Nomination for EduBlogs awards 

I would like to nominate a teacher for best educational wiki:

Bjorn Hanson –

Encouragement and Help from Bjorn Hanson on Vimeo.


Mr. Hanson has flipped his classroom and has used a wiki to deliver and share his learning experience on his wiki. Just to name a few highlights included on the wiki:
-Google Docs due date spreadsheet:
-Google Forms classroom tech support for 1-1 computing:
-Integrated a student response system for use in his classroom on his wiki

And finally…
Screencast and videocast math lessons and content for his entire math curriculum which enables him to flip his classroom:


Mr. Bjorn Hanson has created a web space for flipping his classroom and blending the online and face to face experience.  This is a model that should be shared and applauded.

Abstract: Leading Schools with Dynamic Collaboration in the New Information Landscape

A project that I, along with some of my colleagues, have been working on bringing to life. Would you be interested in such an environment to help your schools? Tweet me ( or post your comments on this blog. Thanks.


Leading schools into and through the new information landscape of the 21st century provides a unique opportunity for all school leaders. Users of the social web are participating in countless instances of collaboration, sharing, reflecting, self-assessment, and peer evaluation embedded into the web’s new information landscape. It is time to bring these effective collaboration methods into our schools and to education leadership. The opportunity to dynamically connect schools around the country and world is upon us. We have identified a set of core components and elements to set this process into motion. Imagine an environment where information is available, shared, aggregated, and filtered to allow effective and efficient access to data/information to provide schools a path to improvement and growth. Imagine a collaborative repository of knowledge, practices, and ideas to guide school improvement, leadership and teacher quality. This dynamic collaborative repository of information did not previously exist. Systems that have existed previously have been static in nature. With a web-based dynamic instrument process, opportunities will be leveraged for schools, districts, states, and countries to actively participate in continuous improvement with a systemic, collaborative, and transparent process.

Gradutation Summit with Tony Evers

Some items that stood out that were shared regarding graduation:

  1. Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of school
  2. 50% of African-American students and Hispanic students currently drop out of school
  3. 30% of students overall drop out of school
  4. The dropouts from 2009 alone will not realize $3.6 billion dollars over their lifetimes
  5. Key reasons why students report dropping out of school include:
  • Lack of a supportive figure in student’s life
  • Lack of relevancy in the classroom
  • Lack of rigor in the classroom (too easy or not challenging enough)

Some questions for everyone to consider:

  1. How can we create a systemic process in which we provide a KEY RELATIONSHIP for every one of our students?
  2. How can we create a systemic process in which we provide students a daily, clear understanding of the relevance of what they are learning in their classes?
  3. How can we create a systemic process in which we assist all of our students in developing their future vision for their lives?
  4. How can we provide the maximum number of opportunities for all students to follow their passions IN and OUT of the classroom?

As a parent and educator, all of these points are important and would hope that the schools my children attend would be prepared to answer these questions.  Maybe more importantly, the children in the school would be able to provide answers to these questions.

LMS selection process continues for the Network

After spending the past two weeks investigating LMS providers, our group has determined these 4 pieces as  the most important (we were only able to vote for our top 3):

  • Email and Communication Organization
  • Adaptive Release, Prescriptability tied to formative assessments
  • Gradebook:  Organized, streamlined, and provides effective teacher productivity
  • Vendor willingness and ability to customize for our specific needs

At the conclusion of our voting, our finalists have been selected…. 🙂

LMS #4 and some comments…

On Monday, 12/7/09, we took a look at Desire to Learn (D2L).  I was unable to stay for the entire preview and I have limited notes which I posted below:

  • Dashboard with Widgets Customizable
  • Can be branded to make it look however
  • Administrator role assigning is very organized per tool and what is included in that role with the system
    • Role permission is organized as well
  • Integrate with any third party tool (Elluminate, Wimba, Blackberry Tool (Mobile Device)-close partner with RIM, grade books)
  • Managing Content has native collaborating tools to share comments between users
  • Student Appearance

Regarding some comments when looking to figure out what are the main factors for our decision, I have come up with these three items:

  1. Grade book use for teacher use and manipulation. Do grade books offer quick access to assessments waiting to be graded and how much can be done from one screen within having to leave the grade book.  Here are my rankings:  1. BrainHoney, 2.  Angel, 3. Blackboard (a close 3), 4.  D2L; and 5.  Moodle.
  2. Messaging and email is an important.  It appears that Angel is the only one that has it’s own email system for outgoing and incoming emails.  Their email system appears well organized and user friendly for the teacher:  D2L also can supply a fully functioning email system as well: The others do not appear to have any email functions other than the ability to send outgoing emails.  Depending on if students have access to their personal emails at school, it may play a big role in the selection process.
  3. Prescriptive Learning/Adaptive Release. This is the third big piece that is, in my opinion, very important for the future.  The future is closer than a lot of people think.  Angel, Blackboard, BrainHoney and D2L all appear to have some sort of Adaptive Release or Prescriptive functionality.  It also appears from talking to folks who have experience with this, BrainHoney may have the most user friendly and easiest to set up when it comes to setting up courses to function in this method.  Angel also has their “agents” to help with this; however, it has been reported that the process in Angel is a more laboring than in BrainHoney for the teacher to set up their course for prescriptive or adaptive release.  Blackboard is also reported to have the prescriptive feature; however, I have heard they are in the process of improving this to meet market demands.  My thoughts would be that they are looking to do at least what Angel already does (since BlackBoard now owns Angel)…however, this is my personal speculation.  I am not as familiar with D2Ls version, Conditional Release.  Here is what the University of Arizona has on their website regarding Conditional Release:

Here are my notes from a discussion I had today with some folks who have experience working with all of the above LMS:


  • Adaptive Release:
    • BB is not new to it, but has now recognized the importance in Online Education of Prescriptive Learning and will be breaking it down similar to Angel and BrainHoney.
    • BrainHoney has a robost system and very willing to customize the system for each user
      • BrainHoney has been very cooperative in building credit recovery and prescriptive learning for FLVS
      • Because BrainHoney is small, they are very nimble and customizable
      • BrainHoney has a quicker set up for prescriptive learning than Angel
  • Some are concerned about Angel going away when selecting their main LMS and are going with BlackBoard.
  • Partnerships and scalability
    • Blackboard has scalability and proven track record in service…over Angel and BrainHoney and D2L
    • A need for robustness…Blackboard may come out ahead  of the other LMS because of R&D and market share
    • BB has a prototype for Prescriptive Learning
    • D2L does have something for adaptive release, but they are not familiar with it.
    • MoodleRooms:
      • Using a partner is the best way to go to use Moodle…cheaper and smarter to go with a hosted model.

LMS #2 & #3: Blackboard & Angel

Here are my notes.  I am going to try and avoid making any recommendations on my posts, but will provide the notes I took during the preview with the company.  Here they are:


  • Dashboard feature is improved from where it was
    • Modules can be added
    • Customizable per user
    • Information is aggregated from many users
    • Aggregation features seem strong…except missing
    • Wimba is integrated (Elluminate type application)
    • They reported that Elluminate works with BB too.
    • Prescriptability
      • They claim it can be done…automatically, but did not demonstrate it.
      • Gradebook looks okay…not as dynamic as some others out there
      • Email features and management?
        • No internal email feature…period.  Only outgoing email is from an external email system.  What does this do for email for students?
        • Blogs are a good feature
        • Parent access is good.
        • Single Sign-in available


  • Blackboard said Angel will be supported through 2014.  Angel 8.0 will be supported through 2014.
  • Customizable front door for each institution of Wisconsin eSchool Network
  • Dashboard includes email and other aggregators (portable components…)
    • To be graded
    • Emails to be responded and email from dashboard
    • Strong aggregation
    • Schools and Teachers can customize themes for their courses to give personalized look and feel per teacher/school
    • Integrated with Elluminate…very nice feature.  Adds to calendar in Angel and can view records or live sessions.
    • Integratable with Sharepoint
    • 508 Accessability tool
    • PDA tool for students to view on their mobile devices!!!!  Or for dial-up internet access.
    • Firefox and IE both supported…MAC users would use Firefox or IE
    • Grade book is strong
    • Email system is very organized, sortable, and can send emails in and out.
      • Can cc to external email for parents and students…very important feature to make sure students are being reached even if they are not logging into their courses

      Angel can release content based on when students complete a unit  and will provide certificates of completion as they complete units.
      Provide notes to students after submitting work to remind them that they will get back to them by the end of the next school day.

      • Wikis, Blogs, Assessments can all be aligned to state standards with the ability to prescribe based on their knowledge
      • Can be personalized by pre-assessments with questions aligned to state standards in which students can “test out” of lessons automatically!!!!!
      • Can choose if students have access to what they test out, or not have access
      • Standards alignment, reports,  and agents allow the prescriptability features of Angel
      • Very user friendly for matching state standards to lessons within your courses:  WOW!
        • Excellent for purchased courses as well as courses built in house
        • Gradebook
        • Great interface
        • Rubric fields
        • One page view of tasks
        • Discussion boards and grade within
        • Emails
        • Submissions Grading
        • Ability to a SQL query for an entire institution to pull submission query.  Done in one spot!!!
        • Angel could create custom report for submission information for attendance
        • Training?
        • Help menu can really teach teachers and provide as a resource to help teachers
        • Evergreen training course:  Available via subscription

LMS Preview #1: BrainHoney

Here are my notes from the preview of the LMS BrainHoney:

Tuesday, December 1 – Brain Honey, Agilix – Thomas Collett

  • Notes:
    • Branding customizations
    • Dashboard view with due dates…assignments are automatically aggregated into the student home page
    • And announcement aggregator
    • Great student view grade book features…easy to see if assignments submitted, resubmitted, %, and all on same page.
    • Teacher View:
      1. Aggregation of submissions from one place…items are brought to attention in one spot regarding what needs to be graded, responded to…don’t have to go into separate grade books
      2. Can attach .ink documents with handwriting as feedback for students (especially helpful for math teachers or others that would prefer to use hand writing).
      3. Critical Aggregator – Gathers students who are in danger or at risk for submissions, attendance, grades.
      4. Elluminate is built in to Brainhoney
      5. New Course Completion is very much simplified compared to Ucompass
      6. Prescriptive ability is huge.   Will be aligned to Wisconsin standards with pretest and students will be able to take pretests and have the ability to exempt out
    • Single Sign on page!
      1. Live edu
      2. Can be connected to any SIS
      3. CAS or Saml
      4. Works with MACs and other browsers
    • BrainHoney “To Go”
      1. A solution where students can download content on a flash drive and work on content and then when back on the internet, it will sync up and download material back to the server based on who the student is and what they completed “off-line.”

Here is a link to an interview/brief demonstration with BrainHoney at VSS in Austin, TX (Nov. 2009):

My initial reaction is good…still 3 more preview to go…

Learning Management Systems

We begin the process of searching for a new Learning Management System(LMS).  I have completed some surveys expressing my opinions using my background knowledge up to this point.

At this point, where my information and knowledge is regarding LMSs, I would come up with these rankings:

1.  Angel
2.  BrainHoney
3.  Blackboard

I need to reacquaint myself with Desire to Learn, Moodle (with the help of some programmers to lay down some customizations to make Moodle more personalized and, dare I say, “Angel-like.”

I am hoping that everyone agrees to see at least 5 different demos with the 5 I listed above.  My personal opinion at this point would be to lean towards a LMS that allows for customization and the ability for us to make it ‘our own.’

Personalize Learning

Dr. Michael Wesch’s take on the new “Whatever”

The below presentation is a great look into the American Idol phenomenon as well as how our culture has been shaped by everyones’ “screen time” whether it is has been on the traditional television or on the internet with YouTube.  I encourage all to take 30 minutes and watch the presentation.


Deacon Don’s Inspiring Take on Modern Communication

This memorial day weekend, my family and I were visiting my wife’s parents in Spooner, WI.  My wife’s family has a lake home on Spooner Lake in Spooner, WI.  When visiting, we will attend church with her family.  This past weekend, Deacon Don, started the Homily off with these sentences:

“Everywhere people are moving their thumbs. They are sending out text messages. This past week I and 340,000 others have been following Michael Massimino, we call him Astro Mike, Traveling around the earth at 5 mi/second.  Texting short messages / giving updates from the space shuttle, They are called tweets, text-based posts limited to 140 characters in length.

Our world today is booming with communication technology. So, what does this mean for us?”

I was hooked…and the rest of it was equally as interesting and thought provoking.  I emailed Deacon Don and asked if I could request his transcript of the Homily, along with permission to share his words with others via my blog,  Graciously, Deacon Don, granted me permission for both.

As you all read the remainder of his words, think about how communication, technology, education, and religion are all part of the same world with the same struggles, questions, and fears.  Deacon Don does a great job addressing all of the above…not to mention making his words appeal, in my opinion, to everyone, not just a singe religious belief system.  Please check out the rest:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he commissioned the apostles and their disciples telling them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and here is the kicker they would boldly go where no one has gone before proclaiming the Gospel message. —to all nations, to all peoples.

This mission to proclaim the Gospel is unending.
It has continued down to the present age. The “living-Christ”—seated at the right hand of God . Positioned at the center of all reality…As the 2nd Reading states,
“God is over all, through all, in all”–Christ did not abandon us, he is our HOPE. Empowering every generation with the Holy Spirit.

And an 82 year old man is in the mix, too. B-16 (Shorthand for Pope Benedict) 5 months ago he started his own You Tube Page And today, the Vatican is launching yet another new website with Facebook access. For on this Feast of the Ascension, we as a church are also celebrating the 43rd AnnualWorld Communications’ Day. It’s theme for this year is: “New Technologies, New Relationships.”

In my bulletin column this week, I write about the new Star Trek movie.

As the promo for it says, “This is not your father’s ‘Star Trek.’” The movie is a reboot of sorts—a shakeup of the “Trek” tradition. Throughout history, this enterprise we call the Church Encounters new challenges.

The digital world can at times seem far from the faith, but like the Apostles who had to confront the pagan world of the Romans and Greeks, we are called to bring the Good News to cyberspace by properly using the new technologies.

Just as Jesus commissioned the Apostles to go out into the world, The pope wants all of us to bring the witness of our faith to what he calls the “digital continent.”

To go beyond our comfort zones, For SOME it means Do Not Be Afraid of new technology Or at least not to unfairly criticize it For OTHERS it means Do Not Be Afraid to share your faith with others online.

Indeed, the culture of communication. The way we relate to one another, IS CHANGING—and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

From the invention of smoke signals, to the inventions of the printing press, the telegraph, and the telephone; The proper use of technology has always been an important aid in personal relationships. This is still true today with computers, the Internet, and smart phones.

The Gospel says, that we who live and share the faith will do it by speaking new languages: For example, “2G2B4G” (two good to be forgotten) “459” (I love you)—The numbers on the telephone’s keypad corresponds to “I” “L” “Y”.

Young people are using this shorthand to share their lives… their hopes and fears / their aspirations and disappointments: To Inspire: to touch hearts and minds. To form new relationships through, with, and in Christ!

There are, however, three important cautions.

1—FIRST, there are risks.

Today’s Gospel points them out for us. Demons, serpents, deadly poisons, and sick people. We find them in cyberspace, like anywhere else. Therefore, we need a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit just as the apostles received so that we will not be harmed as our tweets bring healing and hope to people who, in some cases, have never heard the Gospel message the way Jesus intended it to be heard.

2–The SECOND caution is that there are false teachers.

Although the truth of the Gospel message has to be translated in ways that can be understood by each generation—God’s truth is unchanging!

The message does not change. We are the ones who are to change.

3— And FINALLY—this doesn’t mean that if you don’t know how to turn a computer on,

You are irrelevant. Hardly. Your children and grandchildren would not be who they are without you. You still have something to say and the young are listening.

In the latest Start Trek movie, the 78 year old Leonard Nimoy appears. He plays the original Spock from the 1960’s TV show who meets his younger self in a time loop.

The movie’s writer says the old Spock is “the connecting tissue” to the original Trek.

One of my favorite parts is the ending—a voiceover of Nimoy

“Space…the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of…”

CBS news did the same thing a few years back

Walter Cronkite’s voice begins each broadcast.

“This is the CBS evening news with Katie Couric.”

The past is not forgotten,

it’s just brought forth in a new way,

for a new generation.

The words of my grandmother still inspire me. Although she taught me how to type
on her boxy black Remington typewriters. I am sure grandma who sees me from heaven doesn’t mind, that today when I have my phone I use my thumbs more than my fingers b
ecause she understands that the message is what’s most important. That the faith, hope, and love she taught me, which she had been passed on to me from the apostles,

will never change.

That I am certain of.

You can tweet on that.

–I can’t say enough how impressed I am with this Homily…Well done Deacon Don!