The Very Best Use of a Weekend: #RSCON4

I am SO excited for this weekend.  It is the Reform Symposium Conference!!!  Seriously, I feel a little bit giddy.  Like a child on Christmas morning.  As an adult, RSCON is one of the things that can bring back the same feelings of anticipation and eagerness.  So much learning is about to happen this weekend!  Best of all, it is INSPIRED learning.  What could be better than surrounding yourself with a weekend packed full of inspiration, learning, hope, edu-friends and encouragement? Nothing, that’s what.

In case you’ve been out of the loop in the world of social media lately, this is BIG!  You will not want to miss this FREE worldwide virtual conference.  It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what you are wearing, how disastrous (or epic) your week was, because RSCON4 is available to everyone.  Please look at the schedule (conveniently made available in your preferred timezone) and plan to join us for as much of the conference as you can.  I’m overjoyed that I get to be a part of this incredible conference again.  Although I’ve been the very WORST organizer, I’m truly so honored to be a part of something so important.

I’ll be presenting on Sunday with @michellek107 and @nancybabbitt, we will share a little bit of the “secret” sauce that makes Anastasis so awesome. Drop in and join the conversation.  Better yet: drop in to several sessions and join the conversation! Looking forward to learning with all of you!


Reform Symposium Free Virtual Conference

Reform Symposium: Free professional development you can get in your jammies!

This Saturday (January 8, 2011) is the Reform Symposium Virtual conference.  We have an incredible lineup of speakers, presentations, and conversations.  It just doesn’t get much better than a conference you can attend in your jammies! Don’t forget to spread the word to all of your friends (use #rscon11 hash tag on Twitter).  You don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at the full program embedded below!

Register now (doing so makes you eligible for our prize giveaways!) by heading over to the Reform Symposium website.

Wiggio: Group Collaboration made easy

What it is: Yesterday as I was scanning through my Twitter stream when I came across this tweet from my friend @jasonshmidt123:  “Holy buckets of love, this is cool! RT @plugusin: Checking out Wiggio: for collaborating.”  Now, any time buckets of love are involved I am intrigued- I had to check it out.  I must say, Wiggio is a way cool tool for collaboration.  Wiggio is a completely free online toolkit that makes it easy to work and coordinate with groups.  Wiggio is SO very simple to use and has a very straight forward interface that makes it easy for even those who are low-tech.  Wiggio lets you share and manage files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls (including voice, webcam, shared whiteboard space, and screen sharing), chat online, send out mass text messages, and send voice or email messages to the entire group.  Wiggio has a lot of features that remind me of Google Groups but some additional features that truly make it a “holy buckets of love” experience.  Everything is in one place, handy and easy to use!

How to integrate Wiggio into your curriculum: I can see a lot of possibilities of Wiggio in the classroom.  Use it to create a class group with student families each year.  Keep families up to date with the latest happenings in your classroom, volunteer opportunities, and class projects that will need some parent support.  Share all important documents, videos, and resources that you use in your classroom for easy access from home.  (I can’t tell you how many, “I’ve lost the permission slip could you please send a new one?” I get in a year!).  Keep all those documents in your Wiggio group file and parents will never have to worry about lost paperwork again.  Live meeting opportunities mean that you can hold a virtual parent university where you catch parents up on the new math/reading/science/writing curriculum.  Teach your parents everything from reading strategies to use at home to working through math problems together.  Parents would love a little support in this area!  Offer virtual conference opportunities for parents who are unable to make it for a live conference due to long-term illness, job travel, or in multiple parent homes.

Use Wiggio to create student groups where you keep students up to date with classroom happenings and resources.  Offer your students a study hour where they can meet with you virtually for a little extra support or mentoring.  Remind your students of upcoming assignments by creating to-do’s.  Collect digital assignments using Wiggio files.

Students can create study groups of their own for collaborative projects.  As they work together they can meet virtually, share resources and links, and create a schedule to keep themselves on task.

Working with a class outside of your school?  Maybe in another state or country?  Wiggio is the perfect platform for connecting them, they can work together with shared space and chat live from your classroom.

Wiggio can be used with teaching staff to keep teaching teams organized and give them a place to share resources, ideas, and share a common calendar of events.

Have ambitious parents?  They can use Wiggio to collaborate and work with other parents for fundraiser events, coordinating volunteers, and special days.

I am currently using Vyew as my virtual classroom meeting space but Wiggio offers so much more functionality all in one place, I think for the next round of virtual class I will be making the switch!  To quote Jason again, “Holy buckets of love, this is cool!”

Tips: Wiggio has a demo area where you can play with all of the features yourself without registering or creating an account.  Note to all web 2.0 companies…this is a really nice feature, I wish you all would do it 🙂

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Wiggio in your classroom!

Join Me

What it is: Join Me is an incredibly simple way to share your computer screen with others.  It works on both Windows and Mac allowing you to share your screen (and whatever is on it instantly).  The simplicity of this site is brilliant.  If you have even a sparkle of being a “techie” among family, colleagues, or friends, you most likely get regular phone calls asking for your help with something.  The problem: those asking the question don’t usually know enough to accurately articulate what their hang up is.  Join Me is a simple solution, it lets you share screens so that you can see what the problem is and walk them step by step through the solution.  Join Me is also great for the classroom, it lets students and teachers quickly share their screens for instant collaboration, feedback, or virtual meetings.

How to integrate Join Me into your curriculum: In my computer lab, I often wanted to share my screen with a student so that I could share a process with them, or provide them with feedback.  I usually used Apple’s Remote Desktop for this, the only problem was that students couldn’t initiate the shared screen.  Another problem I ran into was Remote Desktop dropping connections or crashing.  Join Me would have made an excellent backup!  With the increased use of technology, Join Me would be a great tool to help students collaborate on homework projects, enabling them to easily share screens and work as if they were in the same room.  Join Me provides a unique URL for the screen share, enables a conference call phone number, an on-screen chat, and the ability to choose a presenter and switch control of the mouse.  Join Me would be an easy way to extend the learning day for your students, or allow a student who is absent to be included in a live lesson (this could be students who are sick, students with a long-term illness, students who are traveling, or students who know they will be attending your classroom after a move).

Tips: When you use Join me, a package is downloaded to your computer to allow it to run.  If you want to use this tool with students, make sure that they have privileges to download and run packages.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Join Me in your classroom!

Free FETC Virtual Conference

What it is: On October 7, 2010, FETC is offering a FREE virtual conference for educators.  The virtual conference will feature new presentations that originated at the FETC live event, with a focus on the latest educational tools, technologies, and services in learning.  Educational experts will be passing on inspiration sharing best practices and successes.  A virtual exhibit hall will put you in touch with exhibitors and let you learn about the newest in hardware, software and solutions, there will even be some free downloads and content.  In the virtual networking lounge you can chat and interact with other educators from around the world. The Keynote presentation for the virtual conference is titled Mobile Learning: The Game Changer for k-12 it will be hosted by Elliott Soloway and Cathleen Norris.  I saw these two present a similarly titled session at ISTE 10 and if it is anything similar, it is definitely worth catching (click here to view my notes from their ISTE 10 session)!

How to integrate FETC Virtual Conference into your curriculum: Okay, so maybe you won’t be integrating the conference itself into your curriculum, but this virtual conference is sure to offer plenty of great ideas, inspiration, and a shot of enthusiasm that will carry into your classroom.  If you teach older students, you might let them sit and listen to the keynote session.  I know my students were always fascinated to find out that educators talk about innovative ideas for learning.  They assume that every teacher wants to teach in the current system.   Most are pleasantly surprised and encouraged to find out the contrary.

Tips: Register for this Free Virtual conference today by clicking here.  Hope to see you all there!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using the Free FETC Virtual Conference in your classroom!

Reform Symposium: Opening Keynote Steve Hargadon

This weekend is the Reform Symposium eConference, 48 hours of free learning! I am going to do my best to keep notes of all of the great conversations and learning when I am not moderating or sleeping 🙂

This was the opening keynote by Steve Hargadon:

  • Information overload vs. Web as a conversation
    We have to get past our perception that participation is only for the elite. Everyone is a participant and a creator.
    The answer to content overload is to create more content because our paradigm shifts and we start seeing everything as conversation.
  • Our students hold in their hands technology that was the stuff of dreams when we were growing up. They are incredible devices for learning. Learning is everywhere.
    We are seeing an amazing shift toward openness. Consider Wikipedia that in a relatively short amount of time an open encyclopedia took the place of a cultural institution.
    MIT is now providing classes to free when anyone goes online. The value is no longer in the specific content but in being actively engaged and they are doing something that is valuable to humanity by providing this openness.
  • Flexbook- online open virtual textbook initiative. This will bring value and save money.
  • Participation is being reinvented, it is a return to participation. It is a pre-broadcast, pre-factory, un-consumer model. This is dramatically changing the lives of youth because their lives are largely interactive.
  • Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Myspace are showing us a new model of growth and success that is driven by consumer demand instead of top down economics.
  • Linux is running Google’s servers.  This is incredible!
  • Volunteerism 2.0- we have always recognized value of volunteering but we are now seeing the opportunity to volunteer and participate in ways that weren’t possible before.  Clay Shirky calls this the “Redistribution of Our Cognitive Surplus”.  We are spending time creating instead of consuming.  This is unleashing energy.  Clay Shirky Ted Talk.
  • This is a change in structure it is participative (like democracy).  The Internet is doing this for content and knowledge.  We need the same structure in education.
  • We have to move toward the freedom end of the structure in schools.  We aren’t used to thinking this way.  It is possible for students to be their own driver in education.
  • We are organizing without organizations. What used to take financial resources to pull together to get something happening, doesn’t require that any more.  (Case in point the Reform Symposium conference!!)
  • Wikis let us organize information the way we want them, post at our convenience (not every day like a blog), but social networking has been widely adopted in a way wiki’s and blogs weren’t.  Social networking opened the door to the participation and conversation and made it easy to come in.  Blogs take longer to get the conversation going. Wikis are a little more complex and have a learning curve.  Social networking aggregated web 2.0 tools in a single location.  Facebook is now up to 500,000,000 members.
  • Steve started Classroom 2.0 and it now has 45,000 members, social networking is valuable to the education world.  It gives peer-to-peer practice sharing and conversation.
  • We have to get over that social networking is a dangerous place to be.  It will become the framework structure of the educational experience.
  • Communication platform: social networking + learning management system + live collaboration
  • It makes us rethink how teaching and learning take place.
  • We have to ask how well are we preparing students for this world and how prepared are we from this world?
  • Principles of school 2.0: contributing, collaborating, creating.
  • The best way to predict the future is to be it: Be a learner first, we need great teachers to be a part of the conversation and figure out how to harness web 2.0’s inherent capabilities, keep perspective-students need really great teachers more than ever, join an educational or social network (lurking is allowed), become a part of the conversation and encourage others to do so, help collaborate to build a new playbook and be a voice in the public discussion (Twitter #edchat!!), embrace the change process (this is going to be a wild ride, it is going to challenge the way we think).

Find the recording of the Keynote here.

Reform Symposium Virtual Conference Call for Moderators

I am so excited!  The Reform Symposium Virtual Conference is just around the corner.  The line up of Keynote speakers and presenters couldn’t be better and we are putting the finishing touches on making sure the conference goes without a hitch.  If you are planning to attend the conference, we would love to have you join the Reform Symposium social media site.  By registering on the site, you will also be entered in raffles to win some incredible prizes, check them out here.

As we are getting ready for the big days (July 30, 31 and August 1), would you consider volunteering some of your time to help moderate the sessions?  You would be co-moderating the Elluminate session with either Shelly, Chris, or me.  I am happy to train anyone who needs to be trained on how to moderate using Elluminate.  As a moderator, your job would be to help the presenter check their audio prior to the session, record the session, introduce the presenter, and help field questions from the audience.  Not to mention that you get a backstage pass to some of the BEST presenters in education.  If you can help out, please contact me via Twitter by reply or DM or you can leave a comment below offering your help.

I hope to see you all there, can’t wait for the opportunity to get such amazing professional development without leaving home!

Free virtual e-conference: Reform Symposium

Reform Symposium

Over the past few months I have been working with Shelly Terrell, Jason Bedell, and Chris Rogers on a secret project. 🙂  I am happy to say that I don’t have to keep the secret any longer but can share the project with all of you!  In two weeks (July 31st and August 1st, 2010), we will be holding a worldwide virtual e-conference for free!  The conference is called Reform Symposium and it is a conference for teachers, administrators, students, and parents.  This year the conference is focused on innovative practices in education and what role these practices can play in educational reform.

We have an incredible lineup of presenters and keynote speakers that you can see here.   We hope that no matter where you are in the world, you will join us for parts or all of the conference on these days.

What you can do:

  1. Mark your calendars for July 31st and August 1st 2010
  2. Tweet about the conference using the #rscon10 hashtag so we can follow everyone’s tweets.
  3. Invite your friends, both those you know online and off.
  4. Blog about the conference and then tell us about your blog post on Twitter using the #rscon10 hash tag.
  5. Join the conversations and fun on the Reform Symposium website. You can add friends, start conversations, and chat about the sessions.
  6. Add me as your friend on the website.
  7. Add the Reform Symposium badge to your blog or website to let others know you will be attending.

This conference is for you!  We hope that you will join us for fun, learning, collaboration, and maybe even a few prizes.  See you there!

Virtual FETC ’09


What it is: It’s that time again, FETC is on its way!  If you aren’t able to make it to the conference, you can still attend the conference virtually.  Best of all this online educational event is 100% free!  The conference is coming to you live Thursday, October 22, 2009.  Attend informative virtual sessions from the conference, visit the Virtual Expo Hall and chat with live exhibitors, and preview and evaluate the latest hardware and software available today.  Attend this online event to enjoy: “a dynamic exchange of best practices and tips for success, expert speakers sharing their views in an effective, interactive way, a virtual networking lounge to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts, real-time access to other participants through instant messaging, technology product and service demonstration in the vitural exhibit hall, free content downloads and presentations to go, and much more!”  You can attend as many sessions as you like when it is convenient for you.  This means no travel expenses, no lines, no scheduling substitutes, no getting funding approved, no emptying your own pockets!

How to integrate Virtual FETC ’09 into the classroom: While you can’t integrate this conference into your classroom, the virtual conference will provide you access to great speakers who will inspire you with best practices and tips for success.  You will come away from this conference with some great new ideas to implement in your classroom.

Tips: What are you waiting for?  Sign up for the FETC ’09 Virtual conference today!  See you all there 🙂

Leave a comment and tell us if you are attending Virtual FETC ’09.