Virtual School Meanderings

May 31, 2017

Modern Tools for a Modern Education | K-12 Blended Learning

From Monday’s inbox…

Modern Tools for Modern Education
K-12 Personalized Learning Strategies

THE Journal Whitepaper

Hi Michael,

Students are in need of a broader set of skills to be successful in today’s world. In order to provide these skills, the K-12 classroom is shifting to a blended approach to learning to create more authentic learning experiences.

In this complimentary whitepaper, find out how two school districts are currently making the transition by building a sustainable and scalable learning model, providing professional learning experience for teachers, and achieving a positive impact on student outcomes.

Modern Tools for a Modern Education Download your copy to see how K-12 districts are accomplishing their vision for education, including:

  • Help every kid reach their full potential
  • Changing the professional culture
  • “Go slow to go fast”
  • Develop a successful partnership
  • And more!

Download Today!

Sponsored by Dell and Microsoft

1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311

May 15, 2017

Cathy Cavanaugh uploaded “Barriers to Online Education in a Developing Country: The Case of Nepal. In Clark, T. & Barbour, M., Eds., Online and Distance Education in Schools: Global Perspectives on Policy and Practice. Stylus.” and 7 other papers

Many of these open access items are K-12 distance, online, and blended learning related.

Hi Michael,

Cathy Cavanaugh uploaded papers on

Barriers to Online Education in a Developing Country: The Case of Nepal. In Clark, T. & Barbour, M., Eds., Online and Distance Education in Schools: Global Perspectives on Policy and Practice. Stylus.

by Cathy Cavanaugh

In many nations, e-learning for elementary and secondary students is seen as a solution to several educational problems, including crowded schools, shortages of secondary courses needed by remedial or accelerated students, lack of access to qualified teachers in a local school, and students who n…

Mobile Learning Transformation in a National Higher Education System

by Cathy Cavanaugh

This education transformation research synthesis focuses on the year encompassing planning and initial implementation of a mobile learning ecosystem throughout a country’s higher education system, examined through the lens of organizational congruence as the theory underpinning digital transforma…

Blended Education for Elementary and Secondary Students

by Cathy Cavanaugh

Every teacher constructs a unique learning environment for students. Cathy Cavanaugh explores how today’s teachers are successfully blending physical and virtual spaces in ways never before possible.

Research into K-12 Online & Blended Learning

by Cathy Cavanaugh

To truly understand K-12 online and blended learning research, you have to dig deeper into the components that make up K-12 online and blended learning. In other words, there are so many variations in design, instruction, facilitation, purpose, and content, no single study will answer everything …

K-12 Mobile Learning

by Cathy Cavanaugh

Mobile devices have been the focus of a push in many nations and internationally as part of efforts to achieve greater literacy and numeracy among students. Research has shown a strong link between Internet usage, the spread of broadband in a country, and its GDP. Those countries that are the hig…

Participation in the Virtual Environment of Blended College Courses: An Activity Study of Student Performance

by Cathy Cavanaugh

This paper describes a study of success factors in the introductory semester of liberal studies blended courses offered at the Bachelor of Science level. The influence of student participation in the online course environment was examined, as measured by the number of times students logged into t…

A Call to Action for Research in Digital Learning: Learning Without Limits of Time, Place, Path, Pace…or Evidence

by Cathy Cavanaugh

This essay is a call for rethinking our approach to research in digital learning. It plots a path founded in social trends and advances in education. A brief review of these trends and advances is followed by discussion of what flattened research might look like at scale. Scaling research in digi…

KILIMANJARO: ADVENTURE AND SERVICE LEARNING ABROAD Kilimanjaro: A Case of Meaningful Adventure and Service Learning Abroad

by Cathy Cavanaugh

This qualitative evaluation explored how female undergraduate students developed an understanding of themselves and the broader world as a result of an adventure and service learning experience in Tanzania, Africa. The project built upon theoretical frameworks regarding meaningful learning—active…

The Team

P.S. A study recently published in PLOS ONE found that papers uploaded to receive a 69% boost in citations over 5 years. See the study and data here., 251 Kearny St., Suite 520, San Francisco, CA, 94108

May 6, 2017

TLA Update: A Growing Movement

From yesterday’s inbox…

Logo JPG
Spring Update
May 2017
Dear Friends,
A few weeks ago, TLA joined the Highlander Institute and Clayton Christensen Institute in hosting the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. More than one thousand educators and leaders joined from across the country, and we explored topics ranging from the nitty-gritty of in-the-classroom strategy to broader areas like equity, adult cultures, and learning science.

As I listened to and learned from these practitioners leaders, I was struck by the sector’s enormous progress since TLA launched our work. No longer are we stuck in the theoretical. We’ve moved beyond ideation to in-the-trenches implementation, integration, and adaptation. Surely, there are many questions to be answered, ideas to be shared, and collective barriers to overcome. But we have more energy available than ever to realize the vision of highly personalized, data-rich, mastery-based learning for every student in every school.
I hope you’ll join us next year.

Recent Activities
TLA Selected for New Profit Personalized Learning Initiative
TLA is thrilled to be one of seven organizations
recently selected by New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization, to receive a one million dollar, four-year grant for our work in personalized learning. The initiative is supported by a collaboration between the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We will be joined by the Highlander Institute, imBlaze (Big Picture Learning), iNACOL, PowerMyLearning,
The Teachers Guild Personalized Learning Design Journey
TLA will be teaming up this fall with The Teachers Guild, a non-profit incubated by IDEO’s Design for Learning Studio, to run a 10-week design journey on personalized learning. To kick-off this collaboration, we invite your educator networks to participate in a “sprint” on personalized learning. Share a favorite artifact – whether it’s a lesson, unit, or general resource – used to personalize learning for students. Find out more here.

Networking Learning Through TLA ThinkTanks
With generous funding from the Overdeck Family Foundation, we’ve launched the TLA ThinkTank project to understand and network regional and national supports for blended and personalized learning. We’re convening diverse groups of education leaders in eight geographic regions across the U.S. By identifying shared problems of practice and common challenges, and deeply mapping local needs and assets, TLA will build and openly share a comprehensive analysis of blended and personalized learning ecosystems and progress, as well as connect leaders to accelerate the scale of high-quality blended learning. We plan to disseminate results of the first phase of this initiative in fall 2017.
Communications Planning for Innovation in Education
TLA partnered with Education Elements to update and expand our popular communications planning guide for districts shifting to blended and personalized learning. The new guide provides a streamlined planning process, as well as real-world examples from school districts across the country, and offers up-to-date resources and artifacts.
TLA Impact Stories
TLA recently released a series of Impact Stories that illustrate how TLA works to create solutions to the barriers which prevent blended and personalized learning from reaching scale. The initial stories address our work with Internet Connectivity, Open Education Resources, and Human Capital.
TLA in the News
“Beyond Technology: Blended Learning Conference Debates Equity, Cultural Inclusion” –  EdSurge: An in-depth review of the sold-out 6th annual Blended and Personalized Learning Conference in Rhode Island.
“Solving the Problem of ‘Teaching to the Middle'” – ASCD Express: TLA Partner Juliana Finegan writes about how to personalize learning to reach all students, based on real teachers and real experiences.
“Tech’s Favorite School Faces Its Biggest Test: the Real World” – Wired: TLA CEO Beth Rabbitt is quoted in this overview of the current challenges and successes of personalized learning.
“3 ways to keep education innovation alive at your school” – eSchool News: Thomas Arnett, with the Christensen Institute, highlights TLA Partner Saro Mohammed’s Measurement Agenda as a noteworthy effort to ensure that blended learning continue to make progress in producing improved student outcomes.
“What student choice and agency actually looks like” – eSchool News: TLA Partner Daniel Owens highlights specific strategies from six schools profiled in TLA’s Blended & Personalized Learning Practices At Work site.
“Schools Shift to Free, Public-Domain Curricula” – Wall Street Journal (paywall): This national story gives an overview of the OER landscape and features the work of Open Up Resources, an early TLA incubation project.
“New Profit Dishes Out $1M to 7 Organizations in Personalized Learning Initiative” – EdSurge: A news story that reports TLA’s receipt of a major grant from New Profit to be part of its Personalized Learning Initiative.
Thank you for your support!
Beth Rabbitt, CEO
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The Learning Accelerator, 10605 Farallone Drive, Cupertino,, CA 95014

February 21, 2017

Book Notice – Online, Blended, and Distance Education: Building Successful School Programs (Online Learning and Distance Education)

So this showed up in my mail last week.



If you are interested in this volume, I have posted some information about it below.


Clark, Tom, & Barbour, Michael. K. (Eds.). (2015). Online, Blended and Distance Education: Building Successful School Programs. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishers. 256 pp.

Book Summary

This new title in Stylus Publisher’s Online, Blended and Distance Education series begins with a Series Editor Foreword by Michael G. Moore, the top U. S. academic in the field, and a Foreword by Cathy Cavanaugh, internationally renowned online and blended researcher and Director of Teaching and Learning in Worldwide Education at Microsoft.

Internationally, an explosion of K–12 online and blended learning activity has occurred in the last few years. In conceiving this book, Co-Editors Tom Clark and Michael K. Barbour asked, what can North American educators learn from international K–12 educators, and vice versa, about building successful online and blended learning programs?  They then went about finding the people and programs who could help them answer these questions.

The book features chapters by well-known experts in the field on key program components such as teaching, curriculum, and technology, and key issues such as educational equity, the controversy over full-time online schools, and the emergence of blended learning. It also features case studies by experienced practitioners who profile a wide variety of programs in the U.S. and five other nations, looking at challenges, lessons learned and effective practices for achieving program success.

In their overview chapter, the co-editors describe the current status of K-12 online and blended learning in North America and around the world. In the final chapter of the book, they summarize what chapter authors had to say about challenges and lessons learned and key policy and practice issues. Clark and Barbour conclude by presenting eight key trends (Global, Blended, Teacher-Facilitated, Personalized, Adaptive, Mobile, Open, and Evidence-Based) that can guide effective practice in K-12 online, blended, and distance education.

About the Editors 

Tom Clark is president of TA Consulting. In this role, he has undertaken many successful evaluations for state and federal agencies, universities, school districts, museums, and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He led the evaluation of a five-year, $9.1 million project for online professional development and K–12 online learning funded through the U.S. Department of Education. TA Consulting served as contractor for team-based evaluations in the 2000s of state virtual school programs in Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri, and the Chicago Public Schools Virtual High School. Dr. Clark has many related publications. He co-edited Virtual Schools: Planning for Success (2005) with Dr. Zane Berge; coauthored one of the first American books in the field, Distance Education: The Foundations of Effective Practice (1991), with Dr. Richard Verduin; and authored an early overview of K–12 online learning in the United States, Virtual Schools: Status and Trends (2001). Recognized as an author in distance and online learning in Who’s Who in America, he was an advisor for U.S. Department of Education’s Evaluating Online Learning (2008).

Michael Barbour is Director of Doctoral Studies for the Isabelle Farrington College of Education and an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Sacred Heart University in Fairlfield, Connecticut. He completed his PhD in instructional technology from the University of Georgia. Originally from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Barbour’s interest in K–12 distance education began after accepting his first high school teaching position in a regional high school in a rural community of approximately 3,500 people. Having been educated in an urban area, Michael was troubled by the inequity of opportunity provided to his rural students and began a program to offer Advanced Placement (i.e., university-level) social studies courses over the Internet to students at his own school and other schools in the district. For more than a decade now, Michael has worked with numerous K–12 online learning programs in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and around the world as an online teacher, course developer, administrator, evaluator, and researcher. His current research interests focus on the effective design and delivery of online learning to K–12 students in virtual school environments, particularly those in rural areas.

Please note that as one of the editors of this book, I do receive royalties on the sale of this volume.

February 20, 2017

Inquiring into Presence as Support for Student Learning in a Blended Learning… –

From one of my open scholarship networks.  Several K-12 distance, online and blended learning items included below.
Mary F Rice Mary F Rice
University of KansasCurriculum & Teaching, Department Member

Inquiring into Presence as Support for Student Learning in a Blended Learning Classroom

In blended learning models, students do part of their course-work online and part in small groups with teachers in classrooms. The presence (teaching, cognitive, social) that teachers need to assert in blended environments has been the subject of much scholarly interest. The purpose of this paper is to share findings from a narrative inquiry that explored various aspects of presence in a middle level classroom. Findings are reported using a series of narrative episodes that have undergone narrative inquiry processes of burrowing, broadening , and retelling. What is described is a process…

Rodrigue Savoie

Systems, Methods, and Apparatus for Facilitating Client-Side Digital Rights Compliance

According to one aspect there is provided a method and an apparatus for facilitating intellectual property rights compliance that is compliant with a same-origin security policy that prohibits the application from executing application-specific instructions from the first domain that access application-specific instructions from the second domain. The method includes receiving a structured document from a first domain, the structured document having at least one content object, a reference to at least one digital rights compliance ( …

Stephen Downes
National Research Council CanadaInstitute for Information Technology, Department Member

Half an Hour

I’ve just posted the full text from my presentation’Education as Platform’, the talk I gave in India last week. In this presentation I outline the motivation and design of the massive open online course (MOOC) and then outline a number of criticisms of the form as it has evolved thus far. My argument is that to the extent that a MOOC focuses on content, like a traditional course, i begins to fail. A MOOC should focus on the connections, not the content. I outline some ways of focusing on connections, using connectors. By way of an example, I discuss …

Stephen Downes
National Research Council CanadaInstitute for Information Technology, Department Member

THE PISA PROCESS The Woessmann and Fuchs report, along with many others by these and other authors, was derived from a set of data obtained by the by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted in 2000. PISA wa…

First, in addition to the study of achievements in mathematics and science, PISA adds a major focus on literacy. Two thirds of the test was based on literacy, and more students were tested on literacy-174,227 in literacy, 96,855 in math and 96,758 in science.(Woessmann and Fuchs, 2004) The sample consisted of 15-year-olds in 32 countries (28 OECD countries), countries-the focus on age rather than grade” it captures students of the very same age in each country independent of the structure of national school systems.”( …

Neil Selwyn Neil Selwyn
Bookmarked by George Veletsianos

The digital labor of digital learning

Digital technologies are altering the nature of education work … not always for the best.

Greg Williams Greg Williams
Bookmarked by Mary F Rice

Empathy and the Instructional Designer

The purpose of this study was to understand how instructional designers define empathy in the context of instructional design technology and how empathy was manifest in their daily work. Through a series of in-depth interviews with six designers, three definitions of empathy emerged including caring for the learner, referencing personal experience in service of the learner, and taking on somebody else’s viewpoint. Additionally, analysis of empathy in participants’ daily work resulted in six themes: personal experience, metacognition or self awareness, project management constraints,…

Jo Tondeur Jo Tondeur
Bookmarked by Lisa Durff

Curricula and the use of ICT in education. Two worlds apart?

“In many countries, information and communication technology (ICT) has a clear impact on the development of educational curricula. In Flanders, the education government has identified and defined a framework of ICT competencies for expected outcomes, related to knowledge, skills and attitudes that pupils are expected to achieve at the end of primary school. However, it has never been examined whether teachers are using ICT in accordance with the competencies proposed by the Flemish government. In order to answer this question, a survey was conducted among 570 respondents in a stratified…

Bookmarked by Bernie Dodge

Analyzing navigation logs in MOOC: A case study

Continued use of various technological devices has massively increased the generation of digital data, which are recorded as an opportunity for research. In the educational case, it is common to analyze data generated in Learning Management Systems which allows better understand the learning process of the participants and make informed decisions for better e-learning processes and situations in which develop. This paper analyzes participants’ navigation logs in a MOOC hosted on the Coursera platform, for which a visual e-learning analytics process was performed. The results confirm that…

Danah Henriksen Danah Henriksen
Bookmarked by Lisa Durff

The seven transdisciplinary habits of mind of creative teachers: An exploratory study of award winning teachers

Although discussions of thinking skills often revolve around students and learners, it is equally important to consider habits of mind and thinking skills for successful and creative teachers. Teachers are primary mediators of thinking and learning for their students, and understanding how excellent teachers function and use thinking skills is an important, albeit often underserved, area of research. Amid the expansion of research and discussion around thinking skills in general, one approach that has garnered interest in recent years is the idea of ” transdisciplinary ” thinking—which…

Roger Dawkins Roger Dawkins
Bookmarked by Bernie Dodge

Content Strategy: A Lesson from the Industry for University Learning Analytics

This paper proposes an industry paradigm, called content strategy, for identifying data that has yet to be explored in learning analytics: student engagement data with individual online learning resources in a particular week of a course. Industry examples (including and Buzzfeed) suggest that adopting a content strategy approach to course design could increase student engagement with learning resources, making them more likely to achieve learning outcomes. Furthermore, this paper argues that there is no time left for blindness to content strategy data. Given the online context…

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