Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Get ConnectED!

The Summer of eLearning has been all about connecting and learning with educators and administrators around our state, so visiting Zionsville High School for the Get ConnectED conference in our last week was perfect!  Zionsville, in collaboration with the Central Indiana Educational Service Center (CIESC) welcomed everyone with delicious cinnamon rolls and conversation in the freshman center. The room was abuzz while attendees and presenters planned out their day of learning. We moved to the Performing Arts Center, a beautiful facility, and settled in for the keynote.  Zionsville Superintendent, Scott Robison, welcomed and invited everyone to a great day of learning and connecting.
Zionsville administrator Dan Layton and STEM coach Sara Hunter introduced the Queen of Connection, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, as the keynote. Sheryl brought her expertise as a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant to Monroe County last week as part of our summer series of conferences. As the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, Sheryl works with schools and districts to re-envision their learning cultures and communities through the Connected Learner Experience. She is the author (with Lani Ritter Hall) of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age. Sheryl started right out providing ways for the audience to connect with each other during her presentation in a Today's Meet backchannel and to her presentation in the PLP wiki. Her mantra for the day: We are stronger together than we are apart. Her presentation focus: What are you doing to contextualize and mobilize what you are learning? How will you leverage, how will you enable your teachers or your students to leverage-collective intelligence? Sheryl made a powerful case to be a learner first and an educator second. If you want to grow as a connected learner get connected with Sheryl!

Connections continued in a variety of sessions being offered after the keynote. I opted to join Kim Hendrick for her session on "Cool Tools to Curate Digital Content." Kim framed the session around how our learning life can be made simpler with good tools for curation. Kim made the learning easy for all of us by sharing the cool tools from her session in Today's Meet. Check it out to find ways to curate your content! Kim is an outstanding resource for any educator or administrator wanting to connect around teaching and learning in the digital age. Find out more about her and get more resources by visiting her eDesk.

Jason attended a presentation by Sara Hunter, Ryan LaPlante, Kelly Masters, and Stephanie Compton; four STEM experts from four elementary schools who shared their secrets to 'Ignite the T in STEM.' The four have collaborated to post resources on a webpage they created. If you've been wanting to get your students started with coding, you'll find some great first steps among these resources. If you are a Symbaloo user, you'll also want to add their web mix of tools to keep them at your fingertips.

Today was also a great day for the conferences in the Twitterverse. While participants from Zionsville tweeted to #gcED13, educators at Plymouth sent enough messages on #pcsceQuip13 to cause their hashtag to be a top Twitter trend for most of the day! Tweets also rolled in from Valparaiso who kicked off their conference today - follow us tomorrow as we blog with them from #eVisionary!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Admin Academy at eQuip 'Hit Refresh' in Plymouth

eLearning Administrator Academies have been embedded in five of the Summer of eLearning conferences in the form of a learning strand. Today, Plymouth's eQuip: 'Hit Refresh' conference hosted the sixth event by reserving an entire day for those in the role of educational leadership to learn together in four sessions specifically designed for their needs.

George Couros, the Canadian school administrator who started up the Connected Principals blog and speaks internationally about his passion for Networked Leaders, opened the morning with his talk, "Focusing on Your Why." Couros addressed 40 Indiana administrators, sharing a three step approach to being transformational with technology: Model. Learn. Humanize.

The first hour was rich with change-leader quotes, videos demonstrating Couros' points and real-life examples that provided context to the message as Couros laid out the groundwork. Then the energy of the room shifted.

It was time to begin interacting and working to answer the big question, "How do we move from 'pockets of innovation', to a 'culture of innovation'?" Attendees dove into the resources Couros provided in a Google Doc and exchanged ideas in small group discussions and over Twitter. One of the resources shared was this blogpost on "Building the Culture of an Empowered Mindset Towards Technology Innovation."

The afternoon ended with Couros guiding leaders on narrowing their field, fostering entrepreneurial spirit, and moving forward in change.

Tomorrow, 300 additional educators will join these educational leaders as Plymouth's eQuip 'Hit Refresh" goes full throttle. The Tech Playground opens for exploration with student guides available for support. George Couros returns to keynote in the morning. And a full schedule of educator-led sessions including special guests Dean Shareski and Alec Couros offers something for everyone. If you didn't register to attend, you can follow the learning by searching Twitter for #pcscequip13.

Monday, July 29, 2013

E3 Technology: Equip - Engage - Excel

Five cities, five conferences, five days! Such is the whirlwind finish to the 2013 Summer of eLearning. And the E3 conference hosted by Warsaw Community Schools was an amazing way to start the week. Will Richardson packed their beautiful Performing Arts Center for his conversation about the impact that abundance is having on our school environments. At this point, I think we have to make Will an honorary Hoosier, as he has taken his 'Summer of Confusion' tour to 5 of our conferences!

Down the hall, the cafeteria was equally full with some vendor partners setting up booths and chatting with a crowd of excited educators. The energy of these attendees is a testament to their passion for learning and completely dispels any stereotype of glum teachers just days from returning to their classrooms.

In the first session, I joined Ben Rimes, the Tech Savvy Educator from St. Joseph, Michigan. His session, '6 Ways to Tell a Story Without a Pencil', pointed participants toward the Center for Digital Story Telling, as well as his excellent list of Story Telling Platforms. After seeing his great examples, I can't wait to turn my 9-year-old loose on Storybird! Ben also did a great demo of StoryKit which is a free story telling app for the iPad, allowing kids to draw and record audio to enhance and publish their stories.

Candice joined Warsaw kindergarten teachers Carla Milliman and Gina Courtois for an informative session on how they use iPads in the classroom. They shared some great Apps like: Bugs and BubblesMini Adventures - Music, My A-Z, and Number Bonds.  They also had excellent tips on iPad management, app organization, and student engagement. Most importantly they reminded everyone that iPads should not be a reward AFTER learning but the way students ARE learning all day.  Connect with these ladies for more ways to use the iPad.

Warsaw PLC coach, Lorinda Kline, led a great afternoon session that ushered dozens of educators across the threshold into Twitter. With spectacular pacing for the audience of Twitter newbies, Lorinda celebrated each tweet that found its way into the twitterverse, and each egg that hatched into a beautiful picture. I love seeing these conferences bring new people into the conversation, because despite the massive audience on Twitter, educators are still vastly underrepresented in their numbers. For those of you now looking for others to connect with in this space, we hope you'll join us in tagging your learning with #INeLearn and follow @INeLearn to stay up with the great things happening in Indiana - great things like #e3Tech!



Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Big Campus National Users' Conference

Today, Jason and I stepped off the Summer of eLearning Trail to join over 300 educators from 22 states gathered in Indianapolis for the National My Big Campus (MBC) Users' Conference. These passionate teachers, coaches, and administrators joined together for two days of learning the many ways My Big Campus can be used in their classrooms, schools, and districts.  

The morning opened with a lightning round of presenters from California, Michigan and Georgia sharing excellent MBC projects in their states. Indiana was also well represented by a number of presenters and projects. Pete Just and Michele Eaton from MSD Wayne shared about the creation of digital content through the MBC Bundles. Jennifer Watson from Madison Consolidated flipped a fifth grade using MBC, while Karen Diggs from North West Hendricks School Corp. not only flipped, but also used MBC for delivering a Drivers Ed course and Exam View assessments. Finally, Anita Hershman from North Judson assured us that you can teach old teachers new tricks with the ease of My Big Campus.

It was a truly special day for us, as Joel Heinrichs, CEO of Light Speed Systems parent company of My Big Campus, presented the Indiana Department of Education with the Innovation in Education Award. The award honors school districts and educational agencies that exemplify innovative educational practices. A big Hoosier Thank you to Light Speed and a even bigger CONGRATULATIONS to Indiana teachers and administrators for leading the nation in this exciting and challenging work of learning in today's digital age.

The two-day conference was jam-packed with learning, sharing, and true collaboration.  If you want to find out more, search and join the group, My Big Campus User Conference 2013 inside My Big Campus. 

Greater Clark Connected Conference

Providing educators the "Tech Java" they needed first thing in the morning, sixth grader Matthew, an eLeader at Oak Hill Elementary School in Evansville, opened #GCCC13. Matthew's "Did You Know?" presentation from the student perspective was declared #EDUawesome! Matthew received a round of applause when he said that kids are tired of testing, and he kept the audience's attention all the way through to his real message, "I'm here to encourage you to be a fearless learner like I am." Before turning over the stage, Matthew assigned conference participants homework. The first task was to begin using Twitter and the second was to provide feedback on a Padlet Matthew created for that purpose. You can watch the talk here thanks to TeacherCAST, that broadcast the morning keynotes.

Matthew's advisor, Delyn Beard introduced him and the work of the eLeaders, which you can learn more about here. Ms. Beard, @delynbeardon Twitter, will be checking the homework Matthew assigned.

Quick to note that they had a hard act to follow, classroom teachers Nicholas Provenzano and Tim Gwynn shared their stories of becoming Connected Educators.  Provenzano, who spoke about his journey from being teacher-centered in the classroom to becoming student-centered, echoed Matthew's opening message adding, "We need to encourage teachers to take risks; to be innovative."  

Gwynn spoke about the benefits he's received from connecting with other educators after first approaching teaching as an independent or "I can do it on my own" kind of learner. The audience enjoyed being privy to Gwynn's 2009 Twitter confessions as he demonstrated his transformation from posting humorous tweets to recognizing the potential of Twitter as a learning tool. He noted the importance of embracing this culture of sharing. "As I become a better professional, my students become better people," Gwynn closed.

Like all of this summer's conferences, GCCC offered strands to organize the learning being offered. Attendees could select from Innovative Learning Models, Learning in a 1:1 Classroom, Nuts and Volts of a 1:1 Classroom, the Digital Tool-belt or Digital Leadership. Choices were difficult and there was a mix of highly popular beginner sessions and smaller, more personalized sessions.  There was no shortage of national and local speakers sharing their learning and modeling connected learning. 

Since The Nerdy Teacher, Nick Provenzano, shared that one of his first "Twitter godparents" was Shelly Terrell, who happened to be at #GCCC13, we decided to learn from her too. Her session "Sharing Stories: Powerful Lessons in Digital Storytelling" was hands-on. She walked participants through creating a story cube using resources you can access in her presentation Google Doc. Shelly cautioned that students may be hesitant to engage with these types of activities in the classroom because they've not historically had opportunities to be creative in this way at school. She talked about our responsibility for showing students how learning is all around them and how technology makes sharing that learning possible.

Congratulations to Brett Clark and his Greater Clark team for organizing their first regional conference!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Digipalooza

eLearning rocks at Digipalooza! Scott County School District 2 chose a fantastic theme for their conference and used it to make teachers feel like they were at an awesome concert complete with a backstage pass! That access included some tremendous learning in keynotes and sessions.

Wednesday's keynote rockstar was Jason Roseberry, Director of eLearning for Five-Star Technology. Unlike so many speakers who highlight the barriers to digital education, Jason did a great job of focusing on solutions. An expert on professional development, he pointed out the need to embed good professional development within the context of teaching and learning, rather than relying on stand-alone sessions.

A full house of educators joined Scott 2 teachers, Chris Routt and Beth Walton to explore uses of Pinterest in the classroom.  They shared photo journals, content projects and evidence of learning. Mollie, a Scott 2 student, also joined the presentation to show how she was able to evidence her learning around a famous American by pinning a board on Amelia Earhart.  Mollie shared this was a more interesting way to share her learning. Pinterest is a great place to connect with other educators and share great ideas for teaching and learning.  Look for more ideas on #digi13 and our own Pinterest boards.

In his session, Yancy Unger shared some great ideas about school change by comparing the way we think about competence to other fields, sharing some clips from Gordon Ramsay's show Kitchen Nightmares. Seeing how some restaurant owners were unable to hear criticism and recognize their own shortcomings, it is easy to imagine how difficult it is for us in education to own inadequacies in our practice. Yancy pointed out that this overestimating of our own capacity, and underplaying our weaknesses actually has a name and field of study: Illusory Superiority.

Micah Heath, Principal of Vienna-Finley Elementary School, shared how he uses a school Twitter account to share pictures and video of student activities. In parallel, he also maintains a Vienna-Finley Facebook page and Pinterest Board. His tweets and posts go a long way toward connecting parents to the school and informing them about events where they can get involved. Micah also shared some great Twitter resources like 7 ways to get more out of Twitter and 100 Scientists 140 characters away.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Full Court Press on Learning

Today brought our Summer of eLearning tour to Bloomington, a town well known for fantastic learning experiences. This week was no exception, as the Monroe County Community School Corporation hosted a five day learning summit diverse enough to truly be a 'Full Court Press on Learning.' Their speakers included Michael Fullan and Robert Marzano, and topics such as literacy, comprehension, engagement, and the many factors of change impacting teaching and learning.

Tuesday engaged hundreds of educators in three main spaces at Bloomington High School South. In a large meeting room, Dr. Tammy Heflebower, vice president of the Marzano Research Laboratory spoke about the important aspects that create a highly engaged classroom and shared great strategies for creating such a space. Next door in the auditorium, Dr. Tim Rasinski led a group interested in improving their students' reading ability. His session on word study and fluency shared approaches to assess and monitor key components of reading. In the Media Center, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach led our group in a presentation focused on unleashing student passions by leveraging the tools of the 21st Century.

Sheryl is well known for connecting educators through her Powerful Learning Practice. Like her opening physical demonstration (photo left), Sheryl's session did a great job of showing us the value of sharing our perspective and seeing how it fits in the tapestry of the education community.
If you haven't seen it, check out the Connected Learning Manifesto she posted. Among the other resources Sheryl shared, she pointed math teachers to a couple of valuable blogs written by connected leaders: Darren Kuropatwa and Dan Meyer.

Like Sheryl's presentation, the great thing about Bloomington's Learning Summit is that it is connected, in many ways. For participants, the technology doesn't exist at a separate conference, but is connected to learning about literacy and enagagement, and all the other things that are important in our classrooms. Thanks to Jason Taylor and the team at MCCSC for organizing this massive learning experience and sharing it with Indiana educators!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We R Richmond Tech Expo 2

After leaving Ball State and the Yorktown eLearning Conference, we traveled Southeast and found ourselves at the very edge of the state in Richmond. This is the second summer Richmond Community Schools has invited educators in to share in the learning as part of their We R Richmond Tech Expo 2 conference.
This year the focus is on transforming traditional curriculum to digital platforms. The two-day conference provides valuable insight for participants wanting to discover new concepts and ideas about moving from a traditional curriculum to a digital one. Building on that foundation, participants will be learning to create, publish and access digital content.  

Day 1 of this sold out conference opened in the Civic Hall Performing Arts Center with Rob Tidrow, Technology Coordinator, welcoming attendees and setting the schedule for the 2 days.  Rob challenged the audience to be leaders in the changes needed to move teaching and learning to a digital, student centered environment.  Rob introduced the day's keynote speaker, Will Richardson.

Will opened the session by sharing that he is traveling Indiana as part of the Summer of eLearning at 4 different conferences! (Close to earning his honorary Hoosier citizenship!) If you know Will's work, you know he is all about collaboration and connection. True to that belief, Will provided a couple of ways for everyone to get in on the conversation. Join in on Will's backchannel at Today's Meet or follow the learning for both days on twitter #INeLearn.

Will kicked off the discussion with the question: What is confusing you about education today? After some discussion with the audience, Will shared his  4 starting points/beliefs on what is confusing about education today. 1) This is the most disruptive moment in education ever - not exactly what most people signed up for when they entered the profession. 2) This is the most amazing time to be a learner-ever- We have the sum of human knowledge in our pockets. 3) Schools need to be different, not better. 4) Computers should be used to "amplify human potential." These beliefs led into the next hour's look at how we prepare our students for a world that looks nothing like the world in which we live today. Will shared examples of students who are learning on their own and truly making a difference. Check out these projects:  We Stop Hate, Conserve It Forward, and Super Simple Sylvia's Maker Show . 

He continued to challenge the audience with his thoughts on the change from scarcity of knowledge to abundance, and rethinking how we use technology and how we teach. Traditional teaching is about delivery and waiting for education to happen - just in case I need to know it. vs Modern Teaching (Will's term for 21st Century Learning) which is about discovery - just in time when I need to know it.  To learn more about Will's ideas on the changes that are needed in education follow him @willrich45 or get his new book, Why School?

Day 2 will offer sessions for Online Content Curation, Flipping Tools and Techniques, Global Collaboration, and Pedagogical Challenges to name a few!  WE ARE RICHMOND - a great place to learn!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Not Just Another eLearning Conference

As their name points out, the event coordinated by Yorktown Community Schools was not just another eLearning conference. It was a unique partnership with Ball State University and hosted in the beautiful BSU Student Center. The workshop sessions ran 2.5 hours, allowing a deeper dive into the content, and presenters included a combination of Ball State faculty and presenters from Yorktown.

For the first session, I joined Corinne Hoisington, Associate Professor from Central Virginia Community College. She kicked off her talk using Google's Zeitgeist 2012 as an example of an engaging bell-ringer to grab your students' attention. Then she shared a number of classroom technologies she dubbed "free and fabulous!" These included middlespot.com, a site for creating collaborative content dashboards. She also taught me that WolframAlpha now has an interesting feature that will analyze an uploaded image. Another big hit was the Google Art Project which has fantastic ultra-high-res photos of more than 45,000 works of art. If you haven't yet been astounded by this yet, check out Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night and zoom in by double-clicking until you can not only see the brush strokes, but also the places where he let the canvas fibers show through!

Brian Bennett's keynote "One Flipping Change," highlighted his learning in the changing landscape of education. He empowered participants to motivate change by building relationships, both with colleagues and with students. Taking a page from Chip and Dan Heath's book, Switch, Brian talked about the battle between our rational minds and our "inner elephant." His advice was to pick just one thing learned at the conference that they would commit to doing when school starts.

In the afternoon, Holly Stachler and Melanie Johnson showed some great apps for creating and collaborating on the iPad. Participants got to do some hands-on experimenting with:
Animoto, Popplet, Ask3, and Educreations. Check out more fantastic learning at: #YCSeL

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

eRevolution

Eric shared this graphic from Bill Ferriter
"We don't have an education crisis in America, we have a leadership crisis." This was a statement made by Julie Evans, guru of the national Speak Up survey, and was seconded by the small gathering of EdTech leaders from states across our nation. I share the quote, because this morning I watched Evansville's eRevolution conference impact that reality for a group of school leaders. EVSC's conference, now in its fifth year of bringing great eLearning sessions to educators, strengthened its offerings this year with a strand called Leadership in the Digital Age. Presentations in this strand were designed to support the school leaders in the area, as well as principals who drove in from hours away!

The leadership strand was anchored by Eric Sheninger, who has gained national renown for his use of social media at New Milford High School where he is Principal. It was enlightening to hear Eric talk about his first experiences with Twitter. His initial "lurking and learning" resulted in a sort of jealousy as he learned about great things going on in classrooms across the country. He then made his new learning an example for his school community. "If you model social media as professional tools, that is how your stakeholders are going to treat them," Eric shared. Despite the fears most have about opening social media to community comments, he reports removing only a handful of inappropriate posts in the last three years.

Participants packed sessions like this one by Jeff Thornton
Adam Bellow's energetic keynote made the morning, and the afternoon saw more fantastic learning led by teachers and coaches. I stopped in Missy Feller's tool sharing and learned about a great site called Wing Clips, where you can find thematically sorted movie snipets. Across the hall, Tim Wilhelmus and Jeff Tron shared some ideas for engaging students in creative work. They highlighted animation tools like Voki, Blabberize, and Go!Animate, that allow students to share what they know in creative ways that go far beyond reports and tests.
Keynote by Adam Bellow


The icing on the cake (or baklava!) was the afternoon app shootout with Adam Bellow and Leslie Fisher, who stunned the audience with a barrage of technologies like Story Builder and Aurasma. Leslie then gave a great interactive demo of InfuseLearning with an auditorium full of educators using their own devices for student response. See the complete list of the apps they shared in this Google Doc.

Like Disney, this conference was too big to see in one day! Check out #EVSCREV13 as the learning continues tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Peace, Love and EdTech


This week the halls of South Montgomery High School are bright with planning committee members, tech support, volunteers and presenters sporting the Peace, Love and EdTech Conference tie dye tees. Sixties tunes filled the space as 120 attendees made their way through two days of offerings and connected over 180 devices to the building's wifi to download apps, contribute to backchannels and access presentations.

Will Richardson, a familiar voice in Indiana due to his work with Powerful Learning Practice Network, opened each day with keynote messages that he’s shared internationally.  He spoke to the audience as an educator with over two decades of classroom experience, as a parent of two teenagers and as a passionate advocate for changing schools.

On Monday, Richardson’s message “Learning in a Networked World: For Ourselves and for Our Students” took the audience through a reflection of what type of learner they are.  After walking us through the time of scarcity of information and into today’s abundance of information, his point was “better matters little if what people need and want is something else.”  Sending attendees off to day one sessions and workshops, Richardson noted that this rethinking of who we are as learners has to start with confusion. He urged attendees to let that carry into their morning breakout sessions.

Teachers for South Montgomery received the iPads they will be using in the classroom next school year. While there were packed sessions around learning their new tool and its potential uses, there were also great discussions occurring in sessions with titles devoid of references to devices or tools. On Monday, these included sessions such as Failure to Grow: Risk Taking and Technology Integration and the popular Ditch That Textbook session. These sessions were lead by an administrator and a former instructional coach and by a classroom teacher; all of whom were willing to share their materials and resources publicly---one of the things Richardson called us to do as learners and professionals.

On Tuesday, Richardson noted he rarely does back-to-back keynotes with the same audience and joked about the likelihood of an audience returning to hear more of his message. Today’s talk about “Bold Learning for Bold Schools: Making the Jumpfrom Traditional to Modern Learning” began with Richardson reminding us that yesterday’s talk was meant to confuse us. Then he proceeded to open with more questioning.  He shared hard truths and talked about the hard work that comes with moving away from institutionally organized learning.

Richardson actually had us raise our right hands and take an oath before we made our way to the day’s sessions. The oath was two part. In the first breath, we all repeated, “I want to be found” and in a second breath… “by strangers on the internet.”  The next two sessions I’m going to briefly note were lead by two professionals that took that oath long before the Peace, Love and EdTech conference. I’ve linked their Twitter accounts so that you can follow them and the learning they share. Today was the first time I met these educational leaders, but I feel like I’ve known them much longer because of our interactions through #INeLearn.

Carol Gardiner's session "The Engagement Application” was a great conversation around understanding how technology has changed the parameters of the powerful teaching and learning strategy, engagement.

Allie Holland’s session “Digital Citizenship” focused on developing positive examples that you can point to when a concern arises, how to address problems that do exist and the overall necessity to be having these discussions not just in your schools but in the extended community.          

Conversations were not limited to sessions. The conference committee thoughtfully arranged for lunch conversations to take place around topics. I invite you to continue those discussions on Twitter using the #INeLearn hashtag. Join us on Thursdays for chats and connect with some really great strangers.

Resonating in my thoughts as I wrap up this conference post is a comment Will Richardson made early in the morning of day one, “Your students are all receiving a device and that’s cool, but that’s not going to change anything unless you change how you learn.” 

With eleven conferences left on the calendar, The Summer of eLearning not only heats up in July, it offers you several options for professional growth. When will you take time to learn something new or better yet, learn in a new way?