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Accessible Digital Books Campaign Expands

There are currently more than 711,000 books in Bookshare, a digital reading platform for people with reading barriers including dyslexia, blindness or cerebral palsy, and that number is growing every day. Working with more than 850 publishers across the world, the library adds as many as 100,000 titles every year, according to Brad Turner, vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech, the nonprofit that runs Bookshare. But with more than 1 million books published each year, it would be impossible for Benetech to keep up with conversions, so Benetech is now working directly with publishers such as Macmillan Learning to embed accessibility features into all e-books at the time of publication. These resources can useful to all readers, not just those with reading impairments or disabilities, and Benetech argues that having the publishers add them to the books as they are published makes good business sense.

Libraries Find Social Media Useful to Reach New Audiences

Libraries from New York City to England and Singapore are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to overcome the stereotype of being stuffy, dusty places, and boost engagement among patrons and entertain book lovers. In one example, the New York Public Library gained 100,000 Instagram followers after launching "Insta Novels," Marguerite Reardon writes for CNET. Insta Novels are digitized versions of classics designed for teens to be read on a smartphone. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was the first classic to get the treatment.

 

Are Biometrics a Solution for School Safety?

Some schools are adopting biometric technology, including facial and fingerprint scans, to improve safety and boost efficiency. Biometrics are said to be more secure than passwords and other traditional identifiers, but concerns about the safety of students' personal information has caused some districts to proceed with caution.

District Uses Scanners to Track Students on Buses

WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin  reports that one Wisconsin school district is installing scanners on school buses to track students as they ride to and from school. The technology will use identification cards to track students and allow parents to use an app to see where their buses are, and even receive notifications about when their children enter or leave the bus, district officials say.

Dyslexia and Technology – Some Resources for Middle and High School

Middle and high school students with dyslexia who crave independence in their learning, especially reading, can find support with new tech tools. A list of resources in the recent article “How to support middle, high-school students with dyslexia “ includes tools to help kids with dyslexia and other struggling readers, including text to speech support and an app that allows users to take a picture of text to have it read back to them.

Digital Photography Helps Kids Visualize Future Success

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a sixth-grade teacher’s class project has gone viral after he shared digital photographs his students created of themselves graphically imposed onto the covers of books written by influential African-Americans. The project was designed to teach African-American students at the Wisconsin school about representation and success.

Online Students More Prone to Multitasking

College students who are already inclined to multitasking, such as texting and web surfing, are more likely to do it during online courses than in physical classrooms, according to a new study. Researchers recommend online course developers create strategies to increase student focus and discourage multitasking. While this study was done with college students, other similar research on K-12 students often points to the same issues. In a related study in eCampus News, students in Generation Z -- those between ages 14 and 23 -- say they prefer learning via video, while only 26% prefer online classes.

Districts Use Online Program to Replace Teachers

A growing number of school districts are turning to online programs such as Edgenuity as they struggle to recruit enough certified teachers. The programs deliver online lessons while an in-person facilitator (often someone with no expertise in the subject being studied) oversees the classroom, but the lack of a content area teacher who can answer student questions on the topics being studied often leads to student frustration, boredom and cheating. If your district is thinking of offering online instruction provided by outside vendors as a solution for teacher shortages, you may want to research the pros and cons.

Are Textbooks Becoming Obsolete?

Textbooks are becoming obsolete, Bill Gates wrote in his annual letter from his foundation. High School English teacher Peter Greene counters Gates' argument on the Forbes site with five reasons why he says textbooks will continue to be a classroom staple -- at least in the near term -- including a preference, even among digital natives, for printed material. What is your opinion?

Hearing Better At School

Do you know what services your child’s school offers for kids that have hearing impairments? A school district in California is using technology solutions to help students with hearing issues, according to Michelle Zavaleta, coordinator of psychological services in special education for the Tulare City School District. In a blog post, she shares several tips and findings about adopting such solutions, including finding a tool that all students can use, not only those with hearing difficulties.

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