Posts Tagged ‘blended learning’

Learning in a Pandemic Year

February 2, 2021

For my faithful blog readers I apologize for my absence.  As you can imagine I was called to serve Denver Public Schools (DPS) for long days weeks and months supporting online learning.  Now that I have a moment to catch my breath (not that it’s over) I thought it would be helpful to share things I’ve learned over the past year.

1.  Google Meet Enterprise is just as good as Zoom for meetings and learning.  With the enhancements Google added to its Enterprise version the playing field has been leveled.  Take a look at this chart I created for the side by side comparison. 

2.  Just because you know how to use an online tool, doesn’t mean the learning will be effective.  We are still in need (if not more so) of training/development for facilitators of synchronous and asynchronous courses.  I’ve been active at DPS creating support materials, models, and starting two communities of practice that meet monthly.  One  is focusing on our LMS-Schoology-and the other group concentrates on synchronous delivery in Zoom or Google Meets.

3.  Non-verbal cues become very important in managing meetings online.  Especially in larger meetings protocols using hand gestures make online meetings run more smoothly and quickly.

4.  Two monitors are better than one, for catching non-verbal cues but also managing a presentation and meeting tools at the same time.

5.  Blended/hybrid professional learning will return.  I predict that after we emerge from COVID restrictions the value and efficiency of blended/hybrid learning will remain a viable delivery system.

6.  Video and audio production skills come in handy and still sound. Top five pieces of advice I give out are:

a. Use landscape format on your phone

b. Record in a quiet room/space

c. Get close to the camera

d. Avoid bright backlight (e.g. windows)

e. Add light to your face if needed (with lamps)

7.  The time for short and engaging webinars has arrived (thankfully).  For years I preached the benefits of shorter webinars and the importance of engaging the attendees throughout the session.  I believe the benefits of these practices have been made evident.

8.  We need breaks from technology too!  Spending all day at our computers in online sessions can be draining on our bodies and minds.  Don’t forget to take a break!  Now that you’ve finished reading this blog post, it’s your turn!

Top 5 Takeaways from CBOL 2017

May 12, 2017

CBOL 2017 logoAfter attending any conference I try to share my top takeaways.  Here are my top five from the Conference on Blended and Online Learning (CBOL)  held this year in Colorado.

1.  Personalized Learning in Jefferson County:  Students have control over the pace and path of their learning in the Virtual Academy.  Despite it’s name implying a 100% online experience, there are face-to-face days with tutoring, guidance and enrichment.  This makes me think that the metastudy done years ago by the Department of Education is still valid-Blended (hybrid) course delivery is the best of both worlds.

2.  DIY Personalized PD discoveries: The smartest person in the room is the room (crowdsourcing, leveraging everyone as experts).   The best PD is developed by teachers for teachers.  Take a look at their presentation here.   During this hands-on, group-sourced session, we came up with these ideas.  Besides this being an engaging session and producing group notes and artifacts, I loved the fact that they walked the talk.  I don’t know why more PD sessions don’t leverage google docs for collaborative notes.

 
3.  From that session, I proposed this metaphor to describe personalized learning:  Drinking from a water fountain as opposed to a firehose:  water fountain personalized learning metaphorI think the metaphor works pretty well.

4.  Becky Nusbaum gave a captivating, interactive presentation where she both showed how Twitter could be used to cultivate PLN (Personal Learning Network)s for teachers, while at the same time we tweeted to each other and added ideas to the session.  I thought that this was a good way to have participants dive right in to the tool being discussed.  Two good resources she shared were  Twitter for Teachers, Chatting and Best Practices  and the Directory of Ed Chats.  It’s on my to-do list to develop a workshop for teachers on developing PLNs.

5.  The keynote speaker, Tom Vander Ark, shared his 18 tips for student-centered learning.  Tom talked about many of these tips as “must do’s” such as: Every student should work on publicly publishing something (as a team) HS level.  Every student should have work-based learning…work-study at Christo Rey for an example.  “High school kids can change the world right here right now.  Let’s give them the skills to live and succeed in this complex world.”   These are powerful ideas and his enthusiasm for them is contagious.   Here is a link to his presentation.  I highly recommend looking at his list.