As schools adjust to remote teaching during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Horizon Education Alliance (HEA) is partnering with a renowned educator to give teachers more tools to craft the best virtual education possible for students here in Elkhart County and across the country.

Dr. Byron Ernest is leading professional development webinars for teachers working on virtual education

Dr. Byron Ernest of the Noble Education Initiative has been helping local educators build out project-based learning programs for students over the last year in partnership with our public schools and HEA. With a new series of webinars, he is working to help educators maximize the effectiveness of virtual learning.

Dr. Ernest serves on the Indiana State Board of Education and is Chair-Elect of the National Association of State Boards of Education. As a former agricultural science teacher, he was named 2010 Indiana Teacher of the Year and the 2011 Christopher Columbus Foundation National Outstanding Agriscience Teacher. In his role at Noble Education Initiative, he leads professional development programs in leadership and education around the world.

In his free webinar called “Embracing the Unique Socialization Possibilities of Virtual Education,” Ernest features a discussion with Northridge Middle School teacher Lauren Bailey about how to improve virtual education with certain concepts from project-based learning — a curriculum focused on letting students apply their skills in a professional setting to achieve a specific goal, such as designing a part for an RV or marketing a new kind of banking program for teenagers, to name two real examples from Elkhart County classrooms.

“We know the next few months will be challenging for educators,” said Sarah Koontz, project manager at HEA. “However, we also know that with collaboration and creativity, we can still see positive changes in education and positive growth for our students.”

Ernest has singled out Elkhart County educators like Bailey in his program because of the success our local schools have had implementing unique educational experiences such as project-based learning.

“A dynamic educational experience engages students through active participation,” Dr. Ernest wrote in describing the aim of his webinar series. “We have the unique opportunity right now to empower students outside the traditional brick and mortar learning environment. Learning through experience means the world is the classroom!”

All teachers who wish to participate in these webinars are welcome. Join the “Embracing the Unique Socialization Possibilities of Virtual Education” webinar at 9 a.m. Friday, April 17. The webinar is held on Zoom and you can register at the following link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0b44a5a92ca7fe3-part 

Dr. Ernest is also offering a free webinar for teachers called “Angry Teachers: What Can We Learn from Angry Birds About Engaging Students?” Drawing inspiration from the addictive mobile phone game Angry Birds, Dr. Ernest looks at lessons from the game on how to ensure classrooms are “always safe spaces to practice new strategies, offer students a range of possibilities for how to succeed in their learning, give our students constant feedback, and support knowledge transfer within and among our courses.” This webinar is at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 16 on Zoom and you can register at the following link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0b44a5a92ca7fe3-angry 

Noble Education Initiative also offers further resources for online instruction, including strategies, advice, and links to virtual museum tours and online streams of Broadway plays on their Learning Hub page, https://www.nobleeducationinitiative.com/services/learning-hub