Archive for January, 2010

My Friends from Blossom Learning

January 27, 2010

For the last two weeks I have been telling you about my colleagues at Blossom learning. I thought that maybe you would also like to have a quick peek at what they had in mind when they created the “Online SMART Board Course for Teachers”.

Enjoy the clip, and as always Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning


“Get the most out of your impending SMART Training course provided by your local training consultants – take another course before you go!”

January 25, 2010

Yes, I am being serious!

If you have a reservation set up for you to take a local face to face SMART Board course in the near future then you can really make the most of your time there by just spending a few hours ahead of time looking through my online course.  At $69.95 (USD) it just a fraction of the total cost of your planned training but you will be very prepared to ask those little questions “you wouldn’t have thought of if you had only just learnt about that particular tool”.  A small price to pay to really get up to speed with your new board!

For most teachers learning to use an IWB in the classroom will become a prerequisite during their teaching career. Just imagine what the classroom in 2020 will look like!  So, any time spent getting to grips with this technology now will ensure you keep at the leading edge as even more technologies are introduced to the classroom.

But be warned, my course is pretty comprehensive!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning

After the FETC show

January 19, 2010

Hi there everyone!

Wow, I just got back from the FETC 2010 show in Orlando – that’s the Florida Educational Technology Conference – one of the biggest conferences on educational technology in the United States! All the latest educational technology for the classroom was on display so     it was a great chance for me to tell people about my new online applied SMART Board course. It has just been released and already it’s getting popular! I had my own booth at the show where teachers could come and watch me give a presentation, and then chat to my friends at Blossom Learning about the course. We even had some nice giveaways such as bags and pens that teachers could take home.

What a great show it was! I met so many  interesting teachers and technology  and media specialists and got to introduce my online applied SMART Board course to everyone. I was glad that everyone was as excited as me about the debut of the first ever comprehensive online SMART Board course.

I was able to tell the people I met at the show about how online SMART Board professional development can help them learn how to effectively use a SMART Board interactive whiteboard to its full potential. No more just using it as a projection screen! My course enables teachers to use all the features of  Notebook Software and implement interactive SMART Board tools into their lessons. Since the course is developed for teachers by teachers, it has loads of real classroom examples to inspire teachers. Best of all, it’s a really cost-effective way for teachers to learn how to use their SMART Board    properly.  The course is only $69.95 at the moment so it’s a great time to become a SMART Board specialist!

If you stopped by the Blossom Learning booth at FETC 2010 and said hello,   I hope  you were able to take home one of our bright pink reusable Blossom bags.

Those were one of the highlights of the show! I lost count of the  number of  teachers I saw walking around the show with a pink bag in their hand 🙂

If you didn’t make it to the FETC show, you can check out the features of my online SMART Board training course. There’s plenty of information there, including demo videos and a description of the course. You can also see pictures and videos from the FETC show in my community area.  Everyone liked the course so much at FETC that I’m going to go to another show next month in Texas – that’s TCEA 2010 in Austin. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Does the cost of an interactive whiteboard system ‘really’ translate into increased pedagogy?

January 18, 2010

“Does the cost of an interactive whiteboard system ‘really’ translate into increased pedagogy?”

..only if specific training is made available to teachers seems to be the answer!

The cost of an interactive whiteboard system is still quite a bite out of any school’s budget – so does the “cost/benefit ratio”, as governing bodies like to say, really worth it?

From my brief research looking around the web the answer is certainly a resounding “yes” – but the whiteboard must be in experienced hands!  Most research seems to suggest that unless some form of formal education or training is made available to teachers giving them both the ‘basics’ and ‘examples of how to use this technology’ then these boards can just become very convenient whiteboards that use digital ink rather than a dry marker pen and a neat way of using your finger on the board rather than a mouse on a laptop!  Not a particularly great use of precious resources.  There is sooo much power in an interactive whiteboard, if only more teachers could harness that power!

The good news is that just as all things based on computers, this technology isn’t leaving us anytime soon.  It will get cheaper and more powerful and of course over the long term every new teacher entering the profession as part of basic training will be fully trained to apply all the powerful new the techniques this technology is bringing us. In fact, there are even staff at Blossom Learning who were not only taught during grade school with Smart boards and laptops but they are now helping to spread the word themselves.
So, ultimately any investment made in these new technologies at the current time will pay off as teachers get more experienced with the technology. In the end, these products are not much of a risk for schools.
But we can’t afford to wait for this utopia. We need proper interactive whiteboard training to be made available to teachers now! At the very same time as the hardware is being installed in the classroom. Only then can we really test the best ways of using these boards for each grade and subject.

Research shows that just a minimal amount of dedicated SMART Board training, (even a single day of training if it is also related to applying the features to the classroom), brings a huge return on investment from these products. Specific training not only improves pedagogy but also saves significant time during class work preparation.

The message is clear;

  • Do not introduce IWB systems without some form of training! In fact some might say that providing class work focused training is more important than the specific brand of hardware.
  • A few hours spent learning IWB techniques when the boards are introduced will pay over and over and over and over!
  • The interactive whiteboard isn’t going away so IWB skills learnt now will stay with you for your whole career.

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning

Document Cameras and Gardening!

January 14, 2010

“Having a projector in the classroom without a document camera is just like growing tomatoes without  really well-fertilized soil! Yes the tomatoes will grow but they probably won’t win at the local show for best tomato! “

It really does surprise me that many schools purchase a very expensive projection system for the classroom to be used with the local computer and internet facility – and then ignore the huge extra benefits that come with just popping  a document camera in the system at very little extra cost.

At FETC 2010 the large number of document camera manufacturers I saw in the Exhibit Hall really hit home to me the wide variety and low cost!  With high quality document cameras costing just $400 to $1000 it’s hard to believe the uptake of document cameras in classrooms isn’t higher.

For those of you that are unaware of what I’m talking about a document camera works just like a digital camera on a stick that overlooks some document or object placed on the desk . The ‘digital camera’ is connected via the computer to the projector.
The end result at it’s simplest is that everyone in the class can see the document or object on the big screen!… in full colour (some models even do HD)!

Practical examples are showing and discussing with the class;  pictures, text, assignment examples, any the detail in any small objects such as insects, flowers and leaves, letter arrangements for spelling – even football game plays. Your imagination is the limitation.

These devices are very portable and light and come with a whole of extra features and gizmos for getting sophisticated with your computer that I haven’t mentioned. Oh, I really should emphasise that although there are some really special things you can do with a document camera and a SMART Board combination and you don’t need a SMART Board or Interactive whiteboard to make great use of a document camera!  Set up is really simple and there is hardly any ‘assumed technical knowledge’ needed (unlike a Smart board!)

I suppose one of the reasons that schools have tended not to think of them as a first port of call is that they used to be very expensive for what you got but that is way back in the past now. These days you can easily obtain a super document camera for as little as $400 (or even less I’m told!). If I have perked your interest then just Google ‘document camera’.
One companies’ website you might like to look at is Document Camera Experts. They have a huge amount of text and video material explaining document cameras in the classroom and give a good sampling of pricing and what is available.

If you haven’t looked into document cameras recently and you already have a projector in the classroom then you really should take a few moments to update yourself.
I Promise you, you won’t be disappointed! might even want think about growing tomatoes next year and entering them in the local competition!

Happy Learning,
Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning

“We need national certification for teachers that are really good at using the Smart board in the classroom!”

January 13, 2010

It amazes me that there is no national or global recognition for teachers that can really make the interactive whiteboard fly!

Using the interactive whiteboard in the classroom takes a lot of skill, practice, time, patience, and general effort on behalf of the teacher.  Almost certainly these teachers will have produced very sophisticated lesson plans using the special software provided. Teachers that that are experienced with these SMART Boards are highly prized by schools that are introducing this technology in their classrooms. Teachers skilled in the use of SMART Boards can be a vital asset in the staff room as these products are introduced by schools.

So there should be some form of recognition for this skill for Teachers who make the effort to learn new technology. There needs to be some form of certification that can be used as a standard. Then, education authorities can base their decisions relating to staff and the cost/effectiveness of these products upon some sort of firm grounding.  Teachers should be able attach this standard to their CV for example. As a minimum, SMART Board training is a vital part of teacher professional development and every teacher lucky enough to have a SMART Board in their classroom should be allowed to attain and prove a minimum standard of competence.

I believe that training without some sort of formal testing during and at the end of the course to prove the competence attained is such wasted opportunity. So many courses effectively give certificates just for showing up!

I made sure that the online SMART Board course from Blossom Learning does include tests after every chapter – and there are eight of them. In fact, the student cannot proceed to the next chapter until they have achieved an eighty percent passing grade for the current chapter.   Yes, this course is comprehensive and completion does really mean something!

At successful completion of the course the student is awarded a formal certificate in pdf format that means the student did really understand the course material and they also practiced the skills learnt. This certificate can be automatically emailed to up to five email addresses and of course printed.

At long last there now really is a global standard certificate for the use of the SMART Board in the classroom that will mean something to Teachers!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning

Hi again! Thank you for looking at my Blog.

January 12, 2010

“There is NO EXCUSE for not providing teachers with proper training when new technology is introduced by the school!”

I’ve just completed a quick survey on training but first here is a little rant!

Training (of the lack of it) in the use of all the new classroom technology has always been a big hobby horse of mine. An awful lot of money is now being spent on high-tech equipment for the classroom from computers to projectors, DVDs and audio, interactive whiteboards, document cameras and even the voting systems – but precious little thought is given to actually making sure these tools are used effectively by the people who are supposed to use them!

It’s almost as if that in the mad rush to acquire the hardware we’ve forgotten the main reason for buying the equipment in the first place! Computer software suppliers will quickly tell you of their frustration that only about 10% of the power of their software is ever used by the average person. I can tell you that this is the same if not worse for interactive whiteboards!

So as I said, I did a quick informal survey recently based upon some of the emails I received over the last few days.  I simply asked, “When you were given the Smart Board for your classroom did anyone offer you any training for it?”  Well, it seems that 80% of teachers are just given the Smart Board without any training at all!

In most of these instances, the reason given for NOT arranging training was quite simply that there was a fixed amount of money and so the money spent on training just meant less SMART Boards!
Well I can understand that.

I for one would much rather have access to a board and not receive training rather than wait for the ‘powers that be’ arrange formal training with every new board. At least you can get started!  But I also know how long it takes when you are left to fend for yourself.  Even to get the basics under control can take a fair bit of organising when you have a full schedule on your plate.

There was an excuse for not supplying training for these boards in the past. After all traditional face to face training is so expensive and complicated to arrange that you certainly would be looking at 25% less boards in the classroom and of course the teachers on the frontline had to manage all the disruptions to class work! In our region it seems that just a one day course, (that only does the basics) costs about $300 and then you have to arrange travel and a supply teacher for time you are away if you cannot wait until the end of term. It seems a typical final cost is around $500 a day.

But there is NO excuse not to give teachers proper training now!

At only $69.95 USD for a complete online course that takes you right from the basics to hyperspace – cost can NO longer be an excuse!

Neither is there any disruption to class schedules.  There is no longer any need to arrange alternative supervision of the class. The course can even be studied at home which should please some people! Access to training couldn’t be simpler. An individual can purchase a course informally themselves online with a credit card, or, courses can be purchased in bulk and the intuitive LMS system within the website can arrange  dissemination around the school very simply. A teacher can even prove that they not only completed the course but also attained a very high standard by receiving a course certificate at the end.

I would like think that my new Online Smart Board course will help to create a “movement”; a “movement” in all school districts to simply arrange proper teacher training when teachers are asked to use high-tech equipment in the classroom.  In the case of interactive whiteboards just a very small increase in the knowledge of the Notebook software will have HUGE benefits in the classroom.

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Blossom Learning

My Blog and Introduction to the world !

January 11, 2010

Mrs. Blossom`

Hi Everyone, I’m Mrs. Blossom and this is my first post.

I’ve got lots of opinions and thoughts on Ed Tech!

First off – I have just launched an exciting Online SMART Board Training course where I’m the lucky host! I think any teacher who is lucky enough to have a SMART Board in their classroom deserves the chance to use it to its full potential.  My Online SMART Board Course tries to help make this happen. I certainly put everything I can think of that might help into the course.

Next, I told the IT people that I wanted the course to be accessible to all regardless of circumstances or location – so that meant making the course available to any teacher in any location anywhere in the world and it also meant that the course had to be sold at the lowest price that we could!
Well, I think they actually did it!

I won’t go into the details now, but if you really want to get up to speed on a SMART Board quickly then my course will do that with the minimum of effort and disruption around your school.  I comprehensively cover eight chapters including Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced concepts.  By the end of my course you’ll be able to create your own Lesson Plans with SMART Notebook software.  I go to a lot of effort to use real classroom examples from my own teaching experiences (if only because I find it easier to learn this way ..and you get to use the examples too). Hopefully these examples will inspire you too come up with your own lesson plans to share too!

I hope in my blog to comment on lots of new Ed Tech gadgets and to share my tips and tricks on how to get the most from them in the classroom.

Well that’s the course.

This week I’m off to FETC 2010 in Orlando.  I’m looking forward to discovering lots of new products that we can talk about and hopefully I’ll even make some new like-minded friends!
If you are going to be at the conference I hope we have the opportunity to meet.  I will be on the Blossom Learning booth of course (They won’t let me leave the virtual world!), so please stop by if you have the time. You’ll even be able to pick up some goodies and a chance to win a free copy of my new course.

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom