Expert Perspectives


Planning for the Next Disaster: Pandemic

The experts tell us that a pandemic is inevitable. The only question is when it will happen. Is your organization ready? Can you keep essential IT functions running? What can you do to be prepared?

Survival Tips for the New School Year

The start of any school year can be very stressful for a building- or district-level technology director. To deal with the pressure, here are a few tips to help you get through the first few weeks. Some of these suggestions are too late to implement this year; however, it’s never too early to start planning ahead for next year.

Changing Designs of Online Learning: The Evolution of Digital Learning Systems Through Customization

While the wider uses of technology have increased student awareness of what is possible, within teaching and learning technology use often remains quite stagnant and out of date based on notions of what good teaching looks like and how standards must drive the process rather than the process itself. This is most clearly seen in current course delivery software platforms, which remain supportive of teacher-driven instructional design and content production and delivery. But a tension now exists between the potential for individual customization that threatens the very essence of conventional wisdom in course design and delivery.

Controlling Social Media: Current Policy Trends in K-12 Education

As social media becomes ubiquitous, schools and districts should shift from trying to control its use and toward teaching faculty and students how to build successful learning communities.

Homework: A Math Dilemma and What To Do About It

The issue of assigning homework is controversial in terms of its purpose, what to assign, the amount of time needed to complete it, parental involvement, its actual affect on learning and achievement, and impact on family life and other valuable activities that occur outside of school hours. I have encountered all of those controversies in my years of teaching mathematics. Math homework is usually a daily event. Unfortunately, many teachers assign most homework from problem sets following the section of the text that was addressed that day. There is little differentiation. For the most part the entire class gets the same assignment. (In fairness, teachers do take into consideration the nature of those problems, which are often grouped by difficulty, deciding which to assign based on the general ability level of students in the class: below average, average, above average, or mixed.)

What's Online Education All About?

Unless you are directly involved with teaching online, have students taking courses online, or have taken an online course yourself, chances are that you find the concept of online education quite nebulous. You might not have any interest in it. Terms like distance education, fully online, blended courses, virtual courses, e-learning, hybrid courses, mixed-mode, asynchronous learning, distributed learning, Web-facilitated, and Web-enhanced learning add to the confusion. However, online learning is on the rise in K-12 education, and you should know some of the basics and issues surrounding it. It is adding flexibility to the traditional school experience, meeting the needs of specific groups of students, and increasing course offerings. If it has not already done so, it probably will affect your teaching scenario before too long. So, what's online education all about? Well ... it's all in who you ask or what resources you consult.

The Suitability of Technology-based Education for Skills Development

Learning to communicate clearly, work collaboratively, network efficiently, manage and organize information and tasks, think critically, and develop new knowledge is increasingly required across all working areas because expectations are changing and because budgets and organizational planning demand more efficiency in the workforce. So more exploration should be made as to how these kinds of skills, often referred to as "transferrable" skills, are developed, and technology can play a crucial role in this.

Showing Support for Teacher Websites

It’s necessary in this era of accountability for teachers to have a classroom site, and to post their pages among those of the school or district site. The name of the school or district and its logo should appear on all pages to provide evidence of an official connection and a unifying element among all teachers’ sites at the school. Unfortunately, I don’t always see this.

10 Predictions for Blended Learning in 2013

In the ninth installment of their monthly column, blended learning experts Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker predict how blended learning programs will evolve in 2013.

How Much Does Blended Learning Cost?

In the second installment of their monthly column, blended learning experts Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker address the issue of blended learning costs.

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