Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week 7 Post #2

For your final blog entry for IT6230 I want you to become familiar with political aspects of virtual schooling by reading the article entitled “Mich. floats online learning requirement: State could be first to insist on virtual instruction as a condition for graduation”, which appeared over three years ago in eSchool News, below.
Then, review the following blog entries that Dr. Barbour has posted concerning the recent debate over full-time K-12 online learning in Michigan.
Finally, while much of this has already been decided in Michigan, many other states are still grappling with these issues (see AJC Is Looking At Online Learning In Georgia).
Once you have completed these readings and using them, in addition to what you have recently discovered about virtual schooling, imagine you are a teacher in one of the states deciding whether to make K-12 online learning a graduation requirement for all students and your legislator has contacted you for your thoughts on this legislation as he/she prepares for the debate. Your task is to write a 100-200 word response to your legislator expressing and most importantly, supporting, your view on this legislation.
Your own response to this prompt should be posted by the end of the day on Wednesday, August 15th. There is no requirement for you to comment on the blog of your fellow students, although it is always encouraged.

Mich. floats online learning requirement
State could be first to insist on virtual instruction as a condition for graduation
From eSchool News staff and wire service reports
February 10, 2006
A pioneering proposal now before the Michigan state legislature would make Michigan the first state in the country to require students to experience some sort of online instruction before they graduate from high school.
Advocates for virtual instruction say that if the plan is approved, Michigan likely will set a precedent for other states to follow as more schools begin to experiment with the benefits of online learning.
The online learning mandate is part of larger piece of legislation designed to ratchet up high school graduation requirements across the state. Until now, Michigan students have been required only to take a civics course to graduate. The new proposal would require math, science, and a foreign language in addition to some form of online instruction.
The idea for the virtual learning requirement reportedly came from a report produced by former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins in September. Watkins, who published the report “Exploring E-Learning Reforms for Michigan: The New Education (R)evolution” while on sabbatical from Michigan’s Wayne State University, recommended that every school in the state adopt some form of eLearning as a means of extending course options and providing new ways to engage struggling students. Susan Patrick, executive director of the North American Council for Online Learning and former head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, called Michigan’s proposal “a bold plan” to foster a culture of lifelong learning and more readily prepare students for the challenges of an increasingly global economy.
“Michigan [officials have] realized that they have an industrial economy–they spawned the auto industry–but they face many of the challenges that other states face in making the transition to a more knowledge-based economy,” Patrick said She added, “I think the recommendation is terrific–and I think you are going to see more states following suit.” There already is strong support for online instruction in Michigan. At the Michigan Virtual University, enrollment in its Michigan Virtual High School program has grown from 100 students in 1999, the program’s first year, to 5,959 students during the 2004-05 school year, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The state’s online learning proposal is “probably one of the most forward-thinking educational strategies I’ve seen in a long time,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, president of the nonprofit Michigan Virtual University. “It’s very exciting to see our policy makers engaged in the debate.”
Even if the measure doesn’t pass, he said, the fact that lawmakers were at least willing to entertain the idea proves that virtual instruction is growing in importance. The new graduation requirements were ratified by the state board of education in December and now stand before the state legislature.
Although no deadline has been set for approval, the measure so far has met with little opposition and appears to be on a “fast track” through the legislature, Fitzpatrick said. One item of concern is whether Michigan’s schools have the necessary infrastructure to support the online learning requirement.
In January, state House Republicans introduced a bill that would delay the start of the online mandate until the state board of education has determined that all high school students have equal access to computers and the internet, the Free Press reported.
But flexibility written into the plan’s requirement could ease lawmakers’ concerns. The measure says students can fulfill the mandate by having at least one “online learning experience.” This could include enrolling in an online course through the Michigan Virtual High School program, or simply taking an online test-preparation course or using electronic career-development software.
Supporters of the plan say this flexibility is one of its strengths.
“The last thing anyone wants to see is a cookie-cutter approach to education,” Fitzpatrick said.
Proponents are optimistic the bill will be approved by March so the new requirements can be in place for the graduating class of 2010, Fitzpatrick added.
Michigan Virtual University
North American Council for Online Learning
(note: now International Council for K-12 Online Learning –
Watkins’ report

Week 7 Post #1

The five TEGIVS scenarios, as well as the three Michigan-based scenarios, were designed to introduce you to virtual schooling though which K-12 students learn via technology from a teacher who is at a distance. Because the teacher is only present virtually there is a need for local facilitation by the K-12 school. This rapidly increasing application of technology brings new challenges and opportunities to K-12 education. More specifically, the were three objectives:
  1. To understand Virtual Schooling
  2. To appreciate three main aspects of Virtual Schooling:
    • technology,
    • distant collaboration, and
    • local facilitation
  3. To start to become competent to facilitate and plan for Virtual Schooling
In this regard, based on the material in these scenarios, the content we have covered in class, and the course readings; how comfortable do you feel in being able to support a student or group of students at your school how might take an online course? What is the source of that confidence (or lack of confidence)?
You should post your response as an entry to your own blog by the end of the day on Friday, August 10th. In addition to the entry that you post on your own blog this week, make sure that you comment on at least two other students’ blogs by the end of the day on Monday, August 13th.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Student Age and Student Anxiety

Your post this week involves two potential variables associated with student success in online learning, age and anxiety level.

Student Age

This is actually a prompt from the now defunct Penn Foster Blog in an entry entitled “Are Older Students Better at Learning Online?“.
Younger students tend to be more familiar with the technology used in online instruction, but that doesn’t mean they’re more successful in virtual courses.
In a recent Inside Higher Ed article (, online teacher Rob Weir argues that older students make better online learners:
Younger students love the idea of online courses, but they are often the worst students — despite their greater facility with technology. Yahoo! runs ads for ‘Why online college is rocking,’ and that’s part of the problem. Online education is being sold as if it’s for everyone, when those finding real success are those who are self-motivated, highly organized, and in possession of well-developed study habits?…Younger students approach online classes as if they’re just another ‘cool’ thing to do on the Web. Be prepared to badger them if you want them to get through your course.”
Students with experience meeting deadlines are certainly at an advantage. But, I’d argue that most young students are beyond enrolling in a program because they think it’s ‘cool.’

Student Anxiety

Visit the “Student Anxiety” module created by Amina Charania, a graduate student at Iowa State University.

Based on the article and presentation, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you think age is a determinant in online learning success?
  2. What changed Susan’s excitement into anxiety about her new online course? As an online teacher or course designer what steps would you have taken to prevent Susan’s anxiety about the course? As a school-based teacher at Susan’s school, what steps would you have taken to ease Susan’s anxiety about the course?
Your initial post should be completed by 11:59pm on FRIDAY, 8/3.  You will need to respond to the posts of two of your classmates by MONDAY, 8/6, at 11:59pm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 5 - Virtual Schooling Intro

Your discussion entry this week is a two part task. The first part MUST be done by the end of the day OR before you begin the reading for this week.

For part one, I want you to write an entry TO YOUR OWN BLOG that describes what you currently know about K-12 online learning, virtual schooling, or cyber schooling (all three are the same thing, it is just called different things). Here are some questions which can guide you (although note that you do not have to address each of these questions, they are just to get the juices flowing so to speak).
  • What does it look like? 
  • How is it done? 
  • Where it is done? 
  • What kind of students take it? 
  • What kind of courses are offered?

For part two, you will post a second blog entry TO YOUR OWN BLOG by the end of the day on Friday, July 27th. After you complete the readings for this week, visit and read the Top 10 Myths about Virtual Schools. Based upon the readings and this website, what did you learn that surprised you? Where there things you posted in part one that were false (were any of them listed in the top 10 myths)? Where there things you posted in part one that were accurate?

In addition to the two entries that you post on your own blog this week, make sure that you comment on at least two other students’ blogs by the end of the day on Monday, July 30th. Note that you can comment on either the part one or part two entries of your colleagues.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Week 4 - Wikis

For this week, you will have two SEPARATE postings.

Post #1 - Building your RSS Reader

Using a site like or search for blogs that might be of interest to you based upon your own teaching background (e.g., grade levels, students, geographic location, subject area, etc.).

Select three (3) of these blogs to add to your RSS reader (and feel free to select more than three if you find others that are of interest to you).

Write an entry to your blog by Tuesday, July 24th that lists the three blogs you have selected, the address for each of these three blogs, and a sentence or two about why you selected to follow them. Please include more than something to the effect of, "It was a blog about using technology in elementary school." or "It was about teaching high school mathematics in an urban area." There are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of blogs that meet those criteria. Why did you pick that specific one? What about it caught our attention and/or interest?

There is no requirement to comment on others' blog entries for this post.

Post #2 - Judging the Quality of Wikis

There have been many opinions about the use of resources like Wikipedia in the classroom. Some teachers refuse to accept information from students when their source is Wikipedia, while others are more than happy to allow their students to use it as an authoritative source. A group of scholars even examined the issue of the accuracy of Wikipedia.

At the heart of it, Wikipedia is a wiki that anyone can contribute to and anyone can change. How do you view Wikipedia as a resource for your students? Why?

In addition to the entry responding to this prompt on your own blog this week, please respond to at least two of your fellow students' blogs.  Your own response to this prompt should be posted by midnight on Friday, July 20th, 2012. Your comments on other students' blogs should be completed by midnight on Monday, July 23rd, 2012.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Digital Natives and Immigrants

Now that we've seen quite a bit of material on generational differences, let's begin to discuss this further.  Last week and this week, you're being introduced to some of the literature concerning today's students - who people think they are, what characteristics, they have, etc. Does any of what you read sound like your students?

Further, you're also being exposed to some the research regarding generational differences.  How do the writings from Week 1 compare to what the research says about the differences between generations?

For your blog entry this week, I'd like you to reflect on what these two authors have said. How have each of the authors described YOUR students? What have each of the authors said that doesn't describe your students at all? Are there any characteristics, traits or behaviors of your students that none of these authors have even mentioned? Basically, how do your students compare to what these authors have to say?

Adding in the research, what do you think makes the most sense? Does the review of the research conducted by Reeves and Twenge really matter if Howe and Strauss or Prensky got it right in the first place?

[Before you ask, "Wait, what do I need to write about?" read the last few paragraphs again.  Then, collect your thoughts on all of the readings, and use most/all of the above questions to guide your writing.  Be thorough, but not robotic when crafting your post based on the above questions.]

In addition to the entry responding to this prompt on your own blog this week, please make a comment on two of your fellow students' blogs.

Your own response to this prompt should be posted by midnight on Saturday, July 7th, 2012. Your comments on other students' blogs should be completed by midnight on Monday, July 9th, 2012. Please note that the first due date will normally be on Friday, but due to the holiday today I'm giving you an extra day.

As this is your first reflective blogging assignment, please look at the assignment description in Blackboard [Content-->Assignments] to see what constitutes quality reflection and discussion.  Early on, I will be active in commenting; however, good online pedagogy states that instructor involvement should wane over time to prevent the instructor from being a crutch in maintaining good discussion (Mazzolini & Maddison, 2007).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Introductory Post

For the first post, similar to many online classes (only we're doing it on a blog versus a discussion board), spend a little time introducing yourself (employment, hobbies, family, why you're in this class, etc.).  I would also like you to make at least one comment on someone else's blog, if for no other reason to say hello.  The purpose of this, aside from getting to know one another, is to get used to navigating in edublogs.  You must be able to create AND publish a blog post (as opposed to saving a draft), as well as be able to moderate comments.  This is good practice in a classroom setting (i.e., having students learn how to set their blog so that they must moderate comments to their blog BEFORE they become public to prevent embarrassment, bullying, and the like).

Finally, while you are not required to do this, I highly recommend that you learn how to set up a blogroll on the side of your blog (see my classroom blog,, as well as this blog, as an example).  Since you will be commenting on each other's posts throughout the semester, you will want a quick way to view what other people have said instead of hunting down their URL and typing them in by hand.  As with many of the tools we will use this semester, a little front-end time will go a long way in making your life easier later on.

Your post and comment, which are part of your reflective blogging grade, should be completed by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 3rd.

PLEASE NOTE:  Do not respond to this post, unless you have a question.  You are to complete this assignment on your own blog.