Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Powering Up with Technology 2012

Powering Up with Technology has been a great opportunity for teachers and administrators to share ideas and experiences on the use and integration of technology in the classroom.  It is a privilege to be part of the team of presenters.  We learn from each other and most of all we learn from the participants. 

Technology changes every minute and we need to learn how to swim or we sink.  I remember those days when we discover Palm products.  Do you remember? You were able to write, share, keep your contacts, and use the calculator, calendar and some every day apps that make our life easier.  Today you have a great variety of tools that you can choose from to fit your needs.  Of course, as teachers our needs are linked to the learning process.

When we choose to use technology as teachers, we need to identify first: What for? These are some choices you have:

Or our final goal…

This year's title was: "Click or Swipe, How do you power up you learning?" How do you?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

From chalk to stylus...

Integrating new technologies into the classroom could be a challenging task.  Six years ago our school was equipped with bulky Dell computers (Windows 2000) and Mac OS 9.  In their eyes, our staff and students were equipped and ready for success.  As an initiative from the county we received LCD projectors.  A year later, we received laptops.  Title I administration; evaluated the classrooms.  Trusting the amount of technology (computers), they decided to implement a new project; from chalk to stylus.

As part of this project, Interwrite boards were to be installed in all Title I classrooms.  Every classroom had installed an Interwrite board and trainings were offered to all teachers.   Everything seemed to be a piece of the puzzle.  One day, during winter break all boards were installed; without asking the teachers.  They planned the amount of boards and they assumed that our computers and projectors were all we needed.

Here is where the scope creep invades our innovative project. Dr. Stolovich shares with us the importance to identifying what are the prerequisites needed in order to have a successful project.  It is evident that this project did not consider it.  They wanted interactive boards but they didn’t analyze the existent technology.  None of our computers were able to run the software and also the teachers had no training on it.   After a few months with Interactive boards in the classroom and no use, the Stakeholders established a plan.  They created early starters groups to be trained and to train others, they updated all the software’s, and they added the writing tablets and clickers.  This interventions or changes cost additional money and wasted instructional time.  This changes meant more than a year, without using our equipment.  Not only not being able to use our technology (interactive boards) we had no space to write on since the new boards were mounted in top of the traditional chalkboards.

If I were the PM of this project, I would develop a timeline with specifications of each person involved. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Each detail should be considered.  They only thought about the equipment; they forgot the technical support, the training, the software, pc’s vs. mac’s and teachers technical expertise.  All of these aspects should be considered before the project starts.  Defining a scope should be done carefully, all details and aspects should be considered.  A timeline helps you to monitor the progress of your project and the budget gives you and idea of what is available and how it will be used.  Today, the boards are not still not being used to their maximum capabilities changes, old technologies, changes in staff and most of all changes in administration with wonderful ideas and no plans.


“Practitioner Voices: Overcoming ‘Scope Creep’” Walden University, 2010
“Project Management Concerns: ‘Scope Creep’” Walden University, 2010

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

An instructional designer has to focus on all the elements that are embedded in a project.  This week we are exploring and estimating the cost of all resources that are needed to complete a project.  We need to plan for the parts that we know about and or for those that we are not expecting.  There are several websites and resources that share some tips and guides to estimate costs.  For the purpose of this post I will share resources written to guide the design of an online course. 

The cost of e-learning

Designing and developing an online brings costs and benefits to any organization that decides to expand their teaching capabilities to another level.  To understand and plan effectively

This site presents the characteristics of an online course.  According to the learning experience that the organization plans to develop there are aspects to be considered. Judith V. Boettcher, shares the time and costs of designing and developing the course and the instructional materials.  This site shares links to templates that could be used to design a course.

Estimating Cost and Time in Instructional Design



This site presents the different modalities of online course.  Depending on the features and interactivity experiences on each course the cost varies.  This sites presents the characteristics of each modality and how to calculate cost based on numbers shared from organizations such as U.S. Navy, Air Force and Verizon.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Communicating Effectively


Emails have been adopted as a common communication tool.  Emails are one-way communication until the other part responds to it.  Email could feel impersonal and add pressure to the other part involved.  The use of acronym (ETA) could interrupt the message being sent and generate misunderstandings.  If the writer knows the other person is busy why does she insists?  If Mark and Jane collaborate as a team this email is not necessary as it is written, everyone should be aware of deadlines. 


Listening to the voice of the speaker allows the listener feel and perceive the mood of the conversation.  With the first example, I felt a lot of pressure and stress in the email. This feeling disappeared when listening to a voice that invited for collaboration.  The voice sounded calm and showed professionalism.  

Face 2 Face

Face to face communication is the best way to share important information.  While observing the video, I felt personal connection, teamwork and cordiality.  Her body language helps to communicate the message.  The communicator is polite.  The video was taken in a office setting which reflects that there is communication between parts and there is no need of an official meeting to express their needs.  

The same message is shared in the three examples.  The way I felt changed in every segment.  Feelings can interfere with a person’s perception of communication. “Communication is not just words” (Stolovich, 2010).  Since 93% of the communication is non-verbal, the use of just words limits the message.  The tone of her voice, her gestures and her body language tells me, she that she is a team player. 

I would prefer face to face or videoconference if distance becomes a challenge.  Interaction helps to build trust and develop collaboration skills.  This exercise teaches us to integrate all possible ways of communication.  One point that Dr. Stolovich emphasizes in the importance of meeting face to face with all members, document the outcomes of the meeting and share it with all participants, accept feedback and modify as needed.  Communication can affect any project if not used effectively.   


Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). Communicating with Stakeholders. [Online]. Retrieved from Walden University eCollege.

Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010).  Multimedia Program: "The Art of Effective Communication"


Friday, May 13, 2011

Building a new century

“Building a new century” was the name for a dream.  The fact that we are talking about its “Post Mortem” brings mixed feelings.   In 2003, I had the opportunity to teach at an Elementary School in a rural area at Puerto Rico.  It was a beautiful small school where I used to study in my elementary years.  For my surprise, when I was hired as a first grade teacher I found that every classroom was kept in the same way it was when I studied there.  No technology was present or used in an instructional way.  As a teacher, I shared my technology integration ideas with my principal asking for the permission to write a proposal for a grant.  I had no prior experience in this writing process.  Presenting my ideas to the staff and administrators was interesting; they laughed and my administrators just said that it was up to me.

Next day, I was researching, writing, planning, designing and wishing.  My proposal included the creation of two full equipped classrooms with 10 computers each, a computer lab, mini labs of 5 computers in 3 classrooms, 1 computer for each classroom, TV and DVD player for each classroom, printers, projectors and the use of Plato software’s (language arts, math and science).  For everyone’s surprise the grant was approved and $300,000 were assigned to our school.  My next step was to set everything up, train and implement.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?
“Constructing a new century” project fails its initial dream and goal.  The first challenge was the absence of a team.  It was great to have new equipments; the only problem there was no commitment on learning how to use them effectively.  Each participant should be committed and understand their responsibilities as players of a team. (Greer, 2010)  Many teachers were afraid to allow the students use the equipments and others did not take care of it.  The fact that I was teacher and coordinator at the same time limited my time and space to train other teachers and supervise the implementation process.  The software used was designed and aligned to National Standards, bringing difficulties to its use.  Teacher needed to translate worksheets since all students were Spanish speakers.  Students were motivated in the learning process; teachers could not change their traditional teaching methods.  At this point students were reading texts from a screen instead of a textbook. 

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?

The project management should include time management, staffing management and weekly status and issues report.  This project became a giant for one person to control and manage.  My days as coordinator became very long and the week started to have 6 or 7 days of work.  One limitation was the lack of a curriculum to follow and to enrich with technology.  Each teacher was responsible for developing their lessons and adding technology, which was a challenge for them.

In 2005, I moved to Maryland, leaving a dream behind.  Many teachers continue using technology and others covered their equipments.  “Building a new century", was more than just a design; it was needed a team.


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A new learning experience!

A new course is about to start. Some new friends and a lot of good friends; all part of my learning. Who said that online learning was for solitary people? Not in my case, I am happy to have lots of friends in my screen. It's not about memorizing and filling bubbles in a test; it's about constructing knowledge.

Soon you'll read my thinking. Can you help me learn? Share your thoughts, questions, feelings or comments.


Your friend,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Future of Distance Learning

Today we are living in the “digital age” also known as informational era. The proliferation of technology has given tools for everyone to have access to information at their hands. As individuals, the use of technology is part of our daily lives. Every company has at least a computer, a third part of our population uses the Internet in a daily basis, around 75% of the persons in the US have computers at home, the use of smart phone, television, tablets, handheld devices and video games is growing quickly. Technology is part of our lives. Every interaction with these new technologies facilitates learning. Many persons refuse to accept distance learning as valid compared to traditional learning due to lack of experience, past experience or ignorance about the learning environment design.

Our educational system is promoting the integration of technology in the learning process. Our students are experiencing how to learn from the use of technology; opening doors to evolve into distance learning. My first experience with distance learning required; learning the use of the technology, developing research skills, developing navigation skills and learning the subject being taught. Many students were scared of taking distance-learning courses due to these facts. Today, our students are developing technology literacy skills as part of their daily interaction with technology.

In five to ten years, distance education will be accepted as valid as the traditional model. “If we can bridge that gap of comfort so they experience the environment, they will naturally take in to it” (Siemens, 2010). Educators have the responsibility of integrating a variety of technologies. Communication tools such as Skype has provided practical uses that facilitate the adoption of these technologies as educational tools. In the future distance education will become an option for all learners depending on their circumstances and learning styles.

As an Instructional Designer I can design activities that equip the learners with the necessary tools to be successful in a distance-learning environment. The use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be used as a promotional space to provide orientation and support to those that are in the transition of adopting a distance-learning program. “While it is unlikely that social networking has great potential for teaching and learning, these sites are important cultural even recruiting resources for educational institutions. They are also important in expanding technological literacy of our students” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009, p. 246). Effective communication is vital to improve the perceptions of distance learning; being isolation, one of the primary myths about distance learning. I also believe that Instructional Designers should adopt the latest technologies and integrate them into the learning environment.

To teach; I have to model. As a participant, facilitator and designer I can continue to share and influence learners around me. As an elementary education teacher I plan to integrate distance-learning activities that will develop technology literacy skills to prepare my students for future courses. Developing technology literacy skills at early ages guide our students to communicate globally. Our world has become flat. Communication tools have minimized geographical separation. By positively influence others we can “prepare our students for global dimensions and jobs around the world” (Siemens, 2010).


Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). “The Future of Distance Education”. [Online]. Retrieved from Walden University eCollege.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.