Monthly Archives: April 2008
This was a busy week! The first half we were at the United States Distance Learning Association National Conference (USDLA). It was good to talk with folks from all over the world, especially those we interact with over videoconference frequently. Something that really stuck with me is that the challenges, as well as the benefits, of distance learning are nearly universal!
Moving on, mid-week, we had a two-hour evening videoconference. Wednesday night was MOREnet’s Internet Safety Night. Sites from all over the United States (55 over videoconference!) connected for a two hour videoconference on Internet Safety. Cooperating School Districts acted as a site in St. Louis. At the ISN website, you’ll find all sort of resources to educate yourself and your family on the importance of Internet Safety, and ways to implement it at home.
Finally, today is our official one year ‘blogiversary’. April 25th of last year was when we really got going with The Wired Classroom. In that year, we’ve posted 210 times with over 650 tags! We’re really excited to continue posting to the blog to update our readers about what is going on in the Virtual Learning Center. Thanks to those who take the time to read the blog.
On Tuesday, Janine Lim pulled together a group of K-12 educators for an impromptu “birds of a feather” session after our lunch keynote. While we were anticipating a group of about 10-15 folks, we had a much larger group- closer to 30. We introduced ourselves and there were people from the UK, Arkansas, New York, D.C., Michigan- all over. We split ourselves into two groups- those who wanted to focus on online learning, and those who wanted to focus on videoconferencing. The (larger) videoconferencing group included Tonya Muro from Global Nomads Group, Jan Zanetis from Tandberg, Ken Conn from Data Projections, Ruth Blankenbaker from CILC, my colleagues Ruth Litman-Block and Martha Bogart.
Topics of discussion included professional development & videoconferencing- both delivering PD over v/c and providing v/c PD over videoconference. The group included content providers, coordinators, teachers and administrators who all had great input. We all agreed, however, it is important to engage teachers in the videoconferencing process. In addition, even though it seems obvious, content providers need to be trained to deliver quality programming. We discussed the importance of evaluations and preparing teachers & students for videoconferences. The hour we allotted went by very fast! At the end of our session, we were asked how to get more K-12 educators at USDLA (we were outnumbered by university level participants). The answer? Spread the word. Tell our colleagues. Visit the website: www.usdla.org for conference/association updates.
This week- Monday through Wednesday- I’m attending the USDLA Annual National Conference (United States Distance Learning Association) in downtown St. Louis. Interestingly (and unknowingly), both sessions I attended Monday were about distance learning programs in Florida. The first session was entitled What Works in K-12 Videoconference Programs and presenter Evelyn Nelson-Weaver shared with participants what Broward County School District in Florida is doing with videoconferencing. They have a lot of “in house” programs- teachers within the district sharing with students outside of their school. This year alone, the school district had had over 10,000 connections- point to point, multipoint, virtual field trips, collaborative projects. For more information on BECON, visit here http://becon.tv/ and http://nelsonlessonplans.com/
I also attended Beyond College Prep: How Online Learning can Prep Students for College and for Life, presented by Pam Birtolo and Brian Marchman of the Florida Virtual School. We learned about the history and development of this school. They discussed their use of The Descriptive Review Process. This process asks teachers to look together at pieces of student work, to discuss what they see in the work, and to bring multiple perspectives to an analysis of the work in order to improve the quality of the work designed for students. They told us about a class project where a student rewrote a popular song with lyrics for a science project. (And performed it!) We talked about that not only did the student understand the scientific principles of oil, but he had to have used other media to put together a song. It was a very well done project, and the participants in the session (with the help of a sheet of paper outlining the process) used The Descriptive Review Process to analyze it.
Janine Lim (we finally met face to face!) is also blogging about her experiences at USDLA on Videoconferencing Out on a Lim.