Category Archives: Latest News

Vermont Fest Conference and more!

2020 Vermont Fest Conference

We are excited to announce that the annual Vermont Fest Conference dates have been set for October 28-31, 2020, and we’re looking forward to hosting another terrific event! This year, we’ve joined with VTVLC and the Northeast Online Learning Institute’s Online & Blended Learning Conference. Together we will gather experts and innovators in digital learning from around the region and the nation.

We are still seeking more featured speakers and workshop presenters. If you are interested in presenting, please contact us!

The event will be held online using an event platform designed to host conferences so that you can not only attend live interactive sessions, but video chat with speakers, other attendees, and exhibitors in ad-hoc video chats. The schedule will begin in the afternoon hours and extend into primetime hours in the evening to minimize conflicts with the school day. We will hold birds-of-a-feather dinner gatherings, and we encourage you to bring your dinner and eat with friends and colleagues, new and old! Just be careful you don’t spill on your computer!

Registrations will open soon! Please save the dates! More information is posted to the conference website!

Monthly Membership Meeting

In lieu of the traditional Regional Meetings, we are going to host monthly meetings online for all regions. Meetings will be held on the first Thursday of each month at 4 pm. Meetings will be open to all members including corporate members. 

Each month’s meeting will include time for open discussion of topics of interest from the group as well as announcements and updates from Vita-Learn, the AOE, and others. If you have an announcement you’d like to share at a meeting, please notify Jeff Mao in advance so you can be added to the agenda!

Annual Membership Dues

The Board of Directors has approved re-instituting membership dues. While the Board recognizes that funding in schools is limited, to help the organization’s capacity to provide services to the membership, the dues were a necessary first step. Dues for individual members has been established at $20 per year. This year’s dues have been included in the registration fee for the annual Vermont Fest Conference. If you pay for your membership before registering for Vermont Fest, you will be given a $20 discount on the conference registration. Additionally, benefits including discounts to all Vita-Learn events that include registration fees, access to recordings of all online PD workshops (including Vermont Fest Conference recordings), and more are planned.

Institutional and corporate memberships are also available which include benefits for those organizations as well. If you have suggestions of how we can make the membership more valuable, please contact Jeff Mao. For more information on memberships, please see the Members page.

VITA-LEARN Announces New Executive Director – Jeff Mao

VITA-LEARN ANNOUNCES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – JEFF MAO

Burlington, VT (July 23, 2020)  Vita-Learn is excited to welcome Jeff Mao as our new executive director. Jeff has deep roots in education technology in New England dating back to his first teaching position at Brewster Academy in NH where he was part of their launch of a 1:1 laptop program in 1993. Later, he served as the Education Technology Director for the State of Maine for ten years leading programs including the Maine Learning Technology Initiative and helping to establish NetworkMaine. He has collaborated with the Vermont Agency of Education to help establish a multi-state contract to facilitate purchasing 1:1 solutions. He was also a keynote speaker at VITA-Learn’s 2016 Dynamic Landscapes conference in Burlington. He has extensive experience with non-profits and for-profit ed-tech partnerships and can expand the digital consortium work that Vita-Learn has started with technology solution partners. 

He has served as a member of the Board for the State Educational Technology Directors Association for six years including two years as Board Chair, and he has an exciting vision for the role of educational technology in today’s educational landscape. 

“Jeff feels like the perfect match for our organization and its current goals.  We are excited to have Vermont educators to meet him as he begins this leadership role in our organization,” said Jessica Wilson, President of the Board of Directors, VITA-Learn.

Discounted Pricing for Seesaw

Vita-Learn is excited to announce that we have negotiated a bulk purchase pricing agreement for SeeSaw for Schools Licenses  

If your school  is interested in discounts on  Seesaw licenses or renewals (now or in the future) please see this page for more pricing and ordering details!

Seesaw Logo
Seesaw is a simple way for teachers and students to record and share what’s happening in the classroom. It includes learning journals, portfolios tools, parent communication tools, and more. Learn more about Seesaw for Schools and Remote Learning.

Vita-Learn believes that every child deserves equitable access to the right tools for learning from school supplies to digital tools to educators who understand how to use learning tools to  create transformative learning opportunities. 

Vita-Learn recently surveyed schools to learn which tech tools provided solutions during our recent emergency remote learning.  

Several digital tools came to the top of the list.  We asked…

“How might we support schools who are working towards equitable access to the right tools for engaging our students both in person and remotely.”

Negotiating discounts for Vermont schools with solution partners willing to work with us as a consortium is one way we can help support this equity  goal. Seesaw is the latest in the list of agreements we have been able to negotiate for Vermont schools.


Click here to learn more about  discount pricing agreements we already have in place with with the following solution partners

  • WeVideo – video creation for every child anytime anywhere on any device
  • Book Creator –  create ebooks on a Chromebook
  • VoiceThread –  asynchronous conversation using audio, video, text around learning artifacts
  • Newsela  – 

“It is not beyond our power to create a world in which ALL children have access to a good education.”   ~ Nelson Mandela

End of Year Reflection

During the past few months, our members have demonstrated amazing ability to respond to a Governor Scott’s March 15 directive for the closure of K12 schools in Vermont as part of our Vermont’s response to a public health emergency.

“The orderly dismissal of schools is essential to support both the State’s response to COVID-19 and the needs of children and families across Vermont,” Scott said. “We must ensure children are safe, nourished, and still learning even as the traditional structure of school is disrupted.  The work of educators will be essential in this effort.” ~ Governor Scott

Adrenalin and commitment fueled school leaders, educators, librarians, ed tech teams, school staff, and communities to design and implement a plan. Challenges were met head on and plans were adjusted to meet those challenges. Three months later, as we come up for air, and start to think about ‘what next’, we find ourselves reflecting.

Inspired by @Devin Vodika’s blog post referencing the After Action Review Protocol, Vita-Learn as created and tested a reflection template that we hope might help others as they enter the last few days of of the school year. Feel free to download and make a copy of the reflection template to use as you consider the successes and challenges of your school’s emergency school closing plan.

Special thanks to board member, Tim O’Leary, and the team from Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union for testing the protocol with us and sharing feedback on the template.

We hope you’ll also let us know how if you find the reflection template useful.

extra help volunteer squad

Click HERE to ENTER the Password Protected EXTRA HELP WEBSITE.
Fill out the form below to get the ACCESS CODE.

Sign up using the form above to access
our volunteer EXTRA Help Site where you can
~sign up to volunteer to support others with their tech needs
~set up an appointment for some 1:1 help with someone to answer educational technology questions
~get technical help with something not working quite right
~receive help curating resources around a certain skill or content area to use with your students
~connect with others that have similar roles, content, grade level, etc
~learn or gain fluency with certain edtech tools or practice
~get help setting up a PD or training for colleagues in your school
~work with our partners and get training and mentoring to design remote learning experiences
~find just the right screencast or get help making  your own screencast to support students, parents, or other adults in your school.
~access the expertise of other collaborators throughout the #vted community
Thank you to the many #vted community and collaborators
supporting our schools during emergency remote learning

Dialogues related to School Continuity -in response to COVID-19

Vita-Learn Special Event Logo

As our educational community responds to COVID-19, the  #VTED community supports each other during a dynamic and quickly changing conversation.   We have set up a Special Event that allows our colleagues to share their emerging thinking.

Sharing Emerging Thinking on
Educational Continuity in VTED & COVID-19

Two Sessions on Monday, March 16th

Monday, March 16, 2020
7:00 – 8:00 PM – Designing for Remote Learning 

8:15 – 9:15 PM – Supporting Technical Decisions related to Educational Continuity

  • Focus on Technical Aspects: Device Management, Connectivity, Infrastructure, Networks, etc.

ADD EVENT TO CALENDAR

Facilitators:  Tim O’Leary (7:00 – 8:00 PM) and Patricia Aigner (8:15 – 9:15 PM)

Notetaker: Lucie deLaBruere

Purpose: To conversationally share ideas and resources being developed among districts on these complex and emerging conversations within and beyond our state.

Format: Each one-hour session is designed to hear from 3-4 panelists for 10-15 minutes each. Each will conversationally present some of their district’s current thinking and resources they have either created or curated. Questions can come from text-chat from viewers and panelists will answer a select few.

Connect to the Sessions

Designing For Remote Learning
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Facilitator: Tim O’Leary 
Supporting Technical Decisions related to Educational Continuity
8:15 – 9:15 PM
Facilitator:  Patricia Aigner
Join from Computer, iOS or Android:
https://middlebury.zoom.us/j/185137288

Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

+1 312 626 6799  or +1 646 876 9923  or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833

Meeting ID: 185 137 288
(needed when calling in via telephone)

The conversation will be recorded and the video will be shared with our #vted community via the School-IT listserv soon after it is completed.

Join from Computer, iOS or Android: https://middlebury.zoom.us/j/732756939

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 

+1 646 876 9923  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 

Meeting ID: 732 756 939
(needed when calling in via telephone)

The conversation will be recorded and the video will be shared with our #vted community via the School-IT listserv soon after it is completed.

 

More details available here

 

NEWSELA Webinar

Good news! Vita-Learn has approved an agreement with NEWSELA that will offer Vermont School’s consortium level pricing for NEWSELA products. Vita-Learn has arranged for NEWSELA to explain the difference between the various products at a special Vermont Schools NEWSELA webinar on February 13 at 1:00 p.m. 

Webinar Newsela.png

 You can register for the webinar  here 


You should also register if  you can’t make that time and would like a link to the recorded archive or information about consortium level pricing.

Vita-Learn believes that availability to educational resources should not be determined by zip codes and are pleased that your school (no matter the size) will benefit from this negotiated consortium level pricing.