Visioning for a New Learning Landscape at iSummit Conference

Educators gathered at the iSummit Conference in Atlanta to explore and envision iSummitLogohow to best transform the learning landscape.

Held June 10 and 11, the iSummit Conference, a two-day retreat in Atlanta, was brimming with collaboration, enthusiasm, and learning. Director of Innovation and Digital Learning at Eanes ISD Carl Hooker kicked off the conference with an intriguing and engaging keynote. (Follow Carl’s keynote address as well as other iSummit happenings at the Twitter hashtag #isummitconf.)

At the beginning of my session, A Mashup of Topics, Trends, and Innovations for Visioning, educators viewed An Anti-Creativity Checklist by Youngme Moon,  a professor and Senior Associate Dean for strategy and innovation at Harvard Business School and the author of Different. She outlines how leaders, managers, and colleagues stifle innovation by asking the question: What happens in your organization today that shuts down creative thinking? Heads were shaking in agreement as participants had encountered some of the very comments Dr. Moon highlighted to repress new ideas.


Session participants had fun using the Daqri augmented reality app to view and interact with a beating, human heart.

Using the new PLAYDate model of professional learning, which shares resources via Google Sheets, participants explored numerous topics, trends, and innovations to envision a new learning landscape. It is hoped that the resources – from augmented reality to competency-based learning – will assist you in overcoming negativity to create learning opportunities students deserve.

Dive into the fun below! These Google Sheets are public. So, if you don’t see a resource, please add it!

  • Immersive Environments, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Pen: Examine the impact of what is here and to come regarding environments beyond what is expected.
  • Cities of Learning: Learn how cities are merging badges for learning with real-life skills and earning credit.
  • Innovative Models, Approaches, and Curriculum Design: Tie on your shoes and lash your hat down to investigate these resources on leading-edge happenings changing the landscape of learning.
  • Coding and Gamification: Popularity grows for coding and gamification for learning, including its implication for future skills.
  • Design Thinking and Computational Thinking: Check out how design and computation thinking are impacting education.
  • Forward Thinking Resources:Dive into thinking forward with these classic resources, which examine the prospects of the future.
  • Learning Spaces: Can a change in the space of learning make a difference? YES, research and experience tells the story. Launch your own classroom space redesign with these resources.
  • Learning Time Redesign: Think the slicing of learning time throughout the day may make a difference? Your are right! Checkout what teachers have discovered and propose for their adventure in making time work for learning.
  • Maker Movement: The guiding principles of the Maker Movement can be summed in nine simple concepts: Make, Share, Give, Learn, Tool Up, Play, Participate, Support, and Change.
  • You have probably heard of the Maker Movement but not sure what it is or what to do next to make it happen in your own school? Then come on in to “make” your own space supported by these resources.
  • Badges or Micro-Credentials: Yep, badges (or also known as micro-credentials) play a larger role in your professional learning, as well as students. What are the implications? Learn more here.
  • Next Generation Professional Development: Top down, Industrial Age professional development steps aside for teacher-powered professional learning. From Twitter chats and Edcamps, teachers are empowered to differentiate their learning based on need, urgency, and passion.
  • Social Justice Resource: Nod to the NEA and the Center for Teaching Quality for gathering this Incredible stash of resources used in the social justice curriculum.
  • Special Needs: Learn more about how apps and 3D printing can assist those with special needs.
  • Teacherpreneurs: What in the heck is a teacherpreneur? Learn how the role of teacher is changing!

Other trends will be included in the future, such as STEAM, wearable technology, and the expanding world of Open Education Resources. So, keep an eye out! And, please share these resources with others.

What other topics, trends, and innovations would you include? Please add it!

See you on the digital river of learning,


Next Generation Professional Learning

Top down, Industrial Age professional development steps aside for teacher-powered professional learning. From Twitter chats and Edcamps, teachers are empowered to differentiate their learning based on need, urgency, and passion.

Sit-and-get professional development, usually decided upon by administrators, may become a thing of the Industrial Age past. Herding educators together for one-size-fits-all professional development has been lamented by teachers for decades, as the information presented so often misses the mark of teachers’ real work.

Learning Forward’s decision to shift from Standards for Professional Development to Standards for Professional Learning, according to the organization, “signals the importance of educators taking an active role in their continuous development and places emphasis on their learning.”

And, educators are determining content, place, and time, especially as micro-credentials gain traction. No longer constrained by top-down, factory-style professional development, teachers are leading their own professional learning and on their own terms.

Sit-and-get professional development, usually decided upon by administrators, may become a thing of the Industrial Age past. 

Do It Yourself (DIY) professional learning, often fueled by connective technologies, comes in various forms, and the movement is growing. What are some models of next generation professional learning? Read On.

Connected Professional Learning: As more and more teachers direct their own professional growth, connected learning advances in importance.

  • Connected Educators Month (CEM), which networks educators worldwide, is this October. The event premiered in 2012, and now, in its fourth year, things are already gearing up to transform professional learning and bring about educational change. According to ConnectedEducators, “Never been part of an online professional community or network? Already part of a community or network, but want to be more connected?  The Connected Educator Month Starter Kit can help you on both fronts.  Written by The Connected Educator author Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Powerful Learning Practice in collaboration with the Connected Educators initiative, and loaded with helpful links and embedded videos, the kit takes a 31 days approach for this special month, giving you one simple way to get more connected every day.” Plus, in connection with CEM, Google will offer free online conferences beginning next month.
  • Learning Forward 2014 presentation Teachers Connect to Transform Our Practice and Our Profession lists over 20 online communities, from the Center for Teaching Quality Collaboratory to iEARN, teachers can tap into resources across disciplines and interests.
  • Apps expand virtual professional learning, according to “appologist” Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization emerging technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents. Melton offers suggestions to select apps for connected learning and don’t overlook the following:

APPitic – A directory of apps for education by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) to help you transform teaching and learning. These apps have been tested in a variety of different grade levels, instructional strategies and classroom settings.

App-A-Pedia –  An encyclopedia of educational apps, including professional learning.

Mobile Apps MERLOT – A collection of apps to connect you with an online community.

EdcampsThe Edcamp approach, founded on the principles of connected and participatory learning, is a free unconference, where content is crowdsourced and attendees dive-in to discussions and hands-on sessions.

PLAYDATE People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration: The PLAYDATE model bubbled-up from the brainstorming of educators who wanted something different from traditional conferences.

  • These free events have been held worldwide and the PLAYDATE starter kits are complimentary.
  • Don’t overlook one of their most powerful features: shared resources via Google Docs and Sheets. Anyone can access and anyone can add additional links, videos, books, and ideas. The resources range from technology tips and step sheets to curriculum design and pedagogical approaches.

Inquiry-based Professional Learning: Inquiry is a basic tenant in Powerful Learning Practice’s (PLP) Professional Learning Communities framework. Checkout PLP’s inquiry model in action in one school’s journey to redesign space for modern learners – Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition. And principal George Couros posed the idea in his post Inquiry Based Professional Learning, where he outlines several benefits to the approach. Also known as action research, Digital Promise puts the inquiry-based model to work. Read Serena Hicks’ take on action research in Teachers as Researchers: The Power of Mindset.

District Models: With the increase of teachers determining their own learning needs, organizations are paying attention. Check out the EdSurge guide From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts are Retooling Professional Development, which provides resources and a line-up on what progressive learning organizations are undertaking to provide meaningful, personalized professional learning opportunities.

Don’t overlook staying current on next generation professional learning at Learning Forward and engage in the Twitter hashtag #redesignPD.

How are you leading your own learning? What other next generation of professional learning models do you see emerging on the educational landscape? Please share your thoughts.

Running the digital river of learning with you,


Badges to Micro-credentials

In the 2012 New York Times article Show Me Your Badge, Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation, outlined the emergence of digital badges and their role in recognizing skills and accomplishments beyond college degrees and certifications.

This year the Badges Alliance was launched at the Summit to Reconnect Learning. The Open Badges Alliance is “…Built upon the groundbreaking Open Badges work initiated by Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation, and framed on a constellation model of Working Groups, the members of the Badge Alliance aim to foster and grow the open badges ecosystem in an intelligent, distributed, and sustainable way.” (I recently joined the Badge Alliance and look forward to participating in this groundbreaking work.)

But, what is the impact on K12 educators? Leave it to the forward-thinking folks at Digital Promise to take the lead in micro-credentials. Similar to Open Badges, the micro-credential provides rigor and is based on competencies as teachers build personalized learning portfolios of artifacts and reflections, providing “market worth” of mastery learning and accomplishments.

Last April, the Center for Teaching Quality invited me and other teacher leaders to submit work to Digital Promise in early rounds of discussion outlining micro-credentials. Renee Moore,  in Mississippi, and I, in Florida, partnered on our submission of a collaborative study of Letter from Birmingham Jail that she and I undertook with our students last year. (I learned quite a bit during the submission process, including providing more focus on student reflections during and after learning.)

At the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Atlanta earlier this month, Digital Promise officially opened up applications for its 2014 summer micro-credentialing pilot. According to Digital Promise, “Once earned, teachers can display their micro-credentials as digital badges. Each digital badge is embedded with metadata that identifies who issued the micro-credential, the date it was earned, and the artifacts submitted to earn it.”

Does this emerging professional development strategy appeal to you? Are you interested in earning micro-credentials?