Building Excellent Learning Spaces

 

Guest Blog Post by Dr. Robert Dillon, eLearning Contributor

 

Settling, for some time now, has been the achilles heel of many in education when it comes to learning spaces. With only a bookcase, a whiteboard, and some desks, many educators provide a solid learning experience for kids because they are resourceful, dedicated, and driven. They make do with the situations that they have, and they tell the stories of scarcity as a badge of honor.

 

Many of these situations are actually bleak, and many classrooms do suck the life out of kids. Too often, classrooms today mirror the classrooms of fifty years ago. This doesn’t have to be the reality though. With a shift in the ways that we think about the contents of the classrooms, we can make some significant changes that help students and build brain friendly classrooms that support collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Go Above & Beyond with 1:1 Devices & PD

Oklahoma City Public Schools has partnered with Apple Inc. and their ConnectEd iPad Program to provide every Arthur Elementary School’s 600+ students with a new iPad. Access to such devices not only builds students' critical technology skills, but ensures they have the opportunity to learn in the ways that work best for them.

Rhonda Schroeder, Principal at Arthur Elementary, is taking her district above and beyond standards with the help of the incredible teachers and staff that she works with.  Before moving forward with the 1:1 iPad initiative, Schroeder asked her staff if this was something they wanted to do, knowing that it would take a lot of hard work, and nearly every single one of them responded “YES”!

8 Awesome New Courses [Because ‘Top 5’ Isn’t Enough!]

Atomic Learning is constantly adding new learning resources focused on helping schools tackle common challenges found in education today.  Recently, we connected with Sarah Holder, Product Owner (aka eLearning Guru) here at Atomic Learning, for her top five new courses…and she more than delivered!

Without further ado, here’s the top five…umm, EIGHT, new courses:

  1. Evaluating Technology Resources
    With so many online resources and tools available, it can be very difficult for administrators to effectively filter and approve them. Which tools are worth the money? Are going to be most effective in improving instruction and student learning? What does the resource provide? In this course, we will look at strategies to help effectively evaluate these resources and tools—complete with a checklist for future requests.
     
  2. Learning Styles
    Learning Styles can be a great building block to developing a study strategy. To help you get started, will dive into the benefits of styles, the characteristics of each, and determine which Learning Style works for you. Additionally, we'll provide some study techniques for each style, along with some tools that might be useful. 
     
  3. Critical Thinking
    Provide students the opportunity to build and apply critical thinking skills, as well as critically evaluate circumstances and performance. During this course, students will practice questioning and evaluating to form judgments and make decisions, as well as learn how to interpret alternative viewpoints and reflect on their own biases and assumptions. 

Driving Teacher Buy-In: Q&A with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD

Earlier this year, we shared a blog post on how Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in Texas had created and effectively implemented an Instructional Technology Implementation Plan to maximize technology integration and teacher support—a piece which involved incentive programs to encourage teacher participation by offering the opportunity to attend a regional or state education conference.

Recently, we followed up with Daniel Saenz, Information Technology Director for the district, to see how the program worked out, as well as how it could be replicated at other schools.

Atomic: Why did you decide to implement an incentive for Atomic Learning?
Saenz: Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD decided to Purchase Atomic Learning as a means of providing Technology Professional Development to our employees.  Since we have a relatively small training staff in the Technology Department, we figured it would be ideal to supplement our efforts.  However, we were not satisfied with the level of usage by our employees.  Therefore, we decided to implement an incentive program to promote the Atomic Learning usage. 

Atomic: What was the focus of the program?
Saenz: The main goal of our incentive program with regards to Atomic Learning was to increase the usage of the Atomic Learning system.  We wanted to get our teachers and staff more tech literate.  We also wanted them to use technology to facilitate teaching and learning as well as streamline the daily routines at our district.

Infographic: The Science of Classroom Design

There's been a lot of buzz lately regarding effective learning spaces—classroom layout, color, noise (or lack thereof) and a variety of other factors can all have an impact on students' learning experience. As the infographic below points out, simple changes, such as how desks are arranged, can help encourage collaboration and discussion.

Be sure to check out the infographic and resources below for insights on making the most of your space.

#RealityCheck - Guest Blog Post

Guest blog post by Atomic Learning customer Judy Yi, a Professor at Dallas Baptist University in Texas. You can see more great posts from Judy and others at DBU's ProfHelp Blog.

Several years ago, I read an article in the New York Times that placed Apple Inc. on the same level as a religion.  With its fanatic fans camping outside for days to purchase the newly released device and the devotion they show with Apple products, it’s not too surprising. But what is it about Apple that makes people “hypnotized” to it?
 
Just last month, I had the opportunity to visit Apple Inc. (the America Operations Center) in Austin with my Ed.D. K-12 cohort, and our speaker, Jon Landis, the Development Executive for educational mobility deployment in higher education and K-12 schools, shed some light on Apple’s secret formula.
 
Here’s a recap:
 
By 1997, the world wide web (www.), the Internet as we know it, was easily available and accessible to the general public. It was innovative!
 
However, to a student who was born in 1997, using and accessing information via the Internet is not new at all. They grew up with it and know no other world. To them, it is not an innovation; it is just a way of life.
 
Apple’s mental model: Internet is conventional. How can we innovate from it?
 
In the early 2000s, smartphones were moving into the mainstream. Checking emails and surfing the Internet with your phone was a new technology. It was cool! However, to a student born in the early 2000s, smartphones aren’t smart. It’s plainly a mobile device. They know of no such thing as a “dumb phone” that could not send emails or surf the web. For them, anything mobile-related is not innovative; it is just a way of life.

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