Schools test 'app store' for learning through Gates-funded project

The inBloom system pulls together a wealth of student data to create a better learning experience

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Internet

"I'm going from paper systems to Word or Excel sheets to grade-book systems to state systems ... it's kind of all over the place," she said. But "the ability to go to one spot and do it all -- that is where I'm looking for all this to go," she said.

Ken Wagner, associate commissioner of curriculum assessment and educational technology for the New York state education department, described inBloom as "boring plumbing stuff"; if it works right, teachers should need to pay attention to it.

"What's interesting is the stuff built on top of it," he said. InBloom's roster of technology partners includes providers of learning tools like Agilix, Clever, Compass Learning and BloomBoard, as well as Amazon and Dell.

Parent groups and privacy advocates have voiced concerns about the potential for data abuse or security breaches given all the information that inBloom would have access to. Panelists acknowledged those concerns, saying inBloom is working hard to provide answers to questions about privacy and security, and that the system is in compliance with state and federal regulations.

Bill Gates himself delivered the closing keynote address at the South by Southwest education show, where he espoused the benefits of technology in education and said schools are at a "technology tipping point."

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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