Oct 8, 2012

EduOnAir - Build Your Own eLearning Program

The fall rendition of #EduOnAir launched on Friday and I am excited to be sharing the eLearning work we have done at Palisades on Tuesday at 11am. This post is to help frame the conversation for the Hangout and provide some insight on how to start your own eLearning program. There are a number of popular eLearning solutions out there including blended, hybrid, flipped classrooms, and full online programs. No matter what flavor of eLearning you are interested in the following needs have to be met. I will share how we have done it at Palisades and also share some other Google related solutions.

Learning Management System
Palisades - We have chosen Blackboard through BlendedSchools.net. Blended Schools has wonderful support, keeps Blackboard updated, and provides customers with high quality K-12 course content. The content is often overlooked when deploying an online learning solution but it is critical. Blended Schools has over 100 PA approved courses that are fully editable once duplicated for our teachers. This has not only saved our teachers a lot of time but given them ideas, additional resources, and added insight into what a high quality online course design looks like.
Google Option - Haiku Learning is a beautiful, cloud based LMS with drag and drop editing features and a simple user interface. The engine is powerful giving users every bit of functionality as a traditional LMS. It has seamless Google Apps integration keeping usernames and passwords consistent and memorable. I love working in Haiku and I highly recommend it.  If you are bold, you can also take a shot at using Google Apps and Sites to deploy a complete eLearning program at no cost.

Palisades and Google Option - No brainer, Google Apps for Education is the best office productivity suite available. We have deployed Apps for our students and given them Gmail accounts to use in conjunction with their Blackboard accounts. It keeps them mobile, allows for anytime/anywhere access, and is free for K-12 education institutions. Google Drive provides portable storage, students sync accounts with Android devices, Sites fills in as ePortfolios, and so much more.

Palisades - We took the traditional route and provided students with Lenovo laptops. The solution was familiar and continues to provide students with a solid device that is rugged and multi-functional.
Google Option - Chromebooks have exploded in popularity and I admit that I am a bit jealous and a bit embarrassed that we have not deployed this solution. The solid state drive is reliable, the battery life is an eternity, and they boot in 8 seconds. Also, Chromebooks are always up to date and have security built in. When looking at the mobile factor, we all love tablets but they are hardly the complete solution needed for a fully functioning eLearning device. Chromebooks not only have great mobile features as I've mention but they come with a physical keyboard for productivity and the Chrome Web Store has grown to offer a range of great academic products. Even better, Google partners like Promevo are distributing Chromebooks but have also developed gPanel, the top rated administrative app in the Apps Marketplace. After the latest update to Chrome OS, we certainly will be revisiting the Chromebook option and I love this device as a complete eLearning tool.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how we started our eLearning program at Palisades Cyber Academy.  Reach out anytime, I am always happy to help others. I hope you can make the Hangout but I have also include an early version of my presentation below. After the Hangout is loaded to Youtube, I'll update this post with the embedded video as well. See you on Google+!

Here is the video from the #EduOnAir Hangout on 11/9/2012


  1. Hi Rich,
    I'm the Director of Technology at Benchmark School, Media, PA 19063, a private 1-8 full-curriculum school for struggling readers. As with many priv sch, we are providing tech on a shoestring- but we have managed to put SmartBoards in most classrooms, 1:1 netbooks (Asus, Toshiba) for 4th & 5th/6th gr. Middle School students bring their own laptops but we support drivers & download audiobook progs. We provide a set of "loaner" laptops and a classroom set of iPads to the MS. We've been using GApps for 5 years.

    It is complex but not hard to manage the various accts for faculty & student. Right now we are learning to control our set of 15 iPads/apps from one "master" macbook. We bought ONE Chromebook to experiment with, but we are stuck on the problem of printing- a printer must be controlled by a regular laptop in order to print to it from Chromebook. I haven't had time to figure out how to use the network server to do this.

    I think your Hangout is great for sharing ideas because each school shouldn't have to re-invent the wheel. Thanks!

  2. I'm just waiting for the hangout and see that only one person left a comment to be on the hangout...I'll join if you need more. my google username is danfunston@gmail.com

  3. Dan , what tech issues are you dealing with in your school?

  4. Thanks for attending today! Dan, I'll add you to my Circles, hopefully you will join future Hangouts.