Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We R Richmond eLearning Expo 4

Richmond Community Schools (RCS) put a twist on their fourth Summer of eLearning Conference, which takes place today and tomorrow. Rob Tidrow, Director of Operations for RCS, welcomed the crowd to the legacy event. Tidrow noted the updated conference name, which moved away from emphasizing Tech to focusing on eLearning, and added, “We really want to get to the point where eLearning goes away and just becomes learning.” Another major change this year included their partnership with Western Wayne Schools as hosts of the conference. Educators from both school corporations are presenting in 6 breakout sessions to a record number of attendees. The free event welcomed over 300 educators from around the region.

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, opened with acknowledging that educators are constantly retooling themselves as professionals and shared updates from the DOE. She spoke to providing relevance in our students’ school experience and commended Richmond for their work in this area.

With a history of bringing relevant digital leaders such as George Couros and Will Richardson to keynote, Richmond introduced east central Indiana educators to Tom Murray today. Murray currently serves as state and district digital learning director for the Alliance for Excellent Education located in Washington, DC. The Alliance leads projects such as Digital Learning Day and Future Ready.

Murray's message was around the Future Ready initiative, but his keynote was far from a sit and get experience. He engaged participants in a 30- minute exercise where they were tasked with redesigning their students' learning environment. After Murray shared this video, Elizabeth Forward ReMakes Learning, he set the group to work.  Paper and markers were distributed around the auditorium and teachers grouped up.
For twenty minutes, group members collaborated to sketch out a space that honored student voice and in no way represented the classroom layouts that have been standard for the last century. Teams were asked to share their work on social media before completing a 10-minute pair and share exchange. You can see all of the designs on the conference hashtag #RCSeLearn.

Murray concluded his keynote with a heartfelt message on the value of relationships in education. He stressed that transformation cannot begin without this in place. Coincedentially, today is #semicolonEDU and Murray defintely made his mark here.

Breakout sessions began after lunch. Digital content was a big focus in session one, which lends itself to a point that Rob Tidrow made in the opening session. The eLearning Expo 4 is intended to support the digital conversion process and allow educators to extend the ideas they have implemented by connecting with others with expertise in this work. Richmond teacher, Clayton Smith shared an Overview of Holt McDougal Online ELA Curriculum and how he is replacing traditional resources with the personalized content. He gave practical tips on creating a successful environment that empowers students to be self-directed learners and spoke openly about the need for having a back-up plan for when the tech fails. 

In the library, Bill Campbell shared his experience with using Mathspace with iPads. He spoke to the responsiveness of the app designers as he and his students worked with the resource. Attendees sat around tables and had rich discussions about the possibilities. Skyped into the session was a Mathspace representative who could answer questions.

Across the hall, teachers filled the seats to learn Time-Saving Technology tips from educators and bloggers, Michelle Moon and Tracy South. Known as the 4th Grade Dynamic Duo, these two began blogging to help colleagues see how to put technology integration into practice. Educreations for formative assessment of fluency was one of many tools shared in their first session. In their second session, Test Prep with Technology, Tracy spoke to the importance of exposing your students to various types of test questions. Watch for these ladies in the 4th Grade Community of Practice and in more #INeLearn sharing! They are also on Twitter.

Follow #RCSeLearn tomorrow for more Richmond eLearning Expo 4 takeaways.

If you have been following the various Summer of eLearning hashtags and INeLearn over the last couple of months, you have probably come across a Tweet that included “LIVE on Periscope…” like the one you see below. Perhaps you were curious and clicked the link only to find a message “Broadcast not found.” Or if you discovered the Tweet at the right time, you were transported into a live streamed event or archived recording of one. 

Learn more about Periscope in this post.

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