There are five meanings of passion in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary.  One meaning is “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept ”.  I have been fortunate over the last 8 years to feel passionate about my work and collaborate with a passionate team at the Idaho Digital Learning Academy.  I love what I do!  I love online learning and the ability to create learning opportunities for students and parents.

After my first time presenting to the Idaho legislature on the Idaho Digital Learning Academy’s annual progress, I asked my board chairman his thoughts on the presentation and suggestions for improvement.  He said “Donna, don’t ever lose your passion.  All day long legislators hear boring speeches on different pieces of legislation. You are effective because it is clear that you love what you do, the impact of online learning, and your passion for education.  Make sure you continue to share that passion.”

I just got back from a two day training hosted by Connections Academy in Baltimore, Maryland.  This is my first opportunity to learn more about the company that I decided to join a few weeks ago.  The purpose of the training is for new board members to learn about their responsibilities as board members, the field of online learning, the Connections Academy approach, and charter schools.  From the first presentation by a Connections Academy employee to the final day’s presentation from the Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction, passion was present.  Each presenter “bubbled” over with their enthusiasm for online learning, Connections Academy, and how their department met the greater goals of the company.  Passion came through and new board members appreciated it.  At dinner on the final night, I had an opportunity to ask three new board members their thoughts on the company and the organization that they are partnering with.  All three board members who have extensive experience on boards, finance, and policy commented that they had never been associated with an organization who is so clearly cross-trained and passionate about what they do.  “It is clear that Barbara’s (Barbara Dreyer, President and Co-Founder of Connections Academy) leadership values inter-departmental collaboration.  They are all hard workers and the example is set from the top.  It is exciting to see the staff excited about what they do and the impact on students.”

Just like at the Idaho Digital learning Academy, passion is evident at Connections Academy.   In order to truly make an impact on student learning, you must be passionate.  Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great said, The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work.”  I am fortunate to join a team who is passionate about what they do.  Passion breeds excellence.   To be passionate about what you do is a true blessing.



Our class this semester had a discussion board assignment on “What have we learned from some 50 years of applying technology to educational problems that can improve our strategies now?”

I created a wordle of the following snippets from the discussion:

Applied Appropriately

Types of Media Important

Education behind world in ed tech

Teacher important

Time lag

Individualized learning

Break down classroom walls

Business, higher ed and military leaders

Computers were not owned by individuals

Tech constantly changing and advancing

How effective technology can be

Constant change

How far in short time

Computers did not live up to predictions


Teachers did not understand


Learning devices must be practical and convenient

Better incorporate technology

Variety of tech important

Don’t use technology for technology’s sake

Technology can’t replace teacher

Here’s our class Wordle!

Change is good!

For those of you who have been following on twitter this week, you will know that I have taken a new position as VP of the Western Region for Connections Academy effective November 1st.  When contemplating this change after 8 years at IDLA, one questions what do we fundamentally want from a career and you ask yourself “what is your passion?”

My passion is online education.  I believe that this choice should be available for all students and that this opportunity should not be denied to parents and students.  My son has Aspergers and choice is important to me as a parent.  In order to insure that his educational needs are being met, I want to insure that options are available.  Over the last several years, we have been fortunate to chose a public school “classroom of choice” in the Boise School District.  His school has established several Montessori classrooms which focus on the individual, accountability, social community, and organizational strategies.  This classroom meets my son’s learning needs and it has worked well.  Choice is important.   When my son gets to middle school, online learning may be a choice for us as parents because Asperger students do well in an online environment. I am glad that as a parent that I have choices in Idaho.

I also believe that quality and a focus on curriculum and instruction are key in online learning.  Over the last eight years at IDLA, we have focused on quality and the pedagogy of online education.  It has made IDLA into the quality choice option that it is today.   As I met with the team from Connections Academy, I was confident that their focus is also on students and learning.  Time and time again, the individuals that I met with used the words: students, learning, teaching, standards, etc.  It is important to join an organization which shares the fundamental core values that you share.

I know that I will miss IDLA and helping Idaho students but I am looking forward to the opportunity to expand online learning throughout the Northwest through Connections Academy.  As a parent who knows that choices are important for the success of my child, I want to insure that other parents also have that opportunity.  One size does not fit all.

Looking forward to this new venture in my professional career!

Please post a link to your newly created blog.  I look forwarding to blogging with you!

We love blog

This week I am supposed to be on jury duty.  So far, I have called in three days and have not had to serve.  Good thing as it gave me an opportunity to meet our new teachers at IDLA!  This morning was a large number of questions about policy and future of online learning.  Kinda exciting to see how people are rethinking online education.  Tomorrow, I speak online via our Live Tool to 200+ online teachers at IDLA.  My fingers are crossed that technology will work!

Just finished up grading our first assignment in the BSU Summer EdTech 501 class.  Great group!  I am really looking forward to getting to know them this summer.  The class is very diverse which is exciting to see!  I can’t wait to read/hear their thoughts on ed tech.

Please add a comment to this blog with a URL to your newly created blog/eportfolio.  This blog will serve as a starting point for us to view the class blogs.

Today I broke down and purchased the $99 higher ed license for VoiceThread.  So far pretty impressed with the features.  Much easier than powerpoint once I got the headset/microphone plugged into the right jacks! 🙂

I piloted the use of voicethread last semester for one of the assignments in EdTech 501 as an optional way of presenting the topic.  Two students took me up on the option.  The Mac Powerpoint packaging doesn’t work the best….Voicethread makes that all go away besides getting the benefit of social media tools!