Whenever educators get together, whether it's in person at conferences, in their schools, or on MBC in Topics and EduTalk, there's lots of brainstorming going on. Veteran teachers always seem willing to share best practices with those experiencing online learning for the first time, and new teachers bring fresh insights and questions that keep everyone on their toes.
Usually, the collaboration is spontaneous and informal, but lately I've been seeing a push at the district and state level for teachers to work together to develop and share digital curriculum. This is a good thing on many levels:
Teachers have the best sense of their own students' needs and interests, and can target these needs without being constrained by availability of textbooks and other offline media
Schools and districts can stay up to date with new curriculum, without having to wait months or years for textbooks to catch up
Heavy investment in textbooks can be redirected to forward-looking projects, needed infrastructure upgrades, and up-to-date technology
The environmental footprint is improved by reducing the amount of paper that is used and discarded with every school term.
The state of Indiana is one example of a high-level mandate for online curriculum. Educators there are free to create their own digital curriculum to replace textbooks. To further that effort, many have begun meeting up inside an MBC topic area, Indiana Statewide Collaboration, to form collaboration groups by grade level and subject area. It's a nice model for educators in other states to follow, and My Big Campus has some excellent tools for this type of collaboration.
Bundles -- create complete courses with text, online resources, videos, files, images, quizzes and assignments, to share with students, your whole school or district, the entire My Big Campus community, or any Internet user via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Bundle Exchange -- Find and adapt Bundles created and shared by other My Big Campus educators. Browse by subject area, standard, or keyword, or "subscribe" to a standard to see newly published Bundles
State and Common Core Standards -- attach standards to Bundles and Schoolwork questions
Schoolwork -- import the pre-designed ExamView tests supplied with many curriculum tools (or import your own), then assign to groups or individual students
Academic Reports -- see which classes and students are meeting standards, and who needs extra help
NROC and NBC Learn content -- standards-based multimedia courseware, either alone or pre-compiled into Bundles, for you to use in your own Bundles and lessons
Training -- our hands-on, free, full-day Indiana Training Camp sessions have attracted huge demand (they're actually oversubscribed and there is now a waiting list), but we have many other training options for those inside and outside Indiana.
All of these tools work well for individuals and groups, and can easily scale to larger groups, as our Indiana colleagues have demonstrated so well. But why stop at the school, district, or even state level? My Big Campus has the tools and the audience to erase boundaries and bring people together. Digital curriculum equalizes opportunities for small and large, urban and rural, advantaged and disadvantaged schools. And My Big Campus is the perfect place to make it happen.
Want to learn more? Got some experiences to share? Let me know in the comments.
This has been an exciting spring for My Big Campus. Since the beginning of the year, my development team has added:
And we're not done yet. You'll soon see a major update to the My Big Campus app for iOS, followed by a similar update to the Android version.
These redesigned apps will have almost all the features of the My Big Campus website. Here's a sneak preview of some of the new features:
- New navigation for more compatibility with the web version
- Ability to Stash content on the device for access without an Internet connection
- Support for Blogs and Bundles
This update will be available soon in the iTunes App Store. When the Android version is ready, you'll find it in Google Play (formerly Android Market) and the Amazon App Store. I'm looking forward to using the new features, how about you? Tell me about it in the Comments!
About six months ago, the My Big Campus development team released EduTalk, a separate feed within My Big Campus for educators, consisting of status updates from non-student users. We made it possible to link EduTalk, and your wall posts, with your Twitter feed. And we watched educators reaching out to each other beyond school and district boundaries with questions about best practices, success stories, tips, and general camaraderie. I'm very pleased to see how EduTalk has taken shape and matured over time.
EduTalk is now ready to "graduate." This weekend's MBC release makes some minor changes to the EduTalk interface that we think will make EduTalk even more useful:
- The default action for wall posts turns off "Include in EduTalk." We believe this will improve the quality and relevance of the EduTalk feed. If you've enabled Twitter integration, your "tweets" will still post to EduTalk as well as your wall.
- The default EduTalk view will change from "Your Feed" to "Everyone." Because the EduTalk posts will now be more focused, we think this will give you a better opportunity to find people to follow.
- In addition to sharing bundles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, you'll now have a button to share your favorite Bundles on EduTalk.
We've got more changes coming later this month, and it looks like a busy summer for our developers as well. Visit the What's Next for My Big Campus page in the MBC Orientation Center topic to see what we're working on. As always, if you've got feedback, comments, or feature requests, please let me know in the Comments.
If you’ve ever wanted to carry My Big Campus around in your pocket, there’s an app (or two) for that.
Although EduTalk got all the attention on my blog last week, our new Android app for My Big Campus is getting lots of excitement out in the real world this week. Attendees at the annual Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators (HECC) conference in Indiana this week each got a new Lenovo ThinkPad tablet, which is awesome enough on its own. They’re also learning about My Big Campus, and downloading the free MBC app from the Android Market, where it’s currently flying off the (virtual) shelves.
The MBC app gives you most of what’s in the desktop web-based version, in a sleek, easy-to-use interface for your iOS and, now, Android smartphones and tablets. I’ve talked about the iOS app previously. Follow that link to get an overview.
The iOS and Android versions of the MBC app support a similar set of features, including EduTalk, our Professionals-Only collaboration and networking portal. If you’re in a 1:1 or BYOD classroom, or if you’d just like to stay up to date on your smartphone or tablet, give the MBC app a try.
Here’s where to get them:
Note: Not all website features are supported at this time (e.g., blogs, group pages, quizzes). App requires a My Big Campus account. Free accounts are available to educators at www.mybigcampus.com/sign-up.
This past weekend saw the rollout of our newest My Big Campus feature: EduTalk. EduTalk is a separate feed within My Big Campus for educators, consisting of status updates from non-student users. We created EduTalk to make it easier for educators to create Personal Learning Communities for collaboration and learning, outside their local school and district boundaries.
Already, I’m seeing educators sharing tips and links on EduTalk, getting practical answers from their peers, and arranging meet-ups at HECC, CETPA, and other important events going on this week. They’re using laptops, tablets and smartphones to post on EduTalk, and they’re hooking up EduTalk with their Twitter accounts to post updates.
It’s always a gamble to launch a new feature like this. Will people notice? Will they use it? Will it truly take off, and become an important part of their professional lives? Will it allow educators to “work smarter,” and apply state of the art pedagogy in their own classrooms and office?
I think the answer’s obvious. In just the first full school day, EduTalk has racked up hundreds of quality posts. Educators are reaching out to their colleagues and attracting both comments and new followers. EduTalk is a soapbox, and a peek into the everyday lives of teachers everywhere.
Come check it out. Click EduTalk on the left navigation bar. Watch and learn from your peers. Follow the ones who interest you to see them in Your Feed. And, when you’re ready to reach out, start posting!
Thursday got a bit hairy for all of us as the development team got My Big Campus ready for the big EduTalk launch this weekend. As of right now, I'm assured that everything is back to normal, and we're just about ready to upgrade the site.
Here's a recap of the changes staff-level users will see this weekend:
- A login popup that asks you for basic information: professional role, subject areas, and interests. That's the first phase leading to a full EduTalk implementation.
- Twitter integration. Post from Twitter to MBC, or the other way, or both. This is phase two of the EduTalk implementation.
- Navigation changes: Easy links to EduTalk and your Blog. More posting options for educators to share updates and uploads.
- The all-new EduTalk interface, including feed options, links to trending topics, saved searches, and featured users.
- Our Android app for My Big Campus is ready for release. The Android app and the freshly-updated iOS app both support EduTalk. More on that next week.
- One last thing: with this weekend's launch, we'll no longer have separate user types for Teacher, Librarian, Principal or IT. You'll be able to self-identify by updating your Account Settings, and that title will appear on your profile and in EduTalk. If you don't specify a role, your title will be "Educator."
EduTalk is just one more feature that sets My Big Campus apart from other learning tools. We want to make it easier than ever to reach out to your professional peers outside your own school, district, or country. I'm looking forward to your comments on the EduTalk experience.
In today's Blog, I'm going to take you on a virtual tour of EduTalk. I'll be pointing out attractions along the way, and answering your questions at the end. Let's get started.
Take a look at the map
Visit the Attractions
There's lots to do on EduTalk as you learn your way around.
- Click EduTalk in the left navigation bar to join the tour.
- Catch up on friends and colleagues …
Your Feed shows only posts from the people you Follow
- Listen in to get the latest news.
Click Everyone for an unfiltered feed from all EduTalk users
- Find someone interesting? Get acquainted.
Click a name to visit a profile, then click Follow to send a request to add her to Your Feed.
- Tell us about yourself
Add your role, grade level, and interests to your Profile to attract like-minded Followers.
- Follow the leaders.
Our Featured Users are the innovators, influencers, and thought leaders in online learning and collaboration.
- Search EduTalk for ideas, and we'll store your favorite searches.
- Use Twitter-like #hashtags to add your posts to trending topics. Check the Trending list for the hottest #hashtags.
- Share and share alike. What's happening in your world? Ask questions, and share best practices. Broadcast your top links, videos, and other content, and see what others are sharing.
- Stay caught up when you're not in school. Read your EduTalk and MBC feeds on Twitter, tweet back when something catches your interest.
I hope you had a great time on this virtual tour of EduTalk. Now that you know your way around, you'll be ready for the real thing this weekend when we go live. Let us know what you think in the Comments, and check tomorrow's Blog for a wrapup of the week's posts.
To accommodate the new features we’re adding to support EduTalk, there will be some changes to the site navigation. Here are some tips to help you get around the new posting interface:
- EduTalk will have its own link in the left navigation bar. Educators can switch from the regular Activity feed to your EduTalk feeds with one click. I'll have a more detailed blog tomorrow about the EduTalk interface.
- We've removed the Blog tab from the Activity page. You’ll be able to go directly to your Blog from the left navigation bar, resulting in fewer clicks and a more straightforward path.
- The Blog tab has received a makeover. The "Post to Blog" button has moved from the Activity page to the Blog tab, which we think you'll find more intuitive, and perhaps more inviting. As the EduTalk community grows, expect to see people checking out your blog, and asking to follow you.
- Educators will have more options when updating their status: add updates to the EduTalk feed, where they can be seen by all teachers and education professionals, or post only to other My Big Campus users. You can even choose to share a post with students, or only with your fellow professionals.
If you're worried that you'll be overwhelmed with posts and updates from the thousands of education professionals on EduTalk, relax -- I'll show you in tomorrow's blog how to create a custom feed that matches your professional interests.
Later this week, teachers and other staff will see an extra message box while logging into My Big Campus. We’ll be asking a few questions that will help populate your profile with your professional interests. Please note that this information is purely optional. Here's a preview of what that page will look like:
You’ll also be able to update, add, or remove this information from your account. The information that you and other educators provide will make it easier for EduTalk users to decide whom they would like to follow.
And finally, a little more information on Twitter integration. A growing number of education professionals use Twitter to ask and answer questions, share observations, and link to relevant blogs, news articles, and other online media. Twitter has evolved into a rich platform for professional networking.
If you have a Twitter account, you'll have the option to share your status updates between Twitter and My Big Campus. You’ll provide your Twitter login and password, and My Big Campus will use a secure, encrypted connection to transmit your status updates. Here are some highlights of how My Big Campus can integrate with your Twitter account:
- You can choose to share feeds in either direction, or both directions: from Twitter to MBC, from MBC to Twitter, or both ways.
- You’ll have the option to share your Twitter updates on My Big Campus only, or on EduTalk as well.
- When you update your status in one location, the other location will also be updated, typically within a few moments.
- You will have the option to hide or share your wall posts from students with these options: Share on EduTalk, Share with Students.
I’m excited about the professional sharing and collaboration opportunities these new features will bring to the My Big Campus community. Tomorrow, I’ll show you in more detail how these features affect navigation in My Big Campus.
One thing we at Lightspeed have always wanted to do is to make it easier for educators everywhere to connect with their peers for collaboration, networking, and professional development. We’re now a few steps closer to realizing that dream. One week from today, we’ll be launching EduTalk, a professional learning and sharing portal within My Big Campus. Over the next few days, I’ll be introducing and explaining the changes you’ll see when EduTalk goes live.
What is EduTalk?
EduTalk is a separate feed within My Big Campus for educators, consisting of status updates from non-student users. You’ll be able to see, share, and comment on wall posts from all My Big Campus educators, or just from the people you follow.
Here are some of the highlights:
- You’ll have the choice to share your own wall posts with non-student users throughout My Big Campus, beyond the boundaries of schools and districts. You’ll see how your fellow educators are introducing blended learning to their classrooms. You’ll be able to share success stories, and get help and feedback from the innovators and trailblazers exploring this new territory.
- We’re re-introducing Twitter integration. You’ll be able to link your Twitter account with My Big Campus, and this time you can choose to make the integration go both ways: your tweets can appear on your My Big Campus wall, and updates on MBC can show up in your Twitter feed. We’re making this option available to all non-student users – just enable it in your Account Information.
- We’re making it easier for educators to find and follow others with shared interests. To do this, we’re bringing back extended profile information. You’ll be able to add job titles, grade levels, subject areas, and professional interests to your profile. And, to protect your privacy, you can share as little or as much information about yourself as you want.
These new features do require some changes to screens and navigation within My Big Campus. Tomorrow’s blog will describe those changes in detail so you have time to digest and understand the changes.