Virtual School Meanderings

August 31, 2019

Statistics for August 2019

This entry is being posted back-dated.

A very quick statistics entry this month.  In August 2019 there were 2,335 hits from 1,245 distinct visitors.  This was approximately 100 more hits and 100 more visitors than we saw in July 2019.  However, it was also about 1,000 less hits and 700 fewer visitors from August 2018.

The top ten entries this past month were:

  1. We Missed You at Last Week’s Webinar
  2. EDTECH537 – Potential Hazards Of Blogging
  3. EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: Civil Rights and Online Learning
  4. Special Offer For Your Family From K12
  5. EDTECH537 – Image Entry: E-Learning In Ontario And Broadband Access
  6. Student Holiday Notice
  7. FLVS And Web 2.0
  8. EDTECH537 – Video Entry: E-Learning In Ontario And Shades Of Grey
  9. DLAC 2019 – Blending Assessment: Shifting Pen & Paper to the Digital World
  10. FLVS now offers ACT/SAT prep!

Finally, the statistics from my old blog site – which for the very first time generated no traffic at all!!!
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August 17, 2019

EDTECH537 – End Of Course

Approximately seven weeks ago I posted an entry entitled EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom that described a course I have been teaching for the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University this summer semester.  As today is the final day of the course, I wanted to post an annual summary entry.  So during the semester I have posted weekly messages to describe what I was asking the students to do and the readings I had assigned.

I have also posted entries for all of the activities I have asked of the students:

I have also posted sample blog entries for each of the different types of entries that I have asked of the students.

Finally, during Week 5 I asked the students to participate in blogging in three different formats (and posted a sample entry for one of those):

I always post this summary message for those folks who haven’t been following along for the past seven weeks, as I suspect this will be the closest I ever get to one of those # days to a better blog series.

August 14, 2019

EDTECH537 – Blogging Plan

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course yesterday, today I wanted to post a sample of a blogging plan.

In my fairly standard fashion, I wanted to include a couple of screen shots from Google Calendar that outlined my general blogging plans for the next two months.

Note that I can predict some of the regular entries that come on my blog – and I excluded the MarketBeat updates for K12, Inc. and Pearson Education and the corporate alerts for K12, Inc. that I tend to post each day (or at least each day I receive them).  So the only original entries that I have planned are those around my attending the CANeLearn Summer Summit and the annual NEPC Fellows Meeting.

August 13, 2019

EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: Working To Measure and Improve Blended Teacher Readiness

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course yesterday, today I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

Jered Borup is the professor-in-charge of George Mason University’s Blended and Online Learning in Schools Master’s and Certificate programs that are devoted to improving teacher practices in online and blended learning environments.  In this guest blog entry, Jered has taken the lead – along with his co-authors Charles R. Graham (Brigham Young University), Cecil Short (Brigham Young University), and Leanna Archambault (Arizona State University) – in discussing their book “K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration.”

Like many familiar to you, school districts near us are adopting one-laptop-per-child initiatives. What’s less clear is how those laptops are to be used. Placing laptops in front of students will not magically improve student learning—or even change much of anything in a meaningful way. However, if leveraged correctly, the technology does provide excellent opportunities when paired with blended teaching professional development. Even when a school district is eager to provide professional development, administrators are left wondering where to focus their limited resources. Similarly, the few teacher-preparation programs that provide meaningful coursework designed to prepare students for blended teaching lack clear standards to guide their course work.

To address this need, our team worked to develop open resources that school districts and professors can freely use to guide and focus efforts to prepare teachers for the blended classroom. It was important that the resources be grounded in research. The research began with Pulham and Graham’s (2018) extensive review of existing online and blended teaching competencies. Using insights from this research, Graham, Borup, Pulham, and Larsen (2019) developed and statistically validated a survey instrument that measured teachers’ confidence completing specific blended teaching skills that were grouped into several categories. We began calling it the process model because the categories largely followed the steps teachers would take to plan, facilitate, and evaluate blended learning activities for their students. While the process model instrument made an important contribution, we found it to be too long to be used repeatedly. We came to believe that an instrument focused on pedagogy—rather than process—would be more useful. As a result, we developed a new instrument that focused on the following four sets of competencies in addition to foundational technology skills and dispositions (see Figure 1):

  • Online Integration – the ability to effectively combine online instruction with in-person instruction.
  • Data Practices – the ability to use digital tools to monitor student activity and performance in order to guide student growth.
  • Personalization – the ability to implement a learning environment that allows student customization of goals, pace, and/or learning path.
  • Online Interaction – the ability to facilitate online interactions with and between students.

You can access the survey online at: http://bit.ly/K12-BTR 

Figure 1. Four core competencies for effective blended teaching built on a foundation of technology skills and dispositions.

We used the pedagogical model to create an online, open textbook rich with examples, resources, and media. The book, K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration, is now free to anyone to use at https://edtechbooks.org/k12blended. We believe the survey and the book combine to create an especially valuable resource. We encourage you to explore both the survey and the book and share them with anyone who would benefit from them. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please send your comments to jborup@gmu.edu.

References

Graham, C. R., Borup, J., Pulham, E. B., & Larsen, R. (2019). K-12 blended teaching readiness: Model and instrument development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 51(3), 239-258. DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2019.1586601

Pulham, E. B., & Graham, C. R. (2018). Comparing k-12 online and blended teaching competencies: A literature review. Distance Education, 39(3), 411-432.http://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2018.1476840

Jered Borup is the professor-in-charge of George Mason University’s Blended and Online Learning in Schools Master’s and Certificate programs. A full list of his publications can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/jeredborup/  As is the pattern here at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry posted today.

 

August 12, 2019

EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: How Does An Online Course Become (And Stay) Available For K-12 Students?

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course earlier this morning, today I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

Jason Siko has held appointments at Madonna University and Grand Valley State University.  Prior to entering the academy he was a high school biology and chemistry teacher in the metro Detroit area.  Jason’s research is primary focus on K-12 online and blended learning.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “There’s no such thing as a bad medical school. If you graduate bad doctors or ones that can’t pass the licensing exams, they’ll shut you down.” The same could likely be said about law schools. The point I’m trying to make is that there are mechanisms in place for the quality control in some areas of education. Heck, the same could be said about restaurants: even with variations in oversight and regulations from health inspectors, Yelp! ratings matter. If people get sick, or see rats coming out of the kitchen, you know that restaurant will not be around much longer.

However, when we look at K-12 online learning, we see a different story. Course pass rates for online courses pale in comparison to their face-to-face counterparts, yet the growth of online learning at the K-12 level continues. States and third-party providers continue to grow their programs and add new courses. How does the process of getting a course approved and keeping it in the catalog work? In this post I’ll provide an overview of how some states handle this process.

Generally speaking, states can require approval at the course level or the provider level, or both. These processes are fairly self-explanatory; at the course level, the course must meet whatever guidelines are dictated by the state before being accessible by students, while at the provider level, it is the provider who must meet requirements before being allowed to provide/administer online courses in the state. In some states (e.g., California), approval of courses is optional. Finally, some states have different approval options based on whether the course is created for use within a district or if students from multiple districts are allowed to enroll.

As you can see, there is little followup based on student performance once the course is “live.” Two states, Washington and Colorado, have made efforts to include elements of continued approval of courses based on performance and student attendance, but they are still in their infancy. What challenges do you see (i.e., political, logistical, economic, etc.) with creating a system of oversight that monitors (with consequences) online course success rates based on student performance?

Note: Some of the information in this article comes from the following source.

Barbour, M. K., Clark, T., Siko, J. P., DeBruler, K., & Bruno, J. (2019). Cases of quality: Case studies of the approval and evaluation of K-12 online and blended providers. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 22(1). Retrieved from https://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring221/barbour_clark_siko_debruler_bruno221.html

Jason Siko, Ph.D., is a researcher whose primary focus is K-12 online and blended learning.

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