Posts Tagged 'inacol'

iNACOL Symposium from a distance #inacol13

sign3.titleThere are over 2200 people that are registered to attend the iNACOL Symposium in person so far and they are now beginning to arrive at the Dolphin Hotel and conference center in Orlando.

There are many ways others can attend from a distance. First, our Twitter stream is #inacol13. During the main keynote addresses, anyone can ask questions of the panelists / speakers via Twitter. Please put the word “Question” at the beginning of the tweet so we know you have a question to be answered.

The keynotes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that will be live streamed or recorded can be found here. Ongoing conference information can be found via our online community. In addition, on Sunday, perhaps you would like to be part of our Global Networking PreConference which will include people from around the world? If so, register here and we’ll send out the link to join us on Sunday morning at 8:00 Eastern.

In addition, follow our Facebook page to see pictures uploaded by participants or tag your Instagram pictures with #inacol13.

We look forward to everyone participating in the symposium in a variety of ways to improve education across the world!

What to do at the iNACOL Symposium: Demo Days! #iNACOL13

One of the new features at the symposium is Demo Days. Demo Days will take place on Monday and Tuesday in America’s Seminar Lounge in the Convention Center. The purpose of Demo Days is for Edtech start-ups that are developing next generation tools and programs to have an opportunity to showcase these products. At the same time, conference attendees will have an opportunity to talk with these entrepreneurs about their product and identify how these products may fit in with their school program. The interaction between the entrepreneurs and conference attendees will provide multiple opportunities. First, attendees will be able to understand what these next generation tools are and how they may fit into their respective online or blended program. Second, the presenters will be able to hear from attendees about how the product may or may not fit with their respective school systems and what may need to be modified to make a product more useable. Third, attendees will also be able to suggest tools that are needed for the field. Together, the interaction between the entrepreneurs and educators will hopefully produce products that are truly useable in schools and ultimately, will provide the needed next generation tools for the education field.

We know that online and blended learning has the ability to personalize learning for all students. The challenge is how to best use the technologies to inform the teacher so instruction can be personalized. The technologies used in blended and online programs include communication tools, content, course management, and assessment. The recent publication, “Transforming K-12 Rural Education through Blended Learning may help to provide some context about the types of next generation tools needed for blended learning environments. The Demo Days lounge will demonstrate some of these next generation tools to help teachers to better personalize learning will be evident.

Competency education or the ability to measure student progress based on proficiency is a concept being implemented in school districts throughout the U.S. In order for competency education to move forward, the technology tools to track and measure proficiency need to be in place. The publication “Re-Engineering Information Technology, Design Considerations for Competency Education” identifies four elements that need to be in place for student-centered education to occur. These four elements include:

  • IT systems are designed with student profiles and standards-based, personalized learning plans.
  • Rich data on student learning enables robust continuous improvement.
  • Student-centered systems require student-centered accountability systems focused on progress in learning.
  • IT enterprise architecture requires interoperability, accessibility, and interfaces.

How do the Demo Days products meet these requirements?

Check out Demo Days to learn about next generation tools and products, but more importantly, ask questions about how the tools can be used by yourself, your students, and your schools.

Use the symposium online community area or the program book addendum to identify when different products will be shared at Demo Days in the America’s Seminars Lounge or just drop in most any time on Monday or Tuesday! 

#vss12 What I learned

I am always exhausted when returning from most conferences because of constant meetings, sessions and interactions with others in a variety of ways.  Attending past Virtual School Symposiums sponsored by the iNACOL was always a highlight of my year because I got to reconnect with people I would only see at VSS, learn about the latest updates, and read about the latest policy updates via Keeping Pace. I always returned home mentally and physically exhausted because of the non-stop information sharing.

VSS12 was a little different because as an iNACOL staff member, I had other responsibilities.  I arrived home in California twice as exhausted as in the past.  I am thankful for the 10 hours of sleep I got last night and now have some time to reflect on what I learned from my new perspective.

First, the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and sharing continues to be the common language shared by all of those who attend in person and online. It is so refreshing to have conversations with others about ways to better reach students in online and blende learning programs rather than “if” we should have a blended or online learning program.

ImageSecond, the student panel was a highlight of the conference for me. This was a group of eight students from the New Orleans area who bravely agreed to sit on stage in front of 2000 adults and share what they thought about their experiences with online and blended learning.  Students in the group ranged from third grader to a college freshman – all who have been in full or part time online or blended learning programs.  The one young man talked about how he overcame a drug addiction before he got serious about his high school courses. After failing courses, he got on the right track and earned his high school diploma with the help of an online program. Another young lady shared how she enjoys doing her online work early in the morning so she is finished by noon when she can do other things like learning to cook with her mom. Another student shared if they did not understand a concept, then they could review it over and over in their online course until they get it. The students definitely reminded me of why I do what I do to promote accessibility to online and blended learning.

Third, I enjoyed presenting with Michael Horn to talk about the models of blended learning and what that really looks like for a blended learning teacher. From our conversation I learned that there is more of a change in how a teacher teaches in the flex model of blended learning than in the rotation model. The teaching pedagogy including online discussion boards, students turning in work online, flipped-type teaching are more evident in teachers who teach in the flex model than in the rotation model. I think this is where most traditional schools will eventually end up – with variations of the flex model – because with this model, teachers have to change how they deliver their curriculum.

Fourth, I enjoyed being part of the panel of the blogging online educators. It was exciting to hear the passion from online educator bloggers James Brauer, Kristin Kipp, Bekci Kelly and Joy Nehr. Each of them shared how their blogs are providing a voice for their work. And how our ongoing sharing with one another causes all of us to refine our craft and better articulate the stories of online and blended learning that occur in all of our lives every day. Hopefully, others will join our group.

In case you missed VSS or want to reflect on what you learned, here are some links that may help:

  • Pathable Online Community lists the presentations and presentation handouts – it will soon be freely accessible to non-attendees
  • Recorded sessions (all will be linked soon)
  • Twitter feed (#vss12 hashtag) – The top tweet was: “The problem isn’t that our education system has gotten worse, the problem is that it hasn’t changed.”
  • iNACOL Facebook page shows some of the pictures taken by those who attended – join our iNACOL group!
  • iNACOL Flickr group page shows other pictures from the conference as well

VSS 12 or #vss12

Long before I became a staff member for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), I attended the the Virtual School Symposium or VSS.  The conference itself has been around for longer than iNACOL because originally the conference was sponsored by eCollege before the organization itself was established.  For those interested in more history of iNACOL, you can read more here. I can remember the first VSS that was held in 2000 because I did not get to attend.  At the time, the Director of Technology and Associate Superintendent from the school district where I was working did attend.  The “aha” for them by attending that first VSS was that if a high school online course was going to be effective, it did not mean they could increase the number of students per teacher.  Many myths about online learning have been clarified by those who attend VSS.

I was fortunate to attend VSS in 2011 and many subsequent VSS conferences. At each one, my knowledge and passion for online and blended learning grew. Next thing I knew I was principal of an online high school and then working for iNACOL full time (not at the same time of course).

One of the great ironies of attending VSS in person is that some wonder why online or blended educators can’t just learn about all the things regarding online and blended learning online…I mean, after all, part of these teachers and administrators existence is with people they may never see face-to-face!  The reality is that, as humans, we enjoy and crave meeting other people face-to-face.  And while interactions online provide information in ways that you cannot do face-to-face….there are interactions that occur face-to-face that you cannot do online .  So, that’s the fun of VSS – you get to meet the people in person you have only met online for the past year.

Leading up to VSS next week, we are sponsoring daily Tweets with the hashtag #VSS12 and in particular, we will have a Tweet Up on Wed. Oct. 17 at 5:30 ET.  A new addition for VSS this year will be the use of the Social Media tool called Pathable – all conference attendees are automatic members.

And, of course there is still time to register and be part of VSS12 – along with the other 1900 people who are already registered.  I will enjoy hearing about what others look forward to while attending VSS.


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