Virtual School Meanderings

March 24, 2020

[Quiz] Personalized Learning: New Quiz From Education Week

This item may be of interest to some readers.

Education Week Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Personalized Learning?
Take our quiz and then see your results, detailed answer explanations, and additional readings on the topic.
According to a nationally representative survey of American principals, what percentage reported that their schools were using digital technologies to personalize learning?
○ 18 percent
○ 41 percent
○ 74 percent
○ 97 percent
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March 11, 2020

[Quiz] Personalized Learning: New Quiz From Education Week

This item may be of interest to readers of this space.

Education Week Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Personalized Learning?
Take our quiz and then see your results, detailed answer explanations, and additional readings on the topic.
Which of the following is NOT an idea associated with the personalized learning movement?
○ Adaptive software that adjusts to student skill level
○ Allowing students to design projects based on personal interests
○ Customized activities to help students develop a growth mindset
○ Giving students the same learning assessments at the same time
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Editorial Projects in Education, Inc., 6935 Arlington Road, Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814. EPE is the publisher of Education Week and other high-quality print and online products on K-12 education.

Copyright ©2020 Editorial Projects in Education.

February 2, 2020

2020 Census, Digital Content, Student Feedback

Note the item below on digital content.

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January 11, 2020

News Article: What Does Big Tech Want From Schools? (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Money) / True For K-12 Online Learning?

So there was an item in one of the EdWeek Tech Leader this past week that caught my attention.

SPECIAL REPORT

What Does Big Tech Want From Schools? (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Money)

As Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft make themselves increasingly indispensable in education, teachers are getting worried. Should they be? Read more.
What Does Big Tech Want From Schools? (Spoiler Alert: It's Not Money)

If you follow the article, the author’s basic point is that for those “big” companies that people will use for the rest of their lives (e.g., Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft) that the goal is brand loyalty.  In much the same way that Pepsi or Coke would donate money to the school or buy a scoreboard for the stadium back in the day to become the exclusive vendor for pop in the building.  It makes sense and I can’t say I disagree.  But I do think that there is a bit more…

One of the things that the author of the article fails to consider – or at least reference (as they may have considered it as a part of the writing process) – is the considerable amounts of data that K-12 generates and what that data can tell them about their future consumers.  It is one of the concerns that Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Christopher Saldaña at the National Education Policy Center raised in their report on Personalized Learning and the Digital Privatization of Curriculum and Teaching (also one of the reasons the NEPC doesn’t have a Facebook page).

And the fact that this article appeared, and these musings of mine were occurring in the first week of a new year.  If you search new year’s resolutions on the Internet, you’ll find that the most common one tends to be some form of exercise, get in shape, get fit diet, lose weight, eat healthier, etc..  As such, this time of year is very bit for the fitness industry and gyms in particular.  There are two basic models of running a successful gym.  The first is to have a gym that has the physical footprint, equipment, and staff to be able to handle all of its members at the same time.  A lot of facilities where the primary focus is on classes (e.g., crossfit) are designed like this, and these gyms often have a business model that you pay for the time you spend in the gym (e.g., you attend one class, you pay for one class).  The second is that you have a gym where the physical footprint, equipment, and staff are only able to handle a small fraction of the members at any given time.  These facilities are focused primarily on members that pay for a membership (often one that is locked in for a year), but don’t actually go to the gym.  The more memberships they can sell without having to provide any real service, the better their bottom line.

The confluence of reading this article, and just thinking about a new year and all that comes with it, got me to thinking what this article would look like if it were titled “What Does Big Tech Want From Online and Blended Learning?”

With a title like this, if it had been written about companies solely in the K-12 distance, online, and blended learning space I doubt that we could have the same “spoiler alert.”

For the most part, these companies are the kinds of ones that students will use once they leave the K-12 environment, so building lifelong brand loyalty isn’t that important for them.  Now when it comes to those vendors of virtual or cyber schools and online curriculum, the collection of student data and being able to use that data is a central part of their business model.  In fact, many of these companies readily brag about their products ability to get to know your student and understand their individual needs so that they can provide a customized or personalized learning experience for them.

But don’t you think that the main thrust of the article would have been focused on that second gym model.  A gym that sells 1000 memberships each paying $25/month, if only 100 of those members actually show up at the gym that could lead to a very nice profit margin.  This would mean that the gym is collecting a monthly membership for 900 people who they aren’t providing a service for, and with most gym contracts you’re locked in.

Similarly, an online school that enrolls 1000 students to meet the count day requirements in that state, in most instances, receives the full FTE for that course or student for the full semester (sometimes year).  Now if only 100 of those students actually do much – if any – work towards their education that means that the online school that is being run by a for profit provider can collect taxpayer funds to not educate 900 students.

There is a reason when you search online for information about these business practices you’ll find more and more industry and economic articles about the movement in the fitness industry away from the membership business model towards what they refer to as an experience model (i.e., you pay for the things you actually experience).  When will that come for education?  When will education make that move?

Now don’t mistake this as a call for a funding model based on demonstrated competency or based on student success.  I don’t believe that education funding shouldn’t be tied to whether the student passes the course.  But I do believe that public money that is allocated for public service should service the public.

December 29, 2019

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