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Reflections on the My Big Campus Conference

posted Aug 10, 2014, 1:42 PM by Krystle Miller   [ updated Aug 19, 2014, 2:51 PM ]

A blog post by Krystle Miller and Chia Grossmann, Educational Technology Specialists:

 

Over the summer, we were fortunate enough to fly to Austin, TX to become My Big Campus coaches and to attend the Lightspeed Users Conference.  This was one of the best conferences we’ve ever been to.  The sense of community, the accessibility of support and resources from the company, and the networking opportunities all provided a welcoming environment ideal for lots of learning.  Here’s some tidbits we’d like to share.

The feature request cycle

My Big Campus is always taking feedback from users and trying to make it better. They listen to what customers want, and they base their upcoming features from those feature requests. Feedback from teachers helps them to determine how to beef up that feature.  One example is the recent release of achievements. Hearing from MBC users all over the country, one thing was clear - we love achievements and want to be able to customize our own achievements.  Because of this feedback, My Big Campus will release customizable achievements.  Watch for that enhancement coming coon!  

Here’s some other features that are coming soon:      

Bundle redesign

User and group activity reports

Integration with external tools like Discovery Education

Schoolwork templates

Schoolwork in line forms (like google forms)

Gradebook

SAMR - it keeps getting better and better

There are so many fun ways to engage participants with SAMR and approaches that are new and exciting.  SAMR is a creative way to tackle technology integration in Common Core and Project-Based learning units.  In this session of SAMR by MBC senior coaches Libby Lawrie and Chrissy Allen, we saw a SAMR graphic that blew our mind.  


The idea of SAMR as a swimming pool with a shallow and a deep end really summed up how teachers need to start integrating technology.  Everybody starts in the shallow end before you can move to the deep end.  Jumping into the deep end might result in drowning but wading in the shallow end, learning how to swim, then moving to the deep end results in a successful swimmer.  One SAMR model even takes it one step further by adding a diving board as the ultimate transformation model.  No matter what your model is, the conversations around SAMR are true edtech gold.

Next Steps for My Big Campus this year

Not only can MBC be a powerful tool for students in classrooms, it can also enhance teacher learning.  We see My Big Campus as a platform for teacher collaboration and professional development, a one stop shop for resources, idea sharing, and PD.  EUSD is continually adding resources to MBC and providing PD resources in bundles.  This year, principals could begin using MBC as a flexible way to get staff collaboration on student learning.  Staff meetings could be used to collaborate on the heart of our profession: student achievement.  Principals can flip parts of the staff meeting, link an article for reading, monitor collegial discussions, or create a schoolwork quiz to make sure teachers have read that important email.  

The single greatest thing

The single greatest thing about Lightspeed Users Connect Conference was the Hack-a-thon.  The Hack-a-thon was an evening of ideas and implementation all in one.  Imagine a room full of developers, programmers, testers, teachers, and IT staff all working with and against each other to come up with the best development feature for one of the Lightspeed products.  At our round table was a developer, tester and 7 teachers all wanting new features in MBC.  Our list was 4 pages long!  After weighing the feasibility options of all our requests, the developer and quality assurance team determined what they could develop, program, and test all within a couple of hours and have ready to present at the end.  Our main feature, from the extensive list we started with, was the ability to track discussion posts.  We wanted to see how many times a student posted and commented in a particular discussion post.  Our group did not win the Hack-a-thon but we won the respect of Lightspeed.  Meeting developers and hearing their interest in making the best product possible made all of us there feel valued and respected as My Big Campus users.  What other company listens to your feedback, right then and there, and makes it happen?  In an era where customer service is dwindling, Hack-a-thons and customer appreciation still exist at Lightspeed.  Look for the work of our team and other teams coming soon to My Big Campus!    

It’s never about the tool

Just like it's not about the technology tool, it's not about the LMS either.  My Big Campus is just one of many tools we have to engage teachers and students in 21st century learning.  Whether you are using My Big Campus or not isn’t really important.  What’s important is whether you are enhancing your practice to transform learning in real and relevant ways.  Let’s make 2014-2015 the year of transformation!  

 

 






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