Monday, September 30, 2013

The Audacity of MOOCs

The conversation about MOOCs continues on the WCET blog.

I've said before, I see MOOCs as transitory. They're the media's focus now, just as Second Life was a few years ago. I think Richard's opinion piece hits some of the reasons that MOOCs have caught the attention of the educational media, and some folks in the field.

Richard Katz, former Educause Vice President and WCET Executive Council member, shares his perspective after reading David Cillay's opinion piece about MOOCs "It's Time to Redirect the Conversation about MOOCs":

Here's Richard's post.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interesting Post in WCET Blog about MOOCs

David Cillay from Washington State University provides an interesting perspective about MOOCs in the WCET New Frontiers Blog.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What census data should virtual education programs be collecting?

One of the interesting problems in K-12 virtual education programs is the lack of information about which students get served by these programs.   A couple of years ago, recognizing that we didn’t have good data, David Glick distributed a survey through the iNACOL list asking programs to voluntarily report student demographic data.   Initially there was a very poor response, with a number of programs saying they didn’t collect that data.  We also asked state education departments (SEAs) and found they weren’t asking for the data either.

When I was working in the Massachusetts Dept. of Education back in the 70s, schools had to report student enrollment and demographic data as of October 1.  Back then Massachusetts requested demographic data for different programs (e.g. Special Education, Title I, Vocational Education, etc.).  All schools in Massachusetts were required to submit that data.  Simultaneously the US Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) collected data on a subset of schools in Massachusetts and, I believe, across the country.

Later conservative administrations lessened the role of OCR apparently either ended or reduced OCR’s data collection.  OCR is back in the game and is planning on collecting student demographic data again.  What’s new is that OCR is planning on collecting demographic data on distance education programs.  Virtual education including virtual schools are included in the OCR definition of distance education.

I’m pleased to see OCR collecting student demographic data for distance education (aka virtual education).  It will give us a better sense of which students are getting the benefit of online learning. This data collection will present a challenge for some programs that haven’t been collecting demographic data of enrolled students. 

When the Mass DoE collected data, we analyzed the data looking at access issues among other things.  I was involved with on district where their data indicated disproportionate representation in special education programs based on race.  The district told me, they didn’t have a way to collect the data, and so administrators made up numbers where they thought they should have students.  Then they didn’t look at what they submitted to see if it seemed logical.

Virtual education programs and schools need to create procedures for collecting student demographic data.  They should then look at it critically to see what it is saying about their program and who they serve.  They should then ask themselves if they like the picture that the data represents.  

Thursday, June 06, 2013


I've moved to Corpus Christi. We bought property on the Gulf so I could again be near salt water. (The past seven years is the longest I've ever been away from salt water.)

I decided to leave my position at Huston-Tillotson, and gave my notice in late February.

We'll start building a house soon, and we're chronicling that on a different blog.

Over the past year I've been using Pinterist to collect resources, in particular focused on iPads in education.  While I was at HT I pushed to get a set of iPads for the Educator Prep Program -- and for the EPP faculty.  The goal -- as there are a growing number of schools starting 1-on-1 iPad programs, with a few Central Texas school districts providing every student with an iPad -- was to expose the future teachers to iPads because the schools will assume they are already familiar with mobile computing.

In addition I've provided the EPP faculty with information on instructional technology and online education.  In addition, as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the TxDLA  I've been tracking legislation.  Most interesting, for the online education efforts in Texas is HB 1926 ("Relating to the operation of the state virtual school network and courses provided through other distance learning arrangements.")  The legislation passed both House and Senate and is in the pile of bills passed this session.  The Governor hasn't made any statements about this and he has until June 16th to sign, veto it, or do nothing and let it become law.

Once action is taken I'll talk more about it here.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Last week, at TCEA I was part of a panel Distance Education in Texas for the 21st Century, with Brenda Quintanilla (Crosby ISD), Barbara Smith (TxVSN), Richard Smith, and Caroline Crawford (University of Houston-Clear Lake).  I had fun trying to stir things up and challenge some of the audience and my panel members.

Afterwards, I was invited, by Caroline and Richard, to be interviewed for their video show, Technology and Education Today.  You can watch my very informal and fun interview at or look at it here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Discussion on LinkedIn's Technology Integration in Education

The discussion starts with a question: "Anyone using virtual worlds to teach? posted with a link to video of Owen Kelly talking about the failure of teachers to recognize the differences between real and virtual worlds.  But the posting and the video weren't a good match, at least for me.

A few posts though responded to the opening question.  I couldn't resist so jumped in with a comment:
An issue to consider, at least if you're in the US in K-16 education, is the issue of access. Some virtual worlds, even some online classes, are designed such that students with disabilities have problems accessing the course content. It's one of those issues that seems to get left at the wayside, when it should be one of the issues that's at the top of the list.    
One response, I took as positive was this one:
To your earlier point Raymond, while not strictly "virtual worlds" a few years ago I was involved in a project to provide distance learning (shared learning) to a severely disabled student in a remote rural area, as opposed to having to "bus" him in great discomfort for a couple of hours a day. In that instance we were able to provide far greater access and education choices than using real world education.
I understand this will not always be the case, but if we remain understanding of those with special needs, as you suggest, and throw in a little creativity, I am sure we will be able to improve access to a greater range of education choices to everyone. 
I especially like the final sentence.