Pepperdine OMET/MALT Alumni Conference – Day 2 & 3

I began the presentations on the 2nd day of the Pepperdine OMET/MALT Alumni Conference.  I shared how my own Cadre 9 Action Research impacted my teaching and my student’s experiences.  I also shared how I built a PLN through Google Teacher Academy, meeting edtech teachers & Teacher Librarians on Twitter, presenting at conferences, co-founding edcampPDX and my future plans of teaching an online edtech class for Portland State University.

Next up was Jonathan Silk (Cadre 14) who talked about building an online Community of Practice with Leadercast for military officers.  David Greenfield (Cadre 9) talked about the Arts and importance of including them into STEM S.T.E.A.M programs — and not just think that doing “artsy” lessons is the same thing.  I really enjoyed meeting Noah Sparks (Cadre 13)  — (yes, he’s Paul’s son) and hearing how Yammer transformed his work environment.  Andrea Flagiello & Jacquelin Sandoval (Cadre 14) shared their MALT Design project — which was solving how OMET/MALT alumns can better stay connected using social media.  We will definitely use some of their ideas as we move forward with organizing future meet-ups and conferences!!

I especially enjoyed hearing about Jeff (Cadre 3)  & Maria (Cadre 11) Lee’s experiences using VoiceThread in their research of Himalayan Communities Leverage 21st Century Technology To Solve Problems.  Jeff had attended one of my VoiceThread sessions at ISTE and was able to meet  Steve & Ben, the owners of VoiceThread and then worked with them to take their beta iPad version of VoiceThread to Nepal to record the villagers talking about their experiences.  Even Robert Martellacci got into the action and updated us about MindShareLearning and Dawn Ryce shared a poem enhanced with her own photos — (thanks Debby & Dawn for being our photographers all week long!).

When enjoyed a leisurely lunch (highly recommend Malibu Seafood) and then returned for our 2nd day of unconference sessions.  I attended a discussion about what questions about technology should we be asking & how its affects our culture.  I also really enjoyed the next conversation about best practices when using collaborative tools with students and teachers.  The final panel once again shared “What’s got your attention” and we ended Friday with a community circle by the Heroes Garden with Margaret.  Of course Friday wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory after dinner visit to the Lego room as the MALT15 cadre mates worked frantically to finish up all of their projects.

We all cheered on the MALT15 cadre mates on Saturday morning as the ran their Hunger Games Lego robots — “May the PROCESS be ever in your favor” — and watched their videos.  By then everyone was all happy and smiles (and a little sleep deprived) and after the final community circle then the conference was over.

I really am glad I decided to attend the conference.  It was fun for me to meet the MALT15 cadre and enjoyed their questions of: What did you do for your Action Research, is it really going to take over my life and what are the instructors like?  Best of luck to my MALT15 buddies Kristina Peters and Catherine Davis and all the other cadre members.  Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions of need some help with Twitter, Dreamweaver, Action Research or just a compassionate person who will commiserate with you.  And remember … it really is all about the process.  Good luck!

Pepperdine OMET/MALT Alumni Conference – Day 1

The first ever Pepperdine OMET/MALT alumni conference was held at the Malibu campus this last week.  Members from almost every cadre 1-14 were represented with around 40+ attendees coming for part or all of the alumni conference.  The experience was different than a “traditional” conference but very interesting.  Conference Coordinator, Debby (Kilburn) Kurti said it best, “Our common experiences going through the program binds us together because we all value the same thing”.   Thanks to Bill Moseley for pitching the idea of an alumni conference to Pepperdine and Margaret/Paul and a HUGE THANK YOU to Debby (and the Thundering Herd), Julia, Derek & David for making it happen.

I especially enjoyed meeting folks from different cadres and comparing experiences.  We all reminisced about our VirtCamp experiences, the bonds of friendship, frustration with learning how to program Legos, making websites and movies, and remembering “it’s the process”. I enjoyed catching up with fellow Cadre 9 folks:  Kristen, Robert, Novita, David, Allen and honorary Bucca9er – Pam.

OMET/MALT Alumni members in order from Cadre 1-14 (left to right) who attended on Thursday

During the morning sessions of the alumni conference each day various people spoke about their Action Research, current projects, or how the program has impacted them in their current position.  On Thursday we learned about ways to use Edmodo from Jill Florant (Cadre 13) to engage students & faculty and develop communities of practice.  Jacquelin Sandoval (Cadre 14) shared an amazing story how her digital marketing plan from her Action Research helped resurrect a fledgling salon business.  Kevin Chow, a teacher from Venice CA (Cadre 14) talked about marshaling student self-efficacy through knowledge building communities hoping to affect the dropout rate at his high school.  Charlene Reed (Cadre 7) shared the story of how having an real client engaged her design students.  Trey Eubanks (Cadre 14) used the analogy of using the right “power tool” when working with faculty who are learning how to integrate technology at his school. Unfortunately I missed most of Oscar Menjivar’s (Cadre 13) presentation on Teens in LA:  Hustle & Hack because I was pulled out to be videotaped about my Pepperdine experience. The passion of each speaker was obvious and I enjoyed the variety of topics.

After enjoying a nice lunch, Cynthia Martinez (Cadre 1) helped explain and organize an unconference.  Topics by attendees were suggested and voted on and I attended two sessions.  During the first session people shared an online resource, software tool or website.  The next session focused on best practices with mobile learning and favorite Apps.  It was nice to have an opportunity to interact and get new ideas from each other.  The nice thing about the unconference format is that if you feel you missed something by not attending one of the sessions, you can always suggest that topic at the next unconference you attend!

Panel members answer "What's got your attention?"

Julia Fallon (Cadre 8) then organized an informal panel and asked members to share, “What’s got your attention”.  The sharing and conversation was insightful, engaging and inspiring.  Cynthia talked about the Maker Faire movement and this got me thinking about how I could encourage more creativity at my school or for myself personally.  We also got into an engaging conversation about empowering students, empowering teachers and leadership.  What a wonderful way to end a full day of conversations and learning.

We were off to Duke’s for dinner and met up with some of the MALT15 folks later on for drinks.  All in all it was a great first day for the alumni conference.


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There and back again

I am thrilled that Pepperdine has decided to have an OMET/MALT alumni conference alongside when the new Cadre 15 will begin.  My participation in the Online Masters of Educational Technology (now called Masters of Learning Technologies) program was life changing for me.  I was challenged to connect with all types of educators using online and virtual tools.  Never did I know that this constructive environment would stretch me and challenge the way I taught.

It has been five years since I graduated and during the alumni conference I will present a 20minute TED-type talk about my journey, what I have learned along the way and how it challenged me to make a difference.  Here are my slides (including brief speaker notes)

Thank you Pepperdine OMET


Pick out a blogger who in some way influenced your decision to begin blogging and write them a thank you note.

A major influence in my professional development as a computer teacher happened during my Masters of Educational Technology program at Pepperdine University.  This online Master’s program introduced me to blogging as a reflective practice.  My cadre leader, Bill Moseley set up a group blog for us to review and reflect on our learning throughout the program.  It was awkward at first – “I have to write?” – but I found drawn to reading my classmates postings and realized how similar my journey was to theirs.  Especially for an online program it was critical to have this insight into each others learning process.  We also shared lesson ideas, links, and reviewed software programs.  Not all cadre members loved the blogging but I learned so much from reading and writing the blog and felt even more connected to my classmates.  It was a great experience.

During the program, I set up a blog on Blogger to document the results of my Action Research Project.    My focus was engaging students with authentic technology projects.  As I worked and reworked lessons for my ARP, I documented student progress, my reactions, and student’s own reflections.

I started this blog at as soon as graduated from the OMET program.  It has been a wonderful journey.  There have been times when I first started that I felt like I was talking to no one except myself – but slowly my personal learning network has grown.

So here’s my thank you.  Thanks to Bill Moseley, Gary Stager, Paul Sparks, Cynthia Solomon, Melissa Anderson, Jeff Lee, and ESPECIALLY all my Cadre 9 Bucca9ers for teaching me about learning – and learning how to learn.  I will be forever thankful.

Action Research Project

I am pleased that my Action Research project from Pepperdine University was selected to be uploaded to the student archives as an example of Action Research.

“These projects have value in directing the work of the next generation of students in the Online Masters in Ed Tech Program at Pepperdine. The sites listed here are under review for the Center for Collaborative Action Research. A number will be published on the Center.”

My research paper was titled, “Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects” and the final paper and documentation can be accessed at

Pay it forward

I spent last week as a Graduate Assistant for the Pepperdine Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology [online] program in Malibu (yes, Malibu!) California. VirtCamp is a chance for the new cadre members to meet face to face and learn the communication tools for their online year ahead. The excitement in the air was contagious and as I sat there and reflected about my 13-month journey through OMET – I was struck about how much I learned this year and how my community taught me most of what I now know.

Pay it forwardI admit – I had to hold myself back from gushing all kinds of advice like: You’ve got to learn about and other social bookmarking sites. If you work on multiple computers like I do you will love having all your bookmarks in one place (plus it’s fun to snoop through other people’s bookmarks!). Wikis? I love wikis. I use them all the time. Whenever my cadremates and I were discussing a situation I was always to first to suggest, “Let’s add a link to our wiki and add our ideas there”. Wikis are so great for collaboration and giving each person a voice. Oh … and you must post all of your pics on flickr and play around with flickr toys! I found myself proclaiming the wonders of blogging – even though before this program I could barely keep a diary for more than a week. Now I find that I have so much swimming around in my head that I have to write it down so I can digest it slowly, let it mull around in my brain for awhile and then come back to the idea later on and discuss the idea some more.

I was so busy during the week that I didn’t have time for much blogging and realized how much I missed it. Now that I am finally reflecting on what happened I am realizing that blogging is so much more about the process of my thinking and actions – and less about “what happened”. I definitely missed a golden opportunity – oh well – next time.

During the course of VirtCamp, class members are thrown into social learning activities where they share how they learned what they know and are asked to complete activities in groups where they are given little direction of how to complete the project. It is basically organized chaos. Some people love the open-endedness and interactions and others crave some written directions. There is no better way to reflect on your preferred learning style than to be thrown into a situation where you are challenged to grow and be a learner again. Most of the people in the program are K-12, Higher Ed or corporate trainers and I am sure they are used to being the experts and “knowing how to do it all”. Being placed back in a position of a learner is good for educators. I think it is critical to experience and remember the feelings of nervousness, fear, frustration, exhilaration, and sense of accomplishment. It will make each of use more sensitive to the learners in our environment.

My main role was to assist the new students when they needed help with communication tools, setting up blogs, designing websites or answering basic questions. The students were eager to learn and there was A LOT to learn in a short amount of time. After teaching someone how to set up a template in Dreamweaver or how to add tags to a blog entry I found myself saying to them, OK now, pay it forward. Teach this skill to at least one other class member”. I am happy to say that after two or three days I observed many new Dreamweaver templates, lots of interesting blogs and many new skills being shared with classmates.

Just think. Individually we know a lot – but what if each of us really takes on the theme of “Pay it forward”. Collectively we know so much more and we can accomplish a great deal together. The OMET program embraces social learning at it’s best. Educators can learn a great deal from each other if we take the time to share best practices and be open to learning.

Pay it forward!

Give Education a Second Life

Tonight our OMET Pepperdine cadre hosted a “Give Education a Second Life” event at the NMC Campus on Teaching2 in Second Life. The event began with a keynote address by Melissa Anderson. Then a video that discusses the theme of choice was shown. Next, we listened to an interview between edtech blogger, Steve Hargadon and Gary Stager. The “Give Education a Second Life” website URL was shared as well as the contest requirements to win an iPod. The two evenings ended with lively discussion among participants.

Give Education a Second Life EventMy favorite quote of the evening was by Gary Stager: “I would suggest that without choice there is no ownership; without ownership there is no engagement; and without engagement there is no learning.” To me this quote speaks directly to what I have been trying to accomplish in my computer classes all year – engage students to increase learning. Another thing Stager mentioned was that we need to give kids more varied, deeper, richer, and more personally meaningful long-term sustained experiences. It is through these experiences that students construct knowledge – not through access to information or “interaction with the content”.

Both evenings challenged me to articulate my vision of choice and why I believe it is essential to create a learner-centered environment. Thanks to all who attended.

Everything I NOW know about about teaching I learned from my Action Research Project.

My year-long Action Research project was titled, “Engaging Students in Authentic Technology Project”. The full pdf of the report can be found at my Pepperdine student website . Some final thoughts …

Planning: In order to be successful in using a thematic project-based approach I must carefully plan out curriculum and skills integration. It doesn’t just happen on its own.

Student Engagement: Engagement is present in the classroom if the student sees value in learning the new technology skill.

Authentic Audience: One of the most compelling factors in engaging students in technology lessons is to design projects that have an authentic audience. The difference is that the students are making innovative projects that are seen by real people and content that is authentic and interesting.

Best Assignments: The best assignments are related to “real world problems,” used real world technology tools, are built on life experiences and require in-depth work.

Challenges: The challenge for any teacher is to balance teacher-directed instruction and student-centered learning. I need to vary the nature of assignments and whether students worked by themselves or in groups.

Give Student Choice: Choice empowers students in their learning but also gives students options to choose projects that are more suited to their learning style or personality.

Assessment: This new type of curriculum planning required me to rethink how I assess skill knowledge to make sure students are learning the technology skills required. The focus is on the process of learning – not the end product. My job as a teacher is to discover whether students are learning and understanding the material.

Continue to grow: I need to continue to evaluate which skills should be covered in my computer classes. The world is flat. Change requires new ideas and new teaching strategies.

Go Global: I should continue to integrate newsworthy and global topics as a way to maintain the authentic feel of student projects.

Feedback: I also need to find a way to give valuable feedback to students about their learning and progress. Portfolios can provide an area for reflection and another authentic audience for their work.

Organization: I will continue to use Moodle for organization and journal entries. Having the ability to access the class site and handouts from home was a huge advantage for the students this term.

Let go: I need to let go of controlling all of the aspects of direct instruction and teaching. It is essential to give students opportunities to “learn how to learn”.

Finally: There must be a real purpose to learn technology skills and then opportunities to demonstrate their use. No longer will I stand in front of my computer lab and drill students on isolated technology skills when students don’t have a reason or purpose to learn them. Projects that have authentic audiences raise the quality of performance on projects and also provide students with purposeful motivation to do their best work.

Seeking the answer …

One of my favorite quotes is “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself ” (Lloyd Alexander). This blog represents my vision and quest for NOT discovering the answer – but probing the questions about the power of educational technology which hopefully will lead to newer and more fascinating questions to ponder.

I’ve just finished by Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology at Pepperdine University. This past year I have been challenged in so many different ways … how do people learn … what are the most effective instructional practices to engage students in learning … do teachers stifle creativity … how do students construct meaning through learning … how can I create an environment that is conducive to learning … what role does technology play in that … how can I influence the educational community … how can I lead … and many more.

Meaningful reflection is a key factor is deciding which course to take. I hope to use this blog as a place for conversation and reflection on my journey towards leadership in the educational technology community. I am constantly inspired by my fellow educators who share their insights and hope that I can do the same.

Thank you for taking the time to visit. Please comment if you feel so inclined. Some wise words to think about, “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” Cheers!


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