Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn

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Tips for Building Trust in an Online Community

By Barbara Bray      June 7, 2010 -- 09:00 PM
There usually is one manager of an online community. The manager can be called a community manager, a team manager, or an eCoach. The members of your community will need to trust you to feel safe in your community. Here are seven tips to ensure a trusting relationship with the members of your community.

1. Personalize your Community

Ask your community members to fill out their profile, add a picture, and share information about themselves. Encourage members to introduce themselves right away in the discussion forum. Personalize all communications you have with each member. If you ...   more...

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Trusting your Social Network

By Barbara Bray      June 3, 2010 -- 11:41 AM
Since Facebook made changes to their privacy issues, users have made some drastic moves like removing themselves from Facebook. Trust is a big concern online. Dan Martell in his study on Flowtown by Pew wrote:

The way that people interact and conduct themselves online is changing, and with the discussion surrounding privacy and social networks escalating in recent weeks, it seems that we have reached a tipping point. Pew Research recently released a study that focuses on individualsí online identities, which takes into consideration reputation management and what people are really using ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By small Cheryl Vitali  June 4, 2010 -- 07:53 PM

Determining Value of Community

By Barbara Bray      April 27, 2010 -- 08:07 PM
Ning is ditching their free service and according to Jon Dale this is a brilliant move. Educators and non-profits are ranting all over the Internet about how this move is going to destroy all the work they have been doing for so long. Just think of all the free networks set up for educators. Ning is going to provide a paid option for educators and non-profits that is supposed to be affordable. Ning has grown so large that their premium users have suffered.

The economy is affecting everyone plus big and small companies including Web 2.0 and social media. Facebook is under attack for its privacy ...   more...
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The Way Free is Going

By Barbara Bray      April 15, 2010 -- 08:49 PM
Ning offers online networks and the ability for members to set up their own communities. Millions of people have used Ning for free. I wasn't even aware that there are premium versions. TechCrunch just announced that Ningís Bubble Burst - no more Free networks and cut 40% of its staff. What does this mean for you if you are on several networks (communities) in Ning?

Currently, Ningís premium options include support (which has a $10/month and $100/month options for different service levels); Custom domains ($5 a month); Extra storage and bandwidth ($10...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Teresa Roebuck  April 15, 2010 -- 09:16 PM

Technology's Impact on Learning

By Barbara Bray      February 14, 2010 -- 10:14 AM
Technology may not make the difference in how a student learns. What makes a difference is the learning environment: how the teacher designs learning, and how they use and integrate technology appropriately. In some cases, maybe no technology is appropriate. In-class discussions may work better. Think-Pair-Share where students are looking into each othersí eyes works well and may increase their self-esteem. Maybe going outside or on field trips. However, there are wonderful opportunities for technology where there is no access to valuable resources.

Add video conferencing for a field trip ...   more...
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Building Trust in Online Communities

By Barbara Bray      February 9, 2010 -- 08:10 AM
Mutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. [How to Build Trust]

Have you joined a lot of online communities? If so, which ones are you an active member? Why? Could trust be one part of it? Each community is designed around a purpose or shared vision. If each member realizes their personal goals are in sync with the goals or purpose of the community or their goals helped design the community goals, then each person will work to keep the community going. When there is no purpose, the community falls apart. [Purpose in Learning Communities...   more...
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Free Digital Content

By Barbara Bray      July 15, 2009 -- 12:02 PM
The Internet, social networking, and Web 2.0 tools are changing the way we deal with content. In reading Ron Millerís article on the Free Content Conundrum, I can see that publishers like newspapers and even textbook companies are trying to figure out their new business model.

David Meerman Scott states in his books "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and "World Wide Rave" that the rules are different on the web. He says that good content does it naturally because when people come to your site, the popularity of this content rises, it raises your search engine ranking. Then, even more ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Teresa Roebuck  July 22, 2009 -- 09:49 PM

What does FREE mean to you?

By Barbara Bray      November 7, 2008 -- 08:28 AM
When you first see the word FREE about a product, you get excited. right? Free - for me? Yeah! Of course, youíre going to jump at the chance of getting something for FREE.

What does that mean to you? Do you value it if it is FREE? Letís take a look at what that might mean now in these scary economic times.

So you joined Google Groups, use Google Docs, uploaded a video to Google Videos, made a Google Site with Pages. Those are FREE and cool. I agree. Have you read the Terms of Use? Here's an excerpt from Google's Terms.

11. Content licence from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other ...   more...

Comments: 1   Last Comment By Janet Bianchini  January 13, 2009 -- 11:20 AM

Learning to Change - Changing to Learn

By Barbara Bray      October 13, 2008 -- 09:34 AM
The keynoter for the pre-conference of K12 Online Conference Stephen Heppell shared this video on YouTube.

Iíve been thinking about this for as long as I can remember. Schools have to change to keep up with our students. They use technology everyday and schools ban that technology. I worked with independent study programs where students who may have been at risk worked at home and had jobs. Once or twice a week they met at school to follow-up with assignments and sometimes to work on projects.I like the idea about using school as the place for teamwork and projects. Letting students collaborate online using: text messaging, cell phones, and social networks. Use school for teachers to collaborate. Thatís what weíre doing in eCoach: providing online private and public spaces for confidential issues and sharing best practices. Also having a place for teachers to co-author projects and not reinvent the wheel. We can do it!    more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By small Barbara Bray  October 15, 2008 -- 10:23 PM

Education Candidate? Rethink Issues - Collaborate on Visions

By Barbara Bray      February 28, 2008 -- 10:02 AM
USA Today shared an opinion by Wendy Purlefoy about which one of the candidates is really the education candidate. She lists real issues that need to be considered including:

....candidates should answer these five questions:

  1. Fifteen percent of our nation's schools are overcrowded. As a result, teachers say they spend an inordinate amount of time policing classrooms. Do you have a plan for relieving this overcrowding?
  2. How will you ensure that children attend schools that are places of teaching and learning, not violence and crime?
  3. Teacher recruitment, retention and quality are suffering. ...   more...
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Saving our Kids

By Barbara Bray      February 21, 2008 -- 07:53 AM
Have you had enough? I listen and cry. What is happening in our urban schools? The dropout rate is higher than ever and these arenít stupid kids. They are smart - street smart but we dump them because they cannot pass the tests. I bet I couldnít have passed the math test when I was in high school. But thatís not the problem. Poor kids are going to be out - trying to get work - without a degree. What can they do? How can we help them?

Will Olkin wrote They Schools in the New York Times today. He quoted a teacher concerned about the status quo and not doing anything that will make a difference:

ďWe ...   more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By jsteph  February 21, 2008 -- 09:21 AM

What is it all about anyway?

By Barbara Bray      February 9, 2008 -- 01:54 PM
I always knew my heart was focused on children. I believe that every child is gifted and special and wonderful. When they are born, they are so innocent and sweet. My first grandchild was born yesterday and I cannot even tell you the feelings I have. First I was relieved knowing the baby is healthy, then that my daughter was okay, that Cali has all of her fingers and toes and is alert. It didnít matter if the baby was a boy or girl. I was anxious, relieved, impatient to meet her, wanting to help in any way.

Meet Cali Ann (born Feb 8th)

Cali will be loved and spoiled (especially by me). She will ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Barbara  February 11, 2008 -- 11:13 AM

Do you have Social Networking Etiquette?

By Barbara Bray      February 3, 2008 -- 08:36 AM
I keep adding myself to more and more social networks. I twitter, post on Facebook, keep del.icio.us tags, connect on LinkedIn, etc. etc.  I know that my children, my nieces and nephews use Facebook daily. Watching what they and their friends post, I wonder if they realize that the world is watching. Alison Miller wrote in her blog Connecting in a Connected World her questions about Facebook and SNet-iquette:

We need to teach people about SNet-iquette (Social Network ettiquette), and the positive and negative effects of their online íbehaviourí, and how they are creating an online ídigital ...   more...
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Joining Conversations Educon 2.0

By Barbara Bray      January 25, 2008 -- 08:19 AM
On Social Media Citizenship, Alicia wrote that comments are great starting points. Many of the same people are blogging and posting. We used to start our conversations at conference. In fact, I used to go to lots of conferences to network and now I twitter and read and comment on posts. Jan 25-27 Educon 2.0 is going on in Philadelphia.



I would love to be there but am not able to go. Iím going to check out whatís going on virtually. What is
Gary Stager really saying? I love when he pushes the envelope. Will Richardson talks about personal learning networks. Kevin Jarrett and Sylvia Martinez ...   more...
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Got Pecha Kucha?

By Barbara Bray      January 19, 2008 -- 09:52 AM
Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for "the sound of conversation") has tapped into a demand for a forum in which people can present, minus boring content. 20 slides each shown for 20 seconds for a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds. Just think of really fast-powered storytelling before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up and gives more people the chance to present. [source]

Go to Pecha Kucha Night to see presentations going on around the world. This was designed in 2003 for designers to show their work quickly. Daniel Pink writes about Pecha Kucha in his Wired article...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Dean Shareski  April 11, 2008 -- 10:26 AM

Empathy: Making Compassionate Choices

By Barbara Bray      January 12, 2008 -- 08:33 AM
Most of us are so busy that we donít have time to think of another person and their concerns. Do you know how to tune in to another person if you donít have the time? With all that is on our plates and, especially now with all of our technology, we tend to focus on ourselves and our issues. Daniel Golemanís talk Why aren't we all Good Samaritans? from Ted.com made me think about how we learn what we do. Maybe it has alot to do with the choices we make.


Educators, as a service industry, are givers and helpers by nature. We want to make a difference. We want our children to succeed. Teachers tend to only learn what they know or what they learned. In the past six years, our focus has been on increasing student achievement scores in reading and math.

Doesnít it go deeper than that for many of the children at-risk? Children living in poverty have so many more issues to think about:
  • will I eat tonight?
  • will mom come home?
  • why did my brother have to die?
  • how can I understand math when I canít understand what the teachers are saying in English?
Society blames teachers for poor scores or the parents. Can it be more than that? We may be going into a recession and many more middle class children will be in trouble.

What will we do then?

Social networking should be about connecting and sharing. Is it about showing how many friends you have? Are these real friends? I notice on some of these sites that it is more about who connects to you, who you know. I joined Facebook when I saw you could add causes. However, very few people give.

How do we bring back compassion and really share, help, give? So some questions:
  • How do we help teachers design curriculum that builds compassionate citizens?
  • How do we encourage teachers to share and open their classroom doors?
  • How do we build community service into all grade levels?
   more...
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Trying to define community

By Barbara Bray      January 11, 2008 -- 08:00 AM
I find myself in so many different communities that I am not sure what or how you define what a community is. Maybe there are multiple types of communities depending on the purpose and shared vision of the members of that community. I created a presentation about purpose (Learning Communities for Different Purposes) and plan to keep adding to it. Pretty soon, thereíll be more co-authors adding content about different communities, purposes, etc.

Purpose is important but there are many communities that are just floundering without participation.

My family is my main community. I always touch base ...   more...
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Social Networking or Self-Promotion

By Barbara Bray      November 27, 2007 -- 09:00 AM
How many of you post to your blog regularly? Do you put your blog on Technorati or have RSS? Are people commenting on your posts?

I read Steve Demboís post this morning Self-Promotion: Where do you draw the line? and it got me thinking. Why do many of the EdTech world blog?

Since funding cycles have changed, the educational technology world is struggling. There is not as much money going around for many of the same people. So Web 2.0 tools (most free) give you an opportunity to publish, share, give your opinions, comment on others, link to and from, and even embed in your blog. Because the power ...   more...
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Framing Change: providing a place and time to wonder

By Barbara Bray      October 29, 2007 -- 09:21 AM
Ben Wilkoff, a 7th/8th grade Language Arts teacher at Cresthill Middle School in Colorado presented Obstacles to Opportunities ďStarting From Scratch: Framing Change for All StakeholdersĒ presented at the K12 Online Conference. Ben designed a school model called The Academy of Discovery.

He shares about framing change for schools, teachers, students, administrators, and parents. If you think of school in its present form, then the thought of any change is monumental and overwhelming. He explains very clearly that you need a new framework of pedagogy and his focus at Cresthill is a singular concept ...   more...
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Importance of Critical Thinking Skills

By Barbara Bray      October 14, 2007 -- 08:37 AM
I just read "Changing the way we think about learning" article in the SF Chronicle by Linda Hammond-Darling.

One of the central lessons of No Child Left Behind is that if school sanctions are tied to test scores, the testing tail can wag the schooling dog. And a key problem for the United States is that most of our tests aren't measuring the kinds of 21st century skills we need students to acquire and that are at the core of curriculum and assessment in high-achieving countries.

While a debate rages about whether our tests should be created at the national or state level, th...   more...

Comments: 1   Last Comment By small Cheryl Vitali  October 17, 2007 -- 07:19 AM

What will learning look like in the future?

By Barbara Bray      October 3, 2007 -- 07:59 AM
I was very lucky to be invited to participate in the first convening of Innovation for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation with a very prestigious group of people from around the country. One of the goals for this convening was to develop a new vision for Professional Learning Communities in the future. The questions that kept popping up was about the future of teaching and learning.

One article we read was Why Teacher Networks (Can) Work by Tricia Niesz from Phi Delta Kappan where she talks about Communities of practice in which learning and teaching are interwoven in social networks, and someday ...   more...
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What's really a Community?

By Barbara Bray      January 3, 2007 -- 10:27 PM
Social networks encourage people to find others via tags. What do most people do when they find others? FaceBook lets you build a list of friends. Some teens have over 800 friends listed. Are these friends that they can call on, collaborate with, share stories a real community?

There are so many cool Web 2.0 tools that let you do neat things: Digg a news article and see it go to the top of the list; view and share videos on YouTube - why watch TV anymore? - you can even embed the videos on your blog; Bloglines lets you keep tabs on any changes on other blogs. Are you thinking what Iím thinking? ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By small Sheri Barker  February 9, 2007 -- 08:49 AM

Communities and Collaboration

By Barbara Bray      December 4, 2006 -- 09:40 PM
If people collaborate are they part of a community? Are several different types of collaborations mean building community?

There are different types of communities and collaborations. Everything seems to be based on how members of communities collaborate or if they collaborate. Some example collaborations:

  • A person starts a document in Google docs ...   more...
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Focus on Community

By Barbara Bray      September 10, 2006 -- 07:31 AM
What does community mean? How do you build an online community that is not just a social network? Why do people need an online community that is a safe environment. What do I mean by safe?

A place
  • to take risks without being judged or punished
  • to ask any type of question and not worry if it is the right or wrong question
  • where there is someone to help you - just-in-time instead of just-in-case
  • to upload materials that only the people you want can have access to them
  • where you can create different types of resources and provide different levels of access
When I first shared the ide...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By small Patty Palmer  September 19, 2006 -- 02:51 PM

New Professional Learning Communities Standards

By Barbara Bray      November 11, 2005 -- 02:03 PM
My eCoach team review literature and research on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). We needed standards for PLCs to help the eCoaches as they develop their own learning communities. We have copyrighted these and plan to include these in our standards database. However, before we include these in our database, we want to make sure we are going in the right direction. Please give us feedback or suggestions. Thanks!

Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Standards (2005)

I. Supportive Environment Ė The PLC provides an environment that supports all learners within the community.

Ia. ...   more...
Comments: 3   Last Comment By small Sheri Barker  August 4, 2006 -- 09:00 AM

Defining Professional Learning Communities (PLC)

By Barbara Bray      October 19, 2005 -- 02:34 PM
What is a PLC?

A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is comprised of people (teachers, para-professionals, administrators, and other community members) who collectively examine and collaboratively work to improve teaching practice. A PLC can but does not have to be situated in one school or district. With the ability to work online from anywhere at anytime, members of the community can connect, find others with similar interests, study and review existing teaching practice, and do action research to improve teaching and learning.

Being a teacher is challenging work and can be isolating. ...   more...
Comments: 6   Last Comment By angelica laurencon  August 9, 2010 -- 05:02 AM

Online Collaboration

By Barbara Bray      June 21, 2005 -- 03:36 AM
My eCoach Online is still a pretty new program  - however, we are being approached by different groups to build collaborative projects for teachers and students. This is pretty big! Adding students means security issues and management issues for teachers. We want to do this right so we are going slowly- planning with the help of our development partners.

We want to see teachers from different states and countries share ideas and resources - possibly co-author projects. There are online programs that provide existing collaborative projects. Many are great!

Which ones work for you?
Do ...   more...
Comments: 6   Last Comment By small Barbara Bray  August 31, 2006 -- 02:41 PM

Encouraging Participation

By Barbara Bray      June 21, 2005 -- 03:22 AM
So you built an online course or have a team in My eCoach Online - how do you encourage teachers to login, share ideas, and collaborate?

We built My eCoach Online as a Professional Learning Community focusing on the coaching and mentoring model. However, many teachers are used to the traditional lecture model. Many of us were taught in a traditional lecture mode  providing a syllabus with a timeline of due dates. We only know what we know. Very few of us participated in a coaching situation during our own school situations. We did whatever our teacher asked us to do.

The coaching model ...   more...
Comments: 8   Last Comment By small Barbara Bray  July 16, 2006 -- 01:53 PM

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