Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meta-Learnings from Day One of VSS' 11

I attended two sessions during the Pre-Conference day of the iNACOL Virtual School Symposium (VSS): Blended/Hybrid Learning 101--From Inception to Implementation and Learn Moodle! An Open Source Learning Management System. Here are some of the meta-learnings I garnered during the formal and informal parts of the sessions:

  1. The extremely diverse group of participants and presenters are passionate about this field, its challenges and particularly, its opportunities. They are open and eager to discuss their work and to learn from like-minded individuals. One could develop some powerful Communities of Practice in this group.
  2. The end-goal, the mantra so often cited, is that personalized learning is the end goal and the key path to follow is to make the jobs of teachers easier and/or more efficient so that they can interact with their students in a caring and fostering mode. It's always about the teachers. The notion of using blended learning as a way to save money was never raised.
  3. No one provider does and can ever develop content that will work for all users.
  4. Communication with parents and others is an imperative in bringing about successful implementation.
  5. The brand identifier of this industry is customization. Yet many vendors are trying to deliver a standardized product. This is counterproductive since we see different rates of adapting by teachers and students. We must produce a culture that embeds customization.
  6. Once you start to implement your "program," give yourself time! Have an iterative plan.
  7. The Jewish day school world is fortunate that it does not yet have to deal with many key challenges being faced by conference participants, in particular, legislative mandates and external budget pressures. We have our own issues but it is always good to see them in contrast with those faced by others working in our general domain.
  8. The social constructivist nature of Moodle aligns itself well with our world.
  9. Open source has some challenges, but it sure has many blessings!
  10. Tying ourselves to a non-open source learning management system in this acute time of corporate takeovers causes many to lose sleep and potentially incurs significant financial costs.
I look forward to sharing my meta-learnings from day one of the Conference.

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