Friday, January 16, 2009

A new year and a new attitude.

This blog has been pretty quiet in the final quarter of 08. That will change in MMIX. (How are you at Roman Numberals?)

There have been some changes in my life. I'm now working half-time for MentorNet. That has allowed me to move back to Austin. I'm no longer in a commuter marriage. That just wasn't good for me. (That's could be an interesting topic for a blog post.) When I was living in San Jose, I'd spend a couple of hours each day talking with my wife, so not only have I got half of my day available, but I also have an additional couple of hours every day in my personal time that I have available. So, that means more time to do things like blog.

Of course I do need to fill that half-time opening in my schedule to recoup the income that I'm not bringing in now. I'm open to offers.

A colleague sent me a message this week, pointing to a set of slides from a presentation I'd done about virtual education at a Department of Education conference in 02. The colleague was saying she agreed with my concerns and frustrations. But I wrote those over 5 years ago!

Here's what was on the slides:

My Frustrations

  • Assumption that all F2F is inherently better than any online education.
  • New programs that don’t research or build on the learnings of existing virtual schools.
  • Retention
  • Teacher training
  • Instructional models
  • We’re too wedded to the traditional school, course, class model.

Issues to Watch

  • Access issues
  • Universal design
  • Requiring students to own computers and Internet access
  • Data collection -- especially Disaggregated student performance data

Research Directions

  • What can we learn about online interaction patterns to improve communications?
  • What’s the most effective F2F model?
  • What’s an effective online synchrous learning model?
  • What do we know about basic learning?

Policy Concerns

  • Funding requirements
  • Teacher Certification
  • Who “Owns” the Students (ADA)
  • Seat-time as a measure of learning
  • Restrictions on progress and development of new, potentially more effective learning due to policy reinforcement of School, Building, Course, and Classroom model

Future Directions

  • Open Source Courseware
  • Learning Objects
  • Standards for use of content
  • The Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)

It's scary that most of the issues are still on the table. It looks like I'll need to do some more pushing on some of those issues. I'm interested in hearing other reactions.

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