Skyward Conferences Address New Technologies, Opportunities for School Districts

 

 

 

Contact:          Amanda Fisher
Telephone:       800-236-7274
Email:             info@skyward.com
 
October 6, 2009
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Skyward Conferences Address New Technologies, Opportunities for School Districts
 
More than 5,100 education professionals attend local Skyward user group conferences across the nation to network and discover the capabilities of the Skyward School Management System™.
 
STEVENS POINT, WI – Skyward, the industry leading K-12 administrative software provider, announced today that they will hold six state User Group conferences throughout the Fall of 2009 and an additional six conferences in the Winter/Spring of 2010. Each year thousands of education professionals from around the world attend Skyward user group conferences to learn how to become more proficient in the software they use on a day-to-day basis.
 
Sessions for fall user group conferences range from Skyward’s School-Based Activity Accounting (SBAA) module to the new Data Warehouse module. SBAA is an affordable way to record and track activity funds at each individual school with district-wide administration and audit capabilities. By using SBAA schools alleviate the risk of high profile fraud in the school district’s activity accounts. The new Data Warehouse module is a highly sought after analysis tool used by district’s to evaluate educational programs and spending in order to make more informed long-term decisions. Skyward’s Data Warehouse eliminates difficult extract, transform, and load (ETL) hassles because it is designed specifically to work with the Skyward School Management System.
 
Additional session topics will include state reporting, purchasing, human resources, salary negotiations, student scheduling and much more. Each state conference designs an agenda specific to the needs of users from that state in order to maximize the return on investment for districts attending the conference.  
 
The value of the conferences extends beyond the educational sessions. Attendees make use of informal networking opportunities to share ideas and “Best Practices” used in their district that might benefit other attendees.   Sheri Mathis, a PEIMS Coordinator from Springtown Independent School District in Texas has attended many of the Texas User Group Conferences. Mathis comments, “The Texas Skyward User Group Conference is very beneficial to users. Not only do you get instruction from Skyward staff but you also get one-on-one interaction with other Skyward users across the state. While talking amongst each other we can problem solve and find new solutions.”
 
Each year Skyward holds state user group conference at locations throughout the United States and also hosts their international conference (Skyward i-Con) each year in Orlando, FL. A complete list of Skyward conferences is available on Skyward’s website: http://www.skyward.com/Events/. The user group conferences are coordinated by independent state steering committees made up of Skyward users in each state who also work with Skyward on behalf of users in their state to recommend future enhancements to the software.
 
Since 1980, Skyward has been serving the K-12 administrative software needs of school districts. Today, Skyward’s School Management Systems™ are found in more than 1,300 school districts throughout the United States and internationally. Skyward’s School Management System represents an integrated student and financial management software system designed to keep administrators, educators, and families connected.

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CaliPlus The Impotence Drug To Resolve The Erectile Dysfunction For Men

 

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 However, before you buy CaliPlus for erectile dysfunction, you should be aware of all its side effects, complications, or adverse reactions with other medications.  Some of the most commonly reported side effects experienced by people who buy CaliPlus and in clinical trials include headache, flushing, stuffy or runny nose, upset stomach, sinusitis, and nausea.

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Strong communication key to online learning

Traditional colleges and schools of education will need to develop programs for virtual school teacher preparation.

Traditional colleges and schools of education will need to develop programs for virtual school teacher preparation.

Teaching in an online environment isn’t the same as teaching in a traditional classroom, and online instructors need special skills and approaches to be successful. For example, communication can pose a challenge in online-learning environments, because online educators can’t rely on visual cues as their colleagues can in bricks-and-mortar schools. Now, a new research brief from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) looks at this challenge in greater detail, examining how successful programs and teachers are ensuring effective communication.

The report, called “Examining Communication and Interaction in Online Teaching,” reviews existing research and what it has to say about the keys to successful online instruction. It also reviews various policies and practices for communicating with students and parents during an online course, and it looks at the delivery model, course development, pacing, communication methods, and teacher requirements for 10 leading online-learning programs.

Owing to the rapid growth in online schooling and the current environment of accountability surrounding K-12 education today, traditional colleges and schools of education will need to develop programs for virtual school teacher preparation, because “although online teaching shares much in common with traditional face-to-face instruction, it has its own unique set of skills and requirements,” says the report.

“While most universities and colleges have established programs to prepare their faculty to teach online,” the report adds, “school systems are just beginning to address this need.”

To help virtual educators and schools of education, iNACOL, with the endorsement of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), recently issued the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, which are guidelines that form a research-based framework for effective online teaching. These standards are based on SREB’s earlier work, as well as standards from the National Education Association, Ohio Department of Education, and Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

iNACOL’s report also discusses four main skills or duties that every online teacher must have or perform, based on a review of existing research:

1. Be able to facilitate interaction: Teachers must use eMail, frequent telephone conversations, and collaborative tools, such as threaded discussions and synchronous chats, to closely connect with students. When done correctly, online teaching actually “enables more individualized attention than is actually possible in the traditional classroom,” says the report. “Such an effective teacher would be seen as a motivator, a guide, a mentor, and a listener.”
2. Be highly responsive: Effective online teaching practices must include quickly responding to student and parent inquiries. The report says developing a disciplined approach to “keeping the lines of communication open” is a part of the daily routine of a successful online teacher.
3. Know web-based technologies: Teachers must know, and be skilled at using, web-based technologies that offer students opportunities for collaborative learning. Online-learning environments, through the use of web-based tools, “…can offer a more active, constructive, and cooperative experience than classroom learning,” says the report. “In addition to traditional teaching attributes and teaching with digital content, virtual school teachers need to be proficient at helping children acquire a skill set [that] includes autonomous learning and self-regulation.”
4. Be trained in both synchronous and asynchronous instruction: Synchronous instruction brings teachers and students together simultaneously in virtual spaces, which “implies that virtual teachers need to become skillful at using chat room and collaborative software,” says the report. Asynchronous instruction may be delivered without any specific timetable, “requiring teachers to become knowledgeable about offering postings online and discussion boards.”

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Instructor to outsource grading … to students

Some educators offered harsh criticism of the crowdsourcing grading method.

Some educators offered harsh criticism of the crowdsourcing grading method.

Cathy Davidson hopes to teach her students the importance of personal responsibility, especially in a Web 2.0 culture, by letting students grade each other in her “This is Your Brain on the Internet” course being offered at Duke University this winter.

Davidson’s approach is an innovative and somewhat controversial application of “crowdsourcing,” the 21st-century idea of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employer or organization and outsourcing them to a community at large, often making use of Web 2.0 tools and applications to do so. Her approach has drawn both interest and criticism since she first announced it earlier this year.

As an educator who is returning to teaching after several years in administration, Davidson said she found grading to be a meaningless, superficial, and cynical way to evaluate learning–especially in a class on new modes of thinking in the digital era.

She said top-down grading by the professor turns learning into a competition among the students, where they try to complete the least amount of work possible or give the professor what he or she wants simply to get a good grade.

Davidson will be using a new point system in her class that will be supplemented by peer review and teacher commentary on students’ progress. The grading will be done by contract, with students who do all of the work receiving an A.

“If you do the assignment satisfactorily, you get the points. Add up the points, there’s your grade. Clear cut. No guesswork. No second-guessing ‘what the [professor] wants.’ No gaming the system. Clear cut. Student is responsible,” she wrote on a blog post on the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) web site.

The point system is determined through crowdsourcing, with students determining if their classmates have completed their work satisfactorily. If the work is deemed unsatisfactory by the student’s peers, he or she has the option to revise and resubmit. Davidson noted that every study about peer review shows that students work harder when they know they are being judged by their classmates.

“If you’re judging your peers one week and you’re being judged the next, you’re going to come up with a fairly coherent standard of grading,” she said, adding that the students who take her class are usually hard workers to begin with. “I know the students are going to work even harder, and again, study after study shows this: If students have to teach subject matter, they learn it better … and if they’re being evaluated by their peers, they work much harder than if they’re going to be evaluated by their teacher.”

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FTC sets new rules for online endorsements

Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products.

Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products.

In a move with important implications for school technology buyers and decision makers, the Federal Trade Commission on Oct. 5 took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren’t typical.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. The guides are not binding law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could result in various sanctions–including a lawsuit.

Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products. Previously, companies had just included disclaimers when extremely favorable results were out of the ordinary, noting that the experience was not typical for all customers.

Testimonial advertisements can be effective for consumers, because they show others talking about their experiences–giving hope to the consumer that he or she will have that experience, too. But they are misleading to consumers if they don’t disclose what consumers should truly expect to experience, the commission said.

For bloggers, the FTC stopped short of specifying how they must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be “clear and conspicuous,” no matter what form it will take.

Bloggers have long praised or panned products and services online. But what some consumers might not know is that many companies pay reviewers for their write-ups or give them free products, such as computers or trips to Disneyland. In contrast, at traditional journalism outlets, products borrowed for reviews generally have to be returned.

Before the FTC gave notice last November that it was going to regulate such endorsements, blogs varied in their level of disclosure about these potential conflicts of interest.

The FTC’s proposal has made many bloggers anxious. They said the scrutiny would make them nervous about posting even innocent comments.

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