Posts Tagged ‘eLearning Online Learning Educational Technology EdTech K-12 K-12 Transformation Digital Curriculum Digital Content’

00405Advocacy Demands Clear Message

May 3, 2010

Education Week, March 31, 2010 had two interesting articles. One was on the NAEP scores progress over the years and the other was titled “What Gifted Educators Can Learn From Sarah Palin.

What has sustained Sarah Palin is her ability to put out a very clear message to her base of voters. Her niche is exact and identifiable. Originally gifted education was defined by Lewis Terman, designer of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, as an I.Q. 140 or more. This resulted in 1%-3% of the students who were the smartest of the smart who had extraordinary needs from the educational system. Over the past 60 years, Witty, Renzulli, and Gardiner expanded the definition to where giftedness was diluted to the point of absurdity. Advocates have become hard-pressed to define the gifted child. As a result, potential supporters – politicians and administrators – are confused since there is no longer a clear definition. It is easy for the public to ignore the gifted. On the other hand, Sarah Palin has articulated a “unique selling proposition” and she sticks to it.

Gifted education has always been a niche issue and will remain so. eLearning for K-12 education is currently a niche issue serving about 3%-5% of learning. But it has the potential to serve all students. The critical issue for advocates is to define the issue in a very clean and concise way to accelerate adoption. Since we are still in the disruptive part of the innovation cycle, we need to hammer hard on one issue:

The effect of eLearning on academic performance.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows NO PROGRESS. As much as educational statisticians like to play with statistical significance to call out “* Significantly different from 2009” there is no EFFECTIVE difference.

Currently 60% of students who are not classified as performing are classified as either achieving or failing to achieve a basic education. Basic education is below the standard needed to thrive in a 21st century world.

The eLearning advocate’s message is can be illustrated by data from eLearning exemplars. Arizona’s Wilson District is one of the oldest, and there are hundreds more across the U.S. Only six years after adopting a complete 21st Century eLearning system for their K-8 students, Wilson had improved their students’ academic performance from last in the state to above average.

A K-12 eLearning system description is complex. Effective implementation requires focus on dozens of issues and long range planning. Advocates must rise above this maze of details and focus a clear “Sarah Palin” type of message. This message must carry the current true-believers while attracting an audience ten times as great. Our best bet for this phase is to sell the potential attainment. For this we need a host of exemplars like Wilson District. You find them for me, and I will do a one pager that distills their academic performance increases into a clear and visual message.


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.

90603 Bloom! Gange! Next?

June 20, 2009

In 1956 Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives based on research for legacy education was published. In 1965 Robert Gange’s Conditions of Learning for instructional design was based on research for air force training.

These two taxonomies have had significant influence on the development of current education and training curriculum for the past 40 years. They are both based within formal learning situations.

Let’s assume eLearning is defined as any learning supported by digital means. The systems application of eLearning supports learning which is interactive; individualize; self paced; real time formative assessment coaching; high teacher-student and collaborative learner interaction; and student competency based.

Metadata studies indicate than eLearning systems adoption within legacy education will deliver a significant increase in academic performance and graduation rates. Informal eLearning increases access, effectiveness, efficiency and range of individual learning over their life span.

I believe that the eLearning transformation of legacy education and training is at its tripping point. It is time for a high level and widely accepted taxonomy to guide eLearning system invention, innovation and adoption.

An eLearning systems design can be described as an integrated set of components focused on the teacher-student nexus and supported by an intellectual and physical ecosystem. Major components are: eLearning savvy teacher, digital curriculum, formative assessment, student learning interface, ecosystem access, and technical support. The supporting ecosystem delivers educator professional development, education and mentors; data driven decision support system; broadband internet/web/communications access; and rules and funding to support competency based learning.

One aspect must be very clear; the taxonomy must not be a technology focus. Book-learning and flying-machine dominated the lexicon of early education and aviation. The words computers and technology have skewed the understanding of eLearning for many years. The taxonomy must address human learning process within the eLearning system.

How do we bring a Bloom or Gange taxonomy to eLearning? Is it expressed as an ecological system, a list of categories, or set of imperatives? Should the designer(s) of this taxonomy be an educational academic researcher, a practitioner, or from outside the education industry?

What ever we do, let’s start now. Time’s a wasting.

90331 Experts NO – Foxes YES

March 31, 2009

We are all concerned with the challenges in our own life and family as well as our community – country – world. From global warming, to the economy, to the societal demands not being met by our education system, we need answers. Who do we turn to? Why, we turn to the experts.

Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times started a recent article with the line “Ever wonder how financial experts could lead the world over the economic cliff?” He then gave an example of the Dr. Fox effect within a series of psychological experiments. An actor was given a pointless script with no substance of how mathematical game theory applies to education. The actor, as the phony expert “Dr. Fox”, gave this presentation to medical educators with a warm delivery with many jokes. Surveys of the audience mostly thought it was excellent.

For over 20 years Philip Tetlock at UC Berkeley tracked 82,000 predictions by 284 experts. Their results were only a “tiny bit” better than a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board. Their professor or experience made no difference. Fame had in inverse relationship. The media likes strong, black and white views.

These “Hedgehogs” are worldview and ideology based experts who are of no value in predicting the future. Then who can be of value? In Tetlock’s “Expert Political Judgment,” he describes the “Foxes” who trump experts. Foxes are cautious, centrist, pragmatic, prone to self-doubt; can see complexity and nuance and adjust their views to new information.

Our takeaway from these studies is that it is OK to be amused by wild “Cramer” type predictions or Gypsy fortune tellers. But we need attributes of a Fox to guide our path into the future. Three decades ago strategic planners shifted from forecasting to become facilitators who created probable scenarios and ran group processes to determine current strengths and weaknesses and future opportunities and threats. They began using system design and what-if modeling to provide the framework for decision making. This fits us Foxes like a glove since we are creating the future not predicting it.

Our particular arena is education whose technology is captured in the system definition of eLearning. We know the profound impact of all types of technologies on most of the world’s industries including entertainment and communication. From our pragmatic sense of the world we believe that eLearning will transform education. We do not yet know how it will happen, what technologies will be most effective or when it will happen. We hope that this transformation will enable all students to become highly motivated and effective learners within their unique abilities and aspirations. We are flexible because we know that all change has unexpected consequences. The painfully slow transformation is paced by the years needed for teachers to become effective eLearning practitioners, for the multi-tiered eLearning system to be established and the eLearning digital curriculum to move well beyond the legacy curriculum.

Year by year progress is being made. During this economic down cycle we Foxes are studying and creating policy needed to change the legacy financial system to support individualized student eLearning. We are also focused on the broadband Internet and data tools needed for eLearning to be effectively managed with Fox’s data – not Hedgehog ideology.

Stay tuned.

90201 Luck and Presence

February 1, 2009

Luck and Presence

I have been lucky all my life. Years, some times decades before an industry took off I voted with my feet to get involved. Early 1950’s aerospace, 1960’s biotech, 1970’s PC software, and late1980’s broadband telecom and eLearning. But my soles are getting thin rolling rocks up the eLearning hill.

As a capstone my luck-joss-presence has served up a “hoot!”

In December the New York Times Interactive Playbook offered an opportunity to guess the winners with point spread for the 11 NFC playoff, championship and Super Bowl games. Being a non-athlete in both skill and interest I only put on pads for my freshman team in high school. But up for a challenge I picked the Steelers and Cardinals to win through. I arbitrarily picked the other matchups. After 10 games there are no 10-0 Playbook players and only five 9-1 players out of the 10,976 folks who played. I am one of the 9-1’ers and rank 3rd. How’s that for beating 3330 to 1 odds!  My final pick in December was Cardinals by 2 in the Super Bowl. Let’s see if we can bring it home for Arizona!

This and That

Educational research is being shifted by the Obama administration from “scientifically based” to “development and innovation.” Education Week, January 28, 2009. “Scientifically based” methods work great in the physical sciences but without massive funding and many years over multiple parameters, work poorly and many times are misleading in the social sciences. With eLearning in the disruptive innovation phase, funding support should focus development and innovation.

Governor’s (K-12) Educational Advisory Group met in closed session on January 23rd, 2009. Our Rick Ogston Exec. Director of Desert View Academy – Carpe Diem Collegiate High School (Yuma) was invited and carried the ball for eLearning. His comments were well received. Hopefully our new governor will consider eLearning both a pressing issue and innovation opportunity as her policy evolves. I understand that Karla Phillips is the new governor education advisor. Ms Phillips is well schooled on the benefits of eLearning over her many years as an advisor to the leadership of the House of Representatives.

Last Monday morning a legislator’s breakfast in my Sunnyslope community offered me an opportunity to talk with Rep. Sam Crump R of Anthem. He said he was working on cutting the $22.5 million that the 21st Century Fund has to support of science based emerging enterprises (including eLearning). His rational is that the state could not pick winners or losers and should not favor certain industries. With all due respect I argued that science and technology is one area where a successful investment can be made by the experts. I stated that we all have to accept cuts in this troubled time and appreciated the tough job he has in the legislature. This morning I read that Sheriff Joe got an additional $1.6 million; K-12 education took a $113 million (1.6%) hit; Arizona Department of Education was jolted with an $8 million cut, and the $22.5 million was lifted from the Arizona’s 21st Century Fund for technology based innovation.

This Luck and That Presence

So eLearning gets some boosts and takes a few hits. Let’s see how lucky our Cards are this evening. Then it’s back on the path putting one foot in front of the other. It works for the man carrying the football and the man on plow behind the mule.

But mark my words – by 2011 the upsurge in eLearning will start affecting all Arizona students. By 2018 half of learning will be supported by eLearning means. And by the end of the 21st century Arizona may have …………………….a second Super Bowl victory.

Send me an email a decade from now, and let me know if I still got it!

90121 AZ and Fed $for eLearning

January 21, 2009

The following is based on the federal funding for education from President Obama’s draft stimulus package discussed in last week’s blog. I recommended that Arizona seize this opportunity to use these funds to accelerate the transformation of our K-12 education system from legacy to eLearning.

Arizona will be making significant cuts in K-12 education funding required to address the revenue loss do to our faltering economy. In this blog, I recommend that Arizona add back a small percentage of these cuts to leverage the federally funded transformation to eLearning. Only with effective eLearning in the classroom and online can we hope to ameliorate the hit on student academic performance that the deep cuts in funding portend.

Note: The initial $ amount is my estimated Arizona funding from the stimulus package.

FEDERAL 21st Century Classrooms

Fed $280 million for school construction including technology upgrades:

Arizona Students First legislation and the School facilities board have done a good job of traditional school construction. Now we need to focus over the next couple of years on the technology in all 1000+ Arizona schools with 1,000,000+ students.

The first critical issue is the student interface with eLearning. There are three high definition visual interfaces that are standard throughout our society. The TV screen, the computer monitor and the palm top device. Over the next few years, expect convergence between all three for similar applications, content and interactivity. Much of the computing will reside on the network. Learning outside the classroom is critical to learning within the classroom. Therefore, I suggest we consider a portable student interface with a medium sized desktop screen and audio with standard input devices as a starting point.

Let’s provide schools with the $280 million for networked student interfaces and assume that individual units with installation could be acquired for $350. Approximately 80% of our non-eLearning served students will have 24/7 access. They would join about 10% of our students that currently have access to eLearning in classrooms and Technology Assisted Project Based Instructional Program (TAPBI) online schools.

Fed $260 million for IDEA Special Education:

With about 100,000 Arizona students served with a wide range of special education programs the average is $2600 per student. Part of this funding will assure that each student has whatever access to eLearning for their particular need requires. This final 10% of the student population completes the provisioning of an individualized interface for every Arizona student.

Fed $20 million for educational technology:

This should be applied to teacher education and professional development in the area of eLearning. Lets assume that 25% of Arizona teachers are no longer eLearning novices and are savvy at a level to be effective in an eLearning classroom or online. The funding available is $400 each for the remaining 50,000 teachers and educational leadership. Considering that the typical training expenditure for the intellectual staff in business is $1500 per year, this is not very much.

We have a cadre of eLearning mentors in most schools. If we use online, virtual and hybrid forms of eLearning to deliver this teacher education and professional development we could achieve significant efficiencies of scale, learning acceleration and access. The funding should be provided to the Arizona Department of Education to be used to further develop and increase capacity of their IDEAL system to deliver enhanced service into every school and community in Arizona.

Arizona $3 million to create a unique virtual classroom within IDEAL in collaboration with Arizona’s universities and eLearning enterprise community  that ranges from the Apollo’s University of Phoenix Online to numerous boutique eLearning digital curriculum development companies. This virtual classroom would address unique Arizona needs and gaps in the online and hybrid learning that is accessible and affordable from the web.

FEDERAL Higher Education

Fed $320 million to support students with grants and loans.

Arizona teaching cadre needs about several thousand graduates a year who are eLearning savvy. The first priority should be students who will become K-12 teachers upon graduation. With Arizona’s universities collaborating between colleges for specialized teachers in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics this support should not be limited to college of education students. The federal funding would support 5000 students for $10,000 per year over six years.

Arizona $3 million to support the three Arizona Universities in their task to transform their curriculum to address eLearning pedagogy and processes.

FEDERAL K-12 Education

Fed $260 million for Title I for disadvantaged kids.

Assuming 20% of students are served by Title I then there is $1250 per student. At 25 students per classroom this would provide $31,000 per classroom. This cadre would have their needs filled for digital curriculum, online access to virtual content, teacher eLearning equipment and systems for several years.

Fed => $5 million Statewide Data Systems. Three years ago our legislature appropriated $2.5 million and garnered an additional $6 million federal grant for the Arizona Department of Education data warehouse and student information system. This system will be operational at the state level by the end of 2009.

Arizona $5 million is needed to migrate this lead in state and school district decision support system to use in the schools and classrooms. To achieve full potential, eLearning students and teachers must have formative assessment data systems that provide real time coaching to both. School leadership needs current data to support their decisions out to the district office and into the classroom.

Fed => $6 million for incentives for high performing teaching and administration and to address teacher shortages and modernized teaching work force. At $100 per teacher this is a drop in the bucket. Use the funds in current programs.

FEDERAL Transform our Economy with Science and Technology

Fed => $60 million to expand broadband internet access so businesses (and schools and health care!) in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy. The Arizona Telecommunications and Innovation Council, Government Information and Telecommunications Agency, Arizona Department of Education and Arizona Technology Council and many others have been working this issue for two decades. A $60 million bump in funding would have a huge effect and set a number of well developed plans rolling. The private sector will be a significant player with this level of stimulus.

AZ $1 million to do an accelerated mapping survey and analysis of the current broadband build out to prepare for and influence the federal funding.


e90121FedandAZFunding $millions
Federal Arizona
Student Interactive Interfaces
Regular Education 280 0
IDEA Special Education 260 0
Education and Professional Development 20 3
Teacher Pre-service Education 320 3
Disadvantaged Students 260 0
Data Supported Decision Support System 5 5
Educator Performance Incentives 5
Complete Statewide Broadband System 60 1
1210 12

With a lot of stimulus funding and several critical investments from our legislature this session, Arizona can seize the opportunity for eLearning transformation and amelioration of the effects of the State funding cuts to K-12 education.

90116 Federal Stimulus $ Draft

January 16, 2009

I made a number of calls Thursday to eLearning’s fabulous four (Consortium for School Networking – CoSN; International Society for Technology in Education – ISTE; Software & Information Industry Association – SIIA; State Educational Technology Directors Association –  SETDA ). They have been advising the Obama transition team as well as working congress. Mary Ann Wolf Executive Director of SETDA set me some breaking results from on the Summary of American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill including Education for the 21st Century.

The following summary and plan of use assumes Arizona will receive approximately => 2% based on population. Arizona has approximately 1,000,000 out of the nations 50,000,000 students and special education serves approximately 10% of our students. The recommendations for use is based on eSATS and planning of others based on a statewide eLearning systems design. This design has as its nexus the teacher-student in the classroom and both physical and intellectual statewide supporting infrastructure.

It is bit complex to tease eLearning out of the many funding categories in the Summary, but here goes.

21st Century Classrooms

$14 B => $280 million for school construction including technology upgrades. Assuming $50 million for computers in the classroom at $500 per unit, 100,000 or 10% of Arizona 1 to 1 students to computer classroom needs could be satisfied. I would recommend that all these computers are used to create 2 to 1 classrooms that can later be upgraded to 1 to 1. When the 20% of the classrooms in Arizona are transformed into eLearning effective classrooms the tipping point for disruptive innovation will have been crossed.

$1 billion => $20 million for educational technology which gets back to prior years level of federal support. It includes computer and science labs and teacher technology training. Assuming that Arizona continues to move away from the ineffective computer lab model and uses school construction funding for computers then $5 million for science labs and $15 million for teacher professional development in use of eLearning could result. The 20% of teachers who are most eLearning savvy and are assigned the 2:1 classrooms will receive the $15 million in professional development. These 10,000 teachers would move from the current $100 per year professional development funding to $1500 over two years to transform their practice while in a rich eLearning environment. Schools in Arizona would have an average of 8 mentor-master eLearning teachers that will be the heart of full transformation to eLearning over the next eight years.

Higher Education

$16 billion => $320 million to support students with grants and loans should be aggressively promoted to enhance the quality and number of STEM and K-12 educator graduates of Arizona’s colleges and universities.

K-12 Education

$13 billion => $260 million for IDEA Special Education. With about 100,000 Arizona students served with a wide range of special education programs the average is $2600 per student. Many eLearning solutions are of critical benefit to special education.

$13 billion => $260 million for Title I for disadvantaged kids. I am not sure of the number of Title I students but assuming 20% then there is $1250 per student. For a classroom of 25 this $25,000 could provide a computer for every student, teacher professional development, full digital curriculum, teacher eLearning equipment and software for three years.

These Title I eLearning based 1:1 classrooms and 2:1 classrooms from the 21st Century School funding and Special Education eLearning could put Arizona approaching the 50% eLearning mark  within the next couple of years.

$250 million => $5 million Statewide Data Systems. Three years ago our legislature appropriated $2.5 million and garnered a $6 million federal grant for the Arizona Department of Education data warehouse and student information system. This system will be operational at the state level by the end of 2009. Another three years and $10 million are needed to support school district to classroom use of this decision support system. To achieve full potential eLearning students and teachers must have formative assessment data systems that provide real time coaching to both.

$300 million => $6 million for incentives for high performing teaching and administration and to address teacher shortages and modernized teaching work force. With $30 per teacher this is a drop in the bucket where $3000 per teacher is needed.

Transform our Economy with Science and Technology

$6 billion => $60 million to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural (what about schools! Ted the eD) and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy. The Arizona Telecommunications and Innovation Council, Government Information and Telecommunications Agency, Arizona Department of Education and Arizona Technology Council and many others have been working this issue for two decades. A $60 bump in funding would have a huge effect and set a number of well developed plans rolling. It may cost twice or three times as much in the long run but the private sector will be a significant player with this level of stimulus.


We at eSATS now need to align this draft data with the eSATS design needs and potential sources including state funding and resource provider organizations. The our legislative and governance leaders working on the budget need to factor in federal sources of funds.

Looks the light at the end of the tunnel may not be another train approaching on our track.

90113eLearning Disruptive Investment White Paper

January 13, 2009

White Paper

K-12 eLearning Future Starts Now

Over the next two and a half years Arizona and United States governance, business and education will implement significant changes within our society. This discontinuity of change happens every few decades. A significant economic crisis triggers chaos in our overly mature way of life and opens the door to innovation. Sort of like the renewal process of nature with its fires, storms, earthquakes, floods and winters.

Our approach to this should be the entrepreneurial “If you can’t fix it, feature it.”

How about featuring eLearning.

Arizona has been working and experimenting with eLearning for over two decades. Most everyone has had some eLearning experience.  A small percentage of education hours, 2% to 4%, is supported by ised Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Thought leaders ranging from the New York Times to American Heritage’s “Invention and Technology” are calling for President (almost) Obama to invest in school computers and broadband networks.

We should expect significant increase in federal investment for eLearning especially in broadband and maybe computers. The states that are most prepared and committed will receive a larger share of Federal support.

Our governor and legislature must address $5billion (one estimate) of revenue shortfall vs. current expenditures over the next 2.5 years. As they develop this long range solution we think they might over adjust by 2% and use the $100million as Arizona’s state level contribution to the eLearning transformation.  They also need to change a few K-12 administrative rules and procedures to promote flexibility and accessibility of learning while reducing district costs.

Our federal government must also invest in educational infrastructure as part of the economic stimulus and support of disruptive innovation. Lets start with them.

Every one of our students need an internet connected computer based interface for their school work. This may be a PC, network computer, laptop or “other.” About 90% have a computer in their home. Many have limited access in the back of the classroom or school computer lab but that is not enough. With 55 million students and assuming $600 for a computer interface a federal investment in hardware plus system would be $33 billion one investment. In four years renewals and upgrades would start kicking in at $7billion to assure effectiveness.

The rational is that this complete eLearning system will gain back some if not all of the reduced student academic achievement and graduation rates from the cuts to traditional educational budgets. As the economy recovers our schools will be positioned to flourish with their digital native students and a humanized digital world of Arizona K-12 education.