Top 5 Takeaways from the iLearn Conference

March 5, 2018

iLearn icon

As is my habit, anytime I attend a conference I share out my top takeaways/learnings. The iLearn Collaborative Conference was held in Denver last month. Here are my top five takeaways, based on my experience and interests.

1. Authentic Video
I often recommend that teachers/facilitators create and post personal “selfie” videos to introduce modules in their online courses.  Jessica Glynn from Denver Online High School took this concept and modeled three crucial elements in her video.  First, she was authentic.  Her video was direct and unedited.  The minor flaws gave it an authentic feel-not rehearsed or perfect.  Secondly the video gave the students the impression that she was “present” in the moment and in the course.  Videos like these are essential in maintaining instructor presence throughout an online course.  Thirdly, in something that surprised me, she not only modeled self-reflection but also lifelong learning as she shared a discovery she had learned in a PD session she attended.  With Jessica’s permission, you too can see the video example here.

2. Close Reading Tools
Jessica Glynn also shared her online approach to close readings-a protocol that is very popular with my literacy friends. Students are given three choices on how to participate: Join teacher-led small group in person, join teacher-led small group via Zoom,or read independently and use the tool Nowcomment. This was the first time I had seen NowComment.  It looks like a fantastic tool to facilitate discussion around a text.  I know this is something you could do in Google Docs, but NowComment has additional features such as giving you a quick count of the comments.

3.  The Science of Online Learning
When I saw, in advance, the presentation deck from Erika Twani and Bryan Goodwin I quickly changed my schedule and headed to their room.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The core of their message is this four step process:
1.     Interest -What do I know, What do I want to know?
2.    Research -Searching for and processing information
3.    Develop Skills -Exercises, Problem solving, Creativity
4.    Relating -How can I apply this to my life
I had some time to work with Joy Schnabel, an English teacher and I came up with this possible sequence for her students:
Have students choose a place to go on vacation.
Research the location.
Vet sources on the internet-what is valid info?
Create a brochure (or a video, audio, essay, letter) to convince their parents to take them there.
Using this sequence, students get a chance to create an alternative assessment and flex their online/multimedia skills.  It’s a win-win!

4.  Innovator Keynote
Catlin Tucker delivered the keynote on day two of the conference. Catlin has kids ditch traditional notebooks and instead document their learning with photos, videos, and writing online. She believes in creating an authentic audience for her students, connecting them with community member panels for large scale projects.  They ask the tough questions of the students.  When students know there is an actual audience, it is a powerful incentive. Her kids also go to TEDEdClubs and produce TED talks. This is a teacher who is not afraid to take risks, challenge and trust her students. She is definitely someone to follow. You can find her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

5.  Edcamp 2.0
Jeri Crispe, Chastity Stringer, and Dodi Schrader are from the Thompson School District. They were excited by attending an Edcamp (as I have been) and decided to roll out a localized version to their teachers. First they generated topics by surveying the teachers.
They produced a video to explain the Edcamp process. They listened and planned with educators with Edcamp experience.  Via email, flyers, and face-to-face interactions, they recruited presenters/facilitators. Finally, they designed an online session board and provided space and food. They call it 2.0 because it is their second iteration. They made sure there was a facilitator for each session, someone with a little bit of expertise.
And, in something that makes me very happy, they leverage Schoology for sharing the session materials.  I believe everyone who has Schoology should do this for conferences and professional development, even when it’s face-to-face.
Their new design for PD includes:
Outcomes determined by the learner
Teachers share expertise
Learn something new
Action-orientated
Apply the new learning
Evidence-based reflection to inform practice and next steps

Well, that’s my roundup of the iLearn Conference in Denver. I’ve made myself a promise to submit a proposal to present next year at this and several other conferences. I’ll let you know how that goes. I hop you get to attend some conferences and share your learning as well.

About Preferences

February 16, 2018

no-printerThis week in my no printing saga I’d like to talk briefly about printing preferences.  In the Heath brothers book “Switch” they emphasized shaping a path and building habits.  With this quick tip you can almost effortlessly be printing less.  If you use Chrome as your browser (and why wouldn’t you?) you can setup your print preference to save as a pdf rather than send it to a printer.  Here’s what the preference screen looks like:

save as pdf screenshot

By saving this as a preference, anytime that I’m in Chrome and especially using Google docs, all I have to do is hit Command P on my keyboard and then hit return and voila!  I’ve saved my doc as a pdf on my desktop.   This makes it an easy path-just a few keystrokes, and forms a habit to save rather than print.  And I think it goes without saying that it’s easier to search for a particular pdf file than a drawer full of paper or, even worse, a pile of paper.  Happy saving everyone!

Paper Savers Week 6-No Tech

February 9, 2018

printer-37270_640Through this year of avoiding printing and perhaps paper altogether I will highlight my high tech, low tech and no tech solutions.  This week is a no tech solution. I’ll talk about utilizing whiteboards. I know it sounds “old school” and could be seen as a copout to using technology, but I want to model all kinds of options for others to consider.

As the Culture Champion on my floor at work I’m responsible for, among other things, celebrating birthdays, keeping the refrigerator cleaned weekly and advertising culture events in the building.  I used to print out fliers, announcements, and signup sheets. My boss, Amanda, gave me the idea to deploy whiteboards that could be erased.  I picked up some inexpensive ones from Target.  The toughest part was figuring out how to mount them.  On the backs I used duct tape and string.  For the bulletin board I used push-pins with hooks that I also found at Target.  On the fridge I used one of those removable 3M hooks since the curve of the door wasn’t working for magnets.  Finally, I found a large whiteboard that had already been mounted in one of our stairwells.  Surprisingly, no one had been using it for announcements.  As soon as mine was written, another department took over the rest of the space.  Rather than  be annoyed, I was joyful that someone else saw the opportunity to save paper!  Here are some photos of the whiteboards in use.  NOTE:  The blurring of last names, via photoshop, is intentional.

 

Taking Off with RocketBook

February 2, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 11.17.39 AMI’ve really revved up my year without paper/printing with the purchase of a Rocketbook.  It is rapidly allowing me to leave paper behind. This quick promo video gives you the idea behind the innovation:

I’ve been using it for a month now and have found no downsides.  It has been scanning and erasing flawlessly and everyone seems interested in it when I use it in front of them. The book costs between 20 and 30 dollars, but the app is free.  I’ve set it up to send material to my work email, personal email, work Google folder and my team’s Slack channel.  By purchasing the larger format book, I can also scan paper documents in an instant.  I’ve scanned documents, notes and even objects!  This is a major game-changer for anyone wanted to save paper like me and my team.  We’re thinking about giving them out as gifts to teachers and leaders!  Here’s the process:

I set up my scan destinations.

destination assignment

I decide what I want to scan.

Handwritten erasable notes, scribed with a “Frixion” pen:

notes taken

A three-dimensional object:

3d object to scan

or even a document (not obscuring the destination choices at the bottom:

document to scan

I open the free app on my smartphone and take a photo.  It automatically goes to all the locations I’ve selected with checkmarks:

destinations selected

Voila!  It’s arrived at its destinations!

So,  what do you think?  Any questions?  Are you using a Rocketbook?

Schoology Tool Tip

January 26, 2018

contactI wanted to take a quick diversion from my Year Without Paper theme to share a valuable tool tip in Schoology.  Ironically, the tool is called ToolTip.  Perhaps its generic name is why I forgot about it 😦

When composing a page in Schoology you can add clarifications or definitions to words by using this useful tool.  Here is what it looks like in action:

tooltip in word sonnet

Here are the steps to use it for yourself:

  1. Create a page in your Schoology course, make sure you are in editing mode.
  2. After entering text, find the word you want to define or clarify.
  3. Select the word by clicking and dragging over it.
  4. Click on “Insert Media”.                                                                                                                      tooltip pulldown
  5. At the bottom of this list, click on “ToolTip”  (it may look grayed out, but it is active).
  6. In the pop up window type the text you want to appear as a definition/clarification.       tooltip checkbox
  7. Click on the checkbox.  You’re done!

Happy Schoologizing everyone!

The Year of No Paper Starts

January 19, 2018

printer-37270_640I announced to my team about my plan to go for a year without using paper.  More specifically, not printing anything.  But wherever I can go without paper at all or use only hard recycled paper, I will do so.  My team members have surprised me with their enthusiasm and support.  On my birthday they wrapped a gift for me in recycled post-it notes.

gift pakcage wrapped in used paper

They also surprised me with this sign:

Dee w no paper sign

 

My next steps in the year of no paper include:

  • Blogging here with my progress, tips and observations.
  • Leveraging the No Paper Tribe that I’m forming at DPS and using the books Tribes and Switch for strategies.
  • Using high tech, low tech, and no tech solutions.

See you next time on this paperless wordpress!

Moving Away from Paper-Early Moves

December 15, 2017

367488-fujitsu-scansnap-ix500I started down the path away from using paper earlier this year when I took two file drawers-one at home and one at work-scanned all the important documents and filed them away on hard drives and Google drives.  Part of my motivation was to free up some space and the other was to make content searching more efficient.

A larger motivator happened in the middle of the year when I learned that the copiers/printers on my floor alone at work print 500,000 copies a month.  This made me think that my school district must be spending millions of dollars each year on printing.  So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could save money by printing less?

I read two books recently (Tribes by Seth Godin and Switch by the Heath Brothers) that are sparking my thinking on how to lead/create change in my organization.  The change I want to happen is to reduce the use of paper.  I will be posting here on my blog my strategies and progress toward this goal, and I will make the goal specific and attainable.

I’m looking at leveraging Google docs for handouts, interactive notes and personalization.  At my face-to-face workshops I’ve been using a Google doc with a basic outline for attendees to take notes as a group.  The doc also has resource links at the end which serve as handouts and future references.

This week I had a handout with fill-in boxes to give to my team.  Rather than print  out 12 copies I used the copy feature on Google docs.  I highly recommend this practice to everyone.  Here are the simple steps:

  1.  Create your Google Doc
  2.  Setup up sharing so anyone with the link can edit
  3.  Copy the link
  4.  The end of the link will look like this: J_M/edit?usp=sharing    CHANGE IT  to look   like this: J_M/copy
  5.  Share the new link with /copy at the end.  Users will be forced to make their own copy of the document!

I hope you get a chance to try out this copying method.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions as I set about to make institutional change around printing and the power of leveraging electronic documents.

Online Course Design

December 1, 2017

Theo_van_Doesburg_Composition_VII_(the_three_graces)As the resident online learning expert of my team I’ve been asked to create an intake form/document with essential questions to ask clients when they approach us to design an online course.  Looking through my books and internet resources I did not find any comprehensive form or guide to fit our needs. So I went about creating one on my own and then receiving additional input from two of my teammates.  The resulting document is here for you to use and adapt for your own needs.

You’ll notice that the information we seek is both nominative and design related.  We separated them in to categories so that clients could see the overall logic of our questions.  There are also practical questions relating to ownership, timeline(s) and roles/responsibilities.

One important thing we learned in the process of working with a recent client is to give them this document to peruse ahead of time, otherwise it is overwhelming to answer all of them in an intake interview.  We also let the client know that we didn’t need answers to everything right away since it is a process and development of a course takes time.

I’m sure this document will change with practice over time and if you’re involved with online course design I welcome your comments on it.

Google App Rescue

November 7, 2017

google app GMy coworkers came to me with a problem: We needed to host four webinars for school principals but had limited space in each.  Could I find a way (with minimal work and communication to leaders) to limit registration?  Google apps came to my rescue, or rather I went to Google apps for my rescue-I was in the driver seat after all.

The first thing I did was create a Google doc explaining the process to sign up and showing the dates and times for the webinars to choose from:

initial google doc without links

Then I created a separate Google form for each date and time.  I used the copy feature to save time in producing four of them.  On the Google doc I linked to the corresponding form:

google doc links for dates

Back on the Google forms I installed the add-on “Form Limiter”.  On the Form Limiter I set the number of attendees I would allow in each webinar.  When the form/registration was full the person would receive a message referring them back to the Google doc to choose another date and time.  I was also notified when the limit was reached and I went back to the Google doc and eliminated that choice for future responders.

form limiter pop up settings

Voila!  It worked pretty well.  I just hope the add-on is there the next time I need it.  I’ve seen add-ons come and go on Google apps.

Would this solution work for you?  Are there other ways to solve this problem in the future?  Let me know via comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Open to New Webinar Tools

September 14, 2017

ZoomLogoSmallIn my career I’ve tried to keep myself tool agnostic-not sticking to a single tool in my software box.  When it comes to webinars it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Adobe Connect for all its professional features.  But this year I’ve been using two other webinar platforms for certain situation- Zoom and Big Blue Button.  I’ll share my experiences with them here.

Big Blue Button is the webinar tool that comes with our current LMS-Schoology.  I like the fact that it’s available to everyone who logs in and they can run as many webinars as they like.  I think it’s particularly useful for teachers to use as office hours or help sessions for their students.  It has a fairly intuitive interface.  The main drawbacks that I see are 1. In our version, recordings only last for 7 days and 2. The screenshare function has too many hurdles for most users to overcome (clunky plugins).

I’ve used Zoom webinars in several different settings.  For a large scale meeting with almost 200 principals we bought a large webinar subscription.  For smaller meetings, 8-20 people, I’ve used their (mostly) free meeting version.  It has an intuitive interface and pretty good audio and video quality.  In particular I like the phone call in numbers that attendees can use for audio only.  I also really like how attendees can adjust the windows/frames to personalize their experience.  The main drawbacks is that it doesn’t let me load and share files ahead of time like the way I setup a lobby room in Adobe Connect.  I hope to figure out a workaround in Zoom for this function.

So, with these additional tools now at my disposal I meet with people planning webinars and discuss their specific needs/objectives.  After that needs assessment I will choose/recommend the webinar tool that best fits the wishes of the users and try not to play favorites.