Virtual School Meanderings

July 16, 2018

EDTECH537 – Commentary Entry: Reflecting On Why Understanding Research Methodology Matters

As I mentioned in the Week 4 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course earlier this morning, I wanted to post a sample of a commentary entry.

As I prepared to write this commentary entry, the first thing I did was a search for “commentary entry” on my blog to see what I wrote about last year.  It was interesting as I reflected on all of the commentary entries that I have posted in the past as a part of my sample entries for this class.

HMH Fuse Pilot Study Will Fissle (2011)

  • this entry discussed on the flaws in the research design of a mobile learning initiative, which stemmed from a press release from the company claiming promising/wonderful results during the pilot

Comparing Apples To Apples (2011)

  • this entry focused on the fact that comparisons that are generally made between students learning online and students learning in the classroom are often like comparing apples and oranges because the samples from each population are so different

Dissecting The Arkansas Virtual Academy Study (2012)

  • this entry examined the methodological flaws of a single cyber charter school study, and how that called into question the positive results that the researchers found in favour of the cyber charter school

Examining The Neo-Liberal Response To The North Carolina Cyber Charter School Case (2012)

  • this entry looked at the way in which proponents of cyber charter schools attacked the decision in North Carolina to limit their numbers, focusing primarily on the lack or misuse of research in their arguments (as well as a healthy dose of dishonest marketing)

Examining The “Understanding And Improving Virtual Schools” Report And The Response To The Report (2013)

  • this entry described a National Education Policy Center report on cyber charter schools that found that they performed quite poorly, while serving a demographically more elite group of students – and the response from cyber charter school proponents exhibit their lack of understanding of or simple misuse of the research (as well as a healthy dose of dishonest marketing)

Complete Guide to Online High Schools: Distance Learning Options For Teens & Adults (2013)

  • this entry was actually a review of a book that Ton Nixon sent to me, which did a good job of providing a thorough listing of full-time online learning options for students (without commenting on the performance or calibre of any of the programs)

Examining Full-Time Online Student Performance in Michigan (2014)

  • this entry examined the MEAP data from Michigan (i.e., their standardized testing data) for all of the cyber charters in the state, and then questioned why policymakers would decide to expand full-time K-12 online learning based on this data)

Marketing Cyber Schooling (2015)

  • this entry simply described the marketing experience that I had with one cyber charter school

What Theory Fits A Comparison Of Virtual And F2F Learning Environments? (2015)

  • this entry outlined a request I had received from a doctoral student about their studies, and I felt the need to respond to describe to the student why their proposed study was not a methodological reliable or valid study

Online Learning And At-Risk Students (2016)

  • this entry examined the potential, based on recent research, of online credit recovery as a useful tool for student learning, and how the earlier claims were not supported by that research

The Problem With the Media Coverage of K-12 Online Learning (2017)

  • this entry dissected what I described as the intellectually dishonest and biased media coverage around cyber charter schools, and how proponents of cyber charter schools (and the media too) generally use a healthy dose of dishonest marketing to counter a lack of research evidence to support their cause

As I look through these items, you’ll notice some themes.  The first theme is that there is a general focus on how research is use, misused, and ignored within the realm of K-12 distance, online, and/or blended learning by supporters of technological initiatives, policymakers, legislators, and -at times – journalists.  The second theme is that much of what is written about and the actions taken around cyber charter schools is not supported by the available research.

I’d like to say that these observations are no longer the case, but unfortunately they are.  The current state of affairs can still be summarized as I wrote in my 2017 commentary entry:

…you have some expert that talks about the unrealized potential, and the fact that the research shows that these programs often do incredibly poorly compared to the traditional brick-and-mortar learning.  You often have some legislator or policy person or traditional brick-and-mortar personnel that is advising caution, maybe even complaining to some extent about the situation – but never to the level that is being called for by the academic [and is never willing to actually do anything about it beyond pay lip service].  Countering these positions, you have some combination of an online school official (or someone connected with the online program), a parent of an online student, and/or an online student themselves.  Invariably these three individuals are lauding the online program as being some kind of saviour for them and students like them.

And this sums up the debate around K-12 distance, online, and blended learning in the United States – and I do say in the United States specifically, because once you look outside of the US, there is a very different perception and conversation that happens around the practice of K-12 distance, online, and blended learning.  Interestingly, the main differences in the field between what occurs in the US and what occurs everywhere else is the nature and level of involvement of for-profit corporations in the education system.  And while I often advise students that correlation does not equal causality, I believe that this might be an exception to that rule!

EDTECH537 – Week 4

Today begins week four of my EDTECH537 – Blogging in the Classroom (see EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom). The students this week have a couple of blog entries that they have to complete by the end of the week (i.e., midnight on Sunday).

  • a Commentary Entry (which I described as “exactly as they sound – entries where the blogger provides a commentary about something. The ideas for these commentaries can come from any variety of places, including current events, a blog entry that someone else has posted, a comment that someone left on your blog, something you have read, etc..”
  • a Guest Blog Entry (which I described as potentially taking “the form of any kind of blog entry. So it could be a links entry or discussion question entry or a commentary entry or a list entry or anything really. The key is that it is written by someone other than the blog owner – ideally someone the blog owner solicited because they valued their perspective and wanted to share it with their readers.”)

The readings for this week included:

  • Mortensen, T., & Walker, J. (2002). Blogging thoughts: Personal publication as an online research tool. In A. Morrison (Ed), Researching ICTs in context (pp. 249–278). Oslo: InterMedia, University of Oslo.
  • Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232-247.

Later today I will post an example of a commentary entry, and tomorrow I will post an example of a guest blog.

13-15 July 2018: Google Alert – LRN

The corporate alert for K12, Inc. from this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


As-it-happens update ⋅ July 13, 2018
K12 Inc. (LRN) Chairman Sells $302897.05 in Stock

K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN) Chairman Nathaniel A. Davis sold 16,781 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, July 12th. The stock was sold at …
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Summer Screens And Shorts Coming Out

Rota Fortunae – whose hits have included Hudson (HDSN) and Link Motion (LKM) (nee NQ Mobile), counterbalanced by a miss on K12 (LRN) to date …
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As-it-happens update ⋅ July 14, 2018
Corporate Compliance Training Market to Witness Huge Growth opportunity | Leading Players …

Corporate Compliance Training Market to Witness Huge Growth opportunity | Leading Players – City & Guilds Kineo, GP Strategies, LRN, SAI Global, …
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As-it-happens update ⋅ July 15, 2018
BlackRock Inc. Has $35.42 Million Stake in K12 Inc. (LRN)

K12 logo BlackRock Inc. decreased its holdings in shares of K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN) by 2.9% in the 1st quarter, according to the company in its most …
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As-it-happens update ⋅ July 15, 2018
Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association Of America Upped Education Rlty Tr (EDR) Position …

K12 Inc (LRN) investors sentiment decreased to 1.4 in Q1 2018. It’s down -0.03, from 1.43 in 2017Q4. The ratio has worsened, as 67 funds started new …
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K12 Inc. (LRN) Chairman Sells $302897.05 in Stock

K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN) Chairman Nathaniel A. Davis sold 16,781 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, July 12th. The stock was sold at an …
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July 15, 2018

STEM, OER, What’s Working In Schools, And More: New Spotlights From Education Week

A couple of these spotlights – such as the rural education one – may be of interest to my readers.

New Spotlights From Education Week
Download Education Week Spotlights
Education Week Spotlights contain essential news and commentary on the big issues.
Download New PDFs for Free
STEM Equity & Opportunity
Open Educational Resources
What’s Working in Schools
Rural Education
Student Motivation
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Editorial Projects in Education, Inc., 6935 Arlington Road, Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814. EPE is the publisher of Education WeekMarket BriefEducation Week TeacherDigital Directions, and TopSchoolJobs.

Copyright ©2017 Editorial Projects in Education.

Dive Into Professional Learning With 10 New edWebinars

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Explore New PD Opportunities for School Leaders and Teacher Ed Candidates
Tuesday, July 17 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time


Presented by Dr. Monte Tatom, Associate Professor of Education, Freed-Hardeman University, TN

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Tuesday, July 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time


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Tuesday, July 17 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time


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Tuesday, July 17 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time


Presented by Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School, MO

Mary-Margaret Gardiner
Sarah Hadden

Now What? Using Your Classroom Setup to Create Teachable Moments
Wednesday, July 18 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time


Presented by Mary-Margaret Gardiner, CLASS Specialist, Teachstone Training; and Sarah Hadden, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Research and Professional Services, Teachstone Training
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Starting Your Makerspace
Tuesday, July 24 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time


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Tuesday, July 24 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time


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Thinking in Action: The Power of Digital Literacy
Wednesday, July 25 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time


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Support Social Development in the Early Childhood Inclusion Classroom with Music
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7 Must-Haves for Successful and Sustainable Social-Emotional Learning
Wednesday, July 25 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time


Presented by Dr. O’Tasha Morgan, District Lead School Counselor, Richland School District Two, Columbia, SC
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Supporting the Grieving Student
Thursday, July 26 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time


Presented by David J. Schonfeld, MD, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
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