Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Keep Calm, Learn Together With Schoology By Robert Schuetz

At most schools, there are a numerous programs, initiatives, and strategies all intended to improve learning.  It is quite likely Schoology can help with all of them.  Schoology, an award-winning learning management system, is a versatile and effective program supportive of learning in all arenas and forms. Schoology shines particularly well with blended learning, the combination of traditional classroom activities and online learning activities.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Here are a few of our everyday users explaining why Schoology is essential to communication, collaboration, and connected learning.

Student - A high school junior, Natalie appreciates the structure and organization that Schoology provides her.  “Schoology is like a digital trapper folder.  My main page provides me with calendars, announcements, and resources for all of my classes.”, she said.  “Even if I miss class, I can get messages from my teachers, push notification reminders for assignment deadlines, and comments from my classmates about classroom discussions. There is no excuse for me to be missing class work because I can access everything I need paperlessly on my iPad.”

Teacher - Family and Consumer Science teacher, Mrs. Varela, is a proponent of personalized learning.  Schoology provides her with the instructional tools to differentiate and customize assignments and assessments.  “My students have wide-ranging interests and abilities.  I use Schoology’s “grading groups” and “completion rules” to create personalized assignments for my students. Grading groups is a feature that allows me to give specific assignments, or jobs, to particular students, or teams of students.  Completion rules is a feature that allows students to become self-paced with their learning. Achievement of a benchmark or standard triggers the availability of the next collection of objectives and challenges.  Digital workflow is effective and efficient.  Whether it’s annotations on student work, or voice commentary, students appreciate that I can give them timely feedback on their assignments.”  

Coach - Swimming and Diving coach, Mrs. Berleman, uses Schoology to share up-to-the-minute results and statistics with her competitors and their parents. Since Schoology can be synced up with Twitter, Facebook, and Remind, people that are part of her Pirate Swim Group, have several choices for receiving team information in real-time. “My girls, and their parents, appreciate having a direct line of communication with our coaches.  Family and study time is precious, so parents and competitors appreciate how we are able to “flip” parent meetings, provide permission forms electronically, and share announcements through our Schoology updates and discussion board.  Some results can be shared publicly, and other pieces of information can be kept private.  I like how School gives me control over the visibility of our communication.”

Counselor - Mrs. O’Brien makes communication and relationship-building a priority with her students.  “I have all of my students in a Schoology group.  I can share information to them individually, or to the entire group.  During our Open House, I provided join codes to their parents so that they could view their child’s courses, stay informed of deadlines, and also be part of our communication system.  The “advisee” role in Schoology allows me to check on the academic progress of any of my students.  Parents, teachers, and coaches can then be mobilized to provide support to students where and when it’s needed.  I have the Schoology app on my iPhone which is super convenient since I can stay connected with my students, and colleagues even when I am out of the office.”

Parent - Colleen, a mother of two PHS students, has Schoology bookmarked in her web browser. She uses Schoology to see what’s happening in her sons’ classes.  She can also monitor their attendance and academic progress in real-time.  “Having this kind of access through Schoology allows me to have better conversations, and be more helpful to my teenage sons when it comes to their work in the classroom.  I can see their contributions to class discussion boards, and I can also see scores and teacher comments on their school work.”

Administrator - Assistant Principal, Mr. Alther, appreciates the data provided by Schoology’s analytics pages.  In addition to usage statistics, analytics can illustrate progress on standards-aligned assessments in the Mastery menu.  This information is invaluable to professional learning teams who are working to improve instruction.  “Schoology has contributed to the learning of all of our stakeholders.  Last year, we gamified our professional development using Schoology as the professional learning platform.  We were able differentiate and personalize the activities.  Teachers were able to learn collaboratively, and also at their own pace.  Evidence of professional growth was acknowledged with digital badges and team points.  Schoology made it easy to track our progress, communicate progress towards objectives, and celebrate our learning.”

About the Author: 
Although schools have been his focal point for fifty years, Robert Schuetz has been employed as an educator for nearly a quarter century. A National Board Certified Teacher, Bob has spent the past twelve years as Technology Coordinator for Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois, U.S.A. Bob’s wife Natalie is a 2nd grade teacher, and they have four school-age children.  Robert’s passions include personal wellness, sports, music, and travel. He is a proponent of self-directed learning supported through socially connected networks. When Bob isn’t tending to the responsibilities of family or work, he enjoys contributing to learning through his blog, “Nocking the Arrow”.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Interview with LDCOE

Published on Sep 17, 2014
The Learning & Development Center of Excellence interviews Dr. Will Deyamport. Dr. Will shares his research insights about the behaviors and attitudes that lead to successful use of Twitter to build PLNs - Personal Learning Networks. For more videos, go to http://www.ldcoe.com

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The 411 on Chromebooks (GEG Mississippi Event)

This was the first GEG Mississippi event. On the panel were Google Certified Teachers, Regina Shaffer and Tara Linney. During the Hangout, we talked about the Chromebook, practices with rolling it out, how to train teachers to use it, and the Chomebook as an instructional tool.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Growing Fields in Healthcare by Emily Newhook

As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the recession, new job creation will play a critical role in the recovery. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care and social assistance are expected to contribute significantly to new job creation between 2012 and 2022. With such significant growth, looking for a job in the health care industry is a smart choice for recent graduates and young professionals. Here are three health care fields that are growing quickly.

1. Home Health and Personal Care
Personal care and home health aides work with people who may be disabled, cognitively impaired or chronically ill, often older adults. Personal care aides assist clients with a range of daily tasks and help them take care of themselves. Home health aides do similar work and also provide basic health services such as medication administration or checking vital signs. Additionally, people who work in this field play an important role in the lives of their clients by providing companionship and support, which is essential for people who may otherwise experience social isolation.

The BLS estimates home health and personal care aide jobs will grow much faster than average, adding 424,400 and 580,800 new jobs respectively between 2012 and 2022. The home health and personal care field could be a great place to begin a career in health care because it doesn’t require an advanced degree to get started; typically aides receive training from their employer to help earn state-mandated certifications. Many people also find the direct patient interaction and care a rewarding experience.

2. Physical and Occupational Therapy
People who go into physical therapy as either a therapist or aide help those who have experienced illness or injury recover mobility and manage pain. Occupational therapists and aides also play a critical role in the recovery and long-term care of patients by helping them recover or develop skills needed for everyday functioning. As the baby boomer generation ages, there will likely be increased demand for these jobs in order to help the aging population maintain mobility and independence later in life. Therapists also work with the increasing population of people living with chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

According to the BLS, as many as 171,600 new jobs will be added to the field (therapists and aides) between 2012 and 2022. Assistants and aides are required to have at an associate’s degree from an accredited program. In order to become a physical therapist, most people first earn a bachelor’s degree and then a three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Similarly, occupational therapists must complete a master’s degree and can pursue a doctorate as well.

3. Medical and Health Service Management

Also known as health care executives and administrators, people in this field help facilitate medical and health services operations by planning, directing and coordinating services in facilities ranging from small clinics to departments to large hospital systems. Managers work with all types of health care professionals including physicians, nurses and other health care workers. In addition to being able to collaborate effectively, medical and health service managers must stay on top of current health care policies, regulations and advances in medical technology. Between 2012 and 2022, this field is expected to produce an estimated 73,300 new jobs.

The health care and social assistance sector is expected to account for about one-third of new jobs by 2022, so now is an ideal time for young professionals to enter the health care industry. The three fields outlined above illustrate the diversity of job opportunities and educational or training requirements. The potential for long-term career growth makes choosing a job in the health care industry a good decision for the future.

About the author: Emily Newhook (@EmilyNewhook) is the community relations manager for the online MHA program (MHA@GW) and the online master of public health program (MPH@GW) offered through the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys horror movies, baking and exploring the D.C. area.

Monday, September 1, 2014

In My Defense

By Dr. Will

This post was inspired by Dr. Eva Lantsought’s piece on her doctoral defense.

The subject of my defense came up during the meeting I had with my committee before I started my study. During which I asked about defending my dissertation and the chances of my failing. My Chair responded "We will never let you get to that point and fail". Feeling relieved, I went about the business of conducting my study and writing my dissertation. Fast-forward a year and half later and the day came for me to take my place among those who are called Dr.

In preparing for my defense, I had several conversations with my Chair. We talked about what to include in my PowerPoint slides, what to expect from the committee, as well as what I needed to do to bring it. And after a few revisions of my PowerPoint, I scheduled the date and time for my defense.

Now, I know that some of you may be thinking how did I defend my dissertation when I went to school online? I did so with Blackboard Collaborate. We had a private room, and I purchased a phone number to use for my defense. Being a Google Hangout man, I did ask about using a Google Hangout or Skype, but my other two committee members were more comfortable with Blackboard Collaborate.

On the day of my defense, I was nervous! I knew my dissertation like I knew the back of my hand, but that didn't stop me from feeling unsure of myself and uneasy about presenting my research. I took the day off from work, and reread my slides and reread parts of my dissertation. I had to pass. Everything I had worked for for the past three and half years came down to this moment...

For an hour or so, I presented my research and fielded questions from my committee. In the first few slides, I almost read aloud my slides word for word - something my Chair mentioned in the discussion afterwards. By the fourth slide, I felt more comfortable and just started talking. That went on for about (I'm guessing) 30 minutes. The next 30 minutes covered the questions from my committee members.

Then Dr. J. said "We started this call with three doctors. How many do we have now?" All of the members said four. I was relieved, excited, overjoyed, and ready to ball out like I just won an NBA championship. I thanked my committee members, and we briefly chatted. Two of my committee members left the call, and I stayed on with my Chair to discuss what was next in the process.

I can't thank my committee enough for their help in completing my dissertation. That said, Dr. LB was my rock and the best dissertation Chair I could have gotten. She was and still remains a mentor to me. Alhamdulillah, for her guidance, tough-love, and encouragement throughout my dissertation process. She played a major role in the Dr. Will you have seen at conferences, online, and in-person.

I dedicate this post to her. Thank you Dr. LB.

About the author: My name is Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. I am a district instructional technologist, connected educator, and digital media learning consultant. I began teaching the educational applications of digitals as the Campus Outreach Coordinator for CAREEREALISMcampus.com. I also spent another two years as the Chief Social Strategist for StrengthsFactors, where I oversaw and managed the company’s social strategy, created and curated content for the company’s Ning, as well as launched multiple projects that expanded the company’s digital brand. Currently, I work with teachers in discovering how they can use a multitude of technologies, such as Google Apps, Compass Learning, ActivInspire, etc., to create an array of interactive and engaging collaborative learning experiences, with a focus on blended learning and connecting students to a global community.