Category Archives: OLE

The Course of the Course: A Leadership Journey

June is a wonderful month for taking a class….if you’re not teaching a class! Or classes, as in my case. I’m doing what a friend called marathon teaching: two sections of an eight-week, two nights a week, course in technology integration. They meet back to back on Mondays and Wednesdays with a 20-minute break in between. I’m teaching for almost six hours straight. While we spend a lot of time exploring and creating, it’s still exhausting. And yesterday I spent a whole day at a Google workshop. I had a chance to learn something myself but there was no time for working on my OLE ideas.

So, in the interest of getting something out there, I decided to just use text. I am working on a series of videos about the course using Evernote to annotate and Screenflow to capture but the production is standing in the way of the ideas.

I’ve been thinking a lot of the idea of the “course.” We associate courses with sports: the golf course is the one that came to mind most easily. Everyone starts at the club house, equips themselves for the game, moves from tee to tee with the group.Everyone’s goal is the same but the process of getting there is going to be different. But what they do when they get to the tee may be very different: they can choose different tools and different strategies. Depending on who they are, they may even tee off from a different spot.

The ultimate goal of my course is to answer the question: What does an effective ed tech leader look like? What core beliefs can help a leader make good decisions around the integration of technology? How can a leader inspire purposeful change that moves beyond a focus on tools to a larger vision for innovative practices?

Each stop in the course will be one of the ISTE Standards for Administrators. I already use these standards as the outline for the course. There are particular activities that I want all students to do but then I also want to throw out opportunities for them to explore the standards and their indicators through some “choose your own adventure” style activities.

We’ll all start together in the clubhouse, equipping ourselves for the journey. We’ll each need a blog where we can share and report on our learning. We’ll use the built in blog tool in Google Sites (assuming I use that again), and I’m also going to ask them to create a Diigo account as I think that’s the best tool for saving and sharing web-based resources as well as being able to annotate webpages. For now, that’s all we need. The rest will come later as part of the assignments.

I don’t think we’ll necessarily go in order for the standards. I like to start with Standard 3 which deals with professional practice. I’ve listed the required and optional ideas for each indicator. You must do the two required activities and at least one of the optional activities.

3. Excellence in professional practice
Educational Administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.
a. Allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration
OPTIONAL: Write a professional development plan for your faculty that addresses the barriers of professional development. (So…what are the barriers should probably be the first question in this adventure.)

b. Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology
REQUIRED: Create a learning community for yourself. Choose a network and networks that you will engage with over the next 15 weeks. Then, engage.

c. Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools
OPTIONAL: Write a communications plan for your school: how will you work internally and externally?


d. Stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning
REQUIRED: Create and use a feedly account

OK…something is written down. Now on to teaching…

Dipping In: Twitter Stories About Online Teaching and Learning

I am somewhat a veteran to the world of online learning, having taught ADMS 647, Educational Technology for Administrators, for five years. I am web veteran as well, blogging on and off since 2003 and tweeting since 2007.

But you are never too old or experienced to learn more and I was fascinated doing Twitter searches on online teaching and learning. I quickly realized that I have been using Twitter in a very superficial way. The advanced search helped reveal stories in a way that can be tough when you’re just browsing a feed, particularly one that may be glutted with too many different sorts of folks.

Quick searches on “online teaching” and “online learning” yielded surprisingly different results. Online teaching seemed to focus on making money as an online teacher. Here’s a quick screenshot of the photos that came up.

Online Teaching Money


Clearly, I’m not doing this right. Although they don’t say you’ll make a lot of money, just that there is money to be made. For me, it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of online teaching and learning.

The online learning search results were more focused on the education aspects and, at the time I searched, included several tweets linking to an article from Forbes speculating on what is next AFTER online learning:

I thought, really? We’re already on what’s AFTER? We still haven’t figured out online learning. Let’s not be so quick to move to the next thing. However, it turns out that the article didn’t include the word AFTER. That was the headline added by OLCToday in their tweet AND on the article they reprinted from Forbes. The original article was titled Online Learning: What’s Next and  was basically a report about a recent survey. The speculation about what’s next was not earth shattering:

“All will agree that the experience of taking a course on-line versus in a classroom is different and both types should continue to be offered. I predict that the day will soon come when we will not distinguish courses by their teaching modality and employers and others will not ask whether the program was on-line or in person. On-line courses will continue to expand access to education to those without the time or money to attend a traditional on-the-ground class as well as well as to those who prefer this modality.”

A lesson learned about primary sources on the web. The simple addition of a headline can skew the meaning of an article. The original article has its own power in terms of encouraging educators across the spectrum to explore online learning and highlights the timeliness of the Online Learning Experience. Again, the message is that we’ve come a long way but there is more journey ahead. The tweet searches focused mostly on industry and higher education. I didn’t really get into K-12 online learning until I substituted “blended learning” for the search. The general search yields lots of conversations about using blended learning in the classroom. There are resources, frameworks, and, perhaps, a little bit of hype. That’s why Scott Macleod’s tweet of Philip McRae’s essay on the hype, harm and hope of blended learning made it into this post. We need to be thinking hard about these kinds of technological changes and get beyond the “this will revolutionize education” mentality.

But it was when I tried out the search suggestion about adding a pronoun that I really got to the heart of how people are using online courses to access education as well as some of the possible fears:

There’s the convenience, which seemed to focus on being able to learn with or without pants:

As well as the opportunity to time shift the learning and doing it from anywhere:

And then there’s this:

I don’t think online learning is any more open to cheating than regular learning but it is a potential fear.

I think the bigger issue is helping our students learn how to learn online:

This post is already too long so I’ll end it with an observation that came out of all the searches. There is a WHOLE LOT of online learning going on. If you want to learn something, there is a course for you:

From reorganizing your home:

To having better relationships with your pets:

To making the most of Ramadan:

As the Forbes article suggests, online learning is a part of our lives now. Thinking about how to make it a better experience is essential and may just have lessons for our face to face classes as well.

Dear Tom Woodward

Thank you for your invitation to participate in both OLE and Teaching With WordPress. Consider this my written acceptance. I plan to attend both courses as I can (“dipping in and out” as Tim Owens describes it) with the hope of being more in than out. I’m doing it for me: a chance to connect with other educators over topics of interest and (re)building a sometime flagging professional learning network.

But, I’m also doing it for you. As a thank you for all the time and effort you have put into helping all of us learn and for creating this intriguing experience. You are a role model of how to use the web for collaboration and connection, and I want to be a small part of that work. (Too sappy?)

As a hack of the Instant Karma make for OLE, I’m thanking you in a general way not just for the help you’ve delivered via Twitter but also through your blog, one of the few I get via email, and also your use of the Diigo weekly harvest feature. The latter was of specific help this weekend as I worked on my class for Monday that focused on data visualization. The article from Visualizing Information For Advocacy about disinformation was particularly useful, and I shared it with my students via our Diigo group as well as discussing it in class.

And it reminded me to show The West Wing video about the maps:

Anyway, thanks again for the invitation.