Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Next Gen Learning Challenges

iNACOL is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to boost college readiness and college graduation rates. The project will “provide grants to innovators, build evidence of what works, and foster an engaged community of professionals committed to helping students and young adults prepare for college and successfully complete their postsecondary educations.”

The project will launch with a six-week Request for Comments period where people can share their knowledge and comments on the issues of helping students prepare and complete college. The conversations will discuss these challenges:
  • Visit the Next Gen Learning Challenges website at to learn about college readiness and completion in the United States
  • Contribute research, resources, and perspectives on the four challenges
  • Contribute ideas for future challenges, the next of which will focus on secondary education
  • Engage in discussion forums targeting key questions
  • Explore the challenges with your colleagues through workshops
Partners in the Next Gen Learning Challenges are:
  • Gates Foundation
  • League for Innovation in the Community College
  • International Association for K-12 Online Learning
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Later this summer the Next Gen Learning Challenges will solicit grant proposals for:
  • Deploying open core courseware
  • Deepening learner engagement through interactive, online technologies
  • Scaling blended learning
  • Mobilizing learning analytics
iNACOL and the Next Gen Learning Challenges believes that “technology can be a key tool for making learning more flexible, engaging, and affordable.”

To learn more about the Next Gen Learning Challenges go to:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Updated Google Internet Searching

In the recent issue of eSchoolNews I read a short article about Google Tunes Up It’s Internet Search Results. On the left of any search results people can find tools for reshuffling and filtering search results into specific categories. According to Google the changes were designed to encourage people to use Google’s search engine more frequently.

So here’s an example – I did a search for “Gulf of Mexico oil spill” and got about 27,000 results. My choices were listed under Everything and Any Time. It was easy to filter the search in Google by the categories and by the time frame posted.  Photos and videos could easily be viewed in threes or all at one time.  This would be a great tool for teachers and students to be able to select the type of media to view information and the time posted to either see the progressive history of a story or to read the most current posting.

To compare I did a search for “Gulf of Mexico oil spill" in Yahoo and I got 143,000,000 results that could be filtered by news source, photos, video or Twitter. The photos could be viewed three at a time using the scroll arrow or viewed by pages.  Last I did the same search in Bing receiving 13,000 results. The results could be filtered by News About, Images Of, Related Searches or Search History.  Bing brought up all images on one page which took some time to load. But the images could be filtered by size, layout, color, style, and people. The one feature I really liked in Bing was the ability to mouse over each video thumbnail to preview the video.

So depending on your needs each search engine offers choices for teachers and students.

To read the article from eSchoolnews go to:

Image from Google Internet Search

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Online Safety Report Discourages Scare Tactics

School’s out and thousands of students have a much deserved rest from school but how will these students spend their time online this summer? A federal online safety task force found that students who spend a large amount of time with social networking sites, text messaging and other ways to communicate are not influenced by scare tactics for Internet safety. The task force determined that educating students about appropriate online behavior and digital media use will enable students to evaluate potential online risks through digital citizenship and media literacy.

The Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG), created by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recommends creating a web-based clearinghouse of online safety education research and establishing industry best practices for effective internet safety education program.

The group pointed out that “the statistical probability of a young person being physically assaulted by an adult who they first met online is extremely low.” The Berkman Center Internet Safety Technical Task Force found that cases of adult –to-child sexual encounters on social networks usually involved teens who were aware that they were meeting an adult male while cyber bullying can start as early as second grade. Unfortunately many parents and teachers don’t sufficiently know how to teach digital citizenship to students.

With summer here, many students will spend hours online in social networking sites and on the internet. Without understanding the risks, many students will be on their own this summer to figure out the ethics, social norms, and civil behaviors that lead to good citizenship and internet safety according to the OSTWG. Parents need to know what sort of content and information will be accessible to students when they are online. So get involved, check out what students are doing online, ask questions about who they are meeting in social networking sites and talk to them about internet safety and cyber bullying.

To read the entire article from eSchoolNews go to:

To learn more about the Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) go to:

To read the report Youth Safety on a Living Internet please go to:

To learn about the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenships go to:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Using Movie Maker with Your Students

How often do you use Movie Maker with your students? There are some great ways to use Movie Maker as part of a lesson presentation or as projects for your students. Here is a list of ideas taken from the Digital Learning Environments News - May 2010 edition:

Six Ways to Use Movies with Your Students
  1. Create a timeline that moves
    • Present a succession of historical events in a photo slide show with music from that period.
  2. Make your movie morph
    • For science class, present the stages of development in the life of a butterfly. Create a photo slide show with images you grab from
  3. Demonstrate things you can’t bring to class
    • Videotape feeding time for lions or gorillas at the zoo. Or capture the physics at play in a local skate park with still photos or video.
  4. Share the classics in a fresher way
    • Shoot video of various students reciting a phrase or two from a Shakespearean sonnet. String them together in a movie, and suddenly all eyes are on the screen. The whole class hangs on every famous word.
  5. Try a different angle for math
    • For math class, share all the ways that angles appear in everyday life, from a city skyscraper to the painted lines in the school parking lot to the countless angles at play on a pool table.
  6. Start a lively debate
    • Frame a debate topic by sharing the pros and cons of an issue with photos.
Here are some other great ideas for including Movie Maker in lessons and projects for your students:

Movie Maker Lessons & Movie Maker Worksheets by Lesson Planet

Techno Kids – Camp Technology Project

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pixar University's Randy Nelson on Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age

A lot has been written about 21st Century Skills and jobs of the future but how do schools prepare students for jobs that don't exist yet and give students the needed skills for these job?  I recently saw this video from Edutopia by Randy Nelson, Dean of Pixar University. 

In this video Mr. Nelson explains what skills future employees will need and what schools must do to prepare students for new models in the workplace.  

The following is an outline from the video.
Use improv as a mechanisim to help with collaboration.  There are two core principles of improv.
  1. Accept every offer - if you don't accept the offer it goes no where
  2. Make your partner look good - always try to make your partner look good, not bad
    • It's called Plusing - take a piece of work and don't judge it - say, "here's where I'm starting, what can I do with this?"
    • How do I plus this? 
    • How do I accept the offer and make my partner look good?
How can students be ready for innovative jobs with innovative companies?  How can these innovative companies find someone who has a depth of knowledge that is able to do the job?  Many innovative companies will look for people who have seen failure and figured out how to turn it into something positive rather than those people who have avoided failure.  The core skill of innovators is error recovery not failure avoidance. 

Some predictors that innovative companies will look for:
  1. Depth - Proof of a portfolio verses the promise of a resume.  Students who are high achievers in school usually are high achievers in the workplace.
  2. Breadth - people who are extremely broad - people who are more interested in the job and learning than they are interesting - people who want to know what you know.
  3. Communication that involves translation - willing to work on communication as a destination, not a source, being able to communicate to your audience effectively.  People with a broad range of experiences can effectively communicate to several audiences.
  4. Collaboration means amplification - connecting a group of people who are listening to each other; interested in each other; bringing separate depths to the problem; and bringing breadth that gives them interest in the entire solution.  Collaboration allows people to communicate on multiple different levels - verbally, in writing, in feeling, in acting, in pictures, and helps them find the most articulate way to get the point across to a broad range of people so every person in the group can pull together. 
Schools have an untapped resource in their students.  Schools need to find ways to help students build leadership skills, problem-solving skills, collaboration skills and effective communication skills.  Students also need to be given the opportunity and guidance to learn how to turn failure into something positive.   All students need to be challenged to achieve mastery at school to become high achievers in their future careers.

To view the entire video:

Image from: