Enter the $680K EdSim Challenge by January 17

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comThe EdSim Challenge submission deadline is quickly approaching with less than a month left! All simulation concepts must be submitted by 4:59:59 PM EST on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, on the Luminary Lightbox platform.

The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century. Successful simulations will pair the engagement of commercial games with rigorous educational content that strengthens academic, technical, and employability skills.

Following close of submissions, the judging panel will select up to five finalists to receive $50,000 each and advance to the Virtual Accelerator. During the Virtual Accelerator, each team will work with expert mentors as they refine their concept and build a simulation prototype.

We look forward to your ideas for expanding virtual and augmented reality in education!

Be sure to watch the EdSim Informational Webinar:

and the launch message:

If you have questions about your EdSim Challenge submission, please visit the EdSim Challenge website or email us at hello@edsimchallenge.com.

Expanding Computer Science Education with Career and Technical Education

csedweek_forwebGiven the tremendous career opportunities that a foundation in computer science can provide, it makes sense that we do what we can to improve access to high-quality computer science learning experiences for all students. Computer science (CS) is not about understanding how to use a word processor or create a spreadsheet. CS is about gaining computational thinking skills and is a critical skill set that all students should have in the 21st century workforce—and states, districts, schools, educators, and their partners are doing their part to expand opportunities to computer science for all.

Career and Technical Education (CTE), funded by the Carl D. Perkins CTE Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins), is an effective approach for increasing access to rigorous computer science coursework as well as for integrating computer science into existing programs of study. Many states are working creatively and innovatively to utilize CTE pathways and Perkins funds to increase access to and completion of computer science courses. From using funds to increase interest in middle school and supporting educator preparation, to dual-coding of courses and increasing access to equipment, states are working hard to maximize the use of Perkins funds to help prepare more students in their states for career opportunities.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind to help increase access to high-quality CS for All.

  • Dual-coding of Courses – Computer science courses are being offered in both CTE and non-CTE academic programs with course codes that inhibit courses from being used in multiple programs. Some states have found it helpful to dual-code these courses to strengthen their offerings, eliminate duplication of efforts and reduce the funds needed to implement computer science programs in a high school. For example, in Florida , computer science standards were jointly written to make sure that the standards met both academic and CTE expectations.
  • Dual-certification of Teachers – Having a well-prepared, well-supported educator workforce is critical to expanding access to computer science courses. Again, to prevent duplication of effort, states have found it helpful to ensure that computer science educators in high schools are able to teach computer science as part of either a CTE or academic program. These options increase the number of educators available to teach computer science while providing flexibility for how computer science is taught in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • Professional Development for Teachers – Perkins funds can be used to provide professional development for CTE educators to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to teach computer science. Because computer science educator preparation requires high-quality, intensive professional development for existing educators, states are also thinking creatively about how to use Perkins in conjunction with Title II funds to increase the number of educators who are able to teach computer science in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • End-of-Pathway Assessments – States are thinking creatively about end-of-pathway assessments for CTE students and how to ensure the demonstration of technical proficiency. States like Maryland and Idaho are utilizing satisfactory scores on the AP computer science exams as a demonstration of technical proficiency.

Perkins funding can be used to complement and strengthen computer science education in a variety of creative ways, such as collaborating with middle schools to increase CS career exploration courses in 7th and 8th grade, and making CTE CS courses students available to students who are not in a CTE program of study.

OCTAE and the U.S. Department of Education joined several federal agencies in celebrating CS Education Week, December 5-11, 2016, during which a Year of Action was announced. It continues the momentum of CSforAll following its launch in January 2016 that brought together federal, state, and local efforts to increase access to CS education. That same day in January, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, provided more insight into the importance of providing CS for All in her blog.

OSTP Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion, Ruthe Farmer, also provided a year-in-review recapping 2016 CS education milestones.

Follow #CSforAll on your favorite social media for ongoing activities.

EdSim Challenge Judges Announced

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comOCTAE is pleased to introduce the expert panel of judges for the EdSim Challenge! They bring a wealth of expertise in education, simulations, industry training, emerging technology, and venture capital to the Challenge, and share a passion for transforming teaching and learning experiences through virtual and augmented reality.

Join us in acknowledging the time, effort, and incredible array of talents the judges are contributing to the energy of the EdSim Challenge.

    Meet the EdSim Challenge judges:

  • Elizabeth Baron, Virtual Reality & Advanced Visualization Technical Specialist, Ford Motor Company
  • Nonny de la Peña, CEO and Founder, Emblematic Group
  • Marlon Evans, CEO, GSVlabs
  • Steve Isaacs, Video Game Design and Development Teacher, William Annin Middle School
  • Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code
  • Kurt Squire, Co-Director, Games+Learning+Society Center, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
  • Kiki Wolfkill, Halo Transmedia & Entertainment Studio Head, Microsoft’s 343 Industries

You can read about the judges and find more information about the Challenge at EdSimChallenge.com.

As a reminder, the EdSim Challenge is accepting submissions for simulation concepts through January 17, 2017 at 4:59:59 PM EST.

You can also sign up to receive Challenge updates here and see quick overview in the video below.

White House Encourages More Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy added their voice to the national conversation on leveraging virtual and augmented reality to improve education. The blog mentioned the $680,000 EdSim Challenge that prompts virtual and augmented reality developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education that are “… as compelling as the best video game.”

The blog was published in advance of the EdSim Challenge Informational Webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 16 at 3:00pm Eastern Time. You can find more information about the EdSim Challenge on the challenge website and register for the webinar here.

Tune in Tomorrow to the EdSim Challenge Webinar

Remember to register for the informational webinar!

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comThe EdSim Challenge is moving forward after a fantastic launch and we are excited to host an informational webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16th from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern Time. The webinar will include an overview of the EdSim Challenge and a live Question and Answer session. Join the webinar to learn more about the vision of the U.S. Department of Education for educational simulations, as well as the Challenge timeline, submission process, eligibility, awards, and criteria.

Please register here to receive connection and login information in advance of the session. For those unable to attend the webinar, a recording of the webinar will be posted later on the Challenge blog.

We look forward to a sharing information on the EdSim Challenge and expanding virtual and augmented reality in education!

EdSim Challenge Launched to Bring Virtual Reality to CTE

OCTAE is excited to launch the EdSim Challenge with a cash prize pool of $680,000 and additional sponsor prizes from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung. The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century.

Successful simulations will pair the engagement of commercial games with rigorous educational content that strengthens academic, technical, and employability skills.


Simulated environments, such as virtual and augmented reality, 3D simulations, and multiplayer video games, are emerging approaches to deliver educational content. Research indicates that simulation-based learning provides students with enriched experiences in information retention, engagement, skills acquisition, and learning outcomes.

Those interested in entering the Challenge should submit their simulation concepts at edsimchallenge.com by January 17, 2017.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our informational webinar on November 16, 2016 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST to hear an overview of the Challenge and ask questions.

You can also view the complete Federal Register Notice here.

We look forward to seeing what innovators from around the country envision for the future of learning!

Opportunity Across America Back-to-School Bus Tour

Join OCTAE this week as we hit the road for the Opportunity Across America Tour—the final back-to-school bus tour of the Obama Administration.

School bus with overlaid map of bus tour route DC to New Orleans.

2016 Opportunity Bus Tour

The tour kicks off in Washington, DC and continues across six states to highlight and celebrate the progress that we’ve made as a nation in education over the past seven years.

From rural towns to big cities, educators, schools, families, and communities share a belief that a quality education can expand opportunity and ensure our nation’s fundamental promise: that with hard work and determination, each of us can fulfill our great potential.

Working together, we can ensure that all students have access to an education that helps them achieve their dreams; that all students encounter school as a safe, nurturing, and joyful place to learn and grow; and that teachers are supported and lifted up in the vital work they do each day. Together, we can give every student and family the opportunity to succeed.

That’s what the Opportunity Across America Tour is all about. We hope you’ll follow along the journey and visit the OCTAE blog everyday to read about the programs, students and communities we meet throughout the week.

Join @usedgov on the tour and tell us what opportunity means to you by tagging your Tweet and Facebook post with #OpportunityTour

Monday – Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.

Today, on the first day of the 2016 Bus Tour: 8 Years of Expanding Opportunity Across America, Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin visited Capital City Public Charter School to emphasize the Administration’s commitment to Computer Science for All and recognize the significant accomplishments of Capital City, its faculty, and its students. Capital City is an outstanding example of a school committed to the Administration’s efforts to ensure that all students reap the fruits of the new technologies and hands-on learning that are transforming public education.

Photo of Johan Uvin with two students and a school staff member in school hallway.

Johan Uvin and OCTAE staff are led on a tour by students of the Capital City Public Charter School.

Capital City Public Charter School continues to demonstrate the ability to educate its students at a high level of success. Since its first graduating class in 2012, 100 percent of Capital City’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college! Of these graduates, seven were POSSE scholars, two were Trachtenberg Scholars, and one was a Milken Scholar.

Capital City was one of ten CTE Makeover Challenge winners in 2016, earning a $20,000 cash prize and almost $35,000 in equipment and software to help Capital City continue to provide high-quality, robust career and technical education experiences through “making” and computer science and enable students to succeed in the twenty-first century.

We were led by students on a tour of the winning makerspace and Johan Uvin led a roundtable discussion with students and faculty who shared their vision for “making” as well as work-based learning experiences with local public and private partnerships.

Photo of Johan Uvin seated in the cneter with two female students seated on either side of him.

Johan Uvin is flanked by two students of Capital City Public Charter School during the roundtable session.

These are just some of the accomplishments that led First Lady Michelle Obama to say: “Every young person in this country should have a team of teachers, counselors, and school leaders pushing them and supporting them like you [students] all have here at Capital City” during her visit in 2014.

Tuesday – West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, Kentucky

photo of Kim Ford sitting across a work table from a student

Students demonstrate their projects to Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford during her visit to WKCTC.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford visited the state of Kentucky beginning the day at West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) in Paducah, Kentucky where she toured the Allied Health and the Emerging Technology buildings, while professors and students shared their experiences at WKCTC. Students talked about the integral role career coaches play in their academic success. The coaches support students with mandatory college paperwork, establishing educational and career goals, and other requests. It is this type of mentorship that helps sustain WKCTC’s 48 percent graduation/transfer rate, a rate eight points higher than the national average.

The visit ended with a roundtable discussion on college affordability efforts, student support systems on and off campus, innovation in postsecondary education, and strategic work-based learning partnerships in the community. Reflecting on the visit Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford said, “The level of innovation at WKCTC and the overall excitement from students and staff were very impressive. This was an incredibly exciting and informative visit.”

Photo of Student using an automobile body part to describe his skills to Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Ford, standing to his right.

Student Jason McGregory describes his skills to Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Ford.

The day continued with a visit to Graves County Restricted Custody Center (GCRCC) in Mayfield, KY, a male correctional facility where the adult correctional education classes and the Skilled Craft Training Center is administered by WKCTC. Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford got an inside look at GCRCC and its unique commitment to ensure that all incarcerated individuals hold a basic education. If individuals come to GCRCC without a high school diploma, GCRCC requires them to work towards their General Education Development (GED) certificate during their time there. Additionally, the program leverages technology and the Internet to advance student outcomes in adult basic education and English as a second language and increase the employability of incarcerated individuals when they reintegrate into society.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford heard from students on how the classes at GCRCC are helping them prepare for their future by exploring ideas and increasing their competencies in new technology. More than 10 community leaders joined the tour and expressed their view of adult correctional education programs as a larger effort to assist incarcerated individuals develop the skills needed for reintegration into society, not just as residents, but as leaders equipped to succeed. “It is great to see incarcerated individuals be given the opportunity to not only gain their GED, but also remain connected with technology while having the potential of their future contributions to our communities and their families be recognized by instructors and correctional facility staff,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Ford.

Local television station WPSD featured the visit in their evening newscast. You can view their story here.

Thursday – Eastside Promise Neighborhood, San Antonio, Texas

Acting Assistant Secretary, Johan Uvin, and Chief of Staff, Carmen Drummond, visited the Eastside Promise Neighborhood (EPN) in San Antonio, Texas, a 2011 recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods five year implementation grant. The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.

Photo of students gather around Johan Uvin, seated, demonstrating their enginieering project.

Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin watches as Bowden Elementary School 5th grade Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students work on a knee brace. The students were from left, Sariya Jackson, Jade Cavazos, Jade White, and Cithaly Cerna.

The EPN’s school and community-based programs led by United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County are helping to reinforce the idea that children do well when their parents do well. Specifically, their Dual Generation Program offers families and parents access to job-readiness programs, support to further their education and family literacy workshops. Additionally, EPN supports San Antonio Independent School District initiatives that aim to increase STEM instruction in the six EPN schools. During the visit Assistant Secretary Uvin visited classrooms implementing STEM curriculum where students talked about their projects and the fun they have learning engineering.
Photo of Johan Uvin being led on a tour of the facility.

Director of the Eastside Promise Neighborhood Tony Leverett, left, gives a tour of the Ella Austin Child Care Center to Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin

The visit included an insightful round table discussion with EPN partners and San Antonio stakeholders. The group discussed the achievements seen at the EPN schools by creating cradle-to-career solutions of both educational programs and family and community supports, and how to maintain this momentum far into the future. Assistant Secretary Uvin congratulated the EPN and community partners by saying, “It is wonderful to learn about the great collaboration San Antonio has achieved with the mayor’s office, the school system and local philanthropic organizations. I look forward to seeing these partnerships sustain the great programming at EPN schools.”

After the EPN visit, Assistant Secretary Uvin met with the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and toured the Health Magnet Program at Fox Tech High School. Fox Tech students talked about the projects and work-based learning opportunities offered by the magnet program. Assistant Secretary Uvin also participated in a roundtable conversation with the Chamber and other community partners where he learned how the Chamber is integrating a friendly business climate through work-based learning models for students, teacher pipeline structures for future educators, and career navigating programs for the community.

The visit was featured in the San Antonio Express-News and a television newscast.

Friday – Performance Partnership Pilot, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Photo of Johan Uvin standing at podium speaking to a group of students and staff

Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin shares remarks with students and staff of the Greenville Superintendent’s Academy

On the last day of the #OpportunityTour, Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin and Deputy Under Secretary Kim Hunter Reed visited Greenville Superintendent’s Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to highlight the Administration’s commitment to make significant improvements for disconnected youth in educational, employment, and other key outcomes. The Baton Rouge Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) for Disconnected Youth program is a collaborative effort between the city and school district that focuses on disconnected youth ages 14-24 by offering catered programming at two schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS).

During the visit, Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin and Deputy Under Secretary Reed engaged students in a dialogue during a roundtable discussion about the services that the P3 program will provide and how it will address the needs of youth living in Baton Rouge. Students talked about their dreams and aspirations, but also about the obstacles to success they had to overcome. Other important issues discussed were the impact of the flooding, the recent unrest over racial issues and challenges with law enforcement, and the need to find solutions to end the gun violence and killings. Students made several suggestions to the Mayor and Superintendent to improve their schools and community.

The day ended with a community partnership roundtable where Deputy Under Secretary Reed led a broader discussion on current issues in her hometown of Baton Rouge, including many of the concerns the students raised. Ms. Gail Grover from the Mayor’s Office and Student Ambassador Benjamin Jenkins helped facilitate the discussions during the student and community roundtables.

Reflecting on the visit Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin said, “The students care so deeply about their community and called on all adults in the room to help find solutions to end violence in the community and expand education opportunities.” The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, has formed a group to share information and coordinate a response to issues related to the Louisiana flooding.

Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hampshire

Also on Friday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford and Senior Policy Advisor David Soo visited College for America at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a leader in competency based education, distance learning, and employer engagement.

SNHU is also one of 44 institutions selected by the Department for the Federal Student Aid Dual Enrollment Pell Experiment. This three-year experiment will allow students taking college-credit courses to access Federal Pell Grants as early as high school. These programs can improve academic outcomes, lower costs and increase access to colleges and universities, especially for low-income students. Through the experiment, SNHU will offer its competency-based Associate of Arts in General Studies and will partner with several high schools.
 

Research consistently has shown that individuals with college degrees are more likely to live healthier lives, be more civically engaged in their communities, have good-paying jobs, and experience greater job security. SNHU and College for America are helping make more Americans enter and complete college by offering a wide range of degrees at an affordable price.

During the visit, Deputy Assistant Ford toured the traditional campus, which serves 3,000 students, and their online center serving 70,000 students across the country. College for America collaborates with over 100 businesses, nonprofits and governments to offer accredited associate and bachelor degrees that students earn online by mastering competencies through real-world projects.

Photo of tables arranged in a square with staff seated around the table

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim R. Ford and Senior Policy Advisor David Soo held a roundtable discussion on the College for America at Southern New Hampshire University

In the morning, a group of SNHU student ambassadors joined Deputy Assistant Ford for coffee and talked about why they chose to attend the traditional campus. Later in the day, Deputy Assistant Ford met with College for America students and learned how the competency-based programs are helping them gain college credits or workforce training to complete a degree at their own pace.

During a roundtable discussion with University and College administrators Deputy Assistant Ford said, “It is great to see how the innovative models at SNHU, such as online and competency-based programs, provide traditional and non-traditional students the opportunity to complete a college degree at a fraction of the typical cost. These models are allowing thousands of Americans the ability to pursue a college degree for the first time, as well as also complete a degree they might have started years before.”

OCTAE concludes its series of visits on the Opportunity Across America Tour—the seventh and final back-to-school bus tour of the Obama Administration that celebrated progress in education in communities and states across the country.

Top CTE Programs Recognized with National Award

Eleven CTE programs were selected for 2016 “Excellence in Action” awards by Advance CTE, a national association of state CTE directors. The awards are intended to highlight high quality Career Cluster-based programs of study that have a meaningful impact on student achievement and success. More information about the award program and its winners can be found on the Advance CTE website.

Congratulations to the eleven CTE programs receiving awards:

Tulare Join Union High School District Farm
Agriculture Education, California

Advanced Technologies Academy
Architectural Design, Nevada

Vista PEAK Preparatory
Business Education, Colorado

Peoria Unified School District
Early Childhood Education, Arizona

Hamburg High School
Academy of Finance, New York

Waubonsee Community College
Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic, Illinois

Des Moines Independent School District
Central Campus Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Academy, Iowa

Southwest High School
Computer Maintenance Technology & IT Certification Program, Texas

Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
Legal Studies, Texas

Desert View High School
Precision Machining and Mechanical Drafting, Arizona

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center
Manufacturing Technology Academy, Michigan

FCC Modernizes Lifeline Program For the Digital Age

OCTAE Applauds New Rules That Will Help Make Home Broadband More Affordable for Low-Income Americans

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has modernized and reformed its Lifeline program to help low-income consumers afford access to broadband Internet access. Lifeline is a program that has helped make telephone service affordable for low-income Americans since 1985.

OCTAE has long championed increased access to the Internet for teachers, students, and classrooms, spreading the word of opportunities such as ConnectED, ConnectHome, and EveryoneOn. We recognize the importance of Internet access to increase the rigor and relevance of classroom teaching and homework; make learning anytime, anywhere a possibility for all; and provide families with connections to information, civic opportunity, health information, and consumer savings.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 30 percent of households whose incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, and this low-income group makes up about 40% of all families with school-age children in the United States.

To learn more about the Lifeline program for low-income Americans, visit https://www.fcc.gov/general/lifeline-program-low-income-consumers.

 

One Week Remains to Join the CTE Makeover Challenge!

Composite image that reads CTE Makeover Challenge, calling on Schools to Design Makerspaces, $200000 in cash awards plus additional prizes. CTE Makeoverchallenge.comThere is one week left for schools to enter the CTE Makeover Challenge and compete for a share of the $200,000 cash prize pool and additional in-kind prizes! The Challenge was launched on March 9, 2016 and calls on high schools to design makerspaces that strengthen next-generation career and technical skills.

Schools can join the Challenge by visiting CTEMakeoverChallenge.com and completing a short submission form. The Challenge website also contains more information about the Challenge as well as complete rules, terms, and conditions.

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