All Articles Education STEM, school choice and software bias: Education conversations from Jan. 2021

STEM, school choice and software bias: Education conversations from Jan. 2021

Educators entered 2021 with a wealth of ideas on pedagogy -- particularly as it relates to remote learning. Read the conversations that educators were most interested in during January, 2021.

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STEM, school choice and software bias: Education conversations from Jan. 2021


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The start of 2021 looked a lot different than the start of 2020. From an empty Times Square in New York City on New Year’s Eve to thousands of American students heading back to school after the holidays in online or hybrid formats, the new year kicked off in a subtle fashion.

In many ways, the challenges plaguing education in 2020 overflowed onto the new calendar page — but educators continue to prove that they will not let obstacles stand in the way of continuing to help students learn and thrive. 

Here’s what we at SmartBrief Education were talking about the most in January 2021:          

STEM’s post-COVID moment

SmartBrief Originals by Sabari Raja was first published Jan. 19, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic’s challenges have added more fuel to the importance of STEM learning, and youth interest in health care and technology jobs has been increasing around the world during the crisis. Sabari Raja shares what it will take to embrace this pivotal moment in STEM learning. 

Some edtech trends expected to make the mark in 2021

Original K-12 Dive article by Natalie Gross was published Jan. 7, 2021 

Experts are predicting five key education-technology trends will dominate this year, including more personalized, self-paced learning. Experts also expect growth in teachers’ professional development that’s focused on better leveraging technology to improve teaching and learning.

How to connect with remote students

Original Edutopia article by Eric L. Johnson and Jonathan Eckert was published Jan. 6, 2021

Remote learning can make it challenging — but not impossible — to have meaningful connections with students, according to teachers Eric Johnson and Jonathan Eckert. They share five approaches, such as alternating between loud and soft voices and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to speak.

EdCamp: How to run yours virtually

SmartBrief Originals by Michael Gaskell was first published Jan. 12, 2021

Professional development for teachers is another in-person casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, and Principal Michael Gaskell shares how his staff shifted to an input-driven EdCamp format. He writes about how to set up an engaging EdCamp format that includes participant flexibility and feedback. 

Tech tips for more effective hybrid learning

Original District Administration article by Adam Garry was published Dec. 28, 2020 

Making sure interactive tools are tied to learning, crafting a security checklist and maintaining updated equipment are among recommendations offered by Adam Garry, senior director of education strategy at Dell Technologies, to support hybrid and remote learning this year and onward. Leaders also should bolster professional learning and ensure investment in technology infrastructure, Garry writes.

Report: Improving online learning, long term

Original Education Week article by Mark Lieberman was published Jan. 11, 2021

Educators should find ways to improve the online teaching and learning that has become the norm during the coronavirus pandemic, even after many students return to in-person learning, according to a report from the nonprofit Clayton Christensen Institute. The report cites several solutions, including a state review of curriculum materials and teacher-led training and coaching.

Making remote learning work for foreign-language instruction 

SmartBrief Originals by Kae Cassada, Anne Bryant and Victoria Case was first published Jan. 19, 2021

Apprehension, frustration and even inability to correctly see how sounds should be formed are challenges foreign language students face in a virtual environment. Three foreign-language instructors give tips for improving the experience and outcomes, including setting a minimum participation expectation.

Teachers adjust to discipline in virtual classes

Original K-12 Dive article by Naaz Modan was published Jan. 22, 2021 

The coronavirus has altered student discipline, with some teachers turning off students’ microphones and video if they misbehave — a move some experts caution takes students out of the learning environment. Jordan Posamentier, director of policy and advocacy at the nonprofit Committee for Children, says many educators are taking the opportunity to “reset” and focus on relationships.

Senator looks into proctoring software bias

Original TechCrunch article by Zack Whittaker was published  Jan. 19, 2021

Three online test-proctoring companies have dismissed claims of bias and other student criticisms of their software after receiving a letter from US lawmakers. “Alarming reports from students tell a different story,” says Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who vows to look further into possibly discriminatory glitches, a perceived lack of transparency and concerns that teachers are basing cheating accusations on what may be flawed technology.

School choice: It’s personal 

SmartBrief Originals by Kanoe Namahoe was first published Jan. 25, 2021

National School Choice Week kicked off on Jan. 24, and Kanoe Namahoe, editorial director for SmartBrief education and business services, published a Q&A with Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, that explains the weeklong celebrations alongside information on the growing support for the school choice movement.  


Katie Parsons edits SmartBrief newsletters on EdTech and Math Education. She has a background in news media, working at the Orlando Sentinel and Chicago Tribune as a researcher and reporter. She is the creator of the parenting blog Mumbling Mommy and her writing has appeared in 150+ online and in-print publications, including the Huffington Post, USA Today, GalTime, and Florida Today. She is the co-author of The Five Year Journal, available on Amazon. Contact Katie at [email protected].


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