Sunday, March 28, 2010

Online Learning Network

I've done it! I have officially established my business. This was done for tax purposes for the online courses I'm already teaching, but also because I hope to began to create online professional development for teachers - something that helps them to better understand how to use technology in their least in the beginning. I would eventually like to be able to hire people, say an English specialist, who can create an online course which helps English teachers. I would also like to create some quick "how-to" courses in which someone who, say, wishes to learn how to use Microsoft Office can take the course and get credit for it.

I'm just in the process of starting to build the company so I hope you will all stay tuned as things continue to progress. You can follow me on Twitter, email me if you have questions, be a fan on Facebook, and, as soon as it is finished, go to the webpage.

This is what I've been working towards and it's exciting to see it finally coming to fruition.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TCEA 2010

I write this as my short, but very worthwhile TCEA 2010 experience comes to a close. It is sad to think that this year I only really got to go to the convention one day. It's just how it happened, but even with that, the sessions I attended were great! If you're interested to read about some of the learning, visit my TCEA 2010 Wiki page.

I will also say that my first TCEA presentation experience went great! As best I can tell, everyone was paying attention, they were engaged in the conversation, and (perhaps a tell-tale sign if things are slipping) people didn't get up in the middle of the presentation and leave. I hope to be able to do it again!

For those of you who will continue on with your TCEA 2010 experience - Happy Learning!

Today I Present...

It's my first time to present at Texas Computer Educator's Association (TCEA) and I must admit I'm a little nervous. It's the unknown. I don't usually get nervous about speaking in front of people, but not knowing how many people will be there, knowing if everything is going to work right, knowing if my topic is too "dated"...all those things - the unknown - is making my tummy turn over and over.

My topic - "Using Web 2.0 Tools to Increase your Personal Learning Network (PLN)". How can some of the interactive tools (Web 2.0) that are available on the web help you learn? Things such as blogs, wiki, and yes - even Twitter! How can subscribing to blogs and wikis and following people on Twitter help you learn? That's what this session is all about.

Because of all the planning that goes into putting on a conference like this, proposals for presentations have to be submitted in the Spring the previous year. Because of this, I've known since May what my topic would be. In the world of technology, though, that's a hard call! Deciding on a topic to discuss at a technology conference almost a full year before you present - technology changes so fast, how can you ensure your topic is relevant? (Another unknown that is adding to my tummy flops!) Handouts had to be "turned in" in November and, again, I will often make changes to my presentations even the day before! I'm just glad I use Web 2.0 tools so people have access to the most current - recent - information that I present. :) For tools and a copy of the presentation (after it's over) visit my wiki: I will create a link on the front page that will take you directly to a TCEA 2010 page where you'll find information about my presentation and all of the presenations I'll attend.

Best wishes for learning about some wonderful tools all TCEA 2010 conference attendees! As you attend some amazing sessions - continue to ask yourself, how can this help me create a better learning opportunity for my students?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Technology Fails...

To say technology can be frustrating is an understatement. We've all felt it. You know how it's supposed to work, but it doesn't seem to do what you want it to do (or it crashes, etc.). An experience like that happened to me just this afternoon and I thought, what a good learning opportunity. I hear all the time, our kids know how to use this stuff, but I just can't seem to understand it or I get so frustrated with it. What is the difference between us and our kids when it comes to technology? There are several different things, but one that I realized - they don't give up. If something doesn't work, they try - try again. They figure it out. Isn't this problem solving? Maybe not in the way educators want or think of problem solving, but they're using their brains to figure out how to make something work.

Problem solving is definitely a 21st century skill and allowing our students to struggle a little when trying to figure something out is okay (this isn't only true of technology, but anything). Encourage your students to figure it out on their own and allow them to fail.

The next time technology fails you,'s a learning opportunity!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Information, Media, and Technology Skills

Information, Media, and Technology Skills is another cog in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills framework. These, in fact, are emerging as the new set of literacies that today's students really need to understand: Information Literacy; Media Literacy; ICT (Information, Communication, and Technology) Literacy.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills address the fact that we live in "technology and media-suffused environment" and schools/teachers who ignore this fact will quickly become extinct (that is my opinion - not the Partnership for 21st Century Skills). Many teachers fear the idea that if technology becomes a part of the educational system, their services may no longer be required and they'll be out a job. Who, then, will teach them about the literacies of the 21st century? Those teachers who continue to ignore these new literacies will be the ones who become extinct, but not because technology will replace them, but because teachers who understand how to use and leverage the technology to engage and teacher students will replace them.

Will you become extinct or will you choose to better understand how the face of education is changing?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers

With this blog posts come a great article as well as some news concerning my career.

First of all the great article! When I was at Region 16 ESC one of the trainings we offered was a Web 2.0 Boot Camp. I have written about the details of this training in the past, but I bring it up now because we ran a 2009 version as well. One of the participants of that course shared some great bookmarks with me on delicious and one of them was right up the alley of this blog.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers is a great article written by Andrew Churches who is in charge of Information Technology at Kristin School in Auckland. He believes that teachers who strive to be considered a "21st Century Teacher" exhibt the following eight qualities:

  1. Adapting
  2. Being Visionary
  3. Collaborating
  4. Taking Risks
  5. Learning
  6. Communicating
  7. Modelling Behavior
  8. Leading

As I reflect on these 8 qualities, I realize that these are qualities we also want to encourage in our students to be successful in the 21st century. My question is, then, does this mean that to be able to successfully prepare our students for life after school, we must also be willing ourselves to step outside the box of traditional teaching? I will even go as far as to say the task is near impossible to prepare students for the 21st century life for the strickly traditional teacher.

As I've mentioned before, I am not saying that things "we've always done" should go out the window, but I encourage and challenge today's teachers to take a long hard look at what you do in your classroom and ask yourself:

How is this relevant to learning?
is the purpose of this task?

If the answers to those questions do not reflect a 21st century type of learning, then maybe it's time to retire that lesson. With the way things change so quickly, it is no longer "okay" to create your lessons once never to have a look at them again.

Do you have any other questions teachers should consider when evaluating their lessons according to 21st century learning and education?

Now for the news! I have left my job at Region 16 Education Service Center. There were many reasons behind my decision to leave - some of them personal - but one of the main reasons is because I would like to focus more on instructional technology and the job, for various reasons, was turning into a grant management position. While grants are necessary and very helpful, I found that I was not able to focus as much on getting technology into the hands of teachers and changing classrooms. After much discussion with my husband, I felt this was the best move for me - both personally and professionally.

I do have plans to stay heavily involved in the Instructional Technology world, though "the plan" is 100% ready to go so I shall refrain from discussing that until it's all ready to go. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to teach some online professional development classes for Texas Virtual School. This has helped keep me busy during the day (though I've been plenty busy trying to get my house in shape after moving into our new house in March), plus provide some extra spending money.

Stay tuned for further developments and hopefully you'll see more and more posts with some great information!

Go forth and be a great 21st Century Educator!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wes Fryer's Landscape of 21st Century Learning

Wesley Fryer, a leader in educational technology and someone that is in my Personal Learning Network, recently spoke at a conference in New Zealand. He posted his presentation on slideshare. I highly encourage you to watch/listen to his presentation. It is an hour long and definitely gives you something to think about.