Monday, December 26, 2011

If Virtual Schools Came First

Colleague and sometimes co-conspirator Dave Glick has an interesting post on his blog which comes at the issue of resistance to virtual education from a different perspective. It's worth a read.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest Post: Are Online Schools Evil

Guest Post by Lindsey Wright.

[Lindsy asked if I'd be willing to post something she's written on the topic of online schools and I felt additional perspectives were welcomed on this blog, so, I apologize for the lack of posts over the past few months, the new position at Huston-Tillotson, plus some personal issues, have had me focused elsewhere. So it is with pleasure, that I present an interesting and thought provoking piece by Lindsey Wright. Ray]


Are Online Schools Evil?

Online schools represent one development of the growing trend of web-based education, which itself is far from a bad thing. However, care must be taken to separate the concept of a web-based school from the reality of the institutions that exist now. Unfortunately, many of the existing online schools are part of a pernicious cycle of exploitation that has given the very notion of online education a bad name. Despite this, it's important to keep in mind that the financial evils of these institutions are regrettably symptomatic of broader problems in higher education generally. While the issues with online schooling as it stands now can't be overlooked, educators and the public should nevertheless bear in mind that as a learning medium web-based education holds a great deal of promise if the institutions providing it develop and maintain better objectives and commitment to education itself.

Sadly, the public eye's view of online education has for some time been focused on the predatory tactics used by admissions personnel to pressure prospective students into enrollment at for-profit online colleges. Last year, some of these schools were even investigated by the Government Accountability Office, revealing that college representatives routinely misrepresented or unlawfully withheld information about the schools' programs. In some cases, the GAO's undercover prospective applicants were even encouraged to falsify financial aid forms in order that they (and in turn, the schools) would receive greater sums of federal aid money. These schools are consistently reported as deliberately recruiting low-income applicants for the large aid packages they receive. They've also been called out for targeting veterans eligible for GI Bill benefits. In both cases, the schools are said to have the aim of “churning” through as many students as possible: recruiting them, collecting their federal aid money, and then failing to provide sufficient support to prevent these students from dropping out.

Of course, there are students who successfully and happily graduate from some of these for-profit online colleges (as evidenced by comments posted in some discussions). Nevertheless, and putting aside the schools' own defensive responses, it's difficult to ignore the considerable amount of federal financial aid collected by these schools compared to their high dropout rates, as well as the deceptive recruitment tactics that are often disavowed, yet widely reported.

While these issues are troubling, what is perhaps more worrisome (and often overlooked when the spotlight of infamy falls upon online schools) is the fact that similarly problematic trends exist in American higher education as a whole. Public and private schools with brick and mortar campuses have been admitting larger overall classes each year, even as tuition continues to grow. In particular, state schools, notably the University of California, are admitting greater numbers of out-of-state applicants (who pay higher tuition than state residents) in the face of budget cuts and the economic downturn. Meanwhile, as of 2009 the average college graduation rate in the US was only slightly higher than 50 percent ─¬ and that's taking into account whether students in four-year programs managed to finish within up to six years. For those who do graduate, prospects are not so rosy today for the college-educated as they were even a decade ago.

Many are questioning the value of undergraduate education that leaves graduates without much competitive edge in the job market yet saddles most with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. For-profit online schools are (perhaps rightly) vilified for grubbing student money and providing what's often said to be sub-par education at too high a price for those who make it to graduation, but it's hard to say American colleges generally are far from the same.

A difficult road lies ahead to address the financial, administrative, and academic issues with higher education. As we take the first steps, we mustn't do so with undue prejudice against web-based education. Undeniably, many of the for-profit institutions promoting online learning now are part of the problem. However, online education itself is good, and represents a medium that will be a part of the solution.

An online school is in principle a very good thing. As a learning institution, it can direct consumption of online content much as traditional schools have begun to do, and as they have long guided consumption of printed content. Web-based and web-facilitated schooling also embodies the greater flexibility, accessibility, and individualization widely recognized to be needed in education generally. Besides the infamous for-profits, a growing number of traditional colleges are offering online courses of study, and even some public school districts have begun to test the waters of online education.

The point to take away is this: online schools as we know them may well be in some cases as bad as their reputations, but online schooling is only a medium for learning, one that holds a great deal of potential for what education needs to become. Going forward, we shouldn't conflate the evils of exploitation and profiteering with the medium of web-based education itself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What should all teachers know about instructional technology?

I'm making an exciting next step in my career!

Beginning next month I'll be the Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology and Coordinator of Instructional Technology/Distance Education at Huston-Tillotson University.

Of course I've got my own ideas about what all pre-service teachers should be exposed-to/know when it comes to instructional technology, but I'd like to hear your ideas.

Please share your thoughts about both content and approach for preparing pre-service K-12 teachers to be effective advocates and users of instructional technology now and in the future.

My goal is to develop an IT course that HTU can point to with pride. I'd like your help.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Da Vinci Minds recognized by San Antonio Bus Journal


The San Antonio Business Journal has recognized Da Vinci Minds in the 2011 Going Green awards for leadership in education. The recognition is connected to the WhyPower/WhyCareers project that helps students learn about green energy careers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Online Teaching Endorsement -- Yeah or Nay?

Michael Barbour and I have been having a fun conversation on his blog about Online Teaching Endorsements. He started the discussion by taking a position that there should not be an endorsement in teacher certification for online instruction. I've taken the opposing stand. Take a look and join the discussion. I think Michael is loosing, but you decide. And, more importantly, I'd like to see this discussion involve more folks than just me and Michael.

Friday, July 08, 2011

DAVINCI MINDS WINS NATIONAL GRANT TO ADVANCE MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH, SCIENCE AND CAREER EDUCATION

Next Generation Learning Challenges grant will integrate math, science and

career education and cross to national math standards.


DaVinci Minds announced today it has been awarded one of nineteen Next Generation Learning Challenges grants by EDUCAUSE to advance DaVinci Minds' WhyCareers program and curriculum. The program provides integrated math, science and career education to middle school students based on Whyville, the learning-based virtual world for teens and tweens. Using the immersive experience of a virtual world, students will experience the simultaneous math and science of green and traditional energy activities in Whyville, earn virtual career badges, and explore real, local career pathways that lead to high-technology, high-wage jobs that require math and science skills, along with the critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills crucial to success in the marketplace.

"DaVinci Minds is thrilled to take our WhyCareers program and offering to another level," said Cliff Zintgraff, CEO of DaVinci Minds and the project's Principal Investigator. "Research indicates teaching and learning that is integrated across math, science and career education leads to improved learning and an improved ability by students to apply what they have learned. Integrated teaching and learning is fundamentally rigorous, and we are honored to be chosen by EDUCAUSE to advance this work, and to have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to the experience of EDUCAUSE, the Gates Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation."

"We need to enhance our country's educational system in ways that engage students both inside and outside of the classroom and provide them with the 21st century skills required for today's workforce," said Ira Fuchs, EDUCAUSE Executive Director of Next Generation Learning Challenges. "The innovative work of our grantees demonstrates how the thoughtful application of technology can help us achieve these goals."

"We look forward to seeing Whyville used even more in schools to teach middle school students," said Dr. James Bower, CEO of Numedeon, Inc., the creators of Whyville. "For 12 years, Whyville has engaged close to 7 million members in inquiry-driven learning. Through our partnership with DaVinci Minds and the support of EDUCAUSE, we will continue our mission to improve learning outcomes both outside and inside the classroom."

"WhyCareers is an interesting innovation in education" said Raymond Rose, WhyCareers Project Director, "because it incorporates gaming and simulations, both of which have been shown to be highly effective learning strategies, especially for middle grade students."

The grant will be used to expand use of the program in partnering schools, to deepen math content and connect that content to national math standards; add tracking of state and national standards in Whyville; and to rigorously evaluate program outcomes. As part of the grant award, DaVinci Minds staff has been invited to participate in a conference on College and Career Readiness. The conference will be hosted in late July in Seattle, WA by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Numedeon, Inc., the creator and developer of Whyville, is a partner in the project, as are multiple school district participants including: Northeast Independent School District in San Antonio, Waco Independent School District, and Beaumont Independent School District. Lopez Middle School in Northeast ISD has hosted the pilot site for an ongoing WhyCareers state grant awarded by the Texas Governor's Office with funds from the U.S. Department of Labor, with the grant managed by the Texas Workforce Commission. "Our many prior supporters and partners have made significant contributions to this work, which enabled us to win this highly competitive award. We want to thank the Texas Governor's Office, the Texas Workforce Commission and our state partners, Power Across Texas and Alamo Colleges, and Waco Independent School District, for their past and continuing support that helped make WhyCareers successful", adds DaVinci Minds CEO Cliff Zintgraff.

Next Generation Learning Challenges is a multi-year program that will help address the challenges facing students, teachers, and schools in the U.S. from grades six to 12 through higher education. It solicits proposals for technology-enabled solutions to critical educational challenges approximately every six to 12 months, through an open process assisted by experts and educators with deep experience in the field.

The initiative will evaluate the projects it supports to build evidence of their impact, and will bring together an active community of innovators and educators committed to driving next generation learning forward to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the U.S.

Nonprofit educational technology leader EDUCAUSE, which works to advance higher education through the use of information technology, leads Next Generation Learning Challenges in collaboration with a network of organizations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and the League for Innovation in the Community College. Each offers deep, practical expertise in educational instruction, leadership, and management. The initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

DEPARTMENT OF ED ISSUES GUIDANCE ON RIGHTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES WHEN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS USE TECHNOLOGY

from TCEB - June 2, 2011 - Volume 17, Number 21

On May 26, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance through Dear Colleague Letters to elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education along with a Frequently Asked Questions document on the legal obligation to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of technology. This guidance is a critical step in the Department's ongoing efforts to ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to the educational benefits and services provided by their schools, colleges, and universities. All students, including those with disabilities, must have the tools needed to obtain a world-class education that prepares them for success in college and careers.


The guidance provides information to schools about their responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidance supplements a June 2010 letter issued jointly by OCR and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The June letter explains that technological devices must be accessible to students with disabilities, including students who are blind or have low vision, unless the benefits of the technology are provided equally through other means. The new guidance highlights what educational institutions need to know and take into consideration in order to ensure that students with disabilities enjoy equal access when information and resources are provided through technology. More details are online.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The US National Education Technology Plan - Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology

Just published at
http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/8/issue8_2.asp

E-LEARNING AND DIGITAL MEDIA
Volume 8 Number 2 2011
ISSN 2042-7530


SPECIAL ISSUE
The US National Education Technology Plan -
Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology
Editors: MICHAEL A. PETERS & DANIEL ARAYA

Michael A. Peters. Introduction. Transforming American Education: learning powered by technology

Robert B. Kozma. ICT, Education Transformation, and Economic Development: an analysis of the US National Educational Technology Plan

Kathleen Scalise & Mark Wilson. The Nature of Assessment Systems to Support Effective Use of Evidence through Technology

Michael B. Horn & Katherine Mackey. Transforming American Education

Leonard J. Waks. Transforming American Education: revolution or counter-revolution?

Nalova Westbrook. Media Literacy Pedagogy: critical and new/twenty-first-century literacies instruction

Raymond M. Rose. The National Educational Technology Plan Doesn’t Live Up to its Call for Revolutionary Transformation

RESPONSE
Dan Atkins, John Bennett, John Seely Brown, Chris Dede, Barry Fishman, Barbara Means, Roy Pea, Candace Thille & Brenda Williams. Response to the Articles on the Draft 2010 National Educational Technology Plan

Access to the full texts of articles is restricted to those who have a Personal subscription, or those whose institution has a Library subscription. However, all articles become free-to-view 18 months after first publication.

Friday, April 29, 2011

don't depend on LMS providers to understand pedagogy

There's an interesting post on Edutopia by Heather Wolpert-Gawron talking about the need for some synchronous F2F communications in order to have effective online learning. Of course, I don't agree.

One of the things I found interesting in her post was this line:
So, I asked a basic question to all the [LMS] vendors who were pitching their wares to my district: where are the teachers? I was told that we could always record our classes and post them for students to watch at their leisure.
I found it interesting that Heather would not only ask a vendor that question, then accept the response as knowledgeable. My comment about that was to compare her question to asking a school building architect where the teachers were, or if group instruction would be possible.

The LMS is the structure that holds the content -- the instructions, resources, and discussions, etc. There are some features of an LMS that restrict they types of content but what happens inside the LMS is under the control of the teacher/facilitator and course designer, and my experience in dealing with the sales folks is they know how to sell, not how to use the product they're selling.. Asking the LMS sales person about pedagogy is like asking the school building contractor about teaching.

I think I need to put Heather in the same category with most educators, of being bias toward the approach they're most familiar with, and the one they have the most experience with, that of face-to-face instruction. We need to find ways to expose more educators to high quality online learning experiences.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our need to increase the number of folks doing cybersecurity

Yesterday (April 9) I attended the Third Annual Cybersecurity Caucus in San Antonio. San Antonio is now officially CyberCityUSA, with the website to prove it. The Caucus was very eye-opening for me. Dr Fred Chang from UTSA presented information that was designed to wake people up:
  • There's a programming competion sponsored by ACM and called the "Battle of the Brains" that the US hasn't been on top in this decade.
  • He stated that 73,000 new strains of malware have been identified every day this year, and that these are the bullets in the cyberwar taking place today.
  • The Department of Homeland Security wanted to hire 1000 folks with cybersecurity skills and thus far has only been able to find 300.
Major General Richard Webber Commander, 24th Air Force is in charge of the U.S. Air Force's Cyber Operations. And he provided evidence that the cyber domain is the new battleground.

What I got out of this was the clear need to grow the pipeline for getting students interested in cyber security. There are a number of degree programs available through the academic institutions in San Antonio. There is a national high school competition called Cyber Patriot

CyberPatriot is the National High School Cyber Defense Competition created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to excite, educate, and motivate the next generation of cyber defenders and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates our nation needs.
I learned that while there's a desire to attract high school students to cyber security education and careers, no one had given thought to what could be done to prepare elementary students to become aware of the careers or to develop skills that would help them pursue careers in this field.

When pushed, one college educator thought the emphasis in computational thinking (see previous post) would help, and so might getting elementary students interested in, and participating in computer game design (that will be the topic of a future post).

My request to you is to broaden your thinking about 21st Century learning to include, not only computational thinking, and supercomputing, but computer game design and cyber security. The 21st Century is here, and has been here for a decade. We need to prepare our youth to be productive members of it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Computational Thinking, Computational Science and High Performance Computing in K-12 Education: White Paper on 21st Century Education

by

Raymond Rose, Rose & Smith Associates, Inc.
Henry Neeman, University of Oklahoma
Bonnie Bracey Sutton, The Power of US Foundation
Vic Sutton, Emaginos

Executive Summary (full paper, posted on etc journal can be found here)

The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan says “…technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work…. Whether the domain is English language arts, mathematics, sciences, social studies, history, art, or music, 21st-century competencies and such expertise as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven into all content areas.”

The US has, since the late 1990s, been trying to describe what a 21st Century education should look like. Futurists are trying to divine the skills that will be needed for jobs that do not yet exist, employing technologies that have not yet been invented. However, a careful look around can allow us to see many areas that have been virtually unnoticed by those who are focused on 21st Century Skills.

Supercomputing – sometimes called high performance computing – is not a new technology concept, but the supercomputers of 25 years ago were about as powerful as a cell phone is today, and likewise the supercomputers of today will be no better than a laptop of 10 to 15 years from now. As the world of the biggest and fastest computers has evolved and these computers have become increasingly available to industry, government, and academia, they are being used in ways that influence everyday life, from the cars we drive, to the food in our cupboards, to the movies we enjoy.

Supercomputing is not an end in itself, but rather the technological foundation for large scale computational and data-enabled science and engineering, or computational science, for short. It is a collection of techniques for using computing to examine phenomena that are too big, too small, too fast, too slow, too expensive, or too dangerous to experiment on in the real world. While problems with small computing footprints can be examined on a laptop, the grand challenge problems most crucial for us to address have enormous computing footprints and, thus, are best solved via supercomputing.

As a result, in order to be competitive as a nation, we need to produce knowledge workers in far greater numbers who understand both what supercomputers can do and how to use them effectively to improve our understanding of the world around us and our day to day lives.

The thinking about large scale and advanced computing has evolved, too. Today, we realize that, while not everyone will be using big computing in their jobs, they will need to understand the underlying concepts.

These concepts collectively are referred to as “computational thinking,” a means of describing problems and how to solve them so that their solutions can be found via computing (paraphrased from Jeanette Wing, Jan Cuny, and Larry Snyder). Computational thinking includes abstraction, recursion, algorithms, induction, and scale.

Our 21st century citizens, entrepreneurs, leadership, and workforce will be best positioned to solve emerging challenges and to exploit new opportunities if they have a strong understanding of computational thinking, how it applies to computational science, and how it can be implemented via high performance computing. These are true 21st century competencies that will serve our nation well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ED's require online college certification in every state!

According to an article on eCampus News, online colleges will need to get certification from every state in which they have a student. The regulation goes into effect July 1.

The online colleges are expressing concern. They are quoted as saying it means meeting a variety of different state certification standards, dealing with a range of fees and bureaucratic hurdles, and ultimately meaning they may not be able to offer programs in every state. It could also mean a student who moves to an uncovered state may not be able to complete their educational program.

The article quotes Eduaro Ochoa, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education as saying...
“We don’t intend to penalize institutions if they haven’t received” authorization from every state by July 1...
We want to foster innovation and not suppress it..."
I'm confused as to how this policy will foster innovation. I'm confused as to what the US Department of Education means by innovation. I've been un-impressed with what I've seen previously of ED's use of the term innovation, and Ochoa's use doesn't seem to fit with the new direction.

I'm also concerned, if ED is taking this approach with online colleges, will this policy become something that states begin to adopt for K-12 online learning?

Friday, March 25, 2011

CUE's Certification program

In case you've missed the announcement, CUE, along with ISTE, iNACOL and 15 other organizations are creating something they're calling the Leading Edge Certification for online teachers. Michael Barbour in Virtual School Meanderings has the announcement that was posted in the iNACOL forum, my quick comment, and a longer more nuanced and thoughtful comment of his own.

I find it interesting that these folks are so willing to use the term certification to describe their program. I don't know if it's arrogance or marketing. In the late 1990s I was working with a colleague at University of Virginia to develop an online education program to prepare online teachers. It was clearly not a certification program because, at the time, there were no online teaching certifications for any states.

The program was offered through the Continuing Ed program because the School of Ed wasn't interested, so it wasn't offered as a Master's program or with connections to an existing degree program. That is a concern which Michael raised about these types of prgrams in general, and one I do agree with. (We do frequently agree) But, UVA was very careful about what the program was to be called because it wasn't a program connected to a degree, nor was it a program that lead to a (state issued licensure) certification.

For anyone who's interested in becoming an online teacher, follow Michael's warnings about selecting a program, and I have an additional concern. The leading virtual education programs created their own teacher preparation programs because there weren't online teacher education programs available; because they wanted a program that prepared teachers for their particular program, their particular pedagogy, and that was built to support their particular policies.

Other than the VHS program with Plymouth State, and a program in Florida connected with the Florida Virtual School, any online teacher training programs are generic. Michael should know more about the focus of some of these programs than I do, but I know, from helping to think about the UVA program, that there's not enough time to develop a good understanding of all the different pedagogies that can be found in the range of online education programs, so the choice is either to be narrow, or only provide a taste. That's not worthy of certification in my opinion.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are Internet classes a viable alternative to the traditional classroom?

How do students feel about online learning? Here's an interesting opinion piece where students write about teachers in online education. Granted, they are all high school students, so their views on online education are limited and do not include the experience of students enrolled in accredited degree programs online. Also, unfortunately only one of the three writers indicates any experience with online education. Two of the three take the position that there is little, if any teacher presence, and while I'm perfectly willing to accept that is the case for the one student who clearly states she's in an online course, they of course use a very broad brush and declare that is the case for all online courses.

We need to not allow statements like that to go unchallenged. Unchallenged we provide tacit approval that such statements are accurate. We need to help folks understand that there are a range of approaches to online education, and trying to paint them all with a single brush is impossible.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Turn STEM to STREAM?

This article on the National Writing Project site presents an interesting issue. They want to add an A and an R into the current emphasis on STEM education.

I've been an advocate for adding an A and turning STEM, not to STEAM, but into TEAMS, because that carries an additional connotation that I think is important in education for the 21st Century, but I'm afraid that adding the R in there -- for reading and 'riting tends to dilute the STEM push and put us back to emphasizing so much we loose focus.

Yes, we need students/citizens to be able to read and write to be effective in the 21st Century, but I don't think adding the R is helpful. There's already a good deal of emphasis on the need for literacy, and if there was anything to be added, I'd make it an L for that, but then we'd have STEALM or probably METALS.

As it is, what's really happening with STEM is much more SteM. There's little being done with engineering, and technology overall in K-12. Yes, technology is used, but the lack of understanding about technology, the computational thinking is missing. So, first I'd like to see SteM education be closer to STEM education, then TEAMS.

I think this discussion is important.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A National Benchmark for Online Course Design (?!) QM

You perhaps, got the same email this week I did from Quality Matters Program looking for folks who want to participate in their program to become part of their trainer and peer reviewer program. "QM is looking to build our national database of certified G6-12 peer reviewers immediately." It sounds like once certified you'll be reviewing courses and paid to do so. "Both trainers and reviewers receive stipends for their work."

Of course you pay to take their required training first. And at least one of the courses they require is a self-paced course. Some have a f2f option.

What I found most interesting were the basic qualifications to participate; "To be eligible for certification as a G6-12 trainer, K-12 personnel must have taught or developed an online or blended course during the previous 18 months or participate in teacher education programs."

They apparently believe every school of education faculty knows about basic quality issues for online education. I don't agree. Last year at SITE (this year's conference is next week) I asked a group of about 100 ed school faculty how many were teaching at least one course online (more than half) and then asked how many of their programs included preparation to teach online as part of their programs (less than a handful!). I'll be asking the same question next week.

I don't have any faith in their selection criteria for higher education. And with that as the first flag, I have concerns that go wider and deeper. They cite, as background for the creation of their rubric, national standards from SREB, iNACOL, ISTE, and Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (BTW they list iNACOL but use the old organizational name which is another flag.)

If you've followed me at all, you know I have a concern that the standards may only truly be understood by some insiders. I'm concerned the Quality Matters workshops (can a self-paced course be legitimately called a workshop?) won't be enough to produce the type of understanding necessary to do an adequate job. (BTW not all are self-paced and there are F2F options too.)

Here's an example of the QM rubrics: General Standard 8: Accessibility The face-to-face and online course components are accessible to all students.

I know one virtual school program who now admits they didn't understand the implications of a similar statement in the iNACOL standards; approved lots of courses as meeting the standard; then had to go back and make the producers fix the courses when they better understood the standard. (Of course that also meant the producers hadn't understood the standard either.)

If someone participates in the QM program I'd like to hear about it. I can't tell if this is just a scheme to get folks to buy their workshops or if they really plan a big marketing campaign to review online programs.

If you'd like to have your courses or programs reviewed, please get in touch with me. I, and other colleagues I trust can do it, and we understand the intricacies of online course design and delivery.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TCEA 2011

Okay, TCEA was last week, but I had three sessions, well 2 sessions and a field trip. Henry Neeman, Director of the OU Supercomputer Center for Education and Research, and Bonnie Bracy Sutton, Director of the Power of US Foundation joined me to present Supercomputing in Plain English (actually Henry had the lead on this one) and a reprise of the session we did at T+L The Real 21st Century Literacies. (The slides from the two sessions can be found on SlideShare; Supercomputing is here and here for 21st Century Literacies.)

I'd also submitted a proposal for a field trip to TACC (Texas Advanced Computing Center). TCEA was excited and we ended up offering two, one to the supercomputer site at research campus and the other to the visualization lab on the main campus. We only got the numbers to run the field trip so see the world's highest resolution tiled display. So along with Faith Singer-Villalobos from TACC we hosted the field trip.

We were told by many of our participants that this was the first time supercomputing had been a part of TCEA and we hope to continue bringing supercomputing to TCEA.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Obama pushing for new Ed-Tech agency.

Here's an interesting article from eSchoolNews. Apparently the President has proposed a new agency to " support research on breakthrough technologies to enhance learning." (See if you can determine which comment is mine.)

This isn't necessary if we'd only revise some of the grant programs that both ED and NSF funded.

The Department of Education under the current Secretary has shown little interest in funding true innovation. The I3 program was basically doing more of the same, just in different locations.

We need to see real innovation, and we need to change the discussion about the fundamental models of education that we hope to see in really preparing students for the 21st Century.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The risk of shifting instruction to social media

There's a blog post by Daniel Margolis on Chief Learning Officer about the risks of informal learning delivery. While the focus of CLS is generally on corporate training, many of their articles are relevant to learning in general.

The point behind this posting is that while informal learning has great stories to illustrate how learning can take place in social media settings, the lack of structure has risks. I think this is an important warning.

I see the excitement educators feel when they find a new tool. And while the instructional approach du jour may be fun to explore, I get concerned that the tools may be used without adequate study.

I have repeatedly commented about the lack of study on the most effective approach to the use of synchronous online education. I'm still looking for a research study on effective synchronous online instruction. If you know of one, or have conducted the research please let me know.

And, I'm always looking for examples of how to make online learning effective.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Will change in leadership at Google impact education?

Here's an article on Google's change in leadership and implications for higher ed.