VirtualVA 2013 | VSTE embodies the community of those passionate about technology’s role in education.

VirtualVA 2013


When the Kids Take Over: Creating Learning Spaces

Sponsored by North Tier and VSTE

VirtualVA2013 Feedback Please complete the feedback from even if you didn’t attend the conference. We’d like to know what we can do to encourage you to attend next year!

Conference Certificate of Participation

Archives Available!

We will be providing individual session recordings soon but for now you can access the full recordings using the web interface that allows you to scroll through the timeline.

Monday, January 28 Archived Recording
Tuesday, January 29 Archived Recording
Wednesday, January 30, Archived Recording
Thursday, January 31, Archived Recording
Friday, February 1, Archived Recording
Saturday, February 2, Archived Recording

Dr. Pam Moran and Becky Fisher from Albemarle County Schools will provide a co-created unkeynote for the opening session of VirtualVA2013, Virginia’s first virtual conference.The session is titled Hacking Education: From Tweaks to Transformation. Dr. Moran is the Superintendent of Albemarle County, and Becky Fisher is the Director of Educational Technology, Professional Development, and Media Services. The opening session will take place Monday, January 28, 2013, at 6:30 PM. At 8 PM, students and teachers from Albemarle County will share their experiences with 21st century learning spaces.

This opening session will set the stage for the rest of the week, which will include interesting and lively online presentations with a focus on engaging students and building new learning skills using technology. The sessions will offer a look into the classrooms of many educators from Virginia and how they are using 3D modeling, programming, “maker” concepts, “flipping” instruction, and more new concepts to motivate kids. Each night of the week we will have three presentations, one hour-long presentation/discussion around a specific topic, and two 25 minute sessions featuring teachers showing what their students are doing with new technologies and offering ideas for making it happen in your school.

Confirmed presenters include John Hendron from Goochland County discussing Trimble Sketchup and 3D Modeling and Tim Owens from University of Mary Washington talking about Maker Faires and the maker movement.

On the final day, we will also have a two-hour free for all, when anyone can take the microphone and, in ten minutes or less, offer their thoughts and ideas on any topic related to instruction, technology, and how the two intersect. Think of it as an online version of Ignite/Pecha Kucha.

Tom Woodward, Assistant Director for Elementary Education and Organizational Development from Henrico County, will close the conference with a presentation entitled “quo·tid·i·an.”

Mark your calendars now for January 28th through February 2nd. It will be cold outside but the opportunity to learn and make connections at the VSTE/North Tier virtual conference will help keep your thoughts cooking.


Monday, January 28, 6:30 PM
Hacking Education: From Tweaks to Transformation
Pam Moran and Becky Fisher, Albemarle County Public Schools

Meeting Room

Yesterday’s students, often destined for the factory floor or service work, attended schools functionally designed to teach institutional compliance. In the 1990s, America outsourced its factories. Yet, today’s factory schools continue to warehouse young people, despite that America no longer needs a workforce made obsolete in the last century.

Isn’t it past time for education and educators to respond to 21st century changes as well? Isn’t it time to move from teaching places limited by the walls of classrooms and schools to learning spaces, limitless in possibilities that extend educational opportunities beyond school walls and district boundaries? Isn’t it time to stop paying attention to political and private sector agendas that promote 20th century standardization methodologies and attend to the need to de-standardize curricula, assessment, and pedagogy so we can get to deep learning?

Isn’t it time to stop tweaking education through 20th century reformation and instead, start hacking education through 21st century transformation? Let’s invent and innovate. Let’s scale across, not up. Let’s activate contagious creativity in our children and ourselves.

Monday, January 28, 8 PM
Choice and Voice -Our Kids Need to Exercise These
Paula White, Albemarle County Public Schools

Meeting Room
When students make their own choices in reading and writing activities, and when they find an authentic audience for their voice, they create, curate, communicate and connect in more ways than we ever imagined.  Quadblogging, building wikis, presenting online and sharing through varied web tools becomes the norm rather than the occasional event. Choice and voice are crucial skills to give our kids.

Monday, January 28, 8:30 PM
Creating Collaborative Learning Spaces
Brian Kayser, Albemarle County Public Schools

Meeting Room
Brian will take us on a tour of his middle school special education classroom where students engage in a variety of collaborative projects from blogging to skyping to working with digital pen pals. It’s a glimpse into a digital world of creation and collaboration.

Tuesday, January 29, 6:30 PM
Using Robots to Increase STEM Engagement with Girls

Meeting Room
Laura Jones, School Based Technology Specialist, McNair Elementary School, Fairfax County
How do you get elementary kids, especially girls, excited about studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects? At her school, Laura Jones does it by providing many opportunities to get their hands on robots and other computers and learn how to tell them what to do. Join us to learn how she does it on a shoe string and about GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science), a program she created in 1994 to help young girls and underserved minorities become interested and stay involved with STEM.

Tuesday, January 29, 8:00 PM
Building Higher Level Thinking Skills with Scratch
Mark Moran, School-Based Technology Specialist, Island Creek Elementary School, Fairfax County

Meeting Room
If you think learning computer programming is hard, just ask the millions of kids who are doing just that using Scratch. Mark Moran will show some of the projects done by students at his elementary school and discuss how he uses Scratch to help in building their higher level thinking skills.

Tuesday, January 29, 8:30 PM
Let’s have Unity in the Classroom!
William Schmachtenberg, Franklin County Public Schools
Matthew Brosinski, student, Franklin County Public Schools
Kevin Tweedy, Extreme Reality

Meeting Room
Of course, schools expect teachers, students, parents and administrators to work together in a classroom for the success of our children. That is not the topic of this presentation. Unity ( is a powerful tool that allows us to build virtual learning environments where students and teachers around the globe can meet and collaborate in which students acquire twenty-first century skills. These virtual learning environments can be areas where students review for state tests in a vibrant 3d space. We can have inquiry based activities and collect field data by customizing the GUI huds in Unity for STEM studies in a safe environment. Combining technology for xrworlds and xrgrid with Unity builds we can run virtual field trips and have online meetings and conferences with slideshows. Unity runs on the mac, pc, or websites and is easily accessible in the classroom or computer lab.

Wednesday, January 30, 6:30 PM, 8 PM & 8:30 PM
The Geospatial Semester: Solving Real Life Problems
Paul Rittenhouse, James Madison University
Kathryn Keranen, James Madison University

Meeting Room
The Geospatial Semester is a unique program with James Madison University where students are learning how to apply geospatial technologies to address real life problems while earning college credit.  We plan to outline how the program operates, how schools can participate, and illustrate the type of problem based learning that has earned the program international exposure.

Wednesday, January 30, 8:00 PM
Rebecca Gentry, Herndon High School

Meeting Room
Rebecca, a Geospatial Semester instructor at Herndon High School, will show how her students used mobile devices in addition to online and desktop services to analyze cell phone coverage on their campus and share their results over the cloud.

Wednesday, January 30, 8:30 PM
Tara Meadows, Luray High School

Meeting Room
Tara is a Geospatial Semester teacher who will discuss how she and her students used high end GPS units to capture data for Whitehouse Farm and then used ArcGIS Online to make a web-based embedded map for their website.

Thursday, January 31, 6:30 PM
Sketchup - An Introduction
John Hendron - Goochland County Public Schools; VSTE Board of Directors

Meeting Room
Sketchup is an easy-to-use 3D modeling application for Windows and Macs that can be used across the curriculum. In this session, John Hendron, who has been training teachers on using Sketchup for several years, will give you a quick overview of the program and provide ideas on how to use this software starting at the upper elementary grades through high school. In addition, he will point you to additional resources online towards mastery of this program. While it may be simple to get started, Sketchup is often used by professional architects to create 3D mockups of buildings and homes for clients, complete with the ability to do virtual walk-throughs. Best of all, Sketchup is free.  Trimble Sketchup Online

Thursday, January 31, 8 PM
Content Creation in the Virtual World of Second Life
Marie Booz, Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Meeting Room
Second Life is an unique virtual world because all the all content in this environment is created by the users or “residents.”  The Second Life viewer has built in tools to create and modify objects, a process known as “building.”  Once created, objects can be stored in your personal inventory, shared with other users, or placed somewhere within the 3D world.  Objects are made of one or more “primitive shapes” or “prims,” which can be linked together to form more complicated items.  Each prim has one or more images called “textures” applied to its surfaces, and can contain an unlimited number of items inside it, including other objects.  The items placed inside an object can include software scripts, animations, sounds, and additional textures.  These can make an object perform an almost unlimited number of actions.

Thursday, January 31, 8:30 PM
Learning Minecraft: An Novice’s Perspective
Kim Harrison, Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Meeting Room
Are your kids hooked on Minecraft? Have you dabbled yourself? Come listen to the story of a Minecraft novice. Minecraft is a building game in which you mine for resources with which to build. You punch and collect dirt, wood, rock, ores, and gems. You can build buildings, grow crops, raise animals, and fashion new tools and armor.  With the right ore you can create things that run on power with circuits and switches. You can change the flow of water to aid in farm irrigation or movement of materials. The basic game can be played in two modes, creative and survival. In creative mode you have unlimited resources at the ready in your inventory. In survival mode you must find and collect all the materials yourself, and to make things more interesting must manage your health by eating and being careful not to hurt your miner. Survival mode can be played with or without monsters that spawn in the dark. Minecraft can be played alone or on a server in multiplayer mode. It’s available on many gaming devices, computers, and both Android and iOS devices.

Friday, February 1, 6:30 PM
Makerspaces: A new approach to hands on learning in the classroom
Tim Owens, University of Mary Washington; VSTE Board of Directors

Meeting Room
Come find out how the University of Mary Washington bootstrapped a Makerspace of their own in their library using a variety of hands-on tools and emerging technology. You don’t have to have a big budget to inspire a new generation of makers, thinkers, and creators!

Friday, February 1, 8 PM
Hackerspaces and Hackable Schools
Andrew Carle, Flint Hill School

Meeting Room
Maker culture offers far more to K-12 education than the rebirth of shop class. The learner-centered DIY ethos springs from reproducible cultural practices, not a shopping list of expensive tech. Join a conversation with Andrew Carle from Flint Hill School about the powerful intersection between hackerspaces and hackable schools.

Friday, February 1, 8:30 PM
Learning Commons and Makerspaces: When Work and Play Happen in the Open
Melanie Barker, Collegiate School

Meeting Room
What happens when the classroom doors open and students, staff, and faculty take to communal spaces?  Collaboration, unlikely mentorships, and serendipitous discoveries, of course!  Let’s talk about what happens when we work, tinker, and play in common areas like libraries and hallways.

Saturday, February 2, 9-11 AM: Open Mic
Meeting Room
Before you enjoy the final presentation of the first ever VirtualVA conference, fill up your coffee cup and join us from 9 to 11 AM for some free wheeling conversation about education and technology. This is your chance to grab the microphone and tell us about a wonderful project your students have done, a great website you’ve seen (or created), the best app you’ve ever used, or let loose with some ideas that have been rolling around in your head. Pre registration is not required but if you want to reserve a spot at the mic, please complete this Google form: before 6pm on Friday, February 1st. Then spread the word and bring all your friends to our virtual open forum.

Saturday, February 2, 11 AM
Tom Woodward, Henrico County Public Schools; VSTE Board of Directors

Meeting Room

To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic. - Pablo Picasso

Education seems to be stuck in an endless cycle of doing old things, switching the media and pretending they are new.  Inspiration, engagement, and education all flourish on the Internet. And they do so without legally enforced attendance or grades. What can we learn from them? How can we harness all of this effort?