Join us, as our staff shares their expertise in 500 words or less. A quick read with lots to consider and ponder when establishing, maintaining, and evaluating blended learning programs.

Book: Think Outside the Box

I’ve spent the last year accumulating and assembling program advise and deployment designs for secondary schools into a new book. I’ve gathered these words of wisdom, (nearly twenty years’ worth in the digital learning front) from working with hundreds of schools and thousands of classroom teachers in Nevada’s Clark County School District, the fifth largest in the nation. Below are a few excerpts from my new book titled: Think Outside the Box: The CIA of Blended Learning and 10+ Designs for Secondary Schools. Not only will schools of the future need to think outside the box, they must think differently about the relationships of curriculum, instruction, and assessment (CIA). In blended and personalized learning, that’s: digital Curriculum, guided Instruction, authentic Assessment.

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Creating a Five Year Plan

August is a wonderful time of the year. The new school year is upon us. The energy level is high. Excitement fills the air from parents, students, and teachers. How will you capitalize upon this? Who can you reach out to support your dreams and desires? Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to share Clark County’s path of success in a recent podcast.

Listen to the 30 minute Podcast #40

Take inventory. Where are you today? Where do you want to be? How will you scale the great divide?

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Four Mindsets for Digital Learning

Teaching is a craft, an art, and the core values stem from seeking instructional methods that better serve students’ understanding and growth. The digital learning environment requires teachers to re-think their place, their role, and the needs of students when digital curriculum aides in the delivery of content. Four different educator mindsets arise when deploying digital curriculum:
See Mindset Infographic
1. Online
2. Blended
3. Innovator
4. Designer

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Path to Digital Learning

On April 1st, I had the pleasure to enjoy and present at the Blended Personalized Learning Conference in Rhode Island. In preparation for the sharing of the 10 Digital Learning Models (book coming this summer), I was interviewed by Nick DiNardo in a “Meet Education Project” Podcast.

Listen to the 30 minute Podcast #173

In the podcast, you will hear my passion for digital learning. The passion that drove me to create i3DigitalPD with a desire to share all that I have learned over the past fifteen plus years. Each of us are at a different place in our journey to digital learning. There is no one road to travel, however there are many paths that will lead us to success.

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The Cost of Change

When you think of the words “blended learning” what image comes to mind? I ask this because blended learning models are not just one thing. It’s like the words, “vehicle” or “home.” You have a mental image of a vehicle and a home, but your mental image is probably not the same as the person next to you. Vehicles and homes come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and prices. A pickup truck, compact automobile, and luxury sports car are all very different vehicles. As are a two-story, ranch, and apartment homes. Sadly, for some of our students their vehicle is home.

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The CIA of Blended Learning

Every quality classroom is built upon three components – curriculum, instruction, and assessment, or CIA for short. In a digital learning world the CIA is the same, just with qualifiers.
See CIA Infographic

C = Digital Curriculum
I = Guided Instruction
A = Authentic Assessment

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A Messy School-wide Digital Plan

Without a complete understanding of the changes in education too many administrators lead into the digital age with making teacher requirements, without understanding the ramifications. Most building administrators have the foresight to know that each and every teacher needs to have a digital presence. But without leadership and guidance this can become a train wreck – very quickly.

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Keep the Human Touch in the Online Learning Environment

Too often we hear talk about teacher-absent online courses, where someone made the decision that the digital curriculum was enough, but is that what we really want? The human touch is so important. When a teacher shows that they care about their students, the student in turn cares about the class. Many times over we have seen students who showed that ‘mean and nasty’ teacher a thing, by failing their course. Student can also rises to the occasion and achieves more than possible because the kind heart of the teacher coached the student to believe in their abilities, grew self-confidence, and pushed them to success.

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Changing Mindsets

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Instructure Canvas Learning Management System staff about preparing teachers for a digital learning classroom. Over the last five years working with Nevada’s Clark County School District, with over 25,000 teachers, in this area we’ve seen the full scope of educators from early adopters, to middle meddlers, and the slow to change. Moving to digital learning takes a mind shift in pedagogy and philosophy that embrace technology as a tool for instruction.

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Hybrid Model: Thinking Differently

Budget cuts and staff reductions have hit many schools hard. It’s time to look “outside the box” when trying to deal with growing student populations and fewer quality teachers to serve them. Digital content is ideal for building foundational skills. We need to look closely at how schools can use digital content to support student learning and reduce the teacher workload, yet increase teacher reach (e.g. caseload).

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NCAA Madness

It’s March! The time of year, when NCAA steps into our living rooms and we are reminded of the madness. At the high school level, it’s important to know the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) guidelines when designing a digital learning program, as NCAA targets nontraditional courses through very strict governance.

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7 Steps to Program Design

Planning for a digital learning program can be overwhelming. There are many things to consider, from content, devices, to staff and facilities, and so much more.
See 7 Steps Infographic
Don’t get caught up in the bright colorful furniture, or the sparkling new devices, when you should be focused on operational procedures, or preparing your staff for new pedagogy and classroom instruction. When travelling an unfamiliar road, it’s wise to have a guide who has been there before by your side.

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10 Models for Courseware

There are many vendors in the digital content market that sale online secondary semester-based courses, which they will all claim are aligned to every state and national standard. Before making a purchase, start with confirming they meet your specific state standards. Then ponder how best to deploy the courseware.
See 10 Models Infographic

There is no one right solution, but many ways courseware can be utilized.

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It Takes a Village

The traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” has been widely quoted. The basic meaning is that the upbringing of a child is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family – blood relatives, neighbors, and the whole community. This does not have to stop once the child is grown. Adults also need a village – a communal effort, an extended family, to continue to grow.

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Start School with Digital in Mind

It’s the start of the school year and teachers are busy preparing their classrooms – or should we say their learning environments. Technology should be part of the learning environment in today’s world, but how teachers embrace technology will differ.

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The Evolution of Digital Learning

Where were you in 2008? Let me remind you of a few highlights in 2008: It was a leap year. We lost Batman’s “Joker” Heath Ledger (age 28) and legendary Paul Newman (age 83). New York Giants won the Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Phillies took the World Series. Beijing held the Summer Olympics where US swimmer Michael Phelps set the record for number of gold medals. Barack Obama was elected president.

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Laying the Foundations for Course Design

When it comes to developing online content we need to take a lesson from the construction industry. Building online content is much like the construction field, pulling raw materials together forming a functional living space with all the necessary requirements (e.g. electricity, plumbing). For teachers who create or curate content the same basic principles apply – pulling raw materials together forming a functional learning space with all the necessary requirements (e.g. standards, assessments).

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What it Takes to Do It Right

On April 16th, I had the pleasure to share with administrators across the national on a webinar hosted by District Administration and sponsored by Canvas about Blended Learning: What it Takes to Do It Right. It was a great opportunity to speak about the four key focus areas of building quality blended programs:

Content
Teaching
Technology
Operations

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