Transcript! March 8 Free Friday Webinar: Explore, Connect, Learn — Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)

March 8, 2024: In this USDLA Free Friday webinar series, viewers discover how the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) is revolutionizing K-12 and adult education through interactive virtual learning experiences with treasured museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, historical sites, national parks, and more.

During this webinar: Explore innovative strategies, success stories, and collaborative opportunities that empower educators, students, and lifelong learners to thrive in a digital learning landscape. Whether you’re an educator, administrator, or advocate for inclusive education, this webinar is your passport to understanding the profound impact of virtual connections in global education.

About the presenters:

Allyson Mitchell is the Director of Partnerships & Engagement at the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). Previously, she was a Director of Partnerships and Engagement, holding various leadership positions within departments of learning in art, history, and university museums. In these roles, she supervised the design of multiple distance learning studios and the development of the supporting interactive virtual learning programming and training of affiliated staff or experts. Allyson has presented at national and international conferences to discuss the implications of integrating distance learning in museums and diverse learning environments. Allyson has published scholarship on this topic. Most recently, she was co-author and contributing artist of the book Museums & Interactive Virtual Learning (Spring 2022). She also co-hosts the newly released podcast, Why Distance Learning?…

Tami Moehring is the Director of Member Relations at the Center Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). She manages member operations, providing support, training, and mentoring to content providers and educators. In her role, Tami is helping CILC grow and expand its impact on CILC and content providers, as well as educators and students. Before coming to CILC, she spent over 10 years in museum education, working at various museums, including the Minnesota Historical Society. She has presented at state and national conferences on the importance of virtual learning. She recently co-authored the 20022 book Museums & Interactive Learning…

About our host, Valary Oleinik, USDLA president-elect: Valary Oleinik describes herself as part artist, part geek, and wholly dedicated to enhancing live virtual learning experiences. Her unique approach, blending curiosity, gameful experiences, and technology, positions her as a key influencer and innovator in the field. Valary’s dedication to breaking traditional education molds is evident as she explains her methodologies for making distance learning more engaging and effective. By leveraging her “MacGyver mindset,” she encourages educators to utilize available resources creatively and to rethink their approaches to teaching and learning in virtual environments. Her philosophy emphasizes the importance of curiosity, creativity, and the use of technology to foster engaging learning experiences that cater to diverse learning journeys. Learn more:

Scroll down to read the transcript of the webinar.

Valary @USDLA: Welcome CILC leaders Alison Mitchell and Tammy Moehring. Thank you both so very much for being here today.

Allyson Mitchell, CILC: Thank you for that great introduction. Our goal today is to share details about CILC, a nonprofit celebrating our 30th year. We are the one-stop shop for live virtual field trips with museums, science centers, national parks, historic Hall of Fame sites, and more. We love to focus on people’s favorite field trips. Maybe that was something that happened when you were younger. Maybe it’s connected to your school. Maybe it’s with one of the clubs or organizations you’re connected with. Or maybe it’s something you organized. Go ahead and drop that into the chat if you’re comfortable. But Tammy and I always like to start with some reasons why we’re doing what we do. Not only do we love distance learning, but field trips and being able to visit informal spaces of learning have always been something that I’ve been drawn to. One of my favorite memories is of being here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So close to me is the Morris Arboretum. I went there with my family. My mom let me take a hooky day, so she just took me and my sisters, and we were able to spend the whole day outside. I thought it was the craziest thing to do something outside of school. Tammy, do you wanna share your favorite field trip?

Tami Moehring: Yes, I’d be happy to. I grew up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota and graduated with a class of 38 students, including a foreign exchange student from Switzerland. When we were younger, we got to go on a big field trip, which meant that we would go up to the Twin Cities, which was 4 hours away. We would ride a bus, and I’m not talking like a charter bus. It’s like the regular school bus. So we got on a 5am. Today, we can do that same trip with distance learning.

Allyson: As we mentioned before, CILC is a one-stop shop for live virtual field trips with different cultural science, art, performance, and art centers all over the globe. We can work with different members who are connected to K through 12 schools, lifelong learning organizations, residential homes, healthcare facilities, libraries, and community spaces. We also work with individuals, not only through our wonderful live virtual field trip library, where they’re able to request all of our different programs, but also with educators to help support virtual exchange events. CILC partners with over 200 content providers that come from all different types of institutions. We hope to be able to ignite a curiosity for passion through having these outside experiences that come in different formats. Now, after the digital pivot, which is so wonderful in 2020, we can work with so many different groups to support so many different spaces and environments of learning. And we are so grateful for all of those that we’ve been able to impact over the past 30 years.

  • Our three audience groups include K through 12 groups, where we work to make sure that any virtual experience that you have that’s live will enhance the planned curriculum.
  • We partner with content providers from all of those different institutions mentioned to ensure they can design something that encourages everyone to jump in and get active in the learning process and, of course, help showcase all of their wonderful collections, living and nonliving.
  • We also work with lifelong learners. So anyone 18 years and older can join in on all of the learning from our CILC adventures with the career and technical education professionals we can connect you with to individuals who might just want to come together as a group and be able to learn about a topic or theme or revisit that space that they maybe have visited before.

We do this in 3 big buckets:

  • So we have our virtual field trip libraries. That’s where we have over 2,300 programs that can be requested and scheduled at the time that’s most convenient for you and your group. For some, that might be a 38-minute class. Maybe that might be on a Saturday afternoon when your community group comes together, or it can be at a certain day and time to fill a really fun professional learning day for you and your organization.
  • Our virtual exchange experiences, which we center in our collaboration space, are in the digital landscape. We’ll take three different pathways to help individuals get started, connect, and even match with groups to become global citizens, sharing different opportunities and projects and working out different ways to raise their voices and awareness on different topics.
  • And we have digital digital learning events in our streamable series, which we’ll jump into. All of those streamable series are for K. 12 and adult learners and are completely free with registration, which happens both weekly and monthly. But I’ll let Tammy talk to you a little bit more about some of these insights because we want to leave time to ask you questions, answer your questions, and tell you a little bit more about how you can get involved.

Tami: Perfect. Our 200-plus content providers include the Molten Marine Laboratory down in Sierra Florida. They provide a variety of science-based programs that bring you directly into their amazing studio. Another is the University of Nebraska Moral Hall Museum. They go live in their gallery, where leaders show off the various animals from the past in Nebraska, and so much more. And, of course, we partner with the National Park Service, which represents more than 20 national parks. And that’s just a few. All of our content providers that are on the CILC website:

A teacher can come in for an introduction to a particular topic or as a test review. The virtual field trips are interdisciplinary, about 45 to 60 minutes long, and are customizable to fit a school’s bell schedule and time zone. CILC also connects teachers from around the world and their students to another group of teachers and students to do a collaboration project around reading or any other subject. We’ve also partnered with kindergartners and seniors to be their buddies. It’s just a great way to teach and learn. This is also an ideal approach if you are teaching second language learners.

Allyson: While we work with many K-12 groups, we also offer programs for lifelong learners, including community groups, healthcare facilities, and senior living facilities. They all have access to the 2,300 virtual field trips in our library. We offer a variety of packages, and Tami and I are always happy to answer any questions about how that works and talk to you a little bit about how that’s been successful for a number of organizations and schools.

The other thing CILC does outside our streamable series is connect to our member base, including educators, healthcare workers, and community group leaders. Each month, we hold a professional development workshop where these different communities of practice come together and discuss different activities they’ve been putting on in the classrooms. They might talk about different challenges, and then they talk to individuals who are within their field or from outside experts who will talk about new tools, different solutions, or ways to think about how you can use digital tools in your classroom or in your course work to inspire learners to get involved in areas that they may never have thought about before — whether that’s connected to a curriculum or just because you’re human.

We also have a podcast: Why distance learning? Valary, we had the chance to feature you. We talk about the different techniques, tips, and tricks that they have, and then they can share with wonderful communities interested in using distance learning in their practice. These usually run 35 to 45 minutes.

We also offer consulting to help people create a virtual learning experience within their organization, whether scholastic or professional. We work closely with content providers to consider how we can best market them directly through social media and our weekly newsletter, which goes to our over 60,000 members worldwide.

Finally, CILC has been in business for 30 years. We are also experts in creating interactive video, conferencing, and interactive virtual learning spaces. We ensure that organizations have an evaluation system to ensure they are achieving their goals.

Valary @USDLA: I know CILC has been expanding beyond its K-12 roots and now offers offerings for lifelong learners through Roam from Home, which is for learners of all ages. Tell us about that and other efforts to support the needs of special populations like the elderly. I’m in New Orleans, two miles from the World War II Museum, and I believe you have a story about it.

Tami: So we had one of the amazing lifelong learners who is turning 100 in April, and we were able to connect her with the World War II Museum to create an oral history. They are gonna keep that connection going, which is so great. Another member works on a CRN course and uses our platform as a collaboration space for others doing the training. CILC’s offering is simply a great opportunity to bring that intergenerational experience for those who are looking for that for their loved ones as well as in their professional career.

Valary @USDLA: Do content providers get to practice before they meet with a class, or if they have a new program, do they practice it with Cilc first? How does that work?

Allyson: We love to work with each content provider. Lots of minds provide lots of good opportunities to learn. We do that in an independent fashion, set up at a time and place scheduled by the content provider, but also monthly. We encourage providers to attend workshops we hold each month to help them think through their delivery.

Tami: We also have providers try new topics or programs during our community of learning events to give them an opportunity to test some things out. We are providing ASL with some of our programs, and if you know of anyone in the deaf or hard-of-hearing community, this may be of interest. We are focused on the goal of language inclusion.

Allyson: That’s the best part about the live virtual field trips. Sometimes, you don’t think you can visit a special space every day, but then suddenly, you log onto our website and find yourself in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame or a recording studio. There are no limits to what you can experience.

Valary @USDLA: Thank you, Alison and Tammy! Don’t miss their presentation at the 2024 USDLA National Conference in St. Louis, June 17-20. Click here to learn more about it and register: