Friday, June 23, 2017

ISTE 2017 Coming Soon

Doing my best to keep up with all things ISTE17.  Beyond my twitter feed, I am trying to capture some higlhights, especially poster area student presentations.  Below is some quick interviews/ videos.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Interview with E-Learning Expert- Dr. Liz Hardy

Over the past few years my work has led me to explore the potential and pitfalls of Online Learning.  It is a very new and trending industry and examples of both good, bad, and ugly abound.  As a matter of fact, I found lots of the E-Learning/ Online Learning Courses that I came across that were very dry and dull.  In essence, lecture style teachers were simply bringing their lecture style into an online platform.   While some teachers are certainly brilliant orators, I found that this was limiting the power of e-learning technologies.

So in my research, I came across the work of Dr. Liz Hardy.  Liz's work has been laser focused on making Online Learning, engaging and powerful.  Liz is in New Zealand, so our time zones were difficult to schedule an interview, so she kindly answered my questions via Google Docs.  Here are her insights into the future and possibility of Online Learning and education.

Bio:  Dr. Liz Hardy is the founder of, which shows online teachers how to work smarter - not harder.

Where to find her work:

My Interview: 

  1. Liz, I have been drawn to your work because you are very focused on Online Learning.  Can you tell me your learning process with OL ?  

My learning process involved jumping in at the deep end of e-learning, and starting to swim right away! I was suddenly teaching several courses in topics new to me, and I got very focused, very quickly! I asked a lot of questions of my poor colleagues, and trusted my own ability to adapt to my new environment and find my way around.

Part of the problem when you’re just starting out is it’s so hard to know if you’re doing a good job or not - and so you work like a maniac to prove yourself. That’s only natural - but it’s not sustainable (and early on, your methods are not efficient).

That’s one of the reasons I created SimpliTeach, actually - to save other online teachers the pain of working 24/7 to achieve the same result they could in much less time if they used better techniques.

  1. What do you think the future of Online Learning looks like?

The movement into gamification and mobile learning are talked about a lot, as ways of meeting the ongoing challenge of engaging learners who are overcommitted and highly mobile.  

Technological developments are always interesting (and of course necessary), but I think it’s vitally important to focus on the human side of learning first and foremost. There really has to be some rapport and trust in a teaching/learning relationship to get the best results.

  1. What projects are you working on?

I’m really excited about some revolutionary online teacher training courses I’ve developed! They’re revolutionary because they’re highly relevant and actually produce results.
I think we’ve all wasted time on professional development activities that have taught us nothing.

In my experience, professional development courses often give you one of two extreme experiences:

  1. They’re dry and crushingly boring, or
  2. They’re pointless, and just plain annoying! I went on a course once that involved getting up every hour and walking around, flailing my arms to “shake up the energy in the room” before getting back to drawing on brown paper with crayons. Why, why why?

I want to offer online teachers the opposite of these kinds of experiences - targeted, online training that they’ll actually enjoy, and which gives them insider information they can apply right away.
That’s why I offer courses like:

“Hunting & Gathering 101: Survival Skills for New Online Teachers” - which shows new online teachers how to do a stunning job from day one of their first semester, and

“E-learning Stardom: Take Your Teaching Career to the Next Level” - which shows more experienced online teachers how to get the rewards they deserve for all their hard work!

  1. Tell me about Simpliteach?  What is its mission?

I founded SimpliTeach to show online teachers how to work smarter.

Over the last 10 years when teaching 5,000+ online students at all levels, I’ve noticed some recurring challenges, for both teachers and students. From talking to my network of online teachers and from doing a lot of reading, I saw that there was a need for some real-world solutions to these challenges.

So I draw on my own experiences, the experiences of my colleagues, and the wealth of published material out there to create simple, practical strategies for online teachers to do a fantastic job.

  1. Do you see Social Media and online learning coming together?  VR?

I’d say it’s inevitable - there are already lots of ways to use Facebook and Twitter as tools for both teachers and learners. But as I said above, I really believe you have to prioritise the human element and remember the technology is a tool.

Speed Geek Questions:  Spin the Wheel 3 Times and answer the questions.
ex. first computer? Favorite operating system?  Star wars or star trek?

Star Wars or Star Trek or Harry Potter

Star Trek, because they’re always up for an adventure - whether it involves climbing plastic rocks on an alien planet, outsmarting The Borg on cube-shaped ships, or dreaming up computer-generated fantasy worlds on the holodeck!

Although I do love the talking paintings in Harry Potter, and I have something of an owl obsession.

Favorite Social Network

Twitter - I’m amazed at how you CAN have meaningful conversations in 140 characters!

How do you Unplug From Technology

I like to go away for the weekend to one of the little country towns near me in New Zealand - drink in the 40,000 shades of green in the landscape, and keep a keen eye out for hobbits! I always bring a notebook with me (the paper type!) because I’m usually working on new ideas for SimpliTeach or my other websites...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Jen Giffen

Watch the Interview Streamed Live  HERE

Recently I attended the Canada Connect Conference, in Niagara Falls Ontario.  It was a really engaging conference with lots of good sessions and fantastic presenters.  During the presentation I did with colleague, Melanie Kitchen, I had a great conversation with Jen Giffen.  Jen had a lot of great ideas of her own and I could tell we could have talked edtech for a lot longer.  So I asked her to come on the #CWAG Program and tell me more.  I will ask her about the conference and her thoughts on the state of Edtech in Canada and in the schools she works with.  Can't wait to chat.

Here is a little bit more about Jen:

Jen Giffen currently works as a Digital Literacy Resource Teacher with the York Region District School Board, just north of Toronto, ON..

She earned her B.Ed (I/S English and Mathematics) at Queen's University and her M.Ed (Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning) at OISE at the University of Toronto.

She is a Sketchnoter, Google for Education Certified Trainer, and Apple Teacher. She has a keen interest in EdTech and is always looking for new tools to enhance the learning environment to engage students and increase critical thinking skills.

She spends her free time playing with her three little boys and coaching and participating in competitive cheerleading.

Connecting with Jen:
Twitter:  @virtualgiff  
Instagram: @virtualgiff  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gaming and Gamification Part 3: Tangential Learning- The Trojan Horse Every Teacher/ Parent Needs to Know About

Many of us have learned about the story of the "Trojan Horse".  A good summary of the story can be found HERE (Shmoop)

This story came to mind when I heard about the concept of Tangential Learning.  Many educators I have talked to have not heard of this concept, and yet, I would argue EVERY educator and parent should know about it.  So in a nutshell, what exactly is it?  Well the classic definition is this:  Tangential learning is the process by which people educate themselves on a topic when it is presented in a context that they enjoy (source).  A really great video on the concept can be viewed below:  ****There is a 4 letter word in this video*** For Parents and Teachers its worth watching anyway.

I experienced tangential learning as a child watching the cartoons and movies.  How many of you remember Bugs Bunny Cartoons?  These cartoons featured Al Capone type Mobsters, Beethoven Musical Selections, and Napoleonic adversaries galore.  It wasn't until years later that I realized the cartoons contained snippets of classic music and art that I was able to remember for schoolwork and quizzes.  
Today's gaming climate offers an incredible amount of tangential learning possibilities.  From the classic WWII games like Medal of Honor to the most recent Assassin's Creed, history topics abound.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Katie Garner

WHEN:  April 17th, 2017
TIME:  4:00pm Eastern

Katie Garner uses brain based research and practices to help children read.  Connecting with Katie can be done in a variety of ways but a good place to start is her website:

A little bit more about Katie:
Katie Garner, M.Ed. (author of the best selling book, SECRET STORIES®—Cracking the Reading Code with the Brain in Mind!) is an internationally known educational speaker, author and literacy consultant with twenty five years of combined classroom experience and a passion for infusing neuroscience into early literacy learning. Her "backdoor-to-the-brain" approach to phonics skill mastery via the affective “feeling” domain shifts the paradigms associated with early literacy skill instruction, gaining national recognition with the No Child Left Behind, Reading First, and RTI Initiatives. As a featured and keynote speaker at education, reading and early childhood conferences across the United States and abroad—including an ongoing keynote series at the Vulnerable Learners Summits with North American literacy leaders, Dr. Richard Allington ("What Really Matters for Struggling Readers") and Dr. Anne Cunningham (National Early Literacy Panel “NELP” Report)— Katie shares "brain-changing" strategies for boosting early reading instruction with the latest neural research showing how our brains learn best. Her practical and proven methods for bringing neuroscience into the forefront of literacy learning have been shared in both lecture and panel discussions at Harvard University and MIT as part of the Learning and the Brain Conference and Research Consortium and are the subject of an upcoming professional development book series.

Connect with Katie:  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Coffee with a Geek Giveaway

The Coffee with a Geek series has always had a mission of bringing, "in the trenches" educators' thoughts and ideas to a wider audience.  I have been so grateful to know that educators' from all over the world have watched the videos.  I have been thinking that it would be nice to somehow show appreciation for my guests and viewers.  I was excited to learn about Amazon's new Giveaway option.  You can now create your own personalized giveaway through various criterion. 
So with Rachelle's interview I am giving this a try by offering 10 Kindle copies of the 
#EduMatch: Snapshot in Education (2016) book by Sarah Thomas, in which Rachelle writes a chapter.  .  Hope you like this idea.  Any feedback you would like to offer would be wonderful!

This is my first attempt at this so I hope I didn't make it too hard.  I will try again with my next interview and hope to make a different type of giveaway so stay tuned.

Good Luck and THANK YOU!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Interview with Rachelle Dene Poth

Video Link:  HERE

I'm really looking forward to chatting with Rachelle Dene Poth.  Here is Rachelle's Bio:

"I am a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. I am also an attorney and have a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. I have presented at conferences such as ISTE, FETC, PETE&C, PSMLA and additional local edtech and foreign language conferences. I am the Communications Chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network, a Member at Large for Games & Sims, the Innovations and Resources Co-Chair for the Teacher Education Network and the PAECT Historian.  I was recently selected as the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT (the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications in Technology, the PA affiliate of ISTE).
I am an author, I wrote chapter 3 of the Edumatch book “Snapshot in Education 2016”, and my chapter on Blended Learning. I am a contributing author to the upcoming publication “Gamify Literacy” from ISTE. I also blog regularly, several publications I am happy to guest blog for.I continue to look for opportunities to highlight student work and student voice."

Want to connect or follow Rachelle?

Twitter @rdene915