After reading Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state level policy and practice (Watson & Ryan, 2006), I became concerned that policy makers need to take a closer look at the K-12 online teaching scenario itself. Based on Lawrence Tomei's (2006) post-secondary finding that "14 percent more hours were required to teach the same number of students online at a distance than in the traditional classroom" (p. 539), there is reason to suspect that per virtual course or virtual classroom, the time commitment for K-12 online teaching is also greater than teaching face to face. Yet states have not fully determined what constitutes full time for that environment, most likely because sufficient research is lacking for comparison. At the present time, most states are employing online teachers on a part-time basis, with Florida Virtual School (FLVS) being the exception. I'd like to elaborate on some of the realities, based on my experiences with traditional and online teaching.
- By Patricia Deubel
We've all in our lives made the mistake of thinking of color as this fixed quantity—some sort of absolute that can be communicated, interpreted and reproduced losslessly. The sky is blue. The tree is green. The car is red. I can write those words, and the colors materialize in your mind. But are the colors you "see" in your mind the same as the ones I intended to communicate to you? In other words, do they match? Surely not.
In the fourth installment of their monthly column, blended learning experts Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker discuss the growth of open online resources and their impact on blended learning.
- By Michael Horn, Heather Staker
The idea of using chat as a communication tool with students is widely accepted in education. Using the same tool to progress critical thinking is not often discussed. That is, the question might be asked, "Why use an online tool when I can discuss with my students face to face?"
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2007), "Research shows that the single most important school-related factor in raising student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Today, in the era of high standards and increased accountability, boosting teacher quality is more crucial than ever before" (p. 4). The nature of the 21st-century classroom is rapidly changing. Online education in K-12, also called virtual schooling, is growing at about 30 percent annually (North American Council for Online Learning [NACOL], 2007). With this rise comes an increase in demand for experienced teachers to teach online, which adds another dimension to this issue of teacher quality.
- By Patricia Deubel
We all have our opinions about open-source technologies. While many are in favor of "free" and "open" software conceptually, there are those whose reservations about open source trump even the high ace in the deck, also known as budgetary restrictions. So, no matter how good open source might seem to many of us--no matter how many benefits we can enumerate--those reservations hold back any serious attempts at implementation.
There has been a lot of recent debate on the benefits of social networking tools and software in education. While there are good points on either side of the debate, there remains the essential difference in theoretical positioning. Most conventional educational environments are "Objectivist" in nature and highly structured in terms of students progress and choice. Social networking essentially requires a less controlled, user-generated environment which challenges conventional views of the effective "management" of teaching and learning. Therefore, can social networking both as an instructional concept and user skill be integrated into the conventional approaches to teaching and learning? Do the skills developed within a social networking environment have value in the more conventional environments of learning?
As we move into what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts as an above normal Atlantic hurricane season, this month's column will focus on a little considered aspect of disaster recovery, personal business continuity. What does business continuity have to do with security? Both are based anticipating and planning for bad things. So don't be surprised when your boss wants you to be on the organization's disaster recovery team. You may be surprised at how much you can contribute.
While the technologies collectively known as Web 2.0 have penetrated the consumer sector rapidly over the last four years or so, the process has been much slower and more measured in education. There were some breakthroughs in 2007, with upward trends in the adoption--or at least availability--of Web 2.0 technologies in the areas of teacher professional development and supplemental instructional technologies, such as podcasting, streaming media, and blogging.
Today every teacher needs to be in charge of his or her own professional development, if for no other reason than district budgets require everyone to be so much more creative. Here are a few ways teachers can better take advantage of formal and informal learning, the use of a back channel, and modeling life-long learning.