Bring the World to Your Classroom: Videoconferencing

By Bryan A. Upshaw

My worst grade in high school was in Spanish I. Our teacher was tough, and the pace was blistering. I struggled to learn the vocab, grammar, and odd verb conjugation charts. I found the culture interesting, but the rest of the class was just frustrating and seemingly pointless to my future. Guess what subject I mainly teach now? That’s right – Spanish. What turned my worst grade and most frustrating class into my career?

Getting to see the world outside my little East Tennessee community and building relationships with people who at first seemed so different from me changed the way I saw the world. I was inspired to travel abroad, learn a language, join a local Hispanic church, and live with an undocumented family my last semester of college. Those relationships and experiences made language learning fun and transformed pointless grammar exercises into real-world challenges that unlocked boundaries that separated people.

How can I show them the world when we can’t leave our classroom?

I share my stories with my students and perhaps it inspires some to consider traveling one day, but how can I motivate students right now? How can I show them the world when we can’t leave our classroom? In my opinion, one of the most underused tools in education is videoconferencing. While expensive systems with fancy cameras and monitors can make it seamless, most teachers already have the resources to videoconference. If they have a smartphone, tablet,  or computer, then they probably have everything they need!

As a foreign language teacher, I use videoconferencing in my classroom in many different ways. For example, my friend in Nicaragua, Emanuel, converses with my students. My sister shares stories about her semesters abroad in Nicaragua and Honduras. Another friend, Garret, has talked from Germany about his year abroad in Argentina and how it helped him to learn German and get a job with BMW. My students love hearing stories from guest speakers projected in the front of the classroom. They have fun asking questions and always learn something new. Continue reading

5 Back-to-School Teacher Tips for a Brilliant Year

By Angel Rutledge
CMO and COO of SignUpGenius

With young minds to inspire and lessons to plan, every moment in your day is valuable. As you prepare to welcome your new students, plan ahead for the year. By tackling organization before classes begin, you’ll ace the back-to-school transition and be ready for what’s next. Check out these tips to save time and stave off stress, and you’ll get the year off to a genius start.

1. Think Beyond Back-to-School

Sounds simple enough, but planning ahead can help you focus on the things that matter most throughout the year. Create a back-to-school checklist for the first month of school and a master calendar with holidays, vacations and important dates such as parent-teacher conferences, field trips, teacher training and early release days. Plan your curriculum around the calendar, and jot down ideas for classroom décor, bulletin boards, and fun activities.

Don’t wait until the sniffles strike to prepare for a substitute. Get a general plan together so things will run smoothly if you’re out sick. Include a few ideas for icebreakers, books for story time, and some games to review previous lessons.

2. Start Out with Strong Parent-Teacher Communication

Building trust with your parents is key to a successful year. Reach out to parents the first week of school to encourage questions and share your preferred method of communication. Invite your room parent for coffee, discuss a plan to accomplish your goals and ideas for the year, and communicate needs such as classroom volunteers.

When creating a wish list of classroom essentials or scheduling parent teacher conferences, forget the chain of reply-all emails. Instead, use an online sign-up service. That way you won’t have to worry about whether parents saw an email and the sign-up can be updated in real time as time slots are taken and lists are filled.  Continue reading

TCC 2017 Worldwide Online Conference April 18-20

bert-kimura-2016-80By Bert Kimura
Co-coordinator: Annual TCC Worldwide Online Conference

Join us for the TCC 2017 Worldwide Online Conference, April 18-20: Changing to Learn, Learning to Change

L-R, Malcolm Brown, Veronica Diaz, Hannah Gerber, Kumiko Aoki, Peter Leong, Mikhail Fominykh

Enjoy keynote and special regional sessions by:

  • Drs. Malcolm Brown & Veronica Diaz, Educause Learning Initiative, USA
  • Dr. Hannah Gerber, Sam Houston State University, Texas, USA
  • Dr. Kumiko Aoki, Open University of Japan, Tokyo
  • Dr. Peter Leong, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA
  • Dr. Mikhail Fominykh, Molde University College, Norway

TCC is a three-day, entirely online conference for post-secondary faculty and staff worldwide with over 100 sessions that cover a wide-range of topics related to distance learning and emerging technologies for teaching and learning.

To register:

http://2017.tcconlineconference.org/registration/

Individuals participate in real-time sessions from the comfort of their workplace or home using a web browser to connect to individual sessions. All sessions are recorded for on-demand viewing.

For the current schedule of presentations and descriptions, see:

http://2017.tcconlineconference.org/program/

University of Hawaii faculty and staff: Special reduced rates are available. Contact Sharon Fowler <fowlers@hawaii.edu>.

We look forward to seeing you at TCC 2017.

Jason Ohler’s ‘4Four Big Ideas for the Future: Understanding Our Innovative Selves’

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

Jason Ohler, who wrote “Whither Writing Instruction in the 21st Century?” for ETC five years ago, released a new book last month, 4Four Big Ideas for the Future: Understanding Our Innovative Selves.

Jason developed a disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis from which he never expected to recover. It slowly and literally took his breath away. At the 11th hour, he received a double lung transplant.

“Rather miraculous,” he says. “A year later I have a new site, newsletter and book and feel great, back working full tilt, as inspired as ever.”

4Four Ohler2

For more information, link to his Amazon site and his personal website.

When he was huddled around an oxygen machine 24/7, he thought a lot. This book reflects what is important to him about life, learning and technology. Read some of the reviews for his book.

From the Amazon ad: “Dr. Jason Ohler has been telling stories about the future that are rooted in the realities of the past during the entire thirty five years he has been involved in the world of high technology and innovative education. He is a professor emeritus, distinguished president’s professor of educational technology and virtual learning who has won numerous awards for his work. He is author of many books, articles and online resources, and is a speaker, humorist, teacher, media psychologist, cyber researcher and grandpa. He is also a lifelong digital humanist who is well known for the passion, insight and humor that he brings to his presentations, projects and publications.”

 

CFE 2015 Faculty Showcase at UNC: ‘Teaching Less in More Depth’

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) Faculty Showcase at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This event is indispensible for those who want to gain a concise overview of emerging trends, proven approaches, best practices and innovative experiments in Carolina. CFE organizes the gathering to offer faculty an opportunity to learn more about specific instructional techniques or technology from their peers. For many attendees, showcase talks are the spark that ignites interest in considering changes for courses they teach. It also serves as a reminder for faculty to make use of the many instructional design and pedagogical consulting services the campus has to offer.

The day provided a chance to hear firsthand about the capabilities of the University’s Makerspaces, how teachers use Google Earth’s Liquid Galaxy display and Lightboard, which is currently being built on campus. What makes the showcase an exceptional learning opportunity for instructional designers is the mix of cutting edge technological innovation and low- or no-tech tips and tricks – be it gender neutral language, better writing assignments, role-play or reflective teaching practices and course evaluation. The showcase event closed with a presentation format I particularly enjoyed: Five-minute-long introductions to a variety of topics and projects with the explicit invitation, “Steal my idea!”

mary-huber 2The keynote speaker, Mary Taylor Huber, consultant at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, characterized the CFE event as the “greatest illustration possible” for the theme of her talk, “Building an Academic Commons Through SoTL.” Huber stated that the relationship between teaching and the institutional environment has changed noticeably over the past decade. Teaching is increasingly recognized as a valued academic activity in both general public debates and in the scientific communities. “Teaching is on a fast train,” explained Huber, and pointed out several catalysts for change: diversity, technology, new pedagogies (i.e., undergraduate research, service learning), authentic participation and educational research. Throughout the day, many examples of exceptional teaching brought these concepts to life.  Continue reading

Videos on Demand: Education Week ‘Leaders to Learn From’ 2015

On 18 March 2015, Education Week recognized 16 exceptional district-level leaders at an exclusive event in Washington, D.C., featuring presentations and discussions on leadership and education policy. Featured speakers included Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education Deborah S. Delisle and Adviser to the Premier and Minister of Education in Ontario, Canada Michael Fullan. Watch the videos from the event.

Recognition Presentation: Meet the Leaders To Learn From (Part I)


Recognition Presentation: Meet the Leaders To Learn From (Part II)

Continue reading

MOOC Sightings 007: The Battushig Factor in College Admissions

MOOC Sightings2

The difference between SAT scores of students from the lowest (<$20K) and highest (>$200K) income brackets is approximately 400 points. This point difference is mirrored in comparisons between the lowest (<high school) and highest (graduate degree) parental education levels.1

Battushig Myanganbayar

Battushig Myanganbayar

This correlation seems immutable. Parental education and income levels impact SAT scores and determine who gets into the most selective colleges. Then along came Battushig — Battushig Myanganbayar of Mongolia, that is, “The Boy Genius of Ulan Bator” — who, in June 2012, at 15, “became one of 340 students out of 150,000 to earn a perfect score in Circuits and Electronics, a sophomore-level class at M.I.T. and the first Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC.”2 His accomplishment didn’t go unnoticed, and he is now a research student at the MIT Media Lab.

Battushig is, of course, a rare exception, but his success adds to the already enormous potential of MOOCs and raises the possibility that they could become a factor in college admissions. In an editorial yesterday, Pitt News broaches this very idea: “Universities sometimes directly accept a student that excels in one of their MOOCs…. If not, the student may still choose to list the MOOC on his or her resumé under skills or relevant education. A completed MOOC is a valuable asset, comparable to a week-long leadership conference.”3

The message for parents and students is clear: MOOCs are poised to clear their current wildcard status and earn credibility as a key factor in college admissions.
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1 Zachary A. Goldfarb, “These Four Charts Show How the SAT Favors Rich, Educated Families,” Washington Post, 5 Mar. 2014. Also see Josh Zumbrun, “SAT Scores and Income Inequality: How Wealthier Kids Rank Higher,” WSJ, 7 Oct. 2014.

2 Laura Pappano, “The Boy Genius of Ulan Bator,” NY Times, 13 Sep. 2013. Also see her “How Colleges Are Finding Tomorrow’s Prodigies,” Christian Science Monitor, 23 Feb. 2014.

3Massive Open Online Courses Better Depict Student Potential,” op-ed, Pitt News, 23 Mar. 2015.