Monday, December 21, 2009

Interview with Dara Feldman, The Heart of Education: E-Learning Innovators Series

Many people think of iPhone applications and elearning as something they can do to learn a language or listen to lectures. However, there are other possible avenues, which include areas of ethics, and developing a positive self-concept and self-efficacy. One example is the organization, The Heart of Education, which has helped develop a set of cards for use on the iPhone. They focus on student empowerment, and helping students gain self-confidence.

Welcome to an interview with Dara Feldman, Heart of Education. In addition to her work with The Heart of Education and The Virtues Project, she is an instructional coach for DC Public Schools. Feldman worked in Montgomery County Public Schools, in Maryland, for over 20 years and has taken on this new challenge with the trust that The Virtues Project will help transform DCPS.

1. What is your name, affiliation, and connection to e-learning?

The name of our organization is The Heart of Education. Our connection to e-learning is that we have a free online 30 minute introduction via the National Education Association’s (NEA) Online Academy.

We have also created iPhone applications of the virtues cards so that they can be accessible anytime, anywhere. In addition, we have are leveraging the power of Web 2.0 to connect people of like minds and hearts via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and to share the 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project to empower individuals to be the best they can be.

2. What is The Heart of Education? What is your philosophy of e-learning -- how do you see communities and e-learning relating to each other?

The Heart of Education is part of the global grassroots Virtues Project which INSPIRES INDIVIDUALS to live more authentic, joyful lives, FAMILIES to raise children of compassion and integrity, EDUCATORS to create safe, caring and high performing learning communities & LEADERS to inspire excellence and ethics in the workplace.

This award-winning program was honored by The United Nations as a model global program for all cultures and is being used to transform individuals, families, schools, businesses, organizations and communities in over 90 countries.

As Thomas Friedman wrote, “The World is Flat”. Technology has helped to shrink the world and give us access to people, places and ideas with the click of a button. With the use of Web 2.0 tools, including social networking sites and tools such as Skype, the world is our community. The Virtues Project gives us 5 Strategies for unifying global citizens.

3. How do you create conditions for learning in The Heart of Education?

The Heart of Education is about making meaningful connections. Focusing on creating caring relationships is the foundation that fosters prime conditions for learning and that is what The Virtues Project is all about. My thesis, The Power of Virtues Language to Inspire Learning, can be downloaded from the NEA site.

4. What do you hope to accomplish with The Heart of Education?

Our hope is that The Virtues Project will spread to all schools across the US by 2012 to transform education by bringing more joy, meaning and purpose back into teaching and learning.

5. Have you had any unique experiences as you've unfolded your plan? Please share two or three brief stories.

The journey of The Heart of Education has had many exciting surprises. It all started when I was honored as Disney's 2005 Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year and found out about The Virtues Project. Then having The Virtues Project Founders ask me to be their Director of Education was an honor. The fact that the NEA came to us to develop an online course was amazing.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We will continue to offer personal, professional and organizational development to people all over the world. In addition, we are planning to create a highly interactive online course around The Virtues Project. We are going to revamp our websites. Finally, we will launch our PositiveNews4U site where we will Twit positive news that people share with us from all over the world.

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