Virtual School Meanderings

May 22, 2016

Expert Tips: How to Improve Learning in Your Online Class

From Friday’s inbox…

Distance Teaching and Learning Conference: Immerse yourself in learning. Reward yourself in Madison. August 9-11.
Expert tips: How to Improve Learning in Your Online Classes

This year’s DT&L Conference program includes many of the nation’s leading experts in distance and online education. We’ve asked a few of our speakers to share some practical and simple tips for improving online learning.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Thomas J. Tobin
Northeastern Illinois University

When it comes to accessibility, stop thinking ONLY about learners with disabilities. Think about all of your students and how they access your course materials. Give them more time for personal study through wider access to materials, interactions, and engagement throughout your course. Think of the single mother who put her kids to bed, but still wants to watch your video lecture materials. She pulls up an app on her smartphone, turns the sound off and the captions on, and the kids stay asleep. She finds an extra hour to study she didn’t think she had before. Offering just one more way to get or give information transforms “accessibility” into just plain “access” –for everybody.

Creating Online Instructor Presence
Simone C.O. Conceição
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Creating presence in an online course requires a psychological sensitivity to the dynamic interplay between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Too often online communication focuses on the cognitive aspects of learning, while ignoring the emotional dimensions. Because the online environment is elusive, there is a need to create a sense of being “real” in a text‑based environment. Using emoticons or words that communicate a sense of excitement can help stimulate discussion and provide a feeling of being present with others.

Here’s one example: when giving feedback to students in an online forum, an unemotional and formal response might be: “Your comments were well-grounded in evidence‑based research.” Instead, consider adding a little emotional excitement by saying “I’m delighted to see that you included evidence‑based research in your posts.” Although subtle, conveying appropriate emotional excitement gives your learners an increased sense of your presence in the online environment.

Authentic task‑based learning in online courses
Thomas Reeves
University of Georgia

A common deficiency in both online and classroom courses is the presentation of content without context. One solution is to incorporate authentic, or real‑world, scenarios into the curriculum, typically by asking students to collaborate on a real‑world problem. Learners benefit by both working together to define the challenge and then preparing a plan that also documents individual and shared contributions. Through authentic tasks, students actively engage in the learning process and naturally collaborate.

While these collaborations can be brief, the best authentic tasks tend to be more complex and time‑consuming, often requiring work spread over several weeks. Remember, most online learners need considerable structure and guidance from facilitators to both successfully complete the tasks and improve their collaboration skills.

Register now for the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference, sponsored by the University of Wisconsin‑Madison, August 9‑11, 2016, at Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin.
Questions? Contact Kimary Peterson • kimary.peterson@wisc.edu608‑265‑4159
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Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature…

Worth A Read

Building a better school board

Posted: 18 May 2016 09:00 PM PDT

Ted Roelofs discusses the difficulties encountered by school board members in Michigan. “The job description is not exactly enticing: Crummy or non-existent pay. Long meetings. And the prospect of fights over anything from school closings, to sex education, to the resignation of a basketball coach.”

Far from top ten in education, Michigan is falling further behind the rest of the nation

Posted: 18 May 2016 09:00 PM PDT

Education Trust-Midwest released a new report, ‘Michigan’s Talent Crisis: The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan’s Broken Public Education System,’ on Thursday. “In addition to providing a comprehensive report on the status of public education in Michigan, the new report outlines specific next steps for Michigan to systemically improve its K-12 education system based on strategies proven [sic] to work in leading states across the country.”

The ‘Intolerable’ Fight Over School Money

Posted: 17 May 2016 09:00 PM PDT

Cory Turner, NPREd, discusses ongoing negotiations and tensions stemming from school funding changes under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Study: To Close the Achievement Gap, Close the Resource Gap

Posted: 15 May 2016 09:00 PM PDT

The Education Testing Service (ETS) released a new report this week. The report, ‘Mind the Gap: 20 Years of Progress and Retrenchment in School Funding, Staffing Resources & Achievement Gaps,’ was written by Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University and Danielle Farrie and David G. Sciarra of the Education Law Center (ELC) of New Jersey. “Using over twenty years of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data on revenue and expenditures for schools, the authors explore the relationship between substantive and sustained school finance reforms and improved student outcomes. They focus on income inequality — specifically child poverty — for evaluating gaps in those educational resources and outcomes.”

Detroit schools’ decline and teacher sickout reflect bad economy and demographic shifts

Posted: 14 May 2016 09:00 PM PDT

Joy Resmovits discusses the impact of recent teacher sickouts for the Detroit Public School System (DPS). “The distrust and financial insecurity that exploded this month followed years of buildup — a mounting deficit, dramatically declining enrollment and management by one state-appointed official after another. The problems paralleled Detroit’s overall downturn as it lost population and jobs as industry declined.”

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst, I received the alert for virtual school, but there were no relevant items.

Next, I also received the alert for cyber school, and again there were no relevant items.

Finally, I did not receive the alert for K-12 online learning.

So nothing to report this week…

May 21, 2016

Hear From The Real Education Experts

From Thursday’s inbox…

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America's Promise Alliance - Making the promise of America real for every child
America’s Promise BulletinMay 19, 2016

10 Facts About Low-Grad-Rate High Schools

Figure 10
Nationwide, 33 percent of all non-graduates in 2014 were enrolled in high schools with a graduation rate of 67 percent or less. Find out more about high schools where graduation is not the norm, along with recommendations for change.
Get the facts

The Power of High Expectations

"I can attribute every single postive thing in my life right now to [Year Up Bay Area]. It was a life-changing program." - Peter Ortiz
Before working with Year Up Bay Area, Peter Ortiz slept on park benches. Today, he works full-time at PayPal. What exactly did Year Up do? Probably not what you’d expect.
Read Peter’s story

Hear from the Real Experts

Youth Day at the Capitol
What if young people were the ones advising lawmakers about education policy? And what if students brainstormed solutions to the problems in their schools? We don’t have to guess—it’s happening. And it’s pretty awesome.
See what students are doing
May is National Foster Care Month
National Foster Care Month
Communities and organizations are hosting events, webinars, social media chats and more to increase awareness of the more than 415,000 youth in foster care and the need to support them.
Find out more

See Future Energy Engineers at Work

Youth Opportunity Fund - Their Genius is Latent
The Engineering Environmental Innovation program in Los Angeles trains low-income high school students for careers in energy engineering and sustainability.
What gets the students engaged?

Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities
These grants and funding opportunities are accepting applicants. The opportunities are not offered through America’s Promise Alliance, but each refers to one or more of our Five Promises. If you have questions, please follow the links provided in each item.
See the full list of funding opportunities
GradNation Community Summits
GradNation Community Summits are happening in 100 communities nationwide! Leaders from businesses, civic organizations, nonprofits, local government, public schools, higher education, foundations and faith-based organizations are joining with parents and young people to develop a blueprint to accelerate progress. Learn more.

Upcoming GradNation Community Summits

GradNation Community Summit Recaps

Find out how cross-sector collaborations lead to local solutions at Community Summits around the country.

Find a summit in your community
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[CNIE-L] ICDE Newsletter – 18 May 2016

From Friday’s inbox…

ICDE Newsletter – 18 May 2016  


Register today for the 2016 ICDE Presidents’ Summit (20-23 November, 2016, Sydney, Australia)

The 2016 ICDE Presidents’ Summit, hosted by Charles Sturt University, will be held 20-23 November 2016 at Cronulla Beach near Sydney, Australia.  The 2016 ICDE Presidents’ Summit entitled ‘A New Era of Leadership and Quality: The Business of Open and Distance Learning 2020’ will focus on new trends in executive leadership, changing paradigms, and innovative approaches for distributed leadership and management practice.

The Summit theme will focus on sharing creative and innovative new approaches to leadership, continuous quality improvement and new regional, national and global partnership models. The broader goal of the 2016 President’ Summit is to empower leaders to take a critical look at their own leadership approaches and tap the input from fellow delegates in reformulating their leadership 2020 strategy.

For more information and to register click here…

Latest issue of Open Praxis online: Vol 8, No 2 (2016)

Open Praxis, ICDE’s peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal focusing on research and innovation in open, distance and flexible education, has released its latest issue and first issue for 2016. This issue of Open Praxis compiles selected papers presented at the Open Education Consortium Global Conference, held in Krakow (Poland) on April 12-14, 2016. Read the journalhere…

Register now for the following ICDE  Webinars:

Webinar on SciPro: Thursday 26 May, 15:00 (Oslo time)

SciPro (Scientific Process) is an IT support system for management and supervision of theses at bachelor, master and PhD education levels. It can manage theses at a whole university, fulfilling administrators’, supervisors’ and students’ needs during the whole process from start to finish. Henrik Hansson associate professor at Stockholm University, ICDE member, will conduct a webinar about SciPro on Thursday 26th May at 15.00 (Oslo time), explaining concepts, provide demo and answer questions. Register here!

Webinar on publication of “Teaching Science Online”: Tuesday June 21, 15:00 (Oslo time)

This book presents the guidance of expert science educators from the US and from around the globe. They describe key concepts, delivery modes and emerging technologies, and offer models of practice. The book places particular emphasis on experimentation, lab and field work as they are fundamentally part of the education in most scientific disciplines. For more information and to register here!

Call for interest – 28th ICDE World Conference 2019

The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) is pleased to announce a Call for interest for the 28th ICDE World Conference scheduled for 2019 and asks member institutions to submit declarations of interest for hosting this conference. More information…

Mark your calendar and sign-up today: ICDE 2017 World Conference

The ICDE 2017 World Conference on Online, Open and Flexible Learning  will convene in Toronto Canada: October 17 -19 October and will be hosted & organised by Contact North | Contact Nord.To recieve updates and information visit

The 2017 ICDE Presidents’ Summit will be held from the 15-16  October. More information will be available shortly.

ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources – call for proposals

ICDE is considering the extension of the network of ICDE Chairs in Open Educational Resources (OER). The network, where possible, works in collaboration with UNESCO and existing UNESCO Chairs in OER. For more information click here…


  • 2016 Presidents’ Summit: 20-23 November 2016, Sydney, Australia
  • ICDE International Conference, 10-11 March, 2017, Pune, India
  • 2017 Presidents’ Summit 15-16 October, 2017, Toronto, Canada
  • 27TH ICDE World Conference, 17-19 October, 2017, Toronto, Canada

ICDE Member and Partner News and Events

Call for nominations: Wenhui (文晖) Award for Educational Innovation 2016 “Innovative Partnerships for Quality Inclusive Education”

ICDE members who are interested in the UNESCO call for nominations for 2016 Wenhui (文晖) Award for Educational Innovation 2016 can submit applications to ICDE before 27 June 2016. As an official partner to UNESCO, ICDE is eligible to submit nominations for the Wenhui (文晖) Award for Educational Innovation. More information…

Athabasca University’s new publication: Learning in virtual Worlds

ICDE member Athabasca University has released a new book in April called: “Learning in Virtual Worlds: Research and Applications”. The book is edited by Sue Gregory, Mark J.W. Lee, Barney Dalgarno, and Belinda Tynan (ICDE Executive Committee member). More information…

Universitas Terbuka: The Ideal Education Institution for Professionals

Since 1984, UT has been providing open and distance higher education for Indonesian citizens and foreigners. Everyone has the same opportunity to continue their education, regardless of the profession, age, and place of living. Orginal version in Indonesian here. For translation to English click here.

Register for UNESCO-UNIR ICT & Education Latam Congress 2016: an opportunity to boost Educational Technology research

UNESCO-UNIR ICT & Education Latam Congress 2016 is born with the drive of: “Integration of formal and informal contexts, for a better learning and a better teaching”. UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE,Moscow, Russia), Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR Research, Spain) and UNESCO Chair on eLearning at UNIR are the organizers of this event to be held in Bogota, Colombia, from June, 22nd to 24th, 2016. More information…

Reports, Resources and Projects

Open Educational Resources: Policy, Costs and Transformation

UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning have worked with several governments and educational
institutions since the OER Paris Declaration to promote the use and adoption of appropriate OER policies and practices. In this publication the editors have identified 15 case studies that document the developments since the 2012 Paris Declaration on OER from the lens of policy, costs and transformation. While national policy development and adoption have been modest, the case studies show the preliminary successes and pitfalls in changing mindsets from a copyright-only regime to a more flexible and open licence practice. More information…

EDUCAUSE: The Hidden Treasures Found with Change Leadership Training

Ana Borray, Director of IPASS Implementation Services EDUCAUSE, provides her insights into change in leadership training. More information…

EDUCAUSE: Down the Rabbit Hole? 3 Key Takeaways for Higher Ed Business Models

Holly E. Morris, Director of Postsecondary Model Development and Adoption, NGLC gives you some key takeaways for higher education. More information…

International News Quick Links:

To stay updated on international news on open, online, distance education keep an eye on the ICDE news page.

 Events Listing:

Members who wish to feature their news, events and projects, please email with the subject header ‘NEWS’.

Become a member of ICDE

ICDE President’s Summit 2016 

27th ICDE World Conference


International Council For Open And Distance Education

International Council For Open And Distance Education • Lilleakerveien 23, Oslo, 0283, Norway •+4722062632

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