Posts tagged ‘Blended learning’

January 9, 2015

Education issues of 2015

by Grace

Among NPR’s “provocative predictions” for K-12 education in 2015:

Interest in school choice will grow.

I predict that in 2015, recognition will grow for the idea that “public” education means publicly financing K-12 education, but means providing instruction in a wide-variety of settings: charters, private schools, online options and more.

Lindsey Burke
Fellow, Heritage Foundation

Blended learning in public schools is here to stay.

…  Blended learning — coupling technology based-instruction with live instruction — is evolving from an idea that was mostly hype to a daily practice for students in all kinds of public schools.

Andrew Rotherham
Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit consultancy

Game-based learning will expand.

… A simple example would be a game like Jeopardy [where teachers can write their own answers and questions] — but a smarter version of that….

Jordan Shapiro
Professor at Temple University and an expert on game-based learning

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is back, and The Daily Caller has some predictions.

The law, passed with bipartisan support in 2001, is now almost universally seen as broken thanks to mandating standards, such as universal proficiency in math and reading, that have proven impossible to reach. Dissatisfaction is so high that Arne Duncan’s Education Department has virtually suspended much of the law by handing out legally dubious waivers from its tougher requirements.

In 2015, however, there are promising signs that the partisan gridlock that prevented any update to the law may finally be breaking down. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who will be taking over the Senate’s education committee, has declared an NCLB update his top priority, and he wants to attack the issue fast, potentially having a bill up for debate before the end of January.

The most obvious change Alexander could pursue against NCLB is the scaling back or elimination of the “adequate yearly progress” requirement, which severely sanctions schools that aren’t quickly progressing towards universal proficiency. …

Another change Alexander could pursue is a major reform to NCLB’s oft-criticized standardized testing requirements. …  If they do, they’ll face initial opposition from President Obama, who has defended annual testing as an essential accountability measure. Even if Obama is opposed, though, Republicans will have an unlikely ally in strongly-Democratic teachers unions such as the American Federation of Teachers, which have loudly called for testing requirements to be changed.

From the right, Alexander will be pressured to take things further, and reform NCLB in order to substantially reduce the federal government’s role and influence over public education (some have proposed letting states opt out of federal control entirely)….

Cynicism compels me to agree with this prediction that we’ll see more of the same tired rhetoric, but not much improvement.

I suspect that with the rumored reauthorization of ESEA that we will see an anti-testing narrative, but the entire system will still be tied to testing. [Politicians] will talk about teacher quality, but we will see a renewed emphasis on sending the least qualified candidates (such as Teach For America) to teach primarily poor children. They will talk about local control and will tweak accountability formulas, but the educational system will likely still be controlled in a top-down fashion instead of a bottom-up approach like California recently introduced for school finance. They will talk about turning around 1,000 schools, when in fact very few of the schools stay “turned around” because the poverty in the communities and special learning needs of the students are not being addressed. In essence, our politicians will give us more of the same failed education policy in 2015, while calling it a new direction and/or reform.

Julian Vasquez Heilig
Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, California State University, Sacramento

———

“Kindergarten Entry Tests And More Education Predictions for 2015”, NPR, January 3, 2015.

Blake Neff, “These Will Be The Five Biggest Education Issues Of 2015”, Daily Caller, January 1, 2015.

February 1, 2013

Nathan Harden’s take on the big changes ahead for higher education

by Grace

Nathan Harden, a leading voice for a new generation of young conservatives,  predicts The End of the University as We Know It

In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.

… The most important part of the college bubble story—the one we will soon be hearing much more about—concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual.

The shift of power to consumers should appeal to many worried parents and students in the college application process.

… Power is shifting away from selective university admissions officers into the hands of educational consumers, who will soon have their choice of attending virtually any university in the world online….

Blended learning holds the greatest promise for leading the way.

One of the biggest barriers to the mainstreaming of online education is the common assumption that students don’t learn as well with computer-based instruction as they do with in-person instruction. There’s nothing like the personal touch of being in a classroom with an actual professor, says the conventional wisdom, and that’s true to some extent. Clearly, online education can’t be superior in all respects to the in-person experience. Nor is there any point pretending that information is the same as knowledge, and that access to information is the same as the teaching function instrumental to turning the former into the latter. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, who’ve been experimenting with computer-based learning for years, have found that when machine-guided learning is combined with traditional classroom instruction, students can learn material in half the time. Researchers at Ithaka S+R studied two groups of students—one group that received all instruction in person, and another group that received a mixture of traditional and computer-based instruction. The two groups did equally well on tests, but those who received the computer instruction were able to learn the same amount of material in 25 percent less time.

Even though we may be sad because of what is being lost, is college as it now exists really worth preserving? 

… At its best, traditional classroom education offers the chance for intelligent and enthusiastic students to engage a professor and one another in debate and dialogue. But typical American college education rarely lives up to this ideal. Deep engagement with texts and passionate learning aren’t the prevailing characteristics of most college classrooms today anyway. More common are grade inflation, poor student discipline, and apathetic teachers rubber-stamping students just to keep them paying tuition for one more term.

Prestigious institutions will be winners while second-rate colleges and universities will be losers in the new paradigm.  Fewer professors will be needed.

Prestigious private institutions and flagship public universities will thrive in the open-source market, where students will be drawn to the schools with bigger names. This means, paradoxically, that prestigious universities, which will have the easiest time holding on to the old residential model, also have the most to gain under the new model. Elite universities that are among the first to offer robust academic programs online, with real credentials behind them, will be the winners in the coming higher-ed revolution….

The open-source educational marketplace will give everyone access to the best universities in the world. This will inevitably spell disaster for colleges and universities that are perceived as second rate. Likewise, the most popular professors will enjoy massive influence as they teach vast global courses with registrants numbering in the hundreds of thousands (even though “most popular” may well equate to most entertaining rather than to most rigorous). Meanwhile, professors who are less popular, even if they are better but more demanding instructors, will be squeezed out. Fair or not, a reduction in the number of faculty needed to teach the world’s students will result….

December 21, 2012

K-12 online learning may be unproven, but it is on the rise

by Grace

After suffering bigger class sizes as the result of laying off about 95 teachers due to budget cuts, the Manchester New Hampshire school district is looking to add online classes.  Although the benefits are unclear, this is part of a trend that appears unstoppable.

Officials, seeking an overhaul, began to wonder if a 21st-century technology might help allay their struggles: having some students take courses online during the school day, without a teacher physically present.

But a plan to institute “blended learning labs,” which allow students to do just that, is stoking concern among parents and teachers. Some doubt the efficacy of online learning. Others say the proposed solution barely scratches the surface of systemic problems here.

Virtual labs and remote classrooms

The plan, which Superintendent Thomas J. Brennan Jr. presented to the district’s school board last month, would expand the district’s current use of New Hampshire’s online charter school, the Virtual Learning Academy, by putting a virtual learning lab in each of the district’s three high schools, allowing students to take courses there during the school day under the supervision of a “facilitator” who would be present in the lab. It would also add a remote classroom to each high school, where students in undersubscribed courses could participate in classes taught at one of the other schools via an interactive monitor, and expand the school’s collaboration with the University of New Hampshire at Manchester.

Online learning for high school students is on the rise.

Nearly 620,000 students took an online course during the 2011-2012 school year, up 16 percent from the previous year, according to an annual reportreleased this week by the Evergreen Education Group, which works with schools to implement online and blended learning programs.

A number of states and districts actually require students to take online classes as a condition of graduation.  One rationale is that this requirement helps prepare students for a future where online learning will be a standard part of higher education and employment.  While it appears inevitable that online education will move forward at all levels of education, conclusive evidence of how it’s working remains elusive.

At this point in the maturation of virtual education, the importance of high-quality, objective research is greater than ever. Education leaders need it to make informed decisions about how to use virtual education programs. But therein lies the problem: Very little high-quality, objective research on the subject is available.

K-12 online learning is a done deal.  As a practical matter, schools have “moved past” questioning whether it is better for students.

“Researchers and practitioners have moved past the question of ‘we need more research into whether this works,’ but I’m not sure the policymakers and legislators and the general media have,” he says.

What now needs answering, Watson says, are questions on how best to implement online learning and to determine which factors contribute to success. But that type of investigation can pose problems. With so many variations on how online learning is implemented—in hybrid forms, full-time virtual schools, supplemental online courses, courses with online instructors and without, and varying degrees of face-to-face support—it’s hard to do comparisons, Watson says.

“When you talk about research, people have an idea that you have a group of students with an online class, a control group, a random sample. …You really can’t do that” with online learning, he says. “There are far too many permutations, implementations, and instructional models.”

In my neighborhood
With continuing budget pressures arising from steeply rising pension costs, I predict online learning will soon be introduced in our local schools.  In a nearby district, low-income high schools will soon get access to ‘online and blended” AP courses.

Related:

December 12, 2012

Quick Links – online AP courses; no guilt about younger generation’s national debt burden; smartphones probably don’t improve academic achievement

by Grace

»»»  Low-income high schools in New York will get access to ‘online and blended” AP courses

BUFFALO — High school students in Yonkers and 16 other poor districts will have better access to advanced placement coursesunder a program featuring virtual classrooms.

The state Education Department this week said $17.3 million in federal Race to the Top Funds will be distributed to 17 districts or consortia of districts under the state’s Virtual Advanced Placement Program.

Education Commissioner John King says low-income students don’t always get the chance to take AP courses, which give students a leg up in their college applications. The 18-month grants will fund the development of online and blended courses that combine online and traditional classroom instruction.

Other districts receiving funding include New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, Huntington and South Huntington.

Yonkers schools get virtual learning grants (lohud.com)


»»»  A baby boomer is feeling less guilty about leaving the younger generation with so much debt because, hey, it’s what the kids voted for.

From a  “50-something, white, conservative” Republican’s letter to the editor of Barron’s:

As reported by the national exit poll conducted by Edison Research, Americans aged 18 to 29 voted 60% to 36% for Barack Obama. Prior to Obama’s re-election, I believed that it was morally wrong for my generation to pass a crushing national debt on to the next one.

The debt will top $20 trillion before Obama moves out of the White House, and it will include spiraling retirement-related costs that the administration has shown zero interest in bringing under control, largely driven by baby boomers piling into the Social Security and Medicare systems.

With the president’s electoral crushing of Mitt Romney, my overriding sense of morality and guilt have vanished. Thank you, kids!


»»»  Hispanic and African-American students lag behind white students in academic achievement, but surpass them in using smartphones for homework.

That’s my takeaway from an article informing us that 1 in 3 middle-schoolers uses smart phones for homework.  Nowhere in the article was there any mention that using these digital devices actually improves academic achievement.

The national survey of 1,000 students in Grades 6 through 8 found that:

  • 39 percent use smartphones for homework.
  • 26 percent use smartphones at least weekly for homework.
  • 31 percent use tablets for homework.
  • 29 percent of those with household incomes under $25,000 use smartphones for homework.
  • Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely than whites to use smartphones for homework, at 49 percent, 42 percent, and 36 percent, respectively.
October 30, 2012

Does hybrid learning hold the most promise?

by Grace

Hybrid learning, combining online and face-to-face instruction, would seem to hold the most promise in incorporating technology into higher education.  A recent study supports this promise.

Monitoring 605 college students taking the same introductory statistics course at six public universities—including the University at Albany—SUNYSUNY Institute of Technology—Utica/Rome, the University of Maryland—Baltimore CountyTowson University,  CUNY—Baruch College, and CUNY—City College—during fall 2011, researchers split the students into two groups. One group completed the course in a traditional format, while the second group completed an online component complemented with an hour of in-class instruction each week.

Students were asked to complete a series of tests before and after the course, and researchers found that “hybrid-format students did perform slightly better than traditional format students” on outcomes including final exam scores and overall course pass rates, according to the report.

Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials (Ithaka S+R, May 22, 2012, William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, Kelly A. Lack & Thomas I. Nygren)

The better performance of students in the hybrid-format group was not statistically different and the study did not control for differences in teacher quality.  Still, it’s easy to imagine how the powerful combination of a strong teacher with a well-designed online component would deliver superior results with lower costs.

Meta-Analysis: Is Blended Learning Most Effective? (2009)

The United States Department of Education reported recently that it’s found some evidence to support the notion that blended learning is more effective than either face to face or online learning by themselves. Further, between online and face to face instruction, online is at least as good and may even have the advantage in terms of improving student achievement and potentially expanding the amount of time (and quality time) students spend learning.

Blended Learning Models Generating Lessons Learned (2012)

Since blended learning exploded onto the K-12 scene with promises of personalized and student-centered learning, it has proliferated into dozens of different models, with educators continually tweaking and changing those methods to find the perfect balance of face-to-face and online instruction to meet the needs of their students.

Interest in blended education remains high, spurred partly by research offering support for advocates’ claims that blended learning is more effective than either online or face-to-face instruction on its own.

But more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the evolving blended learning models, including best practices and which models work best for which types of students . . .

Related:  Hybrid learning breaks down geographic barriers for Northeastern University (Cost of College)

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