Sunday, April 26, 2015


Ohmygoodness!!!! If you have not checked out Coursera, you are missing out! This is a great tool for your own professional development, for use in the classroom, and for you to bring to the attention of your family and friends!

What is Coursera? It is a website and an app (both Android & Apple) that allow you to access MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from universities and colleges all over the world. The courses are free. However, you can have your course signature verified for a fee and receive an official certificate of completion. If you are a teacher in the US, you can get your courses verified for FREE. Check out this page for more information. 

I am currently taking an AMAZING course, Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills from the University of Melbourne. The course is just starting, so you still have time to join. Do it. You won't regret it.

How could this be used in the classroom? There are many ways. You can register for a course so you have access to the course materials to support your subject. You can also use it for advanced students by allowing them to take the courses on their own when they have completed classwork. It is a great way to allow them to advance their learning while learning how to use online learning tools in a "no risk" environment. If they fail or find out that they don't have the technical skills needed, they have lost no money and it does not affect a college GPA. This really is a no lose situation for teachers and their students.

The verified certificates of completion truly are a good idea. More and more employers are becoming more interested in your actual skills and abilities and less impressed by a college degree. The verified certificates can be linked to LinkedIn accounts and shared with potential employers. As we move to a work place environment that is more focused on skills and characteristics than on job titles and degrees, those who learn to leverage this amazing tool will be at the forefront of the change and be the most likely to be successful in finding new careers.  

So, checkout Coursera. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sorry for the drought....but Microsoft IT Academy is AMAZING!!!

The last several months have been a little crazy for me. I came back from a summer of helping my dad build my sisters house to find out my principal was retiring. We were also in the process of hiring several new teachers AND it was decided I needed to be the lead teacher. This was in addition to my being the CTE Administrator for the new CTE program we were starting. Did I mention I still had to teach?

The bright point in all of this? The Microsoft IT Academy program! This school year, the AZ legislature decided to spend some money on education by paying for the Microsoft program to be made available to several hundred school in Arizona. This program provided 50 free copies of Microsoft Office 2013 to the schools, access to the Microsoft learning site, and classroom materials (digital version) for teaching every MS Office product, including lesson plans, presentation, and training. We also have access to training material for the MTA program,  we would just have to pay for the testing. The school also became a Certiport testing site so we could administer the exams in the classroom. Our school was one of the schools participating and I was in charge of implementation.

The program is amazing. It allows students to test and become Microsoft Office Specialist, all at no cost. I have done the research. One course in the private sector runs $1500-$3000. I had access to teach all of them to my students (and staff!) at no cost. Test? No cost? Failed? That's okay, they can retake it at no cost after a set period of time. And these are real certifications. The test are proctored and these are industry recognized certifications. I have even seen job postings requiring a Microsoft Word certification or Excel certification, not just stating "proficiency". This is something real that my students can put on their resume and that will help them to qualify for better jobs right out of high school. For my kiddos, that might actually allow them the opportunity to go to community college or trade school if they can get a job making better than minimum wage.

Many states across the US have provided the funding for schools to participate. Finding out if it is avalaible in your state is as easy as sending an email. The email address is your state mnemonic For example, Arizona is I would strongly encourage taking advantage of the Microsoft IT Academy if it is available in your state.