The Evolution of Online School

Online education and digital schools have come a long way towards being a valid choice for students looking for a quality education.  Digital schools sometimes have a bad reputation that is rooted in the first online schools. Those were text driven and solely about worksheets and the most menial tasks that were easy to grade.  Today’s digital schools are much more robust. The best digital schools incorporate 21st century skills like collaboration and creativity. Worksheets are a relic of a bygone era. Students are asked to create and contribute rather than regurgitate memorized information.  Well developed online schools no longer consist of a single student sitting at a single computer with little to no interaction with classmates. Peer editing, asynchronous discussions, reflecting and sharing are all parts of the new digital school. Make sure you truly examine your digital school’s pedagogy before signing up.  If it is a quality digital, online school, it will be truly interactive and not just have rote work to accomplish.

 

Shawn Huffman

Director of Curriculum and Innovation

Digital Education: It’s Not Just Technology

The very idea that anything related to Digital Education is going  to be wrapped up in technology in some way, seems almost obvious. Something we might take for granted to the point where it simply goes without ever needing to be said. And yet, more often than not, Digital Education has far less to do with technology than it does with educational access.

In some ways it seems counter-intuitive, and understandably so. After all, many of us exchange the terms “Digital” and “Technology” without really considering the possibility that we are  conflating the two. Not so much with regard to the actual definitions of the two terms, but, the truth is that when we apply the additional word “Education,” more specifically, when we say “Digital Education,” the technology is certainly there – significantly, to be fair –  but, in practice we find that the real difference (between “Digital Education” and, let’s say, “non Digital Education”) is really about methodology. About access.

Digital Education is ultimately about things like access to resources. Digital Education is about allowing students to circumvent issues and barriers of location, for example attending a school with an expert teacher miles if not time zones or even continents away. And that means that other vital resources are also part of the Digital Education equation.  Things like the cost of time, and transportation, and expertise, and so on can become far more manageable through Digital Education than might otherwise be possible.

Perhaps through technology Digital Education can being about any number of benefits, but, in the end it’s the Educational benefits that matter, not simply the technology to implement it, that makes Digital Education worthwhile.

Richard Maxwell

iAM Global Education Donates Money to Unite Children With Their Families Across the World

iAM Global Education Donates Money to Unite Children With Their Families Across the World

I may be alone here, but watching young children ripped from their parents arms and carted to detention centers with minimal care and less compassion has made me question America’s democracy.  I think all reasonable people can agree that an infant carried across the border by his or her parents does not deserve a lifetime of mental issues for this transgression. We can examine policy and find better ways to help refugees enter the correct way to apply for citizenship, but the fact remains that crossing the border for the first time, illegally, is a misdemeanor.  Legally, this equates to jaywalking. Would you want to lose your family over such a minor detail? Make no mistake, these are not traffickers, gang members, etc. These are families we are talking about. iAM Global education would like to help. For every purchase of our Pathways to Citizenship study guide, we will donate $5.00 to the International Rescue Committee.  This nonprofit was established in 1933 to help reunite families torn apart by World War II.  The need for this organization is still, sadly, very real. If you are in the process of gaining citizenship, please consider our study guide and help families reunite in this difficult time.

 

Shawn Huffman

iAM Global Education, Director of Curriculum and Innovation

Digital Education: It’s Not Just Technology

The very idea that anything related to Digital Education is going  to be wrapped up in technology in some way, seems almost obvious. Something we might take for granted to the point where it simply goes without ever needing to be said. And yet, more often than not, Digital Education has far less to do with technology than it does with educational access.

In some ways it seems counter-intuitive, and understandably so. After all, many of us exchange the terms “Digital” and “Technology” without really considering the possibility that we are  conflating the two. Not so much with regard to the actual definitions of the two terms, but, the truth is that when we apply the additional word “Education,” more specifically, when we say “Digital Education,” the technology is certainly there – significantly, to be fair –  but, in practice we find that the real difference (between “Digital Education” and, let’s say, “non Digital Education”) is really about methodology. About access.

Digital Education is ultimately about things like access to resources. Digital Education is about allowing students to circumvent issues and barriers of location, for example attending a school with an expert teacher miles if not time zones or even continents away. And that means that other vital resources are also part of the Digital Education equation.  Things like the cost of time, and transportation, and expertise, and so on can become far more manageable through Digital Education than might otherwise be possible.

Perhaps through technology Digital Education can being about any number of benefits, but, in the end it’s the Educational benefits that matter, not simply the technology to implement it, that makes Digital Education worthwhile.

Richard Maxwell

Tech Tool Showcase

Tech Tool Showcase

Many would agree that student engagement is the key to successfully reaching students in the fully enriched 21st century world in which we live.  The more students are engaged in the content, the more they will truly learn. I will discuss a tool that I use in my 21st Century classroom to help engage students while giving them the content knowledge that they need:  Nearpod.

 

Nearpod is a way to transform your regular PowerPoints or Google Slideshows into interactive lessons that results in fully engulfed student-centered learning.  On a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, students will take multiple choice quizzes or fill in the blank activities to ensure they have understood the content, while also taking journeys on virtual field trips all over the world.  Visual learners will love to draw their answers instead of writing them out with a drawing function, as well as learning through YouTube clips along the way. Matching activities and memory games will help to engrain important vocabulary terms or formulas into the minds of the students.  They can also dive into the human body or explore historic places with 3D models. Learning truly comes to life!

You can create your own lessons for free, or let Nearpod do the work for you.  Nearpod has a full library of already created lessons that you can pay for as an individual or subscribe to as a school.  Students love Nearpod as it is student-centered and fully engaging. Check it out if you want to enhance your 21st Century classroom:  https://nearpod.com/.

 

Katie Assali

 

Hypocrisy in Education

As teachers, we study and study to learn the latest educational theories.  We know, for instance, that just lecturing our students is not the best way for them to learn in a 21st century education model.  They need to move, use digital tools, collaborate and such. The hypocrisy hits me when we go back to school for our “trainings” and they are all simply lectures.  How do administrators expect their teachers to teach 21st century skills, when all of the professional development is standard, direct instruction? This becomes aggravating as teachers really strive to improve, but are constantly held back by their administration.

 

I am not referring to the teaching of basic skills before allowing us to collaborate and explore, that is just good teaching.  I am referring to telling us to be innovative and not incorporating any of those ideals into their own trainings.

 

What all of us need is access to 21st century PD, if we are going to incorporate it into our own classrooms.  We need to learn the 21st century skills ourselves, before we can pass them on to our students. Digital tools, digital classes, collaboration, creativity, these are all things that need to be incorporated into professional development if it is going to be effective.  Don’t be afraid to search out some of your own and demand 21st century educational training from your own administration. It is time we take control of our own learning and teaching! Good luck this school year!

 

Shawn Huffman Director of Curriculum and Innovation

iAMGlobal Education

High School Diplomas: Methods Versus Benefits, A Case For Online Learning

 

 

The value of a high school diploma has been well documented for many many years, and yet, as the world puts increasingly more value on concrete skills in the labor market, there are those who might feel that forgoing a high school diploma, in an effort to enter the workforce sooner, is a better life path.

 

Certainly, in the short term, and even in some communities, there may be an appeal to this concept, as the notion of gaining more direct experience sooner will yield the best long term career path.  Add to that the reality that many students, in the face of mounting academic pressures, and the ensuing frustration, and many students may feel that a high school diploma is simply not worth the aggravation.  None of that is true of course, but on the surface, one can easily see the initial appeal of the flawed logic. Of course we know, again, the real benefits to having a high school diploma, including better earning potential, and so on, but that does not seem to stop many from at least considering, in an effort to escape all the pressure, abandoning the high school diploma altogether.

 

But, perhaps, the real issue is not the high school diploma itself, but rather the methodology in which it is pursued.  As a society we are still quite locked in to any number of tired methodologies. We tend to keep with what we know, because it makes sense, or has worked well for us in the past; but, we don’t know what we don’t know, and, in the case of earning a high school diploma, the fact is that we have allowed so many students to get lost in the shuffle, to slip through cracks as it were. Not because they are not capable, but, many times, because we have not allowed for the possibility that the key to their success is not the same as what has been perceived as the key in the past for others.

 

This is not about learning disabilities, though certainly, there is ample evidence to suggest, for example, that online learning, when executed correctly, can significantly help students overcome any number of disabilities, but rather about differentiation.  The notion of “one size fits all” is not only terribly outdated, it’s irresponsible. Just because we have, generally, as a society, for so long, worked under the assumption that the best way, the only way, to earn a high school diploma, is through a traditional, brick and mortar, institution, does not make it so.

 

That does not mean brick and mortar are, or should be, finished, but rather that it is not always the best way to ensure a student’s success in pursuit of a high school diploma.  If the goal is really to help the student gain the knowledge and skills – the benefits – of a high school diploma, shouldn’t we be pursuing all methods of ensuring real student success?

 

The fact is that online schools allow for greater, far easier, and far more cost efficient access to significant and real resources to students pursuing a high school diploma. We owe it to students to see beyond their limitations, self imposed or otherwise, and provide them with every opportunity.  Even if that means changing our methodologies. Is an online school the answer to every high school diploma issue? Of course not. But all evidence suggests that it can be a true and viable solution.

Richard Maxwell

Maximizing Time, Not Wasting It: Effective Professional Development and Certifications

So many educators work tirelessly to maintain a direct, working knowledge of their content area and all its related current methodologies and practices through Professional Development and Certifications.  And, yet, so often, in order to do that very thing, an educator has to weed through so much that can feel like a waste of resources. Interestingly, in many ways the financial cost of Professional Development and Certifications is not the biggest issue or concern.  Rather, it is the cost with regard to time.

 

No one, generally, in any field, tends to feel that they have such an overabundance of time that they can waste it on things that will not be of direct benefit, but for educators, this issue is perhaps more pronounced then in others, because for Educators, Professional Development and Certifications are not just about them, they are very much about the future.

 

Certainly, all good Professional Development and Certifications, in all fields, can lead to more effective results, increasing a company’s bottom line, as it were, but in Education, there is something else too:  long term impact on the future, in a potentially massive way. In a way that could change the entire planet.

 

Sure, that sounds a bit overstated, but is it?  Think for a moment about what educators really do.  Regardless of content area, educators are training the future leaders of their communities.  Of the world. Literally.

 

Those methods that an educator learns to implement via Professional Development and Certifications, can be the catalyst for a major student breakthrough.  A change in the student’s perspective or process that leads them down a path that enables them to eventually take on and solve the problems of the world. Really.  How many times do world leaders, and leaders of every industry talk about a teacher they had at one point that made the difference for them? That inspired them? That helped them move forward on the path they would eventually dominate?  The answer is pretty much every one.

 

So, yes, Professional Development and Certifications can require some additional commitment, but they are more than worth it.  Not just to the educator, or the students, but, potentially to the entire world.

Richard Maxwell

The Need to be a 21st Century Learner

We live in a complex age. When looking at the calendar, it says we’re eighteen years past the millennium and yet so many 20th century attributes and practices are being desperately clung to. The world is changing so quickly around us and it seems each leaf on each branch of our world has to be connected to the online world. While nearly every part of our society is connected to the online world, it’s time to start letting our society transform to the online world. We live in a digital age with public schools that have one foot in the analog world. In a lot of ways public schools are simply reaching over the threshold, but have yet to set foot in the new dwelling of the online world. American brick and mortar schools have scratched the surface of what is possible in the digital world. Teachers have website and social media to related apps to keep students engaged but it’s simply scratching the surface. There are so many elements of brick and mortar schooling that cling to an old age where xeroxed copies are needed and the coffee mug of pencils always needs sharpening. It’s time to push these tools into the precipice and jump across that threshold into the new online world.

 

Imagine a world where the school bell never rang for the next class. Imagine a world where your educational limits were not confined by a shrinking education budget. Imagine if your educational spirit could flourished and was defined by what you wanted to accomplish not your surroundings. The age of online learning has just begun. At eighteen years into the new millenium, it’s time to take the step into the next dwelling. Physical worksheets, handouts and school supplies have no place here. Online school is where you want it to be. You could be confined to your home, in another country or traveling the world and still find a way to connect to an online school. Online school is on whatever device is easiest for you to use. Be it a laptop, smartphone or desktop computer, you can find a way to connect yourself to your success. Online school is the wherever you find focus and time for you to push yourself to the next level. You can choose the best environment and surrounding for your to succeed. It could be a quiet study room, a library, a coffee shop or enroute to your next destination. Online school is what you want it to be.

 

The benefits of online school are abundant and liberating when given the chance. Find your own pace and find your own way to succeed. Online 21st century learning is not about where you are, or where you come from; it’s about what you can accomplish at the tap of a keyboard and your own focus. Push yourself to finish your high school diploma faster than you would at a brick and mortar school. Fit in class time at your own structure and pace. Find accomplishment and success on your terms in your schedule. Online school may be that way to not just connect to the online world but transform the way we live into the online world.

Eric Luse

What will the world look like in 50 years?

What will the world look like in 50 years?

What problems are going to be on everyone’s mind in 50 years?  Will it be a pandemic? Will drought be the most pressing issue?  Climate Change? The point is, we do not know. There is no way to know what will happen in the future.  It may be all, or none, of these senarios, but the question to ask is, “What is my school doing to prepare me to deal with these eventualities?”  Is your school preparing you for the 21st century problems? Is it student centered? Is it creative? Does it allow you to be the best you can be, or does it have you asking “Why am I doing this,” on a daily basis?

When looking at schools, ask what they are doing to incorporate 21st century learning methods.  Is it an innovative place that allows you to think and create? Is it collaborative and requires you to communicate with others?  In short, is it a 21st century education?

If the answer is no, consider looking for a new place.  The changing world will be defined by students who can think, not by those who can quietly fill out a worksheet.  Preparing yourself for the changing world requires a 21st century education. Ask your school what their plan is to provide it, or venture out and find your own way.  The future belongs to the brave thinkers that challenge everyday concepts. Reach for greatness through a 21st century education.

Shawn Huffman

Director of Curriculum and Innovation.