Virtual School Meanderings

August 8, 2016

EDTECH537 – Image Entry: VISCED

As I mentioned in the Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, students are asked to post two entries of their choice this week. To conclude my model blogging, I wanted to post another sample of an image entry.

Specifically, I wanted to post some information about the largest initiative designed to examine K-12 online learning on an international scale.  Most of us in North America are aware of the International Association of K-12 Online Learning reports:

However, the most comprehensive work done on K-12 online learning internationally was conducted by the now defunct VISCED initiative.

You can access their work at:

EDTECH537 – Week 7

Today begins week seven or the final weeks of my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course. The students this week have a couple of blogging activities and a couple of assignments that they have to complete by the end of the week (i.e., midnight on Sunday).

The readings for this week are:

  • Kirkup, G. (2010). Academic blogging: Academic practice and academic identity. London Review of Education, 8(1), 75-84.
  • Ewins, R. (2005). Who are you? Weblogs and academic identity. E-Learning, 2(4), 368-377.

On the blogging front, they simply have to post two entries, of any kind, on any topic that interests them. The first entry should be posted by the end of the day on Wednesday, 12 August and the second entry by the end of the day on Friday, 14 August.

There are also two assignments that are due this week. The first is a Blogging Plan for the next two months. Essentially, I borrowed the activities from these two challenges:

For the second activity, they have will design an activity that uses blogs in your own classroom. I have left this assignment open-ended to allow for the variety of students and subject areas that may be taught by my BSU graduate students.

Finally, I have asked that they continue to use Twitter throughout the week, and to use the hashtag #EDTECH537 for all class related tweets.

Later this morning I will post one sample entry (a Links Entry). Tomorrow morning I will post a second sample entry (probably a Guest Blog Entry). Finally, on Wednesday morning I will post a sample entry of the Blogging Plan.

August 7, 2016

7 Day Groove Challenge – Discussion Starter Entry: Why Do The People Of Ohio Allow This?

As I mentioned on Monday, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger has issued a 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge.  I told my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom students that I would do my best to participate in this challenge fully – as a way to model different things you can do to ensure that you have a consistent stream of original blog entries.

So Darren has posted the sixth challenge for this week – Create a Discussion Starter.   For my EDTECH537 students, this is the same thing as a “Discussion Entry.”


As I have been participating in this challenge, I have blogged about the state of cyber charter schooling in Ohio (see 7 Day Groove Challenge – Story Entry: ECOTs and the Cyber Charter School Racket).  Over the past few weeks, I have seen a couple of items posted in Education Week about this issue – although not necessarily specifically about the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow or ECOT.

Essentially, these two items talk about the fact that cyber charter schools are being audited about overstating their attendance in an effort to get more state funding, and how these same cyber charter schools continue to perform quite poorly compared to brick-and-mortar charter schools and traditional public schools.  Notions that have been simmering in Ohio (and Pennsylvania for that matter) since the early 2000s.

I continue to wonder, and am asking honestly now, why does the public (and by extension those elected to represent the public) continue to allow this to happen?

7 Day Groove Challenge – How To Entry: Practitioners Guide To Reading Research

As I mentioned on Monday, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger has issued a 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge.  I told my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom students that I would do my best to participate in this challenge fully – as a way to model different things you can do to ensure that you have a consistent stream of original blog entries.

So Darren has posted the fifth challenge for this week – Create a How To Post.   As a how to entry is not one of the ones I have had my EDTECH537 students create, I figure that I should mention that Darren describes a “How To Entry” as “a piece of content that is how to in nature, a how to whatever it is that you write about.”  Now I’ll be honest and say that I don’t believe I’ve ever written an entry quite like this before, and I’m a day late in posting this because I was traveling yesterday, but here goes…


One of the most common things I often hear from practitioners is that research isn’t written for them.  Now maybe as an academic and someone who writes a lot of this, but I don’t hold teachers in such low regard that they don’t have the ability to read and understand published research.  I think it is quite pejorative to suggest that a teacher couldn’t reach a 25-30 research article and understand it.  The funny – or ironic – thing is, is that I often here these kinds of statements from teachers (and moreso administrators) than I do from folks outside of education.  This notion that researchers should produce bullet point implications for teachers so that they can understand these ivory tower eggheads.

What I think may be the real issue is time.  It isn’t that teachers can’t understand the research, but I do believe that teachers often don’t have time (and to a lesser extent access) to read research.  As I regularly teach a course in reviewing educational literature, I work with teachers that need to consume a lot of research in a short period of time to be about to produce a 20-25 page critique of that literature.  Here are some of the tips – or the “how to” – that I provide them.

1. Begin by reading the abstract.

A well written abstract should provide the reader with what the study is about, why it was needed or why it was conducted, what was found, and why it is important.  All of this in generally less than 150 words.

2. Move to the Conclusions or Conclusions and Implications section.

A well written Conclusions section or Conclusions and Implications section should do three things.

  1. Provide a summary of the article, the study, and what was found.
  2. Offer implications for practitioners in the field (i.e., as a teacher, this is what you should do).
  3. Suggest avenues for future research (i.e., based on what I learn, here is the next study or studies I’d conduct).

3. Move to the Results or Finding section.

If there was something in the “summary of the article, the study, and what was found” that particularly interested you, go to the Results section or Findings section and read a more detailed description of what it was that had interested you.  If there was nothing that specifically interested you, then skip this step.

4. Skim through the Methodology section.

As a practitioner, the main thing to be looking through here is does the researcher provide enough detail for the reader to be able to replicate the study in their own similar context (i.e., conduct this same study where they work, assuming they work in a similar environment).  As a researcher (and as practitioners consume more research), I tend to examine the methodology more closely to examine its reliability and validity.

5. Review the References and Literature Review section.

As a researcher (and as practitioners consume more research), I always look through the References – as well as skim through the Literature Review section.  In terms of the References, I am looking to ensure that the researcher has included the relevant literature in the field.  In terms of the Literature Review section, I’m looking to ensure that the researcher has used the literature in accurate ways – as within my field, researchers often misuse or selectively use the literature.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

With my own students I tell them that if they are doing steps 1, 2, and 4 – then they should be able to do that in about 5-8 minutes (10 minutes at the most).  In some cases they may need to do step 3, which will add another 3-5 minutes to their review.  The more research that they read, the more they’ll be able to do step 5 – but that won’t come into play until they’re read quite a bit of literature.

August 5, 2016

7 Day Groove Challenge – Story Entry: ECOTs and the Cyber Charter School Racket

As I mentioned on Monday, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger has issued a 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge.  I told my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom students that I would do my best to participate in this challenge fully – as a way to model different things you can do to ensure that you have a consistent stream of original blog entries.

So Darren has posted the fourth challenge for this week – Create a Story Post.    As a story entry is not one of the ones I have had my EDTECH537 students create, I figure that I should mention that Darren describes a “Story Entry” as “a piece of content that is about a story or at least that includes a story.”  Now I’ll be honest and say that I don’t believe I’ve ever written a story entry before, but here goes…


Today a friend of mine forwarded a new item to me.

Ohio online charter school takes on state in court, on TV

By JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse CorrespondentCOLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s largest online charter school has taken a dispute with state education officials over access to attendance records to the courts and the airwaves, raising questions among critics over the use of taxpayer funds to fight state regulators.

Following a judge’s order, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow said Thursday it had turned over the sought-after records to the Ohio Department of Education. The department wants to audit the records to determine full-time student enrollment and, from there, future state funding.

Before submitting the records, the school aired a pair of ads around the state painting the department in a negative light – the same department that provides 88 percent to the school’s budget, according to state records.

“If ODE closes ECOT, where will I go?” senior Summer Muhaymin asks in one spot. She describes a transient young life sleeping in bus stations and on park benches in which the Electronic Classroom has been her “only constant.” The ad concludes with the message: “Ohio Department of Education: Keep your word. Keep ECOT open.”

The ads reinforce the claims of a lawsuit filed in a Columbus court. The action alleges the Education Department is perpetrating “a bait and switch by which it seeks to evaluate and ‘readjust’ ECOT’s funding for the 2015-2016 school year based on an improperly-promulgated ‘rule.'” It claims purposeful discrimination threatening irreparable harm to the school, which issues about one of every 20 high school diplomas in Ohio.

But the fact ECOT is likely using state education dollars to fund the lawsuit and ad campaign has escalated anger among charter school critics who have long sought more restrictions and transparency in spending by the schools.

To continue reading, click here.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow or ECOT is one of the oldest cyber charter schools in Ohio (and all of the United States), and the largest cyber charter school in Ohio.  It is also a cautionary tale of the role that money can play within the cyber charter school industry (and believe me when I say industry).

While this particular news article talks about the use of public tax dollars by this “public” – and I use that term VERY loosely – school to fund both the ECOT lawsuit and the ECOT television commercials, we have seen examples in the past where we’ve learned that ECOT received over $92 million for their sub-par student performance or that a bonus check of $2.9 million that would be routed into ECOT owner William Lager’s other private businesses for receiving one “D” and seven “F”s in student performance measures.  It is important to keep in mind that the ECOT owner is a generous donor to neo-liberal legislators in the state:

In an earlier entry, I remarked that “’you have to spend money to make money?’  And when it is the taxpayers’ money, why not spent as much as you need to get the job done?”

It is interesting that this story as Kasich ascended on the national stage during the Republican primaries.  It is a story of corporate greed!  It is a story of the failure of cyber charter schooling (and of school choice in general)!  It is a story of immoral legislators interested in their own perseverance over the education of a generation of youth!  It is a story about the failure of research to impact policy!  And even though this saga isn’t new, it does appear to be continuing – at the taxpayers’ expense no doubt!

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