Archive for the ‘online’ Category

00329 History of Education – 5 Act Play

April 1, 2010

Economic History => Future

A recent Op-Ed by David Brooks* NY Times lamented the lack of a comprehensive history of modern economics, based on the stunning consequences of the recent events. His framework for this history is in five Acts.

Act I. Economic man was a crude representation of individual human nature who was totally rational and only interested in maximizing his personal benefit. During my late 1970’s MBA I took several economic courses, ran econometric models, and was always one variable away from solutions that matched the data. We actually used humans with quantified util’s as part of the utility functions and had grand arguments.

Act II. During the past several decades, Herbert Simon addressed not-perfectly rational people, and Gary Becker saw behaviors that were not just self interest, like having children. Others saw that people have biases, and many make non-objective decisions.

Act III. Is a discontinuity with the economic crisis of 2008-2009. The incredibly sophisticated econometric/financial models built over the decades failed to predict the wiping out of $50 trillion in global wealth and the huge human suffering that followed.

Act IV. is starting with soul searching that is far from a consensus on why the economic intellectual agenda-setters failed to see the oncoming train wreck. In the physical sciences, real problems are solved and stay solved. In economics, thinkers cycle in and out of fashion. Economists are now talking about the individual, love, virtue, social relationships and imagination!

Act V. David Brooks predicts that the current field of rational economics will be blown-up. Human beings cannot be addressed with universal laws like physics. It will become a subsection of history and moral philosophy focusing on individuals within contexts. The lessons learned will be one by one, like art, not science.

Education History => Future

Any lesson’s to learn for educational transformation from the economics’ meltdown? Probably not since Brook’s history is over a few years, and education’s a few century. But let’s walk along the path of economics anyway and lay in education at their milestones.

Act I. Early 1700’s: Prussians founded the highly structured lecture, recitation, seat-work system for the select group of aristocratic youth.

Act II. Late 1800’s: This model one-size-fits-all factory like system was applied to all children through universal education.

Act III. Middle of the 2000th century the system expanded to meet expectations that women, minorities and special needs children should also graduate. There was a significant increase in funding for all education with the major gains in special education. The education crisis emerged over 2 decades not the 2 years for the economic crisis.  Academic performance gains stagnated in the mid 1970’s. In 1980’s the system was shocked to learn that the Iron Curtain countries were out-performing American schools by a significant margin. The final blow came from a Bolivian immigrant Jaime Escalante who transformed L.A.’s tough Garfield High School. He blew away the myth that inner-city kids can not perform at the highest levels (movie: Stand and Deliver). He graduated more advanced placement Calculus students than all but four other U.S. high schools.

Act IV. The initial reactions were reforms and restructuring that moved the deck chairs but did not focus on hard issues. Innovations such as charter schools, choice, career ladders, No Child Left Behind, etc. were tried by many states but success was fleeting. Summative testing to standards is becoming a piece of the solution. But as any industrial quality expert knows the only way to have quality products out the door is heavy investment in design, training and equipment investment for all aspects of the cycle. After three decades of action academic performance and graduation rates remain flat. Society’s demands for job and college ready students, 21st century critical thinking and a globally competitive economy have soared. Fortunately ideas with broad and significant success factors such as eLearning, individualized instruction, digital content, teacher-student centered focus, mastery not seat time funding, online learning, and personal learning plans have started to emerge.

Act V. The 21st century will not see a blow-up of K-12 education like David Brooks’ forecast for the economics field. I believe the coming transformation from the factory model of the Prussians to massively-individualized education is definitely in the cards. This transformation will be shaped by the decades-old Benjamin Bloom studies of the tutor-student relationship and the individualization methods for gifted and other special education students from the 1970’s. Serving moral, social and emotional yearnings and ambitions of individual students will be the driving factor bringing renewed growth of both academic achievement and graduation rates.

The most import lesson from the economic tragedy is that the focus of education must not be on the “school” but rather on the multifaceted context of the student. Of course, this is not news to any successful teacher. Like Jaime Escalante they know how to ward off the Prussian structure to serve the needs of their individual students.

*: David Brooks, Op-Ed  The Return of History New York Times, March 25, 2009

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:

NETP pdf 114pp:

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:

SRI International’s site for NETP including community comments:

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.

91211 National Effort Effect Factor

December 11, 2009

I recently heard of Project – – -. They seem to be the same type of organizations with similar players that for 20+ years have been working at the national level to reform education. Their results have been non-significant increases in academic achievement. In the eLearning arena they  have gotten a whole 5% penetration of this disruptive innovation: classroom, online and hybrid. What I like is they have finally moved out of the mode of pronouncing the latest situation assessment, recommending pilots, and professing wishful thinking. They are now addressing the hard reality of funding, data, system transformation and system financial analysis. .

Improving student achievement. While almost every other market segment has seen substantial improvements attributed to technology, public education has seen only isolated benefits. This study seeks to define technology models that can lead to improvements in student achievement.

We have been saying this forever, but finally they have started to talk about market segments and effects of technology based transformation – they are finally getting it.

Evaluating the total financial impact of technology on state budgets. To date, little work has been done, beyond assessing costs, to show the connection between educational technology and state budgets. It is time to take into consideration cost savings, cost avoidance and revenue enhancements that are direct results of investments in educational technology.

The 2004 eSATS system design => ten year financial model did pioneering work in this area of eLearning investments on cost savings and cost avoidance, but not on revenue enhancements. The scope was limited to  the state of Arizona with 1 million students. In the middle 1990’s IBM out of Colorado had a simple model of revenue enhancements based on better educated folks, and resulting lower prison population.

I appreciate the use of the cross-industry transformation model.  In my engineering specialty when they stopped talking about flying machines and started using the system descriptor of aviation it took off (steam locomotives => railroads, etc.). We need to stop talking about educational technology and refocus on the system descriptor I have been pitching for a decade: elearning.

Hope continues to grow.

91204 Digital Curriculum Definition

December 4, 2009

eSATS eLearning system design focuses on the teacher and student as the nexus. But what makes this dynamic duo a formidable eLearning couple is the use of effective and accessible digital curriculum. At this stage of its evolution, digital curriculum has a range of definitions.

I asked Hank Stabler, eLearning consultant to the Arizona eLearning Task Force and ADE if he could help. Here is his input:

“Looking for some “good” definition of Digital Curriculum I came across this site:

it does not have a short concise definition and that is part of the problem  of helping people to be real clear about what is being proposed.

This site:

shows the problem with confusion on what is being proposed and who’s ox is being gored.”

Studying these to sources of information was actually a help to me. Curriculum has several meanings in educational circles. It can mean content like books and course material. An expanded definition integrates content with teaching/learning process usually referred to as pedagogy. Some educational experts have told me it is the entire learning environment which includes the content, teacher-student pedagogy, school or learning station, and anything else that effects student learning.

Here is our working definition. What do you think?

Digital curriculum is an integration of content, pedagogy and environment designed for, delivered by and supported with digital means within a digital frame of thinking. Its conceptual framework:

  1. May be used to supplement or replace traditional content formats and pedagogy such as books and recitation…but primarily relies on online interaction, exploration and connectiveness, 1:1 teacher-student interaction, students constructing their own meanings within projects, computer based instructional and simulation programs, and learning networks;
  2. Intergrades within the practice of uniquely educated and trained teachers who use digital curriculum to deliver real-time formative assessments and support individual learning pace which motivates, accelerates and deepens student learning;
  3. Requires a 1:1 digital interface with Internet access for each for teacher and student.

Give us your feedback; we need your ideas on the most practical definition within an eLearning system framework.

91001 Requirement 3a for P20 Data Committee

October 1, 2009

Subject: Suggestions for Addressing the Critical Issue of P-20 Data Driven Decision Support


The critical foundation to Arizona’s P-12 (was K-12, now PreK-12 => P-12) education future is the rapid completion of, and bringing to full operation, the P-12 data driven decision support system. This paradigm shift is the major change of creation, storage, transmission, communication and use of data. This transition is from analog means of verbal, white board and paper to digital means of audio, computer screens and data bases.

There are two separate but linked components to this data support system: student learning and administrative. These aspects have been addressed quite differently within the total ecosystems of Arizona P-12 education (micro, meso, exo, macro, and chrono)[1].

1. The Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) has being under development for 15 years. The creation of this summative assessment[2] based system has made significant progress over the pass several years and is becoming operational. Within the next few years the full implementation of this powerful tool will support administrative decision makers in school, district, state, governance and community. Approximately 10,000 Arizona administrators are expected to use this system on a daily to weekly basis.

2. The Teacher Student Learning Data System (TSLDS) (to coin an acronym) has had little attention over the past 15 years. This real-time formative assessment[3] data driven decision support system is needed to support the learning interrelationship of the student and teacher. Real time formative assessment is tied closely to or integrated into the curriculum. Effective digital curriculum includes automated formative assessment aspects that provide feed back, coaching, guidance and scaffolding to the student during the learning process. For problem sets this may be a simple right-or-wrong as the answer is input by the student. Hints or direction may be provided. An artificial intelligence (AI) system may shift the student to relearning a fundamental concept before readdressing the more complex solution. A different AI system may assess all aspects of an essay and support a redrafting minutes –not days – later. Teachers are provided with real time assessment of each student’s challenges and successes and can provide effective and meaningful individualized support. Approximately 60,000 teachers and one million students are expected to use this system on a minute to hour basis.

[1] Microsystem—the student’s family, school, peers; Mesosystem—two or more linked microsystems such as home and school; Exosystem—indirect outside forces-school boards, state standards, parents work conditions; Macrosystem—cultural beliefs, values, customs; Chronosystem—student is influenced by different systems at different times.

[2] Summative assessment—end of course tests, summing up work of student and links to demographic – operational data.

[3] Formative assessment—real-time and supports the student form the retained learning.

Race to the Top (RTTT) Data System Proposal

There is an opportunity that Arizona can secure data system funding in the range of $15 to $20 million from the federal government’s RTTT stimulus fund. This would be enable the SLDS to be completed and brought to full operation in about three years. The proposal must address four requirements:

(1) Implementation of all 12 data elements specified by the America Competes Act.

(2) A high-quality plan to ensure key stakeholders get access to and use state data.

  • Key stakeholders include parents, students, teachers, principals, LEA leaders, community members, unions, researchers, policymakers, and others.

(3a) Plan to increase educators’ use of data-based tools to drive instruction.

  • These “instructional improvement systems” include instructional planning, formative or interim assessments, rapid-time reporting, interventions and other actions

(3b) Plan to support researchers with data from longitudinal and instructional improvement systems so they can evaluate what works

Timing is critical for this proposal. The P-20 Coordinating Council (P-20 CC), Deb Duvall of the governor’s office and Arizona Department of Education have made this a leading priority. Boston Consulting Group has been engaged to assist. The P-20 CC created a SLDS Task Force whose first task is to support creation of a winning proposal. Cathleen Barton, Intel’s US Education specialist, heads up this task force. The proposal is due in early December, 2009.

Requirements (1) and (2) are mostly addressed within the history, current operations and long range plans of ADE’s SLDS and district level administrative data operations.

Requirement (3a) has not been well addressed over the past decades, and Arizona does not currently have many strong TSDLS’s in place – nor active plans and funding in place for comprehensive implementation.

Requirement (3b) will be readily addressed within the large and active educational research systems of our universities with their phalanxes of masters and doctoral students within every school district. Arizona has national class educational research operations like the Applied Learning Technology ^ Institute, the Fulton Institute and others throughout the state university system.

Reaching across all requirements is the ASU based and ADE funded Integrated Data to Enhance Arizona Learning (IDEAL) portal system for online teacher education and training and digital curriculum delivery. It has developed over the past ten years into a national model for a statewide P-12 data-information delivery network.

Statewide Longitudinal Data System (Requirements 1 ands 2)

SLDS is in the rapid growth phase of its forty-five year “S” shaped innovation cycle started in the 1970’s as school districts installed DEC, Wang, GE and other minicomputers in their back offices. This innovation is now accelerating toward maturity. The broadband infrastructure, data and computer systems are mostly in place for the teachers, administrators and staff who will be using the system. There is much yet to be done to provide training and to implement unique decision support systems to assure effective use these systems. Large districts have implemented their own sophisticated data systems over the decades. Small and remote schools and districts will need individualized support do to lack of expert staff in this area, and less sophisticated current systems. Much work remains to be done to integrate these systems into the requirements of SLDS. There seems to be strong support from leadership and staff at all levels to complete this task and start reaping the benefits. Fortunately for SLDS, work processes using green sheets for accounting, type writers for documents and file cabinets for storage have not changed significantly. Digital data systems have readily automated these relatively simple manual and intellectual tasks. The teacher-student learning process is radically more complex and difficult.

Teacher-Student Data Learning System (Requirement 3a)

TSDLS is at the beginning of the ramp of its fifty year innovation adoption cycle started in the late 1970’s with Apple, PET and TRS 80 micro-computer labs. This low cost, out-of-classroom experiment has not been successful in its charge to increase academic achievement. A few computers in the back of the class and a teacher computer plus projector have been the next step forward. But transformation to an elearning system is the only mechanism where research shows significant academic performance improvement. This human-technology integrated system includes:

Individual computer interfaces with 99% uptime technical support level;

Ten-fold increase in educator training and education for practice transformation to elearning;

Broadband Internet connectivity;

Individualized student learning pace and funding mechanism;

Digital curriculum that is unique and effective for each of the 200 semester courses offered in P-12 education;

And only then will “formative or interim assessment with rapid-time reporting” integrated with digital curriculum and teacher practice transformation have the effects that the Obama administration is expecting from RTTT funding.

Proposal Strategy

Here lies the elephant in the room. It will be a challenge to write a winning RTTT proposal for requirement (3a) without assuming that the elearning transformation system is to be implemented during the next three years. Unfortunately this prescribed statewide elearning system is currently only about 15% implemented. There are no plans backed with the $2 billion in net funding needed ($2000 per student, over ten years, when cost savings are factored in.) to accelerate this implementation. This funding is a one-time capital investment spread over ten years.  Arizona is struggling to keep the current implementation of K-12 education from sliding backward. The good news is that no other state has stepped up to elearning implementation any better than Arizona.

A proposal strategy might be to develop a unique message of how Arizona has had a long history of design and partial implementation of this P-12 elearning system design and has learned the challenges. Then build on an 8 year implementation plan that will have at its center the (3a) funding. This funding would be used to study the limited research and emerging practices of teacher-student data real-time systems. Then a startup design would be made and implemented within current P-12 sparse elearning system. With basic improvement in place, elearning build out for our entire P-12 system can be addressed.

Two Arizona experts that may be available to assist in the proposal are Joseph O’Reilly and Rick Baker. Joe is serving on the Arizona eLearning Task Force (AZeLTF) and is a leader at Mesa Unified District in this area. Rick is Associate director of the ASU Applied Learning Technologies Institute (ALT^I) at Skysong.


I suggest that the SLDS Proposal Team call on two Arizona elearning organizations to provide support for Requirement (3a). One is the AZeLTF appointed, for ten years, by the legislature and governor to address this issue, and housed at ADE. Two years ago AZeLTF was ready to award a contract for a $3 million middle school math elearning research project when the legislature swept the funding. The other is eLearning Systems for Arizona Teachers and Students Inc. (eSATS) a 501(c)(3) non-profit task team with a 20 year history of addressing this issue through engineering design, human systems and advocacy lenses. Members of this task team completed a study on elearning research for Institute for Defense Analysis/Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2005.


Data are necessary but to not sufficient for innovation driven change. Intuition, knowledge, champions and zealous advocates are also part of the innovation process. Only when data supports the development of information which is then transformed into knowledge to support decisions for action will effective transformative effects on P-12 education be realized.

90716 Global Digital Curriculum Access With Effective Application

July 16, 2009

Competency learning funding to complement seat time system;

Data driven reporting and decision support;

Broadband use by everyone;

Teacher transformation for the digital age;

Effective application of digital curriculum

Books, lectures, chalkboards, paper and pencils are curriculum delivery and engagement tools upon which every current teacher has received 13 years of intensive training –before they even got to college. Our current precollege teachers are less interested in books and more attuned to the tools of games, visual and audio entertainment and computer keyboards.

Three new types of curricula are converging as legacy education transforms to a hybrid model. Most text books now have a supplementary disc in the back flap and their web address as additional materials. Online education providers have portals and web sites where students enter a virtual learning environment to engage the curriculum. Independent eLearning curriculum providers design, develop and market their products to schools to use in computer labs and classrooms. These offerings may be full semester courses, enrichment components such as virtual tours and laboratories, or supplementary lessons that enhance learning such as math, history or writing lessons that drill, practice and provide automated formative assessment based coaching.

The adoption of digital curriculum has two major problems. Most students have computer interfaces at home but very little access during school hours. Computers are typically accessible a couple of hours a week in a computer lab. There may be a few in the back of the classroom. There are only a few schools in Arizona where the student has unlimited access to digital curriculum. The second is that even if teachers are educated and trained in the effective use of digital curriculum there is little information and knowledge available to support selection of the most effective digital curriculum. Each learning situation has a unique set of parameters: environment, subject, teacher, and student. The difficulty is matching the learning need with are many thousands of offerings both free and purchased.

Take a typical course such as first semester freshman algebra. Let’s assume all state, federal, and school standards for content are the same (they are not). The many hundreds of digital curriculum offerings range from supplementary to full coverage. They may be delivered via a virtual school, web portal, state network, school/district network, computer lab and/or a G3 cell phone. They may or may not engage the teacher, provide lecture components, guide with real time formative assessment, have collaborative/competitive aspects, lay out a path for exploratory learning and engage with drill and practice. They may be mostly based or rich with effective graphics and simulations. Some are computerization of legacy education processes. Others are based on eLearning research with extensive instructional design. These require an investment in the range of $500,000 to $1,000,000 for a full semester course. Some K-12 courses such as reading, science, and math have a large number of offerings. Other K-12 courses, especially electives have many fewer. After being on review committees for K-12 digital curriculum adoption, I can tell you there really are the good, the bad and the ugly.

As Arizona implements its adoption of eLearning over the next 10 years, educators needs to have a continually increasing knowledge of current and emerging digital curriculum. The Arizona Technology Council’s P-20 committee has spent a year developing an access list that addresses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) offerings. This volunteer effort has opened a window to the potential for much more comprehensive effort.

What is needed is an Arizona Department of Education sponsored and guided Digital Curriculum Institute. This institute would be charged with finding, researching and assessing the universe of digital curriculum offerings that could be used by the over 150 different courses offered by Arizona schools. This institute would be staffed with digital curriculum experts to building a data base and web portal to house the information on their findings and knowledge based on their assessments. They would provide both studies and expert advice to state and district leadership on digital curriculum policy decisions. Based on the model of the US Dept. of Agriculture extension service, expert agents will be attached to the institute to support decisions in the districts, schools and classrooms.

This institute needs to be founded now so it will be in full operation in two years when the build up eLearning in Arizona schools will be hitting its stride.

  1. Design, fund and implement a “Digital Curriculum Institute” that will find and assess all digital curricula accessible to Arizona K-12 education, and operate a service to support digital curriculum acquisition and use from the State level to the classroom. This independent non-profit institute will collaborate with the Arizona Department of Education, universities, colleges, and districts.


90714 Broadband Use by Everyone

July 14, 2009

Competency learning funding to complement seat time system;

Data driven reporting and decision support;

Broadband use by everyone;

Teacher transformation for the digital age;

Global digital curriculum access with effective application.

The dream of the information superhighway of the early 1990’s has been realized, hasn’t it? We all have one or more internet linked computers at our fingertips. Our homes and offices have technology offerings far beyond our ability to learn to use it. And here lies the rub, this plethora of technology is used for automating everything we do, except leaning – including learning how to use all this …. technology.

The only way we can change this system is for us, and more importantly for K-12 education, to implement a long range on-going transformation of the system. We cannot address this task as a half way, expedient effort. We must address all Arizona K-12 students, and we must address all aspects of the system. In the past Arizona installed computers at a rate of one for every eight students and wired schools without effective professional development, digital curriculum or broadband access. This time we need to turn this formula around. We need to assure that broadband is in place to be a foundation of our eLearning system.

K-12 education requires a systematic statewide assessment of current and projected accessibility to cost-effective broadband. This map must be correlated with the access needs of all K-12 schools as well as their population areas. Broadband planning for middle-mile and last mile must address specific application areas where K-12 education is paramount.

Schools are unique users of broadband. Without adequate bandwidth the school Internet will slow to a crawl at about 9 a.m. Administrators of a building can schedule their work around this issue, but for 500 to 1500 students hitting their learning stride its not acceptable.

The FCC has defined broadband minimums as 768 kpbs downstream and 200 kpbs upstream to the end user. For schools the need – not the definition – must prevail. Bandwidth need will depend on student population grade level, digital curriculum applications, use of online learning, the number of computer interfaces and connection to homes and the general community. This need is expected to grow significantly over the years. Based on historical evolution of technology and systems we might expect an increase  by a factor of 10 over the next ten years.

One example would be the academic use of the evolving Semantic Web over what will become Web 3.0. When the Semantic Web is operational instructional programs will become much more capable of supporting individualized learning to subject mastery.

For the next two years, Arizona must map, assess and plan to bring effective broadband access to all of Arizona’s application and community needs – including K-12 education. In parallel, the physical build out must continue unabated. This planning-implementation effort must have a ten year horizon to secure the benefits of emerging technology and address the surging needs.

Arizona needs to:

  1. Produce enabling legislation and multiyear funding for the Government Information and Technology Agency (GITA) to map, plan, and implement the needed State leadership and telecommunications industry support to assure K-12 schools and communities have adequate accessible bandwidth over the next ten years.
  2. Produce enabling legislation and multiyear funding as needed to assure that GITA and other Arizona agencies and entities are competitive in securing federal funds to support broadband build out and use.

90706 NIST and TIP focus on eLearning

July 6, 2009

ATP now TIP has a brief history of learning technology within its high priority technologies. In 1996-98 I knew a Dr. David Fisher in NIST as he developed learning technology within the ATP system and was in the founding meeting for ADL. David was back at Carnegie Mellon when we submitted a proposal to ATP. Of the 56 proposals, we were first to receive a call from the program director. He explained that of all the proposals ours was the best by far for the business section. But the NIST experts could not understand David’s expert-system tutoring model for technology support of learning. We did not receive one of the three $2 million packages awarded.

We understood that technology that drives eLearning did not have a research base in the late 1990’s and still does not.. Other technologies have decades of research and a cadre of PhD’s deeply immersed in R&D. eLearning has little recognition as a unique technology. The vision of eLearning transforming academic performance has yet to take root. The meme is a few computers in the back of the classroom and legacy pedagogy. If you do progress with eLearning I recommend  a significant effort in securing a cadre of proposal reviewers that are knowledgeable about eLearning.

I have attached a 2005 study for OSD-IDA where my team designed a portal for eLearning communities of practice. It might be a starting place for studying the expertise levels available for an eLearning TIP.

Building on the ADL definition for a learning object I am defining eLearning as:

Any learning supported by digital means.

Off ” White Paper

Critical National Need Topic Area:

Education both formal and informal, training to academic.

Your 2009 CNN Topic Areas are:

Civil Infrastructure


Green Chemistry




Personalized Medicine.

eLearning is a foundation issue that cuts across all technology areas. Somewhere in each of the studies (including Rising Above the Gathering Storm). The expressed concern is about one or more deficits in:

Educated/trained workforce;

Knowledgeable users/consumers;

Critical thinking populous;

Tech savvy political and adoption system;

Citizens fluent in long range analysis and commitment to change.

Many of technology studies gloss over the 21st century education deficit with education statements based on wishful thinking. The general theme may be: “Educators will self reform their education process and all teachers will miraculously improve their capability to top decile.” Us technical folks are very familiar with systems design and what it takes to transformation of our technology based industry. We are very familiar with disruptive innovation that is critical for transformation. But somehow we do not make the technology industry parallel with education and prescribe incremental innovation to reform of a very mature education industry.

As Henry Kelly opinioned in his 1988 congressional research report, all major industries except one have used technology to increase effectiveness, accessibility, productivity and efficiency. The one hold out is education. After a century plus of acceptance and celebration of technology transformation ranging from transportation to medicine education still does not get it.

Because the application of technology to support human learning may be the most difficult challenge is not reason for NIST-TIP to ignore it. With initial use in WW II (Link Trainer, etc.) the creation and adoption of eLearning applications has been slow. The normal technology driven industry innovation cycle takes 40 to 50 years. Twenty years from invention to initial ramp then another 20 year to maturity. But after 60 years sporadic eLearning adoption in K-12 education only 3% of learning is technology supported. The tippling point of 10% is many years off.

Industry revenues are estimated at $20 billion. The largest online provider is University of Phoenix Online, a $3 billion Phoenix operation. The largest digital curriculum provider is Pearson Digital in Chandler, AZ at $300 million. Pearson is a roll up of a half dozen AZ and San Diego K-12 eLearning startups. The eLearning industry is a tiny size if you consider the $trillion+ global market for formal and informal learning. It’s federal research budget is less than $100 million  which has not materially changed in 20 years.

What is the problem?

One is leadership at all levels failure to recognize and address this opportunity. The second is the low level of R&D funding to develop theories, support invention, create engineering design tools and develop and test applications. The third is the need for systems transformation of the entrenched legacy system for formal education.

NIST-TIP’s role plays out within the second problem. NSF, NIH, DOD and Department of Education have spent a tiny fraction of their budgets on eLearning R&D. There is little coordination and little application within the eLearning industry. What is needed is R&D leadership at the federal level.

NIST-TIP normally sends rifle shot into a half dozen technologies that are within a well established industry that needs innovation acceleration innovation in a critical area. I recommend that NIST-Technology Innovation Program take on eLearning as center piece program that addresses needs of all emerging technologies. A systems approach to eLearning technology innovation is recommended.

Components of this system might be:

  1. Bump long range global R&D 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3: Host the development and operation of the eLearning communities of practice portal. Coordinate the development of this community with FAS, DOD and other entities along an eLearning systems technology roadmap.
  1. Provide TIP funding in a coordinated invention-application effort within the critical elements of the eLearning system.
    1. eLearning savvy teacher development;
    2. Digital curriculum development;
    3. Real time formative assessment;
    4. Data decision support systems from teacher-student to administration;
    5. Broadband access for 100% of students.;
    6. Student interfaces for learning;
    7. Distributed learning systems.
  1. Be the champion within our national governance to promote the invention, development and adoption of effective eLearning systems to serve all citizens.

90625 System Design – Arcology Meme

June 25, 2009

To incubate – here are some ideas on Arcosanti the prototyping operation and the educational Cosanti Foundation and the philosophy “Arcology,” architecture coherent with ecology.

I did not come up with better examples of Visionary leader and organization and how they remained effective after the leader moved on.  Within the military, business, educations and governance organizations the visionary leader and his perturbation his disruptive innovation adopted, matured and then becomes integrated into the system.

Outside of these systems, organizations like Arcosanti exist to change the meme’s of a culture, both the words used and word views our minds use to make decisions.

The use of “ecology” is spreading fast from nature surrounding humans to other systems the surround and influence human activities. Current education research is addressed within the 5 major ecologies of the teacher-student to the meta-ecology that delivers the effects of the state on the human learning process. Consider redefining the word Arcology to mean the design of any aspect of the physical world to effect human tasks and well-being.

Design (I took my PhD in this area) effects every change we me make in our physical world. Very little of it addresses the entire system but just focuses on a change is a small segment.

Arcology could capture the high ground as a word that leads to much more systems design which in turn leads to needed transformations need not just incremental revisions.

Take Paolo Soleri’s vision for cities and urban design into an all encompassing vision for any system design that addresses the most major and far reaching physical and virtual issues of the 21st human race.

Innovation always, and I mean always, originates from an individual with a small group that some how cuts through the noise of society, and takes it’s disruptive innovation into the main stream of the culture.

Want an example, take Kinsey. His professor told him develop strong academic credibility with wasp research before he took on human sex. Arcology has this strong credibility in a niche area. It is time to take on the next level of responsibility, bring the concept of system design to the decision makers and masses.

The redesign the organization, to have the magnificent physical place of Arcosanti as the foundation for a system design in the virtual place. Then use (TED, YouTube, Wikipedia, Web, social networking,  Virtual Schools,…) to roll out to a global audience the meme of systems design.

Ted experience note: In my 20 years of hammering on eLearning systems design, the Arcology solution has not been accepted as the most promising way to address large issues like education. The incremental legacy education innovations continue unabated. The meme’s of the world must be changed to ready embrace system design (Arcology) as the only way to address the huge challenges the world faces.

Model: The Santa Fe Institute that brought (attempted to bring) complexity systems analysis to the world might be a starting model. But any effective model will have a meta-systems design of its own to determine how it can change the memes of 6 billion going on 9 billion people into becoming 21st century thinkers and doers.