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  • December 09, 2020 8:14 AM | Deleted user

    This week, the education community is celebrating Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek). CSEdWeek is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science. It’s also an opportunity for educators to advocate for equity in computer science education and policies emphasizing its importance in schools, as well as a time to celebrate the contributions of students, teachers and partners to the field.

    Throughout this week, IDEA partner CodeHS is hosting free, live workshops for students and educators who want to improve their knowledge of different areas of computer science as part of the Hour of Code. Check out the graphic below for more information about these workshops. A PDF file of the graphic is available here.

    IDEA is also a proud partner of CS4IL, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to providing computer science education to K-12 students across Illinois. CS4IL encourages Illinois educators and parents to call on their state legislators to further the measures outlined in the IL CS Education Task Force Report, a legal document that ensures Illinois students’ access to computer science education. CS4IL also promotes their efforts on social media using the hashtag #CS4IL and runs a membership platform. Today, on Wednesday, December 9 from 4 to 5 P.M., IDEA is hosting a webinar with CS4IL leaders. To register for this webinar, please click here.

    Here at IDEA, we’re proud to provide our members with access to innovative educational technology tools. During this week, we’re excited to be a part of a larger effort to provide students with quality tech-related education.

  • November 12, 2020 4:06 PM | Deleted user

    Last month, IDEA celebrated Digital Citizenship Awareness Week organized by our partners at Common Sense Media, but maintaining a pristine digital footprint is just one of many things you can do to be more conscious of cybersecurity measures. In fact, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month and many other organizations published resources for educators to reference while teaching themselves and their students about staying safe online.

    Looking back on the last few weeks, ISTE’s Privacy, Security, and Digital Citizenship working group created a guide titled A Learning System for Privacy, Security and Digital Citizenship Infrastructure. This guide provides instructors with plenty of insights when it comes to understanding the relationship between privacy and security. These insights are supplemented models of effective practices in safeguarding student data. The guide also includes methods to help teachers understand the roles, responsibilities, and rights of students in virtual learning environments, as well as understand the numerous stakeholders playing a role in student “data stewardship” and “digital citizenship” (i.e. teachers, administrators, parents, vendors and the students themselves).

    Another great resource to look into is the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s web series on Security Awareness. The NCA, Adobe, and Speechless, Inc. partnered together to film and release each episode every other month between November of 2019 and November of this year. Now that the series has concluded, you can enjoy the collection of videos all at once.

    Learning about cybersecurity doesn’t have to end there. IDEA is partnering with 8 ISTE affiliates across the country to host a month of learning related to digital literacy titled Digital Literacy: Here, There and Everywhere from November 18 to December 9. Join us to learn more about using technology and social media in educational and effective ways from local and national experts. We look forward to having you join us!

  • October 13, 2020 5:05 PM | Deleted user

    When school administrators across Illinois announced their plans to shift back to in-person learning after months of virtual instruction at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, ROWVA High School English teacher Traci Johnson was more prepared than most.

    Johnson was awarded the International Society for Technology in Education’s Making IT Happen award at IDEAcon earlier this year for her efforts to incorporate innovative pieces of technology into her classroom. As a naturally computer-savvy educator, she knew exactly which digital tools were at her disposal when Adam Seaney, ROWVA’s principal, had to self-quarantine after traveling at the start of the school year.

    Johnson is a longtime member of the Sandburg Education Network, an organization working to improve access to education technology tools and organize speaker events for teachers across Knox County.

    “We discuss innovation in the classroom and bring it back to our districts,” Johnson said of SEN’s biannual meetings.

    Through SEN, Johnson was able to connect with Cindy K. Arthur, the Coordinator of Instructional Technology at Carl Sandburg College. Johnson emailed Arthur about her coworker’s absence and jokingly asked if she could borrow one of the robots belonging to the college so Seaney could attend classes from home; to her surprise, Arthur agreed. Arthur handed off the robot to Johnson in the parking lot of the college, being sure to adhere to social distancing protocols.

    “Without Cindy, this would not be possible,” said Johnson.

    By connecting to the Double Robotics Double Telepresence Robot via video conferencing tools on his Chromebook, Seaney was able to attend morning duties, meet with other teachers and observe classes as he normally would while working in-person. He was even able to watch a science experiment up close and be part of a student’s birthday party.

    “Our students thought it was pretty cool,” said Seaney. “I'm a relationship-driven person so continuing to build relationships with our students and staff while quarantined was a definite plus. There were several students that missed seeing the robot around when I was able to come back in person.”

    The only problem Johnson and Seaney encountered with the robot was connectivity issues when the robot rolled into WiFi “blindspots” in areas of ROWVA High School.

    According to Arthur, Carl Sandburg College has been making use of the robots in similar ways at their institution.

    “At Carl Sandburg College, our focus is always about providing our students the best educational experience possible,” said Arthur.

    “Many students who because of travel constraints or a health condition have used a robot to attend class remotely. Along with student use, Sandburg has used the robot to bring in guest speakers or trainers. We have also used the robot to provide tours of the one button studio and virtual reality studio.”

    IDEA is pleased that the most recent awardee of one of our most prestigious awards continues to make use of digital tools during these difficult times.

  • September 22, 2020 4:05 PM | Anonymous

    Two of the biggest names in educational technology are teaming up to provide expanded virtual learning opportunities and new ways for educators to grow their professional learning networks in February. 

    By working together on programming and events, these grassroots professional organizations provide registrants to either event with more ways to earn professional learning hours and connect with like-minded, passionate educators — wherever they are. This innovative hybrid Convention offers three weeks of programming from two trusted networks — IDEA and TCEA. Live sessions begin February 1–6, 2021 and will be available on-demand for 30 days after the event. Additional programming will culminate with more live events and keynotes later in the month. Attendees can benefit from the expertise and powerful networks of both these organizations worry-free, and at their own pace. In addition, we are excited to offer attendees the opportunity to visit two virtual exposition halls during the month.

    “Our collaboration with TCEA provides us an opportunity to introduce many new presenters and sessions to IDEAcon attendees thereby expanding everyone’s personal learning network,” IDEA Executive Director Amber Heffner says. 

    TCEA Executive Director Lori Gracey agrees, “By teaming up with IDEAcon, we’re helping educators find new perspectives on education. At a time when educators are working harder than ever, it’s vital to provide as many high-quality, research-backed resources as possible that help students build lasting learning.”

    Through this partnership, members and attendees from both organizations will get the benefits of a bigger professional learning network and more ways to learn, explore new technologies, and share their experience. IDEAcon registration opens Sept. 24, 2020, at 9 A.M. Central time. TCEA's Convention & Exposition will also open their registration Sept. 24, 2020.


    About IDEA

    Illinois Digital Educators Alliance (IDEA, was formed in 1986 by a group of approximately thirty teachers as a statewide organization for computer-using educators. Since its inception, the organization has continuously encouraged and supported educators in their development and use of technology in all facets of the educational process. Today, IDEA strives to provide even more opportunities for educators to connect with others, be inspired to improve teaching and learning, and transform their practices to support student empowerment and success.

    About TCEA

    TCEA ( is a nonprofit, member-based organization that has supported the use of technology in education for the last 40 years. Their primary focus is on integrating technology into the PreK-16 environment and providing our members with cutting-edge knowledge and resources through conferences, workshops, online publications, and collaborations with businesses and institutions of higher education. 

  • September 01, 2020 1:49 PM | Anonymous

    We are proud to announce the release our latest #IDEAauthors book, IDEAs to Amplify Student Voice. In this book, students from across Illinois share their stories about the innovative, creative, and inspirational ways they use technology in their classrooms, communities, and home environments to transform their own learning experiences.

    We began work on this book last May when our student technology showcase was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. After the cancellation, IDEA wanted to make sure that Illinois students still had the opportunity to tell their stories; to give them a voice.

    Twenty-three students joined us to create IDEAs to Amplify Student Voice. These students will inspire you with their stories of how they use technology to learn, create, design, and amplify their voice.

    Find out more about IDEAs to Amplify Student Voice and get your copy at

    Be sure to also check out IDEA’s other books: IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom, IDEAs to Transform your Classroom, and IDEAs to Connect your Classroom. In these books, Illinois educators share how they inspire their students, transform their environment(s), and connect with other educators and classrooms around the world. Connect with IDEA through these stories today.

  • April 29, 2020 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    Be sure to check out Illinois Digital Educators Alliance's (IDEA) newest podcast partner, Reimagine SchoolsIn this episode, New Jersey school superintendent Glenn Robbins talks about his experience in providing positive leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed schools from coast to coast for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. As a former National Digital Principal of the Year, Robbins also shares his approach to connecting with his school and community stakeholders through Facebook Live and how he's been able to bring in many of the nation's most inspirational speakers via Zoom video to provide uplifting messages of hope and reassurance during difficult times in our schools. Finally, Robbins talks about some of the struggles his district has faced with remote learning strategies and how working collaboratively with teachers and parents in his district has created new opportunities for innovation and problem solving.

    Download this week's episode here. Then, stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.

  • April 21, 2020 9:16 AM | Anonymous

    Be sure to check out Illinois Digital Educators Alliance (IDEA) newest podcast partner, Reimagine Schools. This week, Dr. Greg Goins talks with internationally-acclaimed child psychologist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Ross Greene. Listen as they discusses Dr. Greene's research that includes the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model for effectively managing child behavior and explains why kids with social, emotional and behavioral challenges are often misunderstood. He also shares insights as to why the traditional reward and punishment approach to school discipline often fails kids as we place the focus on correcting behavior rather than true problem solving. From his books, Raising Human Beings, The Explosive Child, Lost At School and Lost and Found, Dr. Greene lays out a three-step plan that includes empathy, defining adult expectations and offering the child an invitation to become a partner in solving challenges in the classroom. As the Developer and Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary The Kids We Lose, Dr. Greene closes the episode by shinning a light on the dark side of how too many kids are mistreated and manhandled in our schools due to high levels of frustration and hopelessness.

    Download this week's episode here. Then, stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.

  • April 15, 2020 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    Hosted by Dr. Greg Goins, the Reimagine Schools Podcast features many of the nation's top educators, authors and innovators in P-12 education with an emphasis on leadership development, scaling innovation and transforming our school systems. Guest have included some of the world's most prolific thought leaders on education, including Ted Dintersmith, Ted Fujimoto, Ian Jukes, Alfie Kohn, Grant Lichtman, Marc Prensky and Dr. Tony Wagner. The Reimagine Schools Podcast is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network (EPN) and is also part of voicEd Radio, a 24/7 Internet-based Radio Station dedicated to both broadening and deepening the conversations we have about education. Be sure to join the conversation with #ReimagineSchools.

    This week's episode features Ross Cooper, a school administrator and co-author of Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom with Erin Murphy, talks about how passion and autonomy can lead to amazing results in the PBL classroom. He also reflects on how basic projects might serve as an entry point to PBL implementation, and why having some well-defined school goals and strategies can provide greater feedback and collaboration among teachers and students within PBL teaching models. Finally, Cooper offers some advice on how to get started with PBL and explains the difference between assessment and grading within project-based instruction.

    Download this week's episode here.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.

  • March 18, 2020 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    If you were at IDEAcon this year, you saw us introduce our new IDEA Authors book series. The books were such a hit at the conference, we had to reprint and replenish our stock before offering it to everyone else! But now we’re ready to brag about our authors.

    Last year, Illinois Digital Educators Alliance invited its members to share stories about how they were making a difference in education. Their stories resulted in the creation of three books including: IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom, IDEAs to Transform your Classroom, and IDEAs to Connect your Classroom.

    Edited by IDEAcon featured speaker, Robert Dillon, the series tells how educators in Illinois inspire their students, transform their environment, and connect with other educators and classrooms around the world. Forty-four authors are highlighted. Student writers provided a foreword for each book.

    In IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom, you’ll be inspired by Jennifer Smith designing science as a verb, Billy Spicer outlining the growing power of esports, and Michael Earnshaw sharing dad’s advice.

    In IDEAs to Transform your Classroom, you’ll hear how small moments have transformational power, as seen when Matt Meyer finds guidance from his ten-year old self, Michael Kosko shows the power of growing with his students, and Megan Hacholski designs space for learning.

    IDEAs to Connect your Classroom brings together many ideas. Jeremy Rinkel connects us to a healthy digital life, Drew Witherell shows the power of connecting through instructional coaching, and Stephanie Suklow looks at connecting teachers through social media.

    These are just a few of the many stories that can be found in the new IDEA Authors series. Books are now available for purchase online at

    Congratulations to all of the authors that participated in this IDEA Authors project including:

    IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom

    Renee Bogacz, Michael Earnshaw, Jennifer Egget, Nancy Gadzala, Jessica Green, Mia Gutsell, Kim Knigge, Jason Kruski, Bethany Martino, Greg McDonough, Andrea Rechner Perrin, Carolyn Skibba, Jennifer Smith, and Billy Spicer. Foreword by Mitchell Brown and Scotty Vrablik.

    IDEAs to Transform your Classroom

    Julie Ahern, Dr. Marlo Barnett, Anne Marie Chobot, Tricia Fuglestad, Megan Hacholski, John Hayward, Rae Hughart, Traci Johnson, Michael Kosko, Matt Meyer, Dr. Li-Wei Peng, Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Michelle Thorne, Andrea Trudeau, Douglas van Dyke, and Lauren Wysocke. Foreword by Kyla Naganat.

    IDEAs to Connect your Classroom

    Michelle Anderson, Steven Baule, Ben Hartman, Michelle Susberry Hill, Jessica Iovinelli, Dr. Matthew X. Joseph, Shannon McGrath, Mitchel Meighen, Jeremy Rinkel, Stephanie Sukow, Derrick Swistak, Yvonne Tretter, Jen Waldvogel, and Drew Witherell. Foreword by Nate Butkus.

  • March 13, 2020 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Last week we sent out an email with information and resources to assist and support educators during the mandated school time off. We are continuing to update those resources and provide educators in Illinois the most relevant and robust resources we can. With the most recent updates from ISBE regarding “Act of God” days rather than E-learning days, we have adjusted the resources we are offering accordingly.

    As such, we have created (and will continue updating) our website at with learning activities focused on skill development in the areas of SEL and the 4 C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity). We will be going live on Monday, March 16th, at 10 a.m. (on Facebook Live and Twitter) to unpack the resources in our calendar. Also, please consider posting your stories of inspiration and ways you are supporting students to #ILschoolsstepup for all to see. As always, please remember, we are here for YOU. Reach out and let us know your needs!

    We are in unprecedented times but we know that as dedicated and passionate educators, together we will find a way to rise up and create positive opportunities for those we serve. With that, the IDEA staff has been gathering suggestions and resources to support you during your planning and preparation for possible e-learning within your districts. We have attempted to compile information for all grade levels and for whatever current learning platforms you may be using.

    We wish each of you the best and please know that we are here to support you! We will be utilizing #IDEAil & the #ILedChat to share questions and best practices throughout the next few weeks. In addition, we can find other creative ways to make the best out of this difficult situation, including setting up virtual meetings with you and/or your students, creating unique learning experiences, sharing resources, or just to listen and give feedback. Please reach out to us via email or on social media (@ideaillinois) if you need our support.

    General Advice

    1. Remember your WHY! The skill development and learning targets continue to be the goal. Don’t make the technology the center of your design. 

    2. Don’t focus on trying to recreate the “normal content” you would in the classroom. Instead take part of what you normally do and create remote learning experiences around that. It's not about what the students complete but instead what you create for them to work on.

    3. Start practicing now with the framework and tools you'd consider using for remote learning.

    4. Don't add too much "new". While there are plenty of tech tools available, it’s important not to water down the content you are delivering with too many new tech tools at once.

    5. Plan your remote learning experiences around what you want your learners to be able to know, do and understand. Capitalize on moments when students can demonstrate this in creative ways. For example, can they record a video of themselves reading a recipe and demonstrate their understanding of fractions while cooking in the kitchen versus a worksheet or online program?

    6. Consider accessibility and equity. Now is more important than ever to provide voice and choice. Some students will easily be able to continue learning at home. Others, it will be incredibly difficult for them. Make sure you have alternatives for students who will be impacted differently. We can’t just plan online content and expect that to fix everything. This is also true for sending home packets of papers for students.

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