Virtual School Meanderings

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

February 13, 2014

Re-Post: Microsoft Seeking Education Specialist For Worldwide Education (Guest Blogger – Cathy Cavanaugh)

This item has been re-posted from Microsoft seeking Education Specialist for Worldwide Education (Guest blogger – Cathy Cavanaugh) at the iNACOL Research in Review blog.

Cathy Cavanaugh is our guest blogger today talking about a few job opportunities that are available at Microsoft.

Education Specialist | Head of Teaching and Learning | Worldwide Education

Microsoft Worldwide Education is building a new team of experts to work with education decision makers on planning successful technology-empowered teaching and learning programs. We seek Teaching and Learning specialists in the Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to join the global team. If you would like more information after reviewing the following position description, please look for application information at or contact Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who has this role in the Americas, at

In Education, institutions around the world are defining 1:1 learning initiatives to increase student and educator access to technology and truly enhance the learning opportunities in and beyond the classroom. Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century is about much more than providing a learner with a computing device. Central to the success of these projects is an end to end and holistic approach that combines not just devices, but also systems architecture, applications, access to rich content, professional development, cloud services, secure management, and clear definition of outcomes that can be measured and supported by all the stakeholders. From devices to back end infrastructure, from applications and content to training and support, Microsoft’s commitment to education and the solutions available to support almost any education model mean we have an unprecedented opportunity to lead these large 1:1 opportunities.

In what is one of the most exciting areas for both our customers and Microsoft as a company, Worldwide Public Sector Education is expanding our devices and services team to support proactive engagement with strategic, large scale education 1:1 (1 device for each student) opportunities that are becoming a priority for almost all governments worldwide.

  • The Teaching and Learning Specialist specializes in learning delivery practice to positively impact teacher, student, and education outcomes at scales from national to local.
  • The role is to bridge teaching and learning (education) issues to Microsoft devices and solutions which can amplify learning outcomes together with the grounding of research and proven practice.
  • This is a role will be responsible for supporting education across multiple regions globally

This position will be responsible for:

  • Providing educational expertise to add value to institutions/governments who are considering digital inclusion and device opportunities in their classrooms, based on broad experience, cases of effective practice, and current research
  • Architecting and developing teaching and learning solutions based on the Microsoft platform with Windows devices at the core within our strategic Education customers with large scale 1:1 projects.
  • Business development for educational through Departments and Ministries of Education as well as senior-level academic institutional leaders;
  • Identifying and providing guidance on useful learning analytic tools, which can provide faculty and students real-time information to assist in assessing learning;
  • Organizing and implementing an international mobile learning plan, which may include MOOC’s, online professional development programs and systems, conferences, professional development associations, electronic learning objects, e-Portfolios, etc.;
  • Responding to client needs and requirements with customized professional development and products which address their current and projected challenges;
  • Creating a high level strategic plan for professional development and integrating functional, appropriate instructional technology in all learning environments;
  • Providing in-depth knowledge of the strategies required to successfully sell Windows devices vs. the competition within an education context.
  • Leveraging a non-traditional set of selling partners – including Content providers, Teaching and Learning Policy Leadership, OEMs, Publishers, Telcos, Operator Channel and ISVs – to enable their Windows devices and solutions to compete in and win large scale 1:1 project opportunities.
  • Developing strategies that build on instructional technology pedagogies, which could include applications, 21st Century skills, and an ever-evolving set of research-based best practices to propel educational effectiveness;
  • Recommending efficient ways to build and/or access content, which may include Open Educational Resources, publishers or Kaleidoscope-like consortiums;
  • Providing near and far-term solutions to client questions, especially those which align with foundational, industry-wide accepted programs, such as the Educause/New Media Consortium Horizon report, Higher Education – MOOCs, tablets, gamification, learning analytics, 3D printing and wearable technology – K-12: cloud, mobile learning, learning analytics, competency/proficiency-based pathways, open content, accessibility, 3D printing, virtual labs, virtual schools, blended schools;
  • Providing thoughtful, expert, and creative project leadership, fostering teamwork and a clear understanding of goals, strategies and measures, within teams and in the broad community of education;
  • Expanding opportunities for adaptive/assistive instructional technology to provide individualized opportunities for all learners; and
  • Supporting development plans for leaders of schools and universities of the future.
  • Overseeing aspects of project life cycle, from initial kickoff through learning requirements analysis, design and implementation phases for projects within the solution area. For example a scalable and sustainable Professional development and change management program for educators including program evaluation

The ideal candidate will have the following experiences / skills:

  • Doctoral degree from an accredited university in the area of education (EdD/PhD preferred);
  • Subject matter expertise and experience in education, leadership, faculty development, project management, international education, mobile learning, and online learning, in K-12 and higher education;
  • Ability to understand, represent and integrate multiple business perspectives;
  • Ability to work (and influence) effectively cross group with a diverse population and with a range of levels in the organization;
  • Ability to consult with educators and educational leaders across disciplines and teaching contexts, ability to work collaboratively and effectively in settings of social and intellectual diversity;
  • Global leaders in the literature on faculty development and learning science research; experience using quantitative and/or qualitative research methods or learning analytics;
  • Organizational agility and ability to deal with ambiguity and adapt to change rapidly in response to business conditions;
  • Ability to create a project plan, track using feedback milestones, redirect if necessary and update the client and/or internal program manager;
  • Excellent communication (written and verbal) and facilitation skills (in addition multiple scholarly publications desired, especially in the area of teaching and learning using technology);
  • Strong relationship building/networking skills and ability to influence key stakeholders;
  • Demonstrate a substantial record of scholarship, knowledge of trends and challenges in education, knowledge of pedagogy and technology applications and an understanding of outcomes based approaches to curriculum development and assessment; and
  • Working HoursBased on the requirement to have a good overlap with most time zones and the fact that a broad group of people this role needs to engage with are WW based.
  • Bachelor Degree Required; PHD Preferred
  • Comparable roles include Technology in Education consultant, Technology & Pedagogy integration expert, Policy maker advisor with in depth experience on how to integrate technology in the classroom.

Original at

August 12, 2013

Guest Blog Re-Post: An Affordable Solution For AP Programs

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

AP Courses Give Students an Edge in College Admissions. Download Your Free Guide to Learn How You Can Build an Affordable Program at Your Christian School!

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are an important factor for many parents and students who are considering enrolling in a Christian School. AP courses provide the highest achieving students the chance to study college level material. Parents and students see AP courses as an academic challenge, a way to better prepare for college, and an advantage on college applications. Yet many Christian schools trail their public school competitors in AP course offerings. Larger, well-funded public schools have the competitive edge among families with high academic standards because these schools can provide students a broad AP curriculum. How can Christian schools maintain their small class size and value-driven curriculum while competing with public and large private schools that provide a wide range of AP courses? Increasingly, Christian schools are looking online for the solution to this problem.

Online Advanced Placement courses allow Christian schools to easily expand their curriculum. Through online learning, courses can be tailored for the individual student. If you have a student interested in engineering, but your school does not provide an AP calculus course, online learning can be an efficient solution. Instead of losing that student, your school could provide a flexible and affordable online option for that student. Online learning keeps the education within your school. There  is no need to construct complicated relationships with public institutions in order to serve single student needs.

Online AP courses are the most affordable solution for Christian schools in many situations.

Who pays for it?
The cost of offering AP courses can be covered through tuition and additional fees paid by families. Schools can provide access to the online course, but students and their families pay the fee. Under some arrangements, the family also pays an extra fee that can help a school pay for administrative overhead and other programs.

What about faith?
Online AP courses are now offered to meet the educational goals of a Christian education. As a Christian school you strive to offer all your students a well-rounded and rigorous education. Offering an expanded range of AP courses online helps you achieve that with your most gifted students. You are helping them shine their light in the world.

How will it fit into the student’s schedule?
Online learning is flexible and allows schools to set their own start and end dates for an AP course. With the AP exam in May, students can start the online course as early as June to prepare for the next yearís exams. The summer months will provide your students ample time to prepare and increases their chance of securing college credit.

A Christian School Educatorís Guide to Online AP courses

AP Online courses put a Christian school on equal footing with its public counterparts without placing additional strain on the school’s resources. Learn more about it in our new white paper, Online Opportunities for Christian SchoolsDownload this free resource for Christian educators using the link below.

Sevenstar Google+

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

July 29, 2013

EDTECH597 – Guest Blog Re-Post: Online Credit Recovery Trends

This is the first entry in Week 8 of my EDTECH597 – Blogging In The Classroom.

This guest blog entry was originally posted on the Sevenstar Blog and re-posted here.  I have agreed to periodically post these entries over the course of the summer. Comments have been closed on this entry, but if you want to interact with the author please visit the original entry.  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today (minus of course the EDTECH597 entry posted first thing this morning).

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Ready to Gain a Competitive Advantage? Download Your Free Guide Below!

A Christian education aims to give students the academic and spiritual tools to walk with confidence onto their post-graduation path. Failing a class sets a student back educationally, shakes his or her foundation, and can start a cycle that leads to dropping out. Christian educators are driven to provide all students the opportunities to succeed. Online credit recovery is the latest tool for guiding struggling students back on track.


July 15, 2013

Crossposted: Christian K-12 Online Learning In Canada

First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at

A few weeks ago I was asked to prepare a guest blog entry by the social media folks at Sevenstar Academy. As I reflected on what I could focus on that might be of interest to the readers of the the Sevenstar Blog, and after some reflection I decided to focus on the topic of Christian education through K-12 online learning in Canada.

canadaUnlike the United States, certain provinces actually provide publicly-funded access to Christian education. The history of this national oddity has its roots in the British North America Act, 1867 (later to become the Constitution Act, 1867). In the BNA Act, section 91 and section 92 outline the responsibilities given to the federal government (i.e., section 91) and to the provincial governments (i.e., section 92). Education fell into section 92 or under the governance of the provinces (in much the same way that education is of local jurisdiction in the United States – although recent federal encroachment and federal funding programs might lead one to believe otherwise).  What this has meant for the development of public education in Canada is that each provincial system is quite different.

The nature of each province’s education system is based on what existed at the time the province joined Canada.  Essentially, whatever was funded by the responsible government that was in place in that jurisdiction prior to Confederation (i.e., joining Canada), was what was publicly funded when that jurisdiction became a province.  For example, in 1867 there existed both a publicly funded public system and a publicly funded Catholic system in Ontario.  So when Canada was created, both systems were publicly funded in the Province of Ontario.  Similarly, in Newfoundland and Labrador there existed a publicly funded Anglican, United Church, Salvation Army, Catholic, and Pentecostal systems of education.  After 1949 (i.e., when Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada), all of these systems continued to be publicly funded (although the Anglican, United Church, and Salvation Army education systems eventually merged in the 1960s to form a single integrated system).  In fact, it took a constitutional amendment in the 1990s to create a single public education system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the same way there are publicly funded brick-and-mortar Catholic education schools and districts, many of these provinces also have Catholic online learning programs.  For example, in the Province of Ontario these programs are represented by the cooperative Ontario Catholic e-Learning Consortium.  Even some of the limited research into K-12 online learning in Canada is focused on Catholic education.  Research studies by Litke in the Journal of Distance Education and by Tunison and Noonan in the Canadian Journal of Education were conducted in Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

In provinces where Catholic education is not publicly funded, many brick-and-mortar school and K-12 online learning programs have chosen to establish themselves under independent school regulations/legislation (i.e., private schools).  For example, in British Columbia the provincial government provides 50% of the funding to independent schools and numerous K-12 online learning programs have been created under these regulations (this has been recently increased to 62%).  In fact, the largest K-12 online learning program in all of Canada is a Catholic online learning program (i.e., Heritage Christian Online School with over 3000 students).

Many of the specifics of publicly funded Catholic K-12 online learning has been outlined in the annual State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada reports, including specific vignettes that highlight individual programs and brief issue papers that feature some of the outreach activities undertaken by some of these Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at

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