Thursday, October 31, 2013

My niece is a zombie princess!

My nephew as a garden gnome!

Emily as a nerdy zebra! She figured no one else would be one.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ad infinitum


This popped in my head the other day. I'm sharing it because, well, there is no sense keeping these kinds of thoughts all to myself.

  • Radar Gun (R) - Device used to measure the speed of a traveling vehicle. (Police)
  • Radar Detector (RD) - Device used to determine if radar is being used. (Citizen)
  • radar detector detector (RDD) - used in states where radar detectors are illegal in order to determine if a citizen is illegally using a radar detector. (Police)
  • radar detector detector detector (RD3) - Device used by citizens traveling through a state where radar detectors are illegal in order to determine if a police car is trying to detect whether or not the citizen has a radar detector. (Citizen)
  • radar detector detector detector detector (RD4)- Device used by police to determine if a citizen is attempting to thwart law enforcement by the use of RD3. (Police)
  • radar detector detector detector detector detector (RD5) - Used to determine if an officer is trying to determine whether or not the citizen is trying to detect the officer's RD4. (Citizen)
  • To quote Bugs Bunny here: "A bit monotonous... Isn't it?"
The point to this little example is to show that people who want to break the law are going to do so. Basically, laws are there to keep the "wannabe" law-breakers from becoming law breakers. Or at least, giving them a chance to stop and think for a moment before breaking the law.

A friend of mine once said, "A thief with a chainsaw can get past any door lock. They just cut through the wall. And, ADT won't even know about it."

Note: RD5 does not exist so far as I know. I'm not even sure RD4 exists. But, I'm sure they will soon enough. Just drive the speed limit and you won't have to worry about it. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#inacol13 - Tuesday: Modularize This! Collaborative Professional Development

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this:
Since Professional Development is a large part of what education co-ops do, it is important to understand new, different, and possibly better, ways to provide the training our teachers need.

What I learned/Am learning:
State Virtual School Alliance - States share info and PD among a group of states. Help eliminate redundancy.

Key components:

  • Collaboration - Shared leadership model, though one person organizes the event(s). 
  • Share resources - Allows for a more robust PD offering, especially on a limited scale of personnel.
  • Innovation - Failure is part of the process. Latch on to the bright spots to forward innovation.
History of Online Collaboration
  • 2-day synchronous (like a face-to-face conference, breakouts, etc)
  • Wikispaces Page
  • Wimba/Elluminate
  • Asynchronous
  • Collaborate (Kickoff)
  • Edmodo
The second format allowed for deeper content. Each piece was about 5 hours. Teachers could take time to complete each module - 3 weeks per module.

Not enough structure in Edmodo for what they were trying to do.


Concepts broken into 2-week modules. Each 'presenter' would moderate his/her module. History kept after the fact. During the window, encourage collaboration, discussion, answering questions, etc. After the fact, people could ask questions, but no guarantee of answers.

What worked:

  • Google Docs for Collab planning
  • Drop box for shared final product (share the raw content)
  • Edmodo for assessments
What didn't work
  • Edmodo - Ups: Free, No ads, Basic LMS; Downs: Teachers used to bigger systems were confused by the simplistic interface, Discussion lacked robust functionality, Confusing layout for complex lessons or concept objects; Had to create materials to show hot to log in, where to do, etc; Used Google Form for evaluation - teachers did not like Edmodo (not orderly process)
  • Engagement - When given for credit, must show teacher was engaged. Discussions placed in many modules. Some teachers threw up roadblocks: goes against what they believed, they were already doing things being asked, "kind of trolling." They had "keyboard courage" - more vocal behind the keys than face-to-face. Need to set up expectations: etiquette, moderate content, challenge non-participating teachers, (basically the same things you do when facilitating an online course, which is basically what these are). 
Advantage to online PD - repurpose the content for targeted PD in a different scenario or for new teachers, etc. 

This year, use a full-fledged LMS, maybe. Looking into WordPress plugins to add LMS features (BadgeOS, LearnDash $100). Possibly use Google Hangout and YouTube Live for moderated live events. Or have a twitter hashtag that is moderated for questions.

You have to make the promise to evolve over time - adapt to the learners.

Some of my thoughts:
Several entities talked about not having manpower/resources for summer PD before this program implemented. In Arkansas, this is exactly why Co-ops are there. Additionally, if we can create a collaborative online PD, we might be able help our schools with their PD. The program presented basically applies to online-only schools/state virtual schools/programs, at least at this point.

#inacol13 Tuesday - PhET Sims for Science Inquiry

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this one:
This one described itself as being enhanced with HTML5, Touch, and having other features. I really have no idea what PhET is or what it does. Turns out the program is being hosted by CU-Boulder, my old stomping grounds for a brief time many years ago.

What I learned/Am learning:

http://phet.colorado.edu

Support learning inquiry

  • Students asking "What if" questions
  • Authentic scientific process skills
  • Use data and evidence to support ideas
  • Explore cause and effect relationships
  • "Safe Exploration" and rapid inquiry cycles
PhET - 128 interactive simulations in science and math - Free!

Advance science literacy worldwide through the free simulations

PhET is available as a 280 MB download and distribute on usb sticks.

Team of faculty, post-ops, k12 teachers, software developers put together the resources.

Student goals
  • Science and math should accessible and enjoyable (not "FUN," but deeper enjoyment)
  • Make connections to everyday life
  • Achieve conceptual learning (not just the 'right' answer, but understanding why and how)
  • Scientific exploration - multiple learning outcomes
  • Ownership of the learning experience
PhET uses an NPR-style model - grants, sponsors, donations

Creative Commons Attribution, open use.
Over 40 million runs per year
Easy to translate: over 4000 translations in 70 languages (all crowd-sourced, free!)
Source code is open and free - see the code and use the code to change the simulations
Conversion to HTML5


Was in Java and Flash. iPads don't run Flash. Chromebooks won't run Java. That system no longer worked. Spent last year in HTML5 so it can run in web browser. Targeting iPads and Chromebooks because that is where schools are sitting these days.

HTML5 will help make their simulations more readily accessible for people with various needs.

Flexibility

  • Pick and choose which sims to use
  • Your environment and Your learning goals
  • There is a database of activities (more than 500) - 3rd grade to undergrad - differentiation
The combination of the sims and real-world tools provides a robust learning environment. The sims do not replace real-world tools. The two are related and offer different advantages and disadvantages.

Is the sim engaging? (Demo was "Fraction Matcher"). Is the student "ignoring" the instructor? 

For testing, PhET tries to find test students WITHOUT prior knowledge. Not everything is inherently "intuitive." They have a new grant to develop sims aimed at Middle School students in order to bring that intuitiveness into a broader appeal.  The newer sims have tabs that separate certain ideas - scaffolding.

Support inquiry: Accurate, dynamic, visual representations. When I change something, it changes instantly on screen. Use of sliders, user interaction, etc - user controls the sim.  Allow impossible or difficult actions (change mass of sun, battery never dies, etc).

Make the invisible visible. Student can watch energy, electrons, etc. Allow students to change certain aspects on certain tabs - limit choices at first and expand into more choices.

In-Class activity, Demo, Concept questions, homework, group work, address difficult learning goals.

Begin with open play (let students find controls)
Take advantage of sim features
Short activity sheet
Minimal wording
Scaffold - tables highly effective

"Find all the ways to..."
"What is the largest..."
"List the essential items to..."
"What are two ways to.."
"How can you make..."

Future of PhET: HTML5, Touch, increase flexibility (sim mashups of multiple sims into one custom sim), Assessment (get data out, put data in, how being used, etc)

Various changes: interface, layout, etc. They love to hear feedback from users - helps in the redesign, report bugs, or ask questions about the sims.

Companion Site:
  • Guides
  • "Primers"
  • Easier searching
  • Community Forum
  • In the works (being developed, need donors to support funding)

#inacol13 - Tuesday: Is Your Network Ready for Digital Learning?

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this one:
I was asked to attend this one in order to see what other folks are saying regarding bandwidth.

What I learned/Am learning:

Presented by EducationSuperhighway. Link: http://www.educationsuperhighway.org/

Mission: Upgrade internet infrastructure of every k12 public school in America.

Infrastructure upgrades required to deploy initiatives:
Common Core
Next Gen Assessments
STEM (address teacher shortages)

The focus has shifted greatly from Admins/Teachers on the network to students getting online.

Recommended 100Mbps for districts at a minimum. Most schools have 10Mbps (if even that).

Less than 10 Kbps per student is "Pre-Basic"
10-50 k/student = Basic
50-100 k/student = Emerging Reliance 
100+ k/student = Technology Rich

Each school is a different stage in the "life cycle" in terms of what they need/should have. Don't buy bandwidth just to "have it" if you don't need it.

Minimum requirements cover basic usage and an "all call" to get off the network during PARCC assessments.

Next-step is Teacher-Driven adoption and growth

Student-Driven network means more bandwidth.

Ultimately 1:1 Media-Centric rollout - every student has a device and is connected. Leadership is on board with student in-hand technology. Network becomes critical in terms of uptime.

Potential bottlenecks: What is size of pipe coming into the district. Lots of places, you cannot GET the connectivity. Other times, it is an issue of not subscribing to enough bandwidth. Many times, the filter/firewall is outdated and cannot handle the throughput required. The physical wiring set up and be an issue. Managed switches can direct and/or throttle throughput. The wiring itself can be old and degrade the quality of connection. Wireless access is a bottleneck: Is there enough bandwidth? Is there enough coverage? Is there too much coverage? Is it a managed solution? Incredible demand on Wifi if devices are constantly switching between access points. The wifi equipment itself can be an issue. And, the device can be the bottleneck: speed, age, capability, etc.

Information Gap > Expertise Gap > Procurement Gap > Policy Gap

  • Which schools need to be upgraded?
  • Schools need help with upgrade paths and plans. Schools may not have the staff to handle everything involved.
  • Can we get cost lowered for additional bandwidth? What about equipment? (Internet Pricing Portal)
  • Policy Gap: E-Rate 2.0
Schools not getting volume discounts. Why not partner to receive certain services. 


School Speed Test: Collect information from classroom access. Goal is to get 10 tests from every district. Roughly one minute test. Confirm location, run the test. SchoolSpeedTest.net - usually partner with state dept of ed. Measures continuous-use bandwidth. 

Ideally, test is taken through different devices in different locations on different days during the month. Data given to state depts of ed (where there is partnership) in order to help the DOE understand what is happening in the state.

Test results assessed against two goals: Online Assessment (PARCC) and Digital Learning (Online courses). 1Mbps/students/sec in 2017-2018 (SETDA)

72% of schools not meeting the minimum as of latest test data.

Data Infrastructure Assessment

  • 45-minute phone call and a 1.5 hour on-site visit - Zero cost to school districts for the 75 pilot schools. Would need to work with the non-profit regarding on-site visit.
  • Phone interview - What equipment they have, are buying. Can follow up with on-site. Provide supts with specific upgrade needs.
  • Take snapshot of the network and provide feedback in a color-coded, easy to read format.
Internet Pricing Portal
  • Collect data on what is being paid. This is done via Item 21 attachments. And sometimes a 30-minute phone call.
  • Reports on cost per megabit and where those costs "should" sit for what schools can provide
  • Fiber transforms the costs. Of course, this assumes fiber is even available to the schools.
E-Rate
  • Create a one-time upgrade fund to enable schools to meet realistic broadband goals for the next generation (fiber/wifi/etc)
  • Reform E-Rate administration of E-Rate to reduce costs.
  • Focus funds to building broadband infrastructure
*Personal thought: E-Rate needs to separate phone service from internet services. Ex: AT&T provides phone and DSL, but those are both listed as "Telephony" according to E-Rate. That is ludicrous. As an aside, I have very 'radical' ideas on changes to E-Rate and may share those later.




A 4th grader talks about his learning experiences in online learning. #inacol13

It surprises me that places still hire folks to do this...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Some random pics from Downtown Disney!

Some of the cool Lego displays at Downtown Disney! #instacollage

#inacol13 Monday: Coast-to-Coast Pathways to Competency-Based Education

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this:
Much like my choice for the Michigan presentation earlier today, I chose this one because I want to see what other states are doing/have done with their online education rollouts. In this case, the focus is on Oregon, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

What I Learned/Am Learning:
Oregon Goals

  • Every student prepared for college and career
  • Focus on student learning, not on accumulating points
  • Create environments where students are partners in their learning
  • Oregonlearns.org
Students can take classes in a Proficiency-based format. Proficiency in grade-level standards separate from non-academic factors (takes out discipline, attendance, etc)

There are documents and powerpoints on the Oregon Dept of Ed website.

Sufficient evidence of student demonstrated knowledge and skills that meet or exceed defined levels of performance

K/S/T - Knowledge, Skills, Transfer

District Support:
  • Trainers/coaches
  • Regional Services
  • Open Enrollment
  • Contracts with districts
  • Webinars
  • BEC (Business Education Compact) Document Portal
  • "On Request" folders
  • Document review
  • Team Teaching
  • Monthly Software Reviews: Remind 101, Quizlet, Class Dojo
Two categories of proficiencies/standards: those that are taught and those that are taught and assessed. Gradebooks are standards-based.

IOWA

Eliminated the Carnegie unit as the basis for credit. Base credit earnings on competency.
Legislature got behind the program, gave grants for the Iowa CBE collaborative
Iowa Guidelines and Definitions: what does "proficiency" mean? What is "competency?" etc...
Students must DEMONSTRATE their competencies and proficiencies. 

Policy changes:
Code regarding credit earning
State code regarding definitions of "unit" - eliminate words like "time" or "Carnegie unit"

J-Term - 3 weeks to engage in standards-based and project-based learning environments

There is a lot more information but it was on slides that are available online. I can/will provide links to those later Monday evening or Tuesday.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Must support teachers and set the bar high for students and support the students.

Knowledge/Skills/Work Study Practices

Improve the system we have as we innovate the system we need (creating the new space).

Improve Instructional Core:
Raise level of content taught, Increase skills of teacher, Increase level of student's active learning.

Students are learning in deeper ways, so they must be assessed in deeper ways. Performances must be demonstrated in order to assess competencies.  Tasks get tested, tasks tests are vetted.

2013: New minimum standards for K-12 - grade levels are NOT MENTIONED; students must show mastery of district competencies.

Eventually, students could move ahead based on skills/competencies and not simply by age groups.

Charters can already have grade-level-less advancement.

Connections to teacher evaluation and proficiency based on student competencies and proficiencies. 

Again, additional information will be shared via links either later Monday or Tuesday.


You can have letter grades associated with CBE.

#inacol13 Ice cream social and vendor visits

#iNacol13 Monday: Creating Your District's Virtual or Blended Learning Program

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this:
I thought a panel presentation about the good, bad, and ugly in starting a virtual/blended program would help me as I help the Distance Learning Coordinator work with our area schools. Some of our schools may wish to develop their own content, and we have to be ready with answers to the questions they will most likely generate.

What I learned/Am learning:

Panelists serve a variety of students, including autistic, downs, expelled students not allowed to set foot on campus, and others. Is a mix of public and private, fulltime and supplemental, large populations and smaller ones. A varied panel.

In order to adjust to the new methods of education, all personnel must be retrained and adjust their duties.

How to select a platform. What are some thoughts, ideas, questions?  No perfect way to do this. Personalizing the process is vital and different for each district, each rollout. Hire consultants for specific needs, not a bee-all-end-all. Bring in and send out as you need, when you need.

Sometimes, it is simply trial and error. That is the wrong approach, but sometimes that's what happens. It is not like textbooks: you dont get to see everything. You see the best. YOu must ask for access. Get your hands on it. You will learn what you need and what you don't. Look past the presentation, access the full package - not even a demo login. Have a team of people look, play, hunt and peck. Don't be afraid to have THE conversation. "Here is what I need." You must be willing to have those conversations. It's okay to step out of the box, do things differently. Allow the teachers navigate the courses and use students - have them look it over. Is it easy to navigate? Does it look interesting? Would you want to use this every class? "There is no Consumer Reports Guide for choosing." As administrators, you have to lead the teachers down the road. How much money do you have? Some are very expensive yet don't offer what you need to fit your school, your budget, your students, and your teachers. Families are an integral part of the transition. Be willing to call your provider and let them know what isn't working. Must be able to differentiate and individualize the instruction. Needs to be customizable - give ownership to the teaching staff. You don't want teaching to stop! Allow teachers to add their own touch. Bang for the buck. What are you getting for the money? What about user-friendliness - for teachers, for students. What about ongoing training for the teachers? Is creating your own coursework important? Make sure your chosen system has that, if you need it. One person cannot be the decision maker - admin, teachers, students...

How do you screen, recruit, hire, train, etc personnel? There is a method to hire based on student-centeredness.  Do they care about the individual student? "I can teach skill. I cannot teach heart." Passion and compassion is number one. Teachers tend to form support groups and tell other teachers about opportunities. Have a great support system. Recruit on social media - facebook, twitter, etc. Took away the teacher's safety nets (handouts, etc). Some teachers came along willingly. Other teachers left the program. It is important to know that eventually all k-12 education will be faced with blended learning environments. Training and retraining is key. Keep a very open mind - the ones you think will lead the charge are the ones who jump ship. Some sites hire teachers that are already teaching - adjunct teachers who do blended learning after their regular hours. There is a mandatory training - if they don't come, they don't teach online. In several cases, the teachers need to be problem-solvers and not problem-dwellers/creators.

Maintaining the program: Many times, it takes multiple vendors and implementations in order to reach goals. Need lots of training and education on the front end. Some sites have a student reorientation process - laws may have changed, etc. Teachers go through training. Twice a month there is a face-to-face for training. Students can come in face-to-face with the teachers to cover issues. Meet with teachers/students about what is working or not, then meet with the vendor(s) to address those issues. This is a hand-holding process from the vendors. If vendors will not be there, not provide the customer service, then that lack of support will result in schools dumping those vendors.

Program leaders must build a network of support. Let everyone know that you are there. Be open to the good, bad and ugly. Students groups, parent groups, facilitator groups, teacher groups. Each group needs a support mechanism outside of direct contact with the director/program leaders. By the same token, program leaders essentially adopt a 24/7/365 access.

Facilitate ongoing data points, reporting, etc. Look for built-in data collection and tracking. Still have regular staff meetings. Pull info about how long students were logged in, teachers logged in. Can see what is happening. Helps with parent communication. Teachers communicate with students, with parents, etc. Track communication within the various programs implemented.

Research and building process - dual enrollment, career and tech, industry certifications. How do you go about building process for building those kind of relationships.

How do you market and sell your own program? You must do this or else you won't survive - not enough bodies, no expansion. Get what you can for free. Social media. Local news articles. Teacher, parent, student referrals - offer incentives for giving referrals. Connect with your community and know your community. Find students to be your advocate. Find someone else to tell your story for you. "This saved my child." "This transformed my child."

Teacher evaluation: attendance, communication. Local district eval modified with approval. Virtual walkthrough - can you see the student work? can you see syllabus, gradebook, what about 'word walls' as resources, etc. Virtual portfolio for evaluation. Must be able to capture data digitally in order to share it out.


#iNacol13 - Monday 11:15 - Augmented Reality

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this:
Frankly, the title intrigued me. I am interested in learning what programs, sites, apps, etc are being used for augmented reality in online courses.

What I learned/Am learning:
Program started with a demo of Sphero! Very cool!! A little remote-controlled ball that is transformed into a virtual character on a mobile device. More info: http://www.gosphero.com/

http://linkyy.com/HallDavidsonHandouts
http://linkyy.com/MDLA
http://linkyy.com/TCSSAtrial2 - Social Studies cloud-based textbook

Presenter is wearing Google Glass

MIT Media Lab - cardboard radio, then augment that and control the radio! Very cool! Connect cardboard radio to cardboard speakers.

Augmented door entry: without the app, you have no access. Same with lighting, etc.

QR - Quick Response
AR - Augmented Reality
VR - Virtual Reality

Aurasma - Augmented reality app. Students can make objects to be viewed globally. Load the app and point it to the back of a 20 dollar bill. Superintendent 1 min video welcoming to school when pointed to school mission posted on wall.

QR Codes - put in the library books. Maybe leads to book trailers, book talks, hang from trees, attach to buildings, etc. Make at qrstuff.com, etc. Put on your resume that leads to video, blog, wiki, etc

Delivr.com - change destination of the same qrcode - dynamic qrcodes

Divide the qr code in pieces, and have students build the qrcode from the puzzle pieces.

Set up your Youtube with an address where students could upload videos to your account without your account info.

TourWrist - Clearing house for virtual reality tours. You can turn 360 degrees and view the location. Not a walking tour.

360Pano - Create a 360-degree image.

WordLens - Change text to other language on the fly - street signs, programs, etc

"Flying Books" - Imag.n.tron Morris Lessmore - augments the children's book. Reader transported "into" the book!

Heartcam

Students can make their own pop-up books, coloring books, etc

Zooburst

Colorapp

QRVoice.net




#iNacol13 Monday 10a Session: Personalized Blended Learning; Going Statewide in Michigan

It has been a while since I tried blogging during a conference session, so we'll see how this goes. Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information.

Why I chose this session:
Arkansas has had a distance learning program for many years now, but Act 1280 of 2013 completely changed what distance learning means for the state. The act, dubbed "The Digital Learning Act," shifts the focus from interactive video to online delivery. Since Arkansas is just now getting into this, I wanted to hear how other states managed a statewide rollout.

What I learned/am learning:
Last year, legislature asked future of education and what is role of technology?

Recommendations:

  • Student - Customized for each student, learns at own pace
  • Teachers - Create a statewide system for support, personalized, high-quality teachers, lots of professional development will be needed
  • Schools - must create spaces that support personalized learning. 
  • Technology - at the forefront of learning, info, accountability
  • Data - create and support a data infrastructure that can be used to create/inform individualized instruction.
  • Quality and Accountability - appoint an independent authority to evaluate the quality of content providers. Means vendors and every school district (each is technically now a provider).
Their program begins in January. Schools have to honor student requests starting in January. How do we open up choice for students with creating a "wild, wild west" mentality? How and When should online learning be implemented.

Every pupil grades 5-12 can enroll in 2 online courses in any given semester. Legislation may be adjusted to increase the limit of courses.

Districts can decide if a course is offered locally. Could convert it online and make it available to only their students. Likewise, they could put that course in a statewide catalog. The catalog simply loads a syllabus with descriptions. The courses are delivered through various vendors/mechanisms. Catalog builds awareness of the courses. Does not include enrollment services yet, but hope to add that in the future (next year). Every district required to link to catalog.

Districts or Michigan Virtual must approve all courses (locally developed) before they will appear in catalog, regardless of provider. The educator is required to be Michigan-Certified. District only obligated to use Michigan-teacher led courses. Those teachers may be certified in other states, but they hold Michigan certs or the Michigan teacher is the teacher of record for the content provided by a vendor. Districts can deny a course not taught by a Michigan certified instructor. Pupils can choose. Districts cannot restrict student access to certain courses or catalogs. (Note: that last bit may need follow up for clarification).

Course cost limits: 1/12th of the foundational allowance for a semester-length course (district would pay no more than this in fees). 1/18th for longer courses.

Six reason district could deny:
  1. Pupil already earned credits for course
  2. Course does not generate credit
  3. Inconsistent with remaining graduation requirements
  4. Pupil does not possess prerequisite skills/knowledge
  5. Pupil has previously failed online course in same subject
  6. Online course not of sufficient quality or rigor
There is an appeal process. Courses are reviewed for quality and rigor against the iNACOL standards. Michigan is training about 100 educators on what to look for etc. Building capacity to review. Reviews would cost money.  If a course does not meet rigor, district has obligation to find alternative. Appeals would be made to intermediary agency (like a Co-op) for an independent review.

A year from now, results from courses will be included in the catalog (# enrolled, #passing, Completion rates)

Courses have enrollment periods. Enrollment in courses done by random-draw if enrollment requests exceed seats available. It is NOT first-come/first-served in those scenarios. 

The student's home district is "on the hook" for failure of student - NOT the provider, even if that provider is another district. There is work to modify that.

Schools are required to provide students in online courses the same technology as the same students in the local home-student's district.

MyBlend - supporting blended learning in local districts
  • Consulting - Help facilitate blended learning at district and school level. How do we do this? How do we take the ACSIP and ask the right questions in terms of "Why do blended learning?" Tie the pieces together to benefit students 
  • Professional Development - Model what schools should be doing. Personalized PD. Use a blended approach.
  • Online Content - Library of resources (learning objects) and full courses
  • Teacher-developed Content - Teacher's Workbench. Learning objects (videos, gizmos, etc) and other content can be incorporated. This is at the lesson level, not the course level.  Michigan Virtual takes the skeleton/outline and then develops a course/courses around the teacher-created content. 
Packaged differently, specifically for each district - not a "one-size fits all" approach. Some schools are developing courses. Other districts have teachers who have never seen an online course. Teachers track student progress, and can make changes in what student is learning based on personal needs.

A set of standards is used to approve courses being offered. There is a rubric tool and outside evaluators as well as subject-matter experts when creating courses. Curriculum maps used as well. Courses are reviewed on a regular basis over time. Data from college board for AP courses compare online delivery with traditional delivery.  Make sure that teachers interact with students.  This does not apply to vendor-based courses. Michigan Dept of Ed holds the job of course approval overall. 

Train teachers as to what to look for in online courses, online teachers, etc.







Blended Learning, Student-Centered, etc #inacol13

Susan Patrick:

Blended learning is the modality, the delivery mechanism, that serves to bridge educational shift from traditional classroom models to fully student-centered education. Blended learning means that the students meet in a facilitator-led program, away from home. Blended learning is not simply dropping a bunch of tablets in place with the same, traditional lessons, testing, progress.

Student-centered learning means the students move ahead based on what they are learning, when they are ready. It is highly personalized.

Redesigned Classroom Instructional Model - fundamental change of the instructional model. We're talking about adaptive content, adaptive assessment. Teacher roles change: Facilitator, monitor, graduation coaches. Coaches each student to maximize their interests and abilities.

Demonstrate Competency to advance. Demonstrate knowledge. Innovative educator roles. Technology-enhanced learning.

Competency Education
- This is not "personalized education," though similar and ties to it.
- Students advance upon demonstrated mastery
- Explicit, measurable, transferable
- Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience
- Students receive timely, differentiated support base on their individual learning needs.
- Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with development of important skills. Problem-solving, etc.
- Students must keep working on areas until they get it. "A or B in the class, or try again."

New policies are absolutely necessary - must move away from "seat time" to competency-based learning environments. "We must have flexible pathways for learning." - Chris Sturgis

iNACOL has released New Learning Models Vision - Need to increase Opportunities, Access and equity for all students. Next Generation Learning Challenges - grant opportunities for breakthrough school models. Dec 2, Jan 13 grant deadlines. Info: http://www.nextgenlearning.org/

She says we must move away from awarding simple seat-time policies.

David's (my own) thoughts: I believe we need to do the same thing with professional development. We should be modeling the new classroom environment in the way we teach and train our teachers. "Butt-in-Chair Time" is not an effective manner in which to train our teachers any longer (not that it has ever really been, but we had no real way around it before). With the plethora of delivery mechanism available, why do we not approach teacher PD in the same manner? If an educator can demonstrate competency in required training, then why not let that teacher move on, move ahead, in their own professional growth!?


Live (sorta) from Orlando



This week, I am in Orlando for the 2013 iNACOL blended learning conference. I plan to take notes and post them here. As I am typing this entry, participants are filtering into the General Session area to hear the morning keynote. The featured keynotes this morning are:

Susan Patrick, President and CEO, iNACOL
Director Richard Crandall, Wyoming Department of Education
Representative Alisha Morgan, Georgia House of Representatives
Deputy Secretary James Shelton, U.S. Department of Education

Stay Tuned!

#inacol13 Getting ready to watch opening keynote.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Stupid Internet, making me all smart and what not...



How the Internet has yet again made me "stupid" (as some people continue to believe - the Internet is making us stupid):

As many of you know, I have a 2009 Dodge Charger. Well, some time ago, the starter began to act a little wonky. I'd insert my key, turn the ignition switch and... nothing... for a few seconds... then the car would start.  I didn't think much about it, really.

Fast forward several months. The delay between turning the key and the car starting has grown in range from about 4 seconds to more than 15 seconds. This morning, the car wouldn't start at all until I popped the hood, messed with a few wires, pushed in on some fuses and relays, and then cranked it up.

Enter: the Internet.

I searched for "2009 Dodge Charger Delayed Start" because that is pretty much what was going on. Turns out, a LOT of people have this problem in the 2007-2010 models.  The fix is easy and inexpensive (er, well, assuming one has the exact same problem. If the problem is different, then your mileage will vary).  Several forums talked about the issue with various fixes. All I had to do watch watch a video of a guy with the same issue change his Starter Relay. Piece of cake.  At lunch, I took my car to AutoZone and the looked up the part I needed.

They couldn't find the part I needed in their system. Lovely. We (the salesperson and I) decided to look at the pegboard hangers to see if we could find one that matched. No luck.  The salesperson then went behind the counter to look through stacks of parts.

After a few minutes, she came out with the part I needed.  It was a Durlast relay.  It cost $20. You can find them cheaper online, but I wasn't waiting a few days to save a few bucks.

I went to my car, popped the hood, and swapped the part, according to the video. Tah Dah! When I fired up the car, it turned over without a moment's hesitation.

Once again, thanks to the Internet, I am now SMARTER than I was before I had this problem. In the "old days," I would have taken the car to the shop, had diags run on it, and they MIGHT have figured out the problem. Total cost would have easily hit $100-plus.  Instead, I found the info I needed (free) and bought the part ($20) and spent less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I also know enough to help someone else should they have a similar issue. Yeah, that qualifies as getting smarter.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Old School Ways


Helping Emily with her homework tonight, I totally understand why God did not put teaching kids in my heart - because I am very easily frustrated when what seems obvious to me is not so to the poor girl, and I can't explain it to her because my "old school ways" are not how the kids are taught today - leading to more confusion and frustration.

At least I am smart enough to reach out to her teacher for help. :-)

Tonight was about fractions, but let me use a different example...

I will never understand why the methods of teaching certain subjects and/or concepts change. Let's take math, for instance. When I was in school, we memorized multiplication tables. Now, when I need to multiply numbers to 12, I visualize the table in my head and easily pull the answer. Today, kids are taught some random multiplication facts with no rhyme or reason.  My daughter has to count on her fingers because she has no frame of reference other than a bunch of random numbers floating in her head.

Basic math facts haven't changed in, what, 1000 years? 2000 years? 9000 years? Yeah, I know, there is a shift away from committing things to rote memory. Why? What is wrong with having a solid base of facts that one "just knows?"

I have always admired teachers, even when I was a smart-mouthed student. The more homework I have to try and help my children complete, the more admiration I have. There is no way I could do that each and every day without tossing the book out the window and doing it my "old school" way - whether the topic covers math facts, the periodic chart of the elements, the parts of a cell, proper use of "they're, their, and there," or the myriad of other things students have to learn.

We'll get it figured out eventually. I just hope we do before the test.