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!
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 Maoin advance so you can be added to the agenda!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.