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iNACOL Virtual School Symposium 2012

I am so excited.  Later this month I will be heading to the Virtual School Symposium being held in New Orleans by iNACOL the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

This symposium will bring together over 2,000 representatives from national, state, district, private, and other virtual school programs to attend the premier K-12 online and blended learning conference. Experts in K-12 virtual education will have robust networking opportunities; learn about the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in e-learning; interact in session presentations; and gain access to the latest research and best practices reports.

I am especially excited because I will be able to get my hands on the book Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environmentswith the chapter I co-wrote.  This coupled with the fact I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans raises the excitement.

Just this week at the CELT Conference, I heard speakers mentioning personalized learning and much discussion revolving around common core, particularly in the Math/Science subjects.  So, I am looking forward to connecting with others, gathering in New Orleans, who are wrestling with these same issues.

One presentation I am looking forward to is: New Learning Models: Making Learning Personal which promises to discuss the lines of distinction between online, mobile, blended, and computer-based learning which are fading. What does this mean for education?  What will school look like when students can literally carry their learning with them on a cell phone – and when their “campus” is wherever they choose to work? Polices around competency-based learning are also on the rise. Learning is becoming less linear, more discovery and interest-based, and ever more personal. This session is being presented by Florida Virtual School’s Jill Dickinson, Director of Curriculum Management.

Then there is another session, Professional Development Needs for Blended Learning. This session will explore, via a panel, the challenges faced when a school implements blended learning, what professional development do teachers, administrators and other staff need to insure a successful implementation?

There are so many sessions that look so great.  I also plan to get myself down to the French Quarters, have some great food and hear some fabulous jazz. Stay tuned for more.

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TED-Ed | Lessons Worth Sharing

TED-Ed has launched a new open platform for using video in education.  The word is that TED-Ed  allows any teacher to take a video of their choice (yes, any video on YouTube, not just theirs) and make it the heart of a “lesson” that can easily be assigned in class or as homework, complete with context, follow-up questions and further resources.  The site is in beta. But TED-Ed thinks there’s enough there to show why they’re so excited about this.  This whole process is explained really well in this video created by the TED-Ed team.

What I love about this process, is that ultimately it allows the viewer to Dig Deeper and Think about what they are viewing… other words to critically think about the video, not just consume it.  AND,  you can FLIP the video and make it your own lesson.  BRILLIANT!

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Caine’s Arcade

A 9 year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store is about to have the best day of his life. You have got to take 10 minutes and watch this sweet video about imagination, loving what you do, being an entrepreneur and the power of social media. This is a video that teachers should share with their students, no matter their age.  I love how proud Caine is when he is showing us his work.  After you watch the video, head over to Caine’s website. I know you’ll get chills, goosebumps and might even cry….but it’ll make your day.

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36 UIs In 30 Locations

When to know enough is just enough. Ericsson had too much information and needed a message to communicate how a multi-purpose, multi-technology network node enables operators to meet their three priorities in relation to data traffic explosion: differentiation, control and monetization.

The above video is work that makes you jealous, inspires and does both simultaneously.  The beauty of this video is that it is a great example of the changing nature of how instruction can communicate an idea [not just a product].  It shows how Ericsson moves data around, and why it matters.

The House of Radon did the creative work and really hit the nail on making sense out of a concept. The video’s message “appeals to the senses.” Data, nodes, operators, differentiation–all of these ideas in Ericsson’s brief are just so much insubstantial vapor. House of Radon’s video translates them into snappy factoids, which helps. But the idea of embedding them into physically appealing touchscreen interfaces–and then embedding those into a series of viscerally evocative first-person live-action scenelets, where just a hint of sound effects and out-of-focus background action instantly tells your five senses everything they need to know about what’s happening outside the edges of the frame–that’s what makes Ericsson’s brief make sense.

House of Radon’s relentless cutting from new interface/location to new interface/location, three dozen times, is an essential part of getting the message across. As more and more innovative companies find themselves “selling” invisible-but-essential ideas, this kind of advertising-as-sensemaking becomes more valuable than any glib “Got Milk?”-style product campaign ever could be. Does every spot need to cram in 30-odd interfaces and locations to make its point? Of course not. But the designers behind this House of Radon spot know that, sometimes, “too much” is just enough.

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Swedish Magicians + New iPads = One Awesome Presentation

I read this is in The Next Web and I’m sure it’ll be making the rounds going viral.


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Big Data and Infographic Thinking

I’ve always been a lover of great infographics ever since being introduced to Edward Tufts. I think this stems from my life-long-love of maps.  More and more data is being turned into shorthand to aid in advancing trends in all areas of our lives.  These types of presentations really help us understand our world and help us make decisions.


This one shows Chinese exports

Watch this brief video from Francesco Franchi, a master of information design. He talks about how you have to go beyond the picture and create an entirely different sort of experience that encourages critical thinking.

Francesco Franchi: On Visual Storytelling and New Languages in Journalism from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Sunday, The New York Times ran an article about Big Data. In it they talk about how “Data is in the driver’s seat. It’s there, it’s useful and it’s valuable, even hip.”   And infographics can really help us decipher information so it becomes useful to us.  For example, learning how pasta, not bacon makes us fat.  Or how to make the perfect cocktail. These are really fun and useful ways infographics help us.

Corporate America is also catching on. Imagine how job aids and training could improve with some really juicy infographs.  More and more companies are adopting ‘data-driven decision making’.  Heck, even the government is getting in on the data.

What it all boils down to is the content. Then, placing the content into a design that really assists the viewer to ‘read’ the information in a ‘nonlinear manner’. Good infographics make the viewer think-they don’t interpret the information for the viewer.

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iBook Author by Apple

There are times in an instructional designer’s life when the game changes and Apple has just changed the game-again. This time it is with their iBook Author.  Those who are considering an elearning situation, should consider using this new tool. The ability to interact with the content built in iBooks is amazing for all types of learners. Integrating audio and video right into the iBook allows the learners to integrate with the content.

Anyone who needs a workbook, textbook, manual. job aid, even a magazine, or newsletter should consider this type of learning aid. I will be getting mine soon.

This amazing new [FREE] app iBook Author allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

This application has the ability to drag and drop text, images, graphics, video, movies and more into the template.  Apple’s Widgets add Multi-Touch magic to books with interactive photo galleries that bring images to life, engrossing 3D objects you can’t help interacting with, animations that burst off the page, and more.

Another beautiful thing about iBooks Author, it lets you create books that people with disabilities can read and experience. The table of contents, glossary, widgets, main text, and more are built to automatically take advantage of VoiceOver technology. Add accessibility descriptions to any widget or media — including movies and quizzes — so even those with vision impairments can use them.

And you can publish it to the iBookstore or iTunes U or share it with anyone with an iPad.

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The Empathic Civilisation

This investigation of the evolution of empathy and the ways it has shaped our development and our society is well worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch.  If you have any students, I suggest you share this with them.  Empathy is something we as teachers need and need to teach to all our students.


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The Self-Directed Learning [SDL] Support Model: Training Educators for Online Learning

Since August, I have been on a journey working with some fabulous educators, instructional designers and just all-round wonderful women drafting outlines and creating the content for a chapter that will be published in a book which is being published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning [also known as iNACOL]. We just completed our draft of our chapter and are so excited.

This chapter will present a student-centered model for online teacher mentoring. The one-to-many online model is designed to be scalable, self-directed, and leverages social learning. The program, Self-Directed Learning [SDL] Support Model: Training Educators for Online Learning, introduces teachers to ideas of self-directed learning, partnering pedagogy, and metacognition while orienting new and prospective virtual teachers to the online learning environment. To maximize impact and sustainability, this program employs the Cognitive Coaching model through a social learning community.

Without giving away all our secrets -you’ll have to wait until the whole book Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environments is published [due out in the fall of 2012]- we explain ‘how’ we developed and taught an online course which has helped many educators-across Massachusetts- become better learners and in turn better educators.

Our chapter goes into great detail explaining how we used self-directed learning techniques and skills to teach educators how-to understand and use essential self-directed learning skills such as: goal setting, metacognition, motivation, critical thinking and time management.  We also discuss how we designed our online course, how we delivered it and how we improved it.

I can tell you that by implementing the use of social learning, collaboration and ePortfolios we have had a very good success rate with this online course. Here is what a few of our participants said about our course:

“This was a new way to approach teaching.”

“The course really helped me understand how to encourage and coach students not just around content but around linking content to their own goals in life.”

“It’s cool to watch students change over the course of the year. They start talking about what their goals are and what skills they’ve learned. Online learning puts their education in their own hands—it’s wonderful!”


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Don’t Go Back to School by Kio Stark

Self-directed learners are everywhere, as Kio Stark is finding out as she writes her book: Don’t Go Back to School. This is a handbook for independent learning that shows you how to learn almost anything with or without school. Watch this video and read more about Kio Stark’s project here at Kickstarter

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