Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's Launch Time for Hoosier Student Digital Leaders

In October, we introduced the Hoosier Student Digital Leaders (HSDL), a network for school programs that provide students the opportunity to develop digital leadership skills in technology integration and innovation by assisting the school community with technology support and through positive models of digital citizenship. On April 25 at West Middle School in Noblesville, we will bring teams across the state together for a student conference. We asked Brandy Hicks, a HSDL advisor from Milan Community School Corporation, for her reflections on how last year's student conference hosted by Madison Consolidated Schools impacted Milan's newly formed Tech Tribe. Here's what she had to share:

Are you ready to lead a digital change in your school? Are your students going to help lead this change? Last year at Milan Community Schools, we embarked on the journey to empower students via a student-led tech team. One of our first steps was to travel to Madison, IN for the "Alter Ego Conference” on Saturday, April 26, 2014. It was a pivotal day for Milan’s newly established student-led Tech Team, the “Tech Tribe”. Unaware of how powerful this experience was going to be for us, we attended the conference that showcased what student digital leaders can do in a school. Classes at the conference included workshops on cyberbullying, digital identities and social media. 

“They had a bunch of things spanning from computer programming to digital filmmaking. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, all the courses were taught by students. It was a student-led conference. I had a blast and I know that everyone else that went had a great time also.” ~ Milan Student Tech Tribe Member

The Alter Ego Conference empowered my students to walk away with a vision of what was possible outside the walls of Milan Community Schools by students. We are now finishing our first year of going 1:1. It hasn’t been easy, but we have accomplished a lot including creating “how-to” videos like we saw at the conference and a help desk with a site for students and teacher support. We are definitely going again this year with a purpose of expanding our vision. I am taking as many of my Student Tech Team members as I can so that they can be motivated by this experience. Are you ready to lead a digital change by empowering your students? If so, I hope to see you at the HSDL conference April 25 in Noblesville. 
~Brandy Hicks, Technology Integrationist, Milan Community School Corporation

The HSDL Conference, the main event for the Hoosier Digital Student Leader program, is open to all Indiana students in grades 6-12 to attend with a district/school advisor at no cost. This event is for established groups as well as those who are in the planning stages of forming a school tech team, club or class. Get the details and registration form here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

No Freeze on Learning

Mother Nature is at it again, and the deep freeze is on in Indiana. For most, this means an early beginning to the tally of days to be made up at the end of the calendar. For others, it is just another opportunity to make use of the technology that is already in the hands of their students and teachers. Their learning continues even when the buses don't run.

It has also proven a winter of discontent, as the State Board of Education called into question the use of these eLearning days as a replacement for any of the required 180 days of school. While it initially seemed that this might put a freeze on future ready districts who had already made snow day learning a reality, members of the INSBOE at yesterday's meeting recognized that the supervision of all learning experiences happens at the district level. 

If you missed recent stories, check out this one from WLFI or another from RTV6 in December. To see some learning happening in real-time on a snow day, don't miss the hashtag #eLearnOrFreeze from Southern Hancock, or #WeLearnMG from Madison-Grant.

Yesterday's story from RTV6 is also outstanding, minus the misinformed editorial comment at the end. The anchor claims that every student has to have a computer, and that some schools can't afford this 1:1 ratio. In reality Indiana's 1:1 initiatives exist in districts large and small, amidst poverty as well as affluence. The Virtual Option also allows flexibility for students who don't have devices or Internet at home.  Our innovative leaders have found ways to make it work in every circumstance.

Doing things in a new way is never easy. Especially when it means changing something so deeply rooted in our traditions and values - our schools. Getting there does not happen without tremendous leadership. This particular step forward in the evolution of education would not have been possible without the pioneering leadership in districts like Maconaquah, Yorktown, Madison-Grant, Southwest Allen, East Noble and many more. What most stories will miss is that these districts were a part of a Flex Pilot where they worked out the issues of an eDay long before the snows ever fell. They didn't just tell us it was a good idea, they made it happen and showed us what it looked like.

I'm also very proud of the leadership of my friend and colleague Candice Dodson, IDOE's Director of eLearning. Candice not only brought about the Flex Pilot and Virtual Option, nurturing their growth, but also took a stand to support our districts who have gone the extra mile to provide this experience for their students. It is the courageous leadership exhibited by Candice and our future ready superintendents that helps move all of us forward by taking advantage of the opportunities available to schools in the digital age. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Summer of eLearning

One of the reasons Indiana leads the nation in educational technology integration is that our educators and school leaders are blessed with an array of professional learning opportunities. The Indiana Connected Educators (ICE) hosted a great conference last month with 4 strong keynotes and a maker space event. Today, hundreds of vendor representatives fill a beautiful exhibit hall at Union Station for the start of the annual Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators (HECC) conference. This is the hub for three days of rich conversations around infusing our schools with technology that opens communication, improves efficiency, and prepares our students for their future.

While we gear up for fantastic learning here, we're also excited about 23 new opportunities on the opposite side of the calendar. The Office of eLearning is proud to announce the recipients of the 2015 Summer of eLearning grant - listed below. These districts, along with many partner corporations, have proposed some powerful learning opportunities in June and July that are worth looking forward to! More information about their plans will be shared in the coming months.

The 2015 grantees are:
Batesville Community School Corporation
Center Grove Community School Corporation
East Noble School Corporation
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
Greater Clark County Schools
Greencastle Community School Corporation
Greenfield-Central Community Schools
Lafayette School Corporation
MSD of Mount Vernon
MSD of Lawrence Township
MSD of Wayne Township
MSD of Wabash County
Noblesville Schools
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation
Perry Central Community School Corporation
Richmond Community Schools
Scott County School District 2
South Vermillion Community School Corporation
Tri-Creek School Corporation
Vincennes Community School Corporation
Warsaw Community Schools
Western School Corporation
Yorktown Community Schools

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The final stop on the Summer of eLearning Tour kicked off today at Chesterton High School, just an hour down the road from Chicago. The learning started with keynote Marc Prensky, who coined the phrase "Digital Natives" in 2001. In his talk, Prensky helped the the audience distinguish between "trivial eLearning tasks" like writing online and watching videos to learn; and more meaningful forms of eLearning - the things we weren't able to do before. Things in the latter category included Skype to connect with learners around the world, and WolframAlpha to perform complex computations. And in dealing with the rapid changes of a technological world, Prenske urged the audience to focus on the 'verbs' (presenting, communicating, finding information) which stay the same, rather than the 'nouns' (Powerpoint, email, Wikipedia) which continue to change rapidly.

One of the breakout sessions was led by Linda Eleftheri, Media Specialist at Jackson Elementary School. She shared a fantastic collection of digital tools which she curated in this wiki. You'll find a wealth of options to help elementary students express their creativity with sites like Little Bird Tales, or Animoto. If you aren't familiar with these tools, Eleftheri has also posted some great tutorials and student examples under each selection.

Students who graduate from Chesterton HS have had great experience writing and revising with the latest Google tools, thanks to teachers like Diana Gill.  She demonstrated the impact Google Docs are having on composition, even in terms of making it clear when essays were written and how much revision has been done. For collaborative documents, teachers can also see which contributions were made by which students. Check out some of her favorite Google resources here.

Meri started her day learning about Digital Storytelling with Ryan Eckart, principal, and Amy Yoos, instructional coach, from Lincoln Elementary in the School City of Hammond. Their students are using a variety of tools, including PowToon and Windows Movie Maker to create book commercials and book trailers. The book commercials and trailers are shared with individual classes, the entire school through the school announcements, and with their families through YouTube. The students have been working on these during recess, lunch, and before and after school time and they have a waiting list for students to share their book trailers on the announcements. They have even added a blog so that more students can share their favorite books. One thing that Ryan and Amy learned from his students was if you want to leave people really excited about your book, end your trailer with a question.

Monday, July 28, 2014

e3 Technology - Equip Engage Excel

While some of Indiana's schools open their doors to students this week, in other areas the Summer of eLearning is still going strong! Some 400 educators packed the auditorium today at Warsaw Community High School for another great e3 conference. Their keynote, Angela Maiers took the stage to convince the audience that "You are a genius and the world needs your contribution." Maiers asserts that contributing your gift is a standard of citizenship in the 21st century. To help audience members practice the bravery it takes to contribute, she encouraged every audience member to share a selfie along with their gift - see these tweets and more learning on Twitter at #e3Tech.

Candice joined Eric Johnson for his session, Blogging Isn’t Just for 6 yr-olds!  Eric shared some of the benefits of blogging:  enhancing peer interaction, allowing for synthesis of course content, helping to sustain student engagement, improving critical and reflective thinking, learning becomes…a community. Eric pointed out that all the verbs we are chasing from Bloom’s Taxonomy, ie: analyze, evaluate, create, are present through blogging.  Eric had great step-by-step information on how to get blogging going in the classroom.  He uses KidBlog with his students.  #Comments4kids is a great hashtag to follow for others educators’ using blogging in the classroom.  Follow along to connect with others that empower students’ voice through blogging.  “The power and influence of an authentic audience is immeasurable!”   Also, be sure to follow along the adventures of Mr. Johnson’s Gnome!  

Tara Ulmer is a world history teacher from Southwood High School, and in her session, she shared her passion for powerful primary sources. According to Arne Duncan, we spend 7-9 billion dollars on textbooks nationwide. Ulmer made the point that these textbooks are never our curriculum, and that all good teachers bring in supplements to their content. But with abundant access to primary sources, her current teaching has little need left for the textbook. She taps into resources like the Library of Congress, which among other things, has more than five million maps! Check out their section especially for teachers. It is clear that her class content is a rich tapestry of resources that she has curated to help students learn, and she is eager to share these with her colleagues. Check out Ulmer's guidance document on finding primary sources for some great links to get started.

Did you know that our average 12th grader has a lexile level of 910? This is a problem when that same student needs a lexile of 1270 to navigate a student loan application. Diane Baldessari from Achieve3000 led a session about leveling the playing field for our readers, and how their program is gaining results and testimonies all over our state. Some Indiana implementations show students who are using Achieve3000 increase their lexile level at more than 4 times the normal rate. Achieve3000 redefines differentiation by providing text that meets a student at their level. Without being pulled out, students can all read the same content rewritten at various lexiles, and also translated into Spanish.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Big Campus Lightspeed Connect Conference

There are still two Summer of eLearning Conferences on the calendar, but we're in Austin, Texas to learn and share some of the new features of our partner My Big Campus at their annual conference. (You may remember last year it was in Indianapolis!) This morning's keynote "What if? Why not?... Oh well" by our own Candice Dodson really set the tone for the first day of My Big Campus' LightSpeed Connect--BRING IT!

What's New with MBC seemed like a good place to start our learning. In this session, My Big Campus Developers were on hand to share updates such as the streamlining of templates in creating Schoolwork and the ability to add rubrics at various levels of assignments and assessments. Also in the room was Lightspeed CEO Joel Heinrichs who was interested in attendees' questions. One feature that is still in development is the Gradebook in Schoolwork. Offline Schoolwork is a feature in the new rollout that will allow you to add item to Gradebook without creating an assignment that needs to be completed in MBC. Early September is the expected release date for the Gradebook updates. Also in the works as a result of the previous night's Hackathon is the possibility to give a grade to students' participation in a Group Discussion. There were a number of questions from attendees and the really neat thing about this conference is that you could follow up in the Developers Den or try out new features in the Technology Playground.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Getting Technology and Curriculum Departments Working Together This session opened with Joan Roehre, MBC Coach, and Philip Linscott, Senior Systems Analyst for Lightspeed dividing attendees into IT and Curriculum sides of the room. Interestingly enough there was a large group in the center who fill both roles. The facilitators walked the groups through venting concerns. It might be surprising how many Lightspeed and My Big Campus solutions exist in a house united.

Lightspeed Filtering in a Google/GAFE World Lightspeed Systems Sales Engineers Nick and Ty addressed how MBC users can selectively allow and block Google services. In the Lightspeed overview they stated that GAFE is a great solutions for schools and that they want to help districts make the most of their implementation. The SSL Decoder was discussed as the primary means for categorizing Google domains and restricting features like Chat if students have access to personal emails in addition to their GAFE accounts. Various access scenarios were described and prescribed solutions.

Best practices for allowing YouTube videos in school were shared. Some session attendees expressed dissatisfaction with YouTube for Schools. Nick explained why MBC Library is an effective alternative. Lightspeed filter customers who are not MBC customers do have access to the MBC resource library. Districts that are customers can have their teachers add material to the library anytime; whereas non-customers have to submit materials to MBC Coaches. When a teacher submits a YouTube video to the MBC Library, they immediately receive a direct link that they can use or share with students.

Bring Bob Squad to Your School! Two members of Madison Consolidated Schools' Digital Leadership class, Haley Jansen and Hadassah Harris presented this possibility in their session Get to Know the Bob Squad. The girls created an additional group, Bob Squad Information, where you can access a bundle that explains their class activities and work in piloting Bob Squad Junior. The girls shared how they developed the Bob persona as part of their training and walked the participants through similar exercises. If you are interested in starting a Bob Squad in your school or district, start here.

In addition to our Indiana student presenters, there are a number of #INeLearn tweeps presenting at the conference. Connect with your state resources:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Greater Clark Connected Conference

Did you get your selfie with a spotlight? With so many spotlight speakers on the scene at Jeffersonville High School, the hosts of the Greater Clark Connected Conference made them the target of a selfie contest. Tweet your selfie with a spotlight speaker and you could win a fantastic prize! You can check out the selfies and all the learning shared today at #GCCC14.

After a welcome by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Greater Clark's student crew of 'Chrome Ninjas' took the stage early to model digital teaching and learning for the teachers assembled. These fifth graders talked about how their learning styles demand a new way of teaching. They put together technology-infused American Revolution examples that showcased more engaging ways of learning (Shmoop) and more creative ways of showing what they had learned (PowToon).

Keynote speaker, Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann) shared his passion for "making our schools better, healthier places." Lehmann is the founding principal of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy (SLA), which continues to be a great example of what a modern school is capable of being. It is founded on three simple questions that guide their mission: "How do we learn? What can we create? What does it mean to lead?" In a follow-up session, Lehmann shared that the core values of the school are: inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection. SLA is also dedicated to an ethic of caring, and has converted their homeroom time into an intentional advisory period to foster amazing relationships with students.

Lehmann drew applause from the crowd when he declared that "Before any legislature approves a state test to assess students and schools, those legislators should be made to take the test themselves, and publish their results in the paper."
In one of the numerous spotlight sessions, Amber Teaman (@8amber8) urged school leaders to embrace their leadership potential, regardless of their position. Teaman, an elementary assistant principal, has established powerful avenues of communication for her school via Twitter, and has helped families receive important school messages as texts. She also uses her blog to make her vision very clear. One of the management tools she uses to help her multi-task is IFTTT or If This, Then That. This app allows her to automate sharing and posting so that she can literally do 5 things by doing one. Other tools Teaman finds invaluable to her work are Dropbox and Evernote.

In the afternoon, Tim Walker from Education Networks of America hosted a virtual session with Dr. Kelly Mendoza from Common Sense Media.  Mendoza, presenting from California, encouraged attendees to embrace digital citizenship as a community responsibility. As we have shared before, Common Sense has a wealth of resources to teach students how to build a positive online footprint. This independent, not for profit organization also works hard to rate and map the best apps, games, and websites for the classroom. See these reviews in Graphite. Considering a 1:1 implementation? Be sure to check out their 1:1 Essentials Program for a three phase guide and media-rich resources to help guide your way.