From DSC:
Our oldest daughter showed me a “Bitmoji Classroom” that her mentor teacher — Emily Clay — uses as her virtual classroom. Below are some snapshots of the Google Slides that Emily developed based on the work of:

  • Kayla Young (@bitmoji.kayla)
  • MaryBeth Thomas 
  • Ms. Smith 
  • Karen Koch
  • The First Grade Creative — by C. Verddugo

My hats off to all of these folks whose work laid the foundations for this creative, fun, engaging, easy-to-follow virtual classroom for a special education preschool classroom — complete with ties to videoconferencing functionalities from Zoom. Emily’s students could click on items all over the place — they could explore, pursue their interests/curiosities/passions. So the snapshots below don’t offer the great interactivity that the real deal does.

Nice work Emily & Company! I like how you provided more choice, more control to your students — while keeping them engaged! 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

From DSC:
I also like the idea of presenting this type of slide (immediately below, and students’ names have been blurred for privacy’s sake) prior to entering a videoconferencing session where you are going to break out the students into groups. Perhaps that didn’t happen in Emily’s class…I’m not sure, but in other settings, it would make sense to share one’s screen right before sending the students to those breakout rooms and show them that type of slide (to let them know who will be in their particular breakout group).

The students in the different breakout sessions could then collaboratively work on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides and you could watch their progress in real-time!

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

 

A snapshot of a Bitmoji Classroom created by Emily Clay

Also see:

 

Temperament-Inclusive Pedagogy: Helping Introverted and Extraverted Students Thrive in a Changing Educational Landscape — from onlinelearningconsortium.org by Mary R. Fry

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So how do we take these different approaches to learning into account and foster a classroom environment that is more inclusive of the needs of both extraverts and introverts? Let’s first distinguish between how extraverts and introverts most prefer to learn, and then discuss ways to meet the needs of both. Extraverts tend to learn through active and social engagement with the material (group work, interactive learning experiences, performing and discussing). Verbalizing typically helps extraverts to think through their ideas and to foster new ones. They often think quickly on their feet and welcome working in large groups. It can be challenging for extraverts to generate ideas in isolation (talking through ideas is often needed) and thus working on solitary projects and writing can be challenging.

In contrast, introverts thrive with solitary/independent work and typically need this time to sort through what they are learning before they can formulate their thoughts and articulate their perspectives. Introverted learners often dislike group work (or at least the group sizes and structures that are often used in the classroom (more on this in a moment)) and find their voice drowned out in synchronous discussions as they don’t typically think as fast as their extroverted counterparts and don’t often speak until they feel they have something carefully thought out to share. Introverted learners are often quite content, and can remain attentive, through longer lectures and presentations and prefer engaging with the material in a more interactive way only after a pause or break.

From DSC:
Could/would a next-generation learning platform that has some Artificial Intelligence (AI) features baked into it — working in conjunction with a cloud-based learner profile — be of assistance here?

That is, maybe a learner could self-select the type of learning that they are: introverted or extroverted. Or perhaps they could use a sliding scaled to mix learning activities up to a certain degree. Or perhaps if one wasn’t sure of their preferences, they could ask the AI-backed system to scan for how much time they spent doing learning activities X, Y, and Z versus learning activities A, B, and C…then AI could offer up activities that meet a learner’s preferences.

(By the way, I love the idea of the “think-ink-pair-share” — to address both extroverted and introverted learners. This can be done digitally/virtually as well as in a face-to-face setting.)

All of this would further assist in helping build an enjoyment of learning. And wouldn’t that be nice? Now that we all need to learn for 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years of our lives?

The 60-Year Curriculum: A Strategic Response to a Crisis

 

New Resource for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching

New Resource for Inclusive and Equitable Teaching — from community.acue.org

Excerpt:

Achieving equity requires that we teach with practices that embrace the diversity of our students’ backgrounds. We must also thoughtfully review our instructional approaches to identify—and change—any unintended practices that might limit student expectations and achievements. Just as we approach our disciplines with prior assumptions and theoretical orientations, we must ensure that we approach our teaching, and our students, with equitable beliefs about their ability to learn and the opportunity gaps that we have the ability to close. As ACUE research shows, doing so leads to stronger levels of academic achievement indistinguishable by race, ethnicity and income level.

 

Child Care Is in Crisis. We’ll Be Here to Cover It During the Turbulent Year Ahead. — from edsurge.com by Tony Wan

Excerpt:

Early childhood educators have long been forced to make do with limited resources, from inadequate staffing and preparation to stagnant wages and, often, an overall lack of respect from the public or understanding about their roles.

That’s what we heard repeatedly during the nine months we spent last year exploring the work lives of early childhood education professionals. And it’s what we saw first-hand during reporting trips to more than 11 center- and home-based child care programs nationwide, from California to Connecticut.

With the arrival of the pandemic, these resources have become even more scarce and the obstacles even more complex.

Also from edsurge.com:

 

Learning in the Cloud: Canada’s First University to Move Operations into One Secure Cloud Infrastructure Sets the Stage for the Future of Learning — from globenewswire.com by Athabasca University
Athabasca University (AU) lays the groundwork to build a more accessible and personalized future for post-secondary learners

Excerpt:

Edmonton, Alberta, Sept. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — At a time when you can personalize everything from your online shopping experience to your dating prospects, it seems only reasonable to ask: why can’t students “swipe right” on their course load? Why can’t a degree be structured around what someone wants to learn or how they learn, instead of what’s traditionally part of the program? In other words, why isn’t it possible to choose your own adventure in a university environment?

Athabasca University (AU), Canada’s Online University, recently completed a six-month rapid cloud migration project with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to construct a secure, flexible, and global infrastructure required to make personalized learning an infinitely scalable reality. With the completion of its cloud migration project, AU became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to move its entire digital operations infrastructure into its own secure AU cloud environment powered by AWS.

 

Personalized Learning Is Special Education and the Time Is Now — from gettingsmart.com by Karla Phillips-Krivickas and Rebecca Midles

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Educators have long recognized that the education strategies that work for students with additional needs would benefit all kids. These personalized learning strategies are, in fact, best practices for all students. Yet we continue to design our schools for the ‘average’ student. And then we wonder why there is so much frustration when we try to fit the proverbial square pegs into round holes.

You may assume the line between general and special education is clear, but it is quite blurry. Special education was never intended to be a separate system. It was designed to facilitate access to general education. Unfortunately, disability labels can now act as fuzzy barriers separating those who qualify for individualized instruction and those who do not. And this is the problem: the one size fits all approach to education doesn’t account for students’ differences or preferences unless they have a disability.

From DSC:
Exactly the experience our family has had as well. The K-12 education train stops for no one and moves quickly.  To *^*^ with mastery. To *^*^ with the love of learning — or even the slightest liking of it.

K-12 education in America is a like a quickly moving train that stops for no one.

Let us not come out of this crisis with the same systems and ways of doing things. Time for greater innovation, experimentation, and invention to take place!

 

Subscribe to Jeremy Caplan's newsletter re: tools here

Be My Eyes is a FREE mobile app designed to bring sight to blind and low vision people. With the press of a button, the app establishes a live video connection between blind and low vision users and sighted volunteers. Every day, volunteers are lending their eyes to help with anything from simple tasks, like checking expiry dates, to more complicated situations, like navigation or finding a lost item. With more than a million users across 150 countries, Be My Eyes has grown to become the largest online community for the blind and low vision people, and it is now possible to request assistance in more than 180 languages. The app harnesses the power of generosity, technology and human connection to help blind and low vision individuals lead more independent lives.

 

What parents of special needs children should know about the school year — from mlive.com by Martin Slagter

Excerpts:

Embarking on a new school year can be daunting if you’re the parent of a child with special needs, even under normal circumstances.

But navigating a child’s Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan while he or she begins the year with remote learning, as many are doing this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, can add multiple layers of stress, education experts say.

This makes a parents’ understanding of their child’s learning experience more important now than ever, the experts say.

“Many students did not receive services and supports that were outlined in their IEPs (including) services related to specially designed instruction, speech and language, social work, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Now we enter the next school year with a high level of uncertainty.”

 

From DSC:
Below are but some of the changes to the learning ecosystems out there. Certainly, more are coming.


Ex-Google employees form virtual tech ‘school’ for gap year students amid college closures — from cnbc.com by Jennifer Elias

KEY POINTS
  • Current and former Google employees are forming an online program aimed at preparing students for the workforce if they’re taking time off school due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • It comes as many college students defer school as universities shift learning models to mostly online amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Google execs past and present have volunteered to mentor college students on topics ranging from career trajectory to how to stand out in virtual Zoom interviews.

Along these lines, see:

  • Google has a plan to disrupt the college degree — from inc.com by Justin Bariso
    Google’s new certificate program takes only six months to complete, and will be a fraction of the cost of college.
    Excerpt:
    Google recently made a huge announcement that could change the future of work and higher education: It’s launching a selection of professional courses that teach candidates how to perform in-demand jobs. These courses, which the company is calling Google Career Certificates, teach foundational skills that can help job-seekers immediately find employment. However, instead of taking years to finish like a traditional university degree, these courses are designed to be completed in about six months.

From DSC:
Also, to see some more changes to the learning ecosystems out there, set up a Google Alert (or something similar in Feedly or via another tool) for “Learning Pods,” “Pandemic Pods,” and/or the “growth of homeschooling.” Here’s but one recent example:

Zoo Knoxville to start virtual learning pods for students

 


 

Check out the Academic Warriers website

About Academic Warriors:

Life can be very hard for autistic, gifted and special needs learners.  Autistic and gifted learners often times struggle in school because they learn very differently than their peers. These special learners need a personalized approach to their education that allows them to learn in their own way at their own pace.

Many times parents and students feel as if they are the only ones like them in the world. This can often times lead to isolation and frustration. It is important for all autistic, gifted and special needs to unite in order to support one another. We are named Academic Warriors because all our students are superheroes in a world that doesn’t always understand and/or appreciate them. We help our students to become strong, independent and positive learners despite what the world may think of them.

It is the mission of Academic Warriors to help create positive learning experiences and communities throughout the United States for autistic, gifted and special needs learners. We offer online courses, programs, private school and in person events that foster an unique learning environment that promotes unity among all our students and families. We strive to create online and in person learning communities in every state that will provide educational opportunities for all families of autistic, gifted and special needs students. Together we can create a better world for the autistic, gifted and special needs learner.

 


From DSC:
As part of a homeschooling-based situation, my wife received the following item for one of our daughters (who needs additional/personalized assistance to learn). Simultaneously, she and our daughter sent them a Michigan Exchange Box. Very cool.

My wife and one of our daughters received this set of things from a homeschooler in Mississippi! Very cool!

I believe my wife found this out at the following group in Facebook:

 


Some channels out on Youtube that have to do with learning:
(and by the way, according to Jane Hart’s recent Top 200 Tools for Learning, YouTube is in the #1 spot for the 5th year in a row!)

Snake Discovery -- videos out on YouTube

Bondi Vet - videos on YouTube

 


 

From the Off-Trail Learning website, here are some self-directed learning centers

 


The Barn for Equine Learning

“Horse Sense Tutoring Services is a unique resource that combines the power of Equine Assisted Learning with evidence-based reading and math strategies that engage the mind, body, and emotions in learning.  We use the principles of discovery, experience, movement, reflection, and connection in partnership with our horse friends.

Based at The Barn for Equine Learning…my program offers targeted reading, math, and basic horsemanship tutoring for students in grades K – 8. Horses become teaching and learning partners as students experience academics and social-emotional learning in a whole new way.

If you are looking for a unique tutoring and confidence-building experience for your child, PM for more information.  Sessions are held outdoors and/or in an open barn setting.

(Small group field trips with an introduction to basic horsemanship skills are also available).

 


From DSC:
So these are just a few examples of how the learning ecosystems are changing out there! Surely, there will be more changes coming down the pike.


 

 

Why art is so helpful for children with anxiety — from differentbydesignlearning.com; with thanks — and a shout out — going to Colleen Kessler for sharing this out on Twitter.

Why art is so helpful for children with anxiety -- from different by design learning.com

 

Learning ecosystems across the country — especially those involving K-12 — are morphing once again.

Have you heard about the explosive interest and potential growth involving “learning pods” — also called “pandemic pods”!?! It’s amazing to see how quickly things are changing in this fluid situation. This is another great example of how the macro-learning ecosystem for K-12 is changing — as well as the changes happening at more of a micro-level. (To see how true this is, put a Google Alert or two out there for “learning pods,” “pod learning,” and/or “pandemic pods.”)

For some information about these changes, see some of the example articles below:


From DSC:

Though very interesting to see what occurs here, I, too, am concerned about the inequalities and the potential for expanding the learning gaps across the country (between the folks who have the resources and those folks who do not). For example, consider that the cost ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 dollars per studentper month — in the San Francisco Bay Area. (See COVID-19 learning pods: Here’s how they work and what Bay Area schools say about them by Luz Pena.) Or see

On the other side of things…maybe this will be a new area of opportunity for the student teachers and education programs out there.
 

From DSC:
My dad is hard of hearing and the issue continues to get worse, though his hearing aids do help some. I’ve been looking for an app that could take what’s being spoken — in real-time — and write it out for him on a device (iPad, iPhone, other). But the WiFi network is not available at the retirement home where he’s at. So this needs to work off of a cellular connection. If you know of some solid apps in this regard, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

Items mentioned in a video I saw the other day, but may have different applications:

 

 

The 2020 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey: Recent College Graduates — from kesslerfoundation.org; with thanks to Nicky Miller for this resource

Per Nicky:

In a nutshell, this first-of-its-kind survey revealed factors that help people with disabilities find employment, including the importance of higher education, advisory services and networking. Also discussed in detail, are myths and barriers that people with disabilities often face. Learn about our survey, visit: www.kesslerfoundation.org/kfsurvey2020

To highlight factors in our survey, we’ve interviewed three young adults with disabilities, who share their college to work experiences. They discuss in detail the ups and downs of their academic and employment careers. Watch here: Webinar Part 2 – The ADA Generation and the Workplace: Recent College Graduates with Disabilities Speak Out

In some cases throughout the years, people with disabilities were told they shouldn’t further their education, and in other instances, they are discouraged from working. This survey dispel these ideas. People with disabilities are conquering barriers and broadening their education.   

 

COVID-19 Intensifies Need to Tackle Digital Accessibility — from campustechnology.com by By Glenda Sims
More learning content than ever before has migrated online, bringing accessibility concerns to the forefront. Here’s how higher ed institutions are making progress toward equitable access.

Excerpt:

Accessibility lawsuits in education are not new. However, with colleges and universities undertaking their own digital transformations (moving more content and services online), lawsuits targeted at equitable access to physical facilities (like bathrooms) have logically expanded to digital offerings for students relying on assistive technologies to access them. The current COVID-19 crisis is likely to exacerbate this, as more learning content than ever before has migrated online in these unprecedented times. Persons with disabilities will demand nothing less than completely equitable access, particularly when it comes to their safety. While many higher ed institutions still have much to do for their accessibility initiatives, there have been many promising developments…

 

 

ECAR Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities, 2020 — from er.educause.edu by Dana Gierdowski and Joseph Galanek
Technology in higher education can be both an aid and a challenge for students with disabilities. Institutions and instructors can take steps to ensure that these students have equitable access, and those same measures can help all students, particularly during the era of emergency remote teaching.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

We asked students, “What is ONE thing you would like your instructors to do with technology to enhance your academic success?” In our analysis of their responses, we identified two overarching themes, as well as prominent patterns within those themes:

  • Online Access to Materials and Resources
    • Class notes and slides
    • Assignments, tests, and quizzes
    • Recorded lectures
    • The LMS and the user experience
  • Teaching with Technology
    • Mobile devices in the classroom
    • Training students and faculty in using technology
    • Multiple methods of presenting course materials
    • Engagement through the use of technology

Read full report: PDF | HTML

Access other materials: Executive Summary | Infographic

 


Also see:

ADA -- Disability and Covid-19

 

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