Blips not to overlook

Posted by Butch Owens on January 31, 2013

Radar screenAs we venture forth into 2013, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some items that should be on every administrator’s radar.  We all need to be developing a plan on how we will incorporate each into our schools.

Learning Management Systems

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process. Typically, a learning management system provides an instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. A learning management system may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums.  Read more.

Flipped Classrooms

Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created videos that students view outside of class time. It is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom, and reverse teaching.  Read more.

BYOD

Bring your own device (also referred to as Bring your own technology (BYOT), Bring your own phone (BYOP), and Bring your own PC (BYOPC)) is a term that is frequently used to describe the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their place of work and use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.[1] The term is also used to describe the same practice applied to students using personally owned devices in education settings.  Read more.

MOOC

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources. Examples include Khan Academy and free offerings from Stanford and MIT.  Read more.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. It also was a storage service but has since been replaced by the before-mentioned Google Drive. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of Writely and Spreadsheets with a presentation program incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems.  Learn more.

California Student Bill of Rights Initiative

The California Student Bill of Rights Initiative did not make the ballot last November, but had it qualified for the ballot and been approved by the state’s voters, it would have:

  • Authorized school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to claim average daily attendance funding for student participation in approved online courses.
  • Authorized school districts to contract with public and private providers to deliver online courses taught by credentialed teachers.
  • Allowed students to take online courses offered by any school district, regardless of student’s residence.
  • Provided students access to courses required for admission to state universities.
  • Established the “California Diploma”, which would have demonstrated completion of courses required for University of California and California State University admission.

If students need flexibility in their schedule or a teacher in another district has a great online course, students will definitely seek out that option if available—and the ADA would follow the student for that course. Students will no longer be held hostage to what their local district, school or individual teacher of a course is offering.

Huffington article on California online bill of rights
Click image above to read this Huffington post article.

Personal Learning Networks

A personal learning network (PLN) is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection.  Read more.

Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Educational Paradigms

This is a great 11 minute video by Sir Ken Robinson to open up the dialog about the need to change and adapt our schools to meet the needs of students today and into the future. Pay particular attention to the section on divergent thinking. As Sir Ken points out this is one of the most important traits students will need to be successful in our changing world.  Learn more.

A Question

Let me finish by posing a question. If students truly have a choice about what courses they take and where they take them, will they choose to stay enrolled in a course that is textbook-driven and without access to technology or any expectation to use technology to produce evidence of their learning? Or would they choose a hybrid or blended course with online,24/7, access to highly interactive threaded discussions, media rich resources, and the ability to schedule the class around other commitments and activities?

Take for example this brief blog post.  It starts with a brief description and includes links to other resources for those looking to explore a topic in depth.  Compare this to a one page article with definitions of each trend. Which would provide a better understanding of the topic? Which would lead to a deeper understanding? Which is more engaging?

If you are looking to continue this conversation you should consider attending the Leadership 3.0 Symposium sponsored by TICAL, ACSA and CUE.  It takes place April 11–13, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency, Irvine, California.  Learn more.

 

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Summer School: Lessons for the rest of the year?

Posted by Devin Vodicka on August 10, 2011

It is hard to believe that summer is almost over.  Like most districts in California, ours has been under intense fiscal pressure due to ongoing budget cuts.  This influence, coupled with increasing expectations for student achievement, led us to redesign our summer school options.  We now have an opportunity to reflect and evaluate the merits of our decisions.

The silver lining in the current financial crisis has been the relaxation of rules for programs like summer school.  In the past, our revenue would have been linked to the number of hours of attendance for students that qualified for varying rates of reimbursement.  Now that the supplemental hourly programs such as summer school are flexible, we asked ourselves what the needs of our students were and how we could best use existing resources to address those areas.  As a result, we decided to offer a distance learning program for students in need of credit recovery at the high school level and an English Learner academy for all grades.   Thanks to recent funding from the Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program, we had some iPads and iPod touch devices that we decided to deploy as part of our EL academy.

How did it work?

Our district sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean about 35 miles north of San Diego.  I mention this because the first thing we noticed was that attendance, which usually drops off during the summer, held steady in spite of the lure of our coastal diversions.  Student engagement, which typically is not at its peak during summer interventions, was remarkably different than in the past.  Teacher enthusiasm—also subject to variation during the summer—was off the charts in a positive direction.  Grades and local assessments also showed higher levels of success than we previously have seen in the summer.

Here are a few recommendations based on this experience:

  • Take advantage of the existing options to be creative with program design.
  • As always, consider multiple funding streams to support your plans.  We used Voucher funding for the hardware, Title III dollars for the EL academy instruction, and some Tier III revenues to provide for distance learning resources.  Much of the planning was supported by a one-time, ARRA Technology grant.
  • Remember that many technology resources—hardware and software—are unused during summer.  For us, having the iPads sit in storage would not have served our students.  The distance learning licenses we purchased earlier in the year were “annual” subscriptions that also were viable for use in the summer without any additional expenses.
  • Use student achievement data to guide your areas in need of attention.
  • Empower teachers and staff to best use the technology resources.  Our teachers discovered new and creative ways to motivate and instruct students that we would not have been able to anticipate had we provided too much of a script for their plans.

As educational leaders, my hope is that we find ways to turn our challenges into opportunities for improvement.  Strategic and novel deployment of existing technology resources is one strategy that will help us to best serve our students and communities.  If we can make it work during the summer, what is to stop us from doing the same throughout the year?

Learn more:

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Education and the National Broadband Plan

Posted by Michael Simkins on October 5, 2009

fiberOptics by Matt Tanguay-Carel.  Used with permission.
fiberOptics by Matt Tanguay-Carel. Used with permission.

Most of us are aware that work is underway at the Department of Education on a new National Educational Technology Plan, but you may not know that education figures prominently in another federal technology initiative, the National Broadband Plan being developing at the Federal Communications Commission.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directs the FCC to develop a plan that ensures every American citizen and every American business has access to robust broadband services.  The plan must include discrete strategies for how to use broadband to advance a wide range of national purposes from consumer welfare to health care delivery; education is among these.

To help collect ideas on what should go into the education component of the broadband plan, an IdeaScale portal is in place.   Here is a selection of some of the more interesting ideas contributed so far.

  • We’re asking the wrong question; it should be, “What kinds of research and development are needed to make emerging technology applications effective for learning?”
  • Collaboration, Internet research, and the organization and facilitation of the learning environment are the jobs of the modern educator; all of these technologies require broadband.
  • A blended model is best; use the technology and application that fits the current learning task.
  • In today’s challenging economic environment, the dramatically lower cost of broadband delivery makes the case for an online learning portal especially compelling.
  • Broadband can do more than just educate, it can inspire and open minds.

Have your own ideas about how broadband can make education better and/or cheaper?  Want to see what others have said and add your comments?  Like voting ideas up or down?  Visit US Educational Broadband Planning.

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Adult Schools Leverage Distance Learning

Posted by Melanie Wade on August 31, 2009

Having slashed our budgets by a whopping 20% already this year, California’s adult schools continue to seek innovative ways to stretch our education dollars. Distance learning has been a growing delivery system for us during recent years, and we will continue to explore new ways in which we can educate students who are unable to meet face-to-face in a convenient and cost-effective manner.

The California Technology Innovation Challenge Grant began with the goal of extending learning beyond the classroom for students in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. Previously “low tech” in delivery, this project has evolved into online delivery methods such as the recently launched U.S.A. Learns—an Internet-based instructional software program. A joint venture of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL), core funding for U.S.A. Learns was provided by ED. Additional funding for U.S.A. Learns was made available by the California Department of Education, Office of Adult Education. U.S.A. Learns has helped adult educators to facilitate a centrally manageable, entirely online, truly innovative distance learning program for English learners.

The California Distance Learning Project continues to support expanding options for Career Technical Education Citizenship, GED Test Preparation, High School Diploma subjects, Older Adult, and Parent Education programs. Visit your local adult school today to learn more about distance learning programs in addition to a full array of traditional face to face and blended, i.e. combination of distance learning and traditional class meetings. Your local adult school is your community resource for full technology integration into all curricular areas. A list is available on the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network for Adult Educators (OTAN) website. Access to OTAN is free of charge with registration.

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