Virtual School Meanderings

September 14, 2014

Expand Your Knowledge In The World Of Virtual Instruction

Another item from Friday’s inbox…

Michael K. Barbour,
The latest information from Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom by University of California, Irvine on Coursera.
As a student who completed last fall’s Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual Classroom course, you now have the opportunity to continue your education with the next course in the Virtual Teacher Specialization series, Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom!


During this course, you’ll build upon what you’ve already learned by developing the advanced skills and techniques that elude even some of the most experienced virtual teachers. Focus on the fundamentals that have the greatest impact on student learning in a blended or online environment.


You’ll also assess your own skills and apply what you are learning by creating a guide, assignment or resource to put to use in a current or future class you teach.


Course topics include:

  • Handling direct instruction
  • Passing with communication and building relationships
  • Swishing assignments and assessments
  •  Rebounding for at-risk and underperforming students


Course begins Monday, 9/29. Click here to learn more and enroll:


Enrolling in Advanced Instructional Technologies also puts you well on your way to distinguishing yourself with a Virtual Teacher Specialization certificate! Learn more about the final steps to earning the specialization here:


To compliment your  Virtual Teacher education on Coursera, University of California, Irvine Extension will offer a fully only Virtual Teacher Practicum in January 2015. During the practicum, you’ll spend several weeks employing the knowledge you acquired from the Coursera Virtual Teacher series. By the end of the Practicum, you will have a development prototype to add to your portfolio which could serve as the basis for realistic online/hybrid solutions to real life problems! Learn more about the Practicum and enrollment requirements by clicking here:


isit support • Discuss the course in class forums • Please do not reply directly to this email
Copyright (c) 2014 Coursera, Inc | 381 E. Evelyn Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94041 USA

August 24, 2014

We’re Making MOOCs For K-12

This came through my inbox on Thursday.  I note they say K-12, but they seem mainly for K-12 teachers (as opposed to K-12 students).

Canvas Network
Hello Lifelong Learner,

Recently, Canvas Network launched 15 open online courses for K-12. So whether you’re a K-12 teacher, parent, or student, you now have 15 exciting ways to learn from experts, practice new skills, and connect with other learners and educators.

Here’s a preview of just a few of our new K-12 courses. They’ll help you tap into your own creativity, build courses with Minecraft, tear down barriers to learning, and inspire you to embrace and share the power of DIY. (And did we mention they’re all free of charge?)

Five Habits of Highly Creative Teachers encourages educators to develop new creative habits that foster personal learning networks, content creation, and innovative learning practices that embrace curiosity, failure, and reflection. New creative habits are explored each week.
Getting Started with MinecraftEdu provides a foundation for new users of MinecraftEdu to help them set up their server and plan their first two lessons using Minecraft. So instead of feeling overwhelmed, come learn about the endless possibilities of using Minecraft as an educational tool.

Minecraft for Educators opens up the world of Minecraft for use in education. The course was created for teachers who’d like to gamify their learning experiences and deliver a unique pedagogy that will engage, enthuse, and keep learners coming back for more.

Teachers Without Borders: Educating Girls connects scholarship, classroom practice, and service by focusing on four themes directly related to the education of girls worldwide, including (1) access and equity, (2) public health, (3) education in emergencies, and (4) empowerment.
Tinker, Make & Learn builds upon the experiential approach to learning through a blended model. The course delves into activity-based strategies that will help empower educators from every discipline to employ making as a powerful catalyst for building skills and understanding.

So visit Canvas Network today and enroll in courses that will help you create, build, make, and do what you do even better.

– Canvas Network

6330 South 3000 East, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, Utah 84121
© Copyright 2014 Instructure All Rights Reserved.

August 23, 2014

Registration Now Open for Fall 2014 MOOC-Ed Courses

From Wednesday’s inbox…

School is back in session! Let MOOC-Ed help get you ready. The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University’s College of Education is excited to announce that it will be offering four Massive Open Online Courses for Educators (MOOC-Ed) this fall, three of which are brand new, and all of which cover a wide variety of topics.

Still not sure what a MOOC-Ed course entails? No problem – check out this short, informational video.

The upcoming courses include:

  • Coaching Digital Learning Learning: Cultivating a Culture of Change, beginning Sept. 15, is a six-week course that will allow you to learn with colleagues from other schools, and districts to enhance digital learning content knowledge and further develop coaching strategies. You will deepen your understanding of what it takes to coach educators to integrate technology effectively; explore relevant frameworks, strategies, tools, and resources; and develop and share an Instructional Technology Coaching Action Plan to support their school or district’s digital learning culture. Register here.

  • New! Fractions Foundations, beginning Sept. 22, is an eight-week course that will help you teach fractions concepts and skills more effectively by increasing understanding of students’ thinking and implementing research-based approaches in the classroom. It will address rigorous curriculum standards for fractions, whether from the Common Core State Standards or from other up-to-date standards. Register here.

  • New! Disciplinary Literacy for Deeper Learning, beginning Sept. 29, is a six-week course that will explore digital literacy, which is the ability to understand and use a range of digital technologies, a critical skill for today’s classroom. This course is open to all educators in K-12 and postsecondary levels interested in learning more about disciplinary literacy for deeper learning. Additionally, this course provides an optional PLC Facilitation Guide to assist teams as they work through the MOOC-Ed together. Register here.

  • New! Learning Differences, beginning October 6, is a six-week course that will explore the question, what habits of mind and problem-solving tools should a teacher have in order to address all students’ learning differences? Information in this course will be job-embedded so that you can immediately apply solutions to their classrooms. You will be given the opportunity for ongoing development through an online community or in-person coaching with the partner organizations. Sign up here to receive an update when this course is open for registration.

Every MOOC-Ed course provides high-quality, free professional development designed with educators in mind. MOOC-Ed courses are self-directed, peer-supported, project-based, and allow for blended learning opportunities. They are also incredibly flexible as they can be accessed at any time, and on any device. North Carolina teachers are eligible to receive

More information about each course or MOOC-Ed in general can be found at

To receive additional information or registration information about these courses, please join our mailing list.

July 10, 2014

EDTECH537 – Guest Blogger: Roles For MOOCs In Online And Blended Learning

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 5 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were developed in the mid-2000s to open access to US higher education to the global audience, especially learners who were not enrolled in a degree program, by offering free course materials and experiences without credit or entry requirements (Liyanagunawardena,  Adams, & Williams, 2013). Hundreds of MOOCs for millions of learners have been offered under a range of models around the world, as shown in the table below. See MOOC List for examples,

Table. MOOC delivery models

Provider Learners Funding
Public college or universityPrivate or profit college or university

Professional association

K-12 education authority

For-profit education provider

Technology corporation

Non-profit organization

PublicStudents enrolled at sponsor institution

Target audience, such as a profession or interest group

By providerBy sponsor or advertisers

By students seeking a credential (certificate, badge)

By students seeking credit

Likewise, the learner experiences vary in MOOCs.

  • Course lengths range from a few weeks to a year, or self-paced
  • Student engagement may center on receptive activity such as using video lectures and other media, and reading ebooks; moderate episodic productive engagements such as brief computer-scored knowledge assessments or lower-order responses in forums; or intensive productive interactions such as sustained discussions, projects, and media creation
  • Feedback to learners may be automated, peer-to-peer, or from instructors; often differential feedback depends on whether students pay fees or take the course for credit
  • Pedagogical approaches include cMOOC, Downes’ learner-centered Connectivist type driven by human networks (Pence, 2013); xMOOC, a instructor/content-centered commercial and automated type driven by data (Pence, 2013); MOORC, Cavanaugh’s discovery-centered open research community driven by knowledge generation

Because the purposes of MOOCs vary and learners self-identify, they are designed to prioritize access rather than success. Therefore completion rates have been quite low. Critics see this situation as a disadvantage and focus on the cost/completer as a reason to discourage providers and learners from participating (Morris, 2013). Proponents see the large discrepancy between starters and finishers as evidence that the mission has been accomplished because a great many participants have experienced at least part of a course that otherwise would not be available to them, and most participants complete some learning (Morris, 2013). In a MOOC, the learners decide what and how much to learn. Their goals are individual and often do not have complete correspondence with course objectives.

Therefore, MOOCs are currently suited to some learning goals, as shown in the table below.

MOOCs are well suited for MOOCs are less suited for
Learners unable to access other education programsInformal learning by individuals seeking new skills or community networks

Learners using modules for specific learning that is more structured than using text or other media

Students assessing readiness, remediation, or a refresher for a credit course

Instructors expanding their teaching repertoire

Independent exploration of a domain

Institutional marketing or orientation

Public outreach by organizations

Experimenting with content and design due to the large amount of data generated

Learners in need of structure and feedbackLearning in ill-defined or complex performance-based domains

Developing high levels of expertise requiring coaching or mentoring

The full range of experiences that comprise most degree programs

Existing communities with specific product goals



For online and blended professional learning, a MOOC is a feasible and valuable model to consider for certain informal knowledge bases when openness and inclusivity are priorities, but not when acquiring specific objectives by specific audiences are priorities. A MOOC as a long-term goal would broaden the professional community.

For online and blended student learning, a MOOC is a scalable way to personalize learning for students who seek or need specialized knowledge, accelerated learning, or connections with specific communities of scholars.

Learning Theory applied to MOOCs

  Learning Theory Research on Practice
M=massive Social Learning: observational learning (Bandura) Class sizes optimal at under 20: accommodated using fluid and focused discussion and project groups (Monks & Schmidt)
O=open Andragogy: choice and differentiation to account for varying experience and goals (Knowles)Expertise: time, practice, and feedback are needed (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer) Personalized learning and Flexible pathways: afford individualized mastery learning (Gates Foundation; iNACOL)Expanded learning time: efficient online (Liu & Cavanaugh)

Control and Connection: contribute to online learning (Repetto, Cavanaugh, Wayer & Liu)

O=online Connectivism: (Seimens) Effective when well-designed and facilitated: meta-analyses (Cavanaugh)
C=course Transactional distance: minimized with more interaction, structure and autonomy (Moore)Motivation: enhanced through feedback (Keller) Attention and Relevance are supported by course designs; Confidence and Satisfaction are supported by experienced instructors. (Carpenter & Cavanaugh)


Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Carpenter, J. & Cavanaugh, C. (2012). Increasing Student Motivation through Mentoring Practices. In L. Archambault & K. Kennedy (Eds.), Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environments. Vienna, VA: iNACOL.

Cavanaugh, C. (2009). Distance education in support of extended learning time in K-12 schools. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2007). What connectivism is [Web log post]. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2009, December 4). Re: The reciprocity economy [Web log post comment]. Accessed at

Ericsson K, Krampe R, Tesch-Romer, C: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review 1993, 100:3, 363-406.

Keller, J. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. Riegeluth (ed.), Instructional Design Theories and Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Liu, F. & Cavanaugh, C. (2011). Online Core Course Success Factors in Virtual School: Factors influencing student academic achievement. International Journal of E-Learning 10(4)43-65.

Liyanagunawardena, T; Adams, A; & Williams, S. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 3, p. 202-227. SSN 1492-3831. Available at

Monks, J., & Schmidt, R. M. (2011). The Impact of Class Size on Outcomes in Higher Education. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy11(1).

Moore, M.G. (2007). The Theory of Transactional Distance. In M.G.Moore (Ed.) (2007) The Handbook of Distance Education. Second Edition. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 89–108.

Morris, L. V. (August 08, 2013). MOOCs, Emerging Technologies, and Quality. Innovative Higher Education, 38, 4, 251-252.

Pence, H. E. (2012). When Will College Truly Leave the Building: If MOOCs are the Answer, What Is the Question?. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems41(1), 25-33.

Repetto, J., Cavanaugh, C., Wayer, N., & Liu, F. (2010). Virtual High Schools: Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(2), 91-104.

Siemens, G. (2003). Learning ecology, communities, and networks: Extending the classroom. elearnspace. Available at

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Available at

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Available at

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Available at

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at

July 4, 2014

K-12 Teaching in the 21st Century: Free MOOC/Competition on Mobile Apps and Health for High School Students

From Wednesday’s inbox…

Hi Former K-12 Teaching in the 21st Century MOOC participants.  I’m sorry to bother you, but I wanted to update you on another free opportunity.  Kent State University is offering a free MOOC (massive open online course) on Mobile Technologies for Health for students in grades 9-12.  The course, which runs from July 7-July 27, 2014, provides an opportunity for high school students to learn about public health.  Students who participate in the course will also learn about mobile technologies and their use in health and health education.  Participants in the MOOC will have the opportunity to design an idea for a health game/app.  Cash awards will be given to the top three teams (as judged by a panel of experts).  Please see the details below, visit the Mobile Technologies for Public Health site, or contact Diana Kingsbury ( or Rick Ferdig ( for details.  National and international participation is welcomed, but students must be attending a secondary school to participate in the competition within the MOOC.  Please share this with students considering health as a college career choice!

Thanks for your time!  Best, Rick

About the Course

Now, more than ever, we rely on mobile technology to connect with others, to find information, and to help us navigate the world around us. With this increase in technology in our daily lives, there is an opportunity to maximize its use in addressing some of our leading social challenges. This summer, the Kent State University (KSU) College of Public Health, in collaboration with the KSU College of Education, Health, and Human Services, is sponsoring an online learning experience that will introduce high school students (grades 9-12) to the use of mobile technologies to solve public health problems and challenges.

Students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of game and app development as they engage with the five core areas of public health (Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Policy, Environmental Health, and Social & Behavioral Health). Students will compete in teams of 3 to 5 to develop a public health game or app that relates to a public health problem of their choice. Cash prizes will be awarded to the team with the best concept public health game or app (one $500 and two $250 awards).

The course will run from July 7, 2014 – July 27, 2014. All content will be available online and participants will be asked to submit their work through the course’s online platform. Orientation materials to the course, accessing the site, and program guidelines will also be made available virtually.

Find some friends, form a team, and sign up today!

Intended Audience – High school students in grades 9 – 12 are encouraged to form a team and enroll.

Course Requirements

To participate, students will complete weekly online modules that will provide them with information about the field of public health, the basics of mobile app and game development, and some of the leading public health problems nationwide and globally. Students will be asked to select a public health issue of their choice and design their mobile technology to address the problem. In order to participate, students must have computer and Internet access. To be eligible to compete for the cash awards, students must complete each module and must be a member of a 3-5 person team.

Learning Objectives – By participating in this program, you will:

    •         Understand the five core areas within the field of public health:
    •         Get the basics of how mobile apps and games are designed
    •         Learn how mobile technologies can address public health issues
    •         Compete against other teams nationwide for cash awards
    •         Have fun!

To enroll, please visit Mobile Technologies for Public Health.

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