Catching up….

It’s been a while – but hey I’ve been really busy. I just returned from the ASCD Conference in San Francisco. I have been invited to present at this conference for the last couple of years with my colleague Barbara Frey, who was the founding principle of Colorado Connections Academy. It’s an interesting venue in that it is fairly mainstream and traditional, and does not have a focus in K-12 online. Our sessions have been very well attended, so much so that in the last two years they have had to turn people away. Perhaps it is because we bring a perspective to teaching and learning that is outside the norm. However, what I noticed this year and last, and this always happens at the very beginning of the session, is a real need for clarification about what K-12 online is all about. There is a general lack of knowledge about online instruction in mainstream education – what it is, what it looks like, how students can attend school without entering a physical building – what I would consider the most basic information. This tells me is that we still have a long way to go in educating the public about quality online learning environments. We should never forget that the vast majority of the public has literally no background experience to draw upon when it comes to online learning. I don’t find this particularly disturbing, it’s just a fact of life.

The remainder of the conference was interesting as well. I spent some time talking with Karen Parker, Program Manager for the newish Google App Inventor utility. We are offering a workshop this summer and a full graduate course this fall in Mobile App Design using this tool and will be extending our conversation later this month. They had the best booth at the conference and had free google pens with strobe-lit globes in some of the great google colors 🙂

I missed visiting with one of the attendees in my session, Alex Morrison, from Discovery Education. We’ll be talking later this month as well. As I admitted to Alex, I’m somewhat embarrassed by my lack of knowledge about all of the great and wonderful products they have to offer educators  so I’m quite interested in speaking with him. My only excuse is that I can’t know everything. Right?

I will be presenting next at the Midwestern Regional Robert NOYCE Conference on April 8. For a change, I will conduct a hands-on workshop titled PBL in a Digital Age. The goal is to model project planning and development using the Buck Institute for Education PBL model. Of course, the workshop centers on technology supports. I hope to demonstrate the power of Wikis and the collaborative aspects of Google Docs. I’ll throw in some collaborative brainstorming with and reflection activities using voicethread as well. I only have an hour so we’ll see how much I can actually get done!