Friday, September 11, 2009

MAGPI launches new website and logo

Starting a new school year is always an exciting time and that's especially true for all of us at MAGPI this year. We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new logo and redesign of all our print and electronic communications to better serve you - our MAGPI Member Communities!

After many months of conducting user feedback surveys and extensive redesign work with an outside firm everything has been redesigned with a focus on what you, our members, wanted most -- easier access to programs, navigation by community type, and a more simplified consistent visual design.

Many of you may have already noticed our new logo last spring, and the new website has been up for a few weeks now but we are thrilled to finally annunce the final piece in our overhaul which is the new customized MAGPI program and events calendar and registration system. Through the new system, you will be able to search and register for programs without having to go to an external site as you did in the past and searching for program events should be much easier overall.

Our new MAGPI logo represents the connections of networks - both technical and people - that we serve. We feel it is strong and fresh and conveys a sense of the future while retaining a focus on the global connections that are so important to us. We hope you like it as much as we do!

The newly re-branded, re-designed website has been created to overall help you navigate quickly to whatever you are looking for. It has been redesigned to be customized for each of the various communities we support. You'll notice that you can navigate the site by first choosing a community on the left hand side of the homepage. Once you've entered a particular community you will see an About tab that gives you an overview of that community including examples of how it uses advanced networking, then you can browse Programs, Applications, Resources, Initiatives and Funding that are tabbed and sorted for that particular community. The new homepage allows you to quickly see featured programs, current news and our program and events calendar.

We are particularly excited about the new MAGPI calendar and registration system which has been custom designed for us to allow for exactly the functionality needed for our programs. The new Programs page now allows you to view upcoming programs in either calendar view or the program list view. And, you no longer have to leave the MAGPI website to register for any of our programs as it is all built into our new custom calendar and regisiration system. You must first login to be able to register for any program though so be sure to do that as soon as you start browsing the site. Finally, you can jump right to Muse through the new MAGPI site either by the Program menu or the navigation on the left. As a continuation of our work to date with the Muse Development Team, MAGPI will be further working to integrate our calendar and registration system with Muse to allow for a more seamless integration of the two systems. And, if you are already a member of Muse you do not have to recreate a new login for the MAGPI site, all you need to do is login using your Muse username and password and you're ready to go!

We've come a long way in the last ten years and we couldn't have done it without you. We thought it was time our logo and website reflected that journey together. Everything has been designed with you -- our MAGPI Member Communities -- in mind and we hope it shows.

Please do take a moment to browse around and tell us what you think. Your feedback is invaluable to us and will help us to continue to serve you better. Send any comments, questions, or suggestions to "".

Here's to another great year!!
The MAGPI Team

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Discovery Education announces their 2009-2010 FREE webinars

Discovery Education announced their free 2009-2010 webinar schedule earlier this week on the Discovery Educator Network blog. While, admittedly, many of these webinars focus on discovery education products, there are some that focus more on integration of technologies into classroom in general. Since MAGPI does not specifically use Discovery Education products (not yet, anyway!), here are some of the seminars I'm looking forward to attending this fall:
  • Creating Class Communities
    September 22, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. ET
    Educators know that learning is a social endeavor and that technology can connect students to powerful learning experiences. Learn how to leverage online tools to create vibrant classroom communities that sustain student engagement and empower students to learn from each other. (I'm hoping to learn some new ideas for strenghtening communication/collaboration between students in different geographic locations for specific MAGPI projects).

  • 50 Ways to Spin a Digital Story
    October 13, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. ET
    An in-depth overview of the digital media available in Discovery Education Streaming and 50 different ways to tell digital stories using it. DE Streaming provides your classroom access to thousands of videos, images and audio clips. Learn how to integrate them into cutting edge Web 2.0 sites to make your students' digital stories come alive! (I've always wanted to cook-up a digital storytelling project and have been in conversation with The Library of Congress about a potential project. Hoping to pick up some tips!)

  • Learning through the Funnies
    October 20, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. ET
    Learn to use free comic creation programs and websites to enhance your lessons and student projects. These great tools can be used to across all grades and easily integrated into all curricular areas. Learn, Laugh, and Lesson Plan. (One of the most popular projects I work on is Cartooning with Blitz. This might provide some inspiration for additional collaborations with Bruce or between participating schools!)
For more information about DEN webinars or to register, visit:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Student Blogging Challenge

While easing back into things before I'm back full-time on September 21st, I came across the Student Blogging Challenge announcement in my email from edublogger. I know that a lot of you use edublogger in your classroom, so I thought I'd share the announcement. According to Ms. Wyatt's blog, last year's challenge "had students from 15 countries taking part with either their own blogs or as part of a class blog. In total over 1000 students were writing posts, making conversations through comments and getting to know students and classes around the world." A great way to make some connections!

This year there are two challenges: one for helping students become better bloggers and one for helping students become better commenters.

To register, and for more information, visit Ms. Wyatt's blog. Although the challenge started on September 6th, you can register at any time. If you have your students take part in the challenge, please share your thoughts (especially if you participated last year!). I'm really curious to see how this works, so I've added Ms. Wyatt's blog to my "What I'm Reading." You should, too!

I always like to try and incoporate different web 2.0 technologies into the various programs that MAGPI runs. While reading about Sue Wyatt's annual blog competition, I came across Gail Desler's (@gailhd) blog "5 Tips for Helping Students Become Better Bloggers." Strategies include:
  • Provide students with examples.
  • Include reflection and self-evaluation as part of the blogging process.
  • Teach students how to hyperlink.
  • Invite students to share their strategies for inviting others into their conversations.
  • Begin an ongoing conversation about digital citizenship.
Many thanks to Gail for posting these suggestions! I'm curious what other strategies you might add to this list?

Image from the Student Blogging Challenge blog on Sue Wyatt's blog.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

National Constitution Center Announces September Student Exchange Program

The National Constitution Center has extended an invitation to high school students to participate in the 2009 – 2010 season of its national high school student program, The Exchange: A Marketplace of Student Ideas. The first videoconference event will take place on Friday, September 25th 2009 from 1PM to 2:30 PM EDT. This installment of The Exchange, “Should the U.S. reduce immigration?” asks students to consider ways to address immigration reform and to work together to create an immigration policy for the United States. The discussion will be hosted by SuChin Pak from MTV and Discovery Channel’s Planet Green, and moderated by Dr. Michael Hogan, co-director of the Center for Democratic Deliberation and Pennsylvania State University.

Students will have the opportunity to be heard by and hear from other students around the country using Internet2 video conferencing technology. It is an exciting way for students to discuss current constitutional issues with their classmates and peers in other parts of the nation.

Schools that participate in The Exchange will be asked to use a free lesson provided by the National Constitution Center to prepare their students to be part of the conversation.

Space is in the program is limited. If your school is chosen to participate in The Exchange, you will be asked to select one student to be part of the video conference round table. Only one student, your schools’ student representative, is allowed to speak to the nation audience during the videoconference. If a student other than your student representative speaks without prior authorization, then your school will be disconnected from the video conference.

During the videoconference, students will have an opportunity to interact with each other and share their thoughts on current immigration policy. Students will use this deliberation to recommend immigration reform policies the government should follow.

Participating schools must have connectivity to the INTERNET2 network and the ability to do H.323 videoconferencing. While there is no cost to participate in this event, we do ask schools to work to make sure this event is a success. Participating schools will be responsible for the following:

  • Participation and successful completion of videoconference testing prior to the event with the National Constitution Center
  • Selection of a student representative
  • Preparation of students through the use of the provided Exchange lesson plan and resources
  • Uploading your class’s point of view on the issue of immigration reform at

If you would like to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity, please contact Jason Allen at either or 215.409.6644 by Friday September 18th 2009 for registration and information. Mandatory videoconference testing for all sites will be on Monday September 21st from 1 PM to 3 PM EDT. Please confirm that your school has Internet2 connectivity prior to contacting Jason Allen to reserve a testing time.