8 Awesome New Courses [Because ‘Top 5’ Isn’t Enough!]

Atomic Learning is constantly adding new learning resources focused on helping schools tackle common challenges found in education today.  Recently, we connected with Sarah Holder, Product Owner (aka eLearning Guru) here at Atomic Learning, for her top five new courses…and she more than delivered!

Without further ado, here’s the top five…umm, EIGHT, new courses:

  1. Evaluating Technology Resources
    With so many online resources and tools available, it can be very difficult for administrators to effectively filter and approve them. Which tools are worth the money? Are going to be most effective in improving instruction and student learning? What does the resource provide? In this course, we will look at strategies to help effectively evaluate these resources and tools—complete with a checklist for future requests.
  2. Learning Styles
    Learning Styles can be a great building block to developing a study strategy. To help you get started, will dive into the benefits of styles, the characteristics of each, and determine which Learning Style works for you. Additionally, we'll provide some study techniques for each style, along with some tools that might be useful. 
  3. Critical Thinking
    Provide students the opportunity to build and apply critical thinking skills, as well as critically evaluate circumstances and performance. During this course, students will practice questioning and evaluating to form judgments and make decisions, as well as learn how to interpret alternative viewpoints and reflect on their own biases and assumptions. 

Driving Teacher Buy-In: Q&A with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD

Earlier this year, we shared a blog post on how Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in Texas had created and effectively implemented an Instructional Technology Implementation Plan to maximize technology integration and teacher support—a piece which involved incentive programs to encourage teacher participation by offering the opportunity to attend a regional or state education conference.

Recently, we followed up with Daniel Saenz, Information Technology Director for the district, to see how the program worked out, as well as how it could be replicated at other schools.

Atomic: Why did you decide to implement an incentive for Atomic Learning?
Saenz: Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD decided to Purchase Atomic Learning as a means of providing Technology Professional Development to our employees.  Since we have a relatively small training staff in the Technology Department, we figured it would be ideal to supplement our efforts.  However, we were not satisfied with the level of usage by our employees.  Therefore, we decided to implement an incentive program to promote the Atomic Learning usage. 

Atomic: What was the focus of the program?
Saenz: The main goal of our incentive program with regards to Atomic Learning was to increase the usage of the Atomic Learning system.  We wanted to get our teachers and staff more tech literate.  We also wanted them to use technology to facilitate teaching and learning as well as streamline the daily routines at our district.

Infographic: The Science of Classroom Design

There's been a lot of buzz lately regarding effective learning spaces—classroom layout, color, noise (or lack thereof) and a variety of other factors can all have an impact on students' learning experience. As the infographic below points out, simple changes, such as how desks are arranged, can help encourage collaboration and discussion.

Be sure to check out the infographic and resources below for insights on making the most of your space.

#RealityCheck - Guest Blog Post

Guest blog post by Atomic Learning customer Judy Yi, a Professor at Dallas Baptist University in Texas. You can see more great posts from Judy and others at DBU's ProfHelp Blog.

Several years ago, I read an article in the New York Times that placed Apple Inc. on the same level as a religion.  With its fanatic fans camping outside for days to purchase the newly released device and the devotion they show with Apple products, it’s not too surprising. But what is it about Apple that makes people “hypnotized” to it?
Just last month, I had the opportunity to visit Apple Inc. (the America Operations Center) in Austin with my Ed.D. K-12 cohort, and our speaker, Jon Landis, the Development Executive for educational mobility deployment in higher education and K-12 schools, shed some light on Apple’s secret formula.
Here’s a recap:
By 1997, the world wide web (www.), the Internet as we know it, was easily available and accessible to the general public. It was innovative!
However, to a student who was born in 1997, using and accessing information via the Internet is not new at all. They grew up with it and know no other world. To them, it is not an innovation; it is just a way of life.
Apple’s mental model: Internet is conventional. How can we innovate from it?
In the early 2000s, smartphones were moving into the mainstream. Checking emails and surfing the Internet with your phone was a new technology. It was cool! However, to a student born in the early 2000s, smartphones aren’t smart. It’s plainly a mobile device. They know of no such thing as a “dumb phone” that could not send emails or surf the web. For them, anything mobile-related is not innovative; it is just a way of life.

Learning Industry Leaders' Perspectives on #EdTech (As Seen in @USAToday)

Recently, Atomic Learning's CEO, Lisa Barnett, was interviewed on the state of educational technology in today's schools. Below is an excerpt from the article, Ed-Tech Pros Talk Education Transformation, as seen in USA Today.

How has technology transformed our way of looking at education?
Lisa Barnett: Kids have been using technology tools from a very young age to learn everything from counting to coding, which has created a generation of learners who are used to having information at their fingertips 24/7. The modalities they’re accustomed to are very interactive and tailored to their needs and interests. If these kids are asked to sit and listen to long periods of lecture in a classroom, how well do we think they’re going to respond? Education is transforming to respond to the needs of this new generation. Education is adapting to this new idea of personalized content. There are now many resources that offer different ways to learn the same concept, so if one method doesn’t work, another can quickly be found that will. Technology can also provide fantastic assistance in the area of accessibility and accommodations to even further meet the needs of individual learners.

How are technology products improving student outcomes in the classroom?

Lisa Barnett:Technology can be an amazing facilitator of differentiation techniques by providing additional resources and tools that will give teachers far more ways to differentiate for content, process, and product. We know that differentiated instruction can directly impact student outcomes as it tailors the educational experience to the needs of the students. Technology can also help efficiently measure student outcomes and analyze this information in new ways to provide the best learning experience possible for each individual learner.

“My 16-Year-Old is in College!?!” – Insights on the High School to College Transition

Guest blog post by Lisa Barnett (@atomic_lisa), parent and CEO of Atomic Learning and Versifit Technologies.

I am the parent of a new college student.  That in and of itself is a big deal for a number of reasons.  But in this case, said college student is also only 16.  Yes, she's a sharp kid, but not some prodigy.  

Our state has an amazing post-secondary enrollment option that allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college full-time and complete dual degrees, funded through the state.  So essentially, when she graduates from high school, she should also have her AA degree.

My daughter has not been a huge fan of the high school experience—she found the drama to be exhausting and she was regularly disengaged in her academics.  While she was a high performing student, she found classes focused on rote memorization to be a game that she knew how to play, but didn't feel she was actually getting any type of academic enrichment from. Partially through her sophomore year, she decided to pursue the PSEO option with our family’s support.  

Fast forward to four weeks ago; she started her first day as a junior is high school and freshman in college.