AllofE Home K-12 Solutions Higher Education Solutions Business Solutions News and Events

AllofE Solutions

Monday, August 30, 2010

We've Chosen Four Universities to Work with on SMASHUP Beta Projects!

We'll be working with four selected universities on SMASHUP beta projects to create a social media mashup site for each university. The selected universities are Youngstown State University, Our Lady of the Lake University, DePaul University and Northern Illinois University. We selected universities that display attributes that contribute to social media success.

We're excited to work with universities that have a pioneering spirit and a commitment to setting an example in university social media and related best practices. Social Media success has to do with flexibility, openness, enthusiasm and ability to make decisions quickly.

The SMASHUP beta project will create custom high-end social media mashup sites that will be branded consistently with the university website. We will work with the university to analyze, design, code and implement the site that will become the central hub for all university-wide social media initiatives.

For more information about this project and future Social Media Mashup [SMASHUP] Projects, please contact Tracy Kemp at or send us a Tweet @AllofE_HE.

We'll be releasing links to the SMASHUP sites as they go live over the next few weeks - so stay tuned. We're very excited about this project!

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 20, 2010

6 Ways to Increase the Success of your Teacher Website Content

What’s the goal of your website? Interacting with and engaging students, and increasing student success. But you also have to please the parents- they want to be in the know and stay updated on their student’s work. I asked my PLN for their suggestions on what makes teacher websites effective, and here are just a few of the responses I received:

Thanks to Lisa, Hadley and Lissa for their responses. Here are just a few ways to increase the success of your teacher website that I feel are very important:

1. Homework/Lesson Plans/Relevant Classroom Documents – This part is essential to having an effective teacher website. This is what will bring students to your site, but then you have to give them something more to keep them there. This alone will cut down on the paper trail. Upload your syllabus. Upload homework assignments or list homework problems for the week. There’s no excuse for students not knowing what the homework is. Put up your lesson plans – give them every possible path to success. Upload your class slides, handouts, notes. Ask them what will help them to succeed and how you can help them. You’re ultimately creating this site for them, not you – so keep that in mind.

2. Videos – Give your site character – upload videos from YouTube, SchoolTube, Vimeo, you name it and give your students another way to learn. This is more interesting and helps you integrate more teaching tools into your class.

3. Photos – Post photos of class activities, even if they aren’t incredibly action-packed, your students will be excited and parents will love to see it. The only problem with this is privacy – do NOT post student names or any personal information. Also, you make want to get the OK from parents before doing so, but it’s a great way to show parents what goes on in class.

4. Navigation – Things have to be easy to find. This is not something that can be ignored at any level, but this aspect applies especially to younger grades. Navigation is essential for any website. People need to be able to easily find what they are looking for. Especially when it comes to an assignment that’s due tomorrow or if you direct your students to your site for a specific purpose. Another example would be to make sure parents are able to find a school supply list very easily.

5. Personal Element – Post blogs or add a feed from your personal blog, post photos from recent personal trips or field trips. Add feeds from your social media or social networking accounts. You can’t really separate your personal life from you professional life in every aspect-so use that to your advantage to increase the communication with your students and their parents. Make yourself accessible, you’ll be glad you did and your students will thank you.

6. Organize Your Content - as your content grows, use slideshows, tabs, accordion links, etc. to organize your content in an aesthetically pleasing way. This will help to make your site more attractive, as well as give your audience different ways to access your content.

There are many more ways to make your teacher website more successful – these are just the beginning and this list doesn’t even touch on design, something we will be discussing at a later date. But this list discusses ways to make your site more engaging and to give your students and parents a reason to keep coming back. One more thing – Keep Things CURRENT – which really goes without saying, but constantly updating, maintaining, adding and changing things will ensure that your site stays relevant to its audience.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is Your District a Pioneer or a Settler?

by Gail Tolbert

How would you describe your school district? More specifically, what words would you use to describe the actions your district takes? The words that come to my mind are something out of the Wild West like; pioneer, settler, explorer, and non-adventurer; I am partial to using this analogy when thinking of school districts.

Some districts could be called pioneers or explorers. They set out to find new territory on their own. They lead the way and take calculated risks. They are the guides and action takers who provide tangible results for other districts to follow their lead.

At the other end of the spectrum are the districts who act as settlers or the non-adventurer. They prefer to stay back to see what others are doing. They like to talk about the future but they prefer to wait until the new strategies are proven by others with years of success before considering making a change. These school districts are not risk takers and are comfortable with inaction.

Here is my conundrum; part of me wants to say that either a pioneer or a settler is acceptable, but that is not really the case. Only the pioneer is acceptable; each district should be more like the pioneers.

As a teacher in the classroom for 7 years, my experience was that we challenge students to try new things, to take risks and to take action every day. Students are taught that making a mistake is part of the learning process because it helps them understand new concepts and provides them with clarity.

Then as a principal for 9 years, I knew that a portion of my job was to teach teachers to think outside the box, to differentiate instruction, to stand out, to be leaders, and to proactively develop new methods for instructional strategies.

We are teaching, coaching and mentoring our students and our teachers to be pioneers, to lead, to guide, to take risks. So, if the expectation is for students and teachers to be pioneers, shouldn’t school districts serve as the ultimate driving force and lead by that example too?

I work with many school districts and I am amazed at the number of pioneers that I interact with. It is exciting to foster new relationships with administrators who have a pioneer spirit and leaders who want to explore possibilities to maximize their district’s educational visions. I am also amazed with the number of districts that are settlers; that are not willing to stand out or to take action with even the smallest of steps toward improvement for future learning.

How would you describe your district if we added technology to this question? Is your district a technology pioneer or settler? We talk about the 21st Century Learner, what about the 21st Century Educator? Today’s educators are just like today’s learners; they need accessible technology for analyzing and managing what they do in the classroom. 21st Century Learners and 21st Century Educators are doing pioneering work and need forward thinking districts to provide them with the tools and information for their 21st Century journey.

Labels: , ,