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Thursday, May 19, 2011

edYOUcator Facebook Poll

We're excited to introduce the edYOUcator Facebook Poll to help us decide what new feature should be added next to the edYOUcator site! As edYOUcator grows, we want the edYOUcator community be part of the process. This is your chance to help shape the search engine and help it become what you would like it to be, so that you can benefit from it.

There are four different options to choose from:
  • User accounts with points
    This option would allow users to create an edYOUcator account and earn points by doing searches, clicking on lesson plans, submitting lesson plans, submitting an error or bad search, and referring new users.
  • Tracking favorite lesson plans
    By tracking your favorite lesson plans you could bookmark a lesson to come back to at a later date or keep track of your favorites without having to do another search.
  • Earning badges for milestones
    Badges would be based on milestones such as frequency of searches, lesson plan/assessment submissions and submitting a problem or bad search.
  • Rating lesson plans
    You could view ratings and rate a lesson plans on the search results page.

The poll will last until next Thursday the 26th at 5 PM EST - so get your vote in now!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 SchoolE Award Winners

The nominations have been sent, sites judged, the votes cast & validated and now we’re proud to announce the 2011 SchoolE Award Winners!

Lexington City Schools

York County Public Schools

Clear Creek ISD

Congratulations to these districts and thanks to all the districts who participated! Also a big thanks to everyone who helped make this year's awards happen.

Each winning district will receive the following prizes:
  • Video review of district site by Nick Denardis.
    Nick will be reviewing the top district in each category. As host of his EDU Checkup video blog he reviews education websites through the eyes of a first time visitor, while critiquing the design, information architecture and code of the sites. Keep a look out on the blog and Twitter for links to these videos when they’re done!
  • Full Feedback Analysis of Website
  • Tons of exposure
    In addition to the media exposure of the event, winning districts will be featured in a press release to major media outlets that include national and regional newspapers and news sources, targeted both to your geographical area and nationally. Winners will also be featured heavily within Social media and networking sites, such as Twitter (@allofek12), Blogger, Facebook, focused on the K-12 sector.A badge to proudly display on their district website
  • And More....

Recap of Voting
The voting round ended up being a total of 6 weeks and the districts really took advantage of every single one of those weeks. The competition started out strong with Brownsville, Rockingham, and Lexington being the category leaders.

In the Medium category Rockingham came out ready to win with over 1,000 votes in the first week - that’s more votes than they had nominations! Overall the category maintained their momentum all throughout voting. There was so much competition and many lead changes within this category that you never know what district might steal the #1 position. York County had been on Rockingham’s tail since week 2 of voting and finally surpassed them for the #1 position in week 4. Their victory was a little short-lived; Rockingham came back the next week and with over 1,000 votes in one day, they regained the title. But York hadn't been too far behind since. When voting ended Rockingham was in the lead, but once the votes were validated York was so close behind they ended up in the first place position! Oxnard Union High, Upper Darby, and Independence 30 we also strong competitors. While they didn’t see quite the vote count of the lead districts, the competition for 3rd place was definitely worth watching.

Districts in the Large category had their fair share of competition as well, but it didn’t start until later on. It seemed no one was going to give Brownsville or Keller ISD any trouble until week 3 when Clear Creek started receiving votes in droves, providing both schools with competition and stealing the #1 spot. Although Brownsville was never able to steal back that position, they stayed strong and kept up with Clear Creek’s voting. Both districts put forth a lot of effort in this competition!

Small districts started off the competition slowly, but they surely moved their way on up in votes. Lexington City and Zachary Community were the front runners in this category. Once they hit over 500 votes their competition was only with each other. These two districts changed #1 position for the category almost weekly until the last two weeks of voting showed a landslide of votes from Zachary Community, which put them further ahead than they had ever been before. At the end of voting Zachary Community seemed to be the winner but after a validation of all the votes Lexington came out on top! With these two districts it was a close call! They should both be proud though, their overall vote counts were in the same range as Large category winner Clear Creek!

With this year’s awards every district is a winner! The exposure districts have received has been phenomenal! The SchoolE site has seen page views from 64 countries around the world and of all the page views 75% of them were unique visits!

SchoolE has also gained exposure in the news. Local newspapers and radio stations have been doing stories on the awards and finalists such as K2 Radio in Casper, WY and The Ledger in Lakeland, FL. and Daily Press in Newport News, VA.

As well as news articles, SchoolE press releases have been featured on a number of educational blogs and sites such as eSchool News. The districts were very proud of their finalist statuses as well, they displayed their finalists badges on their sites and issued press releases about the awards. Here are just a few of the many press releases done by schools- Keller ISD, Clear Creek ISD, and North Mason SD.

In Closing
This year’s SchoolE Awards was a great success! So many schools were dedicated to giving their district site the recognition it deserved. It’s so awesome to see communities come together to support their schools.

Although the awards for this year are over, your part is not! Please let us know about any suggestions, comments, or questions you’ve had about the competition. Leave us a comment on the SchoolE homepage and tell us what you liked, didn’t like, or would like to change. We listen to every single one - suggestions from last year helped us make this year’s awards even better and that’s what we want to see with next year as well!

Thanks again to all the districts, everyone who nominated and voted, our amazing judging panel, and everyone who helped with the awards along the way.

Make sure to keep an eye out for Nick’s video reviews and check back for more information on this year’s awards and next years!

Here’s hoping to another great year of SchoolE Awards in 2012!

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SchoolE Voting Now CLOSED (May 12, 2011 at 5 PM EST)

**This blog was posted yesterday, but Blogger was DOWN! Grrr!**

SchoolE voting ended as of 5 PM EST on May 12, 2011. What an exciting voting round it’s been! There has been a ton of competition, 100+ lead position changes, districts with remarkably high vote counts, tens of thousands of votes cast and more than 55,000 SchoolE website hits.

Thanks to all who participated! Every vote and nomination led this year to being the biggest and best SchoolE Awards yet. The voting round is by far the most important round, not only because it decides the award winners, but because it shows what the awards are really about - district websites with strong community support!

Remember that the votes and standings you see on the website are based on unvalidated vote counts. That means positions can and will change once votes are validated, so don’t start celebrating too early. Here are the unvalidated standings as of 5 PM EST on May 12.

I’m sure all the districts are excited for us to announce the official award winners tomorrow, but meanwhile check out these awesome news articles about the SchoolE Awards and two of the finalists. You can listen to or read the stories on K2 Radio in Casper, WY or from The Ledger in Lakeland, FL. The exposure districts have received for this year's awards has been phenomenal! Every district is coming out a winner with all the attention from not only across the United States, but internationally as well - more than 60 countries have viewed the SchoolE site!

While voting may be over, your part in the awards is not! Please let us know about any suggestions, comments, or questions you’ve had about the competition. Go to the Interact page of the SchoolE page and write us a comment.

The official 2011 SchoolE Award Winners will be announced tomorrow, May 13th. The time is still to be determined so keep an eye out!

Good Luck!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

edYOUcator: 3 Months

This week marks 3 months since the launch of edYOUcator. Over the past months it has seen thousands of unique search topics and even more searches. But as the edYOUcator community continues to grow so does edYOUcator. We’ve received lots of feedback and plan on implementing some new features in the near future to help out our educators!

Since its launch in February, educators from around the world have been searching not only for lesson plans, but assessment help and instructional help as well (such as how to deal with cyber bullying and differentiated instruction). edYOUcator has become much more than a lesson plan search, it’s becoming more of a community every day.

The most popular subject areas for searches have been English and Math - especially math. Not a day goes by that someone isn’t searching for fraction help!

Speaking of which, the most popular search with the greatest number of lessons visited has been fractions - and any form of fraction, fraction multiplying, adding fractions, fractions to decimals, etc. Next to fractions, Africa came in a close second.

Many have been searching for upcoming holiday activities, lesson plans, and unit plans as well. This is a perfect example of why edYOUcator is so useful. All you have to do is type in the holiday. No need to type lesson plan or scour through the Internet looking for legitimate sites- edYOUcator does that for you. It also comes in handy with current events such as the Japanese Tsunami and Osama Bin Laden’s death. When you’re not planning on teaching about time sensitive events like these, a quick search can go a long way.

There have also been a few really unique searches, one being the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. (For those of you who might not know the fire happened 100 years ago. It was the single most deadliest industrial disaster in New York City until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 2001.)
Another unique search was aphorisms, which, according to Princeton’s Wordnet means: a short, pithy, instructive saying. Here's an example: One today is worth two tomorrows. - Benjamin Franklin.

There is no limit to what you can search for on edYOUcator! If your search doesn’t give you the results you’re wanting please, please, please tell us about it! We thrive on feedback, so we’d love to hear from you.

Or if you'd like to figure it out on your own, take advantage of the video overview we posted last week. You can find it here. In it we give a quick overview of how to use edYOUcator and the advanced search options. It also shows how to utilize the help options while searching. If you still can’t figure it out, it shows you how to contact us from the site as well.

We hope to do more video tutorials on edYOUcator in the future, so if you have any questions or comments on what you’d like help with tell us about it!

edYOUcator has been spreading like wildfire. The more that people hear about it the more feedback and exposure it seems to get. James Gubbins, a self proclaimed EdGeek, and host of the blog Zenodotus, focused one of his posts on edYOUcator last week. You can read it here. This is what we love to see: People spreading the word and helping out the educational community.

To celebrate 3 months of edYOUcator we’re also introducing a Facebook Question for the edYOUcator community to vote on what feature you’d like to see next. Keep an eye out for it later this week (we’ll be tweeting about it and will post another blog when we post the question.)

This is just one of the many things we have planned for edYOUcator, so keep searching, submitting lesson plans, and telling your educational friends and family about it. The bigger it becomes, the more resourceful and useful it will be to you!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Higher Education and Curriculum Mapping

I was doing some research related to higher education and curriculum mapping for our release of eCurriculum HE and strangely it was difficult to find a lot of information in this area. People ask questions about it, define what they want, but there seem to be few examples of what I would call a comprehensive, “feasible” solutions.

I found a lot of research projects that were funded and performed by programs in higher education institutions to go through the mapping process for an entire program or a set of courses. Strangely, this seemed to be a pretty manual and cumbersome process of documenting, charts, spreadsheets, etc.

From this study by a professor at Colorado State University to this study at Oxford College of Emory University to this study at Indiana University, it seems they all concluded that curriculum mapping was beneficial and needed, yet there is a distinct lack of systems that successfully meet the needs of automation.

I think it may be time to delve into the reasons a little deeper.

K-12 school districts got a head start on this a few years ago. They automate the curriculum management process, get their initial curriculum into the system and then benefit from the advantages of being able to generate all kinds of gap, overlap, and other reports on the What, When, and How of their instruction. Then when needed they just have to reevaluate and tweak the content.


Time saving.

No research projects (or the associated cost) involved.

Sounds like pretty good reasons to me. So where is the problem? Well, I am guessing it has to do with a few factors:

  1. The complexity of needs at the Higher Ed level compared to K-12 - this could be more perception than reality. However, it does make it harder for things to gain momentum. The needs of different areas are too diverse to find a common ground when designing solutions that can apply broadly. Perhaps, it is a resistance to follow the K-12 school districts’ lead – This is understandable but maybe we should let that slide.

  2. Customization Needs - This is related to the first point. For a solution to work in Higher Ed, it has to be highly customizable. More importantly the customization has to be cost-effective and quick. This could explain the lack of high-end systems specifically geared towards higher ed.

  3. Perceived “cost savings” of doing it ourselves – Again, this builds on the above two points. Given the lack of good custom enterprise solutions, it is easy to support the notion that "we should try to build it internally”. Without going into all the details here, this often ends up not quite achieving the results intended. Rather than saving money, it ends up being ten times more expensive, takes forever to develop and creates something less robust than a high-end customizable product.

Honestly, given all these factors, I think the biggest one is that there is just not really much out there in terms of enterprise level systems that are truly flexible, customizable, and scalable enough to manage the curriculum for higher education.

Stay tuned for more information on some exciting developments related to Curriculum Mapping specifically for Higher Ed.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

SchoolE Update: One Final Week to Vote

If you missed the announcement earlier this week, the SchoolE Awards voting round has been extended until May 12th. That's a whole extra WEEK of voting so take advantage of it. As of now, it looks like the 2nd place districts in each category could really take advantage of the extra time. The competition is so close, this extra week is going to keep us on the edge of our seats until the winners are announced Friday. So since voting was pushed back we'll get some logistics out of the way first.
  • Voting will end Thursday, May 12th at 5 PM EST
  • Winners will be announced on Friday, May 13th (time TBA)
Remember that the standings you see now are based on unvalidated vote counts, so positions can change once we close voting and validate the votes. At the end of voting on Thursday, don't celebrate your win or defeat just yet, wait until the winners are officially announced! In the nomination round we did see position changes once they were validated, and the same thing may happen with voting as well.

This week there has been an insane amount of voting! Both Rockingham Co. and York Co. have reached over 4,000 votes. WOW! Their voting has been non-stop all week. While Rockingham is still in first place, York County is working hard to keep up with them. On Tuesday when Rockingham passed the 4,000 vote mark, York soon caught up. These two districts have been neck and neck the entire voting round and the battle is driving their vote counts way up. With the extra week, I wouldn't be surprised if they each receive over 6 or 7 thousand votes...or more.

The Small districts have really increased their game in these past few weeks of voting. In the beginning their vote count wasn't too impressive, but this week Zachary Community took over and now holds the first place position. With almost 2,000 votes, their vote count is in the same range as the #1 district in the Large category Clear Creek. Second place Lexington City isn't too far behind either with just over 1,000 votes. Lexington can really use this extra week to catch up with Zachary, these two schools rotate 1st and 2nd place positions almost every week, but this is the week that both of them need to go all out.

In the Large district category, Brownsville still can't seem to get ahead of Clear Creek. They have been right behind Clear Creek since being knocked to the #2 position but haven't been able to pull off a #1 position steal just yet. Although they're about 500 votes behind I don't anticipate them giving up to easy. They have been a very big contender throughout the whole competition including nomination rounds, so I wouldn't be surprised if they give Clear Creek some stiff competition in these upcoming days.

While at the moment the really exciting competitions are between the top 2 schools in each category, that doesn't mean that the other districts aren't voting as well. Anything could happen in this final week of voting- including an underdog coming up to steal the #1 position! So to all districts- keep voting! The competition isn't over yet.

This extra week sure is going to make things interesting so keep an eye out, take advantage of the school profile pages, rally your district's community, use all the voting tools (E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter) and vote! If you have any questions or comments contact us at the SchoolE Interact page or to cheer on your district leave a comment on your district's profile. Keep an eye out for the winners on the SchoolE site, next Friday the 13th could be your districts lucky day.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

edYOUcator: Video Overview

I'm excited to show you the newly created video overview of edYOUcator! Whether you've been using it, haven't used it in awhile, or you're a new user, this overview will help guide you in making the best searches possible.

Make sure to visit the edYOUcator site after viewing to sign up for a PIN, contact us, or most importantly start searching! Remember the more you use edYOUcator, ask questions, and suggest, the better it will be.

Happy Searching!

If you have any additional questions regarding the video or the edYOUcator site please feel free to e-mail us at

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SchoolE Extends Voting Deadline to May 12

Due to popular demand and a LOT of requests, we have extended the SchoolE Awards voting deadline to May 12, 2011, giving you an extra week to rally your community and get your district more votes. This has been a VERY exciting voting stage with a lot of close competition, a lot of lead changes and big rivalries blossoming. The SchoolE Awards Team is SO excited to see which district comes out on top in each category.

Click here to see the current standings, and here to leave a comment about the contest or your district.

Voting will now end on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 5 PM EST. Winners will be announced the following day.

Congratulations to all districts thus far - and be sure to take advantage of this extra week!