Archive for March, 2010

00322 DCI Legislation And National Ed TechPlan

March 22, 2010

There were a number of meetings last week to craft changes to HB2720, the Digital Curriculum Institute bill. The intent of these changes is to make this legislation more responsive to the needs of the entities who have to implement this bill, as well as the educators and providers whom it is intended to support. One recommended change is the name to Digital Content Office which would be housed in the Arizona Department of Education. Educators’ use of the term content is better aligned to the intent of the bill than the term curriculum. An office is a more flexible organizational structure for initiation of the effort than a formal institute.

There are other proposed changes that are being written into an amendment. I will copy you on this amendment when it is expected to be published within a week’s time. There are four weeks left to hear bills in the Senate. HB2720 is expected to be heard next week in Senate Education committee, March 31st 1:30 p.m.

A critical aspect of HB2720 is that its initial funding must come from other than Arizona government sources. A major potential source of support is the federal government. But for this support to be available the DCI (DCO?) should be aligned to the new National Educational Technology Plan (NETP). Although this type of institute is not specified in the plan, there are many aspects of the plan that would be strongly supported by a functioning DCI.

I combed through the 23 Goals and Recommendations and Grand Challenges in the NETP.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

I believe that these goals, recommendations and challenges guide the design, or need the support, of a Digital Content Center type of operation. I have extracted the following aspects:

“…Standards and learning objectives for all content areas…;”

“…Learning resources that use technology…;”

“…Capacity of educators and educational institutions to use technology to improve assessment materials and processes…;”

“…Provide access to the most effective teaching and learning resources, especially where they are not other wise available, and to provide more options for all learners at all levels.

“Leverage open education resources to promote innovation and creative opportunities for all learners… “

“…Development and use of interoperability standards of content…improve decision making at all levels.”

Grand challenges:

…Integrated system … access to learning experiences…;

…Integrated system for assessment…;

…An integrated approach for capturing, aggregating, mining and sharing content…data,…;

Bods well for national support of the DCO.

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00315 Innovation: Fraught With Peril and Opportunity

March 15, 2010

Successful innovation has a sequence of phases:

1. Invention, early adoption, rapid acceptance by one market;

2. Expansion into multiple markets;

3. Legacy system transformation driven by outside disruptive innovations based on technology, societal and economic changes;

4. Dying or being absorbed into an emerging innovation.

Innovation is a highly unpredictable process. It is rife with unintended consequences and

1. Our system of education was invented by the Prussians in the early 1700’s to educate sons of the elite. It reached the U.S. market by the late 1880’s with the compulsory education movement.

2. The market served expanded from boys to boys and girls during the first half of the 1900’s and to minority populations and special education students in the last half of the 1900’s. The dominant mode of innovation has been market extensions through government mandates and significant increases in government funding. The result has been huge increases in student learning time, graduation rates and economic and societal benefits.

3. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s the legacy system invented by the Prussians had expanded to all available markets. But societal needs demanded a change to include quality with quantity. The emerging social need was for K-12 to educate college and career ready students for the 21st century. The demand curve had crossed over the supply curve and the scramble was on. Change was in the air.

Hope for rapid success has faded and we seem stuck in phase 3. Inside the system, grade inflation worked for awhile, but was then discredited. Outside advocacy communities came on strong with whole language, charter schools, school choice, essential skills, standards, school improvements, test score data to guide decision making and a host of others. Many are based on market-competitiveness models.

A recent book by an intellectual leader in this movement, Diane Ravitch is: “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” Dr. Ravitch wants to return to the traditional school structure. Why she is doing an about face on her 20 years of change efforts is explored in an Education Week  article, March 10, 2010 www.edweek.org .

Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long time associate of Diane Ravitch, agrees with her depressing analysis of the data. But he espouses renewed efforts to destroy the old structure and replace it with the new.

With humility to their much greater depth of wisdom and knowledge, I believe both are wrong. Reverting to innovation Phase 2 or jumping over Phase 3 to Phase 4 makes little sense.

We have 20 years of data which show that a dozen piecemeal approaches do not work. Even added together, there has been scant increase in academic performance of K-12 education as a whole. There is a big difference between statistically significant improvement and significant improvement in effect factor.

We must reach the effect factor goal of at least one sigma (or letter grade) improvement across the board for all 60 million students for all courses and grade levels. We must increase the graduation rate to an effective 95% whether through formal or informal means of education. Graduating students must be prepared and eager to prosper in a world that requires life-span learning.

The 300 year old innovation of grouping teachers and students within the traditional organizational structure needs to make the transformation with a long strategic system design approach. Outside advocates have a huge role to play to support the transformative changes in school finance, human resources, technology based systems, curriculum, data and decision making. But the real innovation adopters within Phase 3 are our leaders and teachers currently within the education system. Together we can pull it off.

00308 National Educational Technolgy Plan

March 8, 2010

The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan from the U.S. Department of Education has just been released in draft form. A blue ribbon higher education committee had been working since last spring to develop the plan. They took input at the 2009 NECC meetings and solicited input from the education community. The Obama administration has set the goal of raising college completion rates to 60 percent by 2020. One of the means is to have a computing device in the hands of every K-12 student. The committee addressed this goal by focusing on five strategic areas: classroom learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

NETP pdf 114pp: http://tinyurl.com/yzcvwr4

Note: I called US Dept. of Ed Publications, and this plan has not yet been published in printed form for public access.

Education Week article 1pp: http://tinyurl.com/ylgljkr

SRI International’s site for NETP including community comments: https://edtechfuture.org

My comments from last fall are in their “Statements” section, about half way down the slider’s bar, starting with:

Innovation funding

and ending 20 comments later with:

14. eLearning research community of practice portal.

Last fall I wrote a seven page blog on the NETP planning process. I expressed concerns about the lack grand challenges and forward looking innovation. But my main concern was on the process itself.

After reading through the 90 text pages of this draft plan, most of my foundational concerns are covered. Much more important this work has reached a depth of detail and intellectual focus not often seen in this type of work. Many plans are at 40,000 feet. They are chuck full of situational assessments, imperatives and wishful but unrealistic thinking. This draft plan lays a solid and comprehensive foundation for the immense effort that faces all of us. Gone are is the word reform. In its place is the word that applies to our turning point – transformation.

I recommend that each of you take two to three hours out of you busy schedule for a bit of life-span learning.  Read and ponder the paragraphs this National Educational Technology Plan. Think about the role you can play in pulling it off.

I like the fact that this is a draft plan. Effective plans for implementation must be flexible and continuously evolving. So let’s keep it in draft form with continuous additions and updates as we get busy in the field, making it happen.

00301 Digital Curriculum Institute

March 1, 2010

The heart of any education system is curriculum. Curriculum must contain and deliver what is to be learned, how it is to be learned, and assessments of the learning. Curriculum selection frames student capabilities at course entry and exit. It will define required skills, training and education of the teacher. Curriculum is specific to one or more settings – classroom, computer lab, shop, field, community, or home. Curriculum has direct costs for acquisition and installation. It also has a total cost of ownership that includes facilities, equipment and labor. The TCO is expected to include cost savings as the digital curriculum accelerates student learning.

There is rich knowledge of the books and supplementary materials supporting our legacy system of education. The pioneering work with digital curriculum over the past twenty-five years has penetrated to about 5% of student learning time-on-task. All 70,000 Arizona school leaders and teachers are familiar with digital curriculum, but few have a knowledge level equal to legacy curriculum. The question of how adequately to educate and train educators to acquire and use digital curriculum was raised in the early 1990’s. With many thousands of digital curriculum courses and supplementary materials scattered over 150 K-12 courses, the answer is challenging. The rapid evolution of the Internet, simulation graphics, voice and other technologies also complicates the question.

In the 2000’s, the results of one of Governor Hull’s planning teams defined the need to address digital curriculum. Then a Governor Napolitano task force came up with the concept of a unique Digital Curriculum Institute (DCI) to solve this dilemma. In 2004 eSATS worked developed the DCI design within the framework of their ten year system redesign to transform K-12 education from legacy to eLearning education. The DCI became part of the intellectual infrastructure required for the design to work. The other part is a system to educate and train eLearning savvy teachers. The DCI design is matured into alignment with the NAU teacher education system, ASU Advanced Learning Technology Institute and college of education, UofA Agricultural Extension Service, and Arizona Department of Education, host for the Arizona eLearning Task Force. The ASU-ADE internet portal based Integrated Data to Enhance Arizona Learning (IDEAL) is expected to play a role.

This institute will have a team of digital curriculum experts who will initially explore the offerings of entities that include K-12 digital curriculum information: Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), Utah’s Recommended Instructional Material Searchable Database, Software and Information Association, Curriki, JES & CO, etc. A search and assessment protocol will be developed and tested. The first sustained operation will be to access provider offerings of promising and accessible digital curriculum. Providers include vendors, free ware developers, university and research institutes and schools. The delivery mode of their offerings will range from online to supplementary CD.

When the knowledge database is operational, the DCI will use an internet portal to provide decision support service for all Arizona schools who request. But time is short; we cannot wait years for this web-portal to catch on. Therefore an extension service – similar to the 100+ year old agricultural extension service administered by the UofA Ag department – will be developed and sent to the field. These transformation experts will be backed by the latest digital curriculum knowledge. Their task will be to develop decision and implementation support service relationships with Arizona’s 238 public school districts and 2000 schools of all types.

Led by the centralized font of wisdom and the change agents in the field, Arizona will have the intellectual infrastructure in place. As the financial woes of the State subside, Arizona K12 education will then be able to make rapid progress on its transformation from 5% to 10% to 20% to 50% eLearning supported education.