Staff Development via Distance Education
This is a modified version of a resource paper prepared for the September 11-12, 2009 Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics (TOTOM) conference held in Corvallis, Oregon.
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- Books will soon be obsolete in the schools. ... Scholars will soon be able to instruct through the eye. It is possible to touch every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. (Thomas A. Edison; American inventor and businessman; 1847–1931; quotation from 1913.)
- "... pedagogy is what our species does best. We are teachers, and we want to teach while sitting around the campfire rather than being continually present during our offspring's trial-and-error experiences." (Michael S. Gazzaniga; American professor of psychology; born in 1939.)
Part 1: Distance Education and Learning
- “The medium is the message.” (Marshall McLuhan; Canadian educator, philosopher, scholar, and communication theorist; 1911–1980.)
- “In distance education, the medium (Information and Communication Technology systems) is a very important part of the message.” (David Moursund.)
Mathematics education is part of the 3 Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is part of the core of a modern education. Reading, writing, and arithmetic all depend on written languages. Thus, formal instruction in these areas dates back more than 5,000 years when written language was first developed.
It took about 4,500 years until the development of typesetting, paper production, printing presses, and other technologies needed to support the mass production and distribution of books. Hundreds of more years passed before free public education systems for large numbers of students became common.
At the time the United States was being formed, fully 90% of the population of these soon-to-be nation lived and worked on farms. Literacy levels were quite low. The following quote gives an indication of Thomas Jefferson’s attempts to change this education situation:
- “At every of these schools shall be taught reading, writing, and common arithmetick, and the books which shall be used therein for instructing the children to read shall be such as will at the same time make them acquainted with Graecian, Roman, English, and American history. At these schools all the free children, male and female, resident within the respective hundred, shall be intitled to receive tuition gratis, for the term of three years, and as much longer, at their private expence, as their parents, guardians or friends, shall think proper.”
This is quoted from a bill brought before the Virginia Legislature in 1778 by Thomas Jefferson. The legislation was titled “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge (1778).” It was not passed.
Eventually it became common for free schooling to be made available to large numbers of students in our country. Indeed, at the peak of the one-room school phenomenon, there were about 200,000 such schools in this country. Students of varying interests, grade levels, and ages were mixed together in a classroom and taught by one teacher. A key aspect of this structure was students helping each other to learn.
- [For those of you who have some interest in the history of education in this country, knowledge of Greek and Latin was considered as a prerequisite for entry into college. Many students started in such “higher education” when they were about 16 years old. Notice how the Greek and Latin relates back to the legislation proposed by Thomas Jefferson.]
The tidbit of history given above paints a picture of formal education consisting of groups of students coming together in classrooms, and making use of books, teachers, and help from each other to study a limited number of topics. There was an economy of scale via use of a modest number of common textbooks and by having one teacher responsible for a wide variety of students and curricula.
Now, the one-room school has mostly disappeared, students are grouped in various ways such as by grade level, age, and ability, a wider range of books are available, school and public libraries are available, and teachers (on average) are much better educated. Also, the Greek and Latin prerequisites for entrance into higher education are gone.
Also, we now have Information and Communication Technology. ICT has facilitated huge changes in business, industry, military, and other aspects of our world. We are living at a time when ICT is beginning to be a major change agent in informal and formal education. Distance Education is a large and informal and formal education.
The document you are now reading was initially written to address the issue of Distance Education for staff development of inservice teachers of mathematics in Oregon. Since then it has been significantly changed. Moreover, many of the ideas in this document are applicable to all teachers.
Most K-5 teachers teach math as part of their overall jobs. Math is a required subject in middle school, and throughout the US it is relatively common to require three years of high school math for graduation. Thus, there are a very large number of middle school and high school math teachers in this country.
Purposes of this Document
“Distance education”—often referred to as distance learning or online education—is now a relatively routine component of informal and formal education systems in the United States and in other parts of the world. Opportunities exist to get K-12 education, community college education, technical school education, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorates through distance learning. An increasing number of students of all ages are taking advantage of these opportunities.
Nowadays, whenever you engage in use of any type of electronic storage or communication device (including all telecommunication systems, email, and the Web) you are engaged in a type of distance learning. All Computer-Assisted Learning can be considered as a type of distance learning. Whether you are reading this from a hard copy printed document, directly off a CD-ROM, or from an electronic copy that has been loaded onto a computer, you are engaged in distance learning.
All inservice teachers face a career-long challenge of maintaining and improving their levels of professional performance. Using math as an example, teachers of math face challenges such as:
- Changes in content to be taught and content pedagogical knowledge.
- Progress in learning theory and brain science that relates to teaching and learning.
- Information and Communication Technology in curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment.
Consider Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “The medium is the message.” In terms of math distance education, the medium is the overall area we call Information and Communication Technology. This includes virtual libraries, such as the Web. It includes communication among people and between people and machines. It includes artificially intelligent computer systems that can solve a wide range of math problems as well as problems in other disciplines.
The last sentence is particularly important. We have calculators, computer systems, and computerized instruments that can solve a wide range of the math problems that we have traditionally taught students to solve using paper and pencil techniques. A number of these aids to representing and solving math problems are available free on the Web.
Using Computer Applications
It is now commonplace to build online tutorials into computer application software. Such software also typically includes a Help feature. Taken together, this situation illustrates:
- An integration of instruction into an environment in which the learning can be immediately used. Typically this is quite different from much of current instruction where there is a long delay between the learning and the use of the learning.
- Just in time “Help.” This is just in time instruction and learning that is initiated by the learner who is intrinsically motivated to immediately learn and make use of the learning.
One can analyze our formal education system in terms of “just in time” versus “preparation for a more distant future.” As the just in time educational opportunities get better and more readily available, this can lead to a significant change in the content being taught in schools. This analysis needs to take into consideration “forgetting” (much of what we learn in school is forgotten) and relearning (typically it takes much less time to relearning than it did to learn).
History of Distance Learning
The Michael Gazzaniga quotation at the beginning of this document captures much of the history of distance learning. Children and adults learned by listening to storytellers long before there were books. The stories were about the past, present, and future. The traveling minstrels and storytellers from ancient times were certainly teachers and carriers of information.
Eventually such distance learning was aided by paintings on cave walls, marks on stones, and other artifacts designed to aid in communication. A mere five thousand years ago, writing and reading were developed. Distance learning acquitted a new and very powerful technology-based means of communication over time and distance. The reader and the writer need never meet face to face.
Not everybody thought that writing was a great advance. About 2,400 years ago Plato said:
- For this invention of yours [writing] will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn it, by causing them to neglect their memory, inasmuch as, from their confidence in writing, they will recollect by the external aid of foreign symbols, and not by the internal use of their own faculties. Your discovery, therefore, is a medicine not for memory, but for recollection—for recalling to, not for keeping in mind. (Plato; 427BC–347BC.)
Here is a brief history of “modern” distance learning quoted from http://www.distancelearning.com/History-of-Distance-Learning.html.
- Distance learning is a growing field that has greatly changed over the last 300 years. Today, most people think of online classes when they hear the term 'distance learning', but that is not the only form of distance education. That is just the latest technology that is used to deliver education to students who are not physically on-site.
- When looking at the origins of distance learning, we should go back to the first facts we have. One of the first mentions of distance learning was a 1728 advertisement in the Boston Gazette by "Caleb Phillips, Teacher of the new method of Short Hand" who was looking for students who wanted lessons sent to them weekly. The creation of the postal service in the 1800's greatly expanded distance learning as it allowed colleges to form that corresponded solely by mail across the entire United States.
- Back in Europe, the University of London was a pioneer in the distance-learning field. In 1858, it became the first university to offer specific distance learning degrees. In 1873, The Society to Encourage Studies at Home was created as the first correspondence school in the United States. Around the world, the University of Queensland in Australia established its Department of Correspondence Studies in 1911, and New Zealand began offering university-level distance learning at Massey University in 1960. Currently, the largest distance learning university in the UK is the Open University which was founded in 1969. Germany has the FernUniversitat in Hagen which was founded in 1974 to provide distance higher education to German students at home and abroad. It had about 45,000 students in 2005.
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL n.d.) is a good source of information about precollege online education. Quoting from one of their documents found at http://www.inacol.org/research/promisingpractices/:
- The series was commissioned by iNACOL (because interest in, and applications to, online learning institutions have increased. For example, last year iNACOL estimates there were more than one million students enrolled in online courses. More than 30 states have state-led online programs, and more than half of the school districts in the U.S. offer online courses and services.
- However, even though online learning is growing at the rate of 30 percent annually, access to online schools and courses is not keeping pace with the demand from students and parents. iNACOL estimates that more than 40 percent of middle and high school students want to enroll in online courses—more than 20 million students.
In summary, we are all routinely involved in distance learning. However, some of us are particularly concerned about getting “credit” for this learning. That is, one way to think about distance learning is whether it in some sense carries “credit” toward meeting some sort of requirement. Is the learner getting Continuing Education Units (CEU), credits on a transcript, credits or “seat hours” towards a Certificate, credits toward a degree, credits that count toward meeting licensure continuation, and so on?
Through informal and formal education, a person gains in his or her mind/body accumulation of data, information, knowledge, wisdom, and foresight. The person gains in the knowledge and skills to make effective use of this accumulation in solving problems, accomplishing tasks, and in overall functioning as a human being.
While it is appropriate to talk about “muscle memory,” the main storage, processing, and use of the accumulated data, information, knowledge, wisdom, and foresight is done by or directed by one’s brain. The scale given above is somewhat akin to Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. See http://oaks.nvg.org/taxonomy-bloom.html.
We all recognize the need for both lower-order and higher-order knowledge and skills. Also, we all recognize that people vary widely in their learning styles, rates of learning, and areas of interest. Thus, our educational system is faced by a set of challenges that are very difficult to adequately address.
Feedback is Essential in Learning
Consider a small child who is at the babbling stage of the overall process of learning to talk. The child makes sounds and (if not profoundly deaf) hears the sounds. The child can provide some feedback to him or her self by noting differences between the intended sounds and the sounds received through his or her ears. Or, an external source of feedback, such as a parent or other caregiver, processes the sounds and provides feedback. Eventually babbling becomes spoken language. The external feedback mechanism is critical in the process.
B. F. Skinner is well known for his research and development in stimulus-response type of learning. He repeatedly demonstrated how behavior could be shaped through the feedback provided in a stimulus-response setting.
Skinner’s ideas and research are still an important component of our understanding of teaching and learning. However, we now better appreciate some of the roles of conscious efforts to learn, and of metacognition and reflection in learning. We have increasing insight into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and of instant versus delayed gratification. We have increasing insight into the complexities and challenges of being a good teacher and of being a good student.
One of the things we know is that the capabilities of both students and teachers vary considerably. The nature and extent of the feedback that various students want or need varies tremendously among students.
Thus, we (educators) try to improve education by improving the knowledge and skills of the teacher both as a provider of what is to be learned and as a feedback mechanism. Books are a tremendous aid to providing access to what is to be learned. Other more recently developed media are powerful aids to providing access to what is to be learned.
In addition, Information and Communication Technology (including computers) is steadily improving in its ability to provide interactive feedback. This is a powerful change agent in our informal and formal education systems.
There are many different learning theories, and many of these have substantial practitioner and/or research backing. See, for example, http://iae-pedia.org/College_Student%E2%80%99s_Guide_to_Computers_in_Education/Chapter_6:_Learning_and_Learning_Theory.
One of the most important areas is Transfer of Learning. See http://iae-pedia.org/Transfer_of_Learning. The general idea here is that there is good research on how to teach for and to increase transfer of learning. As a simple example, consider the problem-solving strategy of breaking a big problem into two or more smaller, more manageable problems. Suppose that a student encounters this idea in a writing course, a math course, a science course, or so on. A good teacher can seize upon this “teachable moment” and the ideas of “High-Road Transfer of Learning” to enhance student problem-solving abilities in a range of disciplines.
More detail on High-Road Transfer of Learning and a number of problem-solving strategies are available in the free book:
- Moursund, David (2008). Introduction to using games in education: A guide for teachers and parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Access at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/19-introduction-to-using-games-in-education-a-guide-for-teachers-and-parents.html.
Sources of What One Learns::::
There are two types of sources of what one learns. First, there are the sources outside of (external to) one’s body. These are accessed through use of one’s senses. Our senses are bombarded by a continual input stream that impacts on our various senses. This input stream is filtered (most of it never comes to our conscious attention) and processed by our various sensory perception and processing mechanisms.
Second, there is a steady internal input stream coming from various internal sensing mechanisms and from subconscious and conscious processing of input that has been previously received (from external and internal sources) and stored.
Regardless of the source, the actual learning occurs inside one’s mind/body. In that sense, there is no such thing as distance learning.
Two Kinds of Brains—Human and Computer::::
However…we now have computers, and a computer has a type of brain and intelligence. Artificial intelligence or machine intelligence is quite a bit different than human intelligence. See http://iae-pedia.org/Artificial_Intelligence. However, in designing an effective educational system, we need to think about the capabilities and limitations of both types of brains—human and computer. See Two Brains Are Better Than One at http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One. Also see the free book:
- Moursund, David (2005, 2006). Brief introduction to educational implications of artificial intelligence. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Access at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/6-introduction-to-educational-implications-of-artificial-intelligence.html.
A computer system can be fitted with a variety of sensors that a human does not have. Thus, for example, it can receive and then process data from astronomical sensory devices that receive a number of different types of signals that a human cannot sense. Moreover, a computer brain has storage and processing capabilities that in a number of ways exceed those of a human.
Thus, we live in a world in which both humans and computers learn. In brief summary, a good education prepares a person to make effective use of his or her own brain and of computer brains. It prepares the person to effectively interact with other people and with machines, including the range of machines we call Information and Communication Technology.
Staff development for educators and others falls into the category of Adult Education. My readers who have experience in the informal and formal teaching of adults know that adult education is quite a bit different than teaching younger students who have not yet reached the maturity and self-responsibility level of being an adult.
Very roughly speaking, adult education can be divided into two categories. The first category concerns the education of adult learners who seek a degree, certificate, Continuing Education Units, a diploma, or other acknowledgement from “authority” that they have met certain requirements. This, for example, includes an employee who is required to take on-the-job training. This type of adult education may be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.
The second category is adult learners who are intrinsically motivated. They are seeking assistance in gaining knowledge, skills, and experience in areas of their own personal choices for their own particular purposes. For example, suppose that I look at my collection of books that I acquired as a child, and I notice that the bindings of some of my favorite books are falling apart. I might decide to learn something about bookbinding and develop a hobby of rebinding old books. I might do this completely on my own, or though a workshop, or through a non-credit course at a nearby college or university. In any case, I am not seeking an added entry on my resume or transcript. Success is learning enough so that I can do what I want to do.
Now, consider the general idea of adult education of teachers of mathematics. All serious, committed teachers of mathematics face a lifelong challenge of maintaining and building their professional math teacher knowledge and skills. Some are quite adept at doing this on their own, making use of books, periodicals, the Web, and other resources. They tend to be self-directed and intrinsically motivated. They gain pleasure in their increasing knowledge and skills and how this increase helps them to improve as a professional teacher.
Typically this self-directed learning does not bite off “large” chunks such as a half-year or full-year course, a certificate requiring a number of courses, or an advanced degree. As a specific example, suppose that such a person hears about the concept of “Two Brains Are Better Than One” being applied to human brain and computer brain in a math education setting. The person might find and read the following two documents written by David Moursund:
• Computational Thinking. http://iae-pedia.org/Computational_Thinking.
• Two Brains Are Better than One. http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.
Then the person might try out some of these ideas in discussions with professional colleagues. Then the person might try out some of these ideas in his or her teaching—perhaps discussing them with students and/or integrating them into a particular unit of study.
Success in these endeavors and/or continuing interest might lead to reading a book, such as the free book:
Moursund, David (2006). Computational thinking and math maturity: Improving math education in K-8 schools. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Access at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/3-computational-thinking-and-math-maturity-improving-math-education-in-k-8-schools.html.
Education is a Human Endeavor
A great many people enjoy and benefit from interacting with others as they learn. The interaction might be with fellow students, with teachers, and with one’s friends.
We all learn, all of the time. Here, we are focusing on general ideas of what is known about adult education. One aspect of this is that when they take a course, often they stop after they learn what they want to learn. And, in a non-course situation, this occurs all of the time.
Such ideas are certainly evident in the “Lesson Study” projects that have grown out of the ongoing lesson study work in Japan. In Japanese lesson study, a group of teachers come together to work on developing a good lesson on a particular topic in a particular course. This may involve many months of interaction. See the article Using the Japanese Lesson Study in Mathematics. http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/subject/japanese_lesson_study.phtml.
Such lesson study activities have both a social and a professional learning focus. They involve face-to-face meetings and typically involve observing the teaching of ones fellow members of the group.
The Improving Bandwidth of Long-Distance Interaction TC "The Improving Bandwidth of Long-Distance Interaction" \f C \l "2"
If we go back to the time that universities were first being developed, we can see two clear reasons supporting their development.
1. Resources such as books and laboratory equipment were expensive and rare. It made sense to collect such resources in one place and have students come to that place.
2. The informal (and later, formal) surface mail postal systems were quite slow and were a major barrier between two people or a group of people trying to interact with each other.
Information and Communication Technology has greatly changed these two situations, and ICT is continuing rapid improvement. Owe have the steadily growing Virtual Library we call the Web. At the “high end” of this progress, researchers from around the world share use of expensive research equipment without travel to the site of the equipment. High quality and real time communication among groups of people in diverse locations has become common.
For an example of combining the information retrieval with state of the art communication, consider the following quote from the 9/17/08 article 3D Virtual Reality Environment Developed at UC San Diego Helps Scientists Innovate available at http://www.calit2.net/newsroom/release.php?id=1383:
San Diego, Sept. 17, 2008-- Its name sounds like something out of science fiction, but the StarCAVE (Cave AutomatedAutomatic Environment) at the University of California, San Diego is now a science fact. The virtual-reality environment allows groups of scientists to venture into worlds as small as nanoparticles and as big as the cosmos - permitting new insights that could fuel discoveries in many fields. Early users of the StarCAVE include UC San Diego researchers in biomedicine, neuroscience, structural engineering, archaeology, earth science, genomics, art history and other disciplines.
The StarCAVE is a five-sided virtual reality (VR) room where scientific models and animations are projected in stereo on 360-degree screens surrounding the viewer, and onto the floor as well. It was constructed by the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). At less than $1 million, the StarCAVE immersive environment cost approximately the same as earlier VR systems, while offering much higher resolution and contrast.
"When you're inside the StarCAVE the quality of the image is stunning," said Thomas A. DeFanti, director of visualization at Calit2 and one of the pioneers of VR systems. "The StarCAVE supports 20/40 vision and the images are very high contrast, thanks to the room's unique shape and special screens that allow viewers to use 3D polarizing glasses. You can fly over a strand of DNA and look in front, behind and below you, or navigate through the superstructure of a building to detect where damage from an earthquake may have occurred."
The technology is making it possible for learners and researchers to be immersed in a virtual reality that transcends size, distance, and time.
Part 2: General Research Background
As computer-based and telecommunications-based distance learning has rapidly expanded in recent years, there have been many studies of the quality of learning that participants are gaining. Thus, for example, there have been so many studies of Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) that eventually a number of meta-studies were done, and then a meta-meta study was done.
The meta-meta study of CAL done by James Kulik in 1994 reported that for a wide range of subject matter areas and a wide range of students, CAL works. Specifically (on average) students learn significantly faster and better. The study reported an average effect size of about .35 (a 50th percentile student becoming a 65th percentile student) and time savings of about 20%. Details on a more recent study by Kulik are available in Kulik (2003).
Thus, we have long known that in a wide variety of educational levels, settings, and content areas, CAL is an effective aid to learning. Roughly speaking, averaged over a large number of studies, the results are that students learn significantly faster and better as compared to “traditional” modes of instruction. Thus, it is not surprising that CAL has come into widespread use and is commercially available from quite a few different companies.
The state of the art of Computer-Assisted Learning has improved substantially since Kulik’s 1994 work. Quite a bit of research has been done in improving the quality and the intelligence of the computer interaction with the student. It is not surprising that considerable leading edge research and development in this area is going on at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the leading research and teaching centers for Artificial; Intelligence. Carnegie Mellon University has developed a number of secondary school and college courses that can be classified as highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning (HIICAL).
Computer simulations designed for educational purposes are an important aspect of computer-assisted learning and in many cases represent the state of the art of CAL. Quoting from the 8/26/09 article “Welcome to 3-D Learning (http://www.convergemag.com/edtech/Virtual-Simulations-Take-Learning-to-Higher-Dimension.html):
Auto technicians examine parts of car engines. Coal miners go through underground safety inspections while others learn to size and install solar panels on a residential structure. Potential nurses perform IV maintenance, or adjust surgical tables with the wave of a wand.
These are not industry professionals. They are the students of tomorrow using interactive 3-D technology to become fully immersed in the virtual learning environment. In this era of 21st-century teaching tools, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) is leading the new wave of institutions that fuse interactive 3-D models with hands-on simulations to provide multiple opportunities to experiment without risk and enhance learning for the future workforce.
The number and availability of such distance learning courses will be increased substantially by a $500 million US Federal Government initiative. Quoting from (Parry and Fischer 2009):
Many questions also remain unanswered about the president’s proposal to spend $500-million to develop online education. The administration has described the support as “seed funding,” saying “teams of experts” would develop open courses that would then be shared and potentially modified. Various federal agencies are supposed to collaborate on making the courses “freely available through one or more community colleges and the Defense Department’s distributed-learning network.”
Mr. Shireman said the federal government would not own the courses. Rather, as a condition of the grants, the material would be in the public domain “so it could be used for free by anyone,” he said.
To help put this into perspective, Carnegie Mellon estimates that it now costs them about one to one and a half million dollars to develop a HIICAL. Thus, $500 million dollars might well lead to an additional 300 or so HIICAL courses in the public domain.
Research on Online Education
Research on online education is summarized in (Means et al. 2009). This is a 93 page report produced by SRI International. The report is available online at http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf. Quoting the abstract:
A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis.
The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes-measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation-was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to- face. [Bold added for emphasis.]
There is a Website (http://www.nosignificantdifference.org/) named the No Significant Difference Phenomenon. It contains references for 355 studies about online distance learning. The title of the Website and of Thomas L. Russell's book come from his general findings that there is no significant difference between the student learning in online and traditional courses.
High Dropout and Failure Rates in Distance Learning TC "High Dropout and Failure Rates in Distance Learning" \f C \l "2"
It has long been recognized that that the combined dropout rate and failure rate in many Distance Learning courses is quite high. There is substantial literature on this topic. Some of this literature consists of research studies, while much more might best be described as summaries or personal opinions.
Some opinions are voiced in the article:
Parry, Marc (8/31/09). Chronicle Readers Debate the Merits of Online Learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 9/13/09: http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Chronicle-Readers-Debate-the/7871/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en.
Low retention and successful completion rates can be blamed on the students, the course instructors, the courses themselves, and so on. The Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration is a peer-reviewed electronic journal offered free each quarter over the World Wide Web. See, http://www.westga.edu/%7Edistance/ojdla/browsearticles.php. Two of the articles in the Summer 2009 issue of this publication are about retention:
- Attrition in Online and Campus Degree Programs.
- Where’s Walter? Adjunct Outreach Strategies to Bridge the Virtual Distance and Increase Student Retention.
Students encountering their first “serious” online course typically have had little experience in dealing with this mode of instruction. Often they have not learned to accept the needed level of personal responsibility needed for success in such a course. Many institutions offer short tutorials or various forms of self assessment that may be helpful to such students. For example, see http://www.quintcareers.com/distance_learning_assessment.html.
Research on How People Learn
Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburg have jointly created the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center. Quoting from a 4/27/09 document at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/cmu-cmp042409.php:
- PITTSBURGH—The National Science Foundation has renewed a five-year, $25 million grant to continue the work of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC) (http://www.learnlab.org/), founded by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 to study how people learn and how to use those findings to develop teaching tools that can foster consistently high achievement in the nation's classrooms.
- Unlike most scientific research on learning, which occurs in the laboratory, the PSLC conducts its research in the classrooms of more than 50 schools and colleges across the country, including schools in New York City, Pittsburgh, Miami, Omaha and Seattle.
- These schools comprise what the PSLC calls LearnLab, www.learnlab.org/. Much as teaching hospitals help medical schools explore the frontiers of medicine to the benefit of patients, LearnLab enables education researchers to see how students respond to lessons and innovations in a place better than any laboratory — in their own classrooms with their own teachers.
- "We're exploding an old Catch-22 in education research: that is, results of experiments done in laboratories don't translate well into school environments and the results of experiments done in schools generally aren't rigorous or trustworthy enough to pass on to others," said Kenneth Koedinger, professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon and co-director of the PSLC with Pitt's Charles Perfetti.
- This research can occur without disrupting the classroom thanks to the use of computer tutors. Working in partnership with Carnegie Learning Inc., whose Cognitive Tutor® math software already is in use in thousands of schools nationwide, PSLC researchers are able to gather mountains of detailed information about how students respond to lessons and homework. Subsequent analysis of this data helps researchers understand the different learning styles and habits of students and identify those lessons that are most effective in helping students learn. [Bold added for emphasis.]
- "We are trying to uncover deep principles that produce learning that is robust — learning that is long-lasting and applicable to new situations," said Perfetti, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and director of Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).
- The computer tutors cover a range of subjects, such as algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry, Chinese and English as a second language. But the PSLC researchers have gone beyond these standard subjects to include tutoring on lifelong learning skills. For instance, they've developed a help-seeking tutor that interacts with the Carnegie Learning® Geometry Cognitive Tutor®. The help-seeking tutor determines whether students fail to ask for help appropriately — or are too quick to ask for help — by machine analysis of their normal learning interactions.
The following book, available free online, is an excellent resource.
- Bransford, John; Brown, Ann; and Cocking, Rodney (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. National Academies Press. Available for purchase or free online at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6160.
Learning styles can be an important issue in the design of a Distance Education course and in success of students. See, for example, http://ijttl.sicet.org/issue0601/Richmond,etal.Vol2.Iss1_58_64.pdf.
The key idea is that students have varying learning styles. A good education system takes this into consideration. Thus, good distance education should take this into consideration.
Think in terms of the challenge our education system faces as, for each student and for each teacher we have:
- Different levels of intelligence or aptitude in different areas being studied (Gardner’s multiple intelligences).
- Different learning styles, perhaps with the added complexity that one’s learning style in one area might be studying or teaching.
- Different rates of learning and different rates of forgetting.
A good reference for this set of ideas is Clayton Christensen’s book: Disrupting class: How disrupting innovation will change the way the world learns. See a 5-minute video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaXmAmj1nb8. Christensen’s insights into how innovation affects business is available in a 10 minute video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ7EG58J5eo&feature=related.
Part 3: Recommendations, Conclusions and Final Remarks
Part 3 is future oriented. It suggest some possible major changes that might occur in education through Distance Education.
Computers have been available to students and teachers for quite a few years. However, so far their impact on education has been modest. This raises the question: When, if ever, will the increasing availability and power of computers lead to a major change in our educational system?
Quoting from the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point):
- Tipping points are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term: "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do."
I find it interesting to think about our education system facing the very powerful change agent we call Information and Communication Technology and he various aspects of this change agent discussed in this paper. My belief is that we are steadily moving toward a major tipping point like is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book titled “Tipping Point” How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.”
Clayton Christensen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_M._Christensen) has written several very interesting and books about roles of ICT as major disrupting agents. I think of HIICAL as such an agent across much of our school curriculum. I think of the capabilities Computer Algebra Systems (computer systems that can solve a wide range of the math problems that students learn to solve in our current math curriculum) as such an agent in our math education system.
Thus, although we are not yet there, I believe we are moving toward a major tipping point in our math education system and our overall education system.
Carnegie Mellon University is one of the world’s leading centers for the study of Artificial Intelligence and its applications in Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer Assisted Learning (HIICAL).
Carnegie Mellon Initiative
One of their initiatives has been the development of 12 “open and free” courses. See http://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/forstudents/freecourses. Quoting from the site:
- No instructors, no credits, no charge. Use these self-guiding materials and activities to learn at your own pace! Find a course you are interested in and click on "Get Started". If you want to keep track of your progress, sign in or create a new account. Otherwise click on "Look inside".
- We do not provide any certification or verification of completion. If you would like to receive credit or certification for completing the course, you need to make arrangements with your local institution. See some tips on how you can get credit.
- … [Among the available courses are:]
- * Computational Discrete Mathematics. This course presents material in discrete mathematics and computation theory with a strong emphasis on practical algorithms and experiential learning.
- * Empirical Research Methods. Empirical Research Methods course bridges the gap between the mathematical foundations of regression and its practical application. We are making this course available while it is under development.
- * Statistics. Introduces the basic concepts, logic, and issues involved in statistical reasoning. Topics include Exploratory Data Analysis, Producing Data and Study Design, Probability and Statistical Inference.
- * Logic & Proofs. Logic & Proofs is an introduction to modern symbolic logic. It provides a rigorous presentation of the syntax and semantics of sentential and predicate logic. The distinctive emphasis is on strategic argumentation.
- * Physics. The Andes Physics course currently provides over 500 problems that are suitable for both calculus and non-calculus introductory physics courses at the college or advanced high school level.
Carnegie Learning: The Cognitive Tutor Company
Quoting from http://www.carnegielearning.com/company.cfm:
- Carnegie Learning, Inc. is a leading publisher of research-based math solutions for middle school, high school, and post-secondary students. Our curricula – Bridge to Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Integrated Math programs – provide differentiated instruction to 500,000 students in nearly 2600 schools across the United States, helping them to succeed in math as a gateway to graduation and preparation for 21st century skills.
- Carnegie Learning® Blended Curricula Solutions integrate interactive software, text, and collaborative classroom activities for core, full-year math instruction. Carnegie Learning® Adaptive Math Solutions feature Cognitive Tutor® software lessons that may be easily customized for supplemental and Response to Intervention programs. All solutions are supported by Professional Development services that ensure successful implementation and align teaching to learning. In numerous independent studies, Carnegie Learning curricula consistently show a significant effect on student learning resulting in improved academic achievement in mathematics.
- Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Learning was founded by cognitive science researchers and computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with veteran mathematics teachers.
Second Life provides a many example. of the creation of distance learning in a non-traditional environment. Quoting from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life:
- Second Life (SL) is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab that launched on June 23, 2003 and is accessible via the Internet. A free client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world, which residents refer to as the grid. Second Life is for people aged 18 and over, while Teen Second Life is for people aged 13 to 17.
- Second Life is used as a platform for education by many institutions, such as colleges, universities, libraries and government entities. There are over one hundred regions used for educational purposes covering subjects such as chemistry and English. Instructors and researchers in Second Life favor it because it is more personal than traditional distance learning. Research has uncovered development, teaching and/or learning activities that use Second Life in over 80 percent of UK universities. At least 300 universities around the world teach courses or conduct research in SL. New educational institutions have also emerged that operate exclusively within Second Life, taking advantage of the platform to deliver a high quality service to a world wide audience at low cost.
- Second Life's usefulness as a platform for pre-K–12 education is limited due to the age restrictions on the main grid and the difficulties of collaborating among various educational projects on the teen grid. New approaches to fostering collaboration on the teen grid, such as the Virtual World Campus, offer some hope of overcoming some of these obstacles. For now, however, the primary utility of Second Life for pre-K–12 education is in the education and professional development of teachers and school librarians. Still, K–12 educators use Second Life to meet each other and to create objects and structures that help them develop curriculum, as EnergyTeachers.org does with its Sustainability Energy Science Lab.
- Needs to hold a meeting of more people than can be supported by a region's server, has prompted a behavior called "four-cornering", i.e. meeting where four regions with servers all meet; this is unwelcome, as it tends to put excessive load on the system sending object and texturing information between those four regions' servers.
Good Distance Learning
Much of the distance education materials currently available is of very modest quality. That is, not surprising, considering the “cottage industry” approach that has produced much of this material. Most of the current distance learning courses are created by an instructor in a “traditional” course who converts such a course into a distance education delivery mode.
This can be quite a lot of work. But typically the time and effort expended is about one-percent of the cost of developing a modern Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning (HIICAL) course.
High quality distance learning materials have characteristics such as:
- The content to be learned is well organized both from the overall point of what is to be learned and from the point of a constructivist theory of learning. Careful consideration is given to the prerequisite knowledge and skills of the learner and readiness to incorporate and integrate the new knowledge and skills.
- The “teaching” or presentation is well designed in terms of the learner being able to provide self-feedback and the presentation system being able to provide timely and appropriate feedback.
- The system reflects current research and practitioner knowledge about teaching and learning in a HIICAL that can adapt to the specific learning needs of a student.
- The overall system reflects Marshall McLuhan’s statement that “The medium is the message.” In this case, the medium includes a powerful computer and communication system. The medium has a brain that can solve a very wide range of problems. Making effective use of the ability of this brain to solve some of the problems in the discipline being taught is a key aspect of good distance education materials. Good computer-delivered distance learning includes a strong focus on the idea that “Two Brains Are Better Than One.”
A Vision of the Future
Benjamin Bloom is well known for his work in helping to develop Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. He made many important contributions in areas such as Mastery Learning, Talented and Gifted, and Tutoring. Here is a little more information about Bloom quoted from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Benjamin_Bloom:
- Bloom summarized his work in a 1980 book titled, All Our Children Learning, which showed from evidence gathered in the United States and abroad that virtually all children can learn at a high level when appropriate practices are undertaken in the home and school.
- He revolutionized education through his thinking that, backed by significant research evidence, that what any person can learn, all can learn, except perhaps for the lowest one or two percent of students. [Bold added for emphasis.]
Bloom’s work on individual and small group tutoring in some sense defines the “gold standard” in education. In brief summary, his work showed that a typical student who performs a “C” level can perform at an “A” level given appropriate tutoring. See http://iae-pedia.org/Substantially_Improving_Education.
In addition, in recent years there has been a lot of research on the effects of good teachers. Some teachers are consistently much more effective than others. Students who have a sequence of such teachers tend to get a much better education than students who have average or below average teachers.
As I put these various findings together, my vision of the future of education begins to emerge. It consists of:
- All students throughout the world receive a free, high quality education. Students of all ages can draw upon this free educational system throughout their lifetimes. There will be variations in the content of this education and the number of required years of education. Moreover, at some level (perhaps starting at what we now call the Community College level or the upper division undergraduate college level) there will be admission requirements based on earlier education achievements and cognitive readiness, commitment, innate and developed abilities, needs in various countries or regions of the world, and so on.
- Education is an appropriate balance among what we call lower order and higher order knowledge and skills, and the capabilities of computers and other technology to assist in the representation and solving of problems and accomplishing tasks. Students learn to make effective use of the tools that supplement and assist their mental and physical capabilities.
- Education is “delivered” by an appropriate combination of informal and formal delivery systems that are designed to help meet the individual needs of each individual student. This highly individualized delivery is done by a combination people and aids to learning such as Highly Interactive Computer-Assisted Learning, online education, distance education, and so on.
I believe that our world’s informal and formal education systems can achieve the goals listed above. We only need to look back to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution to see that we have already come a very long way. We now have the technology to provide all students with good access to the Internet, the web, and other aids to telecommunications. We have the knowledge of how to develop relatively good HIICAL, and we are making steady progress in advancing the “state of the art and science” of HIICAL.
The writing of this document was motivated by a math and science staff development in Oregon titled Preparation for Instruction of Science and Math. (PrISM). Details of this project are given in the Appendix. In brief summary, a three-years FIPSE grant brought together seven Oregon institutions of higher education to provide courses for inservice math and science teachers at the K-8 level. A number of the courses are available a pure distance education courses. Others are hybrid course, summer courses, or intensive weekend courses. There are varying levels of financial support to teachers taking the courses., depending on the poverty level of their school districts. Completion of an appropriate selection of six of these courses leads to the awarding of a “Certificate of Completion.”
The success of this project raises the question of why such a project is not being carried out through all teacher education programs in the state, and throughout all states in the country. Here is an example of the types of visions I have as I think about this question.
Using federal funding, or a combination of federal and state funding. Begin to develop a set of HIICAL courses for preservice and inservice math teachers. (Of course, do this also for other disciplines). Make these courses open source, available free to any college or university that wants to use them. A mechanism would be established to help assure that each course was of very high quality.
Think about such a free HIICAL course materials available on the Web as being a modern version of a book being made available free on the Web.
A comprehensive set of course materials is not quite the same as a course. Details of actually offering the courses, modifying them to meet local needs, offering them as hybrid courses with some on-campus meeting requirements, and so on would be handled by individual institutions offering the courses.
Costs for taking course, and who pays, would likely vary widely. Any person not worried about receiving course credits or CEUs, and not needing the individual feedback of a human “grader” or human teacher in a hybrid version of a course, could take such courses free.
Appendix: Oregon Distance Learning
This document was originally prepared for Oregon teachers of math teachers attending a Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics conference. Thus, some of its content focused specifically on distance education for math staff development in Oregon. Those parts of the original document have been accumulated in this section of the document.
Precollege Distance Education in Oregon
There are a variety of online distance learning opportunities for precollege students in Oregon. Here are some examples:
- O.P.E.N (Oregon Public Education Network). http://www.open.k12.or.us/dlearning.html. The Website that was last updated 1/10/2007. It contains links to ten sites. Among these are:
- Oregon Online (Southern Oregon Educational Service District). http://www2.soesd.k12.or.us/it/o2/.
- Cyber Oregon Online (Cool School). http://www.coolschool.k12.or.us/. (A note on the site indicates that COOL School’s virtual doors are closed for the 2009–2010 school year.
- Corvallis Online. http://www2.corvallis.k12.or.us/corvallisonline/.
- OSU K-12 Online. http://k12online.oregonstate.edu/.
- Portland State University Independent Study. http://www.istudy.pdx.edu/.
- SK Online (Salem-Kaiser). http://www.skonline.org/.
- Oregon Connections Academy http://www.connectionsacademy.com/oregon-school/free-online-public-school.aspx. Quoting from the Website:
- Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA) is authorized by the Scio School District 95C (http://www.scio.k12.or.us/) school board. [Information added by David Moursund: The Scio School District is a small, rural, K-12 district with approximately 650 students in three schools.] ORCA serves students in grades K–12 from anywhere in Oregon.
- Parents pay no tuition for students to attend ORCA. Students are considered to be enrolled in a public school.
- ORCA provides Oregon-certified teachers, textbooks and other curriculum materials, online resources, such as movies and encyclopedias, and computers for families with students enrolled in grades K–8**. All materials, including the computer and reusable curriculum materials, must be returned if the student is no longer enrolled. Students are required to take all state mandated, standardized tests in person at locations designated by the school.
- Enrollment in the Oregon Connections Academy has been limited to 2,574 students for the 2009-2010 school year. Students may request enrollment at any time during the school year, but will be placed on a waiting list until space is available in their requested grade. Please provide all of the requested information and documents promptly. The date you complete the process determines your priority on the waiting list. We anticipate that there will be openings available after the school year opens, so if you are interested, select "Enroll Now."
- Oregon Virtual School District (ORVSD) http://distancelearn.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=distancelearn&cdn=education&tm=22&f=20&su=p897.4.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//orvsd.org/. Quoting from the Website:
- The Oregon Virtual School District is a program led by the Oregon Department of Education that, in cooperation with a consortium of virtual learning providers throughout the state, seeks to increase access and availability of online learning and teaching resources free of charge to the people of Oregon. Oregon State University is providing hosting and development resources through a partnership with the OSU Open Source Lab and the OSU Business Solutions Group. …
- A Message from Superintendent Susan Castillo:
- Our vision is to deliver real-world readiness so Oregon students graduate prepared to succeed in today's global, knowledge-based economy. The Oregon Virtual School District provides teachers with the tools they need to get our students ready for college, work and life in the 21st century.
Oregon Community College Distance Learning
The Oregon Community Colleges offer a wide variety of courses and programs online. Quoting from the 32 page brochure at http://oregoncollegesonline.com/pdf/OCCDL-fall-2009.pdf:
- Welcome to Oregon Community Colleges Distance Learning
- For more than two decades Oregon community colleges have worked together using technology to expand access to education for Oregonians.
- Today courses are delivered using a variety of distance learning technologies and software including online, interactive television, cable television, videotape, and CDs. Courses may combine technologies to enhance students’ learning experiences.
- Students may obtain their Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree by distance education. Other degrees and certificates are available also. For specific information, go to http://oregoncollegesonline.com/.
- Oregon community colleges are on the quarter system and are accredited through the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and Universities.
- Before enrolling, check with the advising/counseling department of the community college of your choice for specific degree requirements, required placement testing, and course prerequisites.
- Distance education classes are academically equivalent to on-campus classes. Most distance education classes are guided study; that is, they begin when the term begins, end when the term ends, and have due dates for assignments and exams. Some distance education classes require site-based lab activities and proctored exams.
- Listings and information about distance education courses are available on the Oregon Community Colleges Distance Learning web site at http://oregoncollegesonline.com/. For additional information on individual courses, please contact the college offering that course or your local community college for information on how to enroll.
- For information about individual community colleges, see: http://oregoncollegesonline.com/resources/college_links.html.
- For a discussion about degrees and certificates available, see: http://oregoncollegesonline.com/degrees.html. In particular, note:
- With an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree you can complete your first two years of college and meet the lower-division general-education requirements for Oregon's public universities. Completing the AAOT degree simplifies the transfer process for community college students. The classes you take for the degree fulfill the general requirements, but not necessarily specific department or major requirements with regard to courses.
- You can get your AAOT degree entirely through distance learning at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Lane Community College in Eugene, or Portland Community College in Portland.
- [David Moursund’s note to himself. Here is some “food for thought.” I wonder why it is not possible to enroll for the AAOT program through any one of the community colleges? It seems to me that there are students throughout the state who might be interested in such a program. Why can’t every interested student do the program via distance learning and be associated with their local CC? Why can’t “advanced” high school students throughout the state be enrolled in such a program with some help and coordination coming from their high school or local school district and nearest CC? I guess the CC system still has room for some significant progress in this area.]
Oregon Public College and University Distance Learning
Oregon University System
The Website http://www.ous.edu/programs/disted/ discusses the distance education in the Oregon University System. Thousands of students across Oregon now use distance education to complete college-level courses and degree programs.
Distance Education Campus Links:
- Eastern Oregon University; Distance Education
- Oregon Health & Science University. Some hybrid courses are available in the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Science & Engineering, (http://www.ohsu.edu/ohsuedu/academic/som/dmice/academics/ms-biomedical.cfm) and so on. OHSE provides a large amount of Continuing Professional Education.http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/continuing-education/index.cfm.
- Oregon Institute of Technology; Distance Education
- Oregon State University; Extended Campus
- Portland State University; Distance & Online Courses
- Southern Oregon University; Extended Campus & Distance Learning
- University of Oregon; Distance Education
- Western Oregon University; Division of Extended Programs
The Website http://www.ous.edu/programs/disted/degree_prog.php lists the various distance learning programs and certificate/licensure/endorsement programs that are available in the Oregon University System. The word “math” appears in only one of the programs listed: Science and Math Education—Free-Choice or School-Based available at Oregon State University. See http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/graduate/science-math-education/. Oregon State University has by the most entries in this list of programs.
Oregon Independent College and University Distance Learning
The following list is the Oregon Independent Colleges Association: http://www.oicanet.org/aboutourinstitutions/college-sites.html.
- Concordia University--Portland, Portland, Oregon. http://www.cu-portland.edu/
- Corban College, Salem, Oregon. http://www.corban.edu/)
- George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon. http://www.georgefox.edu/
- Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon. http://www.lclark.edu/
- Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon. http://www.linfield.edu/
- Marylhurst University, Portland, Oregon. http://www.marylhurst.edu/
- Mount Angel Seminary, St. Benedict, Oregon. http://www.mountangelabbey.org/
- Multnomah University, Portland, Oregon. http://www.multnomah.edu/
- National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, Oregon. http://www.ncnm.edu/index.php
- Northwest Christian University, Eugene, Oregon. http://search2.comcast.com/?cat=dnsr&con=ds&url=www.nwcc.edu
- Oregon College of Art & Craft, Portland, Oregon. http://www.ocac.edu/
- Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, Oregon. http://www.ocom.edu/index.php
- Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon. http://www.ocom.edu/index.php
- Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon. http://www.pacificu.edu/
- Reed College, Portland, Oregon. http://www.reed.edu/
- University of Portland, Portland, Oregon. http://www.up.edu/
- Warner Pacific College, Portland, Oregon. http://www.warnerpacific.edu/
- Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon. http://www.westernseminary.edu/
- Western States Chiropractic College, Portland http://www.wschiro.edu/
- Willamette University, Salem, Oregon. http://www.willamette.edu/
Western Governors University
Quoting from http://www.wgu.edu/degrees_and_programs:
- Online degrees designed for busy adults. Western Governors University (WGU) is a non-profit online university offering you a convenient, flexible education online. Founded by the governors of 19 U.S. states, WGU offers nationally and regionally accredited online bachelor’s and master’s degrees specifically designed for working adults ….
- The Western Governors University s currently serving about 14,000 students and offers a number of programs of possible interest to preservice and inservice teachers. See, for example:
WGU Online Graduate Programs for Licensed Teachers
- M.S. Special Education (PK-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_science_special_education
- M.S. Educational Leadership. http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_science_educational_leadership
- M.A. English Language Learning/English as a Second Language (ELL/ESL) (PK-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_english_language_learning
- M.A. Mathematics Education (K-6, 5-9, or 5-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_english_language_learning
- M.A. Science Education (5-9). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_science
- M.A. Science Education (Chemistry, 5-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_chemistry
- M.A. Science Education (Physics, 5-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_physics
- M.A. Science Education (Biological Sciences, 5-12). http://www.edvisors.com/schools/western-governors-university/masters/science-education-5-12-biological-science-master-s.php
- M.A. Science Education (Geosciences, 5-12). http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_geoscience
- M.Ed. Instructional Design. http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_instructional_design
- M.Ed. Learning and Technology. http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_learning_technology
- M.Ed. Measurement and Evaluation. http://www.wgu.edu/education/master_education_measurement_evaluation
Preparation for Instruction of Science & Math (PriSM)
PrISM (Preparation for Instruction of Science & Math) is a collaborative of seven public and private higher education institutions in Oregon. It is designed to facilitate the education of inservice teachers who are interested in a combination of science and mathematics education. Its members Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University, Portland State University, University of Portland, and Western Oregon University.
A number of the design and organization ideas in the PrISM project came from the Read Oregon project conduced by Eastern Oregon University, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, and Western Oregon University. The Read Oregon project has continued after the end of its federal Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education funding ended in 2005. See http://www.readoregon.org/events.htm.
PrISM received three years of funding from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE). The third year of funding begins October 1, 2009. The funding helped pay for the development of courses, support staff, and scholarships. Through the end of summer 2009, approximately 400 to 500 students (inservice teachers, mostly at the PK-8 levels) have participated in the program.
Participants who complete an appropriately designed collection of six courses will receive a Certificate of Completion. This requires coursework in math content, science content, integrated practices, and a Capstone experience. The first batch of certificates will be awarded at the end of fall term 2009.
Quoting from the Website http://prismoregon.org/:
- [PrISM is] A statewide collaboration of public and private colleges and universities to build the capacity of Oregon’s K-8 teachers in math & science instruction
- Mathematics and Science Education faculty at Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University, Portland State University, University of Portland, and Western Oregon University are developing a set of exciting, inquiry-based, integrated math and science courses that feature accessibility to teachers throughout Oregon. Courses for preK-8 teachers are available in various online and flexible formats that meet the needs of working teachers. All courses are graduate-level and based on a common, equivalent tuition across institutions. Besides the graduate credit that you can use for renewing your teaching license or as part of a master's degree program, you will earn a program completion PrISM Certificate and will gain confidence in your ability to effectively teach mathematics and science.
- Although many PrISM courses are aimed at pK-8 teachers, many others are equally interesting and helpful for high school teachers. High school teachers may enroll in these courses, receive graduate credit, and are eligible to receive tuition assistance. Please contact the PrISM academic advisor at your home institution or the course instructor if you have any question about the applicability of a particular course to the high school level.
- Prism Tuition Assistance
- The new common tuition for PrISM courses beginning fall 2009 is $1,150 for a 3-credit (quarter hour system) course and $1,150 for a 2-credit (semester hours system). PrISM Oregon has tuition assistance available for courses that are listed on the PrISM website. Tuition assistance support is provided through the federally funded University/School Partnership Title II-A program and is restricted to teachers who are employed in Oregon pK-12 schools (public or private, full or part-time). PrISM partner Lewis & Clark College is administering the tuition assistance program on behalf of all PrISM students. The new tuition assistance amount is 60% of tuition/fees if you are employed by a non-high-need school and 80% if you are employed by a high-need school.
- When you fill out the PrISM Oregon application, you select a "home institution" for your academic advising. If you wish to combine a Master's degree at one of the seven universities with the PrISM Oregon program, be sure to select that university as your "home." There are special rules for using courses from other universities within your master's degree, so you should be sure to consult your academic advisor as you are planning your master's program.
- You may take courses from any of the participating universities to complete your PrISM certificate. The online, hybrid, field-based and intensive courses in the PrISM Oregon program allow you to take advantage of the combined mathematics and science expertise of more than 35 science and mathematics faculty at seven public and independent universities. Teachers throughout Oregon can have access to top-notch instructors no matter where they live. [Bold added for emphasis.]
- PrISM Courses at the Seven Institutions
Here are links to the PrISM courses offered by each of the participating colleges and universities :
- Eastern Oregon State University PrISM Courses. http://www.eou.edu/ed/documents/Spring-Summer09Courses.pdf.
- George Fox University PrISM Courses. http://www.georgefox.edu/soe/edfl/prism/courses.html.
- Lewis & Clark College PrISM Courses. Summer 2009 http://www.lclark.edu/graduate/programs/continuing_education/certificates/prism/courses/.
- Oregon State University PrISM Courses. http://smed.science.oregonstate.edu/node/68.
- Portland State University PrISM Courses. http://www.ceed.pdx.edu/prism/schedule.php.
- University of Portland PrISM Courses. http://education.up.edu/default.aspx?cid=8432&pid=3605&gd=yes.
- Western Oregon State University PrISM Courses. http://www.wou.edu/provost/extprogram/prism.php.
Annotated Reference List
AcademicInfo (n.d.). Online Education Resources, Degree Information & Subject Guides. Retrieved 2/12/2009: http://www.academicinfo.net/. Quoting from the Website:
- AcademicInfo is an online education resource center with extensive subject guides and distance learning information. Our mission is to provide free, independent and accurate information and resources for prospective and current students (and other researchers).
- AcademicInfo was founded in 1998 by Mike Madin, a librarian coordinator, and is now maintained by multiple contributors.
- We currently feature over 25,000+ hand-picked resources and update the website on a daily basis.
Allen, I. Elaine and Seaman, Jeff (November 2008). Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States. The Sloan Consortium. Retrieved 9/13/09: http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/staying_the_course.pdf. Quoting from the Executive Summary:
- Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008 represents the sixth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. This year’s study, like those for the previous five years, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities, the study addresses the following key questions:
- How Many Students are Learning Online?
- Background: For the past several years, online enrollments have been growing substantially faster than overall higher education enrollments. The expectation of academic leaders has been that these enrollments would continue their substantial growth for at least another year. Do the measured enrollments match these lofty expectations?
- The evidence: Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating no signs of slowing.
- * Over 3.9 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2007 term; a 12 percent increase over the number reported the previous year.
- * The 12.9 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student population.
- * Over twenty percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007.
Brooks, Margaret (5/29/09). The Excellent Inevitability of Online Courses. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 5/26/09: http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i38/38a06401.htm?utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the article:
- As students sign up for online courses in record numbers, faculty members and administrators on campuses across the country are considering what place such courses should have in their curricula. Each institution's answer goes to the heart of its mission, and the examination process involves debate and discussion about how that mission will be carried out using the newest technology.
- Online enrollments have grown much faster than overall higher-education enrollments over the past few years, according to a 2008 report, "Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States," published by the Sloan-C, a consortium that promotes online education. During the period 2002-7, enrollment in online courses grew 19.7 percent, compared with 1.5-percent growth in the overall college-student population. The study also found that more than 20 percent of American college students took at least one online course during the fall 2007 semester. Those figures suggest tremendous interest in online teaching and learning.
- The article gives "eight reasons that colleges should proudly—and without apology—offer online courses."
Carnegie Corporation (2009). Final Report from Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy. Retrieved 9/16/09: http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/tta/pdf/tta_Main.pdf. Quoting from the executive summary of this 108 page report:
- Our nation’s educational system has scored many extraordinary successes in raising the level of reading and writing skills in younger children. Yet the pace of literacy improvement in our schools has not kept up with the accelerating demands of the global knowledge economy. In state after state, the testing data mandated by No Child Left Behind reveals a marked decline in the reading and writing skills of adolescent learners. School systems are now grappling with the fact that promising early performance and gains in reading achievement often dissipate as students move through the middle grades. As a result, many young people drop out of high school or perform at minimal level and end up graduating without the basic skills that they need to do college-level work, get a well-paying job or act as informed citizens.
- The truth is that good early literacy instruction does not inoculate students against struggle or failure later on. Beyond grade 3, adolescent learners in our schools must decipher more complex passages, synthesize information at a higher level, and learn to form independent conclusions based on evidence. They must also develop special skills and strategies for reading text in each of the differing content areas (such as English, science, mathematics and history)— meaning that a student who “naturally” does well in one area may struggle in another.
- We have a strong knowledge base of reading instruction for grades K-3. However, literacy supports for adolescents present greater instructional challenges and demand a range of strategies. Middle and high school learners must learn from texts which, compared to those in the earlier grades:
- * are significantly longer and more complex at the word, sentence and structural levels;
- * present greater conceptual challenges and obstacles to reading fluency;
- * contain more detailed graphic representations (as well as tables, charts and equations linked to text) and
- * demand a much greater ability to synthesize information.
Devaney, Laura (10/29/08). Report assesses K-12 online learning. Online Course-Taking Shows Dramatic Growth. Education Week. Quoting from the article:
- The number of K-12 students using online courses has increased dramatically in the last few years, concludes a new report from the Needham, Mass-based Sloan Consortium, an advocacy group that promotes online education.
- Researchers estimate that more than a million public school students now take classes online, a 47 percent increase from the consortium’s original K-12 survey done in the 2005-06 school year.
- The 2007-08 survey of 867 public school district superintendents from each state and region in the country found that three-quarters of public school districts polled are offering online-only courses or courses that mix online and traditional education, and 75 percent of those districts had one or more students enrolled in a fully online course. The report notes that rural districts, in particular, see significant benefits to having their students taking some online courses.
Devaney, Laura (10/29/2008). Report assesses K-12 online learning . eSchool News. Retrieved 11/3/08: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=55790. Quoting from the article:
- Online learning is growing rapidly, but its continued growth will require specific policy and funding changes that focus on increasing educational choices and opportunities while ensuring high quality and improved student achievement, according to a new report.
- "Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning," the fifth in an annual series of reports examining the online-learning landscape, debuted at the North American Council for Online Learning's (NACOL's) Virtual School Symposium on Oct. 27. The report recommends several policies to increase online learning options for students.
eSchool News (3/17/09). Report: Online learning a 'lifeline' in rural areas. Retrieved 3/17/09: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=57747. Quoting from the document:
- The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) study, called "K-12 Online Learning," is a follow-up to the group's 2007 report, which was one of the first studies to collect data about online and blended learning in K-12 schools. The new study, released in January, is based on information gathered from more than 800 U.S. school systems during the 2007-08 academic year.
- According to the study, three-quarters of responding school districts had at least one student enrolled in a fully online or blended course, an increase of about 10 percentage points from the group's earlier study. ("Blended" courses employ both online and face-to-face instruction.)
- The total number of K-12 students taking online or blended courses in 2007-08 was estimated at 1,030,000--up from 700,000 in the earlier study--and two-thirds of respondents said they expect their online enrollments will continue to grow.
Florida Virtual School (n.d.). FLVS Full-Time Options for Florida Public School Students. retrieved 8/16/09: http://www.flvs.net/areas/FT/Pages/default.aspx. Quoting from the Page:
- Florida Virtual School and Florida Connections Academy, both long-time leaders in online learning, joined forces in Fall 2008. Through this best-of-breed partnership, Florida Virtual School's Connections Academy (FLVSCA), was created. Now, Florida districts, families, and students have access to the highest performing "A" rated public virtual program in Florida.
- This full-time, 180-day comprehensive program is offered to K-8 [K-12] students in participating districts. Through state-of-the-art content, engaging curriculum, and personalized instruction, this accredited solution puts students' needs first.
- Some districts are offering a choice for their district students. Each option below is free for Florida residents, since it is funded by the district.
Higgins, Lori (1/4/09). Waivers free high school students to study online, off-campus. Freep.com. Retrieved 1/6/09: http://www.freep.com/article/20090104/NEWS05/901040439/1007. Quoting from the article:
- Eleven Michigan school districts and one charter school can now allow students to take more courses -- and in some cases all of their classes -- online and off-campus, moves that could further cement the state's reputation as a leader in online education.
- Michigan already broke new ground in 2006 by becoming the first state in the nation to require students take an online class or have an online educational experience in order to graduate.
- Alabama has recently implemented a similar requirement for students to take at least one online course. See the July 10, 2009 eSchoolNews article. Free online course helps students plan careers: Alabama becomes the second state, after Michigan, to adopt Microsoft’s CareerForward online curriculum. See http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=59642.
ies (n.d.). Institute of Educational Sciences: What Works Clearinghouse. Retrieved 9/5/09: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/.
- The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews research on today’s most pressing topics in education. Topics studied by the WWC are nominated by email and in meetings with practitioners, policymakers, and leaders of education associations.
- The WWC provides a large and steadily increasing collection of research-based information. In math education, for example, see:
- * Elementary School Math (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/topic.aspx?tid=04).
- * Middle School Math (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/topic.aspx?tid=03).
iNACOL (n.d.). International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Retrieved 8/30/09: (http://www.inacol.org/). This Website provides access to a number of very useful documents (see http://www.inacol.org/research/promisingpractices/). Quoting from the iNOCOL Website:
- Who We Are
- We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership association based in the Washington, DC area with more than 2,500 members. We are unique; our members represent a diverse cross-section of K-12 education from school districts, charter schools, state education agencies, non-profit organizations, research institutions, corporate entities and other content & technology providers.
- What We Do
- * Advocacy - Support activities and policies that remove barriers and support effective online education.
- * Research - Facilitate, conduct and disseminate research, identify promising practices, and develop national K-12 online learning quality standards.
- * Professional Development - Offer professional development opportunities for administrators and teachers.
- * Networking - Promote the sharing of information, resources and expertise across the larger education reform community to drive future directions in K-12 online education.
- Why We Do It
- To level the playing field for students through online learning. Our mission is to ensure all students have access to world-class education and quality online learning opportunities that prepare them for a lifetime of success.
Kulik, James A. (May 2003). Effects of Using Instructional Technology in Elementary and Secondary Schools: What Controlled Evaluation Studies Say. SRI International. Retrieved 8/31/09: http://www.sri.com/policy/csted/reports/sandt/it/Kulik_ITinK-12_Main_Report.pdf. James Kulik is well known for his studies of the research literature on Computer-Assisted Instruction. His 1994 meta-meta study is widely referenced. Quoting from the Executive Summary of the 82-page 2003 report:
- Like most recent reviews on technology applications in education, this report uses effect size measures to summarize findings. An effect size specifies the number of standard deviation units separating the outcome scores of treatment and control groups in a study. Effect sizes can therefore be used to express results from different studies on a single uniform scale of effectiveness. Effect sizes may be positive or negative. An effect size is positive when the treatment group in a study outperforms the control group, and it is negative when the control group comes out on top. Effect sizes of around 0.2 are usually considered to be small, 0.5 to be moderate, and 0.8 to be large in size (Cohen, 1977). When effect sizes in education are above 0.25, results are considered large enough to be educationally meaningful (Slavin, 1990a). …
- Integrated learning systems in mathematics. Sixteen controlled studies conducted during the last decade reported on the effectiveness of integrated learning systems (ILSs) in mathematics. Each of the 16 studies found that mathematics test scores were at least slightly higher in the group taught with an ILS, and in nine of the studies, the ILS effect was large enough to be considered both statistically significant and educationally meaningful. The median ILS effect in the 16 studies was to increase mathematics test scores by 0.38 standard deviations, or from the 50th to the 65th percentile. …
- Six studies conducted during the past decade paint a positive picture of computer tutorials in the natural and social sciences. In all but one of the six cases, the effect of computer tutoring was large enough to be considered both statistically significant and educationally meaningful. In the remaining study, the boost from computer tutoring was near zero. In the median case, the effect of computer tutorials was to raise student achievement scores by 0.59 standard deviations, or from the 50th to the 72nd percentile. Tutorial effects on student attitudes toward instruction and subject matter were also strong and positive. In all cases, computer tutoring produced significant positive effects on attitudes. In the median study, the effect of computer tutorials was to raise attitude scores by 1.10 standard deviations. Evaluation studies carried out during the 1970s and 1980s also found that computer tutoring has positive effects on student learning. A major meta-analytic review (J. Kulik, 1994), for example, reported that the average effect of computer tutorials was to raise student test scores by 0.36 standard deviations. This is equivalent to a boost in test scores from the 50th to the 64th percentile.
Lee, Carol and Spratley, Anika (September 2009). Reading in the disciplines. The Challenges of adolescent literacy. The Carnegie corporation of New York. Retrieved 9/16/09: http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/tta/pdf/tta_Lee.pdf. Quoting from the introduction to this 34 page report:
- Adolescents may struggle with text for a number of reasons, including problems with a) vocabulary knowledge, b) general knowledge of topics and text structures, c) knowing of what to do when comprehension breaks down, or d) proficiency in monitoring their own reading comprehension. Most recent literacy initiatives target younger readers and attempt to instill basic decoding and comprehension skills. But struggling adolescent readers in our schools face more complex and pervasive challenges. Supporting these readers as they grapple with the highly specific demands of texts written for different content-areas will help prepare them for citizenship, encourage personal growth and life-satisfaction on many levels, and open up opportunities for future education and employment.
- In this paper we focus on one foundational aspect of adolescent literacy that has been relatively ignored by recent reports on the problem. Our starting point is the fact that the major difference between reading in grades K-5 and reading in grades 6-12 is the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. The latter skill brings into play numerous academic concepts and modes of reasoning, primarily through the act of reading. Adolescents often need more sophisticated and specific kinds of literacy support for reading in content-areas, or academic disciplines. We call this more advanced form of literacy required of adolescent readers “disciplinary literacy” because each academic discipline or content-area presupposes specific kinds of background knowledge about how to read texts in that area, and often also requires a particular type of reading.
Lohr, Steve (8/19/09). Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom. The New York Times. Retrieved 8/29/09: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/study-finds-that-online-education-beats-the-classroom/. Quoting from the article:
- A recent 93-page report meta-analysis on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, (http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf) has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
- The report examined the comparative research on online versus traditional classroom teaching from 1996 to 2008. Some of it was in K-12 settings, but most of the comparative studies were done in colleges and adult continuing-education programs of various kinds, from medical training to the military.
Mandinach, Ellen (2005). The Development of Effective Evaluation Methods for E-Learning: A Concept Paper and Action Plan. Teachers College Record. Retrieved 1/29/08: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12097. Quoting from the article:
- E-learning is an emerging field as a promising instructional medium as well as a ripe arena in which to conduct research on its impact on teaching and learning activities. The fundamental nature of e-learning as an instructional medium differs substantially from face-to-face delivery, thereby requiring new and hybrid methods for evaluating its impact. This article examines the characteristics of e-learning that make it unique and traces some of the emerging trends in the field. The article then discusses evaluation methodologies that might be potentially informative in the examination of how e-learning is beginning to affect teaching and learning processes.
- E-learning creates new variables, constraints, and issues, making it fundamentally different from face-to-face learning environments. The roles of the professor, teacher, and student change. Requisite resources and infrastructure differ. Even the educational objectives may differ across students, professors, teachers, and institutions.
Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 7/2/09: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/evalonline/index.html. (93 page report.) Quoting the abstract:
- A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis.
- The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes—measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation—was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. Analysts noted that these blended conditions often included additional learning time and instructional elements not received by students in control conditions.
- This finding suggests that the positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se. An unexpected finding was the small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning conditions for K–12 students. In light of this small corpus, caution is required in generalizing to the K–12 population because the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education).
NACOL (n.d.). North American Council for Online Learning. Retrieved 11/3/08: http://www.nacol.org/. Quoting from the Website:
- Mission: NACOL strives to ensure all students have access to a world-class education and quality online learning opportunities that prepare them for a lifetime of success.
- Vision: Online learning is a powerful innovation that expands education opportunities. iNACOL supports access to high-quality online learning for all students.
Online-Education.net (n. d.). Learn about online college degrees and schools here! Retrieved8/30/09: http://www.online-education.net/. Quoting from the Website:
- Online education: your ticket to a successful career. Whether you've just graduated from high school, are returning to college after a few years in the workplace, or simply want to continue your education while working a full-time job, Online-Education.net is a great resource to begin researching your educational options.
- Search over 600+ Online Education Courses in our online course catalog, and study at home, on your own schedule. Online-Education.net offers listings of over 2,200 online and campus-based College and Universities that can be easily found with our Campus Finder. Or find a degree among over 200 different online degrees listed. Online-Education.net offers information on each US state, Puerto Rico, and international opportunities in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe, the UK, and Asia.
Open Courseware Consortium (n.d.). Open Courseware Consortium. Retrieved 8/30/09: http://www.ocwconsortium.org/. Quoting from the Website:
- An OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 200 higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model. The mission of the OpenCourseWare Consortium is to advance education and empower people worldwide through opencourseware.
- The Goals of the Consortium
- * Extend the reach and impact of opencourseware by encouraging the adoption and adaptation of open educational materials around the world.
- * Foster the development of additional opencourseware projects.
- * Ensure the long-term sustainability of opencourseware projects by identifying ways to improve effectiveness and reduce costs.
- Participation Requirements
- In order to participate in Consortium activities, institutions must have committed to publishing, under the institution's name, materials from at least 10 courses in a format that meets the agreed-upon definition of an opencourseware. Organizations that do not publish their own content but whose activities further Consortium goals—such as translation and distribution affiliates—also participate in Consortium activities.
Parry, Marc (8/3/09) Obama's Great Course Giveaway. Clues to a grand online-education plan emerge from the college and the experts that may have inspired it. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 8/5/09: http://chronicle.com/article/Obamas-Great-Course-Giveaway/47530/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en. Quoting from the article:
- Logan Stark's classmates scramble for courses with professors who top instructor-rating Web sites. But when the California Polytechnic State University student enrolled in a biochemistry class on the San Luis Obispo campus, he didn't need to sweat getting the best.
- It was practically guaranteed.
- That's because much of the class was built by national specialists, not one Cal Poly professor. It's a hybrid of online and in-person instruction. When Mr. Stark logs in to the course Web site at midnight, a bowl of cereal beside his laptop, he clicks through animated cells and virtual tutors, a digital domain designed by faculty experts and software engineers.
- Mr. Stark's class is one of about 300 around the world to use online course material—both the content and the software that delivers it—developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative. If the Obama administration pulls off a $500-million-dollar online-education plan, proposed in July as one piece of a sweeping community-college aid package, this type of course could become part of a free library available to colleges nationwide.
- The government would pay to develop these "open" classes, taking up the mantle of a movement that has unlocked lecture halls at universities nationwide in recent years—a great course giveaway popularized by the OpenCourseWare project's free publication of 1,900 courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Millions worldwide have used these online materials. But the publication cost—at MIT, about $10,000 a course—has impeded progress at the community-college level, says Stephen E. Carson, external-relations director for MIT OpenCourseWare.
- The cost of each course: probably about $1-million, although development would cost less "if you did a number of them," Mr. Smith says.
When asked why government should get involved, Mr. Smith responds that its help "would make those courses available to anyone, which is not the case now—and wouldn't be the case if the government didn't do it."
Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2008). 21st Century Skills, Education & Competitiveness: A Resource and Policy Guide. Retrieved 9/12/09: http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/documents/21st_century_skills_education_and_competitiveness_guide.pdf. Quoting from this report:
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) focuses on minimum competencies— basic skills—in reading, mathematics and, now, science. Yet low performance and achievement gaps persist, according to data on 8th graders from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called “the Nation’s Report Card.” Under NCLB, all states are required to participate in NAEP testing, which effectively serves as an independent measure and a national benchmark of states’ success in meeting NCLB goals.
- * In reading, only 38 percent of white students were proficient on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), compared to 12 percent of black students, 14 percent of Hispanic students and 15 percent of low-income students (Lee, Grigg & Dion, 2007b).
- * In mathematics, only 42 percent of white students were proficient on the 2007 NAEP, compared to 14 percent of black students, 17 percent of Hispanic students and 17 percent of low-income students (Lee, Grigg & Dion, 2007a).
- * In science, only 39 percent of white students were proficient on the 2005 NAEP, compared to 7 percent of black students, 10 percent of Hispanic students and 12 percent of low-income students. While NCLB did not include science in its accountability requirements for states until 2007, these results indicate that student achievement in science will be a challenge (Grigg, Lauko & Brockway, 2006).
- * In writing, a skill in particular demand in business and higher education that is not a focus of NCLB, only 41 percent of white students, 16 percent of black students, 18 percent of Hispanic students and 15 percent of low-income students reached proficiency on the 2007 NAEP (Salahu-Din, Persky & Miller, 2008). These results are troubling, especially since people with only basic competencies are the most likely to flounder in the rising high-skill, high-wage service economy. To prepare students to be competitive, the nation needs an “NCLB plus” agenda that infuses 21st century skills into core academic subjects. This is not an either–or agenda: Students can master 21st century skills while they learn reading, mathematics, science, writing and other school subjects.
- These results are troubling, especially since people with only basic competencies are the most likely to flounder in the rising high-skill, high-wage service economy. To prepare students to be competitive, the nation needs an “NCLB plus” agenda that infuses 21st century skills into core academic subjects. This is not an either–or agenda: Students can master 21st century skills while they learn reading, mathematics, science, writing and other school subjects.
Natriello, Gary (2005). Modest Changes, Revolutionary Possibilities: Distance Learning and the Future of Education. Teachers College Record. Retrieved 2/5/08: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12099. Quoting from the article:
- In this essay, I take stock of the developments shaping distance learning and consider the implications for educational researchers and for the future of education. I proceed in four stages. First, I consider the constellation of forces leading to the development of distance education and the emerging shape of this part of the education sector. Second, I review the development of distance learning to date, a path of development based largely on the extension of and borrowing from existing educational arrangements and patterns in face-to-face education. Third, I explore developments at the leading edge of contemporary distance learning that depart in some more substantial way from patterns characteristic of face-to-face education. Fourth, I consider the implications for educational researchers as well as those for policy makers and educators.
Parry, Marc and Fischer, Karin (7/17/09). How Obama's $12-Billion Plan Could Change 2-Year Colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 8/30/09: http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:EDrRubkeFjUJ:www.workforcestrategy.org/publications/The_Chronicle_Of_Higher_Education_2009-07-24.pdf+How+Obama%27s+%2412-Billion+Plan+Could+Change+2-Year+Colleges.&hl=en&gl=us. Quoting from the article:
- Officials with Carnegie Mellon University said they suspected the White House has been interested in their Open Learning Initiative. That program develops highly interactive college courses based on research on how students learn. The courses—there are 12 now, including ones in biology, chemistry, economics, French, and logic—are not inexpensive to develop. Initially, the cost per course was as much as $2-million, but that expense has dropped to $1-million to $1.5-million. A few months ago, the university received an inquiry about the program from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
- Ultimately, one application of the online material produced may be remedial education for either high-school or college students, said Sally Johnstone, provost at Winona State University and a longtime participant in the open-education movement. For example, she said, a university with 300 people who needed a certain remedial course—say, pre-college algebra—could draw on the open materials.
- The college, she said, could effectively tell those students: “You’re not ready for college algebra, based on tests and performance. Take this course. You won’t get credit for it, but it will get you to … a state of knowledge that you’ll be ready to take the course offered by the university.”
Prabhu, Maya T. (11/19/08). Report challenges online-learning assumptions. Online students report deeper learning approaches, more challenging coursework than their peers in face-to-face classes. Retrieved http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=56098. Quoting from the article:
- The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which was conducted by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, collected information from nearly 380,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at 722 four-year colleges and universities across the United States. NSSE explored the experiences of online learners through a set of additional questions given to more than 22,000 students from 47 institutions. The results were released Nov. 10.
- Critics of distance education assume that face-to-face classes have inherent advantages as learning environments," said Alexander C. McCormick, NSSE director and associate professor of education at Indiana University. "But these results indicate that those who teach classes online may be making special efforts to engage their students. It may also be the case that online classes appeal to students who are more academically motivated and self-directed."
- Bob Gonyea, associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Research, said the survey did not collect data that could concretely determine why online learners reported deeper approaches to learning.
PRISM (n.d.). Portal for Resources in Science and Math. Retrieved 8/30/09: www.systemicinitiatives.net/prism. This was a federally funded project, from sometime in the past. Its goal was to make available a list of online resources. A number of the links are still active. Quoting from the Website:
- PRISM is a one-stop science, math, and technology (SMT) education portal that provides easy access to the most popular and effective web-based and printed SMT education resources. The database includes abstracts that briefly describe each of the selected resources, as well as printable URLs and "hot links" for immediate and direct access to each resource. PRISM is primarily designed for K-12 district and school mathematics, science, and technology educators who work directly and indirectly with classroom teachers. PRISM can save users time and frustration by filtering for the most useful information from among the thousands of available resources accessible through Google and other web-based search engines. The PRISM database is organized across two key areas: recommended individual resources (e.g., a discrete web page or document) and clearinghouse and education lab resources (e.g., the ERIC Clearinghouse).
Science Daily (2/7/07). Distance Learning Moves Into 'Second Life' Virtual Classroom. Retrieved 8/28/09: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070207193301.htm. Quoting:
- There’s no excuse for being late to Paul Fishwick’s class, even though it’s held on an island, one that does not appear on the map of the landlocked University of Florida in Gainesville.
- That’s because students can just teleport in.
- Fishwick, a computer science and engineering professor, is teaching one of at least two classes offered at UF this semester largely in cyberspace — specifically, the trendy three-dimensional online world called Second Life. There, Fishwick’s “avatar,” the character that represents each player in Second Life, leads discussions among some 30 other avatars controlled by upper-level UF undergraduate and graduate students in CAP 4403/CAP 6402, Aesthetic Computing.
- “I like the potential for collaboration, immersion, aesthetics, creativity, social interaction,” Fishwick said. “There are a lot of different dimensions I think are valuable to educators.”
Sivin-Kachaka, Jay (6/2/09). New Study Determines Students in Full-Time Online Public Schools Possess Strong Social Skills. Retrieved 7/8/09: http://www.k12.com/press__policy/new-study-determines-students-in-full-time-online-public-schools-possess-strong-social-skills/. Quoting from the document:
- A new study concludes that the social skills of students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are superior to or not significantly different than students enrolled in traditional public schools.
- The independent study was completed by Interactive Education Systems Design (IESD), Inc., in collaboration with The Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis. It represents the first significant research effort on the social skills of students in full-time, online public schools.
- “Online public schools are experiencing rapid growth across the country,” said Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, Vice-President of IESD, who led the research project. “Yet some concerns have been expressed that students enrolled in online public schools may suffer from a lack of opportunities for socialization, and consequently may fail to develop important social skills. The results of this study provide substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that typical, mainstream students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are at least as well socialized as equivalent students enrolled in traditional public schools.”
- Dr. Sivin-Kachala added, “Preliminary evidence also suggests that students enrolled in full-time, online public schools might have an advantage in their social skills development if they are highly engaged in activities outside the school day – including both activities involving peer interaction and activities not involving peer interaction.
Van Dusen, Christine (4/3/09). Learning without limits. How the rise of online instruction is changing the nature of schooling. eSchool News. Retrieved 6/23/09: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-articles/index.cfm?i=58076. Quoting from the article:
- Zach Bonner is a smart kid, but he's a bit confused to hear that some adults still assume students in online schools are somehow worse off and spend all day chained to a computer, never learning to socialize in the real world.
- Though he may be a full-time Florida fifth-grader whose classwork is completed in his family's Valrico kitchen, less than a quarter of his time is spent in front of a computer screen. More often Zach is doing science experiments, taking field trips, bike-riding with friends from his neighborhood, reading White Fang, playing tennis--on real courts, not on a Wii--and running the Little Red Wagon Foundation, a nonprofit he founded at age 8.
- He's been enrolled in the Florida Virtual Academy, a school that uses curriculum from online-learning provider K12 Inc., since kindergarten, and every year he gets fewer questions and quizzical looks from grown-ups who don't get how it works. Kids, he says, have never treated him differently for going to an online school.
Zhao, Lei, Yan, Lai, and Tan (2005). What Makes the Difference? A Practical Analysis of Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Education. Retrieved 2/1/08: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12098. Quoting from the article:
- This article reports findings of a meta-analytical study of research on distance education. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that affect the effectiveness of distance education. The results show that although the aggregated data of available studies show no significant difference in outcomes between distance education and face-to-face education as previous research reviews suggest, there is remarkable difference across the studies. Further examination of the difference reveals that distance education programs, just like traditional education programs, vary a great deal in their outcomes, and the outcome of distance education is associated with a number of pedagogical and technological factors. This study led to some important data-driven suggestions for and about distance education.