As one of the last things I did in completing my sample course for my online teaching certification, I ran through an accessibility checklist. You can find a copy of that accessibility checklist through the University of California. I found myself really having to rethink come of my content choices. Some things were relatively easy. I kept instructor added text to a minimum and tried to keep the layout fairly clean. Others areas were more challenging. Did I really want the number of videos I had chosen? If so, I would have to create captions for those I could not find in captioned format. I even experimented with the auto captioning feature on You Tube. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl. I was both amazed at how accurate it was in some cases, and how incredibly inaccurate it was in others. Many thanks to which has many videos captioned in English and other languages.  I also tried out some of the built-in accessibility features on my computer. As a result, I spent an about hour trying to disable one of the functions I had selected because it made it more difficult for me instead of easier.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that in order to really serve all students, much more time needs to be dedicated in course creation.  I also think it would be worth spending some time getting to know some of the accessibility tools available in order to better assist course participants. Nothing should stop a person who wants to learn from doing so.

Some Plans Don’t Work Out

Right in the middle of working on my final course for my online teaching certification, I had to go out of town to visit family in ailing health and attend the International Sociaty for Technnology in Education (ISTE) conference. I was hoping to travel with only what I really need. I decided to take just my iPad and a wireless keyboard. I checked my course and looked to see that I could access it completely and made sure all my documents were in the appropriate Dropbox folder.

Once I arrived and began to work on the course, it all fell apart. I could access everything, but I can’t transfer/upload any files. I’m stuck.

This is really a lesson for my course development. There can be unforeseen circumstances. Changes in technology can mean more complications and not less. The course creator has technology consideration responsibilities in creating the course and the the participant has to take responsibility as well.

Is not having the correct technology the same as not having your materials in a traditional face-to-face course? I’m still not sure.

Details Matter

Right now I’m composing this post on a desktop PC, using a Mac Book Pro next to it, and have my iPad and smartphone on the desk as well. Yes, it’s technology overkill. It’s also a reminder that many of us today access and interact with information using a variety of technology tools.

As I work on my online teaching certification capstone course and the work I am developing in the district, this issue is a new concern. What can be accessed regardless of the internet-enabled device used? What elements are lost? Is there really an reasonable way for a course designer to make it all work? Here’s to trying.


Our first district online professional development videos have now been sent out. I worked on a set of four videos on basic digital literacy. The first as an anticipatory set and the rest divided into three parts with independent practice opportunities. Hopefully this will just be the start with much more to come.

I have to say that these are very different from the fully functional course I am working on for my capstone project to complete my online teaching certification.  I suspect a fully functional course isn’t too far down the line for us though.  Just like differentiating for students in a traditional classroom, I’m looking at ways to differentiate for participants in any online professional development offering we have as well.  I think this will prove important as participants see this example and then move on to beginning to use online course development for their own classes.

Back in the Saddle

It’s been some time since I’ve posted, but recent changes have prompted a return. Throughout my working life, from before I came to teaching to today, I’ve always made it a point to keep learning and looking forward to what may come ahead. Before I became a teacher, I continually asked to take on responsibilities beyond my job description. That led to promotions. Once I became an educator, I continued to take on extra tasks and completed my Masters degree even though other people didn’t understand why I would do so. It wouldn’t mean much money, and it wouldn’t get me much of anything as an immediate reward. In April, I accepted a job that took me from the classroom to the district office providing professional development for all staff K12. All that hard work and being proactive with my education paid off.

About a year ago, I decided there was another educational goal I wanted to achieve. It was time to complete my Online Teaching Certification. My hope was to someday be able to teach in an online environment. Now that I’m in my last course, I’m also working on online professional development sessions for the district.

It’s making me happy to see pieces coming together. There will be plenty of challenges, and there will be setbacks, but I can’t wait to see how it progresses. what to get into next?

A Blog Hiatus

I was never the most prolific blogger, but I’ve decided to officially put the blog on pause. This is a time when I am focused on several projects and am considering the reasons why I blog in the first place.

I hope to come out at the end of this with a clearer view of where I’m going, how I plan to get there, and what I want to say about it.

In the meantime, you’ll still see new links appear in the “Links I’ve Checked Out Lately” and the “How-To/Tutorials” sections at the top of this page.

How Do You Aim at a Moving Target?

Standards, differentiation, engagement, etc. are all ideas school administrators are comfortable using and discussing with staff.  Technology integration is a completely different matter. How can you possibly become comfortable with ideas and resources that are in a constant state of change? Why bother at all? Won’t a lot of this integration just lead to more problems?

In response to Scott McLeod’s call for contributions to Leadership Day 2009, here are my ideas for how school leaders can help themselves and their staffs begin to find some answers to those questions.

  • First, I think there should be a distinction between the idea of technology integration and the tools or resources used to achieve it.  ISTE’s Technology Standards for Administrators is a good place to start when looking at the idea. I had the privilege of participating in one of the groups that helped to refine the language in the latest edition of these standards.  To me, one of the key ideas can be found in standard 1a which states that administrators need to “engage in an ongoing process to develop, implement, and communicate technology-infused strategic plans aligned with a shared vision.” There isn’t a one-time answer to the problem. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  It shouldn’t be randomly started and stopped.  It is okay not to have all the answers at one time. As you learn more, you will be able to refine your technology plan to match that shared vision.
  • Why bother? The world is changing. The way the business world works is changing. The way the scientific world does work is changing. The way we live in modern culture is changing.  As educators, we need to change how we do business as well.  Students are saavy enough to see that their time in school is different the “real” world. Most use technology in outside of school, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use that technology to extend learning, extend thinking, or be creative.
  • What about the problems? Yes, you’ll have to repair or replace equipment. Don’t you replace books? Yes, you’ll need to invest in time and moey to educate yourself and your staff.  Don’t you keep up on education news, trends, and provide professional development in other areas? Yes, there are ways students can get to sites you don’t approve of and find ways to cheat. Students break all kinds of rules every day in your school. Learn about the copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons, and then teach students about digital citizenship.  If we don’t, who will? Give students more real, engaging, meaningful experiences with technology in the curriculum and they will have less interest in getting around the rules and filters.
  • Ready for more?  Talk to members of your staff who are more comfortable with technology, talk to students about what technologies they use and what bothers them about not being able to use mote technology in school. Think about your own life. How is your own use of technology different than it was one year ago, five years ago, or ten years ago.

The truth is that the target isn’t really moving. It’s more a matter of deciding you actually want to hit it in the first place.  If we are serious about standards, differentiation, and engagement; school administrators must take the lead learning about what target looks like and helping themselves and their staffs take aim.

What Will They See? Will They Be Ready?

With the current state of the economy and job market, the May 25, 2009 issue of Time Magazine caught my attention immediately. The cover article was entitled “The Future of Work”. The general ideas have been written about in other places as well, and I’ve been thinking about how the ideas should (?) impact the way we teach.

  • Technology is now and will continue to be a critical component in students’ ability to attain jobs and thrive in the workplace.  Duh!
  • Ethics and moral responsibility are coming back into fashion. Yay! Are we doing enough to teach them about online citizenship, rights, and responsibilities?
  • We’re all going to have to take responsibility for our benefits and retirement. Are we preparing all students with useful math skills?   Are we allowing them to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to make decisions that will affect them in the long-term?
  • Work times, places, and structures are becoming more flexible.  Are we allowing students to develop the critical thinking skills to make decisions that affect them in the short-term?
  • Retirement may become a thing of the past. Do students develop a strong work-ethic?
  • Green is the way to be. Do our students really understand why, so it isn’t only a fashion?

Even though we don’t have a crystal ball to show us exactly what students will see when they enter the workforce, we can do a lot to make sure they have at least some of the fundamental skills necessary. Many of us will still be in the workforce when those students enter it also.  I wonder if we’ll be ready?

Persistence and Patience to Get Past the “Cool” Factor

I teach with a staff that works on a highly-collaborative, personal learning community (PLC) model. A couple of years ago I started a staff wiki so we could post and share the resources we were finding, creating, and using.  For the first year, people said it was “cool”, but I was the only one who contributed to it.  Only a few others referenced it.  Now, several grade levels contribute to it and use it on a regular basis. They even started to stress out about the idea that it could ever be unavailable.  I’m confident now that the new wikis I’ve set up for student work will be seen invaluable in time as well.

Next comes our leap into the use of iPods in the classroom. Next year, we’ll be fortunate enough to have a few small sets of iPod Nanos which will be used primarily in connection with reading (at least at first) in several classrooms.  Once again, the “cool” factor has hit. Everyone wants them.  Who is willing to do what it takes to use them effectively?  Who is willing to do the pre and post assessments, participate in the trainings (budget = no extra pay), and manage the equipment?

We’ll get there 🙂

iPods Here We Come!

There has been a lot of talk about using iPods as an educational tool.  Many schools have taken the leap. A neighboring district has a great program called iRead. Bloggers/Podcasters such as Scott Meech have begun really looking at how educators are using them. More and more educators are looking, or at least thinking about the possibilities.

I’ve been trying to figure out which grant I can apply for to get a set myself.  Recently, my administrator came to me to let me know that there are some funds that will disappear if we don’t use them before the end of the year. She wants to purchase a set of iPods with all the necessary equipment before the end of the school year.  Yippee!!

But wait…what happens after we get them?  My fear is that they will end up abused or stuck in a box and forgotten like so many other things. Training has to be included in new technology decisions (and many other decisions as well).  Next year, budgets will be tighter than tight. Whether by finding money, or by requiring teachers attend training to get use of the equipment, it needs to happen.  As much as I want this equipment on campus, I don’t wanted the money and opportunity wasted.

Stay tuned…

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