Sunday, June 24, 2012

1:1 iPads and Digital Learning in Belton ISD

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On Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, I attended iPadpalooza at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This conference about all things iPad in education was co-sponsored by Eanes ISD and TCEA.

The first session I attended at iPadpalooza was presented by Instructional Technology Coordinators Terice Schneider and Vicki Ventura of Belton Independent School District. They gave an overview of how Belton began experimenting with BYOD and small 1:1 implementations over the past two years, culminating in opening a brand new middle school (grades 6-8) with 1:1 iPads for students in the 2011-2012 school year. Belton ISD is very generous to share information about their innovative projects. You can get a good synopsis of what has been happening in their district on their 1:1 initiatives web page.  Terice has also been posting some very insightful, practical implementation information on her blog. These are both valuable resources anyone considering 1:1 programs of any type should bookmark and refer to regularly!

Full Disclosure: I have a great deal of faith in the information Terice and Vicki share because I was privileged to work with them for several years when I was a  classroom teacher and campus technology facilitator.

In addition to the wonderful resources I've linked to above, here are my notes from their iPadpalooza session.

Lessons Learned from and Tips for 1:1 Implementations

Staff Development is KEY!!! It's much harder to fix the mistakes you make in staff development than to do it right the first time.

Belton is paying for most of their implementation through the Texas Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA). Some district funding also has to be kicked in. They are no longer buying things like dictionaries and calculators because apps can do these things. They still have calculators for state testing until the Texas Education Agency recognizes the home button can now be disabled in latest version of iOS, essentially locking students out of other apps on their devices.

When Belton tried BYOD, use in classroom was at teacher discretion. Devices were not being used. When 1:1 iPads were being implemented at a brand new middle school, only FOUR teachers volunteered to go to the new school where this was happening. The rest were assigned to the new campus. (Read between lines: There was a strong reluctance to implementation at the new campus).

Teachers also had to transition from Windows PCs to Macbooks with only  1/2 day of training in addition to several days of learning about the iPads and integration approaches. Teachers were VERY STRESSED. There were tears. Coordinators learned from this not to try to do too much too soon when it comes to staff development. Take baby steps!

Leadership is key - Principal and superintendent must be on board. You can tell somebody what to do, but you can't make them believe something. You have two choices - move them to a new position or convert them. They had one teacher with 40 years experience and she volunteered to move to the new school and embraced the 1:1 model. Other teachers with similar years of experience retired after training because it was too much for them.

After the school year began, district tech staff had to back off a bit at their middle school and allow teachers to build a culture (they were at a brand new campus building a new culture on top of everything else). Encouraged simple implementations like posting handouts to their websites that the students could download. Or making flashcards for review. Allowed teachers to explore and reach back out for more training when they were ready for more.

By the end of the implementation year, approximately 80% of the middle school teachers were able to move into truly using the iPads in instruction. Give teachers permission to start with supplementing, then replacing, then truly changing instruction. Teachers do not want to look stupid. Give them permission to learn with and from their students.

Next year, the high school is going 1:1. Gave high school teachers iPads ahead of time. Did four one hour sessions to get them comfortable with the iPads. Teachers can do Facebook, Pinterest, etc. - whatever will encourage them to get comfortable with the device. In summer staff development, brought in teachers from middle school to teach the high school teachers. Having experienced teachers teach other teachers provides more credibility and opportunity for sharing practical tips. Training of the high school teachers has been a marvelous experience and drastically different than the middle school teacher training of just a year ago.

The district had a budget of $40 per iPad for apps at the middle school.

Vicki and Terice have an iPadU (staff development) agenda and other documents which they will gladly share.  Belton will let us use/steal everything they have. We can email them for editable copies of their stuff. Many of their resources and their contact information can be found on this web page (also look for more pages in the left-hand navigation of the website.)

Digital Learning in Belton ISD

In spite of the challenges of the first year of large-scale implementation, the 1:1 initiatives have been fruitful in Belton ISD. The video below gives a great overview of the impacts felt by students and teachers alike.

1:1 iPads In A Third Grade Classroom

Photo Source
On Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, I attended iPadpalooza at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This conference about all things iPad in education was co-sponsored by Eanes ISD and TCEA.

Laura Wright, a third grade teacher at Eanes Elementary School, gave a wonderful presentation with many practical tips for implementing the use of 1:1 iPads in an elementary setting. Ms. Wright used the iPads in her classroom during the 2011-2012 school year. Each student had access to an iPad, but the devices did not go home with the students.

On her website, Ms. Wright provided a synopsis of all of her tips in a downloadable document. She also posted a video which gives you a peek into daily life in her classroom. You should check these out; this teacher knows her stuff and I learned a great deal of practical, useful information from her.

Practical Tips for Using iPads in the Classroom (My Notes from the Presentation)

During the presentation, Ms. Wright asked us to download an app called Nearpod, which is a relatively new app. Free. Using this app, students see on their iPad a presentation which is being sent out from the teacher's iPad. Students cannot advance the presentation because the teacher is in control of the presentation. Nearpod can deliver tests and videos  and also be used to take polls. There were some glitches with Nearpod during the session, but Ms. Wright says overall it has worked well and is still a new app that is continuously improving.

Ms. Wright stressed that you need classroom routines in place before using iPads.

In the classroom, students use textbook stands for their iPads. They use the small size of these stands.This keeps the iPads out of way of other student materials. But keeps iPads on desks all day so as not to lose teachable moments.

In presenter's classroom, students get all their materials out in the morning and randomly go to iPad cart to get their iPad out. (Don't create a line of kids at the cart!)

Keep iPad in textbook stand on inside corner of desk. Less chance of iPad getting knocked on the floor.

Plug ear buds into iPad all day long even if they aren't used: keeps iPads muted when using apps. Use a hanging wall chart w/pockets to keep ear buds organized.

Ms. Wright does not recommend using iPad on flat surface because students can't type and have eyes on teacher at the same time.

"Grab and close" to get students to get out of an app. iPad cover needs to be closed so you know the students are listening.

If you have snacks in your classroom, if you can get junk on your iPad from your snacks or has any liquid, it can't be on the desk with the iPads.

Selected students called "Tech Teachers" help peers in classroom. Teacher does not need to know everything about every app.

Took an hour a day to explore apps with students during the first week of school. Ask individual tech savvy students to investigate an app for you before you decide to use it with all of the students.

Use collaboration and let students help each other. There will be movement in your classroom.  An atmosphere of learning and collaboration will evolve. Exciting if you allow collaboration to happen.

Personalize! Give them control to change their screen savers. Ms. Wright noticed students would change their screen savers throughout the year based on what unit of study was going on. Students will take more ownership and better care of the iPads if it is personalized.

Ban the word "play" as in we are going to "play" with the iPads today. Distinguish between home use of personal devices and school use of this iPad.

Use art programs for math warm-ups every day. Let students share their favorite art program. If they are more comfortable with an app, they will use it better and learn better.

Post QR codes around the room for search engines and large units of study. Create a safe path to Internet sites! (This works well with a small group of iPads too if you are using them in a center.)

Presenter says since she's had iPads she has not set foot in a computer lab.

Settings & Apps Ms. Wright Recommends:

In iPad Settings go to General - Accessibility - Multiple settings to help kids with special needs (or anyone). Turn on AssistiveTouch - can create new gestures for someone with motor issues. But Assistive touch in general puts a home button on your iPad screen. You can rotate, lock screen, etc.

Ms. Wright has a single email address/iTunes account assigned to all of her iPads. Uses that to download apps and it goes simultaneously to all iPads in the classroom

A Fact Every Day - App that engages Kids.

Glow Draw - favorite drawing app for math warmups. Black screen and glowing colors for doing the warm-ups.

Math Bingo - Consistently rated as a top math app. Uses every day for skill building and saw improvement in test scores. Has kids use this during warm-up time each day and record their scores so they can improve their score each day.

Arcademics - students can play racing learning games and compete against each other. Most are 99 cents but sometimes they come up for free.

Scribble Press - Another drawing app. Includes built in books you can create from.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in my previous posts on teacher experiences and student experiences in 1:1 iPad classrooms.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Teacher Experiences in a 1:1 iPad Environment

On Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, I attended iPadpalooza at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This conference about all things iPad in education was co-sponsored by Eanes ISD and TCEA.

Early in the day I attended a panel where I heard the perspectives of four students who had been participants  in a 1:1 iPad pilot which took place at Westlake High School during the 2011-2012 school year. You can view my notes from that panel here.

After hearing about the pilot from the student perspective, I was eager to hear from teachers who had been involved in the project. So, for the last session of the day, I attended a teacher panel. The panel included three English teachers and one science teacher, who told a little about their experiences and took questions from the audience. Below are my notes on the thoughts/experiences which they shared.

A little background: Because of the timing of the approval of the pilot and the time needed to purchase the iPads, the 40 teachers involved received their iPads approximately three weeks before the 2011-2012 school year started. For the majority, this was their first experience using an iPad.

The Teachers' Experience

Two paths to take - embrace it and run with it even thought it is scary or forget it and let others take all of the risks.

Be willing to look foolish and collaborate. Students will have to help you. A mental shift has to occur. Teachers are no longer the keepers and disseminators of knowledge but become facilitators of learning. iPads kick this shift into high gear. (Emphasis in this paragraph mine because that comment stood out so much!)

Academic integrity issues come up. It's possible students can take screen shots of your online quizzes and share with students later in the day. So, put different questions on quizzes for each class.

One trick is reorienting the desks so teacher can see the screens during certain types of activities. It's also important sometimes to say "put your iPads away" when they are not necessary.

Part of the role as educators is fostering face-to-face communication. Closing the iPad and looking people in the eye to converse is important sometimes. Don't feel pressure to have the iPads out all the time.

If the iPads are going to be out, what are we going to be doing with them that makes them useful to learning right now? It takes time to understand this and shift curriculum in the classroom.

Initial misconception was they had to do everything all the time every day with the iPad. It's ok to take baby steps. Take on one thing at a time. First, focus on getting content to the students via the iPad. Then, tackle collecting work via the iPad, etc.

Students are really forgiving as teachers are learning the iPads and like to help.

It's ok to tell the kids to "power down" when they need to focus on you in the classroom. Get their faces out of the screens.

In science one teacher had about 75% of her kids doing things completely paperless and turning in assignments through New Annotate or Google Docs. Sent assignments back to them with grades and comments.

iPads were really beneficial for "backpack filers" (the students who traditionally keep everything "filed" [stuffed] in their backpacks). Now teacher can tell them it's probably on their iPad and if they can't find it they can download it again from the website.

Establish expectations early on. For example, they WILL use their school issued email and they WILL set it up correctly. Put a correct name in there so the recipient knows who is sending the email. English teacher says she will focus on this requirement at the start of next school year instead of giving students the choice to use school or personal email throughout the year. It won't be ok to say, "Oh, I don't check my school email."

Nuts and bolts of using the iPads are not always intuitive for the students. Example: setting up correct servers for apps and WebDav (the app used to access shared network folders). One teacher says she will spend the beginning of the school year getting a lot of those things set up. Through trial and error this first year, they learned a lot about better ways to roll out the iPads.

Teachers also have definite thoughts on when the iPads are taken up. District technology decided to take them up a week before school was out, but finals weren't over. There was some "civil disobedience" as a few students opted to keep their iPads past the turn-in date so they could study properly.

Not all students are proficient with or prefer the iPads; some still prefer paper. One teacher tells students it is their responsibility to print the documents out at home if they prefer paper. She thinks as students get iPads earlier in their high school careers (Eanes is expanding the program to include all freshmen and sophomores next year) comfort levels will increase.

Even with all of the awesome apps, email is one of the best tools they have. They work a lot with kids on proper format, using school email not personal, etc. Some students changed their personal email accounts after being allowed to use them and realizing that their addresses weren't ones that they would give to an employer or professor. (Example one teacher gave was "sexygirl34" as an email address she was not super comfortable sending to.)

Science teacher says she often lectured from apps instead of her PowerPoints. For example, when looking at anatomy of foot, she can use an app to turn a 3D model on her screen and talk about it. Better understanding for students!

Science teacher really loved Google Docs for making quizzes for her students. Used Flubaroo script to set up automatic grading. There is a YouTube video for learning to use this.

Teachers are saving tons of time in the copy room. Electronic docs also good for making corrections if a mistake is found in a handout.

English teachers use Notability app to organize student documents.

40 teachers in pilot this year, so there were no specific campus requirements for how much teachers needed to do with the iPads. As they move forward with all students receiving iPads, more requirements may come along. It was a good way to start since they were figuring things out on the fly.

Kids are still kids, even with iPads. Sometimes you have to say "time out" and take the iPad away if they are off task. It's part of them growing and learning.

More on the 1:1 iPad Teaching and Learning Experience

The panel was amazing. I truly enjoyed the honesty of the questions and the answers and getting a peek into the transformation that the teachers experienced during their 2011-2012 school year.

If you would like a similar peek in addition to my notes above, I encourage you to watch the video below. It was put together in January of 2012, just half-way through the school year, for a presentation to the Eanes ISD School Board.

WIFI Update from Westlake Chaps on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Student Experiences in a 1:1 iPad Environment

On Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, I attended iPadpalooza at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. This conference about all things iPad in education was co-sponsored by Eanes ISD and TCEA.

One of the sessions I attended was a student panel. Four rising seniors from Westlake High School shared their experiences as part of a 1:1 iPad pilot which took place at WHS during the 2011-2012 school year. During this pilot, Eanes ISD issued iPads to all juniors and seniors and a few sophomores, over 1000 students in all. Forty teachers were also involved in the initiative, which challenged all parties to integrate mobile computing devices into teaching and learning.

Below are my notes from the student panel. First, each student shared his or her favorite apps for learning. Then, they took open questions from the audience. The students were very articulate, and I enjoyed learning about their experiences, both the positives and the negatives. Overwhelmingly, the experience leaned to the positive!

The Students' Favorite Apps

Note: As the students plugged in their iPads to the projector to demonstrate their favorite apps, I loved seeing the personal apps they had installed - Facebook, Netflix, etc. Score some points for personalization!

Goodreader - Annotating app. Allows highlighting and taking notes. Usesd it in math for writing on test reviews. Used it in reading to annotate novels, readings, etc. Allows you to toggle between documents easily.

iBooks - Can also annotate and highlight and add notes.

SidebySide - Allows you to open two windows next to each other. Example shown was two web browser windows.

WHS has an app called Self Service so students can pull down apps that were purchased for them by the school/district.

Wolfram Alpha - great for math. Has calculators for math and science. Was able to do intergrals in Calculus. Nice big scientific calculator keyboard.

Graph Calc HD - type in equations, graph them and compare the graphs

iMovie - created presentations for class assignments

Splashtop - connects your iPad to a computer via the Internet. Example - forget Word doc on computer at  home. Access computer via Splashtop, then get the Word doc off of home computer and drop it in Dropbox, then access document in Dropbox app on iPad. Or Email doc from home computer. Helpful for using things that go beyond capabilities of iPad. Photoshop, etc. Can hook to multiple computers.

WebDAV Nav - Access network shared folders from you iPad. This was provided by the school. Example - PDF of French textbook accessed this way.  Avoids copyright issues of putting textbooks online.

In Class - For class organization. Includes a calendar. Set due dates for assignments that will remind you with something needs to be turned in. Keep notes and save documents within the app. Put in profiles for each of your instructors. Room numbers, office hours, etc.

Audio Note - Allows you to record lectures in class and take notes. Example: Listen to teacher speaking and review the PowerPoint.

Quizlet Deck - Electronic flashcards. Can find card decks created by others and use them too. Compatible with Quizlet.

NoteTaker HD - When teachers provided PDFs, students could use a stylus to take notes.

The Student Experience

At this point, I stopped taking copious notes and started capturing the students' comments on their experience via Twitter. Below I have embedded a Storify which I used to preserve their thoughts. The Tweets are presented in slide-show format. Click the arrow to the right of the slide numbers to move through the show.

If you enjoyed the information in this post, you might also be interested in my post about Teacher Experiences in a 1:1 iPad Environment.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Testing iPad Blogger App

In preparation for attending a one day conference focused on iPads in education, I'm testing the Blogger app for iPad. Which is really the Blogger app for iPhone/iPod Touch blown up to fit the iPad screen. The last time I tried it, I was not impressed.

One reason I was not too impressed was because it doesn't allow me to easily make hyperlinks. I guess the only way to make them is to type out the address within the text, and then go back later when I have browser access and fix the links to look the way I want them to look.

Another feature I miss is being able to browse for a photo on the web and put it into my blog post. It only lets me include photos that I have stored on the iPad. I can take photos with the iPad and put them into the post, which is nice.

I wish Safari played better with Blogger, but I have too many glitches when I try to write posts from there. We shall see during the conference if this Blogger app will work well enough for blogging on the go.

Do you blog on Blogger directly from your iPad? If so, how do you do it? What are the pros and cons of your method for iPad blogging?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teacher, Teach Thyself! Free Quality PD Resources

You don't have to take or attend formal classes
to extend your learning.
Photo Source
It's summer in the northern hemisphere, which is a great time for educators to take a break from the daily bustle of teaching. It's also the greatest opportunity many of us have all year to extend our own professional learning and grow in our craft.

Depending on where you work, your professional development may be proscribed for you, or you may have a lot of freedom to choose courses or sessions you would like to attend or work through online. Regardless of your individual situation, there are countless learning resources on the web for you to take advantage of whenever you have a desire to learn something new. Even if you are required to take specified trainings by your school, you can still learn what you want when you want on your own for FREE using high-quality resources like the ones below.

Direct your own PD for your own professional growth and for the benefit of your students! Here are some resources I find useful and often return to when I'm looking for answers, to review prior learning, or to understand something new. -
Created by Russell Stannard, a specialist in the use of media and technology. The tutorials on this site rival any that I've ever paid to watch, and they've helped me learn several programs and web tools. The site is a little hard to navigate in my opinion, but worth it when you find the software instructions you are looking for.

TeachingChannel -
To quote from the website itself: "Teaching Channel is a video showcase -- on the Internet and TV -- of innovative and effective teaching practices in America's schools." Professionally produced videos which show knowledgeable practitioners demonstrating teaching practices that work in their classrooms. Get inspired with some new approaches to try out in your classroom!

Classroom 2.0 LIVE! -
This site provides weekly live webinars with education practitioners that are sure to add to your teaching tool kit! Participating live is the best way to go if you can because it allows you to ask questions of the weekly guests. If the timing of the live sessions doesn't work for you, and/or you'd like to benefit from past sessions, you can view recordings of previous webinars on the archives page. -
This site is created by Google employees who want to help a more mature generation of tech users get their bearings in the world of technology. Each video is a short overview of a technology topic or tool. Many are focused on Google tools (of course), but there are also spots on other useful topics such as this one on how to create a strong password.

Learn It In 5 -
Created by Mark Barnes, an experienced educational technologist, the short videos on this site are aimed at teachers and are mostly under five minutes in length. They get straight to the basics of what you need to learn to use a techonlogy.

Microsoft in Education -
Teaching guides, lesson plans, and product how-tos specifically aimed at classroom and higher ed practitioners. One of my favorites is Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.

Microsoft Office Training -
General training resources for Microsoft Office products. This site has been valuable to me as our district is switching to Office 2010 this year. Resources exist for Office versions back to 2003.

Sponsored by the Goodwill Community Foundation, the tutorials on this site are AMAZING and FREE. Topics include, computers, reading, and math. There are free online courses in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

CommonCraft -
If you are a visual learner, this site is for you! Complicated concepts in business and technology explained using a unique animated format. You can view individually online for free, but if you decide to use these with students or other educators in presentations, please pay the appropriate licensing fees so these folks can keep creating these high-quality training videos.

Digital Discoveries from El Paso ISD
Tim Holt, Instructional Technology Director of El Paso ISD, presents short video segments on all sorts of educational technology, from using iPads in unique ways to using web tools with your students to directing your own professional development.

iTunes U -
If you own any iDevice, you probably have iTunes on your computer. But have you ever noticed iTunesU? An extensive repository of educational resources from universities and K-12 school systems all over the world, it's hidden right there in iTunes. You can take a course from Oxford or MIT if you want (not for credit, but it's the real stuff!). Several states like Texas have repositories of educational content as well. The video linked above gives a good overview. To explore yourself, open up iTunes on your computer, go to the iTunes store, and look for the iTunesU link in the top navigation bar.

That's my list! It is by no means exhaustive. Have I left off one of your favorite go-to sites for continuing learning? If so, please share it below in the comments so we can all benefit. Happy learning!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Interview on Down the Hall Podcast

Graphic Used Under a CC By-SA 2.0 License
I recently had the privilege of being invited to be interviewed on the Down the Hall podcast. Down the Hall  is produced by the External Programs and Learning Technologies (EPLT) department of the University of British Columbia. I have networked on Twitter and on this blog with one of the podcast hosts, Dave Roy (@UBCMET), a Senior Program Assistant for EPLT, and it was Dave who asked me for an interview after hearing me in another recent podcast appearance.

It was exciting to be part of a program whose purpose is to reach an audience including "EPLT/Faculty of Education stakeholders (students, prospective students – especially at the graduate level, faculty members, prospective academic and/or social media contacts, and those interested in educational technology & social media in education)."

Dave and I had a great conversation, and I hope you will take time to listen to Down the Hall Episode 36: Developing the Practice. (Special "guest" appearance by one of my dogs thrown in as a bonus! Kudos to Dave for really good editing on that one!)

One aspect that made taking part in this podcast enjoyable for me was the fact that Dave provided questions for me ahead of time, so I could think through the ideas I would like to share. Even though I got to think about my responses prior to the interview, it did not take away from the natural flow of the professional conversation we had, because neither of us strictly followed a script.

Below, I am posting the questions Dave sent me, and the notes I made for myself to refer to during the interview. You'll see if  you listen to the podcast and read my notes that what I said and what I wrote don't exactly match. You'll also see there are three questions, but in the podcast, we only discussed the first two. As I've admitted several times before, I am long-winded!

I hope you enjoy listening to and reading this information. And that you will share any thoughts it provokes in the comments.

Q1.    One of the areas of interest you mention in your bio on your blog is “educator professional development,” and many of the things you talk about on your blog and on Twitter are about resources for teachers to use in their classroom. How important of a resource are various social media for doing this? How can teachers enhance their own development by forming networks online and sharing resources? 
·        Social media can be a very valuable source of information and professional development for educators. What I love about it is it is a constantly flowing stream of knowledge, and you can drink from it as much and as often as you are comfortable doing so. And there are multiple entry points – Twitter is a very lively example, but educators can follow other professionals on Facebook, or find teachers with similar interests using tools such as Pinterest, Diigo,, or the innumerable blogs written by practicing educators. At first, they may just “lurk” and watch what others are doing, but eventually they will try some of the things they are exposed to and hopefully contribute back to others’ learning. 
·         Teachers who make efforts to learn from their colleagues online through social media are nurturing their own continuous learning and growth, and adding to their professional practice in this way is of great benefit to their students. No longer do we have to wait for just the right workshop to come along or attend a great staff development experience in the summer only to have it fade in importance by the time school starts. In the age of social media, I can be exposed to a new teaching technique or tool online, ask questions about it, and try it out as soon as tomorrow with my students. I can then share my efforts back out to my online network and get feedback on what went well and what I can continue to improve. Another teacher may learn from and enhance what I just tried today in their classroom tomorrow.

Q2.    You have 19 years of experience in education. How has the increasing use of digital technologies changed the K-12 classroom in your opinion? In your opinion, does it make it even more important for teachers to work on their own development to stay ahead of the curve?

·         First I need to point out that the quality and quantity of digital technology use varies widely from classroom to classroom, school to school, and system to system depending on the resources available and the quality of staff development that is provided.

·         But in places where digital technologies are being used well, teachers and students have unprecedented access to tools and information which make differentiation in instructional delivery and the ability to demonstrate learning through product creation far more possible than ever before. Teachers can now find text, visuals, audio, even simulations, for delivering required content to students to reach the multiple learning styles in every classroom. In places with access to easily updatable websites or learning management systems, they can even provide the content for students to consume or study at home, then work one-on-one or in small groups in the classroom the next day to customize the learning of the content for each child.

·         Complimentary to the ability to deliver content in a wide variety of mediums, students with access to digital technologies can demonstrate their learning by creating products using text enhanced with graphics and video, collaborating on blogs and wikis, designing web pages or apps. The possibilities are staggering. The digital K-12 classroom is no longer confined to the four physical walls surrounding it. When the resources available are leveraged properly, the resources for learning and the audience for witnessing student outcomes are literally without limit. And the exciting thing is no one teacher has to be an expert in all of these areas – the web gives access to teachers, both informal and formal, all over the world, and students and teachers can co-learn together.

·         I believe it’s vastly important for teachers to continuously develop themselves to stay ahead – or more accurately with the curve. The curve moves so fast now that staying ahead is almost impossible. But continually keeping up with what others are doing, tweaking their ideas to work in your situation and trying something new, is extremely doable with all of the information available through networking online with other educators and education entities.

Q3.    We’re familiar with blended and online learning at the post-secondary level, with UBC being heavily involved in implementing such courses with programs like the Master of Educational Technology. How do you think blended and online learning can benefit students at the K-12 level? What form would this kind of learning take?

·         At K-12 there are multiple ways blended and online learning can benefit students. Online learning can bring otherwise unavailable courses to students who are perhaps in smaller schools or systems that do not have capacity to provide instruction in on-site subjects like certain foreign languages. For example, in Canada you may have an overabundance of French teachers and we may have numerous Spanish teachers here in Texas. Students in each of our areas can benefit from instruction half-way across the continent. Similarly, homeschooled students can take higher-level courses that might otherwise be beyond their resources. Online learning can also benefit students who are not successful in the regular classroom. I’ve read about successful initiatives which bring students into schools to work in a self-paced online environment with certified teachers available onsite to assist with questions when face-to-face assistance is needed.

·         Blended learning also offers opportunities for students in more traditional settings to achieve at higher levels. We have had a few teachers in my district work online discussion boards into their traditional classrooms. They report that students who are less likely to participate in class discussions often put more effort into online posts. They also are thinking about learning outside of the traditional school day. One of my favorite examples was a high school English course I had access to mostly for technical support purposes. My email box was getting hit by discussions of Hamlet at 11 pm and 6:30 am. What teacher does not want to see that kind of engagement in students outside of the hour or so they see them during the day?