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.


Delighted today to have the opportunity to share these slides and thoughts with folks here at OESIS today.  I continue to think that using technologies, current and emerging, to reinvent testing and assessment is among the primary projects for 21st century K-12 learning in the current decade, and I’m going to continue to do my best to support this reinvention.

As I explained at some length in the opening of my session, and I realize I may stand a bit alone here, I still love tests– of all kinds, including the “test” that is asking students to demonstrate their learning in challenging ways– and a huge part of my personal mission is to make testing more engaging and meaningful for students: let’s improve the way we use assessment as, for, and of learning! 

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age   EdSurge News
Mike Gwaltney and I presented this afternoon at OESIS a session on robust and responsible digital citizenship; see my previous post for those slides.

At the center of that session we shared with the session participants the recently published EdSurge “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” and then asked them to use it is a model and inspiration for discussing and developing in small groups their own set of rights and responsibilities for learning, participating, and contributing in the digital age, aka a digital citizenship bill of rights.

Here is the link to the open google document for those who wish to join in the conversation and add their own additional suggestions: it is (should be) an open for editing document.

Below is the what the group came up with in our short time together.  I also welcome readers to use the comment box as another way to add their own suggestions or comment on this set— (which is not meant to be my own work, nor to be inclusive/exhaustive).

Our followup conversation was about the potential for bringing this back to your school community– Mike asked if it were Polyannish to think that this might be a real option.  But the conversation in the room was rich with the optimism that this is an exercise feasible in our schools and in our classrooms, democratizing the AUP.  Several said they are already in the midst of reinventing the AUP into a RUP– Responsible Use Policy– and a “Digital Citizenship Agreement.”

Several seemed to think it would be exciting to take this approach and make it a democratizing experience in our schools as a vehicle for all members of an educational community to examining, reflecting upon, and developing a more thoughtful, intentional, and meta-cognitive appreciation for the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of digital citizenship.


  • Freedom of Expression
  • Participation
  • Guidance and Mentorship
  • The right to access and not be filtered.
  • Privacy and boundaries
  • Right to your own creations with attribution.
  • To safely experiment with ideas and expression and points of view.
  • To Be treated with respect and common decency
  • To participate in communities to the degree to which one is comfortable.
  • To equal access.
  • To unfiltered civil discourse and avoid the echo chamber tendency.
  • To unplugged time.
  • To contribute to and build upon the creative commons.
  • To Access.
  • To be Creative
  • To express thoughtfully
  • To express oneself without censorship
  • To Transparency
  • To dialog in a safe environment—without there being a right answer.
  • To an environment in which things would not be said that we couldn’t /wouldn’t say face to face.
  • To engage honestly with peers and that others will reciprocate understanding.
  • To change your mind without being ridiculous.
  • Ownership
  • Expression
  • T0 Control one’s identity and presence.
  • To Community.
  • T0 Curiosity


  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Cautiousness
  • Respect for other opinions
  • Taking responsibility and being held accountable.
  • Treating others online as you would in person.
  • Policy yourself and your colleagues
  • Understands the responsibility that they are part of a community not a lone wolf.
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Monitoring
  • To self-regulate connections and connected-ness.
  • Control one’s identity and presence.

Mike Gwaltney and I enjoyed greatly facilitating this conversation on digital citizenship, rights, principles and responsibilities.     We ended up just focusing on the digital bill of rights, which will be posted here soon, but we wanted to make available the rest of these slides for those who might be interested.

False and mistaken binaries cloud our minds far too frequently.   We look at an impending dramatic transformation, such as what is happening with technology in education, and our minds often cannot help but create binary, zero-sum pairs: more technology must mean less face-to-face communication or less active, physical learning.

Mentally, we cannot help but stipulate the contemporary status quo as the normal and the effective, and so create anxiety about how change will do damage, often not confronting how ineffective, and often how abnormal, the current status quo really is.

These thoughts are stimulated by reading two short, excellent, paired pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s special issue (November 5) on Online Learning.   The two pieces, easy to overlook, near the back of the issue, deserve much more attention than they are likely to get: they set the stage and articulate the transformation that is coming brilliantly.

What they do is establish that online learning, blended into our current educational models, offer incredible opportunities to fix what isn’t working today (“YouSnooze U.” and lecture learning which under-serves the struggling and bores the accelerated) but also, even more valuably, they offer opportunities to return education to its roots, whether in the 18th century or in Socratic/Aristotleian learning, of conversational, activity based learning. (more…)