Superpowers

What if your superpower is drawing really big pictures? You might end up being part of an exhibit just as Ron Kaskuk of Athens, Illinois, demonstrates here.

Mr. Kaskuk is a professional graffiti artist adept at covering large spaces.

Enjoy!

Tap “Watch on Facebook” to see this incredibly fun–and short–video 🙂

John Harrison and the Problem of Longitude

History of the Harrison clock

Currently reading “Longitude” by Dava Sobel and gaining insight into the fascinating story of dead reckoning navigation and its deadly results. As a consequence, the Longitude Act sought a better way of determining a ship’s position in the sea.

I like this video because I wanted to see one of John Harrison’s chronometers in action. There is more history here than I had already learned from the book, and I saw his early clocks, wooden clocks, clocks without lubrication; fascinating to the mechanical side of my interests.

John Harrison and the problem of Longitude

Going Virtual in a non-Virtual World

Yesterday, the school went to a soft closure involving half our students. Some of the kids were boarding the bus (to go home for 2 weeks of home learning) with the comment that they have no internet at home.

There are always ways around this if you have transportation to the public library and the public library remains open. This is still a challenge in our rural area since the library does not have regular hours.

In the short term, many of our students will once again bend over backwards to stay up to date on their assignments. Our teachers will be doing their very best to communicate through all these challenges.

In the long term, some of our families could benefit from grants like this:

https://www.strongfamilies.idaho.gov/

https://www.strongfamilies.idaho.gov/

Schools are doing their best to get the word out. Ironically, those without the internet don’t see the offer for internet help, therefore we’ve tried to send fliers to everyone.

Another issue is that many rural locations just do not have any access to the internet or their access is very limited. We are used to this, but when several kids in a family need internet access to get the most out of their classes, the technology hurdle becomes daunting.

Information (2 pages)
More information (FAQs) – (3 pages)

Moving Forward

Ybarra, Khan Academy founder discuss online learning strategies

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on May 6, 2020

Schools chief Sherri Ybarra discussed distance learning strategies with Sal Khan and other education and technology officials Wednesday.

Ybarra didn’t take any action or mandate Idaho school officials follow any particular programs or examples. But she did say it was important to share good ideas and leverage partnerships to improve teaching during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As you know, we’ve had to move to a statewide distance learning model due to Covid-19 and we’ve seen some really great, creativity, innovation and resourcefulness among our parents and our teachers and our schools leaders,” Ybarra said. “But despite all this we’ve also encountered some challenges and some obstacles as we’ve had to make this transition.”

Sal Kahn participated in an Idaho State Department of Education distance learning webinar Wednesday.

 

Khan is the founder of the non-profit Khan Academy that offers online lessons and reaches 20 million students a month. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Khan said technology will always be secondary to good teachers. But technology can help good teachers reach more students or do more with instruction.

“I’ve always said if I had to pick between an amazing teacher and amazing technology I would pick the amazing teacher every time,” Khan said. “But the ideal is not having to pick and having the amazing technology empower the amazing teacher.”

Ybarra and the State Board of Education are working towards buying a statewide learning management system that could push content and lessons out to students as well as share communication information and resources with families. During meetings this week, Ybarra said she wants the new system to be opt-in instead of mandated.

Ybarra also said Idaho lags behind other states and school districts when it comes to online learning management systems and stressed that it will be important and challenging to ensure all families have devices and Internet connectivity.

Here are snapshots of the online learning experiences:

Lee County, Florida:

Students were on spring break in mid-March when the governor announced they would close schools for two weeks, a closure that ended up being extended through the end of the year.

The district already had a 1:1 device ratio at the secondary level, but not the elementary. The district developed a continuity plan, reached out to families and distributed 15,000 Chromebooks over three days. Then schools allowed students to sign up for free internet offered by a local provider and the district purchased 10,000 internet hotspots, which it distributed to both students and teachers who faced connectivity gaps.

District officials also developed a plan to count attendance once a week based on assignments that are completed, Zoom meetings or other contact with students. Attendance increased to 99 percent over the past two weeks, K-5 curriculum director Bethany Quisenberry said.

“Moving to distance learning was an experience to say the least,” she said.

The district uses the iReady learning management system.

Yuma Union High School District, Arizona:

Yuma has had a 1:1 device ration for about 10 years. But officials did not invest in professional development training for educators that would have to work with the devices and platforms. That was a difficult mistake, Superintendent Gina Thompson said.

“We got the stuff without the adult learning that needed to come with it, and it’s just critical,” she said. “We’ve now such an amazing team as far as teachers for the adults. That has exponentially helped us through this particular time with Covid-19.”

Thompson said Yuma officials count themselves lucky they realized their mistake and got training in place before this year’s disruptions.

“From the time of Covid-19 and the first week of posting assignments… 100 percent of our teachers have their lesson posted,” Thompson said.

Interestingly, Yuma uses Canvas as its districtwide LMS, and does not allow schools to opt-in or opt-out, which Thompson described as the right call. “We have much more robust tracking of data,” Thompson said.

Looking ahead

Ybarra said she and her staff are planning to invite Idaho superintendents to discuss their distance learning strategies during an upcoming webinar.

https://www.idahoednews.org/jspt/jspt.js

Learning Management Systems used in the Local School

Once, I read a story:

“Intelligent Architect Story:

Urban Legend?”

“When I was in college a professor told us a story about an architect (Developer) who would build all of his buildings, but put down no sidewalks. He would just plant grass. Six months later he would come back and put sidewalks down where all the paths were worn. In this way, he assured that the walks would be where the people were mostly [sic] likely to walk. The point of the story was that we should observe how people do whatever it is we are trying to model in software and then build it to work that way, thus creating ‘user friendly’ software” (Khadaji, 2005).

This past week we were able to delve into an overview of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and explore several, highlighted as the top fifty, as well as other LMS (Barrish, 2015). I use WordPress (n.d.) which is built on open-source software, so I was immediately drawn to Moodle LMS (n.d.) which is also open-source software.

“Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner” (Wikipedia Community, n.d.).

Moodle was created before cloud computing was popular, so it is a harder to set up than the current cloud-based systems, but should not be a problem for the tech specialist of the district. Because of this layer of complexity, I did not set up a Moodle account for myself. However, Moodle LMS is full featured and used by many schools and universities.

John Haire, the principal of Potlatch Elementary School graciously made time to meet with me and discuss educational software that the district uses. The district is served by one technical specialist and so there is coordination between the two buildings (Potlatch Elementary School and Potlatch Jr./Sr. High School).

Potlatch Elementary School uses Edmodo (n.d.), Class Dojo (n.d.), and Google Apps for Education (Google, n.d.). Additionally the Jr./Sr. High School uses SARA app (Dass, 2016) to keep parents aware of team scheduling programs and changes; and a program called FamilyLink by SchoolMaster (Tyler Technologies, 2015) whereby parents can subscribe to school announcements.

Comparison Chart of Several Programs:

MOODLE EDMODO CLASS DOJO GOOGLE APPS 4 ED.
Who Uses Schools, Universities, Non profit K-12 K-12 anyone
Target Customer Size 1000+
free trial students/teachers free free
Starting Price one price/user n/a
Free Trial yes always free always free
DEPLOYMENT
>Cloud, SaaS, Web yes yes yes yes
>installed Windows yes
>installed Mac yes yes
>Mobile – iOS yes yes yes
>Mobile – Android yes yes
FEATURES
>Academic/Education yes yes yes
>AICC/SCORM Compliant yes
>Asynchronous Learning yes yes
>Blended Learning yes yes
>Build In Course Authoring yes yes yes
>Certification Management yes
>Classroom Management yes yes yes yes
>Data Analysis yes yes
>CC standards integrated
>Gamification yes yes
>Gradebook yes yes yes
>K-12 yes
>Live Video Conferencing yes Google Hangout
>Mobile Learning yes yes
>Integrates with other systems yes yes
>Skills Tracking yes
>Social Learning yes yes yes yes
>Student Portal yes yes yes
>Synchronous Learning yes yes
>Testing/ Assessments yes Google Forms
>Tin Can API yes
>Progress Badges yes
SUPPORT
>24/7 (Live Rep) yes yes
>Business Hours yes
>Online yes yes yes
TRAINING
>In Person yes yes  yes
>Live Online yes yes
>Webinars yes yes
>Documentation yes yes yes yes
>Student Orientation yes

Click HERE for printable PDF chart.

Discussion

Class Dojo is used mainly for monitoring and enhancing classroom behavior, and as such is not an LMS, but rather an app created for a particular purpose. However, the other three (Moodle, Edmodo, Google Apps for Education) are true Learning Management Systems and have various strengths. Google Apps for Education can become Google Classroom with a school account. Google Classroom is a free LMS but may have drawbacks regarding student privacy (Kamenetz, 2015). Edmodo does well for how we use it, and though it may seem limited compared to the others, some of the features that are missing are not critical to our deployment.

Moodle seems the most secure as it can be installed on a district server. It is very configurable as well, but this may require coding and maintenance after installation that could be overly time consuming for a district with just one tech specialist. Furthermore, its target audience is 1000+ which is too large for our purposes.

The district seems to be doing well with what it has been given regarding budget and student security. Like paths intelligently created in the Architect Story, teachers, administrators, and students are discovering what works for us regarding educational technology. Teachers are serving our students with innovative techniques. They teach digital natives to exercise Digital Citizenship. Teachers are enjoying technical applications for the classroom as they leverage higher order learning facilitated by the readily available information found on the web.

[Disclaimer: This information was researched with time constraints imposed by an assignment deadline. If you find that I have left out important information, please LEAVE A REPLY below so that it can be corrected.]


References

Barrish, J. (2015, June 3). Best LMS (Learning Management System) software: 2015 reviews of the most popular systems. Retrieved from Capterra: http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/#infographic

Barrish, J., & Capterra. (2015, June 3). Moodle vs. Edmodo: Best LMS (Learning Management System) software. Retrieved from Capterra: http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/#infographic

ClassDojo. (n.d.). ClassDojo: Happier students, happier classrooms! Retrieved from ClassDojo: https://www.classdojo.com/

Dass, R. (2016). SARA. Retrieved from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sara/id903509669?mt=8

Edmodo. (n.d.). Welcome to Edmodo: The safest and easiest way for educators to connect and collaborate with students, parents, and each other. Retrieved from Edmodo: https://www.edmodo.com/

Google. (n.d.). Google for Education. Retrieved from Google: https://www.google.com/edu/

Kamenetz, A. (2015, December 8). Google hit with a student privacy complaint. Retrieved from NPRed: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/12/08/458460509/google-hit-with-a-student-privacy-complaint

Khadaji [screen name]. (2005, May 25). Intelligent architect story: Urban legend? Retrieved from Straight Dope Message Board: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-318296.html

Mattina, K. (2014, October 8). Google Classroom vs Edmodo. Retrieved from The Tech Lady: http://thetechlady-km.blogspot.com/2014/10/google-classroom-vs-edmodo.html

Moodle. (n.d.). Moodle; Community driven, globally supported. Retrieved from Moodle: https://moodle.org/

Tyler Technologies. (2015, January). Schoolmaster FamilyLink; Family Web Portal. Retrieved from Schoolmaster: http://www.schoolmaster.com/pdfs/FamilyLink.pdf

Wikipedia Community. (n.d.). Open-Source Software. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software

WordPress. (n.d.). WordPress. Retrieved from WordPress.org: https://wordpress.org/