Heading into Fall

As we head into Fall we start to notice that change is in the air. The air begins to feel more crisp, the leaves start to change, and we begin to think of the changes ahead, which may be more or less significant depending on how far north you find yourself. Colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere notice change as well, though in the opposite direction!

At this point, many of us find ourselves in the groove of the school year, with the start-of-year out of the way and with projects in progress. It’s also a time to start to consider changes for next year. For many schools, this means looking at virtual learning environments, such as Moodle, Google Classroom, Haiku, Edmodo, and many others. This month ECIS ICT Committee Member Aaron Tyo-Dickerson shares information and resources on virtual learning environments.

Please remember that your input is valuable to the entire ECIS ICT community. If you are interested in contributing an article, or have ideas, resources, links, or information about upcoming professional development opportunities that you would like to share, please send them to me at apreis@aischool.org a week before the first day of the month and I will be sure to highlight them in the next edition of the blog.

Alan Preis
On behalf of the ECIS ICT Committee

Virtual Learning Environments
Aaron Tyo-Dickerson, American School of the Hague

How would you describe your school’s Virtual Learning Environment?

  • You might begin by describing your school’s desktop, laptop or tablet computers and the software your school has installed on them for teacher and student use.
  • Perhaps you would talk about your network and infrastructure as conduits for teaching and learning.
  • On the other hand you might talk about your community’s use of a particular learning management system (Moodle, Edmodo, Blackboard) and a collection of collaboration and communication tools (Google Apps, Office 365, et al).

Each of these are ingredients or building blocks of a Virtual Learning Environment (or VLE), and the environment itself is the organic whole, the sum of the individual components. Your school’s virtual learning environment reflects and recreates the vision, mission, and daily activities of your school.

As an analog for your brick-and-mortar school, your virtual learning environment has been developed and deployed with teaching and learning in mind. Some of us teach and learn in facilities which have been repurposed and augmented over the years. Others of us have experienced moves to new, purpose-built campuses or extensions. In either case, our schools have created physical spaces for intentional learning.

The same is true of your virtual learning space.

  • Some of us have inherited legacy systems or processes and are facing the accompanying challenges of repurposing those tools for effective, virtual teaching and learning.
  • Others of us have a purpose-built environment which contains interoperable tools for collaboration and communication.

Now that October is here and our new school year is fully underway, please set aside time in the coming weeks to consider the virtual learning environments that you have established for teachers and students in your schools and across the ECIS community. Start a discussion in your own community, and then join us in iSkoodle to share your ideas and questions about the impact of your virtual learning environment on student learning.

ECIS ICT Committee News

ECIS iTunesU
ECIS is looking for a consultant to help promote and raise awareness of it’s iTunes U page! The role would include crafting a monthly or quarterly newsletter, leading sessions at the ECIS general conference, engaging schools and teachers to help gain new participants, and finding other innovative outlets to highlight the great work found in the ECIS iTunes Courses. For more information and/or to express interest, please contact ICT Committee member and iTunes administrator Seth Hubbert (sethh@frenchamericansf.org).

Digital Bytes: Virtual Learning Environments

Selecting a Learning Management System: Advice from an Academic Perspective (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu.

“Although faculty and students are the primary learning management system users, administrators and IT experts often select the system. This article stresses the importance of involving all stakeholders in the selection process, offers a step-by-step guide to LMS selection, and enables readers to develop a customized list of LMS features that align with their institution’s instructional and learning priorities.”

If you are considering a new learning management system for your school (or switching platforms) this Educause article provides excellent advice for the selection process itself and important considerations for your school community.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014 | Results of the 8th Annual Survey of Learning Tools.

“The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014 – the results of the 8th Annual Learning Tools Survey – has been compiled by Jane Hart from the votes of 1,038 learning professionals from 61 countries worldwide and published on 22 September 2014.”

Jane Hart’s list of “top tools”, posted on her site Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, contains some old favorites in the VLE arena (Moodle 12, Edmodo 41, and Blackboard 71) as well as some nods to the important of social media (Twitter 1, Facebook 9, G+ 11) and the power of collaboration and cloud computing (Google Drive 2, Prezi 13, Wikipedia 18). It is noteworthy that this same list also contains traditional desktop software like the MS Office suite with PowerPoint rating a 4 on the list.

Top LMS (Learning Management System) Software | 2014 Reviews of the Best Systems.

“Learning management systems are used by academic institutions and companies to manage, track, and deliver courses and training programs. One of the fastest growing software sectors over the last decade, it is now a billion dollar plus industry with hundreds of competing offerings. Below is a look the most popular options as measured by a combination of their total number of customers, active users, and online presence.”

This handy guide provides data and visuals for a wide variety of LMS software and includes tidy lists of features, requirements, and ratings for each of the Top 20 in this report. This site should be your first stop if you are considering a LMS for your school.

Professional Development

EdTechTeam London Summit Featuring Google in Education – Oct 20 & 21
We invite you to join us for the first annual EdTechTeam London Summit featuring Google for Education to be held at the Halcyon London International School in London, England on October 20 & 21, 2014. This high intensity two day event focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google education teams.

Mediterranean Center for Innovation in Education

The Mediterranean Center for Innovation in Education has open registrations for a variety of institutes and workshops in 2014 and the early part of 2015:

Flat Connections Live! Canada 2015

Flat Connections invites teachers, education leaders K-12 and higher education to attend the Flat Connections Live! event in Winnipeg Canada, April 29-May 2, 2015, hosted by Red River College. The theme, ‘Building bridges between islands of excellence’ is supported by design thinking and a process-based and outcome-based conference format that promises to extend the boundaries of learning for all. This is a global event with facilitators coming from different locations. Early-bird registration is open until January 1.

Meanwhile, Flat Connections offers global projects and teacher development sessions throughout the year.
Contact Julie Lindsay for customised approached to global learning. julie@flatconnections.com

ECIS November Conference
The ECIS November Conference returns to Nice, France on November 19-22, 2014 and will include a variety of ICT-related sessions, as well as the usual assortment of sessions relevant to all areas of international education. Full information is available on the ECIS website at http://www.ecis.org/page.cfm?p=300.

Innovate 2015
Graded School (São Paulo, Brazil) is hosting the Innovate 2015 Conference on March 4-7, 2015. The Innovate 2015 conference marks Graded School’s commitment to re-imagine the school that best serves and inspires students for tomorrow. Join innovators from across the globe to engage in dialogue designed to ignite new ideas and build the foundation for change our students deserve. For more information, visit the Innovate 2015 website at https://www.graded.br/page.cfm?p=7085.

ECIS ICT Conference
Save the Date for the Spring ECIS ICT Subject conference. Additional details will be posted on the ECIS website soon.

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