Back in the Saddle: Summer Updates
As a new school year gets started for most of you here in the COETAIL community, I wanted to wish you all a wonderful school year. I'm already looking forward to your reflections as you take on another year being an educator.
Some of you have already started blogging again, talking about moving schools, moving positions or in some cases both. Others are talking about changes they are making to their classes and some of the things they hope to try this school year. Wherever you are, whatever you are teaching, know you have a community here to support you in all your new adventures this coming year.
My summer was full on packed with friends, family, consulting, and traveling. My wife and I did make it to both Croatia and Greece this summer. We went to Greece to watch one of our former students get married. One thing I enjoy about being an International Educator is the connections you make that take you to places like Greece for a wedding. :)
Other than that, I spent time at the American School in London as well as many places around the U.S. From Florida to Iowa and even here in the State of Washington, where I was excited to get to teach a course at a local university to pre-service teachers. Two days to try and prepare them for the connected classrooms that await them wasn't enough...but it's a start.
Summertime is always a time of reflection for educators. The COETAIL team spent the first part of the summer reflecting on how this year went and the second half on where we want it to go. We did make some updates based on your feedback......your feedback about the site and the program are incredibly valuable. Please know that we do take it all in and make changes based on what our participants tell us from year to year. Here are some of the updates that you'll find this coming year in COETAIL.
New Course Layout:
We took your feedback about the actual course layout and this year are going to try a tabbed approach. Once you're in a course, you will now see on each unit page tabbed content. We know people don't like to scroll and so this way we were able to get the content we needed on the page without you having to scroll. Clicking on the tab allows you to quickly "jump" to the section you need/want. We hope this new look helps.
New Course Content:
We do this every summer but the COETAIL Instructors started working on updates at the end of June and are still in the process of meeting and updating all 5 of the courses. We know that information changes quickly in the technology world, so we have gone through every course, every unit, every link and updated them all to the best, most recent and what we feel is the most pertinent information that will help you moving through the program. Personally, I'm liking the updates and excited to get the new content in front of you all.
Comment Links to Blog:
This was a suggestion brought to us by our COETAIL Coaches. When people left a comment on a blog post your name was linked to your profile. This was OK except in many cases you're not worried about their profile...you want to go see their blog maybe even return the favor. So we had our developers change the link on your name in a comment. So now if someone leaves a comment on your blog you can click on their name and go directly to their blog.
Easier/Faster Course Registration:
Up until this year, getting your payment for each course and getting you access was a lot of clicks. Our cohort manager (a.k.a. my wife) spent hours clicking back and forth making sure payments were made and that access was given. It was a lot of clicks! We're trying to reduce that. This year when a course is ready to start, you'll click on the course and pay right there...as soon as your payment is processed you'll be given access to the course content (this only works if you pay via PayPal, checks and wire transfers will work differently). Less clicking on our end! YEAH! At the same time this means instant access for you. No longer will you have to wait a day or two for your payment to come through the system and be given access to the course. Now it will all just happen. If we run into glitches (as so often happens with new systems) please be patient with us as we sort it out!
The last update is a new profile widget...it is still in development but hopefully will be ready for the start of the courses in September. It will be a widget you can put on your sidebar/widget area that will link to your Google+ account, your Twitter, and any other information you might want to have show right on your blog. I for one would read a blog post and want to tweet it out and tag the author but couldn't always find the twitter handle easily. My hope is now it will be just a click away.
Google Hangouts and iTunes Podcast:
We're doubling down on our Google Hangouts this year. Hoping to bring the community in more and holding them more often. Many of you have said you would like to have more synchronous gatherings and so we'll put them on the calendar and continue to run them as long as people keep showing up. We're also going to try and get our iTunes Podcast site back up and going. Many of you have said you would be interested in an audio version of our COETAILcast and that's what we're hoping this is for. If you are an Android user (like me) you can use the DoggCatcher App to listen to the audio version as well.
That's it for this summer and some of our goals for the upcoming COETAIL year. We'll be talking about other changes like using Flipboard (which I'm really excited about) as a way to get the latest information for each course in front of you. More on that in another post!
Ready or not.....here comes another year of COETAIL!