Virtual School Meanderings

March 17, 2015

Guest Blog Entry: Integration of Online Learning in Schools – A New Fully Online Graduate Program

This is a guest post by Jered Borup, an Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies in Schools at George Mason University. As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.



As a student you will learn how to blend online and face-to-face instruction, teach online, design effective online learning activities, foster online learning communities and much more.

Choose a degree or certificate from this teacher-friendly program:


Now offering new tuition discounts that reduce out-of-state tuition by approximately 45% and in-state tuition by 15%.


Attend one of the following live information sessions by logging in as a guest at

  • Tuesday, March 17 at 6:30pm EST
  • Wednesday, April 8 at 6:30pm EST
  • Saturday, May 9 at 11:00am EST

Additional details about the program can be found at

Email Dr. Jered Borup at for additional information or to receive reminders for upcoming information sessions.

Jered Borup, Ph.D.
Phone: (703)993-3137

This is a guest post by Jered Borup, an Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies in Schools at George Mason University.

August 25, 2014

Guest Blogger: Teach Young People About The Gaps In Access To Education With This Free Online Game!

This is a guest post by Sarah Hutchison, an educational consultant with SPARK Global Learning, who is working on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

mind-the-gapAs the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals looms (September 2015), the world is looking closely at whether we will reach the aim of providing universal access to primary education. Although significant gains have been made since the goal was set, progress in recent years has slowed. At the time of the World Education Forum in 2000, there were 102 million children out of school. That number had dropped to 58 million by 2012. Yet data show that the world is still unlikely to achieve universal access by 2015. Watch this for more: Video: Data Tell Us

As the new school year approaches turn your focus to a resource that examines these gaps and inequities in access to education around the world. Explore the online game Mind the Gap: Gender and Education.

mindthegapStatistics come alive with a click of a button allowing users to easily compare and contrast the education of children, adolescents, students and adults living in different countries around the world. Access to education for girls versus boys is explored along with some of the reasons why gaps still exist. Online learning is bolstered by engaging facilitated activities found in the accompanying Facilitator Guide.

This guide provides an introduction to the topic of gender and education, gives a framework for exploring the online data tool, and suggests further ways to extend learning. The activities are most suitable for young people in grades 5 through 10 participating in classroom settings, clubs and youth groups, and homeschools that are exploring global citizenships and education themes.

Neat idea! Explore this topic with young people on International Literacy Day, September 8.

Note: The tool is available in English, French and Spanish. The guide is available in English and French.

This is a guest post by Sarah Hutchison, an educational consultant with SPARK Global Learning, who is working on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

August 7, 2014

Guest Blogger: 5 Reasons Why K-12 Online Learning is Growing Fast

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from, a people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to

Online learning, also known as e-learning, has dramatically changed the face of education in recent years. Not only has there been an explosion in higher education online, but K-12 has also seen brisk growth in online learning. All over the United States and Canada, numerous school districts, educators, and parents are reevaluating educational systems and trying to find better ways to educate and socialize their children. They are discovering that online learning offers versatility and economy as well as a more enriching educational experience. Some of the advantages online learning brings to K-12 education include:

  1. Versatility and variety. Online learning can occur in or out of the classroom and can either be in real time, with all participants tuned in at the same time (synchronous); or self-paced, as with an interactive learning tutorial or information database posted online and accessible at participants’ convenience (asynchronous). Online learning is well suited to distance learning but can also be a supplement to classroom or face-to-face education; the combination of the two is often referred to as “blended learning.” It’s not just a matter of kids turning on their computers and logging on to the Internet: to the contrary, online learning is a multimedia experience. Online learning utilizes numerous types of media that deliver a variety of content – text, graphics, audio, streaming video, and the like. And online learning is not just for educational institutions; many parents who opt for home schooling also participate in some form of e-learning program.
  2. Efficiency and economy. Numerous case studies have shown that in the corporate environment, learning can be much more efficient as well as more cost effective to deliver than classroom-based learning or training. E-learning has delivered benefits such as reductions in training costs, and improved consistency and scalability. Does the same hold true in the K-12 learning environment? It seems so: a properly administered online learning program can deliver similar benefits to K-12, such as increased capacity to instruct more students while maintaining a learning outcome equivalent to comparable forms of in-person instruction; enhanced quality and consistency of learning experiences and outcomes; and better cost-effectiveness for assembling and distributing instructional content.
  3. Individual attention from teachers and instructors. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that children who are in smaller classes – particularly from grades K-3 – perform better in math and reading than students in larger classes. This is because they have teachers who are able to devote more time to each individual student. Individual attention from teachers often translates into academic success in the higher grades as well. As physical classrooms grow in size in traditional schools, students of all ages suffer from lack of individual attention. Effectively delivered online schooling allows students to receive the attention and focus from their teachers that they need in order to succeed. Online learning can offer the best of both worlds: scalability and personalized assignments and lesson plans, based on their teacher’s evaluation of the student’s skills.
  4. Unprecedented opportunities for all students to participate. Despite the socialization opportunities, discipline advantages, and possibly the subject retention benefits of the traditional classroom setting, it is not an optimal environment for every student. Many students who for various reasons are reluctant to participate in traditional classroom discussions or activities seem to shine in online “classrooms.” Online schools and classes allow students to participate in discussions with their teachers and fellow students via forums such as classroom discussion boards, which provide an open environment for all students to express their ideas. Shy kids who are terrified by the thought of having to stand up and speak in front of their teachers and fellow students have been known to blossom in an online setting, learning to express themselves clearly and assertively. Students with limited interpersonal communication skills have a chance to hone those skills in a less judgmental environment than a traditional classroom.
  5. New opportunities for self-paced learning. Each individual student learns and absorbs information at his or her own pace. Traditional schooling cannot cater to personal learning speed; teachers are obliged to maintain a specific pace in order to meet their districts’ curriculum standards. Slower learners must struggle to keep up, faster learners may be hopelessly bored, and both the slower and faster learners may at some point disengage. On the other hand, online education allows students to learn and absorb at their own pace. They don’t have to waste time lingering on material they already know, and they can spend more time on challenging material, obtaining extra help and instructor attention as they need it.

Barriers still exist to a broader implementation of online learning; among these are the lack of acceptance among faculty in traditional education institutions (as opposed to for-profit online institutions). In addition, there are issues related to student discipline and retention rates in online learning environments as opposed to traditional classroom settings. Some of these issues are discussed at length in this January 2013 report, co-sponsored by the Babson Survey Research Group. While online learning will probably never completely replace “in person” classroom instruction, it has dramatically expanded the possibilities for education at all levels. At its best it has the capacity to bring out even the most reluctant student’s potential in ways that traditional education never could manage to do, offering a more personalized connection with instructors and helping each student find his or her own path.

For a comprehensive look at some disadvantages as well as advantages of online learning, see the 2014 National Education Policy Center report on Virtual Schools in the U.S..

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from, a people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to

July 10, 2014

EDTECH537 – Guest Blogger: Roles For MOOCs In Online And Blended Learning

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 5 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were developed in the mid-2000s to open access to US higher education to the global audience, especially learners who were not enrolled in a degree program, by offering free course materials and experiences without credit or entry requirements (Liyanagunawardena,  Adams, & Williams, 2013). Hundreds of MOOCs for millions of learners have been offered under a range of models around the world, as shown in the table below. See MOOC List for examples,

Table. MOOC delivery models

Provider Learners Funding
Public college or universityPrivate or profit college or university

Professional association

K-12 education authority

For-profit education provider

Technology corporation

Non-profit organization

PublicStudents enrolled at sponsor institution

Target audience, such as a profession or interest group

By providerBy sponsor or advertisers

By students seeking a credential (certificate, badge)

By students seeking credit

Likewise, the learner experiences vary in MOOCs.

  • Course lengths range from a few weeks to a year, or self-paced
  • Student engagement may center on receptive activity such as using video lectures and other media, and reading ebooks; moderate episodic productive engagements such as brief computer-scored knowledge assessments or lower-order responses in forums; or intensive productive interactions such as sustained discussions, projects, and media creation
  • Feedback to learners may be automated, peer-to-peer, or from instructors; often differential feedback depends on whether students pay fees or take the course for credit
  • Pedagogical approaches include cMOOC, Downes’ learner-centered Connectivist type driven by human networks (Pence, 2013); xMOOC, a instructor/content-centered commercial and automated type driven by data (Pence, 2013); MOORC, Cavanaugh’s discovery-centered open research community driven by knowledge generation

Because the purposes of MOOCs vary and learners self-identify, they are designed to prioritize access rather than success. Therefore completion rates have been quite low. Critics see this situation as a disadvantage and focus on the cost/completer as a reason to discourage providers and learners from participating (Morris, 2013). Proponents see the large discrepancy between starters and finishers as evidence that the mission has been accomplished because a great many participants have experienced at least part of a course that otherwise would not be available to them, and most participants complete some learning (Morris, 2013). In a MOOC, the learners decide what and how much to learn. Their goals are individual and often do not have complete correspondence with course objectives.

Therefore, MOOCs are currently suited to some learning goals, as shown in the table below.

MOOCs are well suited for MOOCs are less suited for
Learners unable to access other education programsInformal learning by individuals seeking new skills or community networks

Learners using modules for specific learning that is more structured than using text or other media

Students assessing readiness, remediation, or a refresher for a credit course

Instructors expanding their teaching repertoire

Independent exploration of a domain

Institutional marketing or orientation

Public outreach by organizations

Experimenting with content and design due to the large amount of data generated

Learners in need of structure and feedbackLearning in ill-defined or complex performance-based domains

Developing high levels of expertise requiring coaching or mentoring

The full range of experiences that comprise most degree programs

Existing communities with specific product goals



For online and blended professional learning, a MOOC is a feasible and valuable model to consider for certain informal knowledge bases when openness and inclusivity are priorities, but not when acquiring specific objectives by specific audiences are priorities. A MOOC as a long-term goal would broaden the professional community.

For online and blended student learning, a MOOC is a scalable way to personalize learning for students who seek or need specialized knowledge, accelerated learning, or connections with specific communities of scholars.

Learning Theory applied to MOOCs

  Learning Theory Research on Practice
M=massive Social Learning: observational learning (Bandura) Class sizes optimal at under 20: accommodated using fluid and focused discussion and project groups (Monks & Schmidt)
O=open Andragogy: choice and differentiation to account for varying experience and goals (Knowles)Expertise: time, practice, and feedback are needed (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer) Personalized learning and Flexible pathways: afford individualized mastery learning (Gates Foundation; iNACOL)Expanded learning time: efficient online (Liu & Cavanaugh)

Control and Connection: contribute to online learning (Repetto, Cavanaugh, Wayer & Liu)

O=online Connectivism: (Seimens) Effective when well-designed and facilitated: meta-analyses (Cavanaugh)
C=course Transactional distance: minimized with more interaction, structure and autonomy (Moore)Motivation: enhanced through feedback (Keller) Attention and Relevance are supported by course designs; Confidence and Satisfaction are supported by experienced instructors. (Carpenter & Cavanaugh)


Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Carpenter, J. & Cavanaugh, C. (2012). Increasing Student Motivation through Mentoring Practices. In L. Archambault & K. Kennedy (Eds.), Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environments. Vienna, VA: iNACOL.

Cavanaugh, C. (2009). Distance education in support of extended learning time in K-12 schools. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2007). What connectivism is [Web log post]. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2009, December 4). Re: The reciprocity economy [Web log post comment]. Accessed at

Ericsson K, Krampe R, Tesch-Romer, C: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review 1993, 100:3, 363-406.

Keller, J. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. Riegeluth (ed.), Instructional Design Theories and Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Liu, F. & Cavanaugh, C. (2011). Online Core Course Success Factors in Virtual School: Factors influencing student academic achievement. International Journal of E-Learning 10(4)43-65.

Liyanagunawardena, T; Adams, A; & Williams, S. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 3, p. 202-227. SSN 1492-3831. Available at

Monks, J., & Schmidt, R. M. (2011). The Impact of Class Size on Outcomes in Higher Education. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy11(1).

Moore, M.G. (2007). The Theory of Transactional Distance. In M.G.Moore (Ed.) (2007) The Handbook of Distance Education. Second Edition. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 89–108.

Morris, L. V. (August 08, 2013). MOOCs, Emerging Technologies, and Quality. Innovative Higher Education, 38, 4, 251-252.

Pence, H. E. (2012). When Will College Truly Leave the Building: If MOOCs are the Answer, What Is the Question?. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems41(1), 25-33.

Repetto, J., Cavanaugh, C., Wayer, N., & Liu, F. (2010). Virtual High Schools: Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(2), 91-104.

Siemens, G. (2003). Learning ecology, communities, and networks: Extending the classroom. elearnspace. Available at

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Available at

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Available at

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Available at

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at

February 13, 2014

Re-Post: Microsoft Seeking Education Specialist For Worldwide Education (Guest Blogger – Cathy Cavanaugh)

This item has been re-posted from Microsoft seeking Education Specialist for Worldwide Education (Guest blogger – Cathy Cavanaugh) at the iNACOL Research in Review blog.

Cathy Cavanaugh is our guest blogger today talking about a few job opportunities that are available at Microsoft.

Education Specialist | Head of Teaching and Learning | Worldwide Education

Microsoft Worldwide Education is building a new team of experts to work with education decision makers on planning successful technology-empowered teaching and learning programs. We seek Teaching and Learning specialists in the Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to join the global team. If you would like more information after reviewing the following position description, please look for application information at or contact Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who has this role in the Americas, at

In Education, institutions around the world are defining 1:1 learning initiatives to increase student and educator access to technology and truly enhance the learning opportunities in and beyond the classroom. Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century is about much more than providing a learner with a computing device. Central to the success of these projects is an end to end and holistic approach that combines not just devices, but also systems architecture, applications, access to rich content, professional development, cloud services, secure management, and clear definition of outcomes that can be measured and supported by all the stakeholders. From devices to back end infrastructure, from applications and content to training and support, Microsoft’s commitment to education and the solutions available to support almost any education model mean we have an unprecedented opportunity to lead these large 1:1 opportunities.

In what is one of the most exciting areas for both our customers and Microsoft as a company, Worldwide Public Sector Education is expanding our devices and services team to support proactive engagement with strategic, large scale education 1:1 (1 device for each student) opportunities that are becoming a priority for almost all governments worldwide.

  • The Teaching and Learning Specialist specializes in learning delivery practice to positively impact teacher, student, and education outcomes at scales from national to local.
  • The role is to bridge teaching and learning (education) issues to Microsoft devices and solutions which can amplify learning outcomes together with the grounding of research and proven practice.
  • This is a role will be responsible for supporting education across multiple regions globally

This position will be responsible for:

  • Providing educational expertise to add value to institutions/governments who are considering digital inclusion and device opportunities in their classrooms, based on broad experience, cases of effective practice, and current research
  • Architecting and developing teaching and learning solutions based on the Microsoft platform with Windows devices at the core within our strategic Education customers with large scale 1:1 projects.
  • Business development for educational through Departments and Ministries of Education as well as senior-level academic institutional leaders;
  • Identifying and providing guidance on useful learning analytic tools, which can provide faculty and students real-time information to assist in assessing learning;
  • Organizing and implementing an international mobile learning plan, which may include MOOC’s, online professional development programs and systems, conferences, professional development associations, electronic learning objects, e-Portfolios, etc.;
  • Responding to client needs and requirements with customized professional development and products which address their current and projected challenges;
  • Creating a high level strategic plan for professional development and integrating functional, appropriate instructional technology in all learning environments;
  • Providing in-depth knowledge of the strategies required to successfully sell Windows devices vs. the competition within an education context.
  • Leveraging a non-traditional set of selling partners – including Content providers, Teaching and Learning Policy Leadership, OEMs, Publishers, Telcos, Operator Channel and ISVs – to enable their Windows devices and solutions to compete in and win large scale 1:1 project opportunities.
  • Developing strategies that build on instructional technology pedagogies, which could include applications, 21st Century skills, and an ever-evolving set of research-based best practices to propel educational effectiveness;
  • Recommending efficient ways to build and/or access content, which may include Open Educational Resources, publishers or Kaleidoscope-like consortiums;
  • Providing near and far-term solutions to client questions, especially those which align with foundational, industry-wide accepted programs, such as the Educause/New Media Consortium Horizon report, Higher Education – MOOCs, tablets, gamification, learning analytics, 3D printing and wearable technology – K-12: cloud, mobile learning, learning analytics, competency/proficiency-based pathways, open content, accessibility, 3D printing, virtual labs, virtual schools, blended schools;
  • Providing thoughtful, expert, and creative project leadership, fostering teamwork and a clear understanding of goals, strategies and measures, within teams and in the broad community of education;
  • Expanding opportunities for adaptive/assistive instructional technology to provide individualized opportunities for all learners; and
  • Supporting development plans for leaders of schools and universities of the future.
  • Overseeing aspects of project life cycle, from initial kickoff through learning requirements analysis, design and implementation phases for projects within the solution area. For example a scalable and sustainable Professional development and change management program for educators including program evaluation

The ideal candidate will have the following experiences / skills:

  • Doctoral degree from an accredited university in the area of education (EdD/PhD preferred);
  • Subject matter expertise and experience in education, leadership, faculty development, project management, international education, mobile learning, and online learning, in K-12 and higher education;
  • Ability to understand, represent and integrate multiple business perspectives;
  • Ability to work (and influence) effectively cross group with a diverse population and with a range of levels in the organization;
  • Ability to consult with educators and educational leaders across disciplines and teaching contexts, ability to work collaboratively and effectively in settings of social and intellectual diversity;
  • Global leaders in the literature on faculty development and learning science research; experience using quantitative and/or qualitative research methods or learning analytics;
  • Organizational agility and ability to deal with ambiguity and adapt to change rapidly in response to business conditions;
  • Ability to create a project plan, track using feedback milestones, redirect if necessary and update the client and/or internal program manager;
  • Excellent communication (written and verbal) and facilitation skills (in addition multiple scholarly publications desired, especially in the area of teaching and learning using technology);
  • Strong relationship building/networking skills and ability to influence key stakeholders;
  • Demonstrate a substantial record of scholarship, knowledge of trends and challenges in education, knowledge of pedagogy and technology applications and an understanding of outcomes based approaches to curriculum development and assessment; and
  • Working HoursBased on the requirement to have a good overlap with most time zones and the fact that a broad group of people this role needs to engage with are WW based.
  • Bachelor Degree Required; PHD Preferred
  • Comparable roles include Technology in Education consultant, Technology & Pedagogy integration expert, Policy maker advisor with in depth experience on how to integrate technology in the classroom.

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