Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Dear Colleagues:

I'm pleased to invite you to join LearningFront and to contribute your ideas and solutions for implementing the Common Core State Standards through our Learning Rave entitled: WikiTasksCCSS!

What is WikiTasksCCSS? WikiTasksCCSS helps teachers to implement the Common Core State Standards in their classrooms and to share their work in the LearningFront global learning community.

Why WikiTasksCCSS? WikiTasksCCSS makes it possible to connect the individual and collective talents of teachers worldwide to collaborate and lead instructional reform!

When? WikiTasksCCSS is open 24/7 in real time and as needed.

How? WikiTasksCCSS uses the integrated social media and professional development tools in LearningFront to develop original lessons and to edit WikiTasksCCSS lessons.

Click here to:
  • Learn more about WikiTasksCCSS
  • Register for "Open House" webinars
  • Watch videos of how to plan and edit WikiTasksCCSS Lessons
Have questions or suggestions? Click on the link below to share them with us -- and enjoy WikiTasksCCSS!

The LearningFront Team

I look forward to your contributions in WikiTasksCCSS!

Nick Hobar

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Using the Flipped Classroom in Teacher Education

Dear Colleagues:

In the "Flipped Classroom" model, instruction that typically occurred in a classroom is now accessed away from the classroom usually through technology prior to a face-to-face (F2F) class meeting. This means class becomes the venue to apply content and skills learned away from class, solve problems, create solutions, and engage in collaborative learning strategies. There are many ways to "Flip" classrooms and learning strategies. One of the key payoffs of the flipped classroom lies in the opportunity to create a new and effective way of learning.

We used the "Flipped" classroom approach in my Technology for School Leaders graduate class at Loyola University Maryland. It worked like this:
  1. A cohort of 24 aspiring school leaders gained content knowledge and skills by completing away from the classroom an online program of seven Learning Layouts of sessions and activities using integrated social media and PD tools, including online coaching sessions as needed by individuals.

  2. Over two months we met F2F as a whole class for three weekends [Friday night 6-9 and Saturday 9-4] wherein the graduate students worked as individuals and in action teams to apply the content and skills they gained online to solve problems, construct products, and complete performances related to the program outcomes.

  3. The blended "Flipped" approach included one global online learning community, one online learning community for the entire class, and four action team learning communities that met online and F2F in the flipped weekend sessions.
Our flipped approach led to over 100 products and performances for sharing in the six online learning communities and were posted as wikitasks for standards-based lessons, data-driven Web 2.0 presentations, professional blogs, and action plans for disruptive and sustaining innovations.

The program process and outcomes still serve as resources for the graduate students because the learning communities continue beyond the ending of a "conventional" class and the outcomes are available online for anyone beyond the class to access, adopt, or adapt in real world settings. 

The program and free integrated social media and PD tools are available here:

Nick Hobar

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dynamic Learning -- A Way to Refresh What Students Learn!

How can we challenge current practice wherein educators state what they want students to learn before they learn it -- standards-based instruction and assessment? 

As a frontier beyond standards-based learning, I envision "Dynamic Learning" -- a process that takes the best of current student work and makes it better continuously. Dynamic Learning will help students, educators, parents, and stakeholders to learn more about what students learn by letting "learning" happen and then by analyzing what has been learned, post hoc. This process uses the best of what is learned and shared by students as the current standard of quality with no preconceived limits. And because of technology the current standard gets "refreshed" by dynamic student learning and not by a drawn out content standards development process. 

How does Dynamic Learning work?

  • First, Dynamic Learning helps all students to examine how other students have produced a quality product or performance.
  • Second, it encourages students to match, if not surpass, those products or performances to create a new "best" for other students to emulate.

  •  Third, it applies technology to offer us all kinds of new ways to assess the best works of student learning, e.g., polls, likes, blogs, wikis, Web 2.0 editors, and feedback response tools. 
See where I'm going? Using Dynamic Learning means that each time learning activities are completed and shared through technology a student(s) may establish a better product or performance than the current standard of quality -- on local, state, national, and global levels. Wow! Sounds like learning can be fun at a whole new level!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creating a Professional Development Learning Rave

Dear Colleagues:

Although political and educational leaders, researchers, and corporations develop new standards such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and look for ways to help teachers implement them, they overlook an obvious one...

Today's online learning communities make it possible to connect the individual and collective intelligence of people uniquely qualified to match their expertise with the needs and problems of individuals and organizations implementing the standards. 

For example, integrated social media and professional development tools help online learning community members and teams to learn, develop, co-create, remix, and share resources on-demand -- thereby moving beyond a conventional "schedule of district or school PD days" to a dynamic venue for advancing professional development. 

All this calls for starting a "Learning Rave" for professional development rather than designing another "new system." Over the decades, school reform in the United States has seen numerous "new systems" get co-opted by the status quo. In today's world, if we want ideas to flourish and spread, using an online learning community strategy with integrated social media and professional development tools will scale-up dramatically and lead to the types of PD scenarios described here to support CCSS:

Nick Hobar

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Social Media and the Daily Tasks of Teaching

Dear Colleagues:

Have you ever wondered how social media and professional development tools can be used to help teachers complete the daily tasks of teaching? Here is a list of what teachers can do with social media and PD tools and a link to our learning community with example scenarios of how they do it to improve student learning.

Typical Daily Tasks of Teaching:
  1. Plan standards-based units and lessons
  2. Construct formative and summative assessments
  3. Align standards, instruction or training, and assessment
  4. Teach a skill, concept, process, or principle
  5. Integrate graphic organizers
  6. Differentiate instruction, training, and assessment
  7. Evaluate learner performances with scoring tools such as rubrics
  8. Analyze learner performance data and act on results 
  9. Clone and WikiTask lessons and other teaching tasks to colleagues
  10. Communicate with colleagues and other members

Nick Hobar

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teaching Teachers to Improve Learning with Social Media


I often use the "TV Cooking Show" strategy when teaching teachers how to use integrated social media (SM) and professional development (PD) tools in our learning community. 

Step 1: Remind the audience about how a TV cooking show works:

  • Cooking TV Show Example: First, the TV chef shows a finished greek salad to help the audience envision the final product. Then, the chef takes the audience through the ingredients needed, steps to "prepare" the salad, and, finally, how to serve the salad. In some shows, the audience actually tastes the salad.

Step 2: Begin your demonstration of the integrated SM and PD tools in this manner:

  • Integrated SM and PD example: First, I show a quality standards-based lesson with results from a classroom implementation to help the audience envision the final product. Then, I take the teacher audience through the online PD tools and materials that a teacher used to construct the lesson and, finally, to share the lesson and results with integrated SM. In our case, the audience "tastes" the lesson by accessing it as a WikiTask to adopt or adapt for their classrooms.

Payoff: I think this process works effectively because it keeps the audience focused on teaching and student learning while learning how to use the integrated SM and PD tools. Teachers see how a lesson that produced positive student results was developed with integrated SM and PD tools in less time than conventional ways -- and was shared with teacher colleagues instantly.

I hope you can adapt this strategy in your PD efforts. Please let me know what you think and how it works for you.

Nick Hobar

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Facilitating Instruction and Learning

Dear Colleagues,

In the research on the systematic observation of face-to-face classroom teaching, facilitated instruction is characterized by teacher verbal behaviors that pose problem-structured statements and reinforce, accept, and clarify student responses (Flanders and Withall among numerous others). This model envisions a 25% [teacher] to 75% [student] talk ratio -- the opposite of current classrooms. 

Here's an example of how we are exploring the facilitation model of instruction and learning as "facilitated" in the Twitter timeline to achieve specific content standards. The example shows the 25% teacher "talk" side of the model -- it would be adjusted dynamically as the 75% student side of the conversation is tweeted in real time.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Benefits of Integrated Social Media and PD Tools

Dear Colleagues:

Have you thought about the benefits of moving from "one teacher for many learners to thousands of teachers for each learner:"

Check out our new webinar for customizing this approach in your learning venue:

Please join us for this webinar.

Nick Hobar

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thousands of Teachers for Each Learner

Dear Colleagues:

Are you interested in moving from one teacher for many learners to thousands of teachers for each learner? Then, I invite you to register for our free, new webinar here:

I look forward to collaborating with you in this webinar and expanding our vision of learning in the 21st century!

Nick Hobar

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SmartSkills for the 21st Century Lessons and Assessments


Over the years I have used both Bloom's Taxonomy and the Dimensions of Learning to guide the design of learning, teaching, and assessment tasks. While working with novice and experienced teachers, I observed that thinking frameworks such as these provide too much information for teachers to process while designing daily lessons and assessments in their planning periods. So, I created a mashup of "SmartSkills" from a variety of thinking frameworks that focuses on three levels of 21st century thinking and learning:
  • Acquiring data,
  • Visualizing data as information, and
  • Applying knowledge gained from putting information to productive use.
These levels help teachers to move quickly from their content and skills to a high quality student product, performance, or exit ticket for a daily lesson. I think today's learning expectations can be integrated easily into these levels of 21st century thinking. Moreover, they accommodate any conventional and digital media thereby providing greater flexibility to teachers for addressing student learning preferences.

Learn more here:

Try our learning community's free interactive template for SmartSkills in the web-based instructional design tool known as TaskBuilderOnline and see example WikiTask lessons here:

Nick Hobar

Monday, April 18, 2011

Applying Blended Learning to Support Alternate Routes to Teaching

National Conference. Today, I’m presenting at the National Center for Education Information (NCEI) national conference in Washington, DC. My presentation is entitled: "Applying Blended Learning to Support Alternate Routes to Teaching."

Focus. My strategy is to help participants learn how a cohort of 24 school leaders in my Fall 2010 Loyola University Maryland graduate class used a blended face-to-face and online learning model to become skilled in strategies for 21st century learning. I hope the participants will discover how the class used integrated social media and professional development tools to produce and post wikis for: standards-based lessons, data-driven Web 2.0 presentations, professional blogs, and action plans for disruptive and sustaining innovations. Finally, the participants will explore how the class formed six personal learning communities for collaborating in classes and worldwide.

Discussion. And the participants will discuss the following questions to envision how this model can be scaled to alternate routes for preparing teachers:

  1. How does a mix of three face-to-face/online weekends and online coaching between weekends lead to over 100 products and performances for sharing in six online learning communities?
  2. Why are disruptive innovations difficult to create and scale up in higher education and alternate routes for preparing teachers?
  3. What are the most promising 21st century standards and strategies for blended face-to-face and online learning in alternate routes to teaching?
Feedback. Please post your comments about the questions and check back soon to learn about the results of my presentation and highlights of the conference.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Create a Technology Revolution? How about a Learning Rave!

Challenge. It's highly unlikely that any technology revolution will start from within the current structure of public education. Here is my three-step action plan for a technology revolution -- I call it the New Rules for Learning.
  • First, disrupt the learning process ala Clayton Christensen's disruptive innovations approach that engages leaders, teachers, and students in a new setting and under new rules for learning -- instead of one teacher for large groups of learners, shift to thousands of teachers for each learner. That's done through online learning communities.
  • Second, develop learning layouts for blended strategies rather than units and lessons for courses. Integrating technology into the current classroom has not and will not scale to a revolution level. Learning layouts are a new way of mixing people, teaching, and technology to create new and better ways of learning.
  • Third, start a learning rave -- through online teacher-led social learning communities -- where teachers actively innovate, co-create, and share standards and practices that work for each learner in the disruptive innovation. This will demonstrate the results of new ways of teaching and learning.
Action. And the revolution requires the three action steps be converted into the form of job expectations within the disruptive innovation setting. This sets the vision and expectations for employing teachers committed to building the approach and evolving with it. In the New Rules for Learning, professional development occurs as part of the job of facilitating learning. This approach builds the scaling-up process needed for the revolution to play itself out successfully over time.

Learn More. Hey leaders of learning, let's do it! I've written more about this topic and the New Rules for Learning here:

Integrating Learning Into Social Media

Dear LearningFront Colleagues:

Wow! Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, LearningFront, and on and on! Educators are excited and engaged in the social media world and loving it. And what question do you think has surfaced? You’re right: How do we integrate social media into education, into curriculum, into teaching, into assessment. 

Hold on! I think we need to remix the question. For example, how do we integrate learning, teaching, and assessment into Twitter, into YouTube, and so forth. We’ve been integrating new processes into education for decades. And what happens? Typically, the same structure, the same teacher-pupil ratios, and the same blocks of time prevail with their usual cast of obstacles. I believe combining learning and social media causes excitement, fun, and new and potentially better ways of teaching and learning.

At LearningFront, we’re exploring ways to design classroom lessons that remix learning, teaching, and social media -- we’re calling them Learning Layouts. We invite you to co-create and share them with the LearningFront online community.

As I said in a recent tweet: “What I like is how Twitter updates PD topics, delivers learning links, and pushes the buzz -- with fun and in real time! I’m not sure I could say that about an after school workshop. Exciting stuff is happening!

What do you see on the frontier of learning?

Nick Hobar
President, LearningFront

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Web 2.0 Products and Performances!

New TaskBuilderOnline Templates! One of the challenges teachers face is how to select student work and exit performances for instructional units and daily lessons that reflect the intent and substance of content standards -- especially if the goal is to integrate the content standard into technology.
Web 2.0 tools offer a way to address this challenge and engage students in timely and relevant approaches for learning any content standard. As part of the lesson and assessment development process in LearningFront, teachers use the TaskBuilderOnline tool to access examples of written, oral, graphic, psychomotor, and, now, Web 2.0 products and performances. This means they can align Web 2.0 tool products and performances with the content standards, real world setting, activities, scoring tools, and results of their lessons or assessments.
When Web 2.0 tools are used to produce a student product or performance related to a content standard, teachers get closer to answering the question: How did technology help my students to increase their knowledge and skills on classroom work and external tests used for improvement and accountability purposes.
Please check out the Web 2.0 products and performances in the LearningFront PD tool, TaskBuiderOnline, and let us know what you think or how they might be improved.
Nick Hobar
President, LearningFront