Weeks 23 & 24: Snow

Jan 26, 2015

Spring semester started last week, even though spring seems to be far, far away. It's been snowing on and off for days now, with temperatures below freezing. It looks nice and peaceful now, but more snow is forecast for the beginning of next week as well as a "historic" blizzard, so as I can see on the news, people are stocking up on food and other supplies.

Again, the first week of the semester was reserved for observing classes and selecting the ones that are most relevant for us. My choices are  Learning Design Studio, which "examines a range of skills, processes and theories for designing and developing interactive educational materials" and Disruptive Technologies with the focus "on the application of social theory to emerging and disruptive technologies in teaching and learning". 

At the beginning of the semester I had a fantastic opportunity to listen to and meet in person Dr. George Siemens and Dr. Dragan Gasevic, who is originally from Serbia but lives in Canada. Their talk on The Future of Learning and the Tools That Will Support It was inspirational and uplifting and it can be found here: The Future of Learning and ProSolo.

Just like the fall semester, the spring semester started with a nice lunch at the Nittany Lion Inn and a game - but this time it was basketball, not football. 
Just like in the fall semester, now again there are lots of readings for the classes and there are also lots of different books that I want to read and have already borrowed from the huge PSU Library. So as I was reading Designing for User Engagement on the Web: Ten Basic Principles, I stumbled upon my name and my wiki project Greetings from the world as a recommendation for further exploration! What the authors think it could be worth exploring is whether I have designed my wiki for a specific context or for diverse users! Are these two consistent with one another and if not how they can be reconciled? That's an interesting perspective and perhaps I might look into it one day, but right now it just feels great to be on the Index Page together with Christensen, Hofstede, Rheingold and other guys whose papers I've been reading for my classes at Penn State. And BTW, I finally wrote a piece about Coursera Kids.

Week 22: New York, New York

Jan 15, 2015

I spent my winter break with my nearest and dearest at home in Croatia. It felt like a dream to be home again after four months.

Naturally, it passed in a flash and I soon had to return to State College. My stand by trip was nerve-racking as it always is. It seemed that half of the world population was heading to the US and that I'd never get a seat. But I did. I got a seat on the flight to New York City and from there I planned to take the bus to SC on the same day. However, it happened that during that particular week NYC hotels were unbelievably cheap so while I was airborne, my husband booked a room for me in a hotel just a few steps from Times Square. What's more, when I landed, not only did I have a room booked, but also a bus ticket to SC bought, my American phone refilled and a screenshot of how to get from the airport to the hotel sent to my email. Because I have the best husband in the world.

Photos from NYC:

Tis the season ... to look back and reflect

Dec 27, 2014

It's that time of the year again: time to highlight those precious moments of the year.

Without a doubt, the pivotal event of 2014 was my Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Award.  Being selected  in a very competitive selection process as one of the 171 fellows of the 2014-2015 cohort  has been the greatest honor ever. Since the Fellowship program was established in 1979, there have been 4,800 recipients of the Award -  only 22 of them are Croatians. What's more, I'm the first Croatian K-12 teacher who has received this prestigious award. For me, the significance of this award is twofold. Firstly, it means that my work has been recognized and it proved that I'm on the right track. Secondly, it has provided me with a terrific opportunity to learn, to gain new knowledge, to enhance my skills, to meet new people, to make new friendships and to grow both professionally and personally. I'm spending my year at Penn State University together with 9 Fellows from 8 different countries and I've been blogging about this outstanding experience on a weekly basis (or so).
Every year I launch or take part in all kinds of projects with my students, some more others less successful. This year my eTwinning project in which a Greek teacher and I experimented with using a MOOC as a learning opportunity for our students won the first prize both in Croatia and in Greece! Coursera Kids was a truly unique project which enabled our students to learn how to effectively write in English, how to assess their own and their peers' work,  how to use a distance learning platform and how to collaborate successfully in international teams.

This eTwinning project wasn't the only thing that connected me with European eTwinners over the past year. Another great honor and achievement for me was being selected as one of the 5 Croatian eTwinning ambassadors. It was also an honor to be a member of a five-strong team selected by the eTwinning Central Support Service to review eTwinning project kits for the new portal.  Bart and I continued our work as expert teachers on the eTwinning platform. We developed and led two highly successful (so the participants) learning events, one on the use of social media in education and the other on augmented reality in the classroom. Just like last year, we also delivered a couple of workshops together - one online for the eTwinning ambassadors, one at the eTwinning conference in Rome (a combination of onsite and online). We also introduced eTwinning to the Teacher Leadership faculty at Penn State. I delivered a number of workshops, seminars and webinars for Croatian eTwinners. I was invited to assess some educational materials created by Europeana Creativa at the European Schoolnet in Brussels.  eTwinning Slovenia invited me to give a plenary to an audience of 300 at their national conference in Kranjska Gora.
I delivered a number of workshops and webinars for CARNet's projects School 2.0, Inspiring Science Education, Open Discovery Spaces and Modern Technologies in Education. I was a member of the Program Board of the 16th CUC - CARNet User Conference.  I successfully completed  CARNet's e-Learning Academy. 

Sonja and I organized the fourth round of webinars for seniors from all over Croatia to help them with their exit exams. The current Minister of Education was one of our guests. 
I've also had some great opportunities to travel to Split, Dubrovnik and Brussels. Since the beginning of my Fellowship Year I've been on some amazing and unforgettable trips to Niagara Falls, West Virginia, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Hershey, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. 

Last but not least, I plucked up the courage to go horseback riding and I loved it!

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