2015 was an especially exciting year here at Kids Discover. We launched a brand-new digital platform and connected with a larger community than ever before. Our favorite people, events, and tools of 2015 continue to inspire our mission to help educators and parents raise lifelong learners. We hope that these highlights will inspire your own work and teaching into 2016!
1. Strangers Shared
Leaders from all over the world met online for the Global Education Conference last month to share stories from the classroom and find ways of exposing their students to an international community. Keynote speakers discussed inspiring virtual exchange projects, travel abroad opportunities, exchange programs, and dozens of new ways to connect across seas. Just days after the devastating attacks in Paris, the conference was especially poignant this year, as so many strangers were able to bond over positive and encouraging ideas in education.
2. News Responded
Nichole Dobo’s Blended Learning Newsletter from the Hechinger Report delivered quality coverage on the convergence of education and technology. Each week, she summarized and commented on the industry, demystified edtech buzzwords, and provided links from around the web that were engaging and relevant to any 21st century educator. Some notable letters of the last few months include What if edtech had yelp-like reviews? , The so-called digital native may be a myth among teachers, and Teachers rarely get a say in what tech is purchased. Why?
3. Technology Gained a Foothold
3D printing shifted from conceptual to tangible this year, thanks to a few key players. Makerbot Academy with DonorsChoose.org, set a goal to make their printers available to every school in the country to encourage STEM education. And Thingiverse, a sharing site for 3D printed creations, reached a milestone of 1 million uploads last year, showing just how large this creative community has already become. If you’re interested in following along, their challenges use hashtags to track and share what students all over the world are making.
4. Schools Connected
The Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program continued to assist schools and libraries across the country get affordable internet connection in 2015. The program helps subsidize 20-90% of the cost to improve internet speeds, depending on a school’s need for financial assistance. Now, 77% of students in the US have access to an acceptable internet connection, compared to 30% in 2013. Improving connectivity in schools makes eLearning and device adoption initiatives more reliable, and will help enable new forms of teaching and learning in the future.
5. Kids Created
Teen Inventor Ahmed Mohammed became an icon of the maker movement this year after he built a digital alarm clock at home, brought it into school and was promptly arrested after his teacher said it looked like a bomb. “Islamophobia and technophobia” fueled his suspension from school, said the tech site Wired. Fortunately, a rush of support followed, with encouraging words from Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama to keep on building. Ahmed wasn’t the only teen creating new things over the year. Alex Lewis‘ refugee transportation unit, Anya Pogharian‘s portable dialysis machine, and Cynthia Sin Nga Lam‘s water filtration system all improved the quality of life around the world. Go teens!
We’re so excited to see what new initiatives and trends emerge in our connected education community in 2016! Happy New Year!