Friday, September 29, 2006

International conference for educators, online

K-12 Online Conference 2006

From the conference website:

Announcing the first annual “K12 Online 2006″ convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme “Unleashing the Potential.” The K12 Online 2006 blog has just gone live.

On the conference blog you will also find the web form we will be using for the submission of proposals. Everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal. More details are on the conference blog: The blog will be updated regularly with everything you need to know about the conference.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, September 18, 2006

Instructional Design Inspiration

One of the major concerns that I hear in my job is that school teams are not sure how exactly to proceed in the planning process. I am in the process of trying to design tools for educators and administrators that will help simplify the process of school success planning and implementation, amd I am obsessed by the design of web resources.

Currently, I am working on my webpage for our school board's portal, and I am trying to make decisions about what information it should contain, and how it should be organised. To begin with I would like to gather some of the tools that are already available online and make them available to users in a more logical and coherent manner, relative to the Success Plan document. I have already collected the tools and links for my own work; I would now like to make those tools available for the people that I am working with, but in a meaningful and useful way!

And then I came accross this site. Intended as a program for This site inspired me to plan a little bit more before I completely implement my design. I think I still have a ways to go before I come up with something that is truly useful. In the mean time, I will use this site as an example of effective design, in order to help me better understand what that means. From an instructional design perspective, this is a great site. Clear, concise, and easy to understand, the site conveys the information that it needs to without too much extraneous information.

DIBELS is a system for reading comprehension testing. The page has a clear title, followed by a simple graphic situating the reader. The graphic highlights the grade levels and time of year that is being addressed in this area of the site. The reader immediately sees suggested dates for testing, and that testing is expected to take place over a range of two years.

This information is conveyed very effectively through use of a simple table and a single colour to make it stand out from the rest of the page. Easy and effective, visually engaging - the reader can understand what is being communicated wihtout

much effort.


DIBELS page sample 1. Calendar illustrates implementation period.

This is followed by a button in a contrasting colour. The button links to a video demonstration of the principles in action. Before any explanations are given, before the authors delve into terminology, the reader has a chance to situate themselves in process and gain a better understanding of what is being discussed. This gives them a framework in which to situate the rest of the content they will encounter.

The reader is then given guidelines for administration of the test, and they are provided with a link to help them further refine their understanding. This prevents extraneous information from cluttering the page, and allows the reader to clarify their understanding of what is being said.


DIBELS page sample 2. Administration periods and technical info.

A brief desciption of the technical aspects of that particular test follows. I like the inline references to clarify for the reader why and how this test is effective. It provides a starting point for the reader to further research claims about the tool's efficacy.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, is some simple iconography, consistent throughout the site. This adds some colour without being too distracting, and draws attention to the further resources that are available to users. I like the fact that the colours are consistent and unified.


DIBELS page sample 3. Graphics remain consistent throughout the site.

Overall, a great site in terms of design. Simple, logical and coordinated, and relatively straightforward. Lots of ideas for me to take into consideration as I continue to design my site.

The DIBELS Initial Sounds Fluency Page

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Corporations managing data for schools

"K-12 school leaders in the US are seeking evidence-based and innovative solutions to improve student performance," says Beth Wray, the newly appointed CEO of Pearson Achievement Solutions. "Pearson Achievement Solutions…has a critical role in improving current student outcomes through systemic school change, customized content, and professional development."

Hmm. Sounds interesting - however, because of the focus on standardised testing in the US, how does this translate into practice? I am wondering who actually uses these services, and how do they fund them? When do they decide to use a service like this? Are most users being proactive or reactive to their situation? And how do you make a case for collecting and using data more actively in the school setting?

I can't answer these questions, I pose them more as food for thought.I certainly agree with the use of research to inform practice, but I am wondering to what degree school boards and schools themselves rely on research to inform their practice. In terms of the increasingly varied demands placed on administration at the school level, it would make sense to rely on results that are readily available. Test scores can be tracked over the years, compared to other schools within the district or country, but these standardised scores don't tell the whole story about why or how a school is succeeding -- or not. This provides the opportunity for companies like Pearson to branch out into professional development and data management.

It can be difficult when seeking to change how things are done to make a case for why things should be changed. The Co-nect site had some interesting case studies that could be used with school teams or administrators to make a case for using data in schools. The case studies are offered for a number of different areas. Though they target a specific service, they can still be used as a model for how data can play a part in the typical school, and how teachers and administrators can re-think how they approach data.

How does your school or school board respond to data? I would be interested to hear what is going on in the school setting.

Pearson Forms New Group to Address Need for School Improvement Solutions : January 2006 : THE Journal

technorati tags:, , , , ,