Changing Mindsets

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 10,000 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. Too often professional development is focused on the tool’s “point and click how to” leaving teachers with little ideas on “why to” or “when to” deploy the tools.  It is important to take the time to start with pedagogy and philosophy, so that teacher understand initially why and how to adopt digital learning.   Concerns that teachers bring to digital learning professional development range from making the change from a comfortable known environment, being replaced by technology, lack of control over pace and content, to fear of failure. Internal voices scream these concerns loudly through participant’s heads as they partake in professional development. What we do to calm these concerns and reduce the internal chatter is key to helping change teacher’s mindset.   To reduce teacher concerns about the digital learning classroom have them become a digital learner themselves. Having them step into the role of an online/blended learner makes the unknown and makes it known. Learning through technology helps participants see that technology does not replace the classroom teacher, but rather changes their role. By being an online learner, participants discover the teacher’s role and allows them to become...
It Takes a Village

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.   Educators are a close knit family, with support built into the work day. We can reach out to fellow co-workers for advice, feedback, and support. But let me ask you, “Who is part of your extended family?” When it comes to growing and supporting your thirst for building quality digital learning programs who are you allowing to fill your head with advice?   The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, known as iNACOL, has wisdom deeply rooted in digital learning. One might call iNACOL an elder of our community. iNACOL drives the transformation toward student-centered, next generation learning for K-12 education. They support innovators in online, blended, and competency education to share best practices, provide resources, connect practitioners, develop quality standards, and amplify educator voices to transform education. Through research and collaboration with other leaders in the field, iNACOL pens white papers, hosts teacher and leader webinars, and gathers the greatest thinkers in the field annually at the Blended and Online Learning Symposium.   This past week, I attended two webinars from iNACOL: Blended Learning Leaders Discuss their Roadmap for Success and Supporting and Sustaining Blended Learning Throughout the Year.  Playbacks...
The Evolution of Digital Learning

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. Congress bailed out the three big automobile makers. OJ Simpson finally went to jail (for attempting to retrieve memorabilia at gunpoint in Las Vegas). In 2008, I was overseeing millions of dollars in grant funds as the High School Reform Coordinator, helping to build Small Learning Communities in eight of the forty-two high schools in Clark County School District, directing the District Curriculum Commission, and creating a blended learning Driver Education Teacher Certification program for the state of Nevada. It was also the year I was talked into coaching two youth soccer teams for my daughters. So much for reminiscing. This week iNACOL released a white paper titled, Blended Learning: The Evolution of Online and Face-to-Face Education from 2008-2015. It was in 2008 iNACOL fully endorsed and embraced, as the first version of iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, the work of Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Online Teaching Evaluation for State Virtual Schools. The”Evolution” whitepaper references Clay Christensen research that formally defined blended learning and the various models learning. Then uses several Proof Points of Blended Learning in School Districts, research from Evergreen Education Group, and other implementation models across the nation...

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 All too often we get wrapped up in the things we can see and touch when planning for blended learning environments – like the technology, the software, and even the physical teacher. All these items are visual and can be purchased rather quickly. But it’s the unseen items that will be the undoing of blended programs. Does the content meet your district standards and benchmarks? How do you change the mindset and pedagogical practices of a 5-10-20 year veteran teacher? What are the instructional expectations of teachers who rely heavily on online content delivery? Should the student information and learning management systems integrate and roster students into online classrooms? What support services will be put in place for students who need direct instruction? What policies and procedures need documenting to ensure proper communication and deployment across classrooms or schools? These are just a few of the ‘unseen’ items that can make or break your blended learning program. Here at i3DigitalPD we have worked with many teachers and administrators to identify what it takes to do it right. Don’t get caught up in the “stuff.” Don’t be like the parent that works late, travels much and who brings home a gift for their child. Yet, the child would rather spend time together...