Clearing Browser Cache

By: Valora Hodges

What does clearing my browser history actually do and why does Idaho Digital Learning technical support always ask me to clear it when I’m having issues with things loading in my class?

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 2.57.14 PMWeb browsers like Firefox and Chrome have a special storage folder on your computer called a cache.  In the cache folder the browser will store web items (sometimes called cookies) that it thinks you will need again when hopping from page to page.  This is done to help speed up future loading time for a given webpage and allows the website to run effectively giving the user (you) a pleasant online experience.  Yet sometimes this system that is designed for efficiency is what is causing the webpage to only load partially or not load at all.

The reason why “cached” items cause loading nightmares is because websites are constantly updating to newer and better versions of themselves.  The browser(s) on your computer might have items stored in the cache folder that are outdated and so when a newer version of that website is trying to load, the old outdated files and cookies cause errors.

Different browsers have different ways for clearing cache and cookies yet the process is usually quick and easy.  With a few clicks and a refresh, you can be back to your online work in no time. Below are a few links from Idaho Digital Learning recommended browsers that walk you through how to clear your browser history.

Clear Chrome Cache                         Clear Firefox Cache

Growth Mindset

By: Jeff Simmons

Are you of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Don’t know the difference? “Mindset” is a term you may hear a lot, lately. For a great read on this topic, check out Carol Dweck’s work, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

A very short summary of the two concepts is this –

Those with a fixed mindset believe their abilities and their environment are limiting. The only way to show value is to measure myself against others and find some way in which my individual success is greater than another, or to discolor the success of another to make myself look greater. For an individual with a fixed mindset, success is determined by their perceived value of the end product of their work. For a fixed mindset, the journey is less important than the destination.

Those with a growth mindset believe their abilities are always evolving, and that their environment may change but cannot determine their success. An individual with a growth mindset may compare themselves to others, but not to determine value. In a growth mindset, success is found in the journey. I learn, I grow, I improve, and I find value in that achievement, even if the perceived value of the end product of my work is less than the perceived value of the end product of another individual’s work. For a growth mindset, the journey can be more important than the destination.

Below is an image that does an excellent job of differentiating the two mindsets:


How should the concept of mindset apply within our classrooms? Whether face-to-face, blended, or online, students need to understand and embrace the concept of a growth mindset. Learning is about the journey. If the focus is on the destination, learning can become a difficult, frustrating, and sometimes defeating experience.

As educators, helping students love to learn and helping students learn how to learn well is just as important, if not more important, than the content we teach. Students need to learn to become lifelong learners. They need to learn they can continue to grow throughout their lives. They need to learn they are capable of learning new things, growing to meet new challenges, and are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in life. The challenge to us is to embrace a growth mindset of our own, and then infect our students with it. If we can meet this challenge, we set up each student with the ability to meet their full potential, which should be the goal of every educator for each of their students.

Embrace growth. Empower change.

Idaho Digital Learning Student Honored with NCWIT Award

Alison Oliphant and Tanya Gabrielson at the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award ceremony.
Alison Oliphant and Tanya Gabrielson at the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award ceremony.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing honors high school women who are active and interested in computing and technology. This year Idaho Digital Learning is honored to have one of our outstanding students win this prestigious award. Congratulations to Alison Oliphant.

Alison has always had a knack for technology, can figure out new electronic devices quickly and find all the little fun tricks that go with it. She took an Introduction to Java class online through Idaho Digital Learning this last spring and used the skills she learned to program some physics equations into code over the summer. Alison is currently taking an AP Computer Science class online through Idaho Digital Learning and plans to take the AP test in May.

Over the summer, Alison was chosen to be a part of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholar Academy and because of this was able to see some computer science first hand. As one of the eighty-eight students that were a part of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholar Academy, Alison was able to visit NASA Ames Research Center in California for a few days. Those few days at NASA were probably some of her best days in her life. Alison is currently planning on attending Boise State University and getting her dual major in Computer Science and Mathematics starting in the fall of 2016.

In addition to identifying a pool of talented young women, the Aspirations Award also identifies outstanding educators who play a pivotal role in helping to encourage young women to continue exploring their interest in computing and technology. Tanya Gabrielson, Idaho Digital Learning teacher, received this award in 2014. Tanya was Allison’s AP Computer Science teacher and nominated her for this year’s award. “I think that she really is the “poster student” for the Computer Science pathway,” says Tonya on why she nominated Allison for this award.

As an Affiliate Award winner, Allison received recognition at an award event, an engraved award, scholarship and internship opportunities, access to a peer network of technical young women in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community and various other prizes — computing resources, gadgets, sponsor-branded swag, and more.

Idaho Digital Learning  is very proud of Alison and honored that she is one of our students.

Rethinking Failure: Let Go of Fear, Embrace Opportunity

By Theresa Carter

BLOG: Embrace Opportunity

I know volumes have been written on this topic, but each time I work with teachers in this organization–whether it’s blended teachers or cohort teachers,  this idea moves to the forefront, so it must need saying again.

How can we shift our thinking so as to embrace the barriers in education, and search for opportunities to further our goals?

Experiencing change can cause us discomfort; it’s human nature to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, but if we can see our way past the barriers, there is a whole world of experiences just waiting for us.

While I completely understand the purpose fear serves biologically (i.e. Danger, Will Robinson!), I watch in fascination as teachers move ahead by leaps and bounds because they just aren’t afraid of failing.

Case in point: I had the privilege of spending yesterday with a teacher from the Potlatch school district (Go, Loggers) and in that conversation, I was humbled by this man’s willingness to let nothing stand in the way of  his professional growth or better serving his students. He told stories of his time in a 1:1 class, where he embraced his students’ knowledge, and felt supported by his administrators. In his current position, he’s encouraged to try new tools, and is supported as he pursues professional learning opportunities.

He was willing to make mistakes;  when he made one, he didn’t apologize, or feel embarrassed. He used it as a way to correct course, and move forward. He didn’t  express concern over whether this new approach would work; he had a clear vision of how education could look, and he embraced it. The whole experience was an inspiring reminder of how I should  face all my  challenges.

We spent conversation time on how fun it was to let students teach us. He gave examples of asking his kids to help him learn a tech tool; he willingly admitted to them he didn’t know everything. Gasp. Whoever put that notion in our pedagogy for the last 100 years should be flogged, by the way.

He modeled so perfectly the process that’s necessary for learning;  fear and ego will never get in the way of this man’s teaching.

I also watched in fascination as he literally tackled a whole new learning management system without the slightest amount of fear or hesitation. I honestly can’t remember hearing him say the words  can’t, won’t, or don’t.

He could see the bigger picture: he gave himself permission to not get everything right the first time; he willingly engages with his students and his peers to “dig in”; he apparently refuses to be deterred by fear and  uncertainty.

I happened to see his principal on my way home; on the side of the road, with gesturing and widened eyes and smiles, I gushed that not only did I wish I could clone him, but I wanted to be just like him.

How would education look if everyone felt like that?

Attending iNACOL Symposium 2015

By Jeff Simmons

Idaho Digital Learning's presentation at iNACOL Symposium 2015
Idaho Digital Learning’s presentation at iNACOL Symposium 2015

I recently had a chance to attend the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium. This event is an annual gathering of educators from around the world working in the field of online learning. “Online learning” includes those working in blended learning environments, fully online environments, and everything in between.

It’s impressive to see the size of this conference each year. It is inspiring to see the number of committed, innovative educators working each day to provide high quality learning experiences that our students deserve. There is innovation happening all over the globe at the classroom level, school level, district level, and even state level.
I’m proud of Idaho Digital Learning’s leadership in the field of online learning. Idaho Digital Learning has provided capacity as Idaho’s state virtual school since 2002. During that time, our small virtual school has grown and has continued to provide greater choice, flexibility, and services for Idaho public schools. Idaho Digital Learning has continued to stay on the leading edge of technology and learning.
Dr. Sherawn Reberry, Director of Education Programs, and Niki Walker, Professional Development Manager, co-presented a blended learning session at this year’s iNACOL event with blended learning educators from two other states. Over 200 participants turned out for the session! This is a great complement to the quality provided by Idaho Digital Learning’s Professional Development Team through our Blended Learning Program.
It has been an honor to serve the state and grow along with this organization for the past 13 years. I am excited to see the growth of online learning and other innovative educational opportunities for students around our great state. We look forward to continuing to partner with our public schools to provide Idaho students with a first class, 21st Century education.

Reflecting on Reflecting

mindsetgraphiciNACOL’S Blended Teacher Competency Framework has four domains: Mindset, Qualities, Adaptive Skills and Technical Skills. In the Adaptive Skills domain, the first competency is Reflection. So, let’s reflect on reflecting.

According to the CSU Writing Studio, “reflection transforms experience into genuine learning about individual values and goals and about larger social issues” and the same holds true for reflecting on one’s teaching. What happens when we put pen to paper, or font to page, as with the use of digital tools? What flows from us might very well be the barrier that’s keeping us from moving forward in our teaching practice.

The thought of change can be a barrier in itself, but writing about what went well, what went poorly, what contributed to those experiences–can break down that barrier. Writing about anything can be cathartic, and let’s face it: at the end of a long teaching day, when we’ve given everything of ourselves and then some, catharsis can be a wonderful thing.

Some digital tools for journaling include Google docs, Padlet, DayOne app or just plain paper and pencil. The handy thing about a digital tool is that it’s on your phone or your device, and there’s no need to pack extra items. Regardless of how you do it, I encourage you to make a commitment, set aside some time, and write about your teaching. A world of growth awaits.