Virtual School Meanderings

September 30, 2014

Statistics for September 2014

This entry is being posted back-dated.

In what has become the norm… A quick, back-dated statistics entry for this month… This past month there were 3,370  visitors to this blog – which is down about 400 visitors since August, and about 100 or so less than September 2013.

The top ten entries this past month were:

  1. New Webinars | 10 Educators To Follow On Twitter, Coding For Kindergarten, And More!
  2. Questions About The School Of Tomorrow
  3. Instructional Technology Dissertation Topics
  4. Student Holiday Notice
  5. Virtual Schooling (K-12 Online Education): Assistant/Associate Professor of Ed Tech – Job Announcement – Arizona State University
  6. Guest Blogger: Examining Accelerated Christian Education
  7. Early Bird Special – May 2013
  8. Review – Frog Dissection
  9. Defining A Dissertation Topic – Which Aspect Of K-12 Online Learning?
  10. Video Creation, Online Pedagogy, and Hybrid Learning – Fall Webinars

Search engines account for 10 hits to this blog for every one hit from another source. The top search terms that were used included:

  • dissertation cartoons
  • socio economics variables influencing students performance in biology
  • cyber school statistics
  • early bird
  • john eshelman quality science labs llc
  • frog dissection
  • cyber school hickory nc
  • delphi method for doctoral dissertation
  • ace school of tomorrow catalog
  • how to deal with time management in college

Finally, the statistics from my old blog site.

(more…)

September 23, 2014

Hekademia Blog

Just wanted to highlight a new program that I have been following the development of (and advising them on the US K-12 online learning landscape).

Hekademiahttp://www.hekademia.com/

One of the things I wanted to mention was the fact that they maintain a blog that gets updated about once a week or so.

Hekademia Bloghttp://www.hekademia.com/blog-list.php

They also have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account.

August 31, 2014

Statistics for August 2014

This entry is being posted back-dated.

In what has become the norm… A quick, back-dated statistics entry for this month… This past month there were 3,822 visitors to this blog – which is down about 100 visitors since July, and about 300 or so less than August 2013.

The top ten entries this past month were:

  1. Questions About The School Of Tomorrow
  2. Guest Blogger: Examining Accelerated Christian Education
  3. Guest Blogger: 5 Reasons Why K-12 Online Learning is Growing Fast
  4. Online Education – In Ontario
  5. Instructional Technology Dissertation Topics
  6. Leadership Day 2014: Educational Leadership and Virtual Schooling
  7. Early Bird Special – May 2013
  8. Defining A Dissertation Topic – Which Aspect Of K-12 Online Learning?
  9. Cyber Schooling And Homeschooling
  10. Student Holiday Notice

In what is still kind of unusual, but has become a bit of pattern in recent months, seven of the ten entries were actually written in April (n.b., 1, 2, and 6 were not).  I wonder how this lack of activity from the archives impacts the overall usage.

Search engines account for 10 hits to this blog for every one hit from another source.  The top search terms that were used included:

  • online education in ontario reviews
  • history virtual schooling
  • california catholic virtual school
  • middle school cartoons
  • ncaa high school online schooling
  • holiday note to students
  • studies on comics in rural schools
  • stats for students with ieps in cyberschools vs. brick and mortar schools
  • “bet you didn’t dream this” cartoon
  • education reformer school broken business remedy online

Finally, the statistics from my old blog site.

(more…)

August 15, 2014

Leadership Day 2014: Educational Leadership and Virtual Schooling

leadershipday2014_01-300x240Well, it is that time of year again, when my CASTLE colleague Scott McLeod posts an entry on his blog Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2014.  I’ve participated in this initiative for the past five years.

For the past year, I have been a faculty member in an educational leadership program at Sacred Heart University.  Prior to joining the faculty here, I tended to describe educational leadership broadly to include educational administration (i.e., the preparation of principals, district officials, and superintendents) and educational policy (also sometimes called educational studies).  Given my own professional and research interests, as well as my political and policy background, I had always identified more with the educational policy/studies aspect of educational leadership.  Over the past year I have come to understand (or learn) that educational leadership isn’t as cut and dry as I had initially envisioned it, but at the same time it is that cut and dry.

The field of educational leadership is about developing leaders.  It is really that simple.  Leaders of departments, leaders of schools, leaders of curriculum, leaders of athletics, leaders of districts, leaders of states, leaders of policy – simply put, leaders.  This is what connects all aspects of educational leadership, a focus on providing potential leaders with the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes they will need to become actual leaders.

What does that mean within the field of K-12 online learning?  Well, I’m reminded of a news item from the Washington Post that came across my electronic desk just yesterday…

Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers
By Valerie Strauss August 14 at 4:00 AM

[Stuff deleted]

1. Don’t tell us that you know more about good instruction than we do.
2. Don’t talk to us about the importance and rigor of the standards.
3. Don’t tell us about testing data.
4. Don’t tell us “The research says…” unless you’re willing to talk about what it really says.
5. Stop with the advice about teaching critical thinking skills.
6. Stop using education reform clichés.
7. Don’t tell us to leave politics out of the classroom.

[Stuff deleted]

I felt that these were particularly important today, given that we are talking about leadership.  How much of this applies to the world of K-12 online learning?  For example, in describing the first item the reporter writes “

This tells us there is an institutionalized disregard for our professional judgment. Some teachers get scripted curriculum that is often sub-par and that gets in the way of real teaching and learning. Others work under policies that are so broad that they are essentially meaningless.

The purpose of the policies is the same in both cases: to serve a top-down structure that is in place not to help students but to serve a kind of aesthetic of educational toughness, which itself is in place to combat a “crisis” in education that scholars such as David Berliner have thoroughly exposed as a sham.

In the K-12 online learning world, virtual school teachers are often provided an online curriculum that they aren’t allowed to modify, that has built in assessments that the teacher has no control over (and that represents the vast majority of the student’s overall assessments).  In other instances, virtual school teachers are hired to teach an online course and the online content simply doesn’t exist – and the teacher has to build the plane as he/she is flying it.

Or more importantly, in discussing number four, the author writes “Research is also of varying quality. Peer-reviewed journals are to be taken seriously; ideological think tanks not so.”  Wow!  That pretty much slaps down 95% of the “research” neo-liberals use to argue in favour of expanding access to online learning!

My very favourite was what was written about number six.

“After consulting the research and assessment data, and involving all stakeholders in the decision-making process, we have determined that a relentless pursuit of excellence and laser-like focus on the standards, synergistically with our accountability measures, action-oriented and forward-leaning intervention strategies, and enhanced observation guidelines for classroom look-fors, will close the achievement gap and raise the bar for all children.”

Sound like something out of the mouth of many of the proponent of expanding access to K-12 online learning?  Could Jeb Bush or Tom Vander Ark or Susan Patrick have said something like this (or even this exact statement)?

As individuals working with future leaders, it is imperative for us to counter these dominant narratives that are based on ideology!  We can do that be creating the critical thinkers that the educational reformers, and neo-liberal proponents of K-12 online learning, want us to create.  As Strauss writes, “critical thinking means analyzing ideas to understand them completely and find ways to improve them or dismiss them, including ideas about the value and purpose of technical and technological innovation.”  Given the research available right now, anyone who approaches K-12 online learning with an open mind can come to one conclusion – that the policies being pursued by most proponents of K-12 online learning are based on ideology and not what is best for the student.  The critical thinker leaders we are developing need to promote policies and activities that are in the best interests of the students, not of the corporate sponsors of these individuals and their organizations!

To view my past entries, see:

August 12, 2014

Top Stories From Our Blog

From yesterday’s inbox…  Not directly related to K-12 online learning, but of indirect interest…

Top Stories from Our Blog
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5 Characteristics Of Global Learning
holding_globeAn increasingly globalized society is putting pressure on education to “globalize.” We’ve talked about the definition of global learning before. This quick post is more about the characteristics of that kind of approach to learning. As globalization becomes more and more inevitable, understanding where we’re drifting might help us make adjustments as we go, yes? The characteristics are numerous and […]
read more
This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like
colorful_studentsWhen Sam Levin was a junior at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Mass., he realized that two things were in short supply at his school: engagement and mastery. He also noticed that he and his peers were learning plenty of information, but not much about how to gather or create their own […]
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How the Manufacturing of an iPhone Impacts the World
iphone_handThe manufacturing and sales of an iPhone affects nearly every region of the world. From the thousands of employees across Asia to the thousands of stores across North America, the iPhone has single-handedly touched nearly every corner of the globe. In this infographic we explore the impact the iPhone has had on the global supply […]
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Does a Tweet Make a Difference?
twitter_birdAs I moderated #caedchat on June 8, I tipped over the 10K mark for tweets. What?! 10K? Ten years ago I never thought to myself that one day I would have sent out over 10,000 tweets. In fact, 10 years ago I wasn’t even a part of social media. So here I am today, having created over […]
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Google Knows All Our Secrets
google_robotThese days whenever things go wrong – or even right – it’s search engines we turn to for answers and affirmation. So how did the internet become our best friend, confidant, oracle – and what do the questions we ask reveal about our lives? Kate Bussmann investigates. If you were to look at the search […]
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New Research: Students Benefit from Learning That Intelligence Is Not Fixed
gear_brainTeaching students that intelligence can grow and blossom with effort – rather than being a fixed trait they’re just born with – is gaining traction in progressive education circles. And new research from Stanford is helping to build the case that nurturing a “growth mindset” can help many kids understand their true potential. The new […]
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Tools of Our Tools & What To Do About It
cautionWe’ve become the tools of our tools; And the fault – and the solution – lies not in our tools, but in ourselves. The digital revolution promised so much at the outset: computers would make air travel safer, health care more affordable, and education more widely available. But for all the evident benefits – and there are […]
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5 Ways Google Tools Can Empower Teachers
hand working businessThere are about a million different ways to use all the great Google tools available for free in your classroom. Whether you’re bringing your classroom into the 21st century by making it paperless or AppSmashing, even the simplest of Google tools offers you a wide array of ways to use it. The Google suite of tools can be useful when […]
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Roller Coaster Middle School: How One Kid’s Crazy Idea Took PBL to Thrilling New Heights
coasterWhen my sixth grader Lyle asked if we could build a roller coaster in the backyard, I said yes — for two reasons. First, as a dad, it’s my job to help my kids do what they want to do. I believe that what kids want and what kids need are usually the same thing. […]
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5 Apps for Making Movies on Mobile Devices
3D_crowdEvery year at Hollywood award shows, we see fantastic movies celebrated for their rich storytelling and dynamic performances. Your students can become moviemakers, too, thanks to some powerful apps for mobile devices. With these tools, your children can take videos and edit their work to make professional quality movies using iOS devices (iPads and iPhones) […]
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