June 1, 2012 by Susan Patrick
Just in time for the weekend, here’s a look at a few of the news articles we read this week:
Calif. schools expand lessons via computer
Math is so popular at Ritter Elementary School in Watts that kids arrive before the morning bell and line up to do extra work before class, but it’s not the subject that’s the real attraction as much as the method — computers…
Why Steve Jobs Would Have Loved Digital Learning
What a competency-based learning system powered by digital learning does is break the tradeoffs. A student can remain with her friends and peers while working on the objectives, projects, and courses most appropriate for her, regardless of what the others are doing because the online medium can naturally individualize the learning…
Going From One-Size-Fits-All Education, To One-Size-Fits-One
In June of 2009, after Michael Jackson died, I decided it was time to learn how to moonwalk. I went to YouTube and found the “How to Moonwalk” video with the most hits, a simple 2:15 minute homemade job by Montreal DJ AngeDeLumiere. The video proved to be a lesson not only in a dance step but in transformative pedagogy…
Sal Khan’s ‘Academy’ sparks a tech revolution in education
Most people don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how to best explain the financial collapse of the Thai baht in the 1990s. But most people aren’t Sal Khan…
May 23, 2012 by Susan Patrick
Last month I joined a panel of colleagues at Arizona State University’s Education Innovation Summit to discuss competency-based learning and the importance of content mastery. To recap on the panel discussion, watch it here:
To learn more about competency-based learning, visit our new site, CompetencyWorks.org.
May 17, 2012 by Susan Patrick
The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) recent report on virtual learning seems to reference and regurgitate bullet points of the pros versus cons of online learning. It misses some key points in context of how students need high quality teachers – as the primary driver for students learning online because the courses are otherwise unavailable in their school. Other reasons students learn online is for the flexibility and the ability for personalized learning and to move at their own pace. The report does recognize the potential for online and blended learning.
A clarification needs to be made that all public school students are accountable to the public school they attend, regardless of technology. All charter schools are required to follow the same reporting and accountability requirements as required by the state, without exception to virtual schools. The authors are describing the same pitfalls with lack of data in traditional schools and applying them to virtual programs without context (more…)
May 16, 2012 by Susan Patrick
Over the last two years, I have been on a journey to try to make right what I think is one of the biggest policy issues driving inequity in the United States – the K-12 education system which is driven by seat-time. This journey is to re-design K-12 education around student learning and mastery.
The policies around seat-time limit how and when a student can learn, allow students to move to the next grade level with huge gaps in their learning, and limit extended learning opportunities. Why should it matter whether a student learns in school, out of school, online, in the girl scouts or at a museum? What should matter is that teachers are involved in assessing students’ mastery of learning at advanced levels. (more…)
March 5, 2012 by Susan Patrick
The Virginia legislature has an opportunity in the waning days of this session to ensure the rights of Virginia families to choose the educational option that best suits their needs. Senate Bill 598 (Virtual School Funding), as introduced in January, was well-written and balanced, and ensured fair funding for public school students who wanted to access high-quality, full-time online schools available to students throughout the state – schools that were state-approved during the rigorous Virginia Department of Education review process. Last-minute changes made to the bill in late February included striking well-balanced language in the bill, and instead inserting clauses designed to limit student access to online learning programs. (more…)
February 14, 2012 by Susan Patrick
Late last month, I blogged about the Utah State Office of Education’s new initiative to support open textbooks, a type of open educational resource (OER) enabling learning materials to be made available online for free through open licenses.
This week, while attending the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Wave I grantees convening in Austin, Texas, I had the opportunity to learn about an open toolkit resource to aid in the development and scaling of blended learning programs.
The OER project, created by the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), with funding from the NGLC, is called the “Blended Learning Toolkit,” which seeks to provide higher education institutions and instructors with a guide for developing and managing blended and online learning programs.
Yet, while the Blended Learning Toolkit may have been developed by (more…)
January 31, 2012 by Susan Patrick
The concept of an “open textbook,” commonly referred to in our field as a form of open educational resources (OER), enables learning materials that are produced and vetted by experts to be made available online for free through open licenses, allowing for the content to be easily accessible, printable and shared for the purpose of personalizing education for students.
The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) announced in a press release last week that it will support open textbooks to pave the way for students in K-12 education across the state to have access to up-to-date content.
The press release reads: “Texts get into classrooms quickly and can be updated as needed rather than on a publishing schedule – something that’s particularly important in science. The open textbook also adds to Utah’s reputation as the most cost-efficient school system in the country. This is a fantastic way to get the latest textbooks into the hands of Utah’s nearly 600,000 public school students.”
As education costs continue to rise, (more…)
January 27, 2012 by Susan Patrick
The National Education Association (NEA) this week released a position paper on blended learning – and its conclusions are positive. The largest teachers union in the country announced it supports blended learning programs. It notes that “technology in the educational process improves learning opportunities for students, quality of instruction, effectiveness of education employees, and provides opportunities to reduce educational inequities.”
At a time when it seems much of the media coverage around online learning is determined to paint the educational landscape as a fierce battle between the traditional teacher and digital technology, NEA’s position on blended learning is heartening. It acknowledges the promise of technology to provide “instruction that best meets the educational needs of the student.” It notes that “early evidence suggests that a blended instructional approach can result in learning outcome gains and increased enrollment retention.” And it reaffirms the importance of qualified, licensed teachers in the blended learning environment.
Of course, iNACOL has always believed (more…)
January 12, 2012 by Susan Patrick
There is a general lack of information available when it comes to determining the costs associated with online and blended learning. Yet, at a time when all state legislatures and education agencies are wrestling with funding issues, accurate cost data is essential.
A new report released this week by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation takes a closer look at those costs, showing a range of figures based on the different program options offered to students of K-12 education in the U.S.
Comparing the costs of online and blended learning programs (both full and part-time) to those associated with traditional brick-and-mortar schooling (which varies school by school, state by state and district by district) presented the report’s authors with an important and difficult challenge.
The Foundation’s new report is a serious effort to look into the cost drivers for online and blended programs. Much of its reporting is based on in-depth interviews with a number of sources. It provides useful insights that will help to foster a better understanding of resource allocations in education, not only for those within our field, but also for the policymakers who need to make equitable and sound funding decisions that affect students in online and blended learning programs across the country.
The report also touches on the proper role of technology in education (more…)
January 1, 2012 by Susan Patrick
Happy New Year, iNACOL colleagues and friends! As online learning continues to grow for K-12 students across the globe in 2012, a new resolution was signed into law by the President that benefits high school graduates of full-time online learning programs in the U.S.
In the past, seniors graduating from full-time online high schools have faced obstacles in their efforts to join the U.S. military. With the Department of Defense classifying an online high school graduate’s diplomas as “non-traditional,” the graduate is given a different recruitment rank, or tier, than a graduate of a traditional, brick and mortar high school, who would be classified as “Tier I” military recruit, compared to the “Tier II” title given to a graduate with an online learning diploma.
Based on the Defense Department’s policies, the military is limited to the number of recruits it will admit each year from the Tier II division, accepting up to 10 percent for the Army and the National Guard, 5 percent for the Navy and the Marine Corps, and 1 percent for the Air Force.
Thanks to the House Armed Services Committee this outdated policy has changed, (more…)