Friday, February 12, 2016

SoftChalk Cloud Overview Webinar

We are excited to announce an upcoming OLLIE webinar.  Join us on Monday, February 22 at 3:00 for an overview to the award-winning lesson-building tool SoftChalk Cloud.  A reminder that as an Iowa educator, you have access to SoftChalk Cloud for free through AEA PD Online (this is a savings of $500/year!).  To gain access, you must fill out our request form here.

Our overview webinar will be hosted by David Evans, a learning specialist from SoftChalk.  He will not only give an overview of the tool, but explain how it integrates seamlessly with all LMSs (including Moodle, Canvas, and Schoology).  Plus, he will show different examples of how teachers are currently using SoftChalk Cloud in the classroom.

You MUST REGISTER ahead of time for the webinar, even though there is no cost.  To register,

And, as a final reminder, if you are interested in extending your professional learning to receive credit, be sure to sign up for our online cohort course that begins February 17.  Our Designing Online Lessons course focuses heavily on SoftChalk Cloud.  You can register for that here.

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 12

We hope you were able to participate in the CITE online conference on Blended Learning over the past three days.  There were many great sessions for schools and teachers alike.

We are now turning our focus to the design process.  It is one thing to know that you want to use blended learning, but it is a different one to actually deliver it.  Online learning design (often referred to as "instructional design") requires an artful touch to it.


 Meet Ms. Sanchez. She has been teaching for a few years, but she has never thought about teaching in an online setting. She has heard from other teachers about blended learning, and putting together a Moodle course, but she wasn't sure what that was. Her sister teaches in a different district that uses Canvas, and she knows her sister likes using the tool, but doesn't really know if she is creating online courses correctly.

When she looks at her sister's course, as well as courses from other teachers in her building, she can't help but feel something is missing. It just seems to be a bunch of PDFs and power points uploaded. It feels more like a resource place for the class, so that they can download files from home, than it does true online learning. She doesn't think her students would take much interest going through a power point or reading a PDF without understanding what it is, and if she is explaining it in the classroom, then basically it is just like assigning homework.

But, today is Day 12, which means that the OLLIE Community is beginning to look at instructional objects. She has never heard the term before, but she finds out an instructional object is a catch-all term to describe online instructional lessons, online collaborative activities, and online assessments. "Yes," she nods to herself, "this is what I was looking for."

Ms. Sanchez takes a look at the discussion for Days 12-14 as well as the Instructional Object sharing database. Whoa! There are a lot of ideas here that people are sharing. She sees some good ideas, but also realizes, she will need to find out a bit more information tomorrow before she can contribute. But, her sister might benefit from looking at this right away.


• Visit the Instructional Object database in our community. As you search through the database, think about what strategies makes sense in your curriculum?

• Take a look at our discussion forum for days 12-14. This will ask you to reflect on the database and share with community members something that you found that would enhance your classroom practice.

Monday, February 8, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 8

Day 8

Today is an exciting day in the OLLIE Community.  Today you will explore how to configure physical learning space, use of time in the classroom, and also how to distribute yourself and other staff if deciding to transition to a blended learning model in the classroom.  

iNacol has a document containing the “The Six Elements for Planning and Implementation of Blended Learning” as teachers transition into a blended learning environment in their “A Roadmap for Implementation of Blended Learning at the School Level: A Case Study of the iLearnNYC Lab Schools.”  

The questions that will help us reflect on today’s videos come from the Teaching Element in the six blended learning elements.  The questions are:
  1. How will teaching and the role of the teacher change?
  2. How will student learning change?
  3. What is the school’s pedagogical philosophy?
  4. How will best teaching practices be modeled and share?
These questions may help you reflect on your own situation, as well as the videos Ms. Brooks will watch today.

Now that Ms. Brooks has some ideas on which LMS she will use with her students, she'd like to learn more about how to set up her classroom and structure her time with students. She starts investigating some of the different learning models that other schools are implementing.
These models include:

She watches the videos attached to each of these models and reviews information in the OLLIE Community. She earns an OLLIE badge by completing the "Blended Learning Models" forum.

28 Days of OLLIE Webinar: Christine Jegers & Atomic Learning

This Wednesday, as part of our 28 Days of OLLIE, we will be presenting a Q&A with Christine Jegers.  Christine is an Education Integration Specialist with extensive experience in Blended Learning.  She will be sharing her thoughts and ideas about how to deliver blended and flipped learning in the classroom, utilizing resources available to Iowa teachers.

We also will take a look at new features available within Atomic Learning.  As a resource free for all Iowa teachers on behalf of the AEAs, Atomic Learning has ready made content in a large number of areas, much more than simply the technology tutorials it is known for.  These resources can make an instant playlist for your blended classroom.

Our webinar will be from 9:30 - 10:00 on Wednesday morning.  No pre-registration is required.  The link for the webinar is here:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 7

Hello everyone!

Hope everyone is enjoying a Super Bowl Saturday.  I want to take a moment to remind you about the OLLIE community cohort course opportunity. The course, Designing Online Lessons is a 2-credit course and will begin on Feb. 17.  You may audit the course for free, or pay a minimal amount for license renewal and graduate credit. To register, click here.

(Note: You must register even if you are choosing to audit the course and not take it for credit.) This course is an awesome opportunity to learn more about video-based lessons, text-based lessons, and tools like SoftChalk (A free tool provided to Iowa Educators via AEA PD Online...What's better than free? Not much).

Day 7

We are shifting gears and taking a look at a very popular topic in Iowa:  Learning Management Systems (LMSs).  Many schools are moving to adopt official LMSs for their district.  In some cases, this can be a very robust system with some considerable expense.  In other cases, you can utilize a free tool but miss out on having some of the learning tools at your disposal.  We'll take a look at the more popular options and give you an idea of how you can understand the different LMS options available.


Meet Ms. Brooks. She is a middle school social studies and language arts teacher and loves working with her students in innovative ways. She was one of the biggest proponents for adopting 1:1 technology, and once her school did adopt it, she was one of the most enthusiastic using it in her class. Her students loved the way she was able to incorporate Web 2.0 technology like wikis, blogs, and even Google Docs in her class.

While those first steps have worked very well, she still feels like she is just nibbling around the edge. Her school has talked about the SAMR model, and she feels that a lot of her technology use is down at the "substitution" and "augementation" levels. She wants to use technology in a more transformative manner.

Through attending conferences and reading blogs, she has heard quite a bit of buzz around blended learning and flipped learning. She would like to know more about the concept, but before she can even get started, she sees quite a bit of the buzz is around the LMS.

Seeing that LMS stands for Learning Management System, Ms. Brooks sees that many teachers who teach in a blended environment need a tool that brings many tools together in one spot. Since blended learning is truly transformative, and replace some aspects of the face-to-face class with online learning, she needs a platform to help organize this learning when students are not in the classroom. The question is, which one?

In many cases, school districts in Iowa are investigating implementing a schoolwide or even district-wide LMS. There are benefits to doing so, but teachers like Ms. Brooks--where the school isn't implementing an LMS--are not out of luck. There are options that individual teachers can use. Ms. Brooks takes a look at the resources on LMS to understand what are her options.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 6

Happy Saturday!
Well, I bet you didn't expect to hear from the OLLIE Community today...It is the weekend after all. Well, no worries. Today is all about looking back and reflecting about the first 5 days of this month long event and thinking about how you might be able to leverage the OLLIE community to help you teach online or blend your instruction.

It has been a busy week for Mr. Miller. He has learned that the OLLIE community and its members are there to support him as he moves toward more
online/blended instruction for his students. He has also learned about different ways to connect with the community members and share ideas. Finally, he is excited to know that there is a a place where he can go to learn about online/blended learning, ask questions, and share resources. He plans to keep an eye on the announcements from the community facilitators for resources and upcoming events and do his best to support other community members by responding to questions and sharing resources.

Friday, February 5, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 5

Day 5
Are you a fan of As a mother of a toddler and with another baby on the way, I'm a huge fan of Amazon. One reason, I love Amazon are the customer reviews. When it comes to selecting products, the reviews and recommendations are a huge help. While the OLLIE Community isn't Amazon, it does have a few ways to make your life as an online/blended teacher teacher. 
Today Mr. Miller will take a look at the video database where OLLIE community members can share and recommend videos for other community members to use in their own courses. The recommendations from community members can help take some of the time consuming guess work out of finding videos to use with students.
Day 5 is "Share a Video Day". Mr. Miller learns that the OLLIE community has a searchable video database. Community members can share the videos that they use in their flipped or blended courses. Members can also search through the database to find videos that others have submitted that might be helpful to them. They can search by:
  • Title
  • Grade level
  • Curriculum area
Mr. Miller takes some time to look through the database and shares a video that he uses with his students. He earns a sharing badge.
As he looks at the database, he finds that many teachers have created their own videos, which adds personalization and makes the instruction more exact to what's going on in the classroom. He would like to do the same, and wishes that he knew how. Then, he remembered the calendar for the 28 Days. With some excitement, he sees that days 15-17 will be looking at that process.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 4

Before I get into today's focus, I want to remind you about the OLLIE community cohort course opportunity. The course, Designing Online Lessons is a 2-credit course and will begin on Feb. 17.  You may audit the course for free, or pay a minimal amount for license renewal and graduate credit. To register, click here.(Note: You must register even if you are choosing to audit the course and not take it for credit.) This course is an awesome opportunity to learn more about video-based lessons, text-based lessons, and tools like SoftChalk.
And now without further ado...

Day 4
ON day 4 Mr. Miller begins to see some of the ways community members can help each other out by sharing ideas, resources, and tools. You to can help out by sharing your own thoughts about question posed in the scenario here.
It's day 4 of the 28 days of OLLIE and Mr. Miller is starting to see how he can connect with people. The announcements give him new information and ideas to think about and the forums, Twitter, and Diigo are all tools that he can use to connect with others in the community, but what has him really stumped is…"when and why do people connect?" Other than the information from the community announcements, he doesn't really feel like he has a reason to add his voice to the conversation... and that's when it happens.
In the general forum a teacher has made a post asking the community for assistance. She is a 4th grade teacher who would like to incorporate some digital citizenship content into her blended course. She is looking for online resources that could put in her unit.
Mr. Miller remembers that he read that a good online instruction includes extension activities and resources that push students thinking. Even though he teaches middle school science, he replies to her post with a resources that he uses with his students.  
As he looks at others responses to the post he even finds some resources that will assist his efforts in supporting digital literacy with his students. He makes a mental note to add them to his course.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Physical Science Self Paced Content Available

In AEA PD Online's Student Personalized Learning system teachers and students can learn more about Physical Science with learning modules on Waves, Chemical Reactions, Energy and Electricity, and Matter.  Teacher can check out the content by logging into the Student Personalized Learning system using their username and password that they use for the training system where they have taken mandatory trainings.

Once logged into the Student Learning system, click on Modules, Science and look at the individual Physical Science modules.  If you wish to use these with your students or have any questions please contact Denise Krefting ( or Melissa Wicklund (

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 3

I don't know about you, but I spent a good chunk of yesterday digging my way out of the snow. The good news is I don't believe that the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday so spring is just around the corner, right? Right?
Day 3
Yesterday, we focused on connecting with the community via announcements. These announcements are the best way to stay up-to-date on community events and activities. Today focuses on how the OLLIE Community helps keep members informed and connected via social media like Twitter and Diigo.
It's Day 3 of the 28 Days of OLLIE and Mr. Miller didn't have time to look at the daily announcement during the day. However, as he lays in his bed looking at the phone he takes a few minutes to review its contents.
The announcement focuses on two additional ways that community members can connect with each other. One is Twitter and another is Diigo.
Twitter is a microblogging tool where individuals can write 140 character messages and post it so that others can view it. The announcement includes several different resources to help people new to Twitter get started. After reviewing the information, Mr. Miller downloads the Twitter app to his phone, does a search for the #28OLLIE, and looks at what others community members have been posting on twitter.
Diigo is the other tool that is introduced. It allows members of a group to bookmark and annotate articles. The OLLIE community uses it to share articles about online/blended learning with each other and sometimes discuss them with each other using the annotation feature. Mr. Miller takes view the tutorials, download the diigo app to his phone, and finally review some articles that the community has annotated in the past.
Here is what Mr. Miller and you can do to stay connected with the community via Twitter and Diigo.
  • Review informatin about Twitter, including what it is and how to use it here.
  • If you don't have a Twitter account create one here
  • Review the tweets at #28OLLIE
  • Earn your Twitter badge by posting your own tweet at #28OLLIE
  • Review the information about Diigo found here
  • If you don't have a Diigo account create one here and join the OLLIE group
  • Explore articles that the community has shared with each other
  • Earn your Diigo badge by sharing an article with the OLLIE Group

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 2

Does snowmageddon 2016 have you stuck inside? If so, take a few minutes to check out Day 2 of the 28 Days of OLLIE.

Day 2
Today focuses on how to stay informed with community events, activities, and conversations. Now that Mr. Miller has joined the community he is looking for ways to stay connected to the events, activities, and conversations that are happening in the community.
It's second period and it is Mr. Miller's planning period. He opens his e-mail and notices that he has a message from the OLLIE community. He doesn't have much
time so he skims the message.
He notices that the message includes a short video about how the community uses announcements and forums. He doesn't have time to view it now, but decides he will take a look at it when he is waiting to pick up his son from basketball practice.

...Fast forward to later in the day...
Mr. Miller has viewed the super short video and learned 
  • that as a member of community he will receive announcements via e-mail
  • he can review older announcements by locating "Announcements" under the "Resource" heading in the community.
  • Announcements are made by the community facilitators.
  • Announcements contain useful information about events, activities, and opportunities to engage in conversations about online/blended learning.
View the video on community announcements below.

Monday, February 1, 2016

28 Days of OLLIE: Day 1

Day 1: Becoming a Community Member

Mr. Miller is a middle school teacher and is wanting to blend his instructions, but he doesn't know where to begin. He has heard several of his colleagues talking about OLLIE community and the 28 Days of OLLIE that begins today, Feb. 1.

They explain that the OLLIE community is an online community where individuals who are interested in online or blended instruction can connect with each other. Members they have the opportunity to benefit from each other's ideas and experiences, as well as gain insight into the newest innovations in online learning. It is a great place to ask questions and bounce ideas off others who are expanding their instruction into the online world.
After hearing this, Mr. Miller decides to become an OLLIE community member. He isn't quite sure what he wants from the community or what to expect, but he's willing to give it a try. He:
  • Enrolls in the community here.
  • Introduces himself in the general forum found here.
  • Pins his location here and learns that there are 3 other teachers in his school who are members of the community.
  • Learns the lay of the OLLIE community by completing the OLLIE Scavenger Hunt here

Later that day he is pleased to see that several community members have replied to his introductory posts, including the community facilitator. He also notices that he has received a badge for completing the OLLIE scavenger hunt.

Be Like Mr. Miller!
  • Enroll in the community here
  • Introduce yourself in the general forum here
  • Pin your location and see where other OLLIE community members are from here
  • Earn your Explorer badge by completing the OLLIE community scavenger hunt here