October 2014

University of Idaho
Screenshot for October 2014

Though we may be a couple of weeks late writing this blog post for October, due to all the travel, research, and outreach that has kept us busy, I wanted to be sure that October got its fair treatment in this blog narrative, because we had a number of exciting occurrences in the month.

October marked the beginning of our Introduction to Open Education in K-12 MOOC, and we were excited to see around 40 educators sign up for the course. These educators represented all regions of the state of Idaho, and we also attracted attention from those outside the state. Guest interviews for this course have also been very exciting, as we've been able to record my conversations with leaders in the field on topics including open education, digital citizenship, and copyright. This course will remain open even as the synchronous learning experience winds down in mid-November so that those with interest in the topic can always access the recorded sessions and course content.

As has been the case in previous months, we also welcomed a number of people to tour and utilize our lab in October. We were happy to meet with Regent and State Board Member Dave Hill and UI President Chuck Staben this month and to share the work that we are doing in K-12 outreach and distance and extended education. We were also excited this month to host a partner workshop with EdElements. In this workshop, Idaho technology and education leaders got to experience hybrid approaches to education hands-on from a group that conducts training throughout the U.S.

Speaking of workshops, in October we also began a series of workshops in our lab that are open to the public. Geared toward educators in the geographic region that may have interest in specific technology-related topics, the biweekly workshops are held after school and focus on specific technologies, like interactive tables, Google Apps for Education, and so forth. We also had the opportunity this month to host four workshops for Moscow School District teachers on Google Apps for Education, wherein we explored basic functionalities such as Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Search operators, and also had the opportunity to delve into more complex features like Google Maps Engine and Google Forms. Responses to these workshops have been very positive, and we have been happy to be able to provide an introduction to these tools for teachers and also ongoing support as they begin to implement them into their classrooms.

Existing research projects that we have been working on for the past year or more are still going strong, and in the month of October we had the opportunity to extend one of those projects. Working with administrative leaders in rural schools, Dr. Penny Tenuto and Dr. Mary Gardiner have spent the last year using iPad Minis and Swivl devices in classrooms as a means for recording video of classroom practice and mentoring teachers. This year, that research project will expand to include three new schools, which will each receive a set of iPads and Swivls. 

This month we also began piloting a project in the College of Education using a simulated classroom environment meant to help teach students about classroom management. Using student avatars, an Xbox Kinect, and a trained controller at a distance, TeachLive allows student teachers to experience what it is like to teach students of diverse backgrounds and needs and to grapple with problematic behaviors in a realistic classroom environment. We are still in early stages of piloting this project, but initial feedback from instructors and students suggests that the experience is promising for giving students a taste of what is required to effectively manage classrooms when students are exhibiting problematic behaviors.

As we now move into November, we are excited to be able to present at a number of conferences and professional meetings on the work we have been doing and to get a sense for how our efforts in Idaho can benefit the field at large. Stay tuned next month as we share more about our research presentations and publications!

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