This was my first iNACOL.  I jealously watched my colleagues attend a couple of years ago and am so grateful I was able to attend this year!  It is worth noting they have recently changed their name from Virtual School Symposium to Blended and Online Learning Symposium.  I think the name change sends a real message on the importance of Blended Learning.

This is different than Georgia Ed Tech Conference, ISTE Conference in that the technology does not take center stage.  It wasn’t like an NCTM or NSTA conference when you compared the Exhibit Hall to theirs, but I would say the academic level was comparable. And it was really the first conference I have attended where the delivery of the content was so analyzed and that was great.  This conference had the Professional Learning sessions I had been looking for over the past few years at GaETC and ISTE, but was never able to find.

I sure haven’t been to a conference in the last five years where electrical outlets in the sessions were so available.  It must be due to the lack of a conference app – a little bit of a #cmonman to me.  I can’t say there was any other noteworthy detractor.

Allow me to walk you through some of the more thought-provoking session to me:

How to Foster Online Rapport and Build Relationships with Virtual Students
Robin Green & Jason Burghart (Vendor:Advanced Academics)

1. Communication
2. Purposeful listening
3. Detective Work, finding students needs
IDEA: in a chat room, synchronous discussions students choose teacher to explain to them.
Report building strategies:
Active listening, restating back to the student also works online…
Don’t be ready with an expected q/a… Wait time can demonstrate you are listening, thinking about their question.
Avoid “you” as it can sound accusatory in written feedback.  Craft sentences to sound more like, *this* paragraph may need some more examples of…
How establish what students goals are?
Purposeful listening (reading)
How do you identify red flags, a student might need support?
“I hate…” Student needs scaffolding, cheerleading…
Watching language patterns, syntax/vocab issues might indicate not a native speaker, might need addition scaffolding as well.
Make a connection with the parent, it is an endless supple of information on that student.
Counselor  shave back to school seminars, proactive involvement of the parents is best/most positive.
How do you notice the things which students do not say?  Log on, time on task time might indicate something.
Creative communicating:
Any chance to establish report, weather could even be a starter conversation.
Sports is another chance to talk to kids about non academic, current events.
Sounds like the teacher needs to look for these opportunities though.
How can you make students feel special and important when working by themselves and alone? (Hardison’s profiles?)
Using a students first name is the simplest/initial way.
Video feedback makes the teacher more relate-able.
“Brag Boards” find a reason to Spotlight everyone served by tchr.
Teacher required a pic, contact info, always respond with “thank you for email/phone call…”
Student needs to feel that they are the only thing you are thinking about at that time.  That is the benefit of the “distance”, that they do not know you have a line….
Use whichever method of communication the student prefers.
Detective Work:
Aside from parental involvement, getting students to specify, to verbalized, to break it into smaller components what s/he is struggling with….
“What do you think the assignment is asking you to do?”
“Can you give me a sample of what you have done so far?”
Back them up in the steps to locate any skill deficiencies and build them back up.
A counselor would remove the detective work from the teacher.
“What were you expecting in this course?”
“Drop in centers” with volunteers, academic specialists (teachers) 9-9.
This was the first session I attended and the first time I realized I was surrounded by people who just plain knew more about this stuff than I did.  Wow.  I’m hooked.
My next session was an act of voyeurism, I wanted t see how a neighboring county was rolling out a blended classrooms approach.  I will just share the aha moments that this session gave me since my notes are mostly about keeping up with The Jones’.

Discussions start before implementation, in principal/building leaders meetings, talked to them about digital transformation should be and why it was important.  Before most of the tech was rolled out.

If the principal says it is important, it gets done well at that school.

At each school there is a support system.  They have a tech coach at each school to deliver PD.
That coach forms a team, media specialist and area technician.  That tech team is grafted into the leadership committee.
What are the differing roles between tech coaches and your PL and is that a different platform than D2L?
Coaches walk folks through the act of doing something, existing PL is delivered in the existing platform (not what the Blended Classrooms will use to teach from) and coaches “walk along beside it.”
D2L built an elementary skin for them.  This seems like a must if K12 is the goal of any platform implementation.
They have three repositories: district, from Open Campus, teacher created.  The teachers just search one place from their POV, but see resources from all repositories and each is labeled with the appropriate descriptor:
“District communication Centers”
“Resources developed by Gwinnett Online Campus”
“Developed by teachers…..”
This district is asking for IMSGlobal compliance.  We should be doing this too. all. day. long.
The next session I attended works with teachers in Quebec.  The way I understand their situation, a teacher once in a classroom is never obligated to take any more professional development.  They have the ultimate job of enticing teachers into becoming their customers!

 Online Communities of Collaboration: A Vision for Sustainable Professional Learning and the Role of Online Communities
Bev White, Michael , LEARN in Quebec

They started by asking us to write down our answer to these two questions:
What worked for me in PL?  Twitter, just in time/on demand
What did not work? Some one else controlling content delivery (I already knew), or pace ( too fast/slow)
I believe they may have missed an opportunity to have us share our answers at our tables.
150k students primarily synchronous model.
Not called webinar instead web-events.  This is meant to signal the shift from passive to active.
He says train the trainer doesn’t work because of the weakest link, interesting as that is mostly what we are doing now.
Hmm, how can I build “sustained” distributed/over time exposure?
It has to be learning with my colleagues, not something someone outside the classroom/school does to me.
How can we initiate the growth and change in their daily teaching habits?
Allow time for reflection….. Provide differentiation.
? How cool would it be to embed a Gdoc in the course as a journal, Professional Learning Dept. would love that it shows the date/time stamped History!
Research Christiane devour robotics for Kindergarten, online workshop.
Offer flexible scheduling, this may mean multiple times/offerings for the instructor(s).
Those who attended the workshop with a colleague, synchronous delivery, yields more follow-up later.  Geez, I’d get a twitter handle from those I liked, but that might not apply to all teachers yet.
Asynchronous involves a great deal of discipline.  Asynchronous offers spontaneous opportunities.
They maintain a blog which celebrates members of the community, cool idea, to promote those within the PL to encourage those in the PL.
LEARNing Landscape
Instagram IDEA: teachers share with classmates from PL/ PL group… BUT HOW?
Check out cartograf for social studies….
Here was this guy’s video pitch for a PL course:
I person 1-.5 day
Teachers develop curriculum around program, meet with experts
Reconvene to share experiences and samples
The message is/can now becoming virtual, those “too busy” to meet with groups, schools’ individual teachers can initiate this …
900 on a regular basis initiating and completing this process of PL.
What about admin? AP/Principla\s? Breakfast club, “if you waste ten minutes of their time they are gone forever.”  Have something there for the to do once they get their, a host.  I think my work group can initiate this – for princi[als/APs maybe?
They will create a site/room for continuing this discussion.
This next session was a repeat, but I knew even though I had heard Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker before and read a great deal of The Christensen Institute’s publications I would gain something out of it – I am glad I attended!
Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive?

Disruption is not a technology problem.
Transistor example.
Is there a market for the item at the current level of the technology?  That is how transistors were introduced into hearing aids.  ANd developed in parallel into electronics.
How does this relate to education?
Online learning has similar characteristics….
As disruptive innovation developed, some tried to use it as a hybrid…
Examples of this in other industries: excavator, electric cars, photography, smart phones, steam ships (started where it was essential to move against the wind, inland waterways)
I think he is saying we may not choose where we will get our foothold, the foothold will offer itself up to the disruptive innovation and not the status quo.
Disrupters never invades the original…. People migrate away from the original instead.
How do you spot a hybrid?
  • Includes old and new technology
  • It targets existing users, not non consumers
  • It tries to do the existing job of the current technology for existing customers
  • It doesn’t reduce the level of expertise or wealth to purchase/operate the it…..
Education Connection
Tech rich classrooms do not equal blended learning automatically.
Taxonomy has changed.  Third is now call a la carte model.
Rotation models are sustain models.  Individual rotation model is called out from that. Measures itself against tradition value proposition, traditional plus online core subj mainstream stdts, requires expertise in both traditional teaching and troubleshoot tech.
Lab rotation model, sustain traditional model, rotate in fixed period s of time.
Flipped classroom preserves traditional class just changes where things get done.
Some models are disruptive.  Where are areas of non consumption taking up the bait?
AP courses, drop out and credit recover…..opportunities to disrupt.
Individual rotation model, carpe diem, individualized playlist by the unit of the student.
Flex model, tell tale sign is if you can’t tell where the front of the classroom is….
Alacarte model, most common, taking a fully online while also going to traditional school.  Easiest to term disruptive.
Enriched virtual model, any time rotating out of a class and the. Come back int person to meet.
Most of the sustaining models try to make better by adding online.
Disruptive a started out virtual and saw the next for the brick and mortar opportunity, but sparingly as  needed.  Online learning getting better versus traditional school moving to blended.
Disruptive taking place at classroom versus school level.
Micheal’s prediction: HS and MS to some extent will be replaced to some extent eventually.  ES disruption will be rare.
Sustaining innovations are important, and not “bad” instead indicate a healthy sector. A lot of the disruptive is not ready for prime time yet.
It depends on how people are using the teachers if those models are good or bad.
New value propositions of a disrupted classroom.
  • Individualizations student agency, not seat time based
  • Productivity gains (learning and cost perspective)
  • Access, equity
Heather: “Right-sizing a team for impacting the problem to be solved….”
Then there are some probs which require coordination, require a lightweight team, a go between to coordinate.
Fundamental rearchitecture of the school- pull people out of their functional silos.  They will not represent their single interests.
Also offer an autonomous team, which can freely develope an independent solution.
I had my aha moment presented itself in the form of this graphic:
Hybrid Zone of Blended LearningPrevious versions of this work had not really spelled out the hybrid nature of these three models.  All at once I realized why secondary teachers doing these models thought they were completely doing B;ended Learning and why elementary teachers didn’t think what we were holding up as Blended Learning was all that unique and special.
My next move was to tweet my revelation – and I was pleasantly surprised when it was retweeted by none other than:
As if you needed more proof of how awesome these folks are, I wasn’t able to ask my question during the session (where it may have made more sense in context) so I emailed the presenters.  Michael emailed me back to clarify my question and then provided me with a thoughtful answer – how cool is this guy?
Question: Students can learning in many of the models discussed, but how long/what does it take for many teachers to teach in these models?
Micheal’s answer:
“I’m not sure there’s a rule of thumb on this — or that there ever will be, as I’m sure it’s an individual by individual thing. That said, I think the Rogers Family Foundation documented the transition in Oakland schools pretty extensively and gave some good insight on that, so I might take a look. My recollection is that it took a good 3 months or so teaching in the environment (full immersion) before things started to click somewhat– and that was to a Station Rotation.”
That kind of responsiveness will have me coming back to more of his sessions.
My next session was about a program implemented in NYC so I knew going in it would be the top of the line as far as budget and I would have to scale it down.  I still found some good nuggets.
F2F (Face-to-Face): The Crucial Professional Development Component for Building Blended Learning Sustainability
Gerard Zoehfeld
Britt Neuhaus
Gerard zone field
Britt Neuhaus
iLearn support model
Schools choose support package,frequency, delivery manner.
Geographic model doesn’t work as well as letting schools choose common goals/outcomes.  They created videos on what they wanted from BL and allowed the. To select each other.  Schools still picked groups based on prior relationships.
They would meet once a month in person at a lab school.
They had a year one plan April to August for relaunch…
June/July PL
“Implementation Manager” works with them toestablisht he plan.  I like this title too becaseu they could give that title over to someone else at the school eventually.
Begin with vendor created content.
They used it even if they didn’t love it, as a way to practice the blended aspect.
Once the guide on the side role was embraced. They could customize the content.
Push into a school
Get to the principal
Get introduced to the teachers
Work with the teachers
Set SMART goals.  They have a template.
Teacher selection.  Look for teacher who is engaged with content and students AND is interested in blended learning.  There may be a ‘leader teacher’ who may not be easy, but would turn everyone else to your cause!
Action Item, can I get a copy of this video discussing selection of blended learning teacher candidates?
Information Gathering
Technology access, teacher and training scheduling, budget for PL/subs.
Transparency equals ease.
ILearn Squad call out the roles and responsibilities.
How do I transition from principal to working with teachers?
Admin is involved int he handoff.
Teacher Support
Time spent needs to be efficient.
They work with set vendors who have prepared PD, schedule over the summer. To learn the technical aspect in advance of the instructional vision.
Blended Learning Institute
Helping is only a click away.  What could we do aside from our Help Desk? ELS email?
“No task is too small for Implementation Coordinators.”  I like that idea of dedicated time, sometimes it get frustrTed by those requests because I already have too much to do, and that is the opposite of what we want!
Google doc shared on the status doc.  Building leadership and amongst ELS.
Cohort meetings in addition to school level meetings… For us, by clusters?
What is the responsibility of those teachers after “graduation?”
Sometimes they started with new teachers, considering inservice teachers,
ACTION ITEM: will they be at ISTE?  I’d love them to meet with our teaching and learning dept/AT.
 IDEA,  one of the sessions needs to be visiting another classroom to observe Blended learning.
The last session I was able to attend ended up being very small.  One facilitator, three presenters, and four attendees.  So while I did not take as many notes I foudn it very worthwhile.
Pathways for Competency-Based Professional Learning

Five questions, three presenters
Nella Anderson col State
Gina Jones virtual HS Prince William County schools
Debbie Mumbai based in London, global teachers and students
What type of PL do you offer your new educators?
Gina had outsourced until now, 7 weeks f2f beginning and end, center around methodology w tech infused.  Partner with a university to offer credit.
Follow up with a shadowing semester opportunity.
Debbie, teacher/parent need to up their tech skills to get up to the kids level. Had noted a massive disconnect between parents and students.  She has an adult curriculum.  American school of Mumbai.  PD courses delivering the content from their annual conference in Mumbai. Uses Haiku.her digital literacy courses are 15-40 and up to 3 weeks.  300-500 for PD and include graduate credit at a university.
Nella CS looking for school districts to partner with…. Support those we want to change 3-5 years.  Would UNG partner with us?  Option toward a masters degree?
Great idea, “digital toolkit” for parents.
Five tools you need to know coming in: ES, MS, HS.
SIS, food services.
SoftChalk this to school websites?
*Debbie would be glad to talk to me about it.
Try to couch PL suggestions as growth opportunities versus accusatory “you need to work on this….”
PLC issues