and an understanding of STEM subjects are no longer nice to have, they are a necessity. You can help teachers and administrators set up classrooms and curriculums that support these goals.

4. Student-led Learning

We all want the same thing – for our children to grow into responsible, self-sufficient, independent adults. That can only happen if we teach them to be those things. That’s why giving students ownership of their own curriculum and allowing them to determine what they want to study and how has become increasing popular in schools around the world. 65% of American educators say student-led learning is extremely valuable. Everything from what they learn, to how their classroom operates can help students become fruitful, independent adults.

5. Collaborative Classrooms

Where a child learns can be just as important as what they learn. Research has shown that everything from room color to lighting to acoustics to how a classroom is organized can affect learning.  A recently released MDR report entitled The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success has revealed that 94% of survey respondents believe that space impacts learning. Many schools are now looking at classroom design and layout, in addition to how they organize their classrooms as a way to foster creativity, collaboration and flexibility.

6. Connecting Guardians & Schools

In today’s world, often both parents are working full time jobs to support their family. It doesn’t mean parents don’t want to be involved in their children’s education, it just means that time is at a premium. It also means that parents may not always be aware of what is happening in school.

A 2018 online survey for parents and teachers of ages 2-12 discovered that there is in fact a large a discrepancy. The survey revealed that while teachers state that 30% of their students are reading below grade level, only 9% of parents believed their child fell into that category. The study showed that two-thirds of parents aren’t actually aware of their child’s reading level.

What is important for teachers to understand is that lack of involvement doesn’t mean a lack of care. Perhaps a parent can’t leave work or has no means of child care to get to a conference or doesn’t have means of transportation. Perhaps there is a language barrier or a cultural difference that leads parents to handle situations differently than how a teacher would expect. The bottom line is that teachers and parents need to be on the same page, how they get there requires effort and understanding, and you are in a position to help, with innovative tools and technologies.

7. Innovating Pedagogy

Teachers that like what they do and are aren’t bogged down in administrative tasks can offer students a better learning experience. It is estimated that in an eight hour day, teachers around the world spend an average of three hours a day on tasks such as lesson planning and grading tests and only five hours a day actually teaching.

Technology is seen as an excellent way to help teachers free up their time. It is being used to streamline the day-to-day administration so teachers can focus on the art of teaching. In an effort to help teachers, schools are focusing on professional development and positive motivators to assist in the development of teaching methods and better classroom interactions.

8. Emerging Technologies

Modern day children respond positively to modern day technology which is why more and more schools are incorporating emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality into the classrooms. The use of tech in the classroom results in more innovative and engaging teaching experiences while providing valuable skills for use once children enter the workforce. Recent statistics show that 69% of teachers believe that technology can be used to support any subject, 82% think that using technology in the classroom better prepares students for future careers and by 2021, more than 15% of schools in the US are predicted to have a VR class kit.

So, what does all this mean?

It means that the world is changing and education must change with it. Technology in the classroom, technology as a means of communicating with parents, and for use in streamlining day-to-day tasks are imperative to success for both educators and students.

Today’s educational companies need to play a huge role in helping teachers incorporate technology into the classroom. It is your job to provide teachers with practical tools that they can use to engage their already tech savvy students in a safe and meaningful way. It is your job to provide tools that make communication between parents and teachers better. Combining your tech with effective teaching methods is a powerful way to engage students, parents, and educators.

Thank you Google for Education for putting together this insightful report!

The post Adding Technology in the Classroom: What the Future Holds for K-12 Education appeared first on MDR.

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Influencer marketing has been prominent in consumer marketing, especially in the fashion, technology, and beauty industries for quite a while. Over the last few years it has emerged in the educator space as an exciting, new way to promote your products, company, or brand to new people in the education market. Partnering with authentic social media voices is an innovative, warm/friendly, and most importantly, effective method of communication to help you reach your goals.

We like to think of influencer marketing as today’s version of “word-of-mouth” marketing. Think of the last trip you went on, or the last item you purchased. Did you get a recommendation of where to stay, or what to buy from a friend or someone who’s opinion you trust? That’s what influencer marketing is doing online. Influencer marketing experts can help you determine who are the right people to connect with to get your message out to the right audience. By partnering with an influencer who your audience already trusts, and therefore can get them to take an action, your campaigns can be much more effective than other traditional channels of marketing.

MDR recently hosted a webinar on influencer marketing for the education market. Below are some of the frequently asked questions from the audience with answers from our expert panelists and influencer marketing strategists at MDR, Stacey Ferguson and Jessica McFadden.

1. What is an education social media influencer?

Here’s how we define “Education Social Media Influencers”: An education-focused social media influencer with established independent credibility on the topic of education, usually with a niche focus. Education social media influencers may be classroom teachers, education enthusiasts, former teachers-turned-professional social media content creators, or edtech experts.

2. Why should I consider doing an influencer marketing campaign with an educator social media influencer?

For companies looking to connect with students, parents, or teachers, educators are a credible source of authentic influencers. Building relationships with educator influencers can create brand advocates who can directly influence your target audience. If you want to increase your brand awareness, reach a new audience, grow your social followers, or increase engagement on your social channels, an influencer marketing campaign can help achieve all these goals. Influencers are also a great way to get direct feedback about your product or services that you can use to improve.

It’s important to understand what you want the outcome to be from working with influencers and to clearly define your goals. Influencers shouldn’t be looked at as a way to generate sales, but they can definitely help get the word out about your product/services in a way that is authentic, which can eventually result in boosted sales.

Building a community is by far the best way to achieve all these goals. People want to feel like they are a part of your tribe and will become brand advocates for you if you show them you genuinely care about their challenges, wants, and needs. What better way to do that than to work with someone who they trust as an influencer.

3. What is the best way to find appropriate influencers for my company to work with?

Before you even start working on an influencer marketing campaign, you should be working on finding and following influencers in your specific space. It can be a fun project! At MDR, we’re always doing research to build our influencer network by searching hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, looking at who those people are interacting with or tagging, and looking at competitors to see what they are working on.

Building an influencer network is not an exact science, but it does take effort to consume media, spend time on the social channels where your influencers are, and keep track of the people you find authentic in your space. You don’t need any fancy software or programs to get started – a spreadsheet will work just fine!

Another key tip to keep in mind is any time someone with a large social presence or following tags your brand or interacts with you personally, save that post! That name and handle are gold; you’ve found someone who is organically engaged with you, so you’ll want to be sure to thank them for the mention and begin building a relationship with them so that you can follow up later if you’re interested in partnering with them.

4. How can I find local influencers to reach teachers, students, and families in a specific geographic region?

The best way to find local influencers is to look at which thought leaders influence your local schools and districts. Look at their social media profiles to determine who follows them and pay attention to their posts so that you can see who they follow. You can also search hashtags related to your city and see who is using those. Attending local events and keeping an eye on local media are other great ways to connect with influencers in your area. 

5. How segmented is the influencer market? Are there specific influencers that target District Administrators that might have less sway with teachers?

The teacher influencer landscape is segmented by educator grades, subject areas, and social media channels. That said, there are not necessarily a large number of influencers in every possible niche. For instance, one partner asked us to target school nurse bloggers, and we found very few, and so we expanded our influencer focus to educators focused on health.

Education social media influencers very authentically communicate with other educators and produce content for followers in all aspects of education. Usually they are gearing their content towards fellow educators in the same role as themselves—elementary teachers, science teachers, etc.

6. Do you find that influencer marketing is more successful among specific titles, for example, a teacher audience vs a superintendent audience?

It’s more that there are more readers of influencer content who are teachers than administrators, so the potential audiences of a teacher influencer will be larger in most cases.

7. When I’m ready to get started, do I just email the Influencer and make a proposition to them?

We recommend having a well-thought out and documented plan before reaching out to an influencer. When we pitch an influencer, we’ve already determined what the CTA will be, what our budget is, what we’ll offer as compensation, and what metrics we’ll be reporting on afterwards. It’s also smart to have an A list and a B list of your top choices and your secondary choices, so you can be prepared if the first group doesn’t get back to you.

Once you have all of that in place, you’ll want to write a tailored, personalized pitch email that clearly explains what you would like them to do and ask if they are interested. If they are interested in working together, then you can send any creative assets, tracking links, and key points you want them to include in the content they are producing for you.

If you need help with this process, MDR’s strategists are happy to guide you in the right direction! Reach out to us here to get started.

8. Is there anything that we should include in the initial outreach to an influencer that would increase the chances of the influencer moving forward with a partnership?

Our biggest tip to landing an influencer partnership is to show the influencer that you are already following them and that you’ve been reading their content. Call out a recent photo they posted that you liked, or a blog post that you found helpful, and include this in your pitch! Showing them that you have a personal interest can go a long way.

Another tip: always approach influencers as a partner, not the hired help. You want them to understand that you value their opinion, you trust them and their platform, and you want it to be a collaborative relationship.

9. Is it appropriate to ask an influencer to use a brand hashtag?

Yes! This would be one of the assets to share with the influencer at the outset. This is a totally fair ask and is critical to measuring performance.

10. Is there a difference in influencer marketing when using Pinterest vs Instagram? Would I go about approaching them differently?

Regardless of the platform you will be using, you’ll want to have a detailed plan of what you want the influencer to do. On Pinterest you may just be asking them to share a pin that you already created on their page, or you may want them to create a new pin that links to your content. On Instagram, you may want them to take their own photo or video, or you may provide them an asset to share.

Whatever platform or channel you are reaching out about, just make sure you’ve thought through the entire ask and the steps involved, and that way you’ll be able to pitch it appropriately.

11. If you reach out to an influencer and haven’t heard back, how many follow ups are appropriate before you decide to move on?

We think of it just like following up after an interview. We usually do one follow up after the initial outreach to give them one last chance to get back to you. Just make sure to consider the timing; the end of the school year is a crazy busy time for teachers, and over the summer you might catch them on a well-deserved vacation, so give them a few extra days to a week to respond during these times in particular.

12. How do you compensate influencers? Do you have any tips for figuring out what is fair pay for influencers?

A good place to begin is to think about how much time will it take the influencer to create the piece of content for the campaign. If it’s just repining a Pin that you already created or reposting an Instagram photo, that will be less of an ask than if they have to come up with their own, original content. Another thing to consider is how many followers they have or how big their audience is, obviously the larger the audience they can reach the more valuable they are to have as a partner.

While there’s no standard rate card out there, often influencers will be very open about their rate, and the best thing to do is just ask. Influencers understand that you as a brand have a certain available budget, and they are usually willing to be flexible and come to an agreement especially if it’s a product they are already interested in.

If you have a smaller budget, or no budget, it’s also worth asking if sending them free product or a discount code is enough in return for a product review. This is a good place to test the waters before committing to spending more on an influencer program.

13. Won’t you get better content from an influencer if you’re not paying them?

That is not necessarily true at all. Influencers take their craft very seriously – their brand image is their business, and their success depends on their audience trusting them. So, they never want to do anything that would deteriorate that trust. If they are going to be paid or given free product to write about, they will want to be transparent about that with their audience so that they can make their own decisions about what the influencer is posting about. If an influencer is being cagey about disclosing a sponsorship, they might not be the best partner for you to work with.

14. Does MDR help with identifying influencers in the education space that we could engage with?

Yes! We have built our own influencer network of more than 1,000 influencers in the parenting, teacher, tech, and school leadership spaces. Created by the masterminds who run WeAreTeachers, the #1 media brand for educators, our influencer network is a contact database that houses details about all the influencers we’ve worked with before, and we’re adding new influencers to it every day.

There’s no secret to this, but we’ve already invested in creating this network for our clients to tap into. We can identify the best influencers for your brand and goals and put together a campaign that will give influencers a memorable and meaningful experience to share with their audience. Download our media kit to learn more.

If you missed our Influencer Marketing webinar, you can view the slides below, or check out our library of webinar recordings.

The post Influencer Marketing for the Education Space: The Who, What, Why, and How appeared first on MDR.

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This Compatible Combo hits Classrooms

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Technology Education?  Traditionally these are not two subjects that we would lump together.  However, as SEL is increasingly becoming mandatory curriculum in schools, educators must determine where to fit SEL in.  We know that SEL is already being integrated into core subjects so why not incorporate SEL into Technology Education?

After all, SEL has weaved its way into our daily vernacular.  Here at EdGate, our team of standards alignment subject matter experts (SMEs) is as comfortable talking about the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) standards as they are talking about NGSS standards.  And in addition to CASEL, states continue to publish their own SEL standards.  So yes, SEL is happening.

Separately, students are being immersed into Technology Education.  They are learning how to code. They are learning about AR and VR.  They are being immersed into technology that brings learning to life.  But could SEL and Technology Education actually be combined?  Industry professional say yes.

Blending Technology with the Real Life Practice of Social Skills

“In many cases people think that the SEL and Technology Education are at odds with each other,” says Christopher Dudick, CEO of SiLAS, a gamified learning company that enables educators to help students build social skills.  “After all, how can someone be social if they are on a computer or a phone?  But without a doubt technology is here to stay and it is extremely engaging to students.  Our belief is that if you build the right technology-based platform and combine it with SEL curriculum in a positive way it can be a wonderful solution.”

In a nutshell, using the SiLAS program, students write a script that describes how they might handle a situation more effectively, e.g. cooperating with a classmate.  The students then select avatars that represent them, the proper background, then create and record a real time animated video that models a more constructive interaction. All of this is achieved using video-game controllers and headset microphones, resembling a student’s favorite video game.

Time to shake things up; it’s the 21st Century

Headsets?  X-Box controllers?  How the classroom has changed!  In fact, per Charles Fadel, “The last major changes to curriculum were effected in the late 1800s as a response to the sudden growth in societal and human capital needs.”  Fadel is the Founder and Chairman of the Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) and author of several books including co-authoring the best-selling book 21st Century Skills, as well as Four Dimensional Education, and his most recent book, Artificial Intelligence in Education.  “As the world of the 21st century bears little resemblance to that of the 19th century, education curricula need to be deeply redesigned,” Fadel says.

Fadel agrees that teachers are already stretched for time and just throwing more onto the pile does not help if not part of the normal teaching of disciplines.  This is the case around the world:  the teaching of “21st century skills” and “SEL” is generally thrown on top of everything else.  So what is CCR doing to help solve this problem?

CCR has created a four-dimensional “4D” framework by painstakingly synthesizing 45+ educational frameworks from around the world through a multi-year research effort.  The framework focuses on knowledge (what to know and understand), skills (how to use knowledge), character (how to behave and engage in the world), and meta-learning (how to reflect and adapt, by “learning how to learn”). Character is what educators in the U.S have come to know as “SEL” and consists of six essential qualities which thoughtfully encompass the 200+ words thrown around in this field: Mindfulness, Curiosity, Courage, Resilience, Ethics, and Leadership.  These qualities are meant to express any existing SEL standards in a way that makes them actionable, by developing several layers of subsequent specificity:  Competencies > Subcompetencies > Proficiency levels > Pedagogical practices, in the context of eight disciplines including Technology Education.

Therefore, publishers and teachers will gain via CCR an engineering-like process to explicitly embed the competencies into Technology Education curriculum (or other disciplines) in a way that is “deliberate, comprehensive, systematic and demonstrable” as CCR says.  The CCR framework combined with CCR’s large idea bank of pedagogical practices will assist organizations in incorporating Character, Skills and Meta-Learning education directly into curriculum and disciplines.

The classroom is not only looking different because students are sporting AR/VR Goggles and newfangled headsets; it looks different because SEL is now playing a much larger role in the classroom. And who couldn’t use a dose of ethics, curiosity, or courage?

Gina Faulk is the GM at EdGate Correlation Services, the leading company to offer content mapping to global educational performance standards and scalable methods to prepare educational content for the classroom.  Gina has over 20 years of experience in publishing, previously working for Learning.com and Macmillan Publishing Solutions.  As the GM at EdGate she focuses on business development and offering the highest level of technology and customer service to EdGate’s 250+ clients. 

The post Social and Emotional Learning + Technology Education appeared first on MDR.

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The Numbers Are in and the Numbers Don’t Lie

No matter what business you are in, it is important to communicate with your customers and it is even more important to know when to communicate with them. Conventional wisdom has taught us that in the education arena, the first two months of the school year are prime time for reaching out to educators.

Well guess what?

We’ve done the research, we have the numbers, and the numbers suggest otherwise. Through our deployment of millions of customer campaigns each year, we know that teachers read their email at night and on weekends, and they’re clicking through, too. Social media engagements spiked in December of last year and were also high in August. We also saw the highest website visits to our WeAreTeachers online community in September, August, and November.So what have we learned?Educators are always on the clock, working even when they aren’t in the classroom. That’s why it is important to have an open and ongoing dialogue with them all year round. Don’t just hit them at the start of the school year with your marketing campaigns. Find a rhythm, know when educators are going to be receptive to your message and on what channels you can best reach them. Clear, consistent, timely communication lets educators know that you understand their needs and challenges. It creates a relationship that is important if you want to build trust and turn them into customers.

Here are some highlights:

  • Educators are browsing the web most during the summer and fall months, from July-November
  • Educators are engaging on social media most over winter break in December, and in the fall from August-October
  • Educators are opening emails most in the winter and early spring, from January-May

As you can see, educator engagement varies by channel throughout the year, but if you are smart about your outreach, you can target them at the right time and channel to ensure you are staying top-of-mind for the entire year!

Download our infographic to see all the top months in 2018 for reaching educators across channels.

The post Educators are Engaged Day and Night, All Year Round appeared first on MDR.

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