The Virtual High School Launches After-School Space Station Academy Program for Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs


Program Brings Power of Immersive Space Simulations to STEM Learning


Boston — Jan. 21, 2016The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) has partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a nonprofit charged with managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, to provide the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs with an after-school version of the popular Space Station Academy course. CASIS has supplied the initial funding to enable 480 Club members in upper elementary and middle school grades to enroll in the course, which takes students on a simulated mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Club members throughout Florida will take the four-week program at different points in the year.


Typically offered during school hours or for independent study at home, Space Station Academy was developed by VHS in collaboration with astronauts, scientists, and educators at the Association of Space Explorers and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC). The course treats students as cadets in training for their first flight to space. They undergo pre-flight training as well as a realistic simulation of a launch and complete a mission on the ISS. Since the missions focus on Earth observation and photography, cadets see views of the Earth from the ISS windows, work with the same mapping and targeting software as the ISS astronauts, and explore hundreds of dramatic photos taken by astronauts who have been aboard the ISS.


In addition to providing online instructors and training on-site mentors from the participating Boys and Girls Clubs, VHS has enhanced the Space Station Academy program to include guidelines for blended instruction and on-site group activities. The on-site mentors recruit and enroll Boys and Girls Club members, monitor those cadets and provide face-to-face assistance with activities. Throughout the program, students hone and expand their STEM skills by using mathematics and computational thinking, analyzing and interpreting data, planning and carrying out investigations, using evidence in arguments and much more — all in the context of a realistic, virtual mission to space.


The first group, consisting of 131 students from Central Florida Boys and Girls Clubs, Suncoast Boys and Girls Clubs, Hernando County Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Genesis Center, is currently taking the course. Additional student contingents will take the course in April, June, and September 2016.


“Our mission aligns with that of the Boys and Girls Club – to help young people prepare for the future and provide opportunities for career exploration and educational enhancement,” said Carol Ribeiro, President and CEO of VHS.  “With this partnership, we’re able to share our amazing program with nearly 1,000 children at Boys and Girls Clubs in 2016, and in the process, we hope to spark an interest that drives them to consider a career in math, science, engineering or technology.”



About The Virtual High School Inc.

The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for secondary school students and online professional development for educators.  The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology, and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Associations (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit or call (978) 897-1900.


About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.



The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information,


About the ISS National Laboratory

In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, a vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.



– Move to benefit educators, students and parents around the world –

ONTARIO, Canada (January 21st, 2016) – Edsby®, an innovative cloud-based learning management system for K-12 school districts that connects teachers, parents and students using modern technologies, will soon be available on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s hyperscale, enterprise-grade cloud platform, as part of a global relationship between the two companies.

Edsby will be making its Edsby cloud service available in Azure data centers in the U.S. for American customers. In Canada, Microsoft Corp. recently announced plans to establish Azure cloud data centers in Ontario and Quebec and Edsby will be available in these Canadian facilities in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Shortly after, Edsby will be made available in Azure data centers in Australia, Europe and elsewhere.

“By utilizing Microsoft’s global network of Azure data centers, we can streamline how we provide Edsby in multiple regions around the world. This also enables us to meet customers’ regional or national data sovereignty requirements,” said John Myers, Edsby President. “In addition, the dynamic scalability and high availability of Azure will enable Edsby to scale to handle the millions of new users required by provincial, state and national level deployments.”

This new announcement builds on earlier integration work by Edsby, including Edsby’s support for Microsoft Azure Active Directory, which enables convenient one-click authentication, and Microsoft OneDrive access for Edsby users using Office 365.

“We’re excited to see an innovative cloud solution like Edsby take advantage of the power of the Azure cloud platform, and tools like Office 365, to enhance how students, teachers and parents communicate and collaborate around each student’s unique learning journey,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education, Microsoft. “We look forward to working with Edsby to bring this solution to schools around the world.”

About Edsby
Edsby is a modern, purpose-built learning management system (LMS) for K-12 that enables school districts and private schools to connect their teachers, students and parents using the technologies that have become pervasive in people’s lives. Edsby is developed by CoreFour, a team that has been building scalable, reliable software systems for education organizations around the world for almost 30 years using latest technology and standards. Edsby is a registered trademark of CoreFour Inc.



itslearning “HUB” for Houston (Tex.) Independent School District Featured in IMS Global Learning Impact Report


Implementation of itslearning digital platform highlighted as example of

technological innovation that educators should consider emulating


Boston, MA – Jan. 22, 2016—The itslearning “HUB” learning platform at Houston, Tex., Independent School District (HISD) was recognized as a ‘technological innovation worth emulating’ in IMS Global’s recently released 2015 Learning Impact Report.  The report distills the 2015 LIA winners’ initiatives, which HISD was honored to receive, into a series of pragmatic themes, practices and recommendations that help educators to launch their own learning technology initiatives. The report also offers recommendations to help readers facilitate their own successful learning technology implementations.


This annual competition recognizes outstanding, innovative applications of educational technology to address the most significant challenges facing education. Additionally, the consortium has provided an analysis of the HUB and other award winners in its 2015 Learning Impact Report, created to help educators understand how those technologies were used to create effective and cohesive teaching and learning environments.


The itslearning HUB came into being because HISD had found itself managing a growing patchwork of learning resources. Students and teachers completed assignments, assessments, collaborative projects and other activities in several digital locations, resulting in their juggling logins for dozens of third-party cloud services and the hosting of HISD’s student usage data, assessment results and analytics in multiple online sites.


“The itslearning HUB fits in beautifully with the 2015 Learning Impact Report’s implementation themes,” said Arne Bergby, itslearning CEO. “The report recognizes a growing shift towards fully integrated digital curriculum solutions that tie together architecture, platforms and tools. For HISD, our digital learning platform is their hub for collaboration, personalization, curriculum, instruction and communication for all staff, students and parents. That level of integration has improved HISD’s ability to provide an authentic and personalized teaching and learning environment.”


HISD selected the itslearning system to consolidate all its digital resources into one web-based, single sign-on resource. Rebranded the “PowerUp: HUB” or “the HUB” to fit in with the district’s overall initiative, the content-agnostic, open-sourced platform enables HISD to host a wide range of third-party digital content and different file format types that support active learning, flipped classrooms, project-based learning and other forms of learner-centered instruction. The HUB supports IMS open standards to eliminate the need for customized integration of various platforms.


“Our key objective for the Learning Impact Report is to identify and help make sense of pragmatic trends in the application of digital technology to improve teaching and learning,” said Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive Officer of IMS Global. “Since the IMS Global community has consistently been 3-5 years ahead of the general EdTech marketplace in terms of adoption patterns, the learning impact trends observed through the analysis of the award winners serve as predictors of the future of mainstream adoption.”


About IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS Global)

IMS Global is a nonprofit organization that advances technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment. IMS members are leading suppliers, institutions and government organizations that are enabling the future of education by collaborating on interoperability and adoption initiatives. IMS sponsors the Learning Impact Leadership Institute, a global program focused on recognizing the impact of innovative technology on educational access, affordability, and quality while developing the people and ideas that are going to help shape the future of educational technology.

About itslearning

Designed for teachers and how they want to teach, itslearning is a cloud-based learning platform used by millions of teachers, students, administration staff and parents around the world. It can be found at all levels of education, from primary schools to universities, helping teachers make education more inspiring and valuable for today’s students. Established in 1999, itslearning is headquartered in Bergen, Norway, and has offices in Boston, Atlanta and multiple locations around the world. For more information, visit


Families and Schools Together and Kansas Reading Roadmap Report Increase Parent Engagement Through Statewide Initiative

Education partnership promotes reading proficiency by 3rd grade across Kansas

News Image

Kids who participated in FAST are substantially ahead in terms of literacy development than those who did not participate, and we’re very excited by the progress in Kansas, both in terms of increased parent engagement and improved reading proficiency.

Families and Schools Together, an education non-profit and provider of FAST, a program that helps students succeed by building stronger relationships at home, announces the release of data showing that Kansas students are making big strides toward reading proficiency as part of FAST’s partnership with the Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR) project. FAST, which helps engage parents in their child’s language learning, is in its third year with the KRR initiative, the goal of which is to bring students to reading level or above by the 3rd grade

Teachers reported a 53 percent increase in parent involvement in their child’s school and education, according to University of Kansas data from the 2014-2015 school year. Parent capacity to support the literacy development of their children at home also increased, as did their confidence in discussing their child’s reading progress with teachers and school staff. As part of the program, parents gained a better understanding of their support role in the child’s process of becoming a reader, therefore the number of students requiring intensive reading interventions decreased by 37.6 percent.

Children enrolled in the FAST program transitioned away from costly intensive reading interventions at more than double the rate of children not enrolled, showing a correlation between parent engagement and literacy development.

“The FAST and KRR initiative has changed parent perception about what is going on in the classroom and engaged them in their children’s learning” said Becky Nider, KRR program coordinator and FAST team member. “Our families continue to thrive at home as they build confidence and understanding of the important role they play in developing reading skills.”

Throughout the state of Kansas, KRR combines Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) with the FAST parent engagement program to help students achieve reading proficiency. Parents involved in FAST are provided support tools with which to discuss literacy accomplishments and expectations with teachers while learning how to interpret their child’s progress in and out of school.

“The data from the University of Kansas confirms the crucial role that parent engagement plays in the educational outcomes of children,” said Carol Goedken, CEO of Families and Schools Together, Inc. “Kids who participated in FAST are substantially ahead in terms of literacy development than those who did not participate, and we’re very excited by the progress in Kansas, both in terms of increased parent engagement and improved reading proficiency.”

Based on the initial success of the program, FAST and KRR will continue their partnership this spring to ensure that all students participating in the program reach reading proficiency by 3rd grade. In the fall of 2015, the number of institutions participating increased to 40 schools spread across the state of Kansas.

To learn more about the Kansas Reading Roadmap, please visit

To learn more about FAST, visit

About Families & Schools Together
Families & Schools Together, Inc. is a non-profit organization located in Madison, Wisconsin whose mission is the development and worldwide dissemination of the FAST® Program. Founded in 1988 by scientific researcher and Professor of Social Work Dr. Lynn McDonald, the internationally-acclaimed FAST® Program is built on a strong platform of developmental and behavioral science and consistently produces statistically significant improvements in children’s behavior, emotional well-being, and academic performance. FAST® empowers parents to build social capital among schools and communities, and helps them strengthen their role as leaders within the family as well as in the community. By establishing these networks of support, families are more able to actively engage in their child’s education, leading to improved academic and developmental outcomes. To learn more about Families & Schools Together, Inc. and the FAST® Program, visit


MobyMax Helps Establish Blended Learning Model for Las Vegas Schoo

Potomac, MD (Jan. 21, 2016) – MobyMax, innovator of personalized and blended learning curriculum for K-8 students, is helping Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School in southwest Las Vegas reach its goal of establishing innovative, blended learning for all students.

“MobyMax sets up personal learning paths for each student and helps them fill any gaps that might be missing,” said Janice Heffernan, a blended learning strategist for the school.

According to Heffernan, a few years ago, the administration decided to take the school in a different direction to address the learning needs of all students. After purchasing mobile devices for every student, the district embarked on using the free MobyMax tool that covers reading, writing, math and science for grades K-8 to incorporate blended learning into the classroom.

A growing practice in classrooms nationwide, blended learning combines traditional face-to-face educational opportunities with learning through digital and/or online media, usually with an element of student control over time, place or pace of learning. According to the Center for Educational Reform, the efforts toward improving education in the U.S. include a strong focus on online and blended learning and are emerging as the predominant education model of the future.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Education notes that “online learning has the potential to improve educational productivity by accelerating the rate of learning, taking advantage of learning time outside of school hours, reducing the cost of instructional materials, and better utilizing teacher time.”

With the right tools in place to establish blended learning at Ries Elementary School, Heffernan said that students are taking charge of their own learning and are indeed learning at an accelerated pace.

“Students are now becoming aware of their own learning. They’re seeing where they are, and they’re understanding what they need to do in order to improve,” she said. “One student has climbed from a 2.1 to a 2.9 in reading skills from August 3 to October 14, almost a full year of reading [growth] in just two-plus months.”

Heffernan said that the teachers and students at Ries Elementary School alike are thrilled with what MobyMax offers them for blended learning opportunities.

“Their feedback was the reason we went ahead and purchased a license for the following school year,” said Heffernan.

To learn more about the school’s use of MobyMax, download the MobyMax Spotlight – Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School. For more information about MobyMax, visit

About MobyMax

MobyMax unlocks the power of personalized and blended learning to help students learn twice as fast. The company offers the only complete K-8 curriculum covering English language arts, math, and science. MobyMax identifies skill gaps with find-and-fix technology that targets instruction and helps students increase one full grade level in just 40 hours. Moby’s comprehensive system includes multiple motivation tools, test prep, assessments, messaging, parent portal, classroom clicker, and progress monitoring. MobyMax is used in more than half of all K-8 schools in the United States and has more than 15 million students registered. For more information, visit




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