Coming Early 2015 from Haiku Learning!

Director of Product Mike Gorski
This post is written by Mike Gorski, the Director of Product at Haiku Learning.

Happy 2015!

As the person responsible for the team engineering and developing our product at Haiku Learning, I spent the end of 2014 making our systems and platforms more stable and performant. This involved adding more capacity and retooling some of our software to run faster. Over the fall of 2014, I shared the technical details with some of you about what we did to improve Haiku Learning.

All of those details explain what's happening inside the Haiku Learning factory. While the view into the factory can be valuable, I suspect most of you care about what's coming out of the factory.

I'm happy with where we ended up. The Haiku Learning platform is more stable than it's ever been, ready for all the exciting features we'll be rolling out this year. With that in mind, I'd like to share a little about what's going in early 2015.


Teachers will soon have a fully integrated rubrics feature in Haiku Learning. Rubrics will be available everywhere you grade in Haiku, giving you a convenient and time-saving tool for evaluation. I think you'll be excited by the scope and flexibility of this new tool coming your way. Rubrics will be available in the first half of 2015.

New Rubrics from Haiku Learning
Here's a sneak peak of what we're working on for rubrics!

An updated iPad app

You’ll see a completely new version of Haiku Learning for iPad. Inspired by iOS 7 and 8, we built a tool that is a fresh and clean workspace for students, teachers, and parents. It’s more than just a new design, though. The new app shows grades alongside assignments and vice versa, providing students and parents with greater context into student performance, at-a-glance. We've also added access for parents, so they can now use the iPad app like they use the web-based Haiku Learning. The new iPad app will be available in about a week.

Powerful analytics tools

We're integrating a highly customizable analytics tool that will provide deeper insights to teachers and administrators about student and teacher engagement in Haiku Learning. In addition, it will enable teachers and administrators to slice and dice the data we collect in more valuable ways. And once that's done, the data can be easily exported for use outside of Haiku Learning.

That's what we're building inside the Haiku factory at the start of 2015. We have many other exciting things in store for 2015, and we'd love to hear what's top of mind for you. Let us know on our feedback forum.

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App of the Week: Gooru

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes will be giving readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Gooru?

From the Gooru site: "Gooru is a free personalized learning solution that enables teachers to find, remix, and share collections of web resources on any K-12 topic. With millions of open multimedia resources and quiz questions, Gooru organizes all online learning content and connects a community of educators and learners to meet students’ unique needs. Gooru is open-source and free."

In Haiku Learning: Millions of resources come together in thousands of user-generated collections, any of which can be be brought into Haiku Learning via LTI. (If you're a Haiku Learning School Edition customer and haven't started using LTI in Haiku Learning, see yesterday's blog post!)

  • Website:
  • Price: Free
  • Account Required? You don't need an account if you're just searching the Gooru site and grabbing embed codes that you can use with our Embed the Web tool. For LTI integration, you need to reach out to Gooru directly to obtain your account credentials at the admin level.

What does it look like?

As a teacher, when adding an LTI Activity to your class, you can search Gooru's inventory of resources and collections. Search listings will be displayed in the Activity set-up screen (yay!), then you just select any item to attach it to your Activity.

Primarily, their resources and collections will require that they be opened in a new window, and present a link to open in a new tab if embedded. Students can interact with the resource and rate it with stars or smiley faces. Analytics and responses are sent back to the teacher in Gooru.

Why should I try it?

For content that is created by teachers and tagged by subject area, grade level, and even standard, that you can instantly bring into any Haiku Learning class, Gooru is the way to go. They also have a great mission—to make quality education available to anyone, for free.

Where can I learn more?

You can watch Gooru in 90 Seconds or watch the more in-depth Gooru Website Walkthrough.

For domain administrators: Learn how to add Gooru as an LTI tool to your Haiku Learning school domain.

For teachers at schools where Gooru has been added as an LTI tool: Learn how to add a Gooru content to your Haiku Learning class.

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Question of the Week:
What is LTI and How Do I Use It in Haiku Learning?

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There are a lot of acronyms in the education space floating around lately—CC, PARCC, SBG—to name a few. And when you’re talking specifically about educational technology, the list gets even longer.

One of our favorites that we get asked about a lot at Haiku Learning is LTI. What is it? Do you guys have it? How can we do it? We love talking about LTI because it has to do with ease of use and flexibility, two pillars of Haiku Learning.

What is LTI?

LTI (or Learning Tools Interoperability) is a standard developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium that allows for the easy and seamless use of web-based learning tools across different platforms.

What does that really mean?

Have you ever wanted to bring Khan Academy, Gooru, or other third party activities into Haiku Learning? If the third party service offers LTI integration, you can add it in!

In the past, such tools could only operate on the original platform designed for their use. It made for a clunky experience of traversing different sites and logins. However, LTI handles the "single sign-on” behind the scenes, so you never have to leave Haiku Learning to use those tools.

So, through our LTI Tools integration, you can embed your favorite learning applications, content, and activities into Haiku Learning from their externally-hosted platform.

How do I add an LTI Tool to my Haiku Learning domain?

LTI integration is only available for those using the School Edition. Any domain administrator can add new or configure pre-existing LTI Tools through the Applications area of the Domain Control.

  1. Navigate to the LTI Tools tabs.
  2. Select "Add LTI Tool". You can follow the rest of the directions in this article from our Knowledgebase.

Once the LTI Tool has been added, teachers in that domain can access that tool by adding an Activity. The Activity feature in Haiku Learning can be accessed in one of two ways:

  1. From inside any Haiku Learning class: Click on Add Content Block. Or,
  2. From the Assess tab dropdown: Select Activities.

Once teachers decide their starting point, they can follow the rest of the directions in this article from our Knowledgebase.

BTW, if you’re using the Teacher Edition, but you’re interested in all the potential that LTI can offer your students, you should think about upgrading to our School Edition. We offer free pilots of our School Edition, and they’re a great way to introduce your colleagues to Haiku Learning. Go to our contact page and click the button "Learn More about Haiku Learning". Or, just send an email to

What LTI apps are available?

There are many free-to-use LTI apps out there! Often, you don't even need to sign up for a third-party account to get these awesome tools into your account. Check out these examples:

And stay tuned for more! Tomorrow we’ll be reviewing Gooru in our App of the Week blog. Gooru is a tool that's available in Haiku Learning because of LTI!

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Jan. 23, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here’s what piqued our interest at Haiku Learning, and we thought you might be interested in it, too!

"Guest Post: Wisdom from David Bowie: Technology and Change" - Education Week

This is a guest post written by Gregg Russell, an Idaho Education Association Outstanding Principal of the Year. Russell explains how he applies of McREL’s Four Phases of Change to educational technology implementation in schools.

One of the phases is “creating demand” something we’ve seen with many of our own customers at Haiku Learning. We offer free pilots to schools of our School Edition, and oftentimes, the school will have a select a group of teachers use the platform and leverage their success to “create demand” amongst the rest of the staff.

"How To Win Corporate and Foundation Grants for Your Tech Project" - THE Journal

If you’re a technology director looking for help to fund your projects, you may want to read this. The article outlines five steps to help you win grants for technology initiatives, including the common mistakes people tend to make at each step and how to prevent those mistakes. The article is based on advice from Stan Levenson, who has raised $50 million for schools he’s worked with and he has authored several books on the topic.

"'Soon We'll All Be Gamers’" - THE Journal

FETC 2015 was held in Orlando this week, bringing together over eight thousand education leaders and technology experts. This article discusses the keynote address, presented by Jane McGonigal, the first person to earn a Ph.D. in the study of the effects of gaming. McGonigal presents why educators and parents shouldn’t fear gaming and in fact should embrace it.

"5 Ways to Keep Creativity Alive in Your Common Core English Class" - Edudemic

English has always been one of the tougher subjects to integrate technology with in a meaningful way. This article presents 5 examples that combine technology with common core standards.

For those using Haiku Learning, many of these can be easily done within our platform. Students can use our WikiProjects to create blog posts, use our Dropbox to post their podcasts, do Socratic Seminars via our Discussion Forum, and for mind mapping, we have a number of widgets in our Embed the Web library that you can embed including Coggle. As for using non-traditional authentic texts, YouTube has a great library full of newscasts that can be embedded or you can upload videos and other documents as well.

"PARCC Sample Test Questions Now Ready for Computer Practice" - PARCC

You can now get access to free sample test questions for grades 3-12 on the platform that the students will be using. PARCC also released online tutorials and described how the test will be accessible for special ed and ELL students.

If you’re using Haiku Learning, another way to get additional help for your students is to set up online practice exams using our Assessment feature. Many of our own customers have already told us they’re doing this to ensure that students feel comfortable taking online assessments. You can restrict the time limit (or not), randomize questions and answers, and allow students multiple attempts if you want to give them continuous practice with the same exam.

"Upgrading America’s Skills: Highlights from 2015 State of the Union" - edSurge

Here’s a concise overview for anyone who missed President Obama’s State of the Union and how he addressed education.

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Traditional Gradebook vs. Standards-Based Gradebook: Which One is for You?

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Justin Goff is a Haiku Learning Community Specialist, and this post is the first in a series he will be writing on the topic of assessment. Before joining the Haiku Learning team, Justin taught upper-school English at international schools in Korea and Japan. He’s a big fan of standards-based assessment practices and loves that Haiku Learning provides the right tools for teachers to use sophisticated approaches to grading and assessment.

Traditional gradebooks and standards-based gradebooks are each good at doing what they’re designed to do. The trick is to understand what each is designed to do and to choose the appropriate gradebook for your classroom.

When to use a traditional gradebook

Traditional gradebooks are better for questions like:

  • How well do my students perform on different types of tasks?
  • Which assessments have my students completed?
  • Have my students completed enough assessments in order to pass my class?

Traditional gradebooks can be useful for record-keeping. Because they track scores by assessment, it’s easy to identify which assessments haven’t been completed. In addition, many colleges and universities assume that schools are using traditional gradebooks, so it’s often easier to convert traditional grades into report cards and transcripts.

Where traditional gradebooks sometimes fall short

Traditional gradebooks can oversimplify a student’s performance. It’s harder to pinpoint the skills a student needs to work on if they’re all lumped together into one grade per assessment.

How you set up your gradebook categories has a huge effect on the kind of information you can get from a traditional grade book. If you use a gradebook category like “Tests", then you can quickly tell how well a student takes tests on a variety of subjects, but it’s a lot harder to tell what specific things a student needs to study in order to perform better on her tests in the future. In some cases, this can be discouraging for the student: she sees her low test grades, but doesn’t know how to respond to them beyond thinking that she’s bad at taking tests.

When to use a standards-based gradebook

In the end, if you aren’t able to create gradebook categories in a traditional gradebook that completely capture the learning goals for your class, then you should probably consider using a standards-based gradebook. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting a clear picture of how well the students in your class are progressing towards their learning goals.

Standards-based gradebooks are better for questions like:

  • What particular topics or skills are my students struggling with?
  • Why is a particular student having trouble in my class?
  • Have my students met the basic learning goals I’ve set for the class?
  • Which learning goals should I spend the most time on going forward?

Simply put, standards-based gradebooks are much better at identifying what students have and haven’t learned. For example, instead of just telling students that they’ve scored poorly on essays, teachers using standards-based grading can tell students that their ideas and organization are very strong, but that they need to work on spelling and grammar. This helps teachers use their time more efficiently, and it helps students understand better what they need to do in order to succeed.

Grading an assessment in a standards-based gradebook is obviously a little different from grading an assessment in a traditional gradebook. First, the teacher needs to define which standards (learning goals) are being measured by a particular assessment. Then, students will earn a grade for each of those standards. As scores are entered, the standards-based gradebook will aggregate students’ performance on each standard over time and across all assessments.

Final thoughts on making the decision

As you can see, standards-based grading takes a little extra thought and planning. However, the time invested often pays off because standards-based grading gives a clearer picture of how your class is progressing towards its learning goals.

Can’t decide which one to use? No problem! This is pretty common, especially at schools just getting started with standards-based assessment practices. Haiku Learning lets you use both gradebooks in the same class, so if you find you need to answer all of the questions listed above—you can have your cake and eat it, too.

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