Virtual School Meanderings

July 20, 2015

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. Retrieved from http://imweb.uio.no/konferanser/skikt-02/docs/Researching_ICTs_in_context-Ch11-Mortensen-Walker.pdf
  • 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.

The final thing I have asked them to do is to continue using Twitter throughout the week, and to use the hashtag #EDTECH537 for all class related tweets.

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

July 15, 2015

EDTECH537 – Discussion Entry: Are Virtual Schools Really An Answer?

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 3 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a discussion entry.

For some time, I had this opinion piece saved as a draft entry in my queue to write about and haven’t gotten around to it until now.

Are virtual schools really an answer?

By Steve Perry, special to HLN
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Mon April 30, 2012

Editor’s note: Steve Perry is HLN’s education contributor and the founder and principal of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. He is also the author of “Man Up!: Nobody is Coming to Save Us,” which offers solutions to problems in the black community.

Online learning is the most important educational advance in our lifetime. We’ve come to see school as a place as opposed to a process. Online learning reminds us that learning is not determined by where, but by how kids are taught. Schooling is not place, it’s a process. Brick and mortar schools like mine are as cutting edge as rotary phones.

When we think of online learning, we should understand that it ranges from a Wikipedia search to formal courses. The battle line over online learning is in K-12. Here is where generations of educational rules are being ripped to shreds by parents, children, reformers and social entrepreneurs. They’ve all seen the limits of the 19th century schools our children are in today.

[To continue reading, click here.]

Given everything that we know about the actual delivery of K-12 online learning – particularly full-time K-12 online learning or cyber schooling – it does beg the question in a legitimate fashion…

Are virtual schools really an answer?

July 14, 2015

EDTECH537 – List Entry: What Makes Effective Professional Development?

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 3 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a list entry.

So a colleague and friend of mine wrote a blog entry entitled What makes for effective PLD? (from Derek Wenmoth’s Blog).  In that entry, Derek describes a meeting in which attended where folks were talking about the issue of what makes for effective professional development, and he notes some of the things that the teachers he was meeting with recommended.

Based on his own research and understanding of the literature, Derek wrote what he felt were the key ideas for effective professional development.  He said:

Effective professional learning and development has the following four characteristics:

  1. It is in-depth
  2. It is provided over time
  3. It is related to practice
  4. It is contextually relevant

July 13, 2015

EDTECH537 – Links Entry: Funding Virtual Schools – California Edition

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 3 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a links entry.

So three and a half years ago this scrolled through my Twitter stream (and I’m only getting around to writing about it now).


Click on the image or visit http://toped.svefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2012Initiatives-OnlineBillOfRights-LAOanalysisPDF010212.pdf

The implication of the item referenced in this tweet is that K-12 online learning is less expensive to provide than face-to-face or brick-and-mortar education.  While there is some truth to that, I suspect much of those savings are due to shortcuts taken in how that K-12 online learning is designed, delivered and supported.

In any regard, I wanted to pass along some of my own writing on this topic (i.e., the funding/costing of K-12 online learning) that folks may be interested in reviewing:

1. Molnar, A. (Ed.); Huerta, L., Barbour, M. K., Miron, G., Shafer, S. R., Gulosino, C. (2015). Virtual schools in the U.S. 2015: Politics, performance, policy, and research evidence. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

2. Molnar, A. (Ed.); Rice, J. K., Huerta, L., Shafer, S. R., Barbour, M. K., Miron, G., Gulosino, C, Horvitz, B. (2014). Virtual schools in the U.S. 2014: Politics, performance, policy, and research evidence. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

3. Barbour, M. K. (2012). Virtual schools are more cost-effective compared to traditional, brick-and-mortar schools? In K. P. Brady (Ed.), Technology in Schools: Debating Issues in American Education (pp. 84-90). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

4. Barbour, M. K. (2012). Review of “Overcoming the governance challenge in K-12 online learning.” Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

EDTECH537 – Week 3

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

  • to post a links entry to their blog (i.e., Links Entries are simply entries that provide a list of links. They can be thematic in nature or they can be a random set of links that are published every so often or at specific times. Some bloggers have even set-up their Delicious or Diigo accounts to summarize all of their links for the past week in an entry on their blog.)
  • to post a list entry to their blog (i.e., List Entries are simply entries that provide lists of things. A list of links could be described as a list of things, hence the overlap in these kinds of entries. Personally, I see List Entries as lists of non-web-based things. Some bloggers will provide lists of books or articles they would recommend or the top # of apps for some mobile device or their # favourite movies. The list can be about anything at all really.)
  • to post a discussion question entry to their blog (i.e., Discussion Question Entries are exactly as they sound, entries designed to generate discussion. Typically they are self-contained and have a short introduction to give the reader some context and then attempt to pose an open-ended question. Some bloggers will base their discussion question on something they have read or a current event. The main thing to remember about a discussion question entry is that it is designed to generate conversation among the readers of your blog.)

The readings for the students this week include:

The final thing I have asked them to do is to continue using Twitter throughout the week, and to use the hashtag #EDTECH537 for all class related tweets.

Later today I will be post an example of a links entry, tomorrow I will post an example of a list entry, and on Wednesday I will post an example of a discussion question entry.

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