Webinars and Online Courses for Teachers and Students

Today’s inbox contained this post from Virtual School Meanderings, a blog I follow about online resources for educators and students. Items include the addition of Japanese language courses, driver education, conferences, and using social networking for learning. Read on:

JULY 2012 eNewsletter

In this issue:  New Courses For Fall 2012, Summer Session II – Now Registering,

Join Our Upcoming Webinar, STEM for College & Careers

VHS Introduces New Courses In Fall 2012

New Languages Pave the Road to a New School Year

In partnership with Connections Learning, The VHS Collaborative (VHS) will be offering more online course options for middle and high schools worldwide. Starting in the fall of 2012, students will have the opportunity to take sought-after courses including  Japanese I and II, Sign Language I and II and Driver’s Education.

Our continued partnership with Connections Learning allows VHS member schools and individually enrolled students access to a wide variety of programs. Students are able to access courses that would otherwise be unavailable to them through their local school programs. Read the full article.

Join Our Next Webinar

The VHS Collaborative Webinar Series Presents…

“Policy, Quality and Cost Considerations of Blended Learning Environments“

Join us on July 30, 2012 for a free webinar to review options for online education that will boost your school’s 21st century studies.

Identify the goals and benefits of implementing a blended learning environment

Explore the range of delivery methods

Look at the current marketplace of online education providers and partners

Discuss Policy and Cost considerations

Our session concludes with setting goals, offering ideas of delivery models that that will best suits your needs, and provide ways in which your school or district can further develop a curriculum to incorporate online learning.

Webinar: Policy, Quality and Cost Considerations of Blended Learning Environments


Date: Monday July 30, 2012

Time: 12:00 pm EDT


For more information contact dneuffer@TheVHSCollaborative.org, or call 978-450-0413.

STEM Learning For College & Careers

Blogging On Preparing Students for Careers in Science

Jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are growing faster than in any other field in the United States but less than 30% of high school graduates are ready to pursue college education in science.

We need to do more to ensure that all students have access to rigorous and engaging science courses that provide them with the skills, tools, and global perspective necessary to succeed in STEM careers. Read the full blog post now.

Subscribe to The VHS Collaborative Blog. Read more from colleagues, experts and online learning advocates and join in the conversation to discuss blended learning initiatives in education today.

Now Enrolling for Summer Session II

There’s Still Time to Take An Online Summer Course – Register Now

Whether you need to make up credit before the fall semester, or you are looking for interesting courses that will teach you new and innovative skills, VHS online Summer School courses are a great way to get ahead!.

With the support of a teacher, and interaction with online peers troughout the course, VHS’ Online Summer program is a convenient option for students who:

Need to make up credits to graduate on schedule

Have other commitments and need flexible scheduling

Want to try an online course while their schedule is less demanding

Are looking to get ahead or stay academically engaged during the summer months


Summer Session II offers online studies in the following subject areas:

Chemistry, Biology, English Literacy Skills,  Financial Literacy, Pre-Algebra/Algebra Preparation, Planning for College, Health, U.S. History, Video Game Design

For more information, please visit our website, or contact Lauren Skinner at 978.450.0427 for enrollments and questions.

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Copyright © 2012 The VHS Collaborative, All rights reserved.


via New Online Courses For The Fall | STEM And Blended Learning | Upcoming Webinar And More « Virtual School Meanderings.

URL: http://virtualschooling.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/new-online-courses-for-the-fall-stem-and-blended-learning-upcoming-webinar-and-more/



21st-Century PLNs for School Leaders | Edutopia

What’s a PLN? It stands for “personal learning network.” I’ve been in computers and education for many years and still had to Google the acronym.

There are three main bullet points: Joining and connecting through Twitter, reading education blogs, and finally writing education blogs. Many useful links are provided for educators to explore and use. The end result of PLN is better informed and better prepared educators!

If you are interested in creating a PLN, read the suggestions in the blog below from Edutopia‘s web site. The post appears to be aimed mainly at school administrators and teacher leaders, but I believe it is equally applicable to all educators, whether K-12 or post-secondary. It offers some great pointers on PLNs that can be used to connect educators to educators and, by extension, educators to students. Read on.

21st-Century PLNs for School Leaders | Edutopia.

George Couros

George Couros (@gcouros on Twitter) is the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, a large district near Edmonton, Alberta. He believes that, as educators, “We need to inspire our kids to follow their passions, while letting them inspire us to do the same.”


As many school administrators are enjoying their summer break, we all tend to think of ways that we can make our school better in the upcoming year. Often, I point school principals and district leaders to a powerful post by Will Richardson that helps us point the finger right at ourselves when we are looking to push our school ahead. Richardson states:

“Meaningful change ain’t gonna happen for our kids if we’re not willing to invest in it for ourselves first. At the heart, it’s not about schools . . . it’s about us.”

With that being said, I have spent the last few years focusing a great deal on my work as an instructional leader within my role as school-based principal, and now as division principal. Although building relationships is the most important thing that we can do in our schools, in my opinion being an instructional leader is a close second.

With all of the new technologies that are surrounding us, and to the many school administrators that are not feeling comfortable with Twitter, Facebook, etc., I would like to suggest three ways (as opposed to the typical round number of 10) that you can focus on your own professional development over the summer. Less is oftentimes more in the digital world as we move from simply being “literate” to “fluent” in this language.

So for the administrator new to the world of social media and all of the possibilities that it holds for developing instructional leadership, here are three ways that I would suggest starting to learn this summer

1) Start a Twitter Account

Twitter is not just about “what I had for breakfast” (although I did have a delicious omelette at my favourite breakfast place this morning). There are a ton of educators on Twitter that are connecting and learning from one another, while building some global relationships that will be invaluable to the future of their own professional development, as well as their schools. Two years ago, it was something that I swore to stay away from, but in those short two years, Twitter has made more of an impact on my learning than any professional development opportunity I have ever been a part of, and dare I say, much more than my undergraduate and graduate work. The learning is real, the ideas are powerful yet simple, and the connections to resources and people are infinite.

To start, simply go to Twitter and create an account. Once there, you can follow the people on this list of educators, which will immediately start filling your column with great ideas and resources. If you are lost, you can often ask questions from Twitter sherpas like Dean Shareskior Alec Couros, two guys always willing to help. You are also welcome to connect with me, and I would be more than willing to help guide you in this world that isn’t as confusing as it may seem. You can also use the Twitter Search tool and look at tweets from school administrators, or on the topic of educational leadership through the #cpchat hashtag.

If you are not sure what you want to put out there, I wrote this post, What should a networked educational leader tweet about?, to help school leaders share in a way that will benefit their own learning. Once you start to create your own Personal Learning Network (PLN), you may also want to look at creating a Twitter account for your school.

There are a ton of benefits from joining Twitter, but until you immerse yourself in using it, you will not be able to share them with those you serve.

“Go the way, know the way, show the way.” (John C. Maxwell)

2) Read Blogs

Now that you have started connecting and learning using Twitter, you will probably have figured out that most content worth sharing goes way past 140 characters. With that being said, many school administrators are looking for content specific to their position, especially since the position of school principal can be quite isolating.

A great blog to start at is the Connected Principals site, where a ton of school- and division-based administrators share some of their best work within their schools. Although this site does have some great ideas, there are many other administrator blogs out there which may be of interest to you. Edudemic does an excellent piece on 20 Educator Administrator Blogs, which will lead you to some great writing of administrators that continuously share those ideas.

If you are using Google Reader (which you have if you have a gmail account), you can easily subscribe to a bundle I have created that will update you on blogs as authors post them, which will save you from constantly checking the site for updates. (Contact me for details.) In general, there are a lot of other good educator blogs as well, which share some great ideas for your school.

There is some great information out there and hopefully this will have helped you on the right path.

3) Write a Blog

Now that you have had access to some beneficial learning through Twitter and blogging, how will you share this with your staff and the world? Many leaders find that sharing links through email is a great way to start aggregating resources for staff, but many others are annoyed by all these messages. However, with these media opening up the world, it is important that, as school leaders, we share our learning back.

Dean Shareski shared the idea that blogging makes better teachers, so it is logical that school administrators do the same:

“There’s a natural transparency that emerges. The teachers who blog as professionals in this reflective manner in my district invite anyone to look into their classrooms and you can get a picture of what happens on a daily basis. This goes a long way in addressing accountability concerns.”

So where would one even start?

Although there are plenty of blogging platforms out there (EdublogsBloggerTumblr, etc.), I would suggest using WordPress. It is free, has no advertisements and is simple to use. There is also a ton of support.

Reading other blogs, you may develop some ideas of what you want to write about, but if you are stuck, I started You Should Read, a weekly blog post that shares some great online articles that I’ve discovered. This is an easy way to start sharing some of the brilliant stuff you are reading, an easy way to start writing, and an opportunity to spark discussion with your staff and the global community. The best leaders not only can speak, but also have the ability to be good listeners. Blogging becomes a way to listen to your readers and learn from them while sharing your own knowledge.


Many look at tweeting and blogging as technocentric or even narcissistic, yet I look at them as ways of learning and connecting. There are so many real educators out there who want to get better at what they do so that they can always do what is best for kids. By opening up your own learning to the world, you will be surprised not only how your knowledge elevates, but how your passion for teaching and learning will benefit as well. Two years ago, a group of generous people spent time with me to help me learn about this awesome network, and I am glad to be doing the same for others now. Hopefully this will give you a good start.


This Edutopia post’s URL: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-PLNs-school-leaders-george-couros


“Open Data for College Affordability and Better Student Outcomes”

Reblogged from Homeroom, the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education:

Open Data for College Affordability and Better Student Outcomes

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

The Obama Administration recently launched the Education Data Initiative to help students and their families benefit from innovation enabled by open data from the US government and other sources.  By working to make education data more available and useful to entrepreneurs and innovators, we’re confident that new products and services will continue to emerge to help American families make informed educational decisions and improve student outcomes.

The Education Data Initiative is part of a series of Open Data Initiatives—other ones include energy, health, and public safety—in which the Administration is working to help catalyze the development of innovative apps and services fueled by open data, while rigorously protecting privacy and confidentiality.

Todd Park speaks at the data jam

US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park speaks at the Education Data Jam

This week, staff from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the George Washington School of Business held an Education “Data Jam” in Washington, DC.  A diverse set of educational technology experts and entrepreneurs gathered to brainstorm new applications, products, services, and product features that could be developed using open educational data to drive increases in student success.

The MyData Initiative, which encourages schools, software vendors, and others who hold student data to make it available to parents and students in electronic, machine-readable formats, was an important focus of the workshop discussion.  Allowing students to download their own data enables them to maintain their personal learning profile, access customized learning experiences, and make informed school selection and financial aid choices.  At the workshop, the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid unveiled the MyData files it will be launching for student aid application (FAFSA) and disbursement (NSLDS) data downloads. Students will soon be able to retrieve their own student aid data in machine-readable format, which they could then share with online services that can harness the data to provide customized assistance with finding scholarships, choosing schools, or repaying loans.

The Education Data Jam also focused on Federal education data sets now available at education.data.gov.  Publicly available data about education outcomes can help fuel the next generation of customized services and tools for students, teachers, and school districts.

Data from the Learning Registry, a new open-source technical system to help educators and learners use and share digital content, was also a major subject of the brainstorm.  Developers interested in connecting student performance or teacher preparation tools to appropriate content can leverage the information stored in this crowd-sourced platform.

In wrapping up the event, we challenged participants to collaborate on building tools or services using the data demonstrated at the Data Jam.  Groups who successfully implement their ideas in the next 90 days will have an opportunity to potentially be featured at a follow-on event—an “Education Datapalooza”—that will celebrate private-sector education innovation fueled by open data.  The challenge to build innovative education tools and services, for potential demonstration at the Datapalooza, is open to everyone.  Information about the data sets presented at the Data Jam is available here.  And if you’d like more details about the Education Dataplaooza or if you have an idea or an example of a private-sector innovation (a product, service, website, app, or feature) that uses open education data, please send an email to Richard.Culatta@ed.gov.