So, I have a very specific question for each of the members in this community: “What would you do as a Director of…

So, I have a very specific question for each of the members in this community: “What would you do as a Director of Blended Learning in an Urban District”? 

What would you do first? What would you prioritize above other things? What would you try that you wouldn’t try anywhere else?

I made a video that asks the questions a bit better, but I would love to hear from as many people as care to comment or make a video response (on YouTube if you can)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H8pPTn9jK4

33 Comments

  1. I teach in an urban district and incorporate as much blended learning as possible through my GAFE website. Connecting with students through Twitter and Google groups are two effective means of communicating and discussing/debating with students outside of school. Twitter affords opportunities to send reminders, extra credit questions, or links for enhancing learning from the day’s lesson. Google groups allows students from all my classes to debate/discuss posted topics. My site is password protected and I screen all comments prior to posting. I can only speak from my experiences with blended curriculum, but Twitter and Google groups are two effective teaching tools that are simple to implement.

  2. I teach in an urban district and incorporate as much blended learning as possible through my GAFE website. Connecting with students through Twitter and Google groups are two effective means of communicating and discussing/debating with students outside of school. Twitter affords opportunities to send reminders, extra credit questions, or links for enhancing learning from the day’s lesson. Google groups allows students from all my classes to debate/discuss posted topics. My site is password protected and I screen all comments prior to posting. I can only speak from my experiences with blended curriculum, but Twitter and Google groups are two effective teaching tools that are simple to implement.

  3. I teach in an urban district and incorporate as much blended learning as possible through my GAFE website. Connecting with students through Twitter and Google groups are two effective means of communicating and discussing/debating with students outside of school. Twitter affords opportunities to send reminders, extra credit questions, or links for enhancing learning from the day’s lesson. Google groups allows students from all my classes to debate/discuss posted topics. My site is password protected and I screen all comments prior to posting. I can only speak from my experiences with blended curriculum, but Twitter and Google groups are two effective teaching tools that are simple to implement.

  4. John Graves I love your concept of “Vaster”, which I had not thought of as an alternative to faster, which is what most people are looking at. Creating a parent and student network would be hugely valuable.

    How do you think these kinds of networks can be created to flourish when the level of access is quite low in the home? Do you have any ideas around creating equity within this parent/student network?

    Joseph Pollock Your practical advice is greatly appreciated. I have done much with Twitter to increase awareness and further engagement, but I haven’t dug into Google Groups as an effective communication tool. I would love to know more about why you chose Google Groups vs. something like Google Sites with Alerts turned on or Edmodo with notifications.

    What is it about the email group that you find to be so effective for blended environments?

    Kieran Mathieson Your approach is extremely well laid out. I think that it has an element of pure listening as well as research. The research on Blended Learning is quite fascinating and has a lot to do with this position being created in the first place, actually. 

    I really love the way you have described working with teachers and learning rather than with content and technology. I would pose a question to you, if you have a moment to go deeper, though.

    What would you suggest if the curriculum has already been laid out and is not being directly generated by the teachers (not ideal, I know, but I have some inside info on this position, and things have been set in motion on some pieces already)? How do you build in that teacher-ownership when they aren’t creating the entirety of the learning experience?

  5. John Graves I love your concept of “Vaster”, which I had not thought of as an alternative to faster, which is what most people are looking at. Creating a parent and student network would be hugely valuable.

    How do you think these kinds of networks can be created to flourish when the level of access is quite low in the home? Do you have any ideas around creating equity within this parent/student network?

    Joseph Pollock Your practical advice is greatly appreciated. I have done much with Twitter to increase awareness and further engagement, but I haven’t dug into Google Groups as an effective communication tool. I would love to know more about why you chose Google Groups vs. something like Google Sites with Alerts turned on or Edmodo with notifications.

    What is it about the email group that you find to be so effective for blended environments?

    Kieran Mathieson Your approach is extremely well laid out. I think that it has an element of pure listening as well as research. The research on Blended Learning is quite fascinating and has a lot to do with this position being created in the first place, actually. 

    I really love the way you have described working with teachers and learning rather than with content and technology. I would pose a question to you, if you have a moment to go deeper, though.

    What would you suggest if the curriculum has already been laid out and is not being directly generated by the teachers (not ideal, I know, but I have some inside info on this position, and things have been set in motion on some pieces already)? How do you build in that teacher-ownership when they aren’t creating the entirety of the learning experience?

  6. John Graves I love your concept of “Vaster”, which I had not thought of as an alternative to faster, which is what most people are looking at. Creating a parent and student network would be hugely valuable.

    How do you think these kinds of networks can be created to flourish when the level of access is quite low in the home? Do you have any ideas around creating equity within this parent/student network?

    Joseph Pollock Your practical advice is greatly appreciated. I have done much with Twitter to increase awareness and further engagement, but I haven’t dug into Google Groups as an effective communication tool. I would love to know more about why you chose Google Groups vs. something like Google Sites with Alerts turned on or Edmodo with notifications.

    What is it about the email group that you find to be so effective for blended environments?

    Kieran Mathieson Your approach is extremely well laid out. I think that it has an element of pure listening as well as research. The research on Blended Learning is quite fascinating and has a lot to do with this position being created in the first place, actually. 

    I really love the way you have described working with teachers and learning rather than with content and technology. I would pose a question to you, if you have a moment to go deeper, though.

    What would you suggest if the curriculum has already been laid out and is not being directly generated by the teachers (not ideal, I know, but I have some inside info on this position, and things have been set in motion on some pieces already)? How do you build in that teacher-ownership when they aren’t creating the entirety of the learning experience?

  7. Benjamin Wilkoff Here in Auckland, we have free internet access at all public libraries. The scene at the main public library downtown is quite amazing. Before opening time, a crowd forms at the door. When it opens, there is a dash — like you’d see at WalMart for a holiday sale — up the escalator to the second floor where a queue forms to book the dozens of computers available in the library throughout the day. The library also offers free Wi-Fi, so the downstairs areas are lined with people on their laptops and netbooks who have overflowed all available seating and desk space and sit along the walls on the floor. The Wi-Fi keeps working even after closing time, so you see backpackers sitting on the ground outside the library to get their internet connection. If your school has a computer lab, look into making it available to the public after school hours.

    A surprising number of families have access to a smart mobile phone or a TV with a smart device attached, such as an XBOX. It is possible to distribute learning material through both these channels simultaneously with “relocatable” web pages which load onto the devices via USB, so no internet access is required (but the same pages are available on-line for those with smart phones). Thus, for the cost of a USB stick per student ($8 for 8GB[1]), the community can put an amazing amount of material onto the “home screen”.

    [1] http://www.bestbuy.com/site/EP+Memory+-+8GB+USB+2.0+Flash+Drive/9621548.p?id=1218132466825&skuId=9621548&st=USB&cp=2&lp=3

  8. Benjamin Wilkoff Here in Auckland, we have free internet access at all public libraries. The scene at the main public library downtown is quite amazing. Before opening time, a crowd forms at the door. When it opens, there is a dash — like you’d see at WalMart for a holiday sale — up the escalator to the second floor where a queue forms to book the dozens of computers available in the library throughout the day. The library also offers free Wi-Fi, so the downstairs areas are lined with people on their laptops and netbooks who have overflowed all available seating and desk space and sit along the walls on the floor. The Wi-Fi keeps working even after closing time, so you see backpackers sitting on the ground outside the library to get their internet connection. If your school has a computer lab, look into making it available to the public after school hours.

    A surprising number of families have access to a smart mobile phone or a TV with a smart device attached, such as an XBOX. It is possible to distribute learning material through both these channels simultaneously with “relocatable” web pages which load onto the devices via USB, so no internet access is required (but the same pages are available on-line for those with smart phones). Thus, for the cost of a USB stick per student ($8 for 8GB[1]), the community can put an amazing amount of material onto the “home screen”.

    [1] http://www.bestbuy.com/site/EP+Memory+-+8GB+USB+2.0+Flash+Drive/9621548.p?id=1218132466825&skuId=9621548&st=USB&cp=2&lp=3

  9. Benjamin Wilkoff Here in Auckland, we have free internet access at all public libraries. The scene at the main public library downtown is quite amazing. Before opening time, a crowd forms at the door. When it opens, there is a dash — like you’d see at WalMart for a holiday sale — up the escalator to the second floor where a queue forms to book the dozens of computers available in the library throughout the day. The library also offers free Wi-Fi, so the downstairs areas are lined with people on their laptops and netbooks who have overflowed all available seating and desk space and sit along the walls on the floor. The Wi-Fi keeps working even after closing time, so you see backpackers sitting on the ground outside the library to get their internet connection. If your school has a computer lab, look into making it available to the public after school hours.

    A surprising number of families have access to a smart mobile phone or a TV with a smart device attached, such as an XBOX. It is possible to distribute learning material through both these channels simultaneously with “relocatable” web pages which load onto the devices via USB, so no internet access is required (but the same pages are available on-line for those with smart phones). Thus, for the cost of a USB stick per student ($8 for 8GB[1]), the community can put an amazing amount of material onto the “home screen”.

    [1] http://www.bestbuy.com/site/EP+Memory+-+8GB+USB+2.0+Flash+Drive/9621548.p?id=1218132466825&skuId=9621548&st=USB&cp=2&lp=3

  10. I love the way you have multiple channels available to those who need them. By coming at it from an entertainment, utilitarian and community focus, you have removed nearly all of the excuses for not remaining connected that tend to come up. 

    I am incredibly intrigued by the idea of distributing learning to an Xbox. What does that look like? Are there any special formats that you have to “publish” in to make that work?

  11. I love the way you have multiple channels available to those who need them. By coming at it from an entertainment, utilitarian and community focus, you have removed nearly all of the excuses for not remaining connected that tend to come up. 

    I am incredibly intrigued by the idea of distributing learning to an Xbox. What does that look like? Are there any special formats that you have to “publish” in to make that work?

  12. I love the way you have multiple channels available to those who need them. By coming at it from an entertainment, utilitarian and community focus, you have removed nearly all of the excuses for not remaining connected that tend to come up. 

    I am incredibly intrigued by the idea of distributing learning to an Xbox. What does that look like? Are there any special formats that you have to “publish” in to make that work?

  13. On the XBOX, you can “Use Kinect voice commands to control Internet Explorer” [1]:

    “Just say ‘Xbox …’ and a list of commands will be displayed. You can go to the “next” or “previous” website on your favourites list, open the Web Hub or access Settings.”

    Making selections (following links) requires use of the controller.

    This kind of thing makes it almost inexcusable to not have a wiki for every class using a site such as Wikispaces [2]. 

    [1] http://support.xbox.com/en-GB/apps/internet-explorer/internet-explorer-setup

    [2] http://www.wikispaces.com/

  14. On the XBOX, you can “Use Kinect voice commands to control Internet Explorer” [1]:

    “Just say ‘Xbox …’ and a list of commands will be displayed. You can go to the “next” or “previous” website on your favourites list, open the Web Hub or access Settings.”

    Making selections (following links) requires use of the controller.

    This kind of thing makes it almost inexcusable to not have a wiki for every class using a site such as Wikispaces [2]. 

    [1] http://support.xbox.com/en-GB/apps/internet-explorer/internet-explorer-setup

    [2] http://www.wikispaces.com/

  15. On the XBOX, you can “Use Kinect voice commands to control Internet Explorer” [1]:

    “Just say ‘Xbox …’ and a list of commands will be displayed. You can go to the “next” or “previous” website on your favourites list, open the Web Hub or access Settings.”

    Making selections (following links) requires use of the controller.

    This kind of thing makes it almost inexcusable to not have a wiki for every class using a site such as Wikispaces [2]. 

    [1] http://support.xbox.com/en-GB/apps/internet-explorer/internet-explorer-setup

    [2] http://www.wikispaces.com/

  16. Benjamin Wilkoff  OK, cool. Two things:

    First, SlideSpeech is running on a single server in a data center in downtown Auckland right now, so you may find things get … well … slow. We’re hoping to get support to move onto Amazon Web Services (aka “the cloud”) so there can be as many servers as necessary to let kids everywhere make — and then link — these presentations. Students can teach each other everything, with that interactive bit at the end of the presentation allowing formative assessments to direct the flow into the next appropriate learning experience (including all the great stuff elsewhere on the web — if it has a URL, SlideSpeech can guide you to it and explain how to use it).

    Second, if you have folks running Internet Explorer, they need to install the Google Chromeframe plug-in[1] to view the HTML5-based SlideSpeech presentations.

    Tutorials on how to build interactivity should be available later today.

    [1] http://www.google.com/chromeframe?quickenable=true

  17. Benjamin Wilkoff  OK, cool. Two things:

    First, SlideSpeech is running on a single server in a data center in downtown Auckland right now, so you may find things get … well … slow. We’re hoping to get support to move onto Amazon Web Services (aka “the cloud”) so there can be as many servers as necessary to let kids everywhere make — and then link — these presentations. Students can teach each other everything, with that interactive bit at the end of the presentation allowing formative assessments to direct the flow into the next appropriate learning experience (including all the great stuff elsewhere on the web — if it has a URL, SlideSpeech can guide you to it and explain how to use it).

    Second, if you have folks running Internet Explorer, they need to install the Google Chromeframe plug-in[1] to view the HTML5-based SlideSpeech presentations.

    Tutorials on how to build interactivity should be available later today.

    [1] http://www.google.com/chromeframe?quickenable=true

  18. Benjamin Wilkoff  OK, cool. Two things:

    First, SlideSpeech is running on a single server in a data center in downtown Auckland right now, so you may find things get … well … slow. We’re hoping to get support to move onto Amazon Web Services (aka “the cloud”) so there can be as many servers as necessary to let kids everywhere make — and then link — these presentations. Students can teach each other everything, with that interactive bit at the end of the presentation allowing formative assessments to direct the flow into the next appropriate learning experience (including all the great stuff elsewhere on the web — if it has a URL, SlideSpeech can guide you to it and explain how to use it).

    Second, if you have folks running Internet Explorer, they need to install the Google Chromeframe plug-in[1] to view the HTML5-based SlideSpeech presentations.

    Tutorials on how to build interactivity should be available later today.

    [1] http://www.google.com/chromeframe?quickenable=true

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