Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reflecting on Connecting at #SchoologyNEXT

Having just returned from Schoology's NEXT conference, I have a lot of things swirling around in my head.  After making a vow to myself earlier this summer to be better about reflecting and writing, I might as well actually do something about it.  So, here it goes . . .

I've been trying to put my finger on why the NEXT conference feels different (and I had the exact same feeling at their conference last year).  On paper, it's like other conferences: there are keynotes, there are sessions, there are chances to meet others at meals, and there's swag (although the Schoology swag tops anything I've ever seen at a conference).  But there's something that makes NEXT special, so this post is a reflection on why.

I heard a repeated comment from other people at the conference that this was the best conference they'd ever attended - and I heard that comment a lot.  That's quite a statement to make, and when I asked someone specifically why, here was the response:  "It was the sense of community.  It was really something unique, and I haven't felt that at other conferences."

Well said.  When I think back on it, the entire conference focused on connecting and being part of something meaningful, not just about the product.  So how did they manage to build that sense of connection and community?  Here are a few things that I think made this possible.

  1. Connecting with the development team.  Not only were there sessions led by the Schoology's development team, along with open lab time where you could just stop in & chat with them, but Schoology's development team attended other sessions to get feedback and ideas from users.  This opportunity to connect with the very people who build and enhance the platform made us feel like we were part of the company's vision and roadmap.  And it helped us put faces with names, which always helps with community.
  2. Connecting with the founders of the company.  The opening keynote was given by Jeremy Friedman, the CEO of Schoology, and Ryan Hwang, the Chief Product Officer.  Not only did this let the attendees see and hear from the very people who started the company, but they shared their vision with us and let us know where they were headed in a very personal way.  In addition, Jeremy hosted a "fireside" chat, where anyone could ask questions.  Their interest and involvement in being approachable and visible connected the very top of the company with its user base, which was pretty powerful.
  3. Connecting virtually with other users.  All attendees were enrolled together in a common course for the conference.  This isn't necessarily unique as many conferences have apps or sites to post resources, but what made this work so well was the way people used the course updates to connect with each other at the conference.  The stream of posts from users (not just Schoology folks) pulled everyone into the conversation -- people posted questions, ideas, resources, and even arranged to meet face-to-face with others.  Basically, it became the central communication and sharing spot, which allowed for connections to occur naturally and made people feel included in very collaborative way.  
  4. Connecting in person with other users.  The conference was paced very well, which impacted how people could connect with each other.  Too often, you're racing from one session to the next with little time for reflection or conversation.  The schedule had at least 30 minutes between sessions, plenty of time for lunch, and snacks provided during the breaks.   I got the chance to connect in person with so many more people during this conference than I usually do, mostly because the time structure allowed for it.  But, in addition to the schedule, there was an 80's party with an awesome live band, a place to get pictures taken, and snacks & beverages on one of the nights.  This opportunity let us connect with each other socially as well as professionally.
  5. Connecting with something bigger than ourselves.  I don't know if this was intentional, but the two keynotes were laden with the idea of connecting to larger ideas.  Fareed Zakaria really made me think about where education fit into globalization and equality, and Ken Shelton made me think about what it means to connect with students and their needs.  Both keynotes made me feel like, as an educator, I am part of larger community that can change things for the better.  And I felt like I could do it with the community surrounding me in the room.

If you're a company who hosts conferences or provides those types of services, you should pay attention to what Schoology is doing, because they're doing something right.  And their amazing growth is testament to that.  Their company slogan, "Learn. Together." is at the heart of what they do, and this includes NEXT.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next year.  If their previous conferences are any indication, it will be something special.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Want More Technology? Do the math on paper.

We're got a problem in our district.  Thanks to voter approval of a 2012 bond, we've been able to get close to a 2:1 student to Chromebook ratio in our schools (technically, it will be a 2.1:1 ratio in grades 1-5 starting this month).

So what's the problem?  People now want more.  And they want to know what will happen when the bond expires.

On one level, this is a good problem to have.  We have technology that is being used, teachers see the value in what it provides, and they're frustrated that they don't have access for every student, every day.  When it comes to sustainability, though, it's a bad problem to have.  Bond money is not the ideal way to equitably fund and maintain technology in a district, and it certainly isn't possible to increase it when needs exceed the fixed budget given.

cc photo courtesy of Ray
What about grants, PTO funds, Donors Choose, and other ways to get more funding for classroom technology?  Those are all options, but they don't alleviate the issue with equity or sustainability.  If we want to provide more technology for all students and sustain that technology, we need to do the math.  Where do we spend money and where can we reallocate?  Let's start with paper.

If we could (as a district) cut our paper costs just in half, we'd be 1:1.  Right now.  Here are some ways to think about adjusting paper costs to fund more technology.
  1. Start posting "reference" items for students electronically instead of providing hard copies.   Do students need a hard copy of a syllabus or the rubric?  Do they need the printed list of vocabulary terms?  If you found an article online, could they access it electronically?  The pedagogy about worksheets is another conversation, but posting documents that students need for reference vs. interaction is a step to reducing paper in the classroom.
  2. Look for free online resources for learning vs. using hard copy resources or text books.  We'll be posting some suggestions for this in an upcoming post, but there is a ton of free stuff we can use digitally.  Primary documents, electronic databases provided by our school and/or local libraries, and free eBooks are all worth exploring before relying solely on hard copies.  
  3. When you need to print, use class sets that can be re-used or shared (across sections for even departments).  We're in the habit of printing in 1:1 ratios, but what if we made an effort to print in 2:1 ratios (1 copy for every two students)?   Often, we can have students working in groups or pairs, and we don't necessarily need 1 for every student.  Sometimes paper is the best option, but it doesn't always have to be for every single student.
  4. Let teachers know that they need to print their own copies (IF needed) prior to training/staff development workshops.  I think we sometimes assume that every teacher needs or wants hard copies when we do workshops -- and we see a lot of printed PowerPoints.  In our district, every teacher has a laptop, and most have mobile devices.  We are a 1:1 staff, so maybe we should shift our practice to providing electronic versions and setting the expectation that we don't print anymore.
  5. Provide parents with electronic options for newsletters or other posted information instead of sending it home by default.  We started doing electronic parent forms two years ago, which was a huge savings for our district.  However, we could be smarter about things like newsletters and schedules for Back to School nights and conference nights.  Parents can be emailed directly out of Schoology, our Learning Management System, or the PowerSchool gradebook.  For parents who don't have access, we could provide hard copies on request or have print stations at the schools for conference nights,  
Bottom line: purposeful paper isn't the problem -- pointless printing is the problem.  Thinking before we print will not only save natural resources and cut down on consumption, but it will open up budget dollars that can go to something else -- like technology for our kids.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Moving Forward with Schoology: Thinking About the Why

Last year, I posted about our district's Chromebook implementation, looking at the reasons why our district decided to put those devices into our schools & classrooms (CCSD's Chromebook Infusion: Thinking About the Why).  We were getting quite a few questions about why we made the choice we did, so I decided that a post about our rationale was in order.

This year, having had Schoology's Enterprise Learning Management System (LMS) in place for a little over a full school year, we're also getting many questions about why we made that choice over the other options out there (we looked at Edu2.0, Edmodo, Canvas, Haiku, and Moodle).  So, in the same spirit as the previous post, here are the 5 factors that pushed us to move forward with Schoology.  Bottom line: it was a really good choice for us in CCSD.

cc image from ja.wikipedia.org
1.  Online, Blended, Hybrid Learning Opportunities for All Learners (including K-5)
When we started exploring adoption and implementation of digital learning environments at the classroom level back in 2013, we had basically no adoption at the elementary levels and we had a very small percentage of teachers doing anything beyond basic file uploads.  With increased access becoming a reality for all schools with the Chromebook initiative and a district vision that included online learning as an expectation, we needed something that could be easily used by all grade levels and all levels of technology comfort.  We also needed something that would help our classroom teachers gather their own data to support learning, both for state standards and for personal learning outcomes.  Of the systems we explored, Schoology's interface was most intuitive and could help us measure what we value.


cc photo courtesy of NJLibraryEvents
2.  Parent Community Involvement in Online, Blended, Hybrid Learning Environments
As a district, we strongly value our parent community as partners in learning.  If our students are engaging in digital learning, we need to make sure that our parents feel included in that aspect as well.  If students submit digital work, parents can see what they've done, in addition to being part of the digital classroom.  In addition, we wanted the potential to have parent groups using our LMS for their own communication, collaboration, and learning.   Our previous LMS was not meeting our needs with our parents -- Schoology provided ways to include parents as learners and participants.

cc photo courtesy of Tyler89
3. Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device
We have a lot of Chromebooks now.  But we also have a ton of other devices not only in our schools but also in our community.  Our district vision of anytime, anywhere learning required us to take a look at our options and find something that was device agnostic. Schoology's web platform works on all devices, but even better for us, the iOS and the Android app meant that we could leverage mobile devices for students, teachers, and parents.  Schoology provided the best fit for our mixed device reality -- and it took the device out of the equation.

4.  Collaboration & Sharing Across the District (and More) 
One of our district goals was to provide online collaborative environments for working smarter. We needed the ability for grade level teams, PLCs, and/or departments to work and share work with each other across schools. That could involve creating common assessments, having online discussions, debriefing and sharing video content from classroom observations, creating curriculum units, etc. While we wanted flexibility for small groups or large district-level groups, we also wanted the option to share and collaborate with teachers outside of our district.  Schoology lets us work and learn together in a larger arena.


cc photo courtesy of Kim Cofino
5.  Professional Development and Support Structures
As with anything that impacts learning, PD and ongoing support are major considerations.   Providing a district-wide solution meant that we could use varied approaches for PD.  It also allowed us to streamline our PD with a train-the-trainer model, provide systemic support across the board, and host content that could be easily shared and aligned with professional learning standards.  Another consideration for us was the ability for "non-district" folks to take part in learning.  Because Schoology has a free version, we could include people like student teachers, community members, and other guests in our sessions, even though they didn't have district accounts.

I've heard leaders from other districts talk about not having a district-wide LMS and letting teachers make that choice.  That might be a great choice for them; however, in our situation, we needed to be sensitive to our goals surrounding equity, opportunity, and access.  Ultimately, Schoology has provided a way to meet those goals in our district.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Online Assessments: Embedding Google Presentations into Schoology

*This post originally appeared in the CCSD Tech Tips Blog and has been adapted for non-district readers.


Here in Colorado, April marked the beginning of online testing (our statewide tests were given electronically in science & social studies for grades 4, 5, 7, & 8). One question we got asked in the Office of Instructional Technology was how we could create assessments in Schoology that were not only engaging but that also reflected the kind of questions that students would see on our state tests & PARCC. For us, that meant embedding external content into a question to mimic the structure seen below.
ePAT.PNG
example of a question on the Colorado Measure of Academic Success in Social Studies
Regardless of whether or not your students will be taking SBAC or PARCC assessments, this format provides the opportunity for students to analyze and connect multiple sources. Teachers can gather images, maps, primary sources, graphs, reading excerpts, Thinking Maps, tables, political cartoons, quotes, etc. and add them as separate sources connected to a common theme.  

Here is an example of a question with multiple sources (notice the embedded Google Presentation):

You and your friends are getting together to go to a Rockies game. Sadly, one of your friends has an injured leg. Using sources 1 and 4 determine where you would go for pregame activities that would minimize the walk to the stadium.

  (If you answered the Falling Rock Tap House would be the place to go, you are correct!)

Want to know how to create this type of question in Schoology? Here’s how it can be done in 7 steps.  Follow these steps to create the presentation, publish and grab the embed code and paste it into Schoology.



Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Teachers can ask several questions based on one Google Presentation with multiple sources.
  2. Teachers can create and embed their own Google presentation. It does not have to have sources on the top. However, we created templates for 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 sources.
  3. If you're using a Chromebook or a machine with a smaller screen, make sure you change the size of your presentation to so it fits. (We like 760 x 456.)
  4. You can embed YouTube videos and Google Maps into Google Presentations as well.

Happy embedding!

Friday, November 8, 2013

CCSD's Chromebook Infusion: Thinking About the Why

Photo Courtesy of +Jay Vean-CCSD's Google+ Post
This week marks the beginning of an exciting time in Cherry Creek Schools.  We began receiving our shipment of over 18,000 Samsung Series 3 Chromebooks on November 8th. Staggered over a 3 week time frame, our 60 schools are getting machines based on student enrollment (grades 2 - 5 will be 4:1 and 6 - 12 will be 2:1).

While we couldn't pull off a 1:1 initiative due to the budget, we are infusing our schools and classrooms with more technology than has ever been available for students on a district-wide scale.  Because these will not be going home (at least at this phase), Spectrum's Cloud 32 Chromebook carts have also been delivered, and our schools received those prior to the Chromebooks.

As we've started sharing images & posts on Twitter and Google+ (thanks mostly to +Jay Vean-CCSD and +Nanci Meza-CCSD), we've naturally been getting questions about what we're doing and why. Good opportunity for me to reflect, then . . .

State of Overall School Technology
Prior to this year, budget cuts and an expired bond (which had been the source of past technology dollars) put our schools in a serious bind as any student technology purchases had to come out of building budgets, PTO donations, or grant funding.  In addition, we lost staffing that supported technology (and librarians) at many of our buildings as priorities shifted.  This, of course, led to disparity and equity gaps on a large scale.  Student-based technology was outdated in the majority of our schools, and in some cases, non-existent; instructional technology support was present in some buildings but totally absent in others.  

Spending Plan for 2012 Bond Money
We were very fortunate to pass a bond in 2012, and part of that money was designated for classroom or student technology.  Our challenge was to find a solution that would not only dramatically increase access to much-needed technology in our schools but also support our larger vision for anytime, anywhere learning that was device agnostic.  Because the bond money didn't address our staffing issues, though, we also had to explore something that could be sustained without additional staffing and IT support.  <Side note: we also determined that if we could reduce our paper & textbooks by half annually, we could go 1:1; however, we had a chicken & egg situation as we couldn't reduce paper & book costs without increasing access but we couldn't increase access without reducing paper costs.>

Leveraging Web-based Learning
Enter the Chromebook.  A GoogleApps for Education district since 2008, we had been using GoogleApps
Photo Courtesy of  +Jay Vean-CCSD 
(minus GMail), and the lack of technology funding meant that many of our teachers and technology coordinators were already using free, web-based solutions rather than fee-based, installed software.  Online solutions like GoogleDocs removed platform and location from the learning equation, and the increase of viable web-based apps made some of our software obsolete.  And, in looking at what our students spent most of their time doing in a digital learning environment, we determined that about 90% of what students do on a daily basis could be accomplished on the Internet.  For free.

Support & Set-up
The ease of set-up, maintenance, and management was also a major plus for us.  We won't need to worry about software or major OS updates, and we won't need to tax our IT staff with viruses and other issues we see on other devices.  Being able to designate school-based admins for managing Chrome settings means that schools can customize the learning experience and change them on the fly without advanced training or a significant time investment.  The lack of software and imaging also means that we could get devices into the hands of students easily & quickly (minus the 10 minute OS update, we could take a Chromebook out of the box and have it ready for a student within minutes).  

Professional Development
Finally, having a device that runs on a browser (and one that is available on any platform) made planning for staff development a bit easier.  We were able to make sure that all new images for teacher and student computers included the Chrome browser, and we encouraged teachers to use Chrome and install the Chrome Web Launcher for Windows.  The browser world is a relatively comfortable one for most people, regardless of technology background or OS preference.  We'll still provide Tier 1 training, of course, but having existing skills that easily transfer should allow us to move into the most important aspect of professional development: impacting student learning.

By Umut159 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
A Continued Mixed Environment
So what about the 10% of things that require more than a browser?  What about existing technology at the building level?  In addition to the Chromebook solution, we also built lab replacement into our spending plan.  Each elementary school got 30 Dell laptops for a lab, the middle schools received 2 Dell desktop labs, and high schools received 4 PC desktop labs, specifically for those classes or learning needs that went beyond the web.  Also, some schools already had iOS devices, some had Android devices, some had PCs, some had Macs, and most had a mixture of the above.  Regardless, all of them have the web, and all of them can use Chrome and GoogleApps.  That means that anything done on a Chromebook can be accessed elsewhere (even at home).  The low cost of the Chromebook also means that schools can purchase their own more easily with an existing budget, should they choose to do so.

As we continue with our deployment of Chromebooks in CCSD, we'll be sharing how it goes (the good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty), and we'll be relying heavily on the incredible community of people who have already put Chromebooks & GoogleApps into their students' & teachers' hands.  Mostly though, we will look forward to seeing and experiencing the amazing things kids can do when they have access to the tools they need to collaborate, create, and contribute.

Monday, April 29, 2013

PBL Idea: Using WeVideo in the Social Studies Classroom

As part of the Blended Schools Network MOOC coursework, one of our options was to share a lesson plan involving PBL and elements of blended learning.  As I thought about various projects I've helped with over the past couple of years, the one that came immediately to mind was using WeVideo as a culminating project for our 9th grade World Geography classes.

Typically, the students in the World Geography classes at our high school would complete some sort of culminating research paper -- the topic would need to include several elements of the topics covered throughout the year, and it would need to connect them in a meaningful way.  Last year, we decided to take a different approach and make it a multi-media project connected to conflict.

Product & Tool
After quite a bit of brainstorming, discussion, and collaborating, our group (which was comprised of the librarians, the World Geo teachers, and myself) landed on having the students create a short newscast using WeVideo about a real conflict (either current or historical).  In the spirit of the original research idea, the newscast would need to explain how different aspects of world geography studied throughout the year (place, population, resources, politics, religion, etc.) contributed or played a part in the conflict.  The World Geo teachers pulled the objectives and standards that they wanted to see addressed, and the librarians contributed information literacy standards that they wanted to include in the project.

Essential Questions
The World Geo teachers solidified the essential questions for the project:  given the various aspects or themes of world geography studied, in what ways do you think we could avoid conflict between groups or countries? What elements contribute to conflict between peoples, races, or countries?  After meeting with the librarians, they contributed their own essential questions, specific to the research part of the project:  which resources (online or print) provide the best information about the aspects chosen to explore and what is the best way in which to represent that information for your viewers?

Rubrics
After looking at different rubric options in the Intel Project Rubrics database as a group, we decided that we would divide the assessment:  librarians would help assess the portions related to the research process, and the teachers would assess the final projects with the portions related to content/product.  This helped divide up the workload -- the librarians could provide guidance based on the rubric during the research portion of the project while the World Geo teachers could assess the portions related to content, analysis, and presentation (100 points total, with different areas weighted more heavily, based on objective focus).

Media
14-15 pts 10-13 pts 5-9 pts 0-4 pts
I appropriately used other media, such as maps, images, and/or other effects, to enhance the content. Everything I included supported the tone or ideas in the video.
I included or used other media, such as maps, images, and/or other effects. They mostly supported the tone or ideas in the video.
I tried to use other media in my video, but I needed more images or maps or effects. Sometimes they didn't support the tone or the ideas in the video.
I did not use other media in my video, or the media didn't match the ideas in the video or the tone.
Sound
14-15 pts 10-13 pts 5-9 pts 0-4 pts
Every spoken word in my video can be clearly heard and understood. The music levels were appropriate and not louder than the voice.
All the important spoken words in my video can be clearly heard and understood. The music levels were mostly set correctly.
Several parts of my video are unclear or hard to hear, or one portion is unclear. The music interferes sometimes with the voice.
Many parts of my video are unclear or hard to hear. The music is too distracting or the levels are too loud.
Citations
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts. 0-4 pts
I carefully observed all copyright laws, cited text sources, and cited images appropriately. I carefully observed all copyright laws, but I made some minor errors when citing text sources or citing images. I sometimes violated copyright laws, or I made some errors when citing text sources or citing images. My video violated copyright laws, and/or I did not cite text or image sources.
Content
9-10 pts. 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
My video’s information was thorough, well-researched, and accurate. I chose strong examples or details and they supported my ideas well. My video’s information was mostly well-researched and accurate. I included good examples or details that mostly supported my ideas. My video’s information was researched and generally accurate. I could have included more details or examples to support my ideas. My video’s information was inaccurate. I did not have enough examples or details.
Organization
9 -10 pts. 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
My script was well-organized and I had smooth transitions between concepts or ideas. I had a strong beginning, middle, and end. My script was mostly well-organized. I had clear transitions between concepts or ideas, and a clear beginning, middle, and end. My script had a few problems with organization, and some transitions were missing. The beginning, middle and end were not always clear. My script wasn't organized or easy to follow, there were no transitions, and it was hard to tell where the beginning, middle, and end were.
Interconnectedness (Analysis) – 20 points
19-20 16-18 pts 14-15 pts 0-13 pts
My video’s information made insightful connections between different topics and clearly analyzed how the ideas connected. My video’s information mostly made clear connections between topics and analyzed how the ideas connected. My video’s information had different topics but they didn't always connect to each other, nor did it analyze how the ideas connected. My video’s information didn't include enough topics and/or there wasn't much of a connection between ideas.
Research Process
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
I used credible sources (databases) for my research. I extracted relevant information and correctly paraphrased the information on my EasyBib notecards. I have a suitable number of notecards. I used credible sources (databases) for my research. I extracted relevant information and most information is correclty paraphrased on my EasyBib notecards.  I have an adiquate number of notecards. I used credible sources (databases) for my research.Information on my EasyBib notecards is not paraphrased accurately.  I have some notecards. I did not use credible sources (databases) for my research. Information on my Easyib notecards is not paraphrased (missing). I have very few notecards.
Participation
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
I worked really hard and didn't get off task or off topic. I listened well, followed directions the first time, and helped those around me. I mostly stayed on topic and on task. I listened and followed directions and did not distract others. I got off topic or off task and sometimes had difficulty listening or following directions. I sometimes distracted others. I didn't stay on task and I didn't focus or listen when instructions were given. I distracted others around me.

Process
At that time, we were using Moodle as our LMS, so we decided to put all rubrics, checklists, directions, links, and self-assessments in our course shell for World Geo.  This was a really good way to organize the different aspects of the assignment -- not only did it cut down on the "what are we supposed to do again?" question, but it also helped provide a structure for feedback and assessment.  Student were given a schedule of expectations that either the librarians for the teachers would check off as the project progressed.

Online Tools
In addition to the databases that we subscribed to as a school, students relied upon GoogleDocs for their storyboarding, GoogleDocs for their script drafts, and WeVideo for the final project.  Each student was responsible for finding still images for their newscast (using a Creative Commons search, if no images were found in the databases), as well as doing a short intro video with built-in webcams.

WeVideo ended up being a great choice for this project.  Not only did it have the kinds of themes, background music, and transitions that enhanced the newscast, but because it is web-based, students could work on their projects from anywhere, collaborate with each other, and finally share their projects digitally with their teachers and the librarians.

Reflection
When the project concluded, we got together to reflect on how things went with the project.  Overall, it was a big success.  The teachers were very enthusiastic about the quality of the projects that the students submitted, and one of them even started a similar project with her other classes because she thought it went so well.  For next time, we discussed tightening up our daily expectations and restructuring the time (perhaps extending a day or two).  Also, we discussed using some of higher quality newscasts as exemplars for the next group.  And now that WeVideo is part of GoogleDrive, some of the logistics of the assignment will become a bit easier.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blended Learning: School as a Learning Station

My goal this school year has been to dive more into the concept of blended learning.  I've been really fortunate with timing: I was able to attend a blended learning design workshop in Denver last month, eNet Colorado started offering Intel's Blended Learning course this month, and the Blended Schools Network offered a MOOC on blended learning as well (which started 2 weeks ago, as of this post).  Of course, I've been able to dig around on my own, but having some structured opportunities has also been helpful.

From the Innosight Institute
I've seen various definitions for blended learning, but I found the one from the Innosight Institute useful in talking with folks who are just starting to hear this term: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control {emphasis mine} over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home {emphasis mine, again}. 

In our district-level discussions, we've tried to bring blended learning into the conversation whenever possible.  Our long-term goal is to have time, place, and age-agnostic learning for all students and teachers.  That can happen, if we start to look at the brick & mortal school as one part of an overall "learning station."

The school "learning station" idea plays into the student control aspect and is where we have to take a close look at our own practice.  We have had technology-rich environments for some time (with either labs, carts, or learning stations), but rarely have I seen situations where students control any of those elements (time, place, path, and/or pace).  This part of the definition could assist in explaining how to transform a technology-rich learning environment into an environment that is approaching or fully implementing a blending learning model.

Identifying levels of student control over those elements might also help us figure out some thoughtful ways to measure impact on their learning.  What happens when there is control solely over time? place? path? pace? Which of those are key for different learners? Which elements need to remain under teacher direction for specific learners?  Do students who need credit recovery benefit more than others with control over place or path?  Does path help us get away from putting students into certain classes based purely on age?  How do these help us get to time, place, and age-agnostic learning?  How can the school become 1 learning station in a much broader and varied learning process?

Because teachers may be familiar with the idea of learning stations, starting to ask how we can make the physical classroom or school only 1 part of a learning station might push the view of learning experiences and teacher/learner roles into a different light.  If we truly want time, place, and age-agnostic learning, we need to think about being a critical part of the learning process but certainly not the only part.