Author Archives: Jeff Utecht

flickr photo by pandemia https://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/3148748563 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Spammer Dilemma

Many of you….if not all of you…..received a message from a spammer last week here within our COETAIL system. You probably also received spam messages in your own email box as well….however those systems are getting really good at keeping them out of your eye sight…but they are still there.

flickr photo by pandemia https://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/3148748563 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by pandemia https://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/3148748563 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Spammers are a constant problem with websites. On one hand we should be honored I guess that COETAIL gets enough traffic to be recognized as a spamming opportunity. On the other hand it becomes extremely frustrating playing the cat and mouse game with them.

I have already have had to give in to spammers on COETAIL in the following ways.

  • You’re blog must be approved by Kim or I as we have spammers trying to create blogs daily. So now we have extra work of trying to monitor which blogs being created are real COETAILers and which are spammers.
  • COETAILers are no longer free to create groups within COETAIL freely as spammers were creating all sorts of spam groups within the system.
  • We have two different spamming plugins running on the site to try and keep spammers out. This in turn slows the overall speed of the site down.

There there are spammers like the one that got through last week. That spammer was a real human who took the time to fill out all the information needed to create a real account. That type of spammer nobody can stop making it even more frustrating.

In the end I’m sure this is not the last spammer we’ll see here on the site. In the future if you would please just delete the spam message from your email and COETAIL inbox it would be appreciated.

Back to fighting the good fight!

Jeff

It’s Complicated: COETAIL Book Chat

web-logo-tagline-600px

At COETAIL we’re constantly looking for new resources and updating resources for the courses. Over the last couple of months the COETAIL Instructors and Coaches have been reading It’s Complicated by danah boyd. Personally I think this is a must read for all educators and parents of teenagers today.  The COETAIL Team got together to do a Book Chat about the book via Google Hangout OnAir to share with the community. This video along with others about It’s Complicated will be added to Course 2 in the future. For now enjoy the Book Chat.

What to do with your blog after COETAIL

We often get asked what COETAIL graduates should do with their COETAIL blog. That my COETAIL friends is completely up to you! The blog is yours, the data is yours. You have admin rights to your blog and so with that, you have full control over what you do with the content on it. Here are the options that you have.

Option 1: Keep Blogging

It’s that simple….you’re blog has become part of your digital footprint. Google has found it and if you search for yourself you’ll find your blog. So If you would like to keep blogging…or if you don’t want to blog anymore but you would like the blog to be part of your digital footprint, then just leave it how it is. I do recommend checking on it from time to time as we are constantly making updates to themes, the website, etc and that sometimes messes with the layout and design of your blog. If we ever shut COETAIL down then we will do our best to notify you so you have time to export your data. So please do your best to make sure the email address associated with your account is up to date.

Option 2: Export to your existing blog or to a new blog

Export OptionA good handful of COETAILers have a personal blog or a professional blog already and really don’t want “another blog”. No problem! Simply go to Tools – Export in your dashboard. From there you can download all your posts, pages, comments and then import them into any other blogging program. After that you can have us delete your blog, archive your blog or leave it. Totally up to you. We highly recommend not deleting your blog as other people have linked to your content and blog posts and if you delete your blog those links become broken…but it’s up to you what you do.

Option 3: Delete completely

Simply contact Jeff with your username and the URL to your blog and he’ll delete everything about you on the COETAIL site. It will be like you were never a COETAILer. :( As much as we hope this doesn’t happen there are times when people want/need to disappear and we honor and respect that. It’s your data.

Those are your “after I complete COETAIL” options. Basically you control your data and what you do with it, where you put it, or how you use it, is completely up to you. We’re just here to support you and give you a platform to learn and make connections.

 

EARCOS COETAIL Meetup

Coetailkk3I recently returned from the EARCOS Teacher’s Conference where we were able to have a #COETAIL meet up. To the right is a pic of everyone who joined us for a few hours of getting to know each other, talking everything COETAIL and just meeting the community.

My favorite part of every meet up is when people who have been reading each other for a year finally meet in person. At some point at every meet up I over hear “Yeah…I know you…I’ve been reading your blog for a year now”. What comes next is usually a funny exchange of looks, then the realization that what we talk about here at COETAIL is real. That these connections are not as strong as face to face connections, but they are connections all the same, they have power, they have meaning.

We had four people join the meet up from Online2….I think all four took pleasure in learning that non of them are close to finishing their Course 5 final project. :)

We had four people from the “Original Cohort” that took place at ISBangkok in 2009. It was great to have them there and to see just how far this program has come.

We had four COETAIL instructors join us. A great way to to see no matter where you take COETAIL or who your instructor is, we’re all part of one big community.

We had people just starting the program in the Online4 cohort, we had people who finished last December in the Online1 cohort. In fact, reflecting back on it…..we pretty much had every cohort represented.

We all know how small the International teaching community is, and then you add #COETAIL on top of that and it gets even smaller. I strongly encourage each and everyone one of you no matter what conference you go to……try to find other COETAILers. Find time to have a COETAIL meet up and enjoy the community and each other. You don’t need an instructor to create a meet up. You just need a hashtag and a place to meet.

A big thanks to @rappino for his help in organizing the COETAIL meet up. If you want to know how this one got organized here’s how it happened.

And that’s how you create a COETAIL meet up.

Flipped About Flipboard

flipboardI’m so excited that COETAIL is getting started. If for no other reason then to try out Flipboard as our “Core Text” moving forward. I wrote a blog post about this awhile ago and since that time we’ve been working on bringing this idea to COETAIL. Flipboard is so visual (course 3) understands the connections (course 1) and allows us to both create and consume. To curate the web in a way to help us make sense of all the information out there, find the good stuff, and change the conversation. That’s our hope…we’ll see how we do. Below is a 22 minute video….it’s long but it goes into my thinking about Flipboard and how you can set it up to use it for your COETAIL journey. This actually might be the best 22 minutes of the entire COETAIL program. :)

New Online Payment System

Pretty excited about this! Hoping this saves both you and us some time in getting payments processed and access to your courses.

Either watch the quick 2 minute video or follow these simple steps.

1. Log into the COETAIL Site

2. Head to your COETAIL Cohort Blog

3. Click on the “Payment” page in the menu

4. Choose your option for payment and follow the checkout system

5. Once your purchase has been processed head to “My Courses” where you’ll now have access to your new course.

That’s it!

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: 

My wife and I watching the Sunset in Nafplio, Greece. Love G+ Auto awesome filters!

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.

COETAIL’s Summer:

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!

Profile Widget:

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!

Changing your Email Address

emailWith summer right around the corner it’s important that we have a way of contacting you and making sure you don’t miss out on all things COETAIL. Below is a quick 2 minute video that walks you through how to update your email address. Or if you are more of a word person:

Your Blog —> Dashboard —> User —> Your Profile

COETAIL Coaches Idea

During the Learnign2 COETAIL Meet Up we asked those that attended how we can improve COETAIL. Marcello Mongardi from Oman along with others asked “What’s next”? It was a great questions that Kim and I weren’t really thinking about but now are. Marcello even throw out the idea of COETAIL Coaches. That COETAIL graduates could in some way volunteer to help coach COETAILers. The idea was that people need a reason to continue to reflect, continue to blog and just want to keep learning which means being active in a community…what better community to be active in than the COETAIL one. :)

Photo Credit: Euan via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Euan via Compfight cc

So we are in the process of brainstorming what this might look like. One idea would be that a COETAIL Coach would be a coach for a reason. We know that timezones are frustrating. However what if we had coaches in timezone areas that would be able to hold COETAIL Hangouts once a month to get people in that timezone together. The cohort you are in doesn’t matter…what matters is coming together and supporting each other where we’re at. The coaches would be available to help out in a pinch via e-mail or a hangout if someone is having an issue and the instructor is timezones away sleeping.

That’s just one idea we have….if you like the idea of COETAIL Coaches and have ideas of your own please let us know about it in the replies. Your ideas, feedback and interesting will help shape what this looks like….and what an exciting idea for sure. Oh…and we’ll create a COETAIL Coaches badge for you to display and use on a resume. ;)

We’ve Got Badges!

circle-transparent-BGThe badge movement in education is something I have been following and wanted to implement into COETAIL and I’m exciting to say we finally have. We are working with Mozilla Open Badges to allow participants to receive a badge that they can display on their blog or website as professional development that can be authenticated through a 3rd party (Mozilla). I’m 99% sure you’re going to be seeing more PD go in this direction as it allows a teacher to show the non-standard PD they have done. It gives credit to things like online courses where you don’t have a transcript or official document to show what you completed. Many of the MOOCs, like Coursera and Edx are adopting them as well.

openbadges

There even was a line of thinking at the Learning2 conference about getting International Schools on board by awarding badges for PD that teachers have done. Because International Teachers move so often trying to keep track and authenticate trainings and PD they have attended can be difficult. But with badges that are authenticated by a 3rd party and awarded to teachers once they have completed the training it makes it easy for schools and schools leaders to know exactly what training a teacher has done. For example, Learning2 gave out badges this year to participants, workshop presenters and Learning2Leaders for them to be able to show that they did indeed attend the conference. Now teachers and the school can keep track all the different types of PD a teacher does.

We’ll be getting you set up as you finish the the program. It’s pretty easy for starters. Just head over to https://backpack.openbadges.org/ and sign up there. Once you receive an e-mail with a link to your badge the rest just kind of happens.