OESIS 2013   Online Education Symposium for Independent SchoolsI was delighted to be able to contribute as a featured presenter at the first annual Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools (OESIS), in Marina del Ray, Los Angeles– and accordingly for full disclosure realize anything I write has a bias: I participated in some early planning conversations about the event with my friend Jeff Bradley, and I am intending to support as best I can future OESIS events.

What was great about the event was its energy and innovative spirit: this was a subset of NAIS and or a typical state association conference meeting, but a subset self-selected to be especially interested in, and for the most part, enthusiastic about the opportunity online and blended learning offers our students– and hence it was a dynamite and dynamic group.

More so than most other events I’ve attended, it was a nice crossover and hybrid of academic leaders–  school-heads, division heads, academic deans– and tech directors, and so important that it was, because conversation and shared understandings between these groups is so important.  Think how often is usually the case that tech directors go to one set of conferences, and return home, meeting up with academic leaders who attended a different conference– and then talk right past each other.

It was also held in a terrific location at the Marriot on the Marina, with a top floor meeting room and roof deck with stunning views, and we were lucky to have excellent weather.

There was some running conversation I heard here, as I often hear at conferences among the progressive and forward-leaning educators: are we hear to learn whether/why we should adopt these changes and lead this innovation, or how we do so most effectively and efficiently?   But though some complained they heard too much of the former, I was delighted to hear mostly the latter- -and in many cases, they were very grounded, very specific, very applicable.

A wide set of the conference presentations is freely available (behind a sign-in wall, but open to all after very simple registration) at the Educators Collaborative website here.

I’ve already put up here on the blog three posts from sessions I led at the event:

Below I’ve embedded some of the standout sessions from the conference, which offer terrific inspiration, good advice, and food for thought.

Two other sessions I attended were also fascinating and valuable, (though not available on the site): Jenifer Fox’s presentation on the extraordinarily unique, innovative, and student-centered blended learning program she is piloting at Clariden School of Southlake near Dallas, and Dave Ostroff’s valuable and entirely applicable suggestions and steps for doing it yourself, creating your own blended program and not going with an outside service, based on his excellent initiatives leading Parish Virtual at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas.

Mark Milliron kicked off with an, as always with Mark, energetic keynote that offers the promise that increasingly blended learning offers students.

Michael Erhrhardt slides provide a useful and colorful walkthrough things to think about and examine– dimensions, rationales, conversations, etc– as you lead or guide your school in this direction.

Emily McCarren led this session in a charmingly conversational, open and self-deprecating, manner, putting the focus not on top-down leadership of blended learning, but instead bottom-up, sharing her school’s ongoing conversations in communities of practice about how to blend learning teacher by teacher, course by course.

Below, Sanje Ratnavale and Doug Phelps explain some of the critical issues to consider and steps to take to add or incorporate online classes to your programs.    Some of it really gets nitty gritty– but that is very useful for school-leaders working to make this move without making mistakes.