Virtual School Meanderings

July 23, 2019

EDTECH537 – Guest Blog Entry: Technology Powered With Purpose -The Tech Tools Of Personalized Learning

As I mentioned in the Week 4 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course yesterday, today I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

Anissa Vega is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology in the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University.  She also holds the responsible of Online Teaching Endorsement/Certificate Coordinator at KSU.  In 2017, Anissa was the recipient of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching for her work with both credit and noncredit courses (such as the K-12 Blended & Online Learning MOOC).

I teach a graduate class about personalized learning, where I engage in a one-on-one video-chat conversation with each student 4-5 times throughout the semester, also referred to as co-planning conversations. Through over-150 hours of these conversations over the past 14 months, I have noticed a pattern in how my students, mostly K-12 teachers, perceive technology uses for personalized learning. Initially, many confuse either technology integration or blended learning as synonymous with technology for personalized learning. We often talk out the overlap and try to open our minds to the vast variety of possible classroom systems that could support learner agency and individual pacing. Then, we discuss what systems are needed, and how our purposes for the technology dictate the technology selected. Across these conversations, we have collectively come up with five common reasons to use technology for personalized learning. It has been a while since I we have added any items to this list, so I would like to expand the conversation with the online community. So far, our Kennesaw State University community of learners, comprising of over 120 educators, has identified the following five uses of technology for personalized learning:

  1. To present and organize content for individual pacing: This is often the first purpose my students identify. Tool types that fit in here typically support blended or online learning as a means for introducing and explaining new concepts or processes to learners. They include adaptive learning software (iReady, Newslea, ALEKS, etc.), LMS and video recording software combinations used to “flip” direct instruction (Canvas, itsLearning, YouTube, OneNote, Khan Academy, etc.) and comprehensive e-learning packages (Fuel Education, Edison Learning, or Edgenuity).
  2. To track individual growth: Assessment and data tools help to generate formative student data that can inform the teacher and parents of a student’s progress in learning and if they have additional needs moving forward. Tools that fit this purpose include adaptive testing tools (MAP Assessment, iReady, USATestprep, etc.), quizzing tools (Quizziz, Kahoot, Socrative, etc.), and survey tools (Google Forms, PollEverywhere, etc.).
  3. To organize and communicate complex knowledge: Websites (Weebly, GoogleSites, etc.), blogs (Edublogs, Blogger, etc.), or digital portfolios (Seesaw, WeLearnedIt, etc.) can all serve to organize and share the products and evidence of student learning that was acquired through student-centered activity such as service learning, project-based learning, or problem-based learning. The evidence housed in these tools may be organized by a timeline, curriculum standard, or competencies.
  4. To establish student self-management behaviors: Without students managing their own behaviors and co-designing their learning experiences, personalized learning that incorporates student-centered pedagogies can be overwhelming and unsustainable. Learners need to have the skills to self-manage throughout the day in a personalized setting. Tools that might be used for this purpose include ClassDojo or RedCritter. Additionally, students might reflect on how their time was spent each day and set new short term goals using a blogging (Edublogs, Blogger, etc.) or journaling (OneNote, Google Word, etc.) tool to support time management and self-starting behaviors.
  5. To offer student choice in demonstration of mastery: Personalized learning requires learners to employ agency in their learning experience, and choice in mastery demonstration is one way agency may be practiced. The tools that fit here are too many to count, because the teacher will not make this selection for the learner. For younger learners, s/he may provide a limited selection of choices on a “choiceboard” with tool or activity options such as Flipgrid, Popplet, Kidblog, etc. In other scenarios, a teacher may leave the choices open and primarily up to the learner. Student choices might include anything from websites, screencasts, or infographics, to traditional papers.

Some models of personalized learning focus heavily on the first use that focuses in on individual pacing as seen in schools supported by Fuel Education or the Summit Curriculum. However, other models of personalized learning also employ student-centered pedagogies with project-based learning as seen in Fulton County Schools. Given these five purposes of technology, do you see any gaps? How are you using technology to support a model of personalized learning? Comment and share below.

Author note: The references to specific software tools in this blogpost are not an endorsement or evaluative statement of these tools by the author. They are only included for illustrative purposes and other tools of varying quality are also available beyond those mentioned here. For evaluative information on any tools mentioned here or alternatives, visit www.CommonSense.org/education.

Anissa Vega is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University. She regularly teaches KSU’s K-12 Blended & Online Learning MOOC.  As is the pattern here at Virtual School Meanderings, there will be no additional entries posted today.

July 22, 2019

EDTECH537 – Commentary Entry: Making Your Blog More Accessible [Guest Blog Entry]

As I mentioned in the Week 4 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course earlier this morning, I wanted to post a sample of a commentary entry.  As it would happen, this past week I reached out to several of my colleagues about guest blog entries and I received several that I will be able to post over the coming week, one of which was also a good example of a commentary entry.  So this post is also an example of a guest blog entry (although I will post another one of those tomorrow too).

Ray Rose is an online learning and accessibility evangelist. He works with educational institutions to improve educational opportunities for all. His experience with online learning goes back more than two decades when he directed one of the country’s first online teacher professional development projects and was part of the team that created the first virtual high school in the US. His blog can be found at http://rmrose.blogspot.com and presentation slides at http://slideshare.net/raymondrose.

Do you want to have a blog read by millions, well thousands, or even hundreds.   Make it accessible to everyone. That means thinking about how people with disabilities access the internet and use that knowledge to make your blog friendly.

People with disabilities access online materials using a variety of applications. People with visual disabilities may access websites using a screen reader. A screen reader uses speech synthesizer technology to read whatever text is on the computer screen and in the case of a blog, on the browser screen.   There are things you can do to help make your blog more accessible.

When a screen reader encounters a graphic, it says “graphic”. Graphics on web pages have a feature called an ALT tags (alternative text). ALT tags are used to describe the graphic or what the graphic is representing. ALT tags are not created automatically in blog platform, the author needs to enter the text the screen reader will use. Want more info check out the CommonPlaces blog.

Note that I didn’t put the full link for the CommonPlaces blog. If it had been there, then a screen reader would have read the entire link.

A number of people have some form of color blindness. Your use of colors should not make for problems for people with color blindness. If your directions depend solely on color you are making it more difficult for about fifteen percent of the population

Videos should be captioned. YouTube videos have an auto-captioning feature, but, according to YouTube, that is only, at best 75% accurate, and depending on the quality of the audio, speaker’s accent, and content, accuracy can be less than 50%. But the auto-captioning can be edited by the owner of the video, and starting with the auto-captioning is easier than starting from scratch. Creating a transcript is better than nothing. Don’t think only people would can’t hear need/want videos captioned. We have captioning turned on our tv all the time, as do many other folks without a hearing disability.

You create a blog to communicate ideas/content/information. Designing the blog to be more accessible ensures that more people can understand your content. There are tools to help with accessibility. All Microsoft products now include an accessibility check. Adobe and many other products have similar features.

One of the tools I frequently use is the WAVE Accessibility Tool. I have it as an add-on to Chrome. It is not a complete accessibility checker (e.g. it doesn’t check videos for captioning) but it does provide a good overview of the basics. I do know that the Office for Civil Rights of the US Dept of Education (OCR) has used it to monitor compliance with federal civil rights legislation.

If your blog were part of an educational institution, then at a minimum the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would apply. Make a blog for your class, and its part of education and ADA as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies.

P.S. This document was composed on Word, and the accessibility checker (File, Info, Inspect Document, Check Accessibility) reported it was accessible.

Ray Rose is an online learning and accessibility evangelist. He works with educational institutions to improve educational opportunities for all. As is the pattern here at Virtual School Meanderings, there will be no additional entries posted today.

September 14, 2015

Authors Wanted – Special Learning Analytics Issue of Online Learning

From today’s inbox…

Online Learning Consortium
Online Learning (Journal) 
Learning Analytics Edition
Call for Papers Open
Dear Michael K,

This is a friendly reminder that there are just 15 days left to submit a paper for our special edition of Online Learning focusing on Learning Analytics.

The goal of this special edition is to advance our understanding of the particular issues involved in developing and implementing learning analytics in the context of online learning environments.

This edition will present rigorous empirical research and theory-based work on the use of learning analytics in online education.  Potential topics include, but are not limited to: the use of learning analytics in developing effective models for identifying at-risk online students; the creation of analytics that provide feedback to students and/or instructors on learning processes, and the use of analytics for adaptive online learning or personalized recommendations.

Submit your paper by September 30, 2015.

You can find Online Learning in these databases: EBSCO, ERIC, H.W. Wilson Company, Cabell Publishing Inc., ERA Online, Ulrichs Web, Index Copernicus. We also support the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Access JOLT archives here.

Authors and reviewers: Update your profiles here.

 

Best regards,
Peter

Peter Shea | Editor-in-Chief, Online Learning | Online Learning Consortium
University at Albany, State University of New York

The Online Learning Consortium | P.O. Box 1238 | Newburyport | MA | 01950

August 31, 2015

Call for Papers – Special Learning Analytics Issue of Online Learning

Also from Friday’s inbox…

Online Learning Consortium
Online Learning (Journal) 
Learning Analytics Edition
Call for Papers Open
Dear Michael,

We appreciate your continued support of the recently merged MERLOT and OLC scholarly journals – now aptly called Online Learning. We are pleased to invite you to submit a paper for our special edition on Learning Analytics.

The goal of this special edition is to advance our understanding of the particular issues involved in developing and implementing learning analytics in the context of online learning environments.

This edition will present rigorous empirical research and theory-based work on the use of learning analytics in online education.  Potential topics include, but are not limited to: the use of learning analytics in developing effective models for identifying at-risk online students; the creation of analytics that provide feedback to students and/or instructors on learning processes, and the use of analytics for adaptive online learning or personalized recommendations.

Submit your paper by September 30, 2015.

You can find Online Learning in these databases: EBSCO, ERIC, H.W. Wilson Company, Cabell Publishing Inc., ERA Online, Ulrichs Web, Index Copernicus. We also support the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Access JOLT archives here.

Authors and reviewers: Update your profiles here.

 

Best regards,
Peter

Peter Shea | Editor-in-Chief, Online Learning | Online Learning Consortium
University at Albany, State University of New York

This email was sent to mkbarbour@gmail.com from noreply@onlinelearningconsortium.org. You received this e-mail, because you are signed up for OLC communications.

The Online Learning Consortium | P.O. Box 1238 | Newburyport | MA | 01950

August 7, 2014

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

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org, a people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23@gmail.com.

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 Freepeoplesearch.org, a people finder site. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23@gmail.com.

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