Imagining and Creating eLearning Grant - 2013

In acknowledging the strides that Indiana schools have made in providing ubiquitous access to devices, the Office of eLearning has proclaimed 2013 to be The Year of the Digital Learner. We believe that this connected landscape has opened doors of possibility for schools and for students, thresholds that must be crossed to bring them into the digital world. To that end, we designed the Imagining and Creating eLearning Grant identifying three strategic areas of focus to move Indiana schools forward, taking advantage of the possibilities afforded by student access to technology: Digital Content, Customized Learning and Flexible Scheduling. 
Nine districts were selected for the Digital Content Consortium to create and curate rigorous, standards-aligned, content that will allow learning that is liberated from the textbook. Three of the districts, South Montgomery, East Noble, and Madison Consolidated are focusing specifically on student produced digital content. This blog shares a glimpse of their work in progress.

Bob Squad Experience: Training 101

Over the last few weeks my adventures with Bob Squad has just been the gradually training to get familiar with My Big Campus (MBC). I now have a broader knowledge of My Big Campus itself, not only from the eyes of a student but a teacher too! I have gone through three projects to help My Big Campus know me, but so I can know the sight too!

Project 1: This is the project I got really artsy with. It’s basically an introduction about me! Who doesn’t want to know me? Anyways, in this bundle I told facts about myself that are somewhat interesting. I also answered the question, “Why Bob Squad?” My answer basically said that it is was a wonderful privilege I couldn’t pass up, and it is another opportunity at leadership! The other question I had to answer was about customer service and its importance to a business. Lastly, I gave some information on "How-To" bundles.
Project 2: During this project I did 3/10 bundles. We split the bundles as a class. I like to think this was almost like the interview session but more complex than an actually Q&A session. I had to explore MBC to answer each question. In two of my branched bundles I added screen shots of proof!
Project 3: I thought this project was more laid back but confusing at the same time, mainly because I wasn’t for sure what to do. I had to read information that MBC bundles gives me, and I had to follow along with the directions using a teacher account. With “Teacher’s Eyes” I had to reason out the possibilities on how a teacher might get frustrated or would need help with the new change in schoolwork that will happen this summer. I also had to look to other bundles on what teachers can do: publishing bundles, creating groups, and awarding achievements. After reading over the information for this project I had to comment in a discussion in my Bob Squad Group. I also created a bundle and answered all the questions that the Bob Squad Project 3 gives you. I then submitted this bundle to the project 3 bundle discussion!
I can’t wait to see what other stuff Bob Squad has in store for the future after this training! After all once a door closes another opens! 
-Hadassah from Madison

MCS Digital Leadership: Tips from a Frustrated Student

So I am here today to elaborate on one point. We have been taught for years by teachers who don't understand the simple basics of technology. I am not trying to imply that these teachers are stupid or ignorant, they just have not been taught how to utilize the tools that are given to them. Also, I believe teachers struggle with the concept that we, the student body, can help society, and we are not here on this planet just to die. Here is a small list of helpful tips and tricks to surviving in this digital world.
1.) Asking for help- I know that teachers like to think that every new concept will be easy to understand right off the bat, but that is a wrong thought to have. Teachers have as much room to grow as the next person, they just need some guidance. That is where we, the viewing audience, steps in. Teachers may not accept help from students, but there are peers who specialize in tech that would be glad to assist you.
2.) Try to get ahead of the game- In the majority of cases, students are far more advanced in technology and it's a unique world compared to teachers. Try to up your game though. Look up some new websites, find some shortcuts, be up to date with modern internet terms, etc. These simple tasks will gain more respect from your students and also your peers.
3.) Learn "Technological Patience"- If you are clicking on a website and it won't load, the answer does not lie in spam clicking it until it does. Let the computer process what is going on, and then let it do its magic. 
Not all teachers are like this. Most are pretty good with technology and are very adapted to the new world. The ones that need help are the best teachers, the ones that have been trained in the craft of traditional teaching for so long that these new concepts are alien to them. These are the teachers that need a little motivation, and some encouragement and they will be off!
Peace out Girl Scout.

Meet The MCS Digital Leaders

Here's a re-cap of our Class Sessions, our Elementary eLearning Days, and our Alter Ego Student Technology Conference that we hosted on April 26, 2014! It has been a great year! #mdigitalleaders #mcsalterego

MCS Digital Leaders: How Technology Makes Me A Better Student

I have been surrounded by technology for as long as I can remember. In fact, everything I do in my life is based around technology.  
Back in elementary school, I would learn by using writing projectors. In junior high, technology advanced in my school through the use of active boards, and now that I'm in high school - we have 1:1 ThinkPad laptops. We use these laptops for writing essays, research, and also interacting with online resources.
But how can these objects of technology that I have used throughout my elementary years and now secondary years help make me a better student? 
Currently, I believe that my laptop is a tool that makes me a better student through its ability to help me produce my school work digitally. This device connects me with my school's learning management system, My Big Campus. This LMS helps me interact with my teachers virtually and it helps me stay organized by turning in my projects and assignments online. With My Big Campus, I can take quizzes, learn new content, explore and research, pose questions, and I can collaborate with my peers at my high school and peers throughout the world. This technology makes me a better student in the sense that I have the ability to be a global citizen and learner.  

Posted by Haley Jansen, Freshman, Madison Consolidated High School

Does Technology Make You a Better Student?  A Middle School Perspective
Does technology make you a better student? Across the country schools are replacing pencil and paper for laptops. So we asked students and teachers at our school what they thought. Out of a total of 22 students 64% said yes, and 36% said no. For teachers 50% said yes and 50% said no. It’s a varying topic with multiple answers. We say yes, because it makes work easier, and keeps your files so you don’t lose them as often. On the other hand, we say no because what really makes you a better student is your attitude.

Technology has some pros and cons. Prior to technology school was confusing with all the papers, text books, pencils. All of those loose papers made it hard to keep track of our work. Students can use their laptops as a file cabinet, an information resource, an agenda, and a student and teacher communication device. So which side are you on?
By:  Laken Shepherd and Alyson Harlan
East Noble Middle School Students

East Noble--Technology as a Tool...not Life Support

I think that technology can provide students with the necessary resources to maximize their potential, but only if students can learn to use technology as a tool, not life support. There are plenty of programs and websites that can help students learn in a way that best suits them. When I don’t understand a concept in class, I research it on the internet until I understand what it is. I also use my computer to take legible notes that I can actually read later on. I use my laptop as a calendar and agenda for upcoming assignments and events. I use my laptop to talk to teachers after school.
There are plenty of good things about technology, but it is not always properly used by teenagers. When I am in class and lose interest in the topic we’re learning about, I find it extremely hard to not look up funny pictures or play games on the internet. If I do this, I run the risk of missing important details for lessons and assignments. If that happens, I might do an assignment incorrectly and my grades could drop as a consequence. The same problem arises when I go home. Why would I want to do my Statistics assignment when I could watch movie trailers on YouTube? It turns into: Oh, I’ll just watch a couple of videos then do my homework. Oh wait, is that a new music from my favorite band? Hey, I should catch up on the new videos from my subscriptions while I’m here…then BAM! It’s eleven o’clock at night and I’ve made no progress on my homework.

It’s also an issue when you have down time. You could end up spending hour after hour messing around on the internet when you could have gone outside and spent time getting some fresh air, or reading a book, or a reading a book in the fresh air. The benefits of technology are limitless, but the negatives have a way of overpowering them at times.

However, despite all of the negatives that can come with technology, once you learn to harness it and use to your full advantage, you can become a creative, efficient, and hard-working student with plenty of focus and skills. It all depends on whether or not a student is willing to do that.

Written by Lydia Waring
East Noble High School Senior

Southmont - Our Favorite Piece of Technology

The Southmont IMAC group is privileged to have MacBooks to create our digital citizenship curriculum for the students. Through our MacBooks we have utilized the iBooks Author program and learned various features to make our books more creative and engaging for students of all ages. We use our MacBooks for creating the resources, such as iMovies, that we feature as content in our iBooks. Our MacBooks allow us to keep all of our resources and curriculum together in one organized place. Since these are for our personal use we are allowed to take them home to work on our projects outside of school. This is helpful since we don't have a class to meet with throughout the week.

Having these MacBooks is an enormous blessing and we are grateful to be provided with them. We rely on them since they hold all of our work and provide creative functions to create future curriculum. We wouldn't be able to work as efficiently, creatively or be as organized as we are without them! Our MacBooks are our favorite piece of technology! 

Submitted by Kelly Tucker

How Technology Makes Us Better Students

Technology has always played a central role in education. Ever since the advent of schooling, both instructors and their students have been doing their best to utilize the technology available to make teaching and learning as easy as possible. From the printing press to the mechanical pencil, new technologies have been integrated into education in order to make everyone’s lives simpler. The modern digital technology of iPads, given to all students at Southmont, are the latest innovation that allow modern students to learn more thoroughly and effectively than ever before.

The many advantages of using iPads for education are easily apparent. Replacing physical resources with digital ones helps with organization and paper costs. Instead of juggling several different folders, notebooks, and binders to each class, students can have all of their necessary materials in one place. Taking notes, writing essays, and turning in assignments through the iPad not only saves paper, but is easier to manage and organize than more traditional methods. As an added bonus for those with poor handwriting (and teachers who attempt to read it), typed assignments are much easier on the eyes and most people can type more quickly than they write.

Modern technology provides the best way for students to be actively engaged in their learning and to make the most of their academic potential. The Apple App Store has thousands of apps offered for education, and engaged students will use them to their advantage. For example, various note-taking apps exist that create possibilities not available with a traditional pen and paper approach, such as automatically calculating math problems or linking documents to the notes page. There are also several apps that provide ways for teachers to assign and remind students of homework that needs to be done.  For technology-savvy teachers and students, our technology can be used to simplify and streamline interaction for maximum ease, convenience, and effectiveness.

As long as there has been education, technology has been used to ease the job of teaching and learning. In the present day, providing modern devices can make modern schools more engaging. Students and teachers looking to maximize their potential will find countless ways to use technology to do so. Modern technology can make better students, teachers, and schools.

Submitted by Aaron Cox

MCS Digital Leaders: A Day in the Life of a Digital Learner

Posted by Tristan Kelsey, Freshman, Madison Consolidated High School 

A Day in the Life of a Digital Learner--ENSC

East Noble’s 1:1 technology program has now been in effect for the past three years. I despised having to use a laptop in every class during the first year. I now realize I didn’t like the laptops because I didn’t know how to use them. My school, thankfully, saw the benefit of this technology and kept the laptops around. I now have a very good understanding of how to work efficiently on a computer. I’ve learned plenty of tricks and tips that will benefit me in college and beyond. I’m not necessarily happy about this, but I am now the go-to person to solve technology issues at my house. I help my sister format her college papers, I help my mom purchase items on the internet, I help my brother set up accounts for different websites, and I show my family more funny pictures and videos than they probably want to see. The point is, I am miles ahead of students that didn’t have laptops in high school. I won’t have to spend as much time struggling to figure out the little details of computer usage in college.

Each school day, I will use a laptop to download the newest test, assignment, or piece of literature to read. I write articles for the school newspaper website, The Knightly Scroll, and I post them myself. I check my school email to figure out what’s going on at school for that week. I use video and photo editing programs to make my class projects look better. Writing and printing papers is no longer frightening (well, not really) because I don’t have to drive to the local library to do so.

It’s also the little things about the laptops that are extremely helpful, and not just for school. I don’t have a smart phone or a GPS, so I can print off directions if I have to go to a new place after school. I can check the weather to figure out what’s the best route to take to go home after school. I can email a paper I just wrote to my grammar-savvy friends so they can point out some issues I have. I can quickly email a teacher to ask them a question about homework. The laptops allow me to listen to music while I work. The laptops provide a space where I can store photos and videos. I can also apply for online scholarships and research colleges with ease. I even used my laptop to make Christmas presents for my family. I combined video clips and music to create a personalized video for each person in my family. I love having a laptop.

Now, high school students aren’t perfect. There are problems with piracy, inappropriate posts on the internet, and using social networking sites during class, but I think it’s safe to say that the positives of the laptops outweigh the negatives. Students can be efficient, creative, and knowledgeable enough to keep up with the high-tech world. It would be nearly impossible to have a video production class at East Noble without the laptops. We can do whatever we need to do quickly, and take work home if necessary. I am glad East Noble provided students with laptops and I would not want to go back to the way school was before.
Lydia Waring
East Noble High School Senior

East Noble's Favorite Digital Tool

We are very lucky to have plenty of helpful digital tools at East Noble, but our favorite item of all the pieces of equipment is our Canon XF105 Professional Camcorder.

Obviously, this camera is a little intimidating. It is not your average camera and has plenty of functions that we haven’t even discovered yet. Luckily a few of our video production students figured out how to operate the basic and necessary functions of this camera pretty quickly. We keep the camera’s manual close by if we need to use a new function; it’s another learn-as-you-go type of thing. The Canon XF105 has slow motion/fast motion, custom functions, photo capture, and a ridiculous amount of other technological additions. This camera even supports 1920x1080 HD and helps us make our video appear more professional (also makes us look more official). There are a lot of great tools that go into making videos, but none of it would be possible without a camera.
Written by Lydia Waring
East Noble High School Senior

MCS Digital Leaders: Favorite Digital Tool based on Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

The first time I saw the phrase Bloom's Digital Taxonomy I thought, "What in the world is that?!" So after doing some reading about it, I know the 6 categories for Bloom's Digital Taxonomy are:  
1. Creating 2. Evaluating 3. Analyzing 4. Applying 5. Understanding & 6. Remembering
Many digital tools fall under each category. My favorite category, though, is creating. Who doesn't like creating things, right? Creating is where you express yourself (in this case using a digital tool of course) and you make something original that nobody else has ever thought about. The best part is messing around with things until you've come up with something you like. Which is exactly what I do on iMovie. I've recorded and edited a video with some of the other kids in my Digital Leadership class as the actors. The video has actually been published on My Big Campus. Maybe someday, someone will find it and watch it. *Hint* it involves a Susie and a Billy
I love making videos. A few years ago I dreamed of having a YouTube channel. Those dreams have not exactly taken off yet. Most people dream of becoming YouTube famous though, right? Or is that just me? Although I love creating, I don't exactly know what to do for YouTube. Maybe after we start vlogging for Digital Leadership I will be ready for a Youtube channel. Only time will tell.
Now let's apply creating to real life. Do you think it would be possible to create any movie, TV show, or those amazing Super Bowl commercials without amazing digital creating tools? Well, most likely no. Also when you think about it, many famous people, like Justin Bieber, would not be famous if it weren't for Youtube. Without video creation and sharing those videos onto Youtube (or other such sites), I feel that there would be about half as many famous people in the world. Ultimately, creating with digital tools, such as YouTube and iMovie, are a way to exploit your talents. 
So I leave you with this: What is your favorite category of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy and what's your favorite digital tool?
Posted by Emma Staicer, Freshman, Madison Consolidated High School

MCS Digital Leaders: Looking Back on 2013 and Looking Forward to 2014

Happy (LATE) New Years! I know I am just a “tad” late on posting this, but I have decided that it is about time to talk about all that we have done in the year 2013. Let's start by going way back to August where we completed Digital Citizenship bundles on My Big Campus at the very beginning of the school year. In those bundles we learned about cyber bullying, the definition of digital citizenship, online digital tattoos, and safety & security. Around October, we began writing blog entries on topics involving Digital Citizenship and Leadership, participated in an Indiana eLearning Twitter Chat, and went to East Noble High School in Kendallville, Indiana for a mini conference where we were able to learn about their video production program.  Lastly, throughout November and December, we developed digital curriculum on My Big Campus for our district's elementary students. We shared information on video production and video storytelling, created a session on copyright, made a "how-to" guide for taking "selfies," and introduced iMovie for the iPad. 
For the 2014 year, we are hoping to make an even bigger impression on the state of Indiana and maybe even a national impression. On January 30, my Digital Leadership class is traveling to South Montgomery Community Schools in Crawfordsville, IN for another mini student conference to see what their students are doing with Digital Citizenship at their school. Coming up in March, my Digital Leadership class will teach elementary students during on-campus Elementary eLearning Days with the digital curriculum on digital storytelling and video production that we created. However, our biggest event this year is on April 26, 2014. We are going to be hosting a student technology conference at our school in Madison, Indiana. At our conference, "Alter Ego: Discover Your Digital Identity," we are going to have an incredible keynote speaker and a variety of workshops on technology powers (social powers, app. powers, video powers, and and digital powers). Lastly, in June, we are wrapping up the end of our school year by traveling to California to meet with Google, Apple, and My Big Campus (Which is a pretty big deal!). 

Although we don’t know what bumps and bruises we will get in the year of 2014, we will always hope for the best and will try to be prepared for all that 2014 holds! 
Posted by Aleah Cutshall, Freshman, Madison Consolidated High School

Southmont Visits East Noble

The Southmont IMAC group enjoyed the opportunity to travel to East Noble. We were there to attend a conference between the schools participating in design of the curriculum for teaching digital responsibility to our respective schools. East Noble is in the Northeastern corner of Indiana, about 3 hours from Southmont High School. Despite the long trip the conference was worth every minute of travel.

When our group was first told about the trip we were excited to be making more progress with our project. We also realized we needed to have a presentation for the conference. We immediately got down to work on refining our projects. When we got our presentations together all we had to do was wait, but it ended up being a long wait for twelve over-excited members. When the day of the trip came, no one minded to get up at 5:00 in the morning for the bus ride.

The conference was worth every second of the ride for our group. East Noble gave an excellent presentation, showing us what their group had been working on in their digital production class. Our counterparts from Madison gave equally impressive presentations about ways they are incorporating My Big Campus, each of which inspired new ideas in us. It was interesting to get to talk to the other students in the program and swap ideas and fun stories about our experiences. Southmont is using iBooks Author to create individual iBooks for grade levels to use to share digital citizenship lessons.

Overall the conference was a fun, productive day. It was nice to get to meet with our team members from the other schools and exchange ideas. The presentations were great, and gave us several new ideas and strategies to approach the lesson designs. I hope that the next meeting will be equally as insightful, and of course, fun.

Submitted by Seth Dickerson

Favorite Tools of the Trade at Southmont!

The Southmont IMAC group has utilized several modern tools in our efforts to create digital citizenship curriculum. The 1:1 technology initiative in our school corporation has enabled each of us to have our own iPad. We have taken advantage of that by creating a private e-mail group for our iPads, improving the ease and efficiency of our communication. The iPad's email has allowed us all to stay up-to-date on our group's news that often changes due to our lack of consistent time to meet built into our school day. This flexibility in communication has been crucial to our group overcoming various scheduling challenges. 

As important as iPads have been in keeping our group running smoothly, the most important technology used by our IMAC group has been our MacBook Pro laptops. The corporation once again received a grant that was able to cover the expenses to buy each of the group members their own laptop to be used during the school year. These tools are nothing less than the centerpiece of our entire effort. We are using an app only available for MacBooks, iBook Author, to create digital "books" containing the various lessons on digital citizenship that we develop. After completion, the books will be available on the iTunes store for teachers to access. Not only does the app provide an organized template to lay out our lessons, we also can easily import various media created on our MacBooks such as slideshows, iMovies, videos, and other documents to include in the book. Our MacBooks provide us with an organized, intuitive, and centralized way to both create and distribute our digital citizenship lessons. 

Being a group focusing on how to act in our increasingly technology-centeric world, it's no surprise that our group has found ways to integrate modern tools to help us fulfill our plans of our group. The simplicity, speed, and efficiency of iPads for communication and MacBooks for developing organized lessons have been great successes for our group here at Southmont. We hope to continue to use them to complete our goal of providing engaging and impactful digital citizen lessons for Indiana teachers. 

Submitted by Aaron Cox

Where We've Been and Where We're Headed!

Our Southmont IMAC group has faced many challenges and successes. We have covered lots of information and created many resources for students and teachers to use. We usually meet one day a week to check in and cover information that we need to keep out projects moving. Recently, we were dismissed from our classes to work during one whole school day, and we were able to get a lot done and understand  much better what to do in the future. We have another day out of class scheduled this week and we hope to be able to finish up the basics of each lesson. We have been using iBooks Author to create lessons that we can present or allow teachers to use. Each grade level will have one book with each chapter being a different lesson. Our biggest challenge that we have to face is finding time to meet. We all have very busy schedules and also are not offered IMAC as a class like some other schools have, so basically we meet every Wednesday during our lunch periods. This doesn't really allow us much time to actually work on our projects during the school day, so most of the work is done outside of school and on our own time. One huge success is being able to use MacBooks that were provided for our group from the school. These help us keep our projects organized and provide us with lots of resources to use. In the next few months, we plan to finish all of our projects and begin presenting them to classes. We have covered lots of information and are working hard to teach all the aspects of staying safe on the Internet.

Contributed by Kelly Tucker

Where We've Been and Where We Are Going--East Noble

Here at ENVision, the first portion of the school year was mostly about figuring out how to use all of our video equipment, how to incorporate all of our ideas into one project, and learning time management. And after plenty of trial and error, we completed our first short film titled An EN Knight’s Tale about a freshman that experiences an unusual first day of high school. We also contributed footage for East Noble’s Campus Beautification project and completed the first of a series of Digital Citizenship public service announcements that concentrate on issues like identity theft, piracy, and cyber bullying. We are currently working on the next PSA and a video about how technology influences our education at East Noble for a contest at the White House.

Contributed By Lydia Waring
East Noble High School Senior

MCS Digital Leaders: Comparing & Contrasting Digital Leadership in Kendallville, IN

Not long ago, our Madison Digital Leadership group took a trip up to East Noble High School in Kendallville, Indiana. For those who don’t know where that’s located, it’s in the upper right corner of Indiana, not far from Michigan. The drive was long and the road was bumpy but we made it! During our time there, we learned about East Noble, a forward-thinking school who is quickly integrating more technology into their system.
One of the major differences between Madison and East Noble is the video production aspect of the groups. East Noble has an entire class dedicated to the creation of videos. The class features many talented students. The closest thing Madison has to the program is a Mass Media class which produces our school newspaper, online newspaper and a segment called Time Out News that airs every few weeks. East Noble is taking the next step and using advanced technology to improve the quality of their videos. They have a collection of lights, mics, cameras and other film producing accessories. The students in the class are an impressive lot. They are self-taught students who learned how to use the tools needed for their videos via online tutorials and trial-and-error.
Another interesting aspect about the East Noble video production is the involvement of the rest of the student body. Madison’s Mass Media class is primarily run by them and features them aside from when they interview other students and faculty. From what I observed at East Noble, it seems that they have all types of students cast and taking part in their videos. Our digital leadership class focuses on creating a digital curriculum to share with every grade level in our school system.
All in all the conference was a success! The students had fun, collaborated and we all learned a ton. Our teamwork is just the next step on the road to a technologically advanced learning system.
Posted by Jordyn Watson, Junior, Madison Consolidated High School