Virtual School Meanderings

August 18, 2015

Ray Needs A Visual…

Ray Rose is a frequent participant on this blog (and a good friend to boot), so head over to e-Learning Evangelist and help him out, as “I need a visual…

August 17, 2015

EDTECH537 – End Of Course

Eight 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. During that time 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):

This year I also made a point of highlighting things in the monthly statistics entries for my EDTECH537 students.

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 12, 2015

EDTECH537 – Blogging Plan

In the introductory to Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I mentioned that today I would be posting a sample of a blogging plan.

While I have done this in the past (see list below), I wanted to post a single month plan today to provide a model for the students.

As with previous models, I used Google Calendar to create my blogging plan for the month of August.


Note that unlike previous years (when the course ended around 03-05 August), much of August was/is planned for EDTECH537 entries.  Having said that, you’ll see that the calendar features a lot of regular and predictable items.  For example, each Saturday I post an entry entitled “Virtual Schooling in the News” and each Sunday I post both “EBSCO Alert” and “Worth A Read” entries.  On the middle and the end of the month for the calendar year 2015, I have been posting a plug to the book that Tom Clark and I co-authored.  Almost each Monday (late in the day) and Friday (early in the morning) I get newsletters from and the NCVPS, which I try to post on Tuesday and Friday respectively (although some weeks one or both do not show up).

Note that this month, beyond the EDTECH537 entries, the only original entries that I plan to write (all noted with an *) are:

  • an entry that updates some materials I received from Connections Academy based on trying to sign up for their newsletter online
  • an entry about the 2013-14 State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada report
  • hopefully, updating my ResearchGate profile as part of that Open Scholarship blogging challenge that I was participating in

While not listed here, I’ve also toyed with taking a month – probably October or December – and completed Darren Rowse’s (i.e., ProBlogger) updated 31 days to a better blog that he now has in podcast format.

I know that I’ll have a lot more content throughout the month.  For example, including this entry, thus far I have planned for 19 entries this month.  As of this morning, I had 53 or 54 entries published.  This should tell you than much of my content is generated as it occurs (i.e., I can’t plan for it).  In fact, the only items I can plan for are those that provide my own voice on this blog – as opposed to the many relevant items that I re-post for my readers.

August 11, 2015

EDTECH537 – Image Entry: Ten Things Everyone Should Know About K-12 Students’ Digital Learning

In the introductory to Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I mentioned that today I would be posting my second sample entry today.

For this second entry, I wanted to post another infographic.  I would caution folks that this infographic is based upon student survey responses (from schools that are interested and/or involved in digital learning).  I’d also caution that just because students want something, it doesn’t mean that there is an educational value or pedagogical rationale to do so.  If asked, most children would want chocolate for breakfast – but that doesn’t mean it is good for them…  ;)



August 10, 2015

EDTECH537 – Commentary Entry: What Theory Fits A Comparison Of Virtual And F2F Learning Enviroments?

In the introductory to Week 7 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I mentioned that today I would be posting my first sample entry today.

I mentioned on Friday that I received a query from a doctoral student and I tried to direct them about their research (and also posted a blog entry to allow my research colleagues to weigh in as well). I generally get one or more of these kinds of messages a week. In each case I try to be helpful and provide them with resources that might steer them in the right direction in terms of existing literature or possible research questions or a focus for their study.

However, every once in a while (more often than I care to admit actually), I get one like this:

Dear Dr. Barbour

My name is [stuff deleted]. I have read many of your articles on the state of virtual learning and decided to contact you for help.

My study is a comparison of online and f2f student achievement using an end-of-course assessment (physical science).
My data collection is going well, all archived data… however I am at a loss as to what my theoretical framework should be… I am using constructive learning theory for background, but have not found a theory relating more closely to the comparison of learning environments for student leaning gains.


I hate when I get one of these messages, as it tells me that some idiot faculty member advised this poor doctoral student to do a study that not only has no validity whatsoever and adds nothing to the research into K-12 online learning, but that was a complete waste of that doctoral student’s time and energy (beyond the fact that they’ll get their degree from that time and energy).

For those who may be puzzled by this sentiment, let me share my response to this student:

It has taken me a while to respond because I wasn’t sure the best way to approach this.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t have a theoretical or conceptual framework to suggest, because there isn’t one that would cover what the field describes as a media comparison study.
And I use that phrase (i.e., media comparison study) very specifically, because that is what you are conducting.  If you are comparing how students in an online environment perform compared to students in the face-to-face environment, it is a media comparison study – something that the field has known is a false comparison for decades.  The best resource that I could recommend to you is Richard Clark’s 1983 Review of Educational Research article (see ).  In that article, Clark – accurately – reminds the reader that the media (i.e., the technology – in your case the online environment) is simply a medium in which the instruction is delivered, and that it has as much impact on student learning as the delivery truck has on the nutritional value of the groceries that is carries.  Clark was not the first, nor was he the last, to express this sentiment (although he did turn the best phrase to describe it).
The fact that one group of students in your student have taken their course(s) online has no impact on their achievement.  As Clark indicates, and what is the dominant view within the field of educational technology, it is differences in the way the instruction was designed, delivered, and supported that will have caused any differences in achievement that you find.
Within the realm of K-12 online learning, one of my colleagues – Rick Ferdig – has written quite well, and succinctly, on this matter.  One of the more recent instance was as a part of a MOOC designed to introduce practitioners and graduate students to the research related to K-12 online learning.  You can view his contribution at – you’ll see he also discourages researchers from comparing online vs. face-to-face student performance, but instead focus on the conditions under which online learning can be effectively designed, delivered, and supported.
Again, I’m sorry to have to respond in this manner – as I’m sure that your faculty told you that this was a solid dissertation study.  But I feel obligated to point out the fundamental flaw with the nature if this kind of study, and all other media comparisons studies – even though they continue to be pervasive within educational technology research.

It continues to boggle my mind that there are educational technology faculty out there that are still advising their graduate students to do media comparison studies (and it boggles my mind even more that these kinds of studies still get published in academic journals, which happens more than you would think).

Anyway, that’s my soapbox for this Monday morning…

As an aside, fortunately the student was in their proposal phase, so there is time to adjust their study to address some of these concerns (and the student themselves took my feedback as it was intended).

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