I am thrilled to share with you that Blackboard Learn 9.1 has just come out with a free portal for k12 educators and others to create up to 5 online/blended learning courses per educator. (Thanks to Jan Wee, Holmen Technology Director for updating me on the latest release date.) The professional learning environment is the perfect segway for middle school or high school teachers to offer to their students online coursework to immerse themselves into an instructional based course led by an online facilitator. This opportunity will allow students to navigate and become comfortable with an online learning environment, and be successful with taking the next steps to take ownership into their learning outcomes. You really need to check this out- I spent over two hours yesterday creating an online course about blended learning course for k-12 educators yesterday and am happy with my results. Each course can only hold 500MGs, so it is wise to embed or link to cloud based handouts/articles or support resources so you do not max out your space. There is also a live learning lab portal and interactive whiteboard and chat feature that you have access to through Elluminate and up to 50 students can participate that is included - this rocks!
I still plan to use Adobe Connect for video webinar portions with my educators I work with and students for the face-to-face online facilitation and meeting piece. (Negotiated pricing for Adobe Connect for a school district in WI/MN/IA is very cost effective for a year license- even for 5 educators to have their own room to present to 100 attendees at one time in each room- pretty cost effective! I will fill you in more if you need more detail on pricing with an Adobe rep.- please note I am NOT a vendor.) Adobe allows me to record and archive my sessions in the cloud, so students and educators can view the content-based presentation at a later time if they missed out on the conversation, or need to hear the lecture or presentation more that one time. Adobe Connect also allows for real-time- online collaboration through creating collaborative groups, interactive whiteboards, polling and multiple video representations of all of your attendees and much more.
Or perhaps you as an educator would like to create a "Flip Teaching" video clip- this too can be easily done in Adobe Connect, and then students can watch the content based instruction anytime /anywhere before your next face-to-face classroom session to build the needed background knowledge and active prior knowledge. There is also a mobile component that webinars can be accessed through cell phone and mobile devices for anytime and anywhere learning too. I am so excited to utilize these robust instructional tools to meet the needs of my diverse learners, and prepare my students and educators with a online learning environment.
Other great tools of the trade that are extremely cost effective and free and visually intuitive LMS's to use that I and others have found great success with include:Class.io, Edmodo, EDU 2.0, Google Sites, Schoology, and Twiducate. It really depends what your student learning outcomes are and how much time and effort you want to put into the development of the actual course, but to also reflect and portray your newly enhanced online teaching presence to make an educational impact with student learning.
Here are a few guidelines to consider when creating and implementing a new online/blended course for your teaching and learning environment below and a support document to review of what the best model meets your instructional style and your student learning needs. I am also including the newly published research from Colorado title "Blended Learning: Best of Both Worlds" a must read for anyone implementing and designing an online learning environment for your students!
The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning report identifies six models of blended learning occurring across the country today. (Horn and Staker, 2011 http://www.innosightinstitute.org)
Hope you find this 21st century teaching and learning solutions and resources as intuitive and rewarding as I have!