All posts by vsteadmin

ISTE 2017 Program Available Now

Educator-tested strategies. Extraordinary resources for transforming learning and teaching. Renowned presenters. And an enormous, interactive expo hall.

That’s what you’ll find at ISTE 2017.

Check out the full program, now live, then begin personalizing your learning by choosing from more than 1,000 sessions! Learn the way you like by selecting from lectures, BYODs and hands-on learning environments.

Not yet registered? Sign up now to connect with like-minded teachers at ISTE 2017 June 25-28 in San Antonio.

Super Early Bird Pricing Ends March 1, 2017.

Extraordinary educators. Extraordinary professional development. ISTE 2017.

Big Deal Book, February 15, 2017

VSTE partners with Big Deal Media to bring you the best in online resources for digital learning and professional development plues grant and competition opportunities and more. In this edition, you can Connect Math to Music, Unravel Science Mysteries, Redesign Art & More.

Here are a few of our favorites from this sure to check the full Big Deal Book for more great resources!

Math Ideas with Liberal Arts Connections

Developed at Westfield State University in Massachusetts, Discovering the Art of Mathematics: Mathematical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts is publicly available through a collection of free books and workshops.

Immersive Virtual Reality Experiences

Developed by The New York Times, the NYT VR app for iOS and Android puts users at the center of stories in an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience.

Program Spotlighting Frederick Douglass’s Legacy

Frederick Douglass spent his life fighting for justice and equality. Born into slavery in 1818, he escaped as a young man and became a leading voice in the abolitionist movement.

Big Deal Book, February 15, 2017

Not everything in the Book is time sensitive so be sure to check out the archives.

CETL Certification Webinar, March 14, 2017

The VSTE CoSN Council will be sponsoring a free informational webinar about the Certified Education Technology Leaders (CETL) certification on March 14, 2017, at 4:30 PM. The webinar will be hosted by Tim Tillman, Director of Technology and Learning, Colonial Heights Public Schools, a CETL certified leader. Tim will discuss the certification in general and, for those who are currently studying for the exam, offer tips and techniques for preparing and taking the test.

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. As part of its mission, CoSN sponsors the Certified Education Technology Leaders (CETL) certification.  Earning the CETL certification will demonstrate that you have mastered the knowledge and skills needed to successfully build 21st century learning environments in your district. You can learn more about certification here.

The webinar will take place in VSTE's Adobe Connect room:

2017 THINK

Members of the VSTE Board of Directors will be taking time to periodically share their ideas and passions with the VSTE membership. In this edition, Board Treasurer Rod Carnill encourages us all to share our ideas, being careful to do so in respectful ways, demonstrating digital leadership in all our online interactions. 

Reflecting on 2016 brings me many fond memories among some difficult challenges. For me and for many the year was in many respects four seasons of unprecedented events. Even among the milestones we achieved, we may have walked away wanting. Wanting clarity among confusion, wanting constancy among uncertainty, wanting hope during times of trial. Perhaps like me you sense that there is more to come in each of those areas that cause us concern and cost us sleep.

Yet, I hope that you will join me in welcoming the new year with optimism, determination and a want to give your best to make good things happen for those we face each day, for those we walk beside each week, for those we will occasionally encounter through the coming year as well as those a world away who we may never meet.

As is the custom of many, the new year is greeted with resolutions, goals, intentions, resolve, aim, a plan. We make a decision to change a habit, to make better use of our time, talents and treasures. There is a desire to move along a different path, breathe more deeply freshness into our lungs and extend a helping hand to make a contribution.

And so it is that I challenge myself and in turn challenge you to engage, design, construct, collaborate, communicate, and most importantly THINK. Yes, THINK! Do all of these as often as possible, but be certain to take time and THINK. Challenge yourself to then reflect, share, and inspire. Choose your thoughts carefully as they will lead you to action and your actions will ripple through your circles of influence and your communities of practice. Some say actions speak louder than words, regardless of the channel, first measure your resolve and your intention against this simple acrostic...THINK.

Is  it  True?
Is  it  Helpful?
is  it   Inspiring?
is  it  Necessary?
Is  it  Kind?

Then, tell the world about it. As you plant your mustard seeds throughout the year post your reflections and inspirations with #VSTE so that we can applaud the good works across the changing seasons and celebrate our collective accomplishments @VSTE in Roanoke next December.

Rod Carnill is the Supervisor of ITRTs in Frederick County, Virginia. He serves as the Treasurer and Advocacy Chair of the Board of Directors. 

VSTE Board Chair Discusses Website Accessiblity

Keith Reeves, Chair of the Board of the Directors of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, spoke with The News & Advance, Lynchburg's newspaper, about Section 508 compliance, the section of the Americans With Disabilities Act that deals with eliminating barriers to information technologies.

Many school divisions have received official notification that their sites are not compliant and must create a plan for how they will bring them into compliance.

In addition to his work with VSTE, Reeves is a senior instructional technology coordinator for Arlington Public Schools. He speaks regularly about Section 508 issues. He will be a guest speaker at Making Connections: Southwest Regional Ed Tech Summit, on March 22, 2017, in Roanoke, Virginia.  Registration for this event is open now. Reeves led a webinar about accessibility for VSTE in October 2016. You can view the archive of the webinar here.

VE PLN, Monday, February 6, 2017: Survive the Summer

The VE PLN will meet Monday, February 6, 2017, 8 PM, at VSTE Place, our Minecraft server, to discuss running  survival world professional development experience this summer. Visitors from the Minecraft MOOC hosted by the Electronic Village Online  will be coming by Monday night to give us advice and tell us about their experiences.
We know many teachers and ITRTs are interested in exploring Minecraft in the classroom. Come to this meeting and let us know how this professional development could best serve you.
For server information and more go to the flyer here
We will use Discord for voice to communicate. Download it ahead of time if you don't have it and set up an account. It's free. The link to join VSTE VE PLN Minecraft Monday is

Big Deal Book, February 1, 2017

VSTE partners with Big Deal Media to bring you the best in online resources for digital learning and professional development plues grant and competition opportunities and more. In this edition, you can Simulate a Robot, Take a Brain Break, Perform Acts of Kindness & More.

Here are a few of our favorites from this sure to check the full Big Deal Book for more great resources!

Global Awareness Activities

#GlobalSpeedChat is a worldwide collaboration platform on which students respond to activity prompts, such as “If the world had a flag of its own, what would it look like?”

Robot Simulator

RobotBASIC is a multifeatured, general purpose, versatile programming language with an integrated robot simulator.

Media Production Lessons

Produced by WNYC Studios since 2014, Radio Rookies has been developing a series of free lesson plans for educators who are interested in using audio production as a teaching tool.

Big Deal Book, February 1, 2017

Not everything in the Book is time sensitive so be sure to check out the archives.

Position Statement Regarding the Nomination of Secretary of Education

a blue apple with a green leaf and brown stemThe Board of Directors of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education has issued a statement regarding the nomination of Secretary of Education. The statement includes the Board's beliefs regarding the essential qualifications of any Secretary of Education.

Position Statement Regarding the Nomination of Secretary of Education
Virginia Society for Technology in Education
Board of Directors

We, the Board of Directors of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, explicitly thank Senator Tim Kaine (D) and Senator Mark Warner (D) for their statements of January 25, 2017 and January 31, 2017, respectively, in which they addressed the appropriate and necessary qualifications for a United States Secretary of Education.

As Senator Kaine said in his statement, three qualifications are essential in any Secretary of Education.

Firstly, an appropriate candidate for Secretary of Education must have a strong track record of being “pro-public schools.” Such a candidate should ideally have been a public school teacher and a public school administrator, and must have demonstrated instructional leadership, educational leadership efficacy, and a consistent and unquestionable support of the importance of quality public schools in every community in America.

Secondly, an appropriate candidate for Secretary of Education must have a strong track record of being “pro-accountability.” Such a candidate should have strong data analysis skills, a robust understanding of assessment philosophy and practices, and be well-versed in current issues facing the education profession regarding curriculum, standards, and the evaluation and reporting of individual student skill mastery.

Thirdly, an appropriate candidate for Secretary of Education must have a clear, abiding commitment to civil rights. Every single student in the United States of America is innately deserving of dignity, personal identity, and equal protection under law. An appropriate Secretary of Education must have special concern, and ideally a strong track record, when it comes to protecting and empowering students with disabilities, students in at-risk categories such as those based on socioeconomic status, and students facing mistreatment.

Our Secretary of Education must be a strong advocate for every child in America, must have a track records as a “champion” for public schools, and must demonstrate an unflagging ability to conceive, articulate, and implement policies that will support both children and public schools without undue private or ideological influence.

As the elected leaders of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s chief educational technology advocacy organization, and as experts in the field of education, the Virginia Society for Technology in Education believes it critical that educational leaders have clearly-expressed, consistently-held commitments to all students in all schools, most especially public schools, and who do not advocate for the wholesale privatization of public education.

We applaud Senators Kaine and Warner for their positions on the post of Secretary of Education, and support their advocating for an appropriate candidate in this and any nominee confirmation process.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,



Board of Directors
Virginia Society for Technology in Education

PDF Version of Full Statement: VSTE Statement on Secretary of Education Nomination.

Board Nominations Open Now

Nominations for the Board of Directors of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education are open now and will be open until  Friday, March 3, 2017.

You are invited to nominate yourself or a colleague to be considered for election to the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) Board of Directors, for the 2017-2020 Board term (three years).  This is an opportunity to become involved in the key decision-making group for the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.

Learn more about becoming part of the VSTE leadership here.

Gear Up for Advocacy

Keith David Reeves

Members of the VSTE Board of Directors will be taking time to periodically share their ideas and passions with the VSTE membership. In this edition, Board Chair Keith Reeves challenges us to become advocates for quality public education, especially in the area of virtual education.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you, my friends and colleagues in education here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you for helping to make our annual conference this year a marvelous success. About 1,200 of you joined me, Dr. Richardson, the Board of Directors, and our exceptionally-talented Conference Committee in Virginia Beach to raise our voices, our awareness, and our skill levels.

As we gear up for the second half of the year, I’d like us to re-spark our interest in paying attention not only to our kids and families in our respective schools, but to the “thirty thousand foot view” of Virginia education. I’d like you to take a moment, in your drive or workout or stroll to the store, to think of what you’d say if you had just a quick opportunity to say something to your local elected officials about educational technology.

If you stepped onto an elevator with your Delegate, what would you say about ed tech?

I think I’d play the role of the “Ghost of House Bills Past” and mention HB8, the failed legislation effort of the past two years that sought to back-door privatization in Virginia’s schools by putting K12, Inc. in control of a mandatory virtual school option in every school system in the Commonwealth. Governor McAuliffe clearly understood this privatization effort, and vetoed the bill in early April 2016. (You may recall that VSTE was ardently against this bill, as we articulated in our February 2016 statement, and I made sure as Chairperson of the Board to be significantly vocal on the subject.)

Why mention it? Because it’s coming back.

Many people hear “K-12” and think we’re only ever referring to “kindergarten through twelfth grade,” but K-12, Incorporated is a for-profit corporation, not an age range. This perilous conflation may lead many to misunderstand the intent of legislation, and we have a role to play in raising our voices in clarity.

The reason VSTE and I stood against HB8 was simple: It put a state-level mandate on schools that put the power in a single corporation’s pocket, siphoning local funding away to fuel the fires of this new private engine.

According to sources who say they have spoken with him, Representative Dickie Bell (R) apparently intends to reintroduce a version of HB8 this year, as a competing measure against Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) intended legislation, which would put a local-level mandate on schools and give them choice in how they implement virtual learning. Students who attend such programs have been shown in recent data analysis to underperform students who have the fuller advantages of the ever-more-personalized learning opportunities you, the talented and skilled educators of Virginia, provide in your local schools. While there are places where the Virtual Virginia pilot has been going well, we believe it most appropriate to allow local schools to evaluate programs and to mount pilots consistent with their needs and priorities, rather than create a law that all but guarantees sole-source contracting as the defeated HB8 did.

Let’s be clear about this: It is one thing to say “we want students to have the opportunity to learn online.” It is entirely another thing to say “And a sole-source corporate provider will be that option.” It is important for local school divisions to be able to select innovative, meaningful, and most importantly not-for-profit educational methods to ensure student learning is not commodified. The introduction of market principles into educational policy craft is a mistake, as I write about in my work, and we must take extraordinary care to ensure that we don’t see another back-door attempt to privatize Virginia’s public schools pass muster in the guise of providing good online learning.

Virtual education can do remarkable things for students when done right, such as the extension of supplemental counselor-assisted asynchronous high school instruction in Loudoun County, and the schools of Virginia need such professional educators making pedagogical decisions, not imposed structures of corporate influence.

It is my hope that we educational technology leaders can raise our collective voices to make the clear distinction to our legislators, whenever and wherever we can: Yes to innovative learning opportunities. No to corporatizing public education.

In the coming months, I issue to you the same charge then-Vice Chairperson Karen Streeter offered to you from the dais at the 2016 Conference in December: Find time to engage with your elected officials. Encourage them to scrutinize any bill that says “virtual” on it, and offer to engage with them on the subject. Lend your voice. Lend your ideas. Lend your assistance, so that our students are well-represented and have the opportunity to learn from excellent local professional teachers using locally-selected online materials that best serve the needs of your community. A state-level one-size-fits-all mandate that hands the reins of curricular and implementation powers to for-profit enterprises would jeopardize the state of education in the Commonwealth, and that is a misstep we simply cannot afford.

On behalf of your Board of Directors, thank you for your continued support of quality educational opportunities for our students, and of the mission of your Virginia Society for Technology in Education.