Category Archives for "Schools and Technology"

5 Ways Online Registration Supports CA School Funding

In 2013, California adopted a new formula for deciding how much money each school district gets, called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under this new school funding system, schools will receive a base grant for students in grades K-12. In addition to the base grant, a supplemental grant of 20% of the base grant will be offered for disadvantaged students: those who are classified as English Learners (EL), Low Incidence (LI) disability, Foster Youth (FY), or eligible to receive a Free or Reduced-Price Meal (FRPM).  Additionally, districts with more than 55% of their students identified as disadvantaged will be granted school funding at rats of 50% the base grant.

Each dollar granted to school funding will help improve programs and services in the areas where they are needed most. However, many schools have difficulty capturing the data required to ensure that they receive the greatest amount of funding for each student.  Whether it’s due to parent insecurities, student embarrassment, or lack of proper reporting, districts are “losing out??? on thousands of available state LCFF dollars due to students being misclassified.

So how can schools make certain that they capture accurate data for maximum school funding? Well, using an online system like K-12 Online helps:

  1. Optimize data while at the same time safeguards privacy.
  2. Parents can identify residency information, language, or disabilities in a way that maintains their dignity, is safe and non-threatening.
  3. Parents feel a sense of anonymity because all registration and enrollment information is completed online, and hard copies are not circulated through volunteers, etc.
  4. Only administrators who are required to know classification information have access to it, adhering to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws.
  5. Using an online system increases reporting accuracy and allows for data to be easily sorted, saved, and sent to the district.

Online registration helps maintain the parents and students’ dignity and privacy while ensuring that the maximum amount of funding is allocated to a school or district.

Why Catholic Schools are Drawn to K-12 Online

A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 parents are considering switching their child(ren) from a traditional large public school environment to a Catholic school. Many parents feel that smaller schools have a clear academic focus and vision for high quality successful learning, while in a public school, children can easily get lost in the large, impersonal system.


With this change in mindset from parents, comes an increase in student applications for small schools.  Unlike the public school system that is required by law to accept all children, Catholic schools typically have an admission and acceptance process. Traditional procedures for handling applications and enrollment can be one of the most burdensome, costly, outdated and environmentally wasteful processes.  For that reason, many schools and districts are turning to online registration.  Online registration has proven to be extremely valuable, saving time and money, especially for Catholic schools.


Many small schools believe that online registration is just too costly, however, K-12 Online is the first company to offer affordable online solutions that cater to small schools.  Although the web-based application is designed for schools large and small, public and private, the product offers a solution for those districts and schools that otherwise would not be able to afford it.


Catholic schools are drawn to K-12 Online, not only for its affordability, but also for its assistance in increasing school donations.  Most Catholic schools rely heavily on fundraising in order to provide their teachers and students with the best learning environment possible. Therefore, a registration system that incorporates fundraising can prove valuable, help make money for the school, and in many cases, even pay for itself. K-12 Online offers several options for donations to be collected through the school web store or by linking a “Donate Now??? button from the school’s website. Schools that have used K-12 Online as a method of collecting donations have seen an increase in overall donations by 30%!


K-12 Online offers a complete online student registration software application that transforms the student application & enrollment process by eliminating expensive paper-based methods. They even offer payment plan options to small schools, making it an AFFORDABLE option to helping schools save money, time and resources!

Handing student residency verfication with K-12 Online

Residency verification seems to be a growing concern for school districts and rightly so.  Schools spend countless resources and hours babysitting this process. On the other hand, parents dread this manual process of filling out proof of identity and proof of residency forms, not to mention faxing or returning the forms back to the school.  K-12 Online to the rescue!

Besides some built-in features that alerts school staff of a change of physical residency when parents update their students’ information, K-12 Online has also incorporated new technologies that may assist schools in this area.

1. School Districts just wants to make sure that students attending really do belong to the district.
2. Some parents don’t have scanners to upload documents to K-12 Online.
3. Schools want to make this process as painless as possible for parents.


1. Include the Proof of Residency in the K-12 Online registration forms.
2. Instruct parents that Proof of Residency will be verified at Check-in.
3. List the Residency form on the Completed Registration PDF
4. Proof of Residency form should have verbiage such as ‘I am uploading proof of residency documents “Yes” / “No”‘ (radio buttons). Don’t make uploading documents mandatory.
5. During check-in, if ‘I am uploading proof of residency documents  shows “Yes”‘, the person checking the student in, goes to the student’s individual Residency form in K-12 Online’s Individual form manager, looks at whether the documents are acceptable and if so, checks them in; otherwise don’t.
6. If ‘I am uploading proof of residency documents shows “No”‘, the person checking the student in, receives their photocopied documents and then attaches it to the PDF.  If they don’t bring in the documents, they cannot get “checked-in”.

So once students are checked in, this means that their residency has been verified. Thousands of hours saved by the school and a painless process for  parents.  Hope this helps!


Trends and Issues in Educational Technology

Let’s face it: the rest of the world’s organizations and institutions are taking advantage of new technology and leveraging it to maximize operational efficiency. So why should educational technology for schools be any different?

While much progress in education technology has been made, there is so much more to be done. The rapid and constant pace of change in technology is creating both opportunities and challenges for schools.

The use of technology allows schools to have greater access to online courses, blended learning, educational resources, hands-on multimedia content, the use of social networking, and other rich content for personalized learning and professional development. At the same time, the rapid change in technology creates significant challenges for schools. Many schools are unable to keep up with digital innovations because they don’t have the proper infrastructure. Some spend their time playing catch-up, while others just don’t have the funds to update their systems, creating a digital divide among schools and districts.

Private schools, independent schools, charter schools, and even entire school districts can all benefit from taking an online approach to managing school operations. But the rapid evolution of educational technology makes it increasingly challenging to determine what works best.

Below is a look at some of the hottest issues and trends in educational technology, as published by Education Week (September 2011), and how they are creating opportunities and challenges for K-12 schools.


Technology Infrastructure

Schools and districts battle to keep up with the ever-increasing demands to upgrade their technological infrastructure. But the demands themselves have changed during the past decade, from a focus on simply gaining connectivity to finding enough bandwidth to running more complex applications in classrooms, such as streaming audio and video.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 97 percent of schools across the country had Internet connectivity as of 2010.  Far fewer, however, were able to successfully meet the need for higher speed access, the FCC said, citing that demand as one reason it unveiled its National Broadband Plan in March 2010. In October of the same year, it also revised E-Rate, the federal program that subsidizes school purchases for Internet connectivity and allows schools to use E-Rate dollars to gain connectivity.

Because technology infrastructure needs vary widely between districts, and indeed between schools within the same districts, the federal government’s perceived desire to focus its efforts as a facilitator of infrastructure access has become somewhat controversial among education technology advocates. And while chief technology officers generally say that school infrastructure is improving, many openly doubt that capability will catch up with demand, since new digital tools used in education are requiring ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth.

In building an infrastructure, many schools are also trying to streamline their processes. Schools and districts are turning to outside vendors and undergoing widespread adoption of online solutions that offer programs from Common Core preparation and online courses to online registration, SIS systems, managing student data, reporting, and more.


E-Learning/Blended Learning

Online learning is on the rise in schools all across the country. Students now have a long list of choices when it comes to e-learning. The menu of options often includes full-time, for-profit virtual schools; state-sponsored virtual schools; supplemental online learning courses offered by brick-and-mortar schools; and charter schools presenting a hybrid option of digital material coupled with face-to-face instruction.

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, estimates that more than 1.5 million K-12 students were engaged in some form of online or blended learning in the 2009-10 school year. At the end of 2010, supplemental or full-time online learning opportunities were available in at least 48 of 50 states (iNACOL, 2010).

Options for full-time virtual schools are growing. Students from kindergarten through high school can seek out online schooling opportunities, which usually include virtual teachers and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online learning (Education Week, June 15, 2011). These schools are starting to focus more on the issue of socialization for their students, and some are incorporating more face-to-face instruction into their array of services to allow for student interaction both online and in person. They are forming clubs, holding proms, and creating school newspapers.

But full-time virtual schools also face the reality that for many students with two parents working outside the home, such a scenario is not an option. Such students often cannot attend full-time online schools for that reason, and virtual school providers acknowledge that their version of education works best, particularly in the lower grades, when an adult is present to assist.

In addition to courses that offer an online instructor, some researchers suggest that students have the most success with hybrid or blended education. A growing number of brick-and-mortar schools are now tapping into e-learning for a variety of reasons. Some schools say it saves money and allows them to offer a wider variety of courses, including Advanced Placement classes. Others say it can help with scheduling conflicts when a face-to-face class is only provided at a time when a student already has another obligation. In addition, online courses can provide highly qualified teachers for classes otherwise not offered by a school.

So where are traditional schools getting these online courses? Some are developing their own, others are purchasing them from for-profit vendors, and a growing number are able to utilize state virtual schools or state-led online learning initiatives. Some schools find it easier to use courses developed by a state-run virtual school, since it is already aligned with their state standards.


Mobile Computing

Increasing access, growing acceptance, and decreasing cost are all helping to make the use of mobile devices a popular and increasing trend within the world of educational technology. While the digital divide between the affluent and disadvantaged still exists, mobile devices have the potential to close it, at least in terms of access.

According to the “Horizon” report, game-based learning will be widely adopted by mainstream classrooms within two to three years (New Media Consortium, 2011). Instead of educational software, e.g. Math Blaster or Reader Rabbit, students and teachers are much more likely to incorporate Web-based educational games into classrooms, which are often available for free.

Some educators hope that games and simulations will provide a way for students to picture themselves in career paths they may otherwise would not have chosen, especially in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and some argue that games and simulations offer students a way to connect what they are learning in class with (simulated) real-world situations in a safe and low-cost environment (Education Week, March 17, 2011).

Researchers have also found that games and simulations may help students learn by helping them visualize processes they otherwise could not see, such as the flow of an electron or the construction of a city. Games can also promote higher-order thinking skills, such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork (MIT, 2009; National Academies Press 2011).

However, creating a healthy marriage of an engaging and entertaining game with educational objectives and goals is a challenging process that has yet to be perfected. And finding the time and resources to train teachers who may not be familiar with game-based learning is a challenge for most schools.  Despite these challenges, many educators and researchers are committed to developing educational games and incorporating game-based learning into classrooms across the United States.


Social Networking

Many schools are no longer debating whether social networking should play a role in education. Instead, that debate has shifted to which social networking tools work best and how to deploy them (Digital Directions, June 16, 2010). Some schools are using mainstream social networking tools like Facebook for everything from promoting school events to organizing school clubs as well as for more academic purposes related to assignments and class projects.

But educators wary about security, advertising, information-sharing, and social interaction in such an environment often seek out social networks designed specifically for learning instead. These sites, like ePals and eChalk, are more restrictive, allowing teachers and school officials to limit not only who can join, but who students can talk to and interact with. Some educators also say students seem to take these sites more seriously and treat them with a more academic focus and tone than they would a site they routinely use for socialization with their peers. These sites also often provide safety features that can detect foul language or bullying phrases and alert a teacher (Education Week, June 15, 2011).

Many educators say the academic benefits of social networking are real. They allow students to work cooperatively on projects in an online environment that feels familiar to students. Teachers often report that a student who does not speak up in class will be more engaged on a social networking site and that these sites allow instructors to extend the school day.

Technology tools are also making it quicker and easier than ever to create digital portfolios of student work—a method of showcasing student progress that experts say increases student engagement; promotes a continuing conversation about learning between teachers, parents, and students; and extends academic lessons beyond school walls (Education Week, March 17, 2011). New social networking tools to aid this are being developed and updated regularly.

All in all, effective technology integration is achieved when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. For more information on the issues and trends in educational technology, visit Education Week.


Let us know what types of technology your school or district uses to enhance curricular goals.

21 Signs You’re a 21st Century School

1. Your book report list…includes a selection of e-books.

2. Your students work on collaborative projects…with students in Australia.

3. You give weekly class updates and homework clues…via your blog.

4. You prepare substitutes with detailed directions…via Podcasts. YouTube

5. You use a paperless, online system… for registration and enrollment. k12online

6. You stream live webcams in the classroom… for a first-hand look at places, nature, and animals.

7. You realize the importance of professional development…and read blogs, join online communities, and tweet for self-development.

8. Your students share stories of their summer vacation…through an online photo repository. Shutterfly

9. You teach your students not to be bullies…or cyberbullies.

10. You have your morning coffee…while checking your RSS feed.

11. You take your students on a field trip to the Great Wall of China…and never leave your classroom. trip list

12. Students are involved in global classroom projects…focused on the environment. Global Classrooms

13. You are remodeling… to create environmentally friendly, energy efficient, “green??? schools.

14. To help with tight classroom budgets…you utilize many of the free resources available on the web.,

15. You require your students to conduct an interview…via Skype or FaceTime.

16. You are a part of the 21st century education…paradigm shift!

17. Your curriculum is project-based…rather than textbook-driven. project based learning

18. Students are required to submit a research report… on video.

19. You share lesson plans with other teachers…from around the globe. teachingthatsticks

20. When working on a research project…textbooks are not the first source of reference.

21. Your response to people who say…It’s impossible, do you really think you can reform education? “I think I could, if I only knew how to begin. For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.??? –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Every great achievement was once impossible until someone set a goal to make it a reality.