Virtual School Meanderings

August 6, 2014

[Lists] New Education Resources

For my British Columbian readers…

We are very pleased to announce that Open School BC will now host two websites we had developed.

Being Victorian and Victoria: Capital of BC

Developed for the Provincial Capital Commission to highlight the city of Victoria and her history, these sites are excellent resources for Grade 10 Social Studies or Grades 4 or 5 Socials, Science, Language Arts or Drama.

The Being Victorian Website<> describes how the real Victoria was a much more interesting place than we imagine it was. This site also links to the free teacher’s guide with background information, activities and marking guides for Grade 10 Social Studies.

The Victoria, Capital of BC site<> features an interactive map of the old city with a clickable timeline of significant historical events. This highly interactive and engaging educational site also includes a Teacher’s Page with a downloadable Activity Package.

These sites are two more examples of the resources that Open School BC continues to develop for the students, parents and educators of BC. Watch for a new Victoria: Capital of BC Features Page<> in the new school year.

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July 9, 2014

Come Join Me At Webinar: How To Be A Skilled Online Researcher On CEET NING

This may be of interest to some folks, particularly those who may be interested in getting engaged in action research.

Sandy Hirtz

Sandy Hirtz has invited you to the event ‘Webinar: How to be a skilled online researcher’ on CEET NING!

Check out “Webinar: How to be a skilled online researcher” on CEET NING

Sandy Hirtz

Webinar: How to be a skilled online researcher Time: July 15, 2014 from 1pm to 2pm
Location: Online
Organized By: Sandy Hirtz

Event Description:
Skilled online researchers typically have certain behavior sets, mindsets and beliefs that inform their approach to every research project. We call these Online Research Habitudes, a combination of habits and attitudes without which no researcher can succeed. Crucially, teachers must learn to model for students the habitudes of a skilled researcher. This session will help teachers do that with ease, intentionality and confidence.
Time is 1pm Pacific (4pm Eastern)
See more details and RSVP on CEET NING:

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July 8, 2014

CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summit – Themed/Moderated Discussion

Canadian E-Learning Network LogoContinuing blogging from the CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summer Summit here in Toronto, which is thematically entitled “Blended and Online Learning in Canada: State of the Nation.”  The third session was described as:

Themed/Moderated Discussion

  • Group roundtable discussion on emergent topics from morning session
  • What can a national network (CANeLearn) do for you to support K-12 blended and online learning in your school/district/province?

Essentially, the room was divided into six different tables where were discussed at the table some of the issues that came out of the panel discussion this morning – and what the potential national network (i.e., CANeLearn) can do to address the needs of the folks in the room.  Based on Randy’s distillation of what has come up in the online registration information, previous CANeLearn meetings, and today’s sessions thus far, we generated some initial topics:

  • Content
  • Open
  • Research (shared stories)
  • Social media
  • Professional learning
  • Time – to collaborate, network, etc. (Relationships)
  • Accessibility
  • Assessment
  • Structures/Policies
  • Professional development
  • Language
  • BYOD/Privacy/Digital Divide

We prioritized the top six – as we had six tables in the room – research, content, open, assessment, BYOD, and professional development.

Personally, I sat at the research table and we had a lively discussion.  We actually settled on expanding the topic to research and evaluation – and discussed everything from the differences between research and evaluation to the availability of program evaluations from K-12 online learning programs themselves to the availability of research (or knowledge of it) to formalizing and publicizing teacher action research.

In terms of CANeLearn, we thought that the network could help facilitate evaluation and research projects – and have those contracts run through the network; identifying, documenting, and communicating research; advocating for better data collection and responsiveness from programs and departments; and providing opportunities for those interested in doing research.

I’ll ask that folks who may have been at the other tables to post what they talked about in the comments area.  I should note that the “Open” table posted their notes as a Google Doc at




CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summit – Panel Discussion

Canadian E-Learning Network LogoAs I mentioned in the previous entry, today I am attending the CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summer Summit here in Toronto, which is thematically entitled “Blended and Online Learning in Canada: State of the Nation.”  I’m continuing to blog the sessions.  So the second session was described as:

Panel Discussion – Emerging Trends in K-12 Blended and Online Learning: A Pan-Canadian View

Join in a lively discussion on State of the Nation of Blended and Online Learning across Canada as panelists engage directly with delegates and wrestle with finding successful strategies to support blended and online learning approaches in classroom and school programs across the country. Provide direct input into how the Canadian eLearning Network (, a pan-Canadian national organization, can help support your efforts in your own classroom, school, program, region, and province.

Check out the latest information from the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada publication and report prior to joining in with the panel (

Discussion Format:

  • Panelists will provide brief opening remarks of 3-5 minutes on emerging trends in their programs.
  • Moderators will invite questions and comments from the audience. Please keep your remarks brief. If you can’t say it in under a minute, folks will likely tune you out.
  • We will curate the conversation on the back channel (Twitter hashtag #canelearn) and bring it into the live discussion (BYOD).
  • Panelists may also ask questions of the audience.
  • Audience members may add to the discussion with their own successes, issues, and insights.

The session is not intended to be a panel of experts presenting their ideas with a chance for audience questions. It is a planned and structured dialogue. Much of which will flow to the afternoon workshop session for further discussion, and to foyer and lunchtime conversations that are a key part of this networking event.

Tuesday’s panel dialogue is an opportunity to try to make Blended and Online Learning “real” and share openly the risks, challenges, and problems associated with developing flexible learning practices in a manner that augments good teaching, fosters greater learning, and leverages today’s tools for tomorrow’s leaders.

Tuesday’s keynote and panel are intended to inform our emerging national network and help us to leverage a national voice to support our work in our provinces, regions, schools and classrooms.

The panelists included:

The session began with a 3-5 minute introduction and background to each of the individuals, their programs, and the challenges they are facing in their own jurisdictions.  I didn’t take notes from each, but you can go and look at each of the programs following the links above.

After the introductions, we had some of questions from the audience.  The first focused on measuring the effectiveness of K-12 online learning – both in terms of success/completion and retention.  I use the term success/completion because most of the panelists that did respond defined success rate the same as completion rate – and a completion was considered a passing grade.

This transitioned to a question/discussion about the under-representation of learning disabled students in K-12 online learning and the fact that many of the non-completers or non-retainers are likely these kinds of students, the question focused more on what programs are doing to address the needs of these students.  This naturally led into some of the specific supports that online programs are providing, with several of the panelists indicating things that they do with their individual populations.  This also occurred at the same time a brief discussion about “best practices” occurred on Twitter – to which I contributed that the idea of best practices were a myth, as education is so individual and contextual (and I think that the variety of approaches each of the panelists described to supporting students speaks to this notion that there aren’t a specific set of “best practices”).




CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summit – What’s The Future Look Like Now That We Are All Online Learners? How Did We Get Here And Where Are We Going?

Canadian E-Learning Network LogoSo today I am attending the CANeLearn 2014: Ontario Summer Summit here in Toronto, which is thematically entitled “Blended and Online Learning in Canada: State of the Nation.” As this is a K-12 online learning event, I want to blog the session (as is my pattern). So the first session was described as:

Opening Keynote
Dr. Bill Muirhead, Associate Provost UOIT

What’s The Future Look Like Now That We Are All Online Learners? How Did We Get Here And Where Are We Going?

The talk will examine the questions that arise both from the history of online learning to the current practices within the k-12 sector. Bill will draw parallels between online learning within the higher education sector with that of K-12, while providing a vision of the many possible futures for learning in the 21st century.

Bill began his talk by talking about his own background in educational technology, and specifically K-12 online learning.  For those that are interested in his scholarship, check him out on Google Scholar.

He then said that he was going to ask, contextualize, and discuss a series of questions that folks in our positions need to figure out.  The questions that he asked of us was:

  • What is the role of information and communication technology in supporting and/or informing a vision for learning?
  • Has the K-12 schooling system changed profoundly or superficially?
  • The power of language to define our reality – do we talk about students, children, learners, young learner, adolescent learner, delayed adulthood learner, adult learner, dependent learner, independent learner, school socialization, family socialization?  How does this change in online learning?
  • Online schooling vs. face-to-face schooling – Why do we speak of these as opposites vs. a continuum?
  • What is “content” for learning and how has it changed?
  • Is online learning for the rich? BYOD vs. school provided devices; Internet at home – at school – everyone; mobility for all, some of for the few?
  • What is interaction?  What has changed in schools or shall I say learning settings?
  • Returning to a vision for online learning…  what has changed and what has remained the same?
  • What do we do now that everyone is learning online?

I didn’t take comprehensive notes on what Bill said about each of these questions, but it was a fascinating listen…

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