Worthy of Note: December 1, 2011

Social Media

Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media
Mike Moran, Jeff Seaman, Ph.D., and Hester Tinti-Kane, Pearson Learning Solutions, April 2011
Faculties are big users of and believers in social media. Virtually all higher education teaching faculties are aware of the major social media sites; more than three-quarters visited a social media site within the past month for their personal use; and nearly one-half posted content. Even more impressive is their rate of adoption of social media in their professional lives: over 90% of all faculty are using social media in courses they’re teaching or for their professional careers outside the classroom. **Download Now**

Using Social Networking to Build 21st Century Skills
Peter DeWitt, Education Week, November 17, 2011
Social Networking...The New Way to Collaborate: Not only do we have the opportunity to teach students how to interact with peers sitting next to them. We have a great opportunity to teach students how to interact with peers that are all around the world. For students who are growing up in a non-diverse area, this ability offers students a great experience.

Online Learning

Viewpoint: Authorizing Online Learning
Susan Patrick and Tom VanderArk, NACSA National Association of Charter School Authorizers
During this decade, American education will shift from print to digital, from flat and sequential content to engaging and adaptive, and from batch processing to personalized learning. There will also be a slow enrollment shift from traditional district-operated schools to schools and programs operated by organizations authorized under contracts or charter.

As chief executive officer and chair of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL), we believe that one of the most important drivers of this historic shift is online learning. It is growing by more than 40 percent annually and creating new full- and part-time options for students and families. This paper refers specifically to online schools where instruction is delivered remotely by live teachers on full- and part-time basis, also known as virtual or cyber learning.

Patrick and Vander Ark say learning online full time may provide cost savings of 10-15 percent over traditional schools given reduced need for facilities, transportation, and administration.

Students Without Borders: Funding Online Education in Virginia
Christian N. Braunlich, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, November 2011
In 2010, Virginia became the 28th state to create a formal policy for the establishment of full-time multi-district virtual schools -- online education through which students anywhere in the state are able to work full-time with their teachers and curriculum over the Internet, rather than in a traditional classroom. But equitable funding -- which is widely variable from school division to school division -- has remained a challenge. This paper looks at virtual school funding around the country, considers the challenge of funding online education through a system designed for bricks and mortar schools within geographic boundaries, and offers a solution for Virginia policymakers.

Virtual Schools, Real Problems; Funding for Virtual Schools is Controversial
Chelyen Davis, Fredericksburg.com News, November 20, 2011
How does the money flow? The Thomas Jefferson Institute report proposes that the state acknowledge virtual-school students as separate from those who attend a specific school district, and provide funding for them equal to the average state per-pupil funding (based on the state Standards of Quality education funding requirements). That would eliminate the incentives that encourage virtual schools to locate in poorer localities.

But, the report said, localities should still bear some responsibility for children living within their borders. So the institute also proposes having localities transfer the amount of the statewide average of local per-pupil funding to the locality that's actually educating the child. Read more…

Fordham Institute Papers on Digital Learning

Review of New Fordham Digital Learning Papers
Bill Tucker, The Quick & the Ed, November 16, 2011
Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction and School Finance in the Digital-Learning Era, two new working papers in the Fordham Institute’s series on digital learning, are welcome additions to the often narrow debates around online learning.

Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction
Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel, Co-Directors of Public Impact, Fordham Institute
Summary: As digital tools proliferate and improve, solid instruction in the basics will eventually become “flat”—available anywhere global-lee—and the elements of excellent teaching that are most difficult for technology to replace will increa-singly differentiate student out-comes. As a result, teacher effectiveness may matter even more than it does today, as the selectivity and prevalence of the teachers-in-charge who will leverage technology—and be leveraged by it—will be the dis-kingfisher of learning outcomes among schools and nations. But in order to allow for such a drastic re-shaping of the education system in the U.S., myriad policies affecting teachers—from professional development to compensation—will need to be revamped. This paper outlines how.

School Finance in the Digital-Learning Era
Paul T. Hill, Director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education and a Research Professor at the University of Washington Bothell
Summary: America’s system for financing K-12 education is not neutral about innovation and the use of new technologies. Indeed, that sys-tem is stacked against them. To re-med this, our education-funding system needs to shift dramatically. Instead of today’s model—which rigidly funds programs, staff positions, and administrative structures, instead of schools and students—we need an approach in which funding follows the student. At present, America’s charter-school finance structure provides the best proto-type, but even it does not go far enough. An appropriate school-finance system must also be able to defund ineffective schools and pro-vide space and incentives for online providers to bring their products to the marketplace.

And a third paper from Fordham Institute, published in July, but very timely.

Quality Control in K–12 Digital Learning: Three (Imperfect) Approaches
Frederick M. Hess, Fordham Institute, July 27, 2011
Digital learning makes possible the “unbundling” of school provisions—that is, it allows children to be served by providers from almost anywhere, in new and more customized ways. At the same time, because it destandardizes and de-centralizes educational delivery, digital education is far harder to bring under the yoke of the quality-control systems and metrics that have been devised for traditional school structures.

In this paper, Hess explores the pros and cons of input regulation, outcome-based accountability, and market signals as solutions to the quality challenge.

Changes are A'coming (Digital Learning)

Getting Smart; How Digital Learning is Changing the World
Tom Vander Ark, Josey Bass imprint, John Wiley, 2012
In our digital age, students have dramatically new learning needs and must be prepared for the idea economy of the future. In Getting Smart, well-known global education expert Tom Vander Ark examines the facets of educational innovation in the United States and abroad. Vander Ark makes a convincing case for a blend of online and onsite learning, shares inspiring stories of schools and programs that effectively offer “personal digital learning” opportunities, and discusses what we need to do to remake our schools into “smart schools.”

… He shows how today’s innovations will link and become the transformative ‘killer apps‘ of the future. He finds the leading edge — and finds much of it is being led by the leaners themselves. “
Myk Garn, director, Educational Technology Cooperative
Southern Regional Education Board

About Tom Vander Ark. Read his daily blog.

Getting Smart Envisions a Smarter System of Schooling
Michael B. Horn, Innosight, November 29, 2011
“Provocative and bold, Tom Vander Ark’s Getting Smart challenges long-held assumptions about education, points to why innovation will be so critical to enabling the education system of the future, and paints a vision of what learning could look like throughout society—and how we so desperately need it.”

The Politics of Digital Learning

Selling Schools Out
Lee Fang, The Nation, November 17, 2011
Under the banner of high-tech progress, the author writes that corporate lobbyists have rammed through legislation privatizing K-12 education across the country.

Leave the Partisan Bickering Aside in the Online-learning Debate
Meg Evans, Innosight, November 16, 2011
In “Jeb Bush’s Cyber Attack on Public Schools,” published in the November issue of Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer launches a broad attack on online learning. Among other allegations, the article describes online learning as a Republican master plot to destroy public education. Leaving the invective in politics aside, as well as the fact that plenty of Democrats, including the Obama administration, have been quite active in promoting the potential and merits of online–or digital–learning, it’s critical to point out that Mencimer missed several key points.

The Politics of Digital Learning
John Watson, Keeping Pace, Posted November 21, 2011
John Watson refers to pages 62-63 in the 2011 edition of Keeping Pace where he references the topic briefly. However, discussion has become more heated since KP was published, and this is a more lengthy response to the issues.

Course Re-design WCET

Completely Redesigning One Institution’s Online Courses – In Just One Year
Russ Poulin, WCET, December 1, 2011
You may read this directly from WCET, but it sounded like an interesting take on course redesign for all the readers of the WON. Read the comments of Jo Kroll, Dean, Graduate Studies and Lifelong Learning, Missouri Southern State University about successful course re-design.


Moving to their own beat: Exploring how students use web 2.0 technologies to support group work outside of class time
Norman Vaughan, Todd Nickle, Jim Silovs and Jim Zimmer, Mount Royal University, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, Winter 2011
There are a number of studies that have explored student use of technology in the classroom, but not many document how students are using technology to support learning beyond the classroom. The purpose of this research study was to address these gaps in the literature: How do students use Web 2.0 technologies to support group work outside of class time?

Informal Collaborative Learning at the Tipping Point
Mary Grush, Campus Technology, November 09, 2011
With the end of 2011 closing in fast, Ron Danielson of Santa Clara University said he thinks we've reached the point where IT leaders must make sure their campuses offer ample informal collaborative learning spaces to accommodate a groundswell of student interest in learning collaborations with peers.

A collection of peer-reviewed articles on collaboration.

Product Focus: Classroom Collaboration Tools
Campus Technology
Reviews of over 20 collaboration tools.

Open Education Resources

Feds Launch Open-source ‘Learning Registry’
eClassroom News, November 16, 2011
A new federal resource will help groups share learning materials and policy recommendations as they strive to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education.

Launched by the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense, the new “Learning Registry” is an open-source community that takes advantage of technology tools to help users share information about learning resources more effectively among a broad set of education stakeholders.

Open Education Resources: Feedback from the Social Web
Mary Grush, Campus Technology, November 30, 2011
The movement toward creating and using open education resources--OERs--has been percolating for years, and a vast amount of open materials for education is now easily accessible for online course developers to incorporate in their designs.

But some key questions persist about mining this growing resource for online courses. Campus Technology's recent conversation with Michael Cottam, Rio Salado College's associate dean over instructional design and new program development, helps shed some light on how OERs may be better evaluated in the future so that course developers can leverage open resources more effectively.


All About BYOD & Wireless
Tech & Learning, Tuesday December 6, 2011 | 1 pm PST / 4 pm EST
Will your wireless network handle the wave of Wi-Fi enabled PDAs, smartphones, tablets and eReaders that students, faculty and administrators will be surely bringing onto your campuses (BYOD)? Will you have to hire more support staff or can you fight the tide by outright refusal to provide access to bring your own devices? Maybe there's a better way. Join this webinar to learn what your wireless network should be able to support and to learn how to securely provide access without overwhelming your support staff.

Best Practices for Hosting, Support and Use of Moodle in K-12 Schools (Archived)
Victoria Chapa, eSchool News, August 10, 2011
This Webinar was held on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Duration, one hour. Archive is available.

Erasing the Limits: Sharpening Your Students’ Edge while Watching Your Bottom Line through Blended Learning (Archived)
eSchool News, sponsored by Pearson, Tuesday, November 8, 2011.
Duration, one hour. Archive is available.


Top 100 Sites of 2011
David Kapuler, Tech & Learning
A regular annual feature by David Kapuler, but this time he made it 100 instead of 25.

Needed: Parent Involvement

Back to School: How Parent involvement Affects Student Achievement
The Center for Public Education, Posted August 30, 2011
It may be one of the least controversial statements in American education: Parent involvement can make a difference in a child’s education. The conflict can come, though, on how to define that involvement. Do all the PTA meetings, take-home flyers and Back to School nights actually generate increases in student achievement? The Center for Public Education examined the research and found that creating a partnership between parents and schools focused on academics truly does have significant impact on student achievement.

How About Better Parents?
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, November 19, 2011
To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.

(We know that!) Friedman references this new study from OECD’s PISA In Focus, What Can Parents Do to Help Their Children Succeed in School. Read comments by Marilyn Achiron in OECD, November 08, 2011, The Parent Factor in Student Performance

Where Students Turn for Sources
Turinitin, November 2011 Newsletter
In April 2011, Turnitin examined the web sources that student rely on for content in their written work. The study found that the highest number of matches between student writing and the Turnitin Web database was from social and content sharing sites. It also found that students relied more on legitimate educational sites than paper mills and cheat sites. Read the April study.

The April study provoked a good deal of discussion in academic and educational circles---to the point where numerous educators contacted us to request that we analyze the data to show the differences in source material between secondary and higher education students.

Interested in the results? Check our the infographic: "Plagiarism Report: Web Sources for Unori

Feds Launch Open-source ‘Learning Registry’
eClassroom News, November 16, 2011
A new federal resource will help groups share learning materials and policy recommendations as they strive to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education.

Launched by the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense, the new “Learning Registry” is an open-source community that takes advantage of technology tools to help users share information about learning resources more effectively among a broad set of education stakeholders.

Teacher Certification A New Strategy

For-Profit Certification for Teachers Is Booming
Morgan Smith and Nick Pandolfo, New York Times, November 26, 2011
(From The Texas Tribune)
Jeff Arrington is earning his teaching certificate through an online, for-profit alternative certification program, a nontraditional route to teaching that is becoming more common in Texas. Such programs, which can offer certification in three months to two years, are booming despite little more than anecdotal evidence of their success. They draw candidates like Mr. Arrington who bring valuable life experience, but there are concerns about how they will perform as teachers, especially since they are more likely to end up in poor districts teaching students in challenging situations.

For Fun in the Future

This Is What the Desk of the Future Looks Like - VIDEO
Stan Schroder, Mashable Tech, November 21, 2011
EXOpc has posted a video of its EXOdesk — an interactive desk environment that lets you do all sorts of tasks on a virtual space on your desk — in action and it looks amazing.

What Price Copyright Law?

The SOPA Scoop: Anti-Piracy Bills Enrage Web Freedom Groups, Divide Congress
Mike Ludwig, Truthout, November 30, 2011
"Misuse of copyrighted content is a fact of life on the Internet. Everyday, YouTube users upload homemade videos with copyrighted songs and peers share files that could have originated from a torrent site like Pirate Bay. Now, imagine that the US government granted itself sweeping legal authority to shut down alleged pirate sites and intervene when web sites host any kind of content that infringes a copyright. Imagine web users facing felony charges for streaming copyrighted content without permission. Two bills aimed at fighting Internet piracy are currently making their way through Congress and would give the Justice Department such authority."

Using Google More Effectively

Infographic: Get More Out of Google
Sarah Cargill, Getting Smart, November 30, 2011
Effective researching skills used to be wrapped up in knowledge about libraries, the Dewey Decimal System, and book indexes. Today, it’s all about the Google search. Yet surprisingly, not many students today are well versed in effective searching strategies when it comes to the web.

HackCollege, a blog focused on improving the habits and lives of college students, published an infographic that shows students how to “Get More Out of Google.”

This infographic shows you how to efficiently find exactly what you want on the web by refining your search with key terms that target titles, file types, website and more. It even helps you pick up the speed of your searches with essential quick keys and keyboard shortcuts.

Streaming Videos (Speeches and Debates All Free)

Top 10+ TED Videos On Education & Learning
Sarah Cargill, Getting Smart, October 11, 2011
TED offers great ideas through its videos. This is a feature of more than 10 of the best videos on education and learning from some of the greatest thinkers and innovators who have spoken at TED.

Intelligence Squared
Rethink your point of view with Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US); Oxford-style debates live from New York City. Based on the highly successful debate program in London, Intelligence Squared, Intelligence Squared U.S. has presented 50 debates (free) on a wide range of provocative and timely topics. From clean energy and the financial crisis, to the Middle East and the death of mainstream media, Intelligence Squared U.S. brings together the world’s leading authorities on the day’s most important issues. Since its inception in 2006, the goals have been to provide a new forum for intelligent discussion, grounded in facts and informed by reasoned analysis; to transcend the toxically emotional and the reflexively ideological; and to encourage recognition that the opposing side has intellectually respectable views.

The Rosenkranz Foundation initiated the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate Series and continues to provide major support.