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

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Online Learning Challenges

By Barbara Bray      July 23, 2010 -- 07:47 AM

Designing Online Learning Environments that Engage Learners
(first published on OnCUE Summer 2010 Vol. 32 No. 2 p. 10-11 and cross posted on barbarabray.net)

Teaching online is fundamentally different than teaching face-to-face. The design of effective online learning environments requires rethinking teaching practices. The rapid advances of educational technology encourages the growth of collaborative online learning experiences unconstrained by time and space. Even so, students may not learn from technology alone; they learn with the support of competent facilitators ...   more...

Comments: 1   Last Comment By ibrahim betil  February 10, 2011 -- 11:58 PM

Tread Softly on Their Dreams

By Barbara Bray      May 25, 2010 -- 01:10 PM
Sir Ken Robinson talk explains about doing your passion, doing what you are good at and personalizing learning. It's all the things I've been saying for so long. Not everyone is supposed to go to college. How he puts it is that human talent is diverse. It's the diversity that makes us who we are. School, starting in Kindergarten, is focused on getting everyone into college and follows the manufacturing model. That model is broken. He is so right. We are in a revolution and reforming this model will not make it work. I'm curious what you think of his talk. It's under 17 minutes but I highly recommend ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Khephra  May 25, 2010 -- 03:25 PM

Mentoring and Coaching - Do you need it?

By Barbara Bray      May 7, 2010 -- 05:17 PM
Seth Godinís post Mentoring, platforms and taking a leap asked "how much support does someone need (or get, or deserve, you pick) before they ship their art?" Real artists are passionate about their art. Nothing stops them from painting, singing, or playing an instrument. Itís in their blood. The thing with artists is that they have to be immersed in their art, because they love it. Unfortunately, they may not be the best at promoting their art.

Teaching is an art. Most teachers become teachers because they want to make a difference in children's lives. Everyone started out as a student and ...   more...
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Defining the Skills Gap - Part One

By Barbara Bray      April 18, 2010 -- 07:36 AM
Employment figures are rising this month. In March the payroll jobs increased by 162,000. The Dow topped 11,000. This is showing that the recovery is actually happening. However, the recovery is going to be slow not only because businesses are just starting to get back on their feet, credit is still tight for businesses, and one big factor many are just starting to realize: employers are saying that the employees they need are not available.

Tapan Munroe wrote:

Manpower Inc.ís 2009 worldwide talent survey involving 39,000 employers in 39 countries concluded that nearly one-third of the employers ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Amit  May 3, 2010 -- 09:56 PM

Vote and Sign Petition for 21st Century Students

By Barbara Bray      March 7, 2010 -- 10:00 AM
I just set up a petition on Change.org for 21st Century Students. I looked through all the causes and did not see a cause that mentioned this so I decided to start one. I need your help in getting this cause noticed. Go to Vote for 21st Century Citizens.


Let me know if I need to change anything. Please share and encourage others to vote. The timeline is short. Thanks!    more...
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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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Future of Schools 2020

By Barbara Bray      December 28, 2009 -- 08:20 AM
By 2020, I cannot see in my vision our school buildings used in the same manner they are today: 180 days a year open only for students. I read Larry Cubanís post this morning about his end of year prediction of classrooms in the future. Itís almost 2010 and there has to be more than thinking about what we have today and relating it to ten years from now.

Hereís what I hope to see: schools and public libraries as community learning centers available to all learners open 24/7 supplemented with online courses, professional development, coaching, networking, and publishing. There is even a Federal ...   more...
Comments: 1   Last Comment By Tommy  January 4, 2010 -- 12:33 PM

Reflections on Teams, Learning, and your Digital Footprint

By Barbara Bray      September 23, 2009 -- 12:18 PM
I always tell myself to stop, think, reflect on your day. I haven't done that as much reflecting as I would like. Today, I decided to share my reflections on what I think about school today and what learning means to me.

I work at home. All of our eCoaches either work at home or after their regular jobs. That's what's so cool about working online. You can do this anywhere at anytime. Schools are still designed around the agricultural model and we seem to be stuck with it just like we're stuck with the QWERTY keyboard. I type fast. I'm used to this keyboard but it was created in the late 1800s to ...   more...
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Is Unschooling for You?

By Barbara Bray      April 29, 2009 -- 07:09 AM
My experience with school in the 1950's and 60's left me questioning myself if I was smart. I didn't have confidence in myself in most of my K-12 life. I was an average student, shy. I grew up outside of Washington D.C. where girls were not allowed to wear pants and patent leather shoes. Really! My high school is still standing and looks like every other high school in the area. I know girls wear pants now but the structure, the teacher-centered classrooms - those are very similar to my experience.

It took going to college to realize that a more open-ended structure worked for me. Yet, it still ...   more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By Dennis Imoto  April 29, 2009 -- 10:42 PM

Challenge for our Future

By Barbara Bray      March 12, 2009 -- 09:19 AM
Today teaching and learning is changing before our eyes. This is the crucial time to design what learning will look like. I challenge you to come up with ideas for our children and grandchildren.

Take a look at most schools today They usually are placed centrally in a community. They start at 8 and close at 3. Very little happens before or after school now because of funding issues. It is a closed campus so community members are not allowed on campus. Students move from grade level to grade level. Teachers manage the classroom. Principals manage the teachers. Teachers tend to be isolated in their ...   more...
Comments: 6   Last Comment By Carlotta  March 26, 2009 -- 08:30 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

Cross-Age Cross-Curriculum Projects Change Teaching Practice

By Barbara Bray      October 12, 2008 -- 10:21 PM
The K12 Online Conference starts with the Pre-Conference on October 13. Each of the presenters are posting their presentations as podcasts 20 minutes or less. I am presenting the findings as an audio podcast and PowerPoint presentation. The teachers and students did all the work. Pat Lusher and Cecelia Nauda are coordinating the EETT grant and provided data, documents, and other information included in the powerpoint or as separate files below. Nancy Kuznicki and Donna Blanton shared podcasts about the projects. This presentation is on Thursday, October 23 (Day 4).


Throwing Away the Box...   more...
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How about Zenovating?

By Barbara Bray      August 20, 2008 -- 10:46 AM
I haven't been keeping up with my blog. Guess you would say I have taken time to enjoy the summer. Yep! But now it's time to get back and start sharing again. I tried to figure out what innovation means in today's world so I've been doing lots of research and thinking.

Learning is different today than what many of us as teachers thought it was all about. We defined learning as how we teach, what a classroom is supposed to be like, but we didn't define it from the learner's perspective.

All of us are learners. The world is changing and so should what we define as "School". Especially now with information ...   more...
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Filling the Gap

By Barbara Bray      February 24, 2008 -- 09:30 AM
Iím a baby boomer. Turning 60 this year. I used to think this was old. Now I feel like itís a new stone to turn over. Problems with getting older is mostly physical. Most of my fellow boomers are ed techies who love this stuff. They blog, comment, connect, and share maybe even more than the next generation.

Like a lot of my friends I started in the 80s buying the first desktop computers. Think I had the first laptop (weighed 20 pounds) and first Apple (cost me $4,200 then). I was so with it. Loved it. Still hooked. With the new social networking tools, Iím just like my kids ...   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

2 Million Minutes

By Barbara Bray      January 28, 2008 -- 11:17 PM
As I Twitter and learn, I came across Wes Fryerís blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity about a new documentary called The documentary film ďTwo Million MinutesĒ highlights stark contrasts in the educational experiences, perspectives, and expectations of high school students in the United States, China, and India. The filmís title is derived from the mathematical statistic that following eighth grade graduation, students have approximately two million minutes to spend until they graduate from high school. The filmís YouTube trailer gives a taste for its focus and main points.


   more...
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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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The Unlearning Curve

By Barbara Bray      December 8, 2007 -- 09:33 AM
Just read Will Richardsonís blog post "Unlearning Curve" and the 10 things to unlearn. I truncated his list so please go to his blog to read his full list. Some things from his list that you might want to think about: We need to unlearn
  • that we are the sole content experts in the classroom...

  • the premise that we know more than our kids...

  • that every student needs to learn the same content and at the same pace..

  • our fear of putting ourselves and our students ďout thereĒ ...

  • that we continually have to block and filter access to the sites and experiences they need our help to navigate.

  • the ...   more...

Comments: 1   Last Comment By Kathleen Scott Meske  January 3, 2008 -- 11:31 AM

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

Technology and Its Impact on Society and Culture

By Barbara Bray      September 25, 2007 -- 01:20 PM

Society has always been impacted by technology. Each invention has affected how people relate to one another and how cultures have expanded or ended. Technology impacts how cities grow, where people live, and who owns what. Technologies are the reason a few people are very rich, that people are more social, and that teaching and learning is changing. We are at a crucial time in history where we as educators can make a difference in how our students interact with one another ...   more...

Comments: 17   Last Comment By small Barbara Bray  October 21, 2010 -- 08:16 AM

Reflecting on the Process

By Barbara Bray      July 22, 2007 -- 08:40 PM
The process of learning is more important than the culminating activity or providing the right answers. How can we connect students to the real world? How can we create a school environment that allows enough time for reflections?

Will Richardson envisions that change isnít just the ability of students to publish, but to connect, reflect, and be able to continue the life-long skill of reflection long after the class or assignment is over.  He states:

ďThrough teaching them to use these tools to publish, are we also teaching them how to use these tools to continue the learning once ...   more...

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New Learning Theory?

By Barbara Bray      July 16, 2007 -- 08:25 AM
One learning theory may not be enough for todayís kids. Schools are changing - especially public schools. I was advocating Constructivism as the theory of choice - learning for a purpose until I thought about kids today with video games. There usually isnít a product yet the learning is exponential, interactive, and collaborative. Where does that fit with pedagogy and learning theories?

Constructivism suggests that learners create knowledge as they attempt ...   more...
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Do we need teachers?

By Barbara Bray      July 8, 2007 -- 08:38 AM
This question is appearing in the blogosphere and I need to jump in.

Dean Shareski wrote The Honeymoonís Over  where the debate is on about putting technology into every childís hands. He references:
You have to read all the posts and comments (dig deep) to get the points:

Gary comments on the $100 laptop for Nigerian students:

Get schools entirely out of the computer business and give ...   more...
Comments: 4   Last Comment By Erin Elliott  August 7, 2007 -- 04:52 PM

Change? Future? What are we really talking about?

By Barbara Bray      May 27, 2007 -- 08:28 AM
In some classrooms around the country technology changes the way teachers interact with students.

Isnít this still using traditional methods? Okay - there are laptop classrooms with one-to-one initiatives. Students are in groups doing collaborative work. Thatís cool! But are we tapping into the way technology is changing everything else in our world?


How about looking at what students are doing now? Our college, high school, and middle school students are using social networks like MySpace and FaceBook. Iíve talked to my niece who txt msgs and has more social time in FaceBook with ...   more...
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Are you a Change Agent?

By Barbara Bray      May 11, 2007 -- 09:00 AM
Technology specialists and coordinators are finding that their jobs are becoming tentative - even librarians are losing hold in some districts - especially in California. So what Iím seeing are more tech people in districts, regional centers, state departments around the country are finding ways to recreate new positions for themselves. Many are creating courses that are hosted on their own servers - blogging with other techies - using Web 2.0 tools. Social networking is cool! Are we using them the right way?

I have been talking ...   more...
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