Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Educational Offerings for Professionals and Students

April 28, 2022 American Printing House Episode 51
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Educational Offerings for Professionals and Students
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Change Makers, we learning what educational offerings are available for professionals and students. We’ll talk to Amy Campbell, APH’s Learning Management System Administrator and hear the latest news and info, upcoming exciting projects and future goals for The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy.

On this Podcast (In Order of Appearance)

  • Jeff Fox, Narrator
  • Sara Brown, APH Public Relations Manager
  • Amy Campbell, APH Learning Management System Administrator

Additional Links

Jack Fox:

Welcome to Change Makers a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Sara Brown:

Hello, and welcome to Change Makers I'm APH's Public Relations Manager Sara Brown. And today we are learning about educational offerings for professionals and students. We're gonna be checking in with The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy. We have APH's Learning Management System Administrator, Amy Campbell here. She's gonna tell us more. Hello, Amy, and welcome to Change Makers.

Amy Campbell:

Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here today.

Sara Brown:

Can you explain what The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy are for those who might not know?

Amy Campbell:

Absolutely. Um, I think of these three , um, these three entities as these are our services services at APH , uh , provides. And while these are , have been around for maybe a year, year and a half , um, some up over, you know, almost two years, what we find time and time again, is that we are discovering that there are still so many people who don't know that this, that these things exist. And , um, sometimes it's good to be a , the best up secret, but I don't think that this is, we want people to know about , um, the Access Academy, the ExCEL Academy, the APH Hive, and, you know, the best way that I can kind of explain and summarize what these are, especially, you know, if you don't know , um, how to differentiate these is, I like to think about these. These are ways that APH is able to offer both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities , um, to the professional community and to, you know, families and, and caregivers. Um, I'll start with Access Academy. Uh , you know, in my mind it is our one-stop resource and we have that on our line online as well, that, that we want to be the place to go for that meaningful instruction and training. So we do this in webinars and our goal is really essentially just to be able to get the most out of our APH products and services. Now, ExCEL Academy, um , this is what we think of as our virtual supplemental instruction for students. So whereas Access Academy is geared towards our adult professionals and families, parents, ExCEL Academy is for students. Again , it's used as a webinar platform just as Access Academy is. What's unique about ExCEL is that educators come in and we're teaching on a particular topic. So these topics might range from anything, from something in the expanded core curriculum and teaching on a topic. Then students come in and are the live audience. They're participants of this live instruction. These students often are grouped in grade levels. And sometimes, we group them into ability categories as, as well. Uh, what's so unique about ExCEL Academy is that oftentimes teachers and university, you know, programs want to observe. They want to see how good quality teaching comes into play. And it's great because we can invite those teachers to come in and , uh, I'll say, be "flies on the wall," just to kind of see... absorb, what is happening and get to see quality teaching being modeled and how to engage students. So both Access Academy and ExCEL Academy, they're alike in that they have fixed times. So, it gives people the chance to come in and attend as a live audience. Now, we can't always, you know, meet everyone's needs. You know it's one time out of a , out of a given day when something is offered. But what I love also is that if you can't catch the live event, it's totally okay. Uh , we post most of our archived webinars on our YouTube playlists. So that just means that if you can't make it to the airtime... It's okay, come on in, watch the archived webinar and you can still , um, tap into those learning opportunities. And then, when I think of, you know, now making the segue to the APH Hive. Uh , there are times when those archived webinar, that I just talked about actually get absorbed into The Hive. So if you don't know what The Hive is, we are a totally accessible learning management system. And the purpose is to equip educators really to meet the unique needs of our students with visual impairments. But it like it doesn't stop there. Or it goes even further by offering outcome based learning opportunities and , uh, areas to apply what you have learned. And teachers and families can tap into really unique resources that are only available that's through The Hive. So we take the, those webinars that have aired and , um, sometimes it's perfect in crafting into content to make into a course. And when this happens, again, we take that learning, I think, to the next level. So not only can you get ACVREP credit for what you're learning by going into The Hive and enrolling and, and participating in those courses. But you get the chance to really generalize what you learned from the video content, you know, by thinking about your caseload of students, generalizing that content and envisioning how those things that you learned are then gonna be delivered with your students. So , um, it's just important that users of The Hive have the chance to apply what they've learned , and that's kind of how it takes it to the next level over just watching a webinar.

Sara Brown:

And how did these programs come to exist?

Amy Campbell:

So, interestingly enough, the concept of The Hive goes back a few years, even before, beginning to its inception. And we heard the voices of our APH community, specifically our Ex Officio Trustees who were looking for ways to better understand how to use APH products and apply it into settings... How to, to use things with their students, taking things to the next level. So it started with that of wanting some platform in order to be able to showcase those sorts of things. However, the pandemic came. And when the pandemic came, we really needed to pivot in a way, because we, as APH could not get out into the community in a physical sense. We weren't able to go to conferences, conferences weren't even held. So what does it look like to reinvent that type service to the community of showcasing the products that gave birth, if you will, to the webinar platforms, the Access Academy that will showcase the use of products, use cases, how to apply it, how to do things differently, how to learn from other people of how things can be implemented in different classrooms and settings. So things got flipped. If you will. Instead of launching forward with the learning management system in a , in the more quick way, we switched gears. And we knew that we could best serve the community, our professional community, by these webinars. And so that's really how it came to be. And then, The Hive got a little bit of a later start. So whereas, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy, those took off in probably about April and May of 2220 , the APH Hive, launched and took off in October of 2020. And , uh, we used content that was from those different , um, academies to plug into The Hive, to make courses from.

Sara Brown:

And what's the latest information you've got to share with each program?

Amy Campbell:

So for Access Academy, we are always going strong with helping to serve all of those professionals and educators and families that are, that are out in the community. I can share that , uh, we are getting ready to launch information about a braille transcription for textbooks course. Um, I shouldn't call it a course. It's a series, but it's sequential, and it's intentional in its design, so that people will join from the beginning and continue through it. But it's all about braille transcription. So that's gonna get the spotlight during the , the months of May and June. We're gonna really delve into that. Um, you know, getting ready to settle back into the new school year. There are things that we're gonna explore , um, of products that we'll be launching that people will wanna stay tuned for so that they know what sorts of things are coming into the spotlight for our products. But something that we want to really touch upon in the fall is exploring what we call relevant classics. So there's some products that we have out that are just classics in our catalog. Uh, it's something that you mention and that all teachers know about it , um, and have thought of , of it oftentimes. And then sometimes it's a classic that's been in the catalog, but maybe people don't know as much about it. So we really wanna hone in on those , uh, relevant classics and explore how things are used in the classroom and how teachers are applying to working with different, with different students. Right now, it's just an idea. And , uh, but we're hoping to bring full development to it, come this fall , uh, to gear our professional community, come back, you know, come back at the, when the school system begins. And so with, you know, ExCEL Academy, what we , um, shifted to this past school year is looking at using after school hours and Saturdays in order to better meet the needs of our students and the educators. So it's something new that we are sampling with and seeing what sort of feedback we get from that it's exciting. We offer Spanish events. So the , that community can come in and also learn. We're really focusing a lot on what I would say from the Expanded Core Curriculum. Um, self-determination some social skills and even career education with that. Um, some unique content with that is just, you know, "how do you do emotional regulation?" You know, what, if you are a student and you just need to regulate your emotions. So we even have information about that, that the students go into and can learn about. The career, the college prep that is so important for our, especially our high school students that are getting ready to transition. And so we're spending time working in series of webinars on all of this content. So there might be a series of maybe it'll happen. There'll be two in , in, you know, a two part series. Maybe it'll be three or four occurrences, but really developing that content and bringing the audience back for continuation of programming. And with the APH Hive it's, it's exciting to share that we have 27 courses that are loaded into The Hive right now, which accounts for over 50 hours of professional development. There's always something happening behind the scenes. We're always working on new courses that we are getting to put into The Hive. So whether it's something that is a foundational concept, whether it's early childhood related, assessment, core curriculum expanded core, it's the place to go to help get that professional learning with that. Some really unique things that we have that just went in. If you haven't visited The Hive recently, we have explored how to use the Lego Braille Bricks, not only with just understanding how to use them and the methodology, but how do you apply the use of that with our students that are just pre braille learners. But something I think is really unique is that we applied it to numeracy math related activities and how to incorporate the Lego Braille Bricks into math activities. Which just, I think makes it fun on a totally on a different spectrum. We just launched in the past a few base the week a health course, it's called "Health is Meaningful Living." And it's a focused on sexual education, which is something our students don't have access to in the Core Curriculum. And we have a course that's developed that's in The Hive that helps not only parents and caregivers, but educators know how do we give access to this vital content , uh, within the Core Curriculum. So, so those are just some, some of the things that we have in the , in The Hive right now. I think that it's really important though, to find a way to separate ourselves as well of other learning management systems that are out there. We all have our unique niche and unique things that we can lift the community up with. And one thing that makes The Hive unique is that we are peer reviewed. So we develop the courses. So all 27 courses that are in The Hive have been peer reviewed. So we have a pool of reviewers that come in and they look at all of the courses, everything that has been developed, there's a rubric that they use and they are providing recommendations of what might need to be revised. How can it be better , um, and giving the recommendation if it's ready to go into The Hive. And I think that that helps to ensure that what we are giving to the professional community is quality content.

Sara Brown:

Are there any new projects on the horizon with any of the programs, The Hive, Access Academy, or ExCEL Academy?

Amy Campbell:

So this summer with ExCEL Academy, we're gonna be running from June through August, STEM camp. And this week in this STEM camp is really gonna host preliminary experiences. We're gonna look at two-day problem solving skills for younger students, and a career open house with stem for older students. Then we're gonna get a little deeper and we start with a STEM adventure. After having the preliminary experience and with these STEM camps, it's going to include things such as tending a garden while learning all about the parameter of the area. Um, another one is surviving on a desert island; camping out in the wilderness; becoming a crime scene investigation team; and all around building our math skills with the incredible edible Abacus... Sounds enticing. So we're gonna be working on funding as well in order to get the opportunity to ship these APH products to the campers. We think that this is gonna help them with not only this endeavor, but things that come afterwards, but we're still working on getting things crafted. Registration will open in May. And we are excited to say that all are welcome. If you are a teacher who hosts a large camp, for example, think about it, consider having your campers register and attend this together. And there's also a place for parents. Parents. You might wanna come in with your child during the right time and participate in this. It's all a virtual opportunity. So everyone has a place that they can come in and participate, even TVI's. If you're looking to learn more about STEM instruction and you just wanna observe, it's a great chance to do so. And again, like I had mentioned before with our Access , uh, Academy and the ExCEL, Academy this ExCEL Academy camp is gonna be recorded. And again, we post everything on our YouTube playlist. So if the timing doesn't work out perfect, you can always come in at a different time, watch the recording and that's okay. Well, for the APH HIVE, we have been working very steadily on launching a really large course in The Hive. Most of our courses right now might be anywhere from one to maybe three, four hours at the most of, of timeframe. But we are working on a literacy course, right in a , now that equates to over 10 hours of content. It's very carefully crafted, and sequenced. And , um, what's really great about it is that often our teachers, when they go through re-certification process, you know, to update their teaching life, oftentimes they need 10 hours of a literacy credit. And sometimes they have to piecemeal these hours together in order to get up to 10 hours. So I love that we are being intentional and we are offering a new literacy course that will be coming up. And the literacy course for it is about teaching braille. And they can come in and take this, learn through the video instruction, participate in the application activity for it and walk away so much better equipped and knowledgeable about something that they can do. That's unique in braille. And I'll say that hoping that I won't give away too much, so people will want to come back in and stay tuned to know what specifically that course is. That's for The Hive. And with Access Academy, we're still in the planning stages of figuring out what all the content will look like. We know that we will continue to feature new products. Uh , I know that we will be working on a webinar featuring the "CVI Companion Guide" and exploring how one particular school , uh, piloted this book, this , um, information into the school system and how it was used. Again, we're gonna be talking about those relevant classics that I had mentioned and looking at how different teachers use the things that we are offering in our catalog. And also because technology is always changing, we're always tapping into those technology , um, webinars, where, "how do you use these devices?" "What do we need to know about upgrading things," getting things revised, all of that good stuff, all of the cheat sheets that you need in order to be able to have in your toolbox. Those are things that we're planning for in the future.

Sara Brown:

And what are the future goals for The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy?

Amy Campbell:

With ExCEL Academy, we continue to evolve. And , uh, where we want to meet our students, right where they're at. So, whereas before we had webinars that were during the school day, because we knew our students were at home and they were accessing online instruction. Then schools opened back up . So we transitioned and we went into the evening timespan. We went to the week , even the weekends, we will always continue to evaluate what needs the needs. With Access Academy, we will always be featuring those products that come out so that we can be your first source of really learning, how to use things and , um, apply them, you know , to caseloads of students and clients that you're working with. For The Hive we're always growing as well. And I can share that in the next coming months, maybe within six months, we are growing, we are expanding. We're always putting new courses in, but something unique that we are really committed to getting into The Hive, is what we call discussion boards. It's a way for people to come in to The Hive and have discussions with each other about what they have learned or ask questions. I, I think of it as a way for educators to build a greater community. So often we feel like islands. Many , uh , are itinerant , um, teachers going from one place to the next, you feel like you don't necessarily belong, always feels like there's never enough time in the day to talk in , in to bounce ideas off of each other. We would like The Hive to be a place that that can happen. We want to establish that meaningful collaboration. And we really see that as being a springboard to future mentorship, that we will be able to provide avenues of mentorship within The Hive based on courses that we have and content that we are making available to the public.

Sara Brown:

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Amy Campbell:

Because we use federal money in order to support these programs. We are free. These services are free and they always will be free. And these programs are ran by educators, previous educators. So I feel that we have the mindset of what's needed, and we have the resources to even tap into how we can meet the needs of parents and caregivers. So we're free and always will be because of the, how we generate the money for that. And what I love is that we also give a way to receive professional credit for this. There are lots of ways that you can go out into the community and get access to professional development, but oftentimes you pay for it and or you don't pay for it, but you don't get the credit. I love that we offer both. There's no cost and we're are giving you that credit that shows you've participated in the professional development that can help translate into re-certification , um, for our educators.

Sara Brown:

Amy, thank you so much for joining me today on Change Makers.

Amy Campbell:

Sara, I have had a great time. Thank you for inviting me.

Sara Brown:

I'll be sure to put links to The Hive, Access Academy, and ExCEL Academy in the Show Notes. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Change Makers and as always look for ways you can be a changemaker this week.