Virtual School Meanderings

December 30, 2009

2009 Tax Tips — 2010 Conference — 10 New Years Resolutions — Games and Education — Watch Free NDLW Webinars

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Donations (Membership/Sponsorship) made by December 31, 2009, can be credited as an itemized deduction on your 2009 taxes. This is open to everyone (Members and Non-Members). This would be a great time to become a member, sponsor, register for the conference, etc. Already a paid member in 2009…make sure you have your receipts for your deductions. ( )

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The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) 2010 National Conference is the premier event for professionals in the distance learning industry. This year’s conference (May 2 -5, 2010) promises to deliver an action-packed agenda that will bring together distance learning practioners from across the country to St. Louis, Missouri.

2009 AwardsThe format of the event allows attendees to learn about relevant topics from many different points of view. The moderate size makes it possible for attendees to actively participate.

This conference is an opportunity to share ideas, learn about distance learning programs and products, and gain a better understanding of the field. It provides participants with a wonderful opportunity to establish new relationships and contacts with others involved in distance learning.

You are invited to participate in the USDLA 2010 National Conference which will be held at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Join us and find out what makes this conference so special.

New Years Resolutions…
Jamie Littlefield
Jamie Littlefield Distance Learning Guide
USDLA Advisory Board Member


Source: / URL:

Start the New Year off right by resolving to succeed in your studies. These 10 goals can help.

1. Get organized. When you know where everything is, it’s easier to complete assignments. Start the new year by organizing your home office and finding a place for all your school materials. Having your textbooks and reference materials nearby can help, as can bookmarking essential online reference sites.

2. Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is the #1 enemy of online students. This year, post a list of the benefits of earning an online degree to remind yourself to stick with it. Then, think of some strategies to keep yourself motivated during the year.

3. Make a home office. Having a place to yourself can be a great way to help you focus on your studies. Start the year off right by designing the perfect home office in a spare bedroom or secluded space.

4. Build contacts. Building an online social life with your peers and professors can help you stay connected to your studies. The people you meet through your course may end up being great business contacts and professional references in the future.

5. Update your resume. Show off what you’ve learned from your online classes with a resume that sparkles. Use the proper resume format and be sure to use active adjectives and powerful verbs that cast your studies in the best light.

6. Save money. Everyone likes to save a few extra bucks. Find out how much distance learning costs and look for ways to cut costs. Try applying for scholarships and other types of financial aid. Before the semester begins, save on textbooks buy purchasing through online retailers and be sure to take advantage of any tax breaks that are available to students.

7. Make time for family and friends. Don’t let your distance learning become a barrier to spending quality time with those you love. Schedule quality time in advance and come up with ways to balance family and school.

8. Speed up your studies. This year, try to think of ways to get your degree faster. You may want to consider using a credit bank or applying for life experience credit.

9. Make use of technology. An up-to-date, working computer can help you make the most of your studies. This year, consider updating your computer hardware, such as your hard drive, processor, or memory. You may also want to look into purchasing basic software programs if you don’t already have them. Finally, be sure to keep your machine virus free by downloading anti-virus programs and checking your computer regularly.

10. Celebrate your successes. Find ways to reward yourself for a job well done. If you’re graduating this year, a unique graduation celebration may be the perfect conclusion to your distance studies.

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Some Good Reading on Games & Education…

By David Kushner
Published: 12/20/2009
Source: PARADE
Link to article:

On a fall morning at a public school in New York City, sixth-graders are called to sit down at their desks. At first glance, it looks like any other middle-school science classroom. There’s an aquarium full of tiny turtles and a harried teacher fumbling with a projector.

Games ImageBut then the instructor boots up the day’s lesson: a video game. The students watch as the tiny dolls in PlayStation 3’s LittleBigPlanet (pictured) hop through a maze of contraptions onscreen. The game is being used to introduce them to Newtonian physics, and as part of their coursework, the kids will be required to build devices similar to the ones they’ve just seen.

This is the inaugural class of Quest to Learn (Q2L), the first-ever school in the U.S. built on the innovative approach of games-based learning. While many American schools use computers and games, Q2L is the first to follow a curriculum entirely focused on video games. Its 72 sixth-grade students-guided by six teachers-study and explore subjects through role-playing activities and computer-driven interactive quests instead of textbooks and lectures. They work together on gamelike “missions,” solving puzzles and completing challenges as teams. Their courses have been combined into multidisciplinary “domains” like Codesworlds, a blend of math and English, and Sports for the Mind, a mix of art and physical education. At semester’s end, the pupils won’t take finals; they’ll reach the next level, like at the end of a game. More…

To read more:

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New research on gaming design and brain plasticity offers more perspectives on educational gaming
By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor
Source: eSchool News
Link to article:

Playing action video games on a regular basis can alter a player’s attention skills.
As video games continue to permeate our culture, schools and students are increasingly interested in using video games for learning. This interest has prompted universities and neurologists to explore what makes a successful educational game, what the current barriers to adoption are, and how gaming as a whole affects the brain.

Games PhotoAccording to a recent paper by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), games, when developed correctly and used appropriately, can engage players in learning that is specifically applicable to school curriculum-and teachers can leverage the learning in these games without disrupting the worlds of either “play” or school.

“Moving Learning Games Forward: Obstacles, Opportunities, and Openness,” by Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen of the Education Arcade, an MIT research division that explores games that promote learning through play, explains why educational games have seen an increase in popularity: mainly owing to the advances in consumer games.

For example, commercial games have not only exposed new audiences to gaming but have expanded the range of education games, growing the conceptual areas they can reach. This, the paper states, is partly a result of greater experimentation with content and game mechanics that stems from new technologies and gaming genres.

“Consumer games are also changing the perception of the nature of video games, making them more accepted in a greater diversity of places. For example, gaming is becoming part of … the activities in senior centers, libraries, museums,” and the workplace, says the report. “They are also providing cheaper and easier ways to reach everyone, making open access to games a reality.”  More…

To read more:

Additional reports related to this article:
1.    “Moving Learning Games Forward” (PDF)
2.    MIT’s Education Arcade
3.    “Game Changer” (PDF)
4.    Joan Ganz Cooney Center
5.    Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester
6.    The Brain Development Lab at the University of Oregon
7.    National Center for Technology Innovation

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NDLW Webinars

All Webinars Sponsored & Hosted by Elluminate
For more information about Elluminate, please e-mail
Heather Clevenger at or call 614.319.3328

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1. Pre K-12/HomeSchooling
This webinar explored how the use of related information, communication, and educational technologies are being used to support and improve Pre K-12 / home school based learning and student achievement.
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2. Higher Education
This webinar explored a broad range of issues related to the institution’s/unit’s practices and procedures as new global campuses become the norm and the traditional education landscape transforms.
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3. Blending Learning
This webinar explored the economy of scale and power of blended learning which is derived from its “elasticity”: the ability to integrate a variety of synchronous and asynchronous media allowing the instructional designer to attain the most appropriate blended learning solution. Download your FREE copy of the USDLA Instructional Media Selection Guide for Distance Learning authored by Dr. Jolly Holden and Dr. Philip Westfall.
Download FREE Guide:
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4. Game-based Learning
This webinar explored a broad range of issues related to Game-based Learning and some of the trends seen in this growing market.
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5. Inspiring Teachers’ Use of Curriculum Videoconferencing: What Works
Teachers are the most important key to implementing any new technology innovation. So how to do you hook teachers on curriculum videoconferencing? Learn what works in Southwest Michigan and apply these principles to your own school.
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6. Military / Government: **VETERANS DAY SPECIAL**
This webinar explored training, educating and benefits across the U.S. military. In excess of $20 billion is spent to train and educate service members each year, involving the delivery of thousands of courses for hundreds of specialized occupational areas. In addition, other governmental organizations are dealing with how to bridge that gap in a technology driven ever increasing globalize economy.
·    Speaker 1: CAPT Hank Reeves , Navy eLearning (NEL)
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·    Speaker 2: Angel Mendoza, American InterContinental University
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·    Speaker 3: Dr. Keysha Gamor, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL)
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·    Speaker 4: Douglas B. Maxwell, NAVSEA Warfare Centers Division Newport
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7. Public Policy
This webinar explored today’s policy initiatives which drive information and communication technologies with a focus on distance learning opportunities for education and training. To that end and in order to support, accelerate and fulfill the tremendous potential of distance learning and its impact on education and training technologies, the USDLA Public Policy Committee supports an open discussion forum.
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8. USDLA and Membership: Chapters, Membership and How to Get Involved!
This webinar explored the United States Distance Learning Association, which is a non-profit organization formed in 1987 and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance education and training constituencies served include pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling, as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets.
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9. Mobile learning
This webinar explored the new undiscovered learning environment and how it is changing the way the world learns and interacts in a global multi-billion dollar education and training market.
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10. International: Culture, Language and Collaborative Learning Globally
This webinar explored a broad range of issues related to collaborative learning globally.
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If you have received this e-mail in error or wish to be removed from the distribution list please hit the (unsubscribe) link below and then delete the message. We have taken precautions to minimize the risk of transmitting software viruses but we advise that you carry out your own virus checks on any attached message.  Please be advised that USDLA and its affiliates do not sell mailing lists or provide customer information to other organizations. Your e-mail address is used to maintain member and customer contact information and provide notification of new distance learning, education and training news, activities and events.

The United States Distance Learning Association is a non-profit organization formed in 1987 and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance education and training constituencies served include pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets. The USDLA trademarked logo is the recognized worldwide symbol of dedicated professionals committed to the distance learning industry.

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