Virtual School Meanderings

July 8, 2011

Kick Off Summer With Our Open Educational Resources Webinar Series – July eNews

From yesterday’s inbox.  Several K-12 items this month…

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Brittany From the Editor – July Highlights

It’s finally here—the release month for SoftChalk 7! At the end of this month we will premier SoftChalk Smart Mobile, CONNECT Plus and a variety of other exciting new features and enhancements. Be the first to experience the new features by registering for a sneak peek webinar today!

We’re also launching a new open educational resources (OER) webinar series! We have a monthly webinar set up for the next few months that will feature some of the top names in open educational resources. These experts will be explaining what OER is, why it’s important and how to find or create your own OERs. See the full descriptions and register to attend below.

Be sure not to miss any of the other July highlights: How YouTube videos can enhance your teaching, an update to the Blackboard 9 Building block, this month’s featured Innovators vignette and what conferences we’ll be at this month!

Read on to find out all the details…

-Brittany, your SoftChalk news editor

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Be the First to Experience the Amazing New Features of SoftChalk 7

Late this month, SoftChalk will launch SoftChalk 7 featuring SoftChalk Smart Mobile and other exciting new enhancements! We’re also premiering CONNECT Plus, our cloud-based, Learning Object Repository—PLUS powerful, new subscription based services that allow you to create, deliver, assess, collaborate and share educational content easily and without an LMS!

Sign up now for a sneak peek webinar:

Monday, July 11 2:00pm ET
Tuesday, July 26 1:00pm ET
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Innovators OER Webinar Series
This month, we’re launching a brand new OER webinar series featuring big names in the OER space. Attend all the webinars over the course of the next few months and you’ll be an OER superstar. Open Educational Resources Series, Session 1:

Defining OER: The WHAT and the WHY

What is an Open Educational Resource? Why is the OER movement growing in popularity so quickly? Why would you want to use or create OER materials? How do you license OER materials?

In the first of this OER webinar series, Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, will answer these questions and more in an interview by Mitchell Levy, CEO of Happy About. Cathy is formerly the Director of OER Initiatives at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She was also Senior Partner and the Vice President for Innovation and Open Networks at the Carnegie Foundation. Several OER collections will be reviewed including College Open Textbooks, Connexions, MERLOT and SoftChalk CONNECT.

Tuesday, July 19
11am PT | 12pm MT | 1pm CT | 2pm ET

no imageOpen Educational Resources Series, Session 2:

Finding and Using OER: The WHERE and the WHEN

Where can you find quality OERs? Where are they distributed, and where and when should you use them? Are they easy to find? What kind of standards (quality, accessibility, licensing) are relevant and why are they important?

Cathy Swift from MERLOT will provide an overview of these and other questions to consider as you discover, use, repurpose and share OERs. Rob Abel from IMS Global will address the licensing and standards questions. The session will include demonstrations of how different OER collections (College Open Textbooks, Connexions, MERLOT and SoftChalk CONNECT) can be used to find appropriate, quality content. You’ll also see OERs in action as Malissa Attebery, Online Instructional Designer at Lone Star College-Online in Texas, demonstrates how she transformed a comprehensive WWII history eText by Henry (Jud) Sage, Professor at Northern Virginia Community College, into an engaging, interactive learning experience.

Wednesday, August 17
12pm PT | 1pm MT | 2pm CT | 3pm ET

no imageOpen Educational Resources Series, Session 3:

Creating OER: The WHO and the HOW

Who is developing OERs? Who should be? How are they doing it? How can standards allow OER content interoperability? How can standards assure quality? How can you get started? How can you find the tools for creating OER content?

These questions, and more, will be answered by Rob Abel from IMS Global and others. In addition we will discuss different models for developing OER materials and demonstrate various authoring tools for creating OER content. Models for OER development will include work by the math department at the College of the Redwoods. You will also see how Jacque Cain from Tacoma Community College, as part of a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation grant, re-purposed Sherlock Holmes stories to create a full online course in Remedial English.

Wednesday, September 21
12pm PT | 1pm MT | 2pm CT | 3pm ET

no imageThe OER series is sponsored by College Open Textbooks, Connexions, IMS Global, MERLOT and SoftChalk. Follow the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #OERseries.

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Webinars How YouTube Videos Can Enhance Your Teaching

A recent study hosted by Babson Survey Research Group found that professors consider YouTube the most useful social media tool for both teaching and non-classroom professional use. Nearly a third of respondents said they instructed students to watch online videos as homework, and about 73 percent said they thought YouTube videos were either somewhat or very valuable for classroom use, regardless of whether they use them currently.

This isn’t news to most SoftChalk users, as many of you are already utilizing YouTube videos in your lessons. Just in case you’re not familiar, it’s very easy to integrate YouTube videos directly into your content without leaving your desktop using SoftChalk’s Media Search tool. Here’s the simple process:

5 Easy Steps to Embed a YouTube Video

  1. In SoftChalk, use the Media Search tool (Tools/Media Search) to search YouTube for a video you want to use.
  2. Select a video by clicking the text for the item under the Result column.
  3. Click Insert to put the video into your lesson.
  4. Click Close to return to your main editing window when you’re finished with your searches.
  5. When you insert an item from a site such as YouTube a Widget placeholder appears in your main editing window. When you preview the lesson in your browser, your content will be coming from the originating site (e.g. YouTube).
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Annoucements SoftChalk Blackboard Building Block Support Update

The latest version of the SoftChalk Blackboard (Bb) Building block (1.0.7) now has a “synch” feature called the Synchronize Copied Content tool. After you copy a course, or export and import a course in Bb 9, it will synch all of the SoftChalk ScoreCenter content with the Bb gradebook so that it is ready to go for the next semester. To learn more check out the latest blog post from the SoftChalk Support Center.

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Innovators Innovator Vignette – Lesson Plans, Multimedia Content and Interactive Whiteboards
Join Diane Painter, a special education teacher-educator of Shenandoah University, as she gives a brief overview of Verizon Foundation’s website and shares some of the lessons that she created to support K-5 content. See her SoftChalk activities such as photo album, sorting, jigsaw puzzle, DragNDrop, labeling activities that sparked the interest and active learning of her elementary-aged students. She will also share a brief video of an eight-year-old student using the interactive whiteboard. Take a quick look at the short “vignette” by playing the YouTube video below. Who knows, it might inspire you to check out the full archived webinar.

Diane Painter's Session

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Where You Can Find Us This MonthSoftChalk travels to many conferences throughout the year. This month you’ll find us at the conferences listed below. Planning on attending? Be sure to stop by our booth, say hello and find out more about SoftChalk!

Emerging Technologies
July 11-13
San Jose, CA
Booth #310
Visit the Website

BbWorld 2011
July 12-14
Las Vegas, NV
Booth #1600
Visit the Website

MoodleMoot US West Coast
July 13-14
Rohnert Park, CA
Booth #2
Visit the Website

Campus Technology
Transforming Technologies For Higher Education
July 25-28
Boston, MA
Booth #762
Visit the Website

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Webinars Learn More About SoftChalk Introductory Webinars
Our general webinars include introductions to SoftChalk, the award-winning content authoring solution; SoftChalk CONNECT, our learning object repository; and ScoreCenter, an easy and reliable way to track student scores from the Blackboard gradebook. For more information or to register, go to Courses
Check out our FREE online training sessions! SoftChalk Short Courses are live, one-hour training webinars, conducted online by a SoftChalk instructor. The courses typically include a presentation and examples, as well as an opportunity for you to ask questions and receive assistance from the instructor. For more information or to register, go to

Innovator Vignettes
SoftChalk’s Innovators in Online Learning webinar series highlights educators who are using SoftChalk in innovative ways. Take a quick look at what all the excitement is about by checking out some of the 5-10 minute Innovators previews. To view the previews or to register for an upcoming Innovators webinar go to

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