Thursday, December 22, 2016

We Need to Listen

Instead of my annual list of 'edtech books I want for xmas,' I thought I'd try something different. Besides, the inspiration for innovative teaching and learning leadership probably won't come to you through a book specifically on that topic.  And I want to sneak my provokations past the defenses of those who say they don't have time to read. Fine. Listen.

Podcasts are teaching people new things all the time.  Think of it like a radio dial with every station being chock full of engaging and inspiring directives and explorations of every topic you never knew you needed explained.  For our purposes, we're going to start with education and technology. But because there are so many issues bound up with those and to overcome that perenial complaint that these aren't specific enough to adult education (and you might still say you're stuck in a rut anyhow), I built this list of lists of podasts to light a thousand fires under you. One way or another, they are all about teaching and learning.  Not only are you the student, you are getting one-on-one tutoring by listening to podcasts.

Please comment to share some of the gems you discover. What podcast was your favorite? What are the common threads across all of these lists?  Note that I included the full URL here for you to see instead of embedding the link in the text.  Look at all these sources talking about podcasts!  They're talking about learning. They're sharing the content that people created to educate one another and to put the life lessons in the pathway of those who might need it. It's marketing with a social or even viral exponential expansion.  Maybe one day, we can get our messages leapfrogging across these platforms. Now dive in and listen up and share.   

Best Education Podcasts

Best Edtech podcasts

More Edtech podcasts

Best Learning Podcasts
Best Self-Improvement Podcasts

Best Change Your Life Podcasts

Best Get Off Your Ass Podcasts

Best Motivational Podcasts

Best Social Media Marketing Podcasts

Best Leadership Podcasts

More Leadership Podcasts

Best Entrepreneur Podocasts

Best All-Around Podcasts

Okay... maybe just one book for Xmas

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We Need to Talk

I'm not here to tell you how to do your job or cry foul about every detail of adult education programs' way of doing business using technology.  But some or the core messages of progress that online learning has brought are not reaching everybody and not transferring from ideals to practice.  I routinely see small, regional and even statewide organizations operating in a silo, as though there aren't similar silos all around... within earshot. We need to talk to one another.

I've been negligent of late about posting some of the blended and distance resources that Essential Education has been a part of recently. Here are a few of them linked below.  Please share widely.  But the big one that I wanted to mention is a group previously known as Project IDEAL. As long as I've been in the field of adult ed, there has been a national group that centralized the basic know-how of facilitating online learning. When I worked for the state of Virginia, we looked at the IDEAL handbook, borrowed from their website, but mostly used it to calibrate or confirm what we were already doing. That was a long time ago. Much has changed in the field (WIOA, ahem) and edtech innovations have made some of the tech integration by teachers second nature.  In an effort to catch up and revitalize (my word-choice), Project IDEAL has been moved under the World Ed umbrella and become part of their EdTech Center.

I don't know what will come of the new IDEAL Consortium or what direction it will take. But I do know that it has always been meeting place of states doing or interested in doing distance education.  I hope that continues and that information sharing is more immediate, so the field of adult ed can ride the wave of innovation instead of feeling that it has passed us by.  Now more than ever, states need to compare policies and best practices and lists of approved publishers, etc.  We can't afford to have any size adult ed provider operating in the dark with know-how from the dark ages when a white board was cutting edge teaching technology.  Otherwise, learners will find other ways to meet their needs or fall prey to opportunistic scams.  So, let's talk and then take action.

Friday, January 8, 2016

If We're Not Lost, Where Can We Be Found?

Over the holiday break, it occurred to me that newspapers and websites would soon be posting their year in reviews and their predictions for the year ahead.  We need those kinds of bookends in the field of adult education, especially with so many changes afoot.  We need to process, discuss, reflect and gear up to tackle new challenges. Alas, I feel like we're always in reactive mode, struggling to catch up and adjust to our circumstances.  That's why we need to rely on more modern communication tools than the phone tree. 

When trying to come up with my list of INs and OUTs going into 2016, I asked for input on Twitter using the #adultedu hashtag. No response to multiple attempts.  I tried my Linked-In network of 500+ connections and I think I posted it on an adult education interest group as well.  Obviously, holiday break isn't the best time to get a hold of educators. Or maybe I was using the wrong medium. I tried Facebook, but I only have a few professional connections there and the one who responded preferred to table all work-talk until class was back in session. During the same time, I've been deluged with notices about people broadcasting from Periscope.  And others telling me that Snapchat is the next big thing.  Neither indicators were from adult educators, but it piqued my interest and made me a little jealous.  Instagram is the platform that I've taken to the most in 2015, but haven't found any adult ed angles for professional development.  Going into 2016, I've vowed to learn Snapchat and Periscope... or at least try my hand at them.

So this is where I pose the question to you: Where in the digital world can you find adult educators? What is our preferred platform? Where are the professional development discussions happening?  How can you take the pulse of adult educators and high school equivalency teachers?  Please chime in with a comment. Any insights are appreciated, not just by me, but also by the isolated educators who wonder onto this site and perhaps have some of the same questions and a desire for more input, camaraderie and interconnectedness.


Monday, January 4, 2016

What's IN and What's OUT in Adult Education in 2016

There is no double that the field of adult education is going through BIG changes.  Out with the old and in with the new is the only way things change. But, what are those changes specifically? What are the buzz-words and terms that need to be on the tips of our tongues in 2016?  What practices do we need to put on the shelf indefinitely? We've banished digitized worksheet to the dustbin in past years.  We've learned that practice testing is not teaching, at least not for obtaining any long-term skill development.  Technology has made those tests both more and less accessible from various sources, but how we use the results is clearly innovating. So, please chime in with your new and old ideas and practices. I'll get the ball rolling with a few of my own.

OUT with 2015
  • Common Core
  • Traditional, single-medium, instruciton
  • Fighting against implementing technology
  • An isolated field of adult ed
  • Heads on desks
  • Tired unresponsive social media
  • WIA
  • Mind-numbing Power-point style learning 
  • Cut scores 
  • Stopping out and retention problems
  • Race to the bottom with ever-lowering expectations

IN with 2016
  • College and Career Readiness
  • Blended Learning
  • Fighting our biggest challenges with technology as our weapon of choice 
  • Adult ed as part of workforce development
  • Heads in the clouds
  • Exciting participatory social media
  • WIOA
  • In-depth activities for building critical thinking skills 
  • Skill mastery 
  • Bridging time/place gaps with distance ed solutions
  • Raising results by raising expectations and setting ambitious goals
Let's hear from you!  Post a comment with your additions to this list.

Monday, December 21, 2015

All I Want for Xmas is FREE Resources

Usually, at the end of the year, I post about the edtech books that I'm most looking forward to reading, and I encourage you to go find them and read them yourselves. This year is going to be a bit different.  Sure, you can still go to Amazon and look at the most popular books in the Computers and Technology or the Digital and Online Learning subjects within the Schools and Teaching topic at Amazon.  However, much of the inspiration that the field of adult education needs is finally coming from the field's own practitioners and instructional designers.

This year at the COABE conference, we gave out hundreds of hard copies of our College and Career Readiness Roadmap to make it very plain how teachers can adjust to the instructional shifts taking place and incorporate more technology fluency into their instruction.  You can get your own copy by emailing  If you already have a copy, please share your feedback here.

More specific to online distance learning is our new teacher's guide: Blended Learning in the Adult Education classroom (download it here).  The guide was presented at COABE by its co-author and edtech guru, David Rosen, and again via webinar last month with WorldEd (see the webinar recording here).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Let the Maestro Be Your EdTech Guide on the Side

Facilitating blended learning is easy when you have good models and mentors to turn to for inspiration. When I got started with Virginia's distance learning program ten years ago, one of the innovative educators that I looked to was David Rosen. His online repositories of resources and his work with the Learner Web made him an authority in the edtech field. He was WAY AHEAD of most state's leadership, much less the average practitioner.  But now the field is catching up. Blended learning is not just a lofty goal. It's a standard practice. I should know, because I'm meeting with increasing enthusiasm while talking with teachers about Essential Education's innovative adaptive learning programs.

These stars aligning made it a natural choice to collaborate with David Rosen on a FREE downloadable Blended Teacher's Guide. The publication of this resource has prompted WorldEd to host a FREE webinar with David Rosen on November 13th at 2pm Eastern. YOU CAN REGISTER HERE. Please invite your fellow teachers, convene a program-wide meeting around the webinar and spread the word on social media.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Get Connected at COABE in Denver

It is with excitement and some embarrassment that I resurface with this post having been MIA from my own blog since before Christmas in 2014. Maybe it would be plausible to say that I was busy reading all the edtech books I asked for last year. like a bear hiding out in my cave for the winter.  Or I could say that 2014 presented so many changes and challenges (and growth!), that I'm still catching my breath and slowly turning the page toward 2015. But the reality is that my slightly overwhelming workload coincided with a few health issues (think red spots covering 90% of my body) and family-life juggling acts that the sum total simply bumped this blog and my social media routine to the back burner.

In terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I've just been dealing with basic needs while my ambitious aspirations and my higher self haven't been a high priority.  It's certainly okay to tread water or maintain the status quo from time to time, but I think you can imagine that I am not satisfied with this state of affairs. That's why I foresee a comeback and hopefully it is precipitated by the awesome source of inspiration that is the annual COABE conference.  Yes, I will be in Denver, looking forward to seeing you, and giving you lots of great new resources.  Please say hi. 

Here's a message that we sent out to Essential Education's contacts to build the buzz about what we're about to release to the field (use this link to sign up for the Essential Education newsletter email list):