Authored by Bonnie Lathram, Bob Lenz and Tom Vander Ark
In the paper, Preparing Students for a Project-Based World, released jointly by Getting Smart and Buck Institute for Education (BIE), we explore equity, economic realities, student engagement and instructional and school design in the preparation of all students for college, career and citizenship.
The new economic realities are illustrated by Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar: “My father had one job in his life. I’ve had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time.”
Throughout the paper, authors Bonnie Lathram, Bob Lenz and Tom Vander Ark describe how the new economy and growing inequities are impacting students and schools, and what we need to be doing to better prepare students for a project-based world.
Research shows when people are curious about something, not only do they learn better, they learn more. It should come as no surprise, then, that inquiry-based learning is proving to be an effective education model. Inquiry-based learning occurs when students discover and construct information with the teacher’s guidance. It is a learner-centered model that arouses students’ curiosity and motivates them to seek their own answers. Increasingly, technology is the foundation of an effective inquiry-based lesson. Download this Center for Digital Education paper to learn more about inquiry-based learning and how you can support this model in your classrooms. The paper also offers sample lesson plans that draw upon inquiry-based strategies with the integration of technology.
Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co, describes her path and motivation for launching a platform that aims to inspire women and girls to be creative through compelling content such as videos, online classes and do-it-yourself kits. Morin explains how creativity is sparked by rekindling that playful spirit from our youth and stems from the primal instinct to make things.
In March 2016, Digital Promise and Maker Ed issued a call-to-action for school leaders around the country to commit to growing the next generation of American makers, by committing to dedicate a space, designate a champion, and display the results of maker education. School leaders across the country answered the call. Over 1,400 schools representing one million students in all 50 states signed the Maker Promise.
These schools are leading the movement to harness new digital design and production abilities to unleash students’ passion, creativity, and capacity to make. But it doesn’t stop with them.
You can join this movement by signing the Maker Promise today.
More Hands-on, Real-World ExperiencesA new survey of American teenagers from the Amgen Foundation and Change the Equation finds that teens like science and would welcome the opportunity to do more engaging, hands-on science in school. Yet the survey also reveals that teens lack access to real-world science experiences, out-of-school opportunities, and professional mentors, which is limiting their chances to pursue science any further.
Mitchel Resnick (or Mitch, for short) knows his making—from a lot of different angles. And he’s not too bought into the whole “electronics and gadgets” side of the maker movement.
Resnick has been in this business for more than 30 years, and it’s safe to say that he’s seen the maker movement—and the state of STEM education, in general—go through its phases, its ups and downs. He’s currently the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, where he and his team have developed products familiar to many a science educator: the "programmable brick" technology that inspired the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit, and Scratch, an online computing environment for students to learn about computer science.
It's not the media or materials, but what you do with it. Mitch Resnick, MIT Professor and head of Lifelong Kindergarten group Is making something that every school should be doing—and are all interpretations of “making” of equitable value? EdSurge sat down with Resnick in his office at the MIT Media Lab to learn more, and to find out how he and his team are working to bring more creativity into the learning process.
E: Thanks for sitting down with us, Mitch. Let’s start off with a big question: When you have so many students in existence… how do you work with so many different types of learners?
A: Rather than trying to think how we educate all of these students, I think "how can we create opportunities for learning?" The spaces, the technologies that support everyone having rich learning experiences? Of course, everyone is going to have different pathways to learning, so you have to be aware that one size doesn't fit all.
There are many different ways that you can get involved and participate in the run up to and during the Week of Making!
Tell your Story as a Maker, Maker Educator or Maker Advocate
Are you a Maker with an innovative project or an interesting story? Do you know someone who has been an amazing advocate for supporting the Maker community in your city or town? If so, we want to get to know him/her. In the run up to the Week of Making, we’ll be featuring profiles of incredible Makers, Maker Educators and Maker Advocates across the U.S. on the Week of Making site.
To tell your story, submit a profile here.
Host an Event
Whether you’re one person, a maker space, community center, university, company or other organization, you can organize an event during the week and invite others in your community to participate. The event can be big or small, for students or adults, or both. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun and making something! Make sure submit your event to this site here, so others can learn about it.
If you need some ideas, below is a snapshot of amazing events that took place throughout the country in 2015:
East Central High School (San Antonio, TX) offered an electronics and hardware programming course. Muncie Public Library (Muncie IN) hosted a series of courses focused on designing, prototyping, and building things that fly. Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) organized iDesign student conferences to engage 6th-9th graders in designing and creating digital games. The Alamance Makers Guild (Burlington, NC) hosted the Burlington Makeover Takeover, a free community celebration where Makers shared their projects, from wood turning to upcycled toys. To get your event noticed, submit it here.
Attend an Event
Find an event in your community that you’re interested in and participate! Extra brownie points if you bring friends or family members with you. To check out the events near you, visit here.
When I was a young musician learning to play the vibraphone, I remember listening to Milt Jackson and thinking I could never make an instrument sing like he did. While I never did reach his level of genius, I did become proficient enough to earn a master's degree in music performance and play a concerto as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony (ironically, the piece was originally written for Milt Jackson). Likewise, people who don't know how to code see a complicated process that must surely be beyond their abilities. They think, "I could never design and write the code for an iPhone app." True: there are some genius programmers. But you don't need to be a genius to program. So why should teachers take valuable time away from math and science instruction to involve their students in coding? Simply put, coding applies math and science to the creation of something tangible and useful. It empowers students to move from passive recipients and consumers of learning to true producers of content. Coding puts students in control of their devices. Hour of Code, Code Academy, Code.org—many resources to support more coding in the classroom exist. As teachers, where should you start? Here are some tips.
Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Simply put, coding applies math and science to the creation of something tangible and useful. It empowers students to move from passive recipients and consumers of learning to true producers of content. Coding puts students in control of their devices.
Career and Technical Education (CTE), competency-based learning, digital badging, credentialing, and coding bootcamps are becoming some of the fastest-growing, and oft-discussed, alternative pathways for learning in higher education—mainly due to the promise of entry in today’s increasingly selective job market. But do these non-traditional on-ramps to postsecondary ed always lead to successful implementations within institutions; and are students really getting their investments’ worth?
In our recent Symposium, two higher education experts—one specializing in education research and one in policy analysis—discuss the overarching benefits of alternative higher-ed pathways, as well as the roadblocks and pitfalls to their success.
Though both agree that non-traditional learning pathways are needed for today’s diverse student body seeking entry into the job market, Alana Dunagan, higher education researcher at the Clayton Christensen Institute discusses traditional programs’ problems in implementation and adaptation of multiple career-based pathways.
Zane Wubbena is a doctoral candidate in education at Texas State University. He studies cognition as it relates to early mathematics. As a former special education teacher, Wubbena wanted to know how brain development affected students' ability to comprehend the math curriculum for their grade level. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.
What led you to be interested in studying early-childhood math?
I was troubled by this problem that I found in almost every grade.
For example, in basic addition and subtraction problems, [teachers would ] maybe hand out a sheet and have children work through these addition and subtraction problems without really having a background into each child and whether or not they have developed the concrete skills to be able to do more abstract reasoning.
Do they have one-to-one correspondence where they understand that every time I say if I touch the number 1, this means 1? [Do they know] when I hold two marbles in my hand that means there are two marbles? From 1 to 9, are they able to understand that 1 comes before 2, and 3 comes after 2?
That led me to my research question for the study I conducted: How can we ensure that the expectations we place on children are appropriate for each child at that grade level?
Please explain how your experiment worked.
I wanted to look at 1st grade children. That's a very pivotal year when kids are really expected to become fluent in mathematics, specifically addition and subtraction. Fluency is really indicative of skill mastery, being able to master something or to suggest that I'm ready to move on to more complex mathematical operations.
Through a partnership with American College of Education, teachers earning the National Certificate for STEM Teaching with NISE gain access to an affordable, accelerated master’s degree in STEM Leadership As science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs continue to grow, the U.S. Department of Education has set a priority to increase the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these fields.
Yet, as school districts launch STEM schools and programs, there has been no easy way to certify that they are actually prepared to teach STEM — until now. Accelerate Learning has announced the formation of the National Institute for STEM Education (NISE).
Headquartered in Houston, NISE was conceived by practicing educators and is based on thousands of hours of research, professional development, curriculum design and educational leadership. Using an online learning platform and unique digital portfolio, NISE offers a STEM certification program for campuses and districts, as well as teachers. Through the self-paced, competency-based programs, participants can learn and apply their proficiency in the key domains of STEM teaching that are essential to creating effective classrooms that increase student achievement.
For campuses and districts, the program leading to the National Certificate for STEM Excellence helps participants develop an in-depth understanding of what it takes to transform into a STEM campus or district of excellence. The process includes building leadership capacity, certifying teachers, validating authenticity through observation and learning through data-driven professional development.
For teachers and educators, it certifies that individuals are incorporating the 15 key teacher actions necessary to create a STEM classroom of excellence. Participants are guided by academic coaches to ensure the proper support for successful completion of the program and their portfolio artifacts, which demonstrate proficiency in the 15 action areas.
Librarians in the Shawnee Mission School District are making way for “the maker movement,” and some worry where that story is going.
Reading stories, of course, has been a big part of what Jan Bombeck does with children. “Stories, stories and more stories,” she told the school board last month.
The Ray Marsh Elementary School directory lists Bombeck as “librarian” because she is state-certified to be one. But at least four Shawnee Mission grade schools have hired “innovation specialists” to run their libraries when fall classes open.
That’s the language of the maker movement, which seeks to convert once-quiet school spaces — usually in the libraries — into hands-on laboratories of creation and computer-assisted innovation.
Gordon Dahlby's insight:
In fact, the word “librarian” didn’t come up in the job description for an innovation specialist at Merriam Park Elementary. “Stories” wasn’t there, either.
No mention of “books,” “literature” nor “shelves.”
Ninety-one percent of respondents to a recent CDE survey agreed active learning better prepares students for college and careers than traditional education frameworks. So why is it that it’s more common to see rows of desks facing the front of the room instead of workspaces designed for collaboration and exploration in today’s classrooms? Unfortunately, students can often lack the communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they will need in their careers when they graduate. This paper helps school districts change that outcome. It discusses the benefits and challenges of active learning and offers real-life examples and strategies to help districts make their learning environments more engaging and collaborative.
as districts rush to embrace the trend, some key observers are also worried.
Can schools, with their standards, state tests, and bell schedules, maintain the do-it-yourself, only-if-you-want-to ethos that fueled making's popularity in the first place?
"There's an amazing grassroots effort underway to bring the maker movement into education," said Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine and godfather of the modern maker phenomenon. "But if schools don't get the spirit of it, I don't think it will benefit them a whole lot."
Undoubtedly, making is having a moment. Beginning June 17, the White House will host its second National Week of Making. The U.S. Department of Education is supporting efforts to rethink career and technical education through the creation of high school maker spaces. And nonprofit advocacy groups such as Digital Promise and Dougherty's Maker Education Initiative are encouraging districts to champion making inside their schools.
For all the excitement, though, there are also hurdles.
Makers are developing new solutions and products to pressing challenges, engaging students in hands on, interactive learning of STEM, arts and design and enabling individuals to learn new skills in design, fabrication and manufacturing. This site was created by Makers to support, encourage, promote, and highlight organizations from around the country who are working to create more opportunities for more people of all ages to make. This was inspired by President’s call to action to “lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.”
Well before the Great Recession, middle class Americans questioned the ability of the public sector to adapt to the wrenching forces re-shaping society. And as we’ve begun to see a “new economic normal,” many Americans are left wondering if anyone or any institution can help them, making it imperative that both parties—but especially the self-identified party of government—re-think their 20th century orthodoxies. With this report Third Way is continuing NEXT—a series of in-depth commissioned research papers that look at the economic trends that will shape policy over the coming decades. In particular, we’re bringing this deeper, more provocative academic work to bear on what we see as the central domestic policy challenge of the 21st century: how to ensure American middle class prosperity and individual success in an era of everintensifying globalization and technological upheaval. It’s the defining question of our time, and one that as a country we’ve yet to answer. Each of the papers we commission over the next several years will take a deeper dive into one aspect of middle class prosperity—such as education, retirement, achievement, and the safety net. Our aim is to challenge, and ultimately change, some of the prevailing assumptions that routinely define, and often constrain, Democratic and progressive economic and social policy debates. And by doing that, we’ll be able to help push the conversation towards a new, more modern understanding of America’s middle class challenges—and spur fresh ideas for a new era. In Dancing with Robots, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane make a compelling case that the hollowing out of middle class jobs in America has as much to do with the technology revolution and computerization of tasks as with global pressures like China. In so doing, they predict what the future of work will be in America and what it will take for the middle class to succeed. The collapse of the once substantial middle class job picture has begun a robust debate among those who argue that it has its roots in policy versus those who argue that it has its roots in structural changes in the economy. Levy and Murnane delve deeply into structural economic changes brought about by technology. These two pioneers in the field (Murnane at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Levy at MIT) argue that “the human labor market will center on three kinds of work: solving unstructured problems, working with new information, and carrying out non-routine manual tasks.” The bulk of the rest of the work will be done by computers with some work reserved for low wage workers abroad. They argue that the future success of the middle class rests on the nation’s ability “to sharply increase the fraction of American children with the foundational skills needed to develop ...
A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology. A paper describing the research by scientists at Penn State University appears May 13, 2016 in the journal Advanced Materials. "We have developed a new, high-pressure, plasma-free approach to creating large-area, thin-film semiconductors," said John Badding, professor of chemistry, physics, and materials science and engineering at Penn State and the leader of the research team. "By putting the process under high pressure, our new technique could make it less expensive and easier to create the large, flexible semiconductors that are used in flat-panel monitors and solar cells and are the second most commercially important semiconductors."
Thin-film silicon semiconductors typically are made by the process of chemical vapor deposition, in which silane -- a gas composed of silicon and hydrogen -- undergoes a chemical reaction to deposit the silicon and hydrogen atoms in a thin layer to coat a surface. To create a functioning semiconductor, the chemical reaction that deposits the silicon onto the surface must happen at a low enough temperature so that the hydrogen atoms are incorporated into the coating rather than being driven off like steam from boiling water. With current technology, this low temperature is achieved by creating plasma -- a state of matter similar to a gas made up of ions and free electrons -- in a large volume of gas at low pressure. Massive and expensive reactors so large that they are difficult to ship by air are needed to generate the plasma and to accommodate the large volume of gas required.
What kind of people can become scientists? When a group of researchers posed that question to ninth- and 10th-graders, almost every student gave empowering responses, such as “People who work hard” or “Anyone who seems interested in the field of science.”
But despite these generalized beliefs, many of these same students struggled to imagine themselves as scientists, citing concerns such as “I’m not good at science” and “Even if I work hard, I will not do well.”
It’s understandable that students might find imagining themselves as scientists a stretch — great achievements in science get far more attention than the failed experiments, so it’s easy to see a scientist’s work as stemming from an innate talent. Additionally, several science fields have a long way to go to be more inclusive of women and underrepresented minorities.
But for high school students, learning more about some of the personal and intellectual struggles of scientists can help students feel more motivated to learn science. Researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University and the University of Washington designed an intervention to “confront students’ beliefs that scientific achievement reflects ability rather than effort by exposing students to stories of how accomplished scientists struggled and overcame challenges in their scientific endeavors.”
During the study, the students read one of three types of stories about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Michael Faraday:
Intellectual struggle stories: stories about how scientists “struggled intellectually,” such as making mistakes while tackling a scientific problem and learning from these setbacks. Life struggle stories: stories about how scientists struggled in their personal lives, such as persevering in the face of poverty or lack of family support. Achievement stories: stories about how scientists made great discoveries, without any discussion of concurrent challenges. Researchers found that students who heard
"Can we just keep working on this through recess?" If you are a teacher who has integrated making into your instruction, hearing that phrase from students isn't rare at all. Making (also known as "tinkering" and "hacking") has been a movement for many years, but one only recently embraced by the education community. Makers build something new, often out of repurposed materials, with the intention of solving problems or expressing themselves in a creative way. In education, giving students the opportunity to design and build something as an alternative to completing a worksheet or book report lights a fire within them, no matter their age. Science Hacks Recently, after teaching a lesson on Newton's laws of motion and basic forces, I challenged my 5th grade students to create a marble run using materials from our school makerspace. To engage them even more, I timed the students' marble runs. This time, the slowest moving marble run won the design competition. This twist—incorporating friction to slow down the marble—added an extra layer of challenge and engagement. After all, how often do we value being the slowest? As students were planning their initial designs, most were counting on using cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper rolls for the "track." Because our makerspace is mainly stocked by donations from students' families, we sometimes run short on materials. This was the case for the paper tubes—there were none in stock! My students had to come up with more creative ways to create a high friction track for their marbles. Many used bubble wrap, crumpled aluminum foil, or fabric. One group even used toothpicks as spikes to create friction. After the students finished building their tracks and timing the runs, I asked them to reflect on the evolution of their designs. In most cases, the finished products bore very little resemblance to the original designs. As the students built, they tested, which allowed them to evaluate and redesign as they went. What better way to integrate physics content, collaboration, conservation (through upcycling materials), and the engineering design process than to make something in school? Reading Hacks Making in schools is by no means limited to science content. In fact,
What makes a STEM school? That is the question that is most often asked. I have literally sat on so many panels (K12,Higher Ed, political, policy, and industry), participated in meetings from the White House to the schoolhouse, been active in research think tanks and included in numerous case studies to define what STEM is and what makes a STEM school and we are still asking this question. Although some are attempting to answer this question by justifying the literal acronym for the taxonomy of STEM, I believe this is too simplistic and takes away from the true mission and meaning of STEM.
Because this blog gives me the chance, I will use my 10 years as a highly successful, inclusive, whole STEM school practitioner to present my answer to this question. I have told the beginning of this story thousands of times, but it bares repeating now as another STEM story is filling the the ears of some and attempting a new, exclusive definition in an attempt to hoist selective STEM schools as the Gold Standard for STEM. As a passionate STEM proponent for ALL I take issue with this attempt to define STEM as good only for the affluent and already successful student. This post will explain why.
In 2006, the initial STEM campaign was launched in Texas as well as in a few other States to address the shortage of STEM workers entering into the workforce. The message delivered expressed a dire shortage of minority and underrepresented workers needed to close the STEM gap. Our charge as pioneer STEM leaders and educators was simple, yet daunting: to get underrepresented students to take more science, technology, engineering, and math courses in order to help expose them to STEM curriculum and develop an interest and desire to pursue STEM careers and STEM college pathways. In fact, in order to be a designated a State STEM school in the few States that had designations, one had to meet qualifying indicators to serve a majority of underrepresented students that qualified as low socioeconomic status and have an inclusive open enrollment school with no selective criteria to attend. We had our mission and for the most part implementation was left to individual schools how best to do this.
As the architect of this new inclusive whole Texas STEM (TSTEM) school design, I needed to attract underrepresented students who for the most part were not successful in math and science, had little interest in STEM to leave their current school. They had to join this new STEM school to take more math and science courses, close the achievement gap, have student success where there had been none before, and continue to meet the higher operating standards of success with good attendance, less discipline, high graduation rates, and increased high-stakes student test scores. As an experienced high school principal, I knew there was only way to make this happen and that was to redesign the entire STEM high school concept to meet all these needs and make it truly an inclusive whole STEM school.
With help, I designed, implemented and opened one of the first 31 STEM schools in Texas. Little did I know then that there were only a few hundred STEM schools across the country at that time and very few schools, if any to model STEM after. This STEM school redesigning phase shaped my whole definition of STEM and still drives my passion of STEM to this day.
INCLUDING UNDER-REPRESENTED STUDENTS
How was I going to find underrepresented students who had not been successful in math and science to s school that would ask them to take more math and science? This was the crux of the challenge. Being one of the first STEM schools in the country, I knew we had to have a story that would be a model for others. That part was easy. We were going to take all students without any selection criteria, give them more science, technology, engineering, math, and they were going to be successful.
More wasn’t enough. As part of my redesign efforts, I had to answer a nagging question. Why were these students for the most part unsuccessful in math and science, especially with the countless hours and attempts at interventions provided in their traditional schools? The traditional direct teach model of instruction was part of the culprit. Many of these students were either bored, lost, or disengaged from lecture “sit and get” and the worksheets that followed. Our answer was to change how we taught and helped these students learn not only more math and science, but math and science that was more rigorous. The answer came in a synthesis of practices which provide a new model of instruction and other ingredients that would change how the students learned.
Project-Based Learning. The first redesign STEM was in pedagogy from traditional direct teach to Project Based Learning. Curriculum would be delivered in teacher-made authentic projects designed with students’ interests at the core of their inquiry. These projects grouped students to work and learn collaboratively. Projects were active, hands-on learning experiences that not only provided the required knowledge, but also the opportunities for the application of that knowledge to solve authentic problems. This 100% PBL implementation would provide a different way of learning for each student in an average of 50 projects a year. 21st Century Essential Skills. After further questioning STEM industry executives asking “What makes a person successful in today’s organizations?”, I found that the 21st Century “ESSENTIAL” skills of written and oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving, and creativity/self efficacy/agency were almost unanimous nominees as the most important qualities of a successful employee. I was told by industry leader after leader, “We will teach them what they need to know about our company and products. We cannot teach them these real essential skills when they come to us.” I concluded A STEM school must incorporate all of these 21st century essential skills to be designed, implemented, and assessed in units of learning. I ensured that we incorporated these essential 21st century skills in every project so as to prepare students for the real world by implementing these essential learning outcomes in every project. These outcomes were easily measured using a created rubric for each outcome as well as the observable student’s progress in public speaking skills, direct ownership of each project, and the cooperation within each group of students to ensure all group members were successful as well as each student’s voice in choice was heard in the end products.
A Learning First Schedule. A critical STEM redesign change was the easiest to communicate with the addition of rigorous science, technology, engineering, and math courses for all students. What was not easy was implementation of additional classes within the confines of a school day and the approved district school calendar while determining the PBL scheduling and how that would work in an all PBL environment.
A statewide grant program will give students the opportunity to learn about robotics both inside and outside the classroom.
Over the next two years, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development will put $300,000 in General Assembly career and technical education funds toward the endeavor in the heavy manufacturing state. And the department, along with a number of organizations — including the TechPoint Foundation for Youth, the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC), VEX Robotics, Project Lead the Way and NASA — are starting more robotics competitions in Indiana, and exposing students to robotics in their classes.
The reason? Indiana needs more skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and robotics' competitions provide a great opportunity for students to learn teamwork and collaboration skills that will be useful in their future careers, said Dennis Wimer, associate chief operating officer at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
For the 2016-17 school year, 400 elementary schools across the state will be able to apply for grants that will cover teacher training, robotics kits, team registration fees for competitions and educational materials for the classroom. The next year, 400 schools will be able to apply for grants as well, and organizers plan to expand their efforts to middle and high school in subsequent years.
Thingiverse is a universe of things. Download our files and build them with your lasercutter, 3D printer, or CNC.
What is Thingiverse? MakerBot's Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. As the world's largest 3D printing community, we believe that everyone should be encouraged to create and remix 3D things, no matter their technical expertise or previous experience. In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, all designs are encouraged to be licensed under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can use or alter any design.
Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Sponsored 3D object idea spot, but grab and print isn't a great value-add for learning.
Women make up half the population, yet it's been well documented that they don't come close to parity in STEM fields. Could the rise of big data and data science offer women a clearer path to success in technology?
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