The eighth annual Coaching Digital Learning Institute (CDLI), organized by the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative (PLLC) team, in partnership with the Golden LEAF Foundation, was unique: the facilitators leading the capacity building sessions and hands on learning activities were all volunteers who have previously attended past CDLI events or other Friday Institute capacity building trainings and cohorts. This year, the students truly became the teachers.
“It’s absolutely, 110 times different… These are people that work with children, they work every day with elementary, middle school, high school students. They work with the teachers that are working with the kids. So you know they’re not going to encourage you to use something that’s not effective,” said Beth Davis, an academic coach at Graham High School in the Alamance-Burlington School System.
The CDLI is designed to support K-12 instructional technology facilitators, those taking the lead in implementing digital transitions in their schools and districts. CDLI builds capacity and enhances professional development, practice, and adds mobile and digital tools and resources to expand learning and teaching environments.
This year’s theme centered on a quote by Sir Arthur Charles Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As the ones charged with assisting the growth of digital learning and teaching in North Carolina schools and districts, these educators aren’t just coaching and supporting technology, they are coaching and supporting magic. This doesn’t mean pretending to saw students in half; educational technology provides and supports “magical” experiences to all stakeholders in schools undergoing digital transitions.
“I often have people come into my office, or I’m in their classroom when they’ve called for help... and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re magic’,” said Tracey Patterson, a librarian at Graham. “They literally say things like that to those of us that work with [tech tools] all the time.”
Watch the video below to see what participating teachers had to say when we asked them about this year’s theme.
Not every attendee this year was a North Carolinian. Because of a previous partnership between the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and Ohio’s Trailblazer Teachers program, sponsored in partnership with Battelle, five coaches traveled from Ohio to participate in the training so they could give back and share their work with others.
“Honestly, the Trailblazer program really ignited something in me to push forward and to really just try and get the word out on how to integrate technology and blended learning. We all feel the same way, that’s why we’re all here,” said Casey Clark, English teacher at North Canton Hoover High School in Canton, Ohio.
This annual professional capacity building opportunity is designed for instructional technology facilitators, media coordinators, instructional specialists, and technology-driven educators and mentoring staff, positions that are often overlooked in traditional professional development offerings.
“It seems like all the [professional development] is tools, there’s not a lot about coaching,” said Clark. “No one really talks about coaching technology. It just doesn’t exist. It’s kind of a shame.”
Clark noted that, in a district of 300 teachers, he is the only person learning how to coach others to implement blended and digital learning practices. He said training, like that offered by the CDLI, helps coaches learn not only how to use technology in the classroom, but also how to get tech tools to teachers and students effectively and with purpose.
“I don’t know why [coaching professional development isn’t available], and that’s a problem,” said Clark. “It’s a need that needs to be filled, right now.”
Through providing professional learning programs, developing educational resources, conducting research, and advocacy, the PLLC team and the Friday Institute are working to address this immediate need.
For many of us the idea of Virtual Reality in the classroom is the stuff of science fiction, but today it is a reality: from the traditional desktop/laptop to the fully immersive virtual experience via wearable VR.
Imagine teaching history where your students can explore the historic buildings of Ancient Rome, or be able to walk around Athens or Greece. Consider studying the ecosystem of the ocean while sitting at it’s bottom, or using a virtual scalpel to dissect that digital frog. Virtual Reality can be used in so many areas of curriculum and in as many ways as your imagination can come up with.
These fully immersive setups include tracking systems that records and analyses students movements in the virtual space, showing the illusions of depth that only adds to the experience. So students can actively immerse themselves in the content and explore complex subject, theories and concepts.
This is an immersive experience for everyone. With the help of your smart phone, and a cardboard interface, (buying one can be as little as $8, or you can make your own with the amazing help from instructables.com). All you do is drop your phone in and start exploring. The Google Cardboard apps are extensive and there is a little bit of everything, and Google Cardboard for Education has excellent ideas for use and lesson planning.
Some of my favorite Google Cardboard apps include:
Titans of Space:
Titans of Space is, in my own opinion, the best educational app available for the Google Cardboard. Even with a really simple VR technology like the Cardboard, Titans of Space manages to convey the awesomeness of our universe in an incredible VR experience.
Discovery VR is a VR adventure that will let you explore our world with 360° dynamic videos. Excellent use of VR to teach about ecology, conservation, adventure and exploration. We all know that the resolution of 360° videos need to be improved for a great virtual reality experience, but Discovery VR is still a must have for educational apps for the Google Cardboard.
InMind VR is a great educational VR game that will take on a journey into the patient’s brains in search of the neurons that cause mental disorder. This experience might be less educational that other apps in this top 5, it’s still a must for all of you interested in educational VR apps.
I also really like Random 42 that will let you take a visually stunning and scientifically accurate 3D ride inside the human body. Egyptian Mysteries, an immersive investigation game in the ancient Egypt. Egyptian Mysteries uses the immersive aspect of the Google Cardboard to take you on a trip in the ancient Egypt, a must try.
I recently had the opportunity to check out the VR system zSpace. zSpace brands itself as the “ultimate immersive learning experience” that allows students to interact with objects and understand the concepts behind them. With zSpace, students can learn highly engaging tasks that are often too complex, expensive, and dangerous for the classroom. It is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed.
Its truly stunning and realistic learning environment touted lessons and virtual experiences. The system included science labs, lessons on geography and history, as well as physics simulations. I “held” a virtual human heart in my hand and could feel it beating – SO cool and creepy at the same time.
I am so excited to feature both Google Cardboard and zSpace at my upcoming Coaching Digital Learning Institute and hope to learn even more when I get the chance to play with it again. Please share any favorite VR apps, tools, and/or tricks in the comments below.
This blog is inspired by the Ed Tech Coaches Network Blog Challenge #ETCoaches .
The International Society for Technology in Education Conference is, in one word, HUGE! This was my fourth year attending the conference (this year in Denver, CO) and my second year facilitating poster sessions and workshops. It is a great place to make and reestablish connections, a place where I get a pulse check on what is happening in the world of Ed Tech, and the opportunity to check out what is up and coming.
Amidst the frenzied lines to see the Google Playground, the awesome factor of the EscapeEDU School Bus, and the closed out sessions of one more MindCraft Edu panel (there were SO many of those), the entrepreneurs' hub in the ISTE Expo hall is one of the places I like most.
There I spoke with three highly passionate and dedicated educators who are giving back and have developed resources worthy of the classroom, aligned to pedagogy, and with teachers and student centered learning at the forefront of their design decisions.
Reading Log Cabin bravewingsapps.com
Available for apple and android, The Reading Log Cabin is an app for children as young as Pre-K to complete their reading logs. I had a chance to speak with Evelyn Moldal and she was so excited to share this app and her love of teaching and learning.
Code Monkey playcodemonkey.com
Learn real programming by playing a fun and intuitive game. I spoke with Jonathan Schor about this educational game environment where students learn to code in a real programming language. Using CoffeeScript, a modern open-source programming language, the students will be able to develop and generate unique and personalized apps and websites. CodeMonkey fosters the development of executive functioning skills such as problem solving and planning as well as geometric and mathematical thinking.
Writing Project thewritingproject.com
Students write their essays through a combination of brainstorming, questions, evidence, description and analysis. This is the resource and ideas I was geeking out about the most. I spoke with Hames Matechuk and he explained this app helps students by giving them prompts and hints when writing essays, papers, etc. As a parent with a student who struggles with writing structure and form, I could not be more excited for a tool like this to empower our kids abilities to write and write well.
Denver was amazing, I learned, I hiked Pikes Peak, and connected with over 400 educators in my ISTE sessions. The energy and impact these educators make every day is overwhelmingly awesome. Thank you, ISTE, and I'll see you next year in San Antonio.
You might know him as Big Tech Coach, but Keith George is doing awesome things to support and promote the importance of Instructional Technology Facilitators and Coaches across the United States. We met after Keith took my Coaching Digital Learning Massive Open Online Course for Educators and we have been talking ever since. Recently I was featured in one of his podcasts talking about how Coaches need to be recognized for their expertise, valued for their insights and become a partner with educators in K-12 schools, and not just the tech-savvy person who get get the internet back up and running when it goes down, or fix that smart board that has been acting up again.
These educators are superheroes and kudos to Big Tech Coach for reaching the masses. Check out my podcast with Keith (Episode 1, "It's Alive"), and all the podcasts of Today's Tech Coach.
It was an honor to be a part of his first podcast and I hope to do it again!
Big Tech Coach Blog
Keith George Personal Website
So, today something pretty cool happened! Carl Hooker, and educator and coach I admire and have been following for sometime, contacted me today. He came across my work on the SAMR model, and I reference him in that work, and asked me if I would not mind being part of his upcoming book, Mobile Learning Mindsets, the fourth and fifth editions are out the end of June, 2016.
Sweet! Thank you Carl and please note that I have now on public record that you have not only promised me a copy of the book, but, and even better, I actually get to meet you - an honor I have not yet had. See you at the ISTE Conference, Carl!
Jaclyn coaches and assists K-12 educators, ITFs, and Administrators to adapt, not adopt – fostering digital initiatives to transform professional learning through changes in pedagogical shifts and meeting the needs of all learners to champion creativity and innovation. @jaclynbstevens