How is a kitchen remodel like distance education?

I have to admit that when I came up with this topic that I was thinking it was an interesting title but that it should not take too long to make the connection.  I then said to myself this needs to be about my most recent kitchen remodel and that the readers need to understand that I just remodeled a kitchen at a rental property that was at a distance (some 140 miles away to be exact).  Now, of course, everyone would get it.

Not Quite!

Then I thought explain to them how you remodeled the kitchen without stepping one foot on the property until last Saturday to review the completed work.  Yes, right now they would understand.  Well, OK, I need to explain a little more.

So, during the most recent kitchen remodel, I knew I had one big problem.  Time and Distance.  The costs are real so I started using the Internet for resources.  First stop was Angie’s list where I found a great kitchen remodeling company with good reviews.  I contacted them and asked them to give me a quote.  I compared the quote to other companies, and I decided it was reasonable based upon comparisons over the internet.

Next I had to coordinate and settle upon a contract with the vendor.  The details were discussed, a contract was sent via text, signing occurred, and a four to five week wait was needed while the factory took the measurements and created the counter tops.

Also during that initial contract time I needed to visit Home Depot (one mile away) to pick out the Formica brand counter top number and style as well as sink, faucet and drawer options.  All information was communicated via text images and writings via a smart phone.

Obviously payment plans were easy over the phone and I set up a before, during, and after completed installments.  It was even nice to use the Bank of America 3% back on all purchases credit card.

I then reached out to my tenant to coordinate a convenient time for final measuring and future installation.  The installers waited for the counter tops to be built at the counter top factory then on two quick days (that were clearly communicated to all) it was installed.  During the installation process, I received timely photo updates from my tenant and communicated constantly with both the company and tenant via cell phone and email.

Then just this last Saturday I visited to see a wonderful kitchen remodel that has improved the value of this distant property.

Oh yes, so how is this like distance education?

To me, this series of events is similar to design of a distance education project.  I knew my subject matter ( a kitchen in a house that I have lived in previously for many years ).  I researched a company on a service that provided checks and balances, coordinated a clear project design document, and established a payment plan of checks and balances.  I communicated via email, text messaging, and phone calls with the project manager and the tenant at various phases during the project.  I was involved with the project, but I let experts do their job and gave ownership to key constituents.  I was at a distance so I never met or communicated with the installer but there were checks and balances in place to make sure it was done well (payments, project company, tenant).  Finally, I checked in, and  I followed through on the project.  And Yes, I recorded on iPad video the final project for documentation.

The kitchen is great, and so are distance education projects.  Project based learning really is the way to go to prepare students for a complex world that could easily give them a project that needs to be completed remotely.  Checking in with your students at various stages is extremely key in distance education as it promotes regular and effective contact, insures that students are following the rubric, helps you teach at a distance, and models what distance education is about for your students.   Always create checks and balances in your projects while leaving room for student creativity, engagement, research, and problem solving.

Thanks for listening to my crazy comparisons and as always I appreciate your positive feedback.  I am glad this did not end up the The Goldbergs kitchen remodel!

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LGTV 32LD550

This past week my LG TV just froze at the startup screen.  After doing a little research with LG, youtube, and other frustrated customers, I found that the motherboard/circuit board needed repair.  There were various repair shops that wanted my business, but the cost of fixing, the fear of being taken advantage of, and the doubt of extended life were high in my mind.  Consequently, I tried a few things on my own.

The first which seemed logical was to open up the TV and investigate the circuitry.  Now if you have never worked with hardware before then I would not recommend opening up a TV, but because I had some basic experience building a computer and teaching students how to build computers I figured I could at least open it up and look at it.  To my surprise and delight I found that the TV circuit board was in great shape with no signs of burnout.  Consequently, I decided to disconnect all the wires, push a little button that looked like a reset button, and then reconnect the TV.  Upon turning it on again, I realized that did not work.  Sad, angry, and confused, I pushed on.

I kept searching on the web for an answer.  Finally I found what I was looking for at zedic.com ( http://zedic.com/lg-42dl550-fix-repair/ ).  Zedic recommended that baking a board would resolder bad connections.  I thought it was crazy until I read all the responses and researched how other computer hardware gurus had done the same thing with their older motherboards.  It began to make sense as the connections could have cracked or had air pockets.  So as a last resort I reopened the TV, carefully removed the circuit board, wrapped it in tin foil (as not to destroy our oven), baked it following the directions at Zedic, let it cool, inserted it, and then to my surprise everything worked.  I mean it really worked.  I danced, created a rap song, and was able to use my tv again.

Now I don’t know how long it will last, but at least I did not pay an absurd fee to get it repaired and I am extending the value of my original TV which should last longer than four years.  So why am I writing about this on this website called Absolutely Learning?  Well this is exactly the type of learning that needs to happen in our schools.  We need to create problem solving opportunities.  While I am not a fan of LG TV right now for its product, I do think there is something that can be learned in this.  No this is not a good business model, but yes this is a good learning scenario for life.  Absolutely Learning lives on once again.

Winter Break Challenge – Zoombla 2.0

About a year ago I created my first app for the iPhone and as I am reviewing my notes I realize that I missed some of the updates that I promised.  I am also getting messages from Apple that I should think about upgrading my app to work on newer iOS platforms such as iOS8.  I am writing you to make you aware of my Winter Break Challenge as I float into the holiday season, and I wanted to make you aware of it to keep my plans honest, transparent, and accountable.  Consequently, I will update Zoombla to Zoombla 2.0 for the die hard fans.  It will be free to you, and I hope we gain a new audience so you can continue playing your math game with family, friends, and maybe one day new acquaintances.  Thanks for all of your support of my apps this year.  2014 has been an amazing year.  I will publish again when it is done.  At the moment it looks like it will be a SpriteKit App as I am really enjoying the added user interface of the SpriteKit platform.

Webinar for Veteran’s Day Theme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

edWeb.net to host a webinar with Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Clint Romesha

PRINCETON, NJ, October 28, 2014 – edWeb.net and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation (CMOHF) will present a special live webinar, “Heroism in the War on Terror: An Interview with Clint Romesha, Medal of Honor Recipient,” on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Teachers are invited to bring their students and their questions as they listen to Medal of Honor Recipient, Clinton L. Romesha, Staff Sergeant Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the October 3, 2009 battle at Outpost Keating in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan. Five years later, in this interview with Medal of Honor Foundation President Ron Rand, Romesha will reflect on that day and the direction his life has taken since.

Now a working civilian, husband, father, and one of the youngest of the 79 living Medal of Honor recipients, Romesha dedicates some of his precious free time to sharing his story with teachers and students. During this webinar, he will take questions from the audience and share his thoughts on his experiences.

To join this important event, teachers can register here. Teachers are encouraged to submit a question from their students for Mr. Romesha.

Lisa Schmucki, the founder and CEO of edWeb.net, commented, “This is a very special honor to host an online community where recipients of the Medal of Honor can speak directly to teachers and students about their experiences and the values of bravery, commitment, and self-sacrifice.”

edWeb.net and the CMOHF have created an online professional learning community that is free and will host webinars and online discussions on the important concepts of courage, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, integrity and citizenship. The webinars will provide an opportunity for Medal of Honor Recipients to discuss the importance of character and speak directly with teachers and students on their experiences. The webinars will be facilitated by an educator from the Medal of Honor Foundation and will include demonstrations on how to use the curriculum in the classroom.

If you are an educator, join the free learning community, Lessons of Personal Bravery and Self-Sacrifice: The Medal of Honor Character Development Program, to stay informed about upcoming webinars, join in on discussions with peers and experts, and gain access to valuable resources.

For more information, contact: 

Jenifer Morack, Program Development, edWeb.net
609-439-8103 | jenifer@edweb.net

Cathy Metcalf, Vice President, Education, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
714-609-4996 | cmetcalf@cmohfoundation.org

Hour of Code

Although I have been busy with a new position in instructional design for online education at a community college, I want to continue to add educational technology posts at this site and keep you posted of great ideas out there.  As a part time developer of educational apps for the iPad and iPhone (iOS platform) and as a coder of Objective C, SpriteKit, Cocoa Touch, and many other Frameworks, it would not have been possible to have released my apps on the App Store at Apple without studying computer programming. There are many applications of computer programming in today’s world as you will see in the video.  I hope this Hour of Code Video inspires you to consider using their materials in your classroom or at the very least to promote these services to your students.

EDTEC Thoughts for Dedicated Readers and EDTEC Enthusiasts

 

English: Costco in Moncton, New BrunswickThese past two months have been complicated with job interviews, conferences, clients, and iOS7 application development, and I missed the mark in regards to writing on a weekly basis.  In efforts to sincerely apologize, I want to give you an easy list of top ten current thoughts for the past two months this Spring of 2014.  This is for my dedicated readers of this blog and other educational technology enthusiasts.  As always this list is full of my professional observations and opinions.

1.  Windows 8.1 computers that are purchased at Costco are a great choice to recommend as they have been well-tested.  I have set up two of these computers recently for clients.  One was an HP All in One, and the other was an HP Laptop.  Clients were satisfied with price, functionality, and touch screen.

2.  Based upon years of experience, I believe that Apple Computer products in schools will run more efficiently with less need for maintenance than a PC Environment.  While I believe in great computers whether PC or MAC, I believe there will be less cost on maintenance and repair in an Apple campus, and I believe those savings will outweigh the initial startup costs of Apple products.  Students, Faculty, Parents, and Support Staff are usually happier too as they can spend more time on the creative learning and application to subject matter.

3.  I had the pleasure of testing Lenovo laptops at a recent conference, and they are well worth considering for PC users and PC organizations. Look at the Lenovo Yoga and the Lenovo Thinkpad series.  I don’t believe they are sold at Costco, but they have great deals for educators at their site.  If you have never heard of Lenovo then just remember that it is the old IBM brand.

4.  3D printing has great applications to the modern classroom for science, mathematics, architecture, and sculpting.  I would suggest that schools invest in a 3D printer and that they find ways to use it in their curriculum.

5.  Blogging is here to stay, and it is a great record for student portfolios.  They can be made private, public, or in combinations to be shared with educators, scholarship advisers, donors, admissions representatives, and select users if privacy is a concern.

6.  I hope you have heard of Google Apps for education, and I hope you have explored Outlook.com and One Drive from Microsoft.  Both of these organizations are offering a great way to create, store, access anywhere, and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  There are free versions for individuals and better free versions for educational communities.  Most people who are familiar with MS Office will be happy with One Drive.

7.  Robotics is a great program to support, teach, and advise, and students can participate in competitions with big rewards.  Get Started Today!

8.  Computer programming jobs will continue to be available in the future as hardware technologies improve and as consumers demand the ease of product usage.  Why we don’t teach more computer programming in our schools is beyond my comprehension.  The students with computer programming backgrounds will be able to develop their ideas into prototypes in the future that will bring about new business for the US and the world.

9.  I am still going to have a shameless plug for Zoombla, a math app for ages 8 and above.  It is definitely not Zombie Math, but it will definitely force students to use and practice math skills.  It also encourages face to face competition so that students are still communicating and using real time social skills in the classroom.  Zoombla – Matt Moore

10.  An entire generation uses facetime, skype, and gaming devices such as the Xbox and Wii to video conference daily, yet I still see a lot of schools not using video conferencing for educational purposes.  Teachers should reach out to real time meetings with subject matter experts, authors, universities, and or other schools in distant locations.  Why not?  Isn’t collaboration a 21st century skill?

Have a great Spring!  Perhaps I will find time to elaborate in the future.  As always I appreciate your comments, suggestions, and advice.

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Designing Interaction into Online Learning for Distance Learners

Cover of "Student to Student"

Cover of Student to Student

Online learning programs are growing in demand and choice by students who are independently learning on their own through the vast resources available to them.  Some of these students are distance learners who have little or no actual class time with the teachers.  Motivated students who choose to learn independently need interaction in the course design so that they can understand accomplishments, reflect with other students, interpret the material, and create projects for teachers.  The following are various types of interactions that can be implemented in an on-line course that is primarily consisted of distance learners.

Student Reflection upon Material:  The benefit of writing on-line course materials is that teachers can express their own perspective upon the content and guide students through the skills that they have defined as most important or relevant to course.  Because students need to sense accomplishment after a targeted content goal is reached, courses need to provide reuse and reworking of ideas studied, and courses need self reflection of newly learned goals.  Activities need to be created that reuse the material in creative ways, and stages of growth need to be clearly identified to the user so there is a sense of accomplishment.  This does require a planned chunking of the data so that steps in learning are clearly identified to the user.  Web pages, screen capture software, and video provide great lesson explanation, but the teacher must have moments of sending content to the teacher that expresses an accomplishment of that learning.

Automated Feedback:  In addition to self reflection and teacher generated exercise, courses should take advantage of  automated feedback sites that provide students with graded responses.  Most textbooks today have an accompanying web site for basic skills review, and they generate reports for the teachers.  Reports are based upon participation and success levels, and the reports also help the course creator and teacher understand quickly which concepts are being understood and which concepts need better explanation and/or course design.  These reports while beneficial are only a portion of understanding a student’s progress, and there should be a clear understanding that students are expected to experience failure during those sessions and to obviously learn from that failure.

Student to Student Interaction:  Scaffolding a project so that students can collaboratively create educational goals in a new and creative way is important.  Give students the right background to take your content to the next level though research, design, writing, and presentation.  Students who are learning through design, evaluation, reediting, and presenting are developing skills that are important in a technologically changing world.  Teachers must provide projects that require collaboration with other students outside the classroom, and teachers and course creators need to develop the virtual classroom space so that students sense the social impact of the course too by experiencing other learner presentation and opinion.

Student to Expert:  Experts in the field produce, develop, and create materials that discuss their content for free.  They even respond to motivated learners who are framing their questions and opinions appropriately.  Teachers should never underestimate the good will of experts who will respond to students who go above and beyond in contacting expert professionals.  Students can easily document this interaction and provide samples to teacher of the learning moment.

Student to Teacher:  As course objectives are met in the course students should submit clearly defined learning outcomes to the teacher.  Those can easily be placed as emailed objectives throughout your online course.  In addition to this the teacher should have times when the students can communicate directly with the teacher as a class via on-line learning virtual space and individually through online office hours to ask those real time questions that can’t be properly expressed or lose their meaning in an email.  Milestone type or level type projects that represent a mastering of a skill, concept, genre, and/or other definable learning objective should be clearly made available to the on-line student for proof of accomplishment.  This also provides a sense of learning FLOW that keeps the learner motivated.

These particular thoughts were based upon an online learning program that is truly for distance learners who don’t have access to the live classroom for a blended learning scenario.  This is not an exhaustive list, but I do believe it helps frame the online teacher’s mind in how he/she needs to communicate with his or her learners.  This type of online learning needs to read like a conversation between the teacher and the student, and it needs to engage the student by providing check points for knowledge gained so that the student feels connected to the material.  If you have other ideas that I should place upon this list please comment below.

 

 

 

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