K-12 Tech Trends :: January 17, 2007


Should States Mandate Online Learning?

In Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state level policy and practice, Watkins and Lewis (2006) reported, "As of September 2006, 38 states have either state-led online learning programs, significant policies regulating online education, or both." (p. 6). In 2006, "Michigan passed a law creating an online learning experience requirement for high school graduation" (p. 7). Michigan Merit Curriculum Guidelines (2006) indicate "Students must take an online course or learning experience or have the online learning experience incorporated into each course of the required curriculum beginning with the class of 2011" (p. 8). I have a concern about any state or education institution mandating online learning for any education level. 

According to those Guidelines (2006), an online learning experience will require students "to complete assignments, meet deadlines, learn appropriate online behavior, and effectively collaborate with others in an instructional setting" (p. 1), which sounds good. In response, Michigan Virtual High School (MVHS), the leader of Michigan’s online education endeavors, created an online career development course that will be available to all students in the state. MVHS has a number of online courses and formats to help students meet the requirement.

Recommending and requiring are two different things, however. Even the National Education Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2004) just includes a recommendation that states, districts and schools "provide every student access to e-learning." So, I am wondering about the decision making in Michigan, despite reasons given on why that legislation was passed. These included that online courses have the added advantage of promoting 21st century skills valued in professional careers (getting online, using email and discussion boards for communication and collaboration, locating information using the Internet) and global citizenship. While I agree with that statement and understand the intent of the law, how does the nature of learners themselves and the learning process impact implementation?...

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News Briefs

1105 Media Acquires Florida Educational Technology Corporation

1105 Media Inc. announced this week it has acquired the Florida Educational Technology Corporation, producer of the annual FETC Conference, one of the oldest and largest educational technology conferences focusing on the K-12 market. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed....

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NC Electronic Transcript Usage Up

According to Xap Corp., a developer of education technologies, the use of electronic transcripts increased dramatically in 2006 in North Carolina's schools. The group said today that the total number of transcripts arriving at the state's colleges and universities from North Carolina high schools increased some 369 percent between 2005 and 2006....

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Skyline Uses Soliloquy for ELL

At the start of the 2006 school year, Skyline Elementary, Cape Coral, Fla., enrolled a dramatically increased number of English language learners (ELL)—nearly double that of the previous year, from 23 percent to 41 percent. So, in an effort to help improve reading fluency, the pre K-12 school turned to Soliloquy Learning's Soliloquy Reading Assistant....

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Castleberry Installs Rapid Responder

Castleberry Independent School District (CISD) in Texas has installed a crisis management system called Rapid Responder from Prepared Response. CISD had been awarded an Emergency Response and Crisis Management grant for more than $100,000 and, as part of the grant, will install Rapid Responder in all of the its elementary, middle and high schools, as well as administration facilities....

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Show Me the Money

BP Expands A+ for Energy Grants

Energy provider BP says it's expanding its A+ for Energy grant program, expanding into six Southeast Texas counties....

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Products & Services

GTCO Releases InterWrite 3 Mac

GTCO CalComp has released version 3.0 of its InterWrite software for Mac OS X. InterWrite is the software behind GTCO's classroom hardware products, which include the InterWrite SchoolPad, InterWrite iPanel and InterWrite SchoolBoard....

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Creative: Autodesk Releases Maya 8.5

Autodesk is releasing Maya 8.5 today, an update to the company's high-end 3D modeling, animation, effects and rendering suite. The new version is a Universal Binary with native support for Intel-based Macs, as well as Windows and Linux. A Personal Learning Edition is slated for release this spring....

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Coming Up

  • JAN 24-26, 2007
    FETC 2007
    Florida Educational Technology Conference
    Orlando, FL
  • FEB 5-9, 2007
    TCEA 2007
    Texas Computer Education Association
    Austin, Texas

  • JUNE 24-27, 2007
    NECC 2007
    28th-Annual National Educational Computing Conference
    Atlanta, GA

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