Virtual School Meanderings

September 15, 2021

School’s Back In Session… Except Maybe When Students Have To Quarantine

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:03 pm
Tags: , , , ,

An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

School’s Back In Session… Except Maybe When Students Have To Quarantine

Plus all-new episodes of Future U and Class Disrupted

School is officially back in season—well, mostly. According to this article in The 74, when students have to quarantine—which is happening a fair bit—there’s no remote learning option for them in a significant number of school districts. So they are just absent from school, with no learning option. Period. Only 5 of the 100 districts the Center on Reinventing Public Education reviewed offer remote learning to quarantined students. “One Vermont district will provide remote instruction if an entire class must quarantine; otherwise, students are marked absent, with no instruction.”

What’s more, while much of the media trumpets that in-person schooling works better for most children and several politicians and policymakers have banned all virtual schooling options (their de facto theory being that it’s worse than no learning option at all?), there are letters and stories like this one in the Boston Globe where parents know that an in-person option isn’t right for their family.

How to address concerns that families will avail themselves of the virtual option when it’s not the right choice for their child? Although some will dismiss this concern out of hand, it seems to me there’s a commonsensical path forward.

(1)   On the front end, for any student desiring the remote option, ensure that an adult—a parent, guardian, or a custodian at a microschool or pod-type arrangement—will be present and engaged in supporting the learning.

(2)   Once enrolled, require that the child show at least a minimum level of progress—or else they will have to find another option.

Bottom line? I’m not advocating for hybrid arrangements in which educators are teaching in-person and remote students synchronously and simultaneously. That’s a terrible option. A remote option at the K–12 schooling level must have a dedicated team of teachers. But the one-size-fits-all, “best practices” approach to school was flawed before the pandemic, and it’s even worse now.

Making Remote Learning Work

I joined Jed Kim, host of the Million Bazillion podcast at Marketplace by American Public Media, to talk about how schools are doing as a third school year with COVID dawns—what lessons have been learned, what are some of the struggles, and how might schools offer a viable remote option (and how to do it well). You can listen to the MarketplaceTech episode or read the transcript here, at “Covid tested our ability to teach during a crisis. As a school new year begins, how are we doing?

Class Disrupted and Future U Are Back

As schools restart for the academic year, so, too, have my podcasts Class Disrupted with Diane Tavenner and Future U with Jeff Selingo.

At Class Disrupted, check out Episode 1, which we broadcast live from the ASU GSV Summit, titled, “What’s on a school leader’s back-to-school shopping list in the time of COVID?” There’s also a brief preview episode here, and I’ll add that we’re thrilled to be partnering once again with The 74, which will be hosting our podcasts here.

Over at Future U, we’re back in session with two meaty episodes. The first is our “Kickoff To Season 5,” in which we break down the major headlines from a summer in higher education—everything from mergers and acquisitions to big changes in college athletics and, of course, COVID news. Then in our second episode, “Transforming A Prestigious HBCU,” we had the chance to interview the president of Morehouse College, David Thomas, in-person at the ASU GSV Summit, which you can listen to here.

As always, thanks for reading, writing, and listening.

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© 2021 Michael Horn
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September 10, 2021

Adult learning culture: An underrated ingredient for success in uncertain times

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
Christensen Institute · 92 Hayden Avenue · Lexington, MA 02421 · USA

September 8, 2021

Expand your innovation toolkit with Executive Learning

While not one of their newsletters, the same advice rings true to these “learning” opportunities.  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Dear Friends,

To harness the power of Disruptive Innovation in your organization, you need to not only understand the theory, but also gain the insider knowledge and tools necessary to take an idea from the lab to the market.

This is why we created Disruptive Innovation: From Theory to Practice, an Executive Learning course designed to take the guesswork out of innovation and strategy. In it, you’ll learn to recognize disruptions in process, understand the role of business models in innovation, and overcome common obstacles faced by organizations large and small.

As a reminder, sign up by this Friday, September 10th to receive a 20% early registration discount.

If you’re not sure this is for you, here’s what some of the participants from our last session had to say:

“I loved attending Disruptive Innovation: From Theory to Practice. The theories taught in this class illuminate how seemingly counterintuitive strategies actually lead to innovation and growth. I would highly recommend this course.”

“A life changing course where you learn Jobs to Be Done, innovation strategies, and business models by the best instructors through personal and engaged discussions!”

For more information, click here or email us at executive.learning@christenseninstitute.org.

Hope you can join us!

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Christensen Institute · 92 Hayden Avenue · Lexington, MA 02421 · USA

September 3, 2021

New educator survey reveals how to convert pandemic struggles into student-centered learning

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
Christensen Institute · 92 Hayden Avenue · Lexington, MA 02421 · USA

September 1, 2021

A New Model Of Accountability For Alternative And Virtual Schools

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 11:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

An item from a business professor with little direct experience in education, but who believes free market economic principles are the answer to education’s (and pretty much all other society’s social) problems.

A New Model Of Accountability For Alternative And Virtual Schools

With the rush to remote learning in March 2020, now’s the time

As full-time virtual learning moved from the fringe to the mainstream in mid-March 2020, onlookers expressed concerns about access for learners and accountability for the learning itself.

Concerns around virtual learning have been widespread since at least 2015—when a major study found that students enrolled in full-time, virtual charter schools made, on average, far less progress than their counterparts in traditional schools did.

These worries haven’t applied only to full-time virtual schools, however.

Alternative schools that serve students who have dropped out or transferred from traditional schools—and often serve as schools of last resort—have historically struggled to show the value they add to students. The few studies that look at alternative have documented quality concerns, low graduation rates, and underfunding.

Yet these schools have a critical role to play by catering to students who aren’t served well by traditional schools. This past year especially, these schools served as a haven for subsets of students.

If that’s the case, then how can policymakers ensure that alternative schools are serving students well and not permitting the truly poorly performing ones to persist and grow? That’s the question I tackle in a new white paper for the American Enterprise Institute titled “A New Accountability Model for Alternative Schools.”

My answer is based on a framework that a non-profit I helped found, the Education Quality Outcomes Standards Board, which maintains standards for student outcomes in postsecondary education, including learning outcomes, completion, placement, earnings where relevant, and student satisfaction and confirmation of purpose. In essence, I propose a model that recognizes the unique missions of non-traditional schools and allows parents to compare schools in the alternative education sector.

The goal is to give alternative schools breathability in the metrics on which they report but not letting them duck from the hard task of serving students well. You can download the white paper here to dig into the recommendations, or check out my summary at Forbes here.

Hot Takes

  1. The Orchid and the Dandelion”: This is a must-read piece in Education Next by Laurence Holt about new research that uncovered a link between a genetic variation and how students (often those with ADHD) respond to digital-learning interventions. The potential implications are vast. I was also heartened by this research because it emerged by looking at anomalies within traditional randomized control trials that, in essence, showed small effect sizes from the use of digital curriculum. For some students, however, the effects were quite large, whereas they were small or even negative for others. Parsing out what was different about the students and then testing that hypothesis produced the breakthrough—which should be a model for more research in education (and social sciences more generally), as Clay Christensen long encouraged and we wrote in Disrupting Class.
  2. Reframing the Workplace for the Knowledge Economy: As anyone knows, despite me not having much of an eye for physical space, I’m a passionate believer that how we design environments has a profound impact on how we learn and work. In this podcast, I drew from some of our work at Guild Education and my past conversations on the importance of physical design to talk about what it means to design a workplace that supports and values learning.
  3. Motivations for Choosing a College: In this conversation with LabChats, I talked about research from our book Choosing College and how schools can use this information to increase enrollment and provide better value for their students.
  4. Two videos about school districts making significant changes to how schooling works to better personalize learning for students and create more options that will work for all families. Check out my interviews about Spring Grove Public Schools in Minnesota and Iron County School District in Utah.

As always, thanks for listening, reading, and writing.

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© 2021 Michael Horn
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