Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Colorado Cyber School Day at the Capitol

Colorado Cyber Schools Day at the Capitol is hosted by the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Familes and the Colorado Cyberschools Association

It's a day of shared learning, socializing, and celebrating choice in education. 

Today is the last day to register!  Registration will remain open after today and all families are welcome to attend, but by registering you will receive a free lunch and museum access.

This is the year to show your support of the online public school option!

Monday, February 6, 2012

3 Perspectives of Colorado’s Celebration of Digital Learning Day

February 1, 2012 was Digital Learning Day, a “nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology that engages students and provides them with a rich, personalized educational experience.”  It also happened to be the day before Groundhog Day and two days before the biggest February snowstorm in Denver’s history.  Needless to say, it has been an eventful week.  

I attended the Colorado Digital Learning Day at the University of Denver with approximately 60 other individuals.  Lt. Governor Joe Garcia gave a nice speech and read a proclamation from the Governor promoting digital learning.  The crowd was wired, literally.  Tweets were flying.  Facebook statuses were being updated.  The third graders from Clayton Elementary were using their iPads.  It was definitely a digital moment. 

The day’s main event was a national town hall webcast, which was hosted by Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  This program highlighted the technological efforts of several school districts around the country, including Englewood here in Colorado.  There were live interviews with teachers and students who are doing some exciting things with technology in the classroom. 

I felt the program did a great job of expanding the emotional bandwidth of teachers and school administrators who are expected to leave no child behind in the global race for academic achievement. Everyone agrees that we need more connectivity to get the remaining 1/3rd of the US on broadband internet and schools shouldn’t have to use outdated textbooks.The Denver group responded with a semi-audible groan when we heard that every student in Uruguay has a computer and Korea will have no hardback textbooks by 2015.Say what? It was as if we were thrown back into the space race of the 1960s with every other developed and semi-developed country in the world.We were pumped. Bring it on. Let’s go to the digital moon.

Yet, as the program concluded, I found myself somewhat disappointed. It was not because of what I heard but what was not addressed by most of the participants. It seemed the primary focus of the day was the enhancement of education through technological innovation.  Little was said about using technology to transform an educational system in desperate need of a makeover. 

The difference between enhancement and transformation is what separates contractors from architects. The first group seeks to improve how they build the house. Over time, they purchase better materials and equipment, develop more cost efficient processes, and utilize a higher-skilled workforce. But they do not design the house – they simply build it.

Architects on the other hand love to create and innovate. They are not content with the status quo.They want to preserve functionality and purpose but push the envelope in terms of structure and design.

Education Secretary Duncan admitted that our school calendar is still based on a 20th century agrarian model that structures education around 9 months a year, five days a week, and 7 hours a day. What he failed to acknowledge was that we also continue to utilize an industrialized educational model based on fixed seat time, group advancement and standardized assessment.

Education needs more than digital text-books and computer based group projects.  We need to seriously pursue mastery-based learning that makes achievement the constant and time the variable, allowing students to move forward in their education as an individual regardless of whether they were born before or after September 1.  We need adaptive curriculum tailored to a student’s academic progress and learning style.  We need to silence the bells that move children from overcrowded rooms to even more crowded rooms every 60 minutes.  We need more quality educational choices from which families can select what is best for their children and academically at-risk students can succeed.  (We also need post-secondary institutions to stop mandating admissions based on outdated “achievement” criteria and to continue adapting more technology-based learning but that is a topic for a different day). 

Overall, the initial Digital Learning Day was a great start to a national discourse long overdue.  Millions of teachers, administrators, and students were able to come together via computers, projectors and the internet to applaud innovation and increased achievement.  

But let’s not celebrate too little too soon.  Technology must be more than just a tool to do school “better.”  It must be an instrument by which we transform our educational future.   We need teachers and school leaders to be “architects” committed to redesigning new learning models, not just “builders” trying to renovate turn of the century educational brownstones and colonial two-stories. 

Even worse, we don’t want to come back next year to only find factoy-like schools in the middle of a corn field overly excited about an internet connection that too easily disconnects in bad weather.  If that is the case, they should schedule Digital Learning Day on February 2 and hope it doesn’t snow.

Chuck Wolfe is the Executive Director of Insight School of Colorado, a multi-district, online program of Julesburg RE-1 School District serving full-time students across the State of Colorado.   ISCO is a K12 network school and member of the Colorado Cyberschool Association.

Digital Learning Day at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver was just one of the hundreds of locations across the country joining the national celebration of the passion, commitment, and innovation that are essential elements of effective and engaging learning in the online environment. One of the things about DLD that I enjoyed the most was the great combination of people in attendance. We had fifth graders, university professors, familiy coalitions, online education providers, librarians, and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia sharing their perspective. It's not easy to find opportunities for gathering together creators, facilitators, learners, and policy makers who are all critical to the vision of putting technology to use in 21st century learning settings.  We started the day connected to the national online town meeting, which provided the insight of national leaders in digital learning. A very special component was the segment on Englewood High School. It's very clear that Colorado is a leader in digital learning and I expect that next year's Digital Learning Day will provide even more evidence of this leadership and commitment.

Dr. Mary Stansbury is the Associate Professor & Domain Chair for Library & Information Science at University of Denver Morgridge College of Education

The University of Denver was proud to participate in Digital Learning Day by hosting one of Colorado’s DLD local events at the Morgridge College of Education.  Both the national and local presentations provided some thoughtful examples of how digital learning is being used to enhance teaching & learning. We really enjoyed the opportunity to hear directly from the 5th graders from Clayton Elementary about how their teachers are using technology to support learning.  Students provided specific examples of how their teachers are using netbooks, clickers, smartboards, podcast feedback, and Web 2.0 technologies like Wallwisher to strengthen their learning experiences. We're looking forward to participating in Digital Learning Day 2013!

Kathy Keairns is the Director of Web-Based Learning, Office of Teaching& Learning and Co-Chair, eLearning Consortiumof Colorado

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Colorado Celebrates in Digital Learning Day!

Kicking February off by participating in the first National Digital Learning Day Celebration made me reflect.  Isn’t it wonderful to have the state of Colorado and indeed the nation join us in our efforts to advance educational options for students and in doing so, recognize the merit and some of the challenges in the use of technology to advance learning.    While today there was a great focus on the tools and the merit of moving our nation to being a leader rather than a ladder for other less developed countries there was also the recognition of the criticalness of innovative teachers, motivated students, and engaged parents.  Another point made by a convert was that they were advised that teachers of the futures were expected to be Guides on the Side rather than the Sage on the Stage.   

It should be noted that Senator Bennett and the Englewood School District of Colorado were highlighted as making great advancements through the implementation of technology solutions. 

Another Colorado person that was highlighted was Kristen Kipp the 2011 National Online Teacher of the Year.  She was a great spokesperson for the teacher’s role in learning online.  She shared that there were three things that were critical for success in advancing learning online for students and those were the following:

Students must be connected to the content.
Students must be connected to each other.
Students must be connected to their teacher.

While today was a good kick off for February I am looking forward to an even more powerful celebration of choice in learning on February 23, 2012 when families from all over Colorado who have chosen online learning come together.  Our Day at the Capitol this year has the promise of being the biggest and best yet.   

Written by Judith Stokes, Assistant Superintendent Branson School Online and President, Colorado Cyberschool Association

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Today is Digital Learning Day!

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, the Morgridge Family Foundation, and the University Of Denver MorgridgeCollege Of Education invite you to a celebration and sharing of DigitalLearning Day.  Please see the invite and agenda below. CCA has been working with the designers of the day and several of our CCA member online schools are planning to participate in the day.

Digital Learning Day Celebration
University of Denver
Ruffatto Hall, 1999 East Evans Ave.,
Denver, CO
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Welcome and Introduction of Lt. Gov. Garcia                                                Mary Stansbury
10:35 a.m.

Importance of Digital Learning                                                                          Lt. Gov. Garcia
10:35 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.

Proclamation                                                                                                        Lt. Gov. Garcia
10:40 a.m. – 10:42 a.m.

Update on Local Digital Learning Efforts                                                         Various Attendees
10:42 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

National Town Hall Broadcast                                                                            All
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Lunch                                                                                                                      All
12:00 p.m. - 12:15 p.m.

National Town Hall Broadcast                                                                           All
12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.