Virtual School Meanderings

May 27, 2013

Online Teacher Resource – Useful Resource Or Possibly Just Fluff?

This came through my inbox back in late October…

Illustrating iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching …
“Illustrating iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching” is an eight -part series highlighting the International Association for K-12 Online

Essentially, this was a resource created by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning that included a series of videos to illustrate the various “national standards for quality online teaching.”  At present, there are eight videos there – each one aligned with one of the iNACOL standards.

I ask the question “useful resource or possibly just fluff?” because of the nature of the standards that these video illustrate.  I think that this resource could have great potential, assuming it was based on standards that have been found by independent research to be reliable and valid.  The iNACOL standards have not been through this process yet – even though several states have adopted them as their sole measure of quality.

Either way, the videos are available at:

April 3, 2011

Video from 2011 MACUL Conference Now Online!

This came through my inbox yesterday.  I’m not sure if any of the K-12 Online Learning session from the 2011 MACUL Conference are included in these videos, but just in case I thought it was worth posting.

connecting educators & enhancing learning

A message to all members of MACUL Space

2011 MACUL Conference Extras
It’s already been two weeks since 2011 MACUL Conference ended and the information sharing is continuing in your districts, on Facebook, and at MACUL Space.  We’re still sifting through photos and video from the event.  REMC MI Streamnet has just posted selected videos from the conference and they are now available to you for free including Rushton Hurley’s opening keynote and the amusingly entertaining closing keynote from Hall Davidson.  Current videos are available here.
Content will also be available at such as photos and conference blogs.  Please browse through and tag yourselves and your colleagues.  Feel free to share your blogs with us and we’ll select our favorites to post on Facebook and MACULblog.  We’ll also post your best photos and video.  Send your submissions to: with “MACUL Conference Submission” in the subject line.
MACUL Space Profile Photo Challenge
Got a favorite tech tool?  Feel like showing it off?  This week, we’re asking all MACUL Space members to find a photo or image of your favorite gadget or website and share a few words about it in your status.  Why is it so great?  What ways have you found to maximize it’s use in the classroom?  It could be your new iPad.  It could be your cellphone. It could be a great website.  Be creative and share.  You may learn something from a new MACUL Space friend when you ask them about their photos.  We’ll feature our favorites at MACUL Space.
ISTE Conference Bonus for MACUL Members
Sometimes it pays to be a MACUL member.  Literally.  March 31st was the last day for super early bird registration specials for the upcoming 2011 ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA – June 26-29, 2011. However, MACUL members get a May 1st extension – a $70 savings off the full registration price.  Just indicate that you are a MACUL member during registration.  2011 ISTE Conference information can be found here.
Educational Technology Leadership Conference
You’ll also get MACUL Member savings when you register for 2011 ETLC Conference at Muskegon Community College on April 21, 2011.  Nearly 50% of the full registration fee will be discounted, but don’t worry if you’re not a MACUL member.  The $89 registration comes with a 1-year MACUL Membership ($40 value).  For details on this offer, to register and to view a full list of presenters and sessions visit

Visit MACUL Space at:

March 21, 2011

IDEAL-NM: Online Learning in New Mexico

Someone mentioned this in my Twitter stream an hour or so ago…

Interesting video, and it also means that IDEAL-NM now has a YouTube account as well.

July 29, 2010

Synchronous Classes

This came through my Twitter stream a few days ago.

To follow the link, click on the image or visit

If you follow the link you will note that Insight Schools has a substantial number of YouTube videos posted.  In addition to the synchronous biology class linked above, there are also recordings of a synchronous mathematics class and a synchronous digital photography class.

Mathematics Digital Photography

Watch all three of them and let me know what you think. I often argue that online K-12 teachers are better synchronous teachers than they are asynchronous teachers because what they do in the synchronous classroom is more consistent with what they would have done in their traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. What do you think? Would you agree with my assessment?

July 23, 2010

Video: Learner-Centered E-Teaching – A Discussion

In an attempt to “create and publish a post that includes one embedded piece of media… [and] try to engage your audience by including a discussion question after you have embedded the media,” as was the task for the Day 4 – 7 Days To A Better EduBlog, I wanted to discuss one of the videos posted by Elizabeth Murphy related to her work on K-12 online teaching.

The video was created as a part of the Killick Centre for E-Learning Research (note: you can view all of their videos here), and it is described as:

Can you teach music over the Internet? How? Can you teach with Youtube? Nirvana? Piczo? Audacity? Billboard? Newsfeeds? Can you teach in a way that is engaging for the learner?

What does it mean to be a learner-centered teacher of music in a technology-mediated context? I created this video to answer this question. The video is a knowledge mobilization outcome that is part of of a collaborative inquiry in which Andrew Mercer(the teacher profiled in the video) and Andrea Rose, School of Music, Memorial University are participating.

In listening to the music teacher, Andrew Mercer, talk about how he uses technology to engage his students in the online environment I was impressed by the range of tools being used beyond the virtual classroom and the course management system – from Piczo to RSS feeds to podcasting to YouTubeHowever, what I didn’t hear was much beyond the typical notion that teachers need to be where the students are already.  I find this idea that we need to meet the students where they live an interesting one, because it assumes that somehow the environment they inhabit is one that is better for learning or that it is better for teachers to teach in their world than for the teacher to expect them to learn in “our world” (and I put “our world” in quotes because somehow the world of the teacher has become an old, antiquated and even useless space).  My good friend Darren has made several videos focused solely upon this premise – that teachers need to inhabit (or at least teach from) the world’s their students inhabit (see Top Education Videos of 2009-2010 for some recent examples).

I often discuss with my colleagues – both teachers who are proficient with technology and with other educational technology faculty – why technology has had so little impact upon education.  Some would argue that it is because many school’s haven’t had access to technology, although I think the work of Larry Cuban has called that notion into question.  Others have argued that it is because teacher’s haven’t been trained to integrate technology effectively into the classroom, but that would essentially means that all of the technology integrations courses in all of the teacher education programs across Canada and the United States were ineffective (which I’d suggest was highly unlikely).  More have argued that it is the older teachers that don’t use technology and influence novice teachers into following the same patterns, but the recent research from Walden University seems to blow that myth out of the water.

So there are two questions here in my opinion…  Should teachers make the effort to teach using the technology today’s students are using?  If so, how are we going to get them to do that? Some will say that the nature of today’s student demands that we do.  I’d remind those folks that the vast majority of research points to the fact that generational differences are largely overstated – and the ones related to technology and how students think or learn are total fabrications.

I know that there has been a persistent argument within the K-12 online learning field about the need for online learning because of the students’ pervasive access to and use of technology.  If you’ve ever heard one of the opening address that Susan Patrick has given at any of the last three or four Virtual School Symposiums, than you’ve heard that line of reasoning.  Personally, I believe in what the research tells me.  The research indicates that students don’t learn differently today than they have in previous generations.  The research is also fairly consistent in telling me that computer-assisted instruction (from technology integration to online learning) has minimal effects on student achievement.  The research has shown that teacher effects can have a significant impact, which means that a good teacher – with or without technology – can have a meaningful affect on their students.

Some time ago, I attended a conference on teaching and learning held at the University of Windsor.  One of the staff at their Centre for Teaching and Learning gave me a button that read: “Pedagogy before technology.”  And that is something I fear we have lost in this quest to teach where the students live.

At about the four minute mark, Andrew says, “I’m not interested in incorporating technology into my teaching practice unless there is a valid, pedagogical use for it.”  For me, this is the question we should be asking – not “Should teachers make the effort to teach using the technology today’s students are using?  If so, how are we going to get them to do that?”  What is the pedagogical value of using that shining object?

But that’s just me.  What do you think?  As you watch this video, what are your first impressions? After you’ve had a chance to sit back and mull it over, what about the video touched you the most?  Why?

Note: To see more of Elizabeth Murphy‘s videos, visit

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