Call for a Conversation: Online Teacher Academy (beta)

Fred Bartel’s Starting a Virtual Independent School thread morphed recently. As we discussed the topic, what resonated in me was the importance that our communities understand what it means to learn online. Once a critical mass of our communities know what the the pros and cons of this environment are, we can better assess how they will fit into our schools.

Over the past couple of weeks, arvind, Vinnie and I have been discussing the creation of an Online Teacher Academy for this purpose. Here are links to the two podcasts:

21st Century Learning #97:Designing an open, web 2.0, personal lear…
21st Century Learning #98: Designing an Open Online Teacher Academy…

In the two podcasts above, we begin the discussion about how to lead our teachers through an online experience that provides them with the tools and the inspiration to build their own personal learning network.

After our last podcast, I posted a couple of goals and a short description for this experience:

1. Teach online tools in the context of teaching and learning
2. Creating online community to model and sustain this learning

This online teacher academy starts by walking its participants through some basic online tools while building a community, and creates a structure for the participants to create and document new work thus leaving a legacy for the next generation of learners.

I would like to spend some time working to create this learning experience with a group of interested educators from June 30 – July 2nd here in New York City. We’ll definitely be broadcasting this, so don’t worry if you can’t be in NYC. This also coincides with NECC and I’m sure we’ll be bringing folks who are there into this conversation.

We already have some takers who are interested in participating in this discussion.

What do you think? Who’s interested in participating? Please add comments to the thread at isenet.

Photo from:


Projects for the Year…

I’ve been back to work for a week and many of our faculty will be back next week.  My staff has been hard at work all summer setting up new machines and reimaging old ones.  We’ve rolled out 50 new desktop computers in two computer labs and classrooms.  We are in the process of rolling out 30 new faculty laptops and servicing the other 40 that are already deployed to faculty.  This includes service packs, an Outlook upgrade, and SmartNotebook 10.  As we do these laptop upgrades, we’re requiring faculty to participate in a 30-45 minute training session when they pick up their laptops.  During this training session, we’re reviewing basic laptop maintenance, spending a few minutes training the faculty on Outlook, and making sure our backup script works. 

In addition to the nuts and bolts above here are some of the projects that I’m working on for the school year (Thanks to Jim Heynderickx for the inspiration here):

Outlook Training: During the first month of outlookschool we have to make sure to provide enough support to faculty, staff and students so we can complete our transition from FirstClass to Outlook.  So far, so good as our transition over the summer was completed with only a few minor issues and with a positive reaction from the community.  Change is hard, so I don’t expect that September will be a cake walk, but with appropriate communication and preemptive training and support, we’ll be in a good place in October. 

Continued Professional Development including New Faculty and moodle Student Orientation,  Collegiate Connect (our SIS and communication hub for school constituents), Gradebook, Smartboards, and Moodle.  This is a big one. 

  • New Faculty Orientation is a big one as we need to bring our faculty in, show them what we have to offer and how to find resources about technology at the school.  Luckily, we have two one hour sessions with the new faculty this year and that will allow us to do a nuts and bolts session: file sharing, printing, Outlook email, and Collegiate Connect (SIS).  The second session will be a technology scavenger hunt that our Academic Dean and Lower School Assistant Head are putting together.  This is going to be a fun exercise to see if new faculty can use the training and FAQ material we’ve posted on our department web site to get the scavenger hunt done. 
  • New Student Orientation includes much of the above, plus a heavy dose of Acceptable Use in 20 minutes.  Any ideas? 
  • Collegiate Connect training is usually done in conjunction with division meetings as it consists of specific administrative responsibilities of the faculty in each division.    We’re creating lots of documentation in the form of FAQs on our Technology web site for this.
  • Gradebook, Smartboard and Moodle training.  None of these tools smartboardare  required so we’ll be providing as needed support on them in September and then rolling each out via targeted monthly themes with professional development and communication with the faculty during those periods. 


Powerful Learning Practice — This is very exciting.  Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are running this professional development program for five of our faculty/administrators.  Here’s how they describe it:

Powerful Learning Practice offers a unique opportunity for educators to participate in a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them in 21st Century learning environments.

Day one of this is September 8th.  I’m psyched. 

Website Upgrade — Yes, we’re upgrading our web site.  This collaborative process has taken longer than I planned, but we’re on track for a January launch providing us a much better look and feel and more integration between our site and Collegiate Connect. 

And a few smaller ones —

Faculty Professional Development Reports — Last year we did these in a DrupalEd environment.  This year, they will be in Moodle.   Just waiting for MoodleRooms to finish up our Moodle config and we’ll be rocking and rolling. 

New Media Gallery Training — Whipplehill just released the new version of their Media Gallery which is a Flickr like upgrade to their photo galleries but wh also includes a slick video and audio player.  Tagging and all sorts of web 2.0 goodies available.  We’re starting with our archived digital photos from 2001 to the present.  Our archivist has two parent volunteers who will be working on this all year.  Very exciting!

Oh, yeah — On the personal front we’re a few weeks away from a working kitchen — you can check out some of the pics here.  Feels like I have two 10 hour a day jobs lately. 

arvind and I will be webcasting again over at EdTechTalk in the next few weeks.  Just need to wait for his teaching schedule to get going. 

I’ve also decided not to subscribe to all of the listserv’s I traditional participate in and concentrate on Twitter, the ISENet Ning and my Blogroll this year.  See you all there. 

I’m sure there is lots more, but that’s it in a nut shell right now.  See you all on the other side! Elgg

I never thought that the Elgg would be such an interesting place to visit. It’s almost become my aggregator since I don’t always have the time to open my Flock Aggregator each day. I get an global perspecive on educational technology, and it’s hard to believe that this space is continuing to grow. Here are some quick examples:

John Patten writes, “A teacher sent me an email this morning asking me to look at the logs for his Moodle site. Yesterday he started a forum on his site for the
very first time. He had almost 2000 hits on his site yesterday, in one
day! Granted some of theses hits are the same students going to
different areas in his Moodle site, but that was still pretty

Felicia George writes, “I was frustrated by the inability to get any sound on my computer. I decided to bite the bullet and do some troubleshooting. I followed the directions under the control panel until I reached a point where I didn’t understand what I was doing. Then, I did what I should have
done first. I switched the speakers from the ones on my computer to the ones that I knew worked. Now I have sound.”


Beth Ritter-Guth writes: Today was a really productive day. The students in my Honors College English 1 class exploded mentos and diet coke to demonstrate the writing process. We were going for distance. Our chem professor donated goggles. It was
a lot of fun.

… So, what does this all have to do with learning to write? The best
writers are the ones who care about the world they write in 🙂

So invite your teachers to check it out. Go to and register. Click on Read What Other Folks are Saying to see what’s happening in this space.

Happy Browsing.

Blogged with Flock

A Teacher Collaborative Community…

A few weeks ago, on the ISED-L Listserv, someone asked for a site that was a MySpace for teachers. I had been discussing Elgg with Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow for a while, now. Arvind and I talked about online communities for educational technologists in our 21st Century Learning #7.

So the time has come. Last week, I emailed a proposal to Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow at World Bridges and they gave us . I set up an elgg installation and we’ve got 19 users right now.

What’s the point of this community? Here’s my purpose statement:

The purpose of this site is to create an environment for educators to collaborate about teaching and learning in the 21st Century. We at Education Bridges believe that to make the world a better place, educators need to share their best practices/lessons learned that are research as well as experience based practices.

So go to — sign up, fill in your profile, and check out the View All Posts link under Your Blog to see what people are saying. Also, follow some of dave cormier’s beginner elgg suggestions — make a community (or two!). Start socializing. Start learning. I look forward to seeing what happens.