Posts Tagged ‘K-12’

00118 Research Based Legislation

January 18, 2010

Greater Arizona eLearning Association (GAZEL) annual CEO breakfast speaker last week was Arizona Senator John Huppenthal, Chairman of the Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee

His talk was based on his decade of study to determine what will improve academic performance of Arizona’s K-12 students. His reading of a host of comprehensive research reports and visits to many schools though out Arizona supported his remarks.

Senator Huppenthal recommended four actions:

  1. Hold not just schools but districts accountable for academic performance.
  2. Rank districts on the Arizona Department of Education web site.
  3. Conduct holistic and scientific assessment of reform measures that show significant effects that are over 25% (points) in learning. (This amounts to about ¾’s of a letter grade, for example C to B-).
  4. Check highest districts for reform models and lowest districts for intervention within their 1600 schools.

He referenced a number of very high performing models.  Florida made a significant investment in technology, and their NEAP scores made the largest increase of any state. Vail high schools rejected books in favor of a laptop for every student. Carpe Diem charter school in Yuma has double the 25% learning effect target with digital curriculum and coaches.

Studies are showing only 25% of students do homework in traditional low motivation classrooms. Motivation is rooted in our primitive instincts. Senator Huppenthal believes a critical part of a motivational learning model is the student must a member of a team and maximizing individual status is important. He is working on a program with ASU researchers where the team scores are used as a primary motivational factor.

A critical reason why eLearning works is that the child can stay with his or her social cohort while learning at his or her best pace. Motivation stays high while to learn individual learning needs are satisfied. In Lancaster Monitorial schools, small teams from a variety of grades operate with high degrees of effectiveness in one large classroom.

Senator Huppenthal believes that a “killer application” will emerge. The audience thought that it would be more like a set of killer applications. He also set a vision for the group. The current best application, out of the many dozens he has reviewed, increases learning from 16 to 32 points. He sees 50 points as the target norm. But out there in the future, he expects that we will see the 90 points killer app.

Senator Huppenthal said he could now announcement he will be running as candidate for Superintendent of Education. He suggested that Arizona Department of Education needs an educational “center” to mingle, mix and integrate all of what Arizona knows about technology and education. From a Rand study, he believes that as a middle performing state we are better positioned than others to ramp up to #1.  Many kids start out early with motivation to reach an adult goal but only 3% complete college and enter that profession. With more coordination within Arizona’s multiple-domain pathways that result should be 20%.

Senator Huppenthal is typical of the rapidly increasing number of state leaders that are engaging eLearning to in their efforts to improve K-12 education. Their understanding of critical protocols within this eLearning decade is the reason for optimism in the years to come.

001011 Next Decade Protocol Wave

January 11, 2010

Before plans are made, we need to have a reasonable estimate of what opportunities and threats lie in the near future – the next couple of years. Our public media (remember I am from the 40’s and 50’s) are filled with a spectrum from ranting heads – at all points of the compass – to droll rational analysis. After one separates out the entertainment and academic aspects, three broad assumptions can be made:

When you compare 2000 to 2009 on a number of aspects — from the economy to academic performance gains – the past decade has been a “Big Zero.” There is a pent-up indefinable and unforeseeable something that has the potential to drive a grand benestrophe. [antonym to catastrophe – bene Latin for good, strophe Greek for turn. This is a word that resulted from an international contest I concocted in the early 1980’s.]

The US and Arizona are not in decline, we still have a couple of decades grace before we need to concern ourselves with the Great Crisis. Unlike stuff such as food and cars — good ideas are never used up.

We will continue to make stuff but we will continue our global economic leadership with our many our protocols. We have protocols for making medicine, using data, building helicopters and moving consumer goods. Our culture keeps inventing and adopting new ones. Our operating system includes rights, fair laws, strong families, social trust, visionary leadership and folks who work hard to do the job right.

eLearning is a powerful protocol that delivers digital content via technology to support the work of both teacher and student.

Over the next decade eLearning will lead the protocol driven economic wave. All protocols are rooted in a system. We expect the eSATS statewide eLearning system design will emerge as a leading protocol to drive transformation.  The technology base systems will be defined and installed and the digital curriculum will integrate with the learning environments. Both teacher and learner will transform their crafts to work much more closely with each other. The learning ecosystems will respond through innovation and enterprise.

As the this protocol  wave of academic achievement ramps up, our economy and society will be freed from the one restraint holding them back. They will blossom.

How do we help to pull this off?  Exploring that challenge continues next.

Ref: David Brooks, Josef Joffe and Paul Krugman.

00104 eLearning Decade

January 4, 2010

Although the prophets of doom are almost always wrong, we may be heading into troubling times. So a mantra I just made up should help:

Have No Fear, Its Happy New Year.

We have plenty to be fearful about over the next couple of decades. According to my current reading of a “true believer” book, The Fourth Turning, civilizations have 80 year cycles that are made up of four generations of 20 year cycles. The past three 80 year cycles ended in 20 year times of crisis (Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Depression-World War II).

But we also have plenty to look forward to. The historical set of 20 years of crisis and upheaval also had significant build-out of respective infrastructures (toll roads and canals, railroads, highways). In our times of crisis the new infrastructure will be broadband/Internet, digitized medial records, high speed trains, and security at all levels.

Over the past 20 years we have seen economic spasms, terrorism, and many opportunities ignored by “best and brightest” ideologues. But the current problems are at a “2” level and are a build up to the “10” level crisis we might expect in the future. Fortunately our “Fourth Turing” period will be lead by “smart and pragmatic” realists who are crucial for the challenges ahead.

So much for my “true believer“) hat (thank you Eric Hoffer. Let’s get back to today’s issues and eLearning. We assume that the skills, education and knowledge of Arizona’s people and leaders will continue to be its most essential asset. Over the past several months I have attended many meetings of Arizona leadership working on Arizona problems. For the first time most of their solutions for education included eLearning as the key to implementation.

The Arizona Republic’s 2010 predictions for the next decade has a section for education and technology:

Slim notebook, video lessons, learn at school-home, and individualized repetition learning to mastery and pace of progress. Math and science will have teacher-facilitator for multiage students at same academic level. Self-paced learning will have some students into full college work in highs school and others mastering the subjects at their slower pace before they move on. High school graduation will be a bit old-fashion.

Sounds like a pieces of a pretty good vision. Now it’s up to us as advocates to implement for Arizona. I have a New Year’s resolution to keep. Part is to produce a one page (+) blog for you each week. I will also provide updates on current upcoming events. The blog will represent a continually developing framework and direction for our advocacy. This will be based on developments within our highly fluid legislative policy groups, governance and legislators.

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:

http://www.itec-ia.org/documents/filelibrary/2009_conference/handouts/The_Digital_Curriculum_31F3935ECBABA.pdf

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:

http://www.reckon.co.uk/open/BBC_Digital_Curriculum

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.

91124 eLearning is Innovation

November 24, 2009

The November 18th edition of Education Week has two major articles:

Starting Gun Sounds for ‘Race to the Top’ RTTT has $4.35 billion up for grabs for reforms including State level data systems with buy in from school districts, and evaluation of teachers and principals based on student performance (outcomes).

States Are Lagging On Innovation Front. The US Chamber of Commerce graded  the states on school management, finance, staffing, staff removal, data, technology, pipeline to postsecondary and reform environment (inputs). Arizona got one few A’s for charter school management.

Let’s put aside the issue that that $4.35 billion is less than 1% of the financial system rescue/stimulus funds. Arizona can win a potential $100 million for RTTT that is critical to Arizona’s education transformation plans.

Arizona’s RTTT team of highly capable and dedicated staff and volunteers are working long hours to address the highly structured proposal requirements. Debra Duvall, Governor’s Special Advisor is leading the RTTT effort. Carol Peck of the Rodel Foundation is chair of the Governor’s 16 person P20 Coordinating Council which has four RTTT task forces, each working on a key RTTT proposal area;

Jack Lundsford of WESTMARC is leading the Standards and Assessments

Dave Howell of Wells Fargo Bank is leading the Great Teachers, Great Leaders

Marc Osborn of R&R Partners is heading the Supporting Struggling Schools

Cathleen Barton of Intel is leading the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems/Use

As the task teams struggle with the myriad of proposal requirements the overarching issue of Innovation becomes a challenge. eSATS has attended most meetings and reviewed the most recent summary of dozens of task team generated ideas, options, strategies, interventions and pathways.

www.azgovernor.gov/P20/agendas.asp click on first presentation under Materials

There are eLearning components woven through each of these task forces. So we got to thinking about the innovation issue and eLearning. The problem of leading with “eLearning” is that most people have an image that is locked the technology with a student glued to a computer screen who is working on Reader Rabbit and immersed in online learning. To jar us away from those images lets consider:

eLearning as system of innovation.

Every other industry transformed by emerging technology has had to redefine itself with a new and innovation driven systems model.

Take aviation for example. It has both a physical infrastructure of airports and data driven decision support system for navigation. Pilots required real-time data from flight instruments. The aircraft was designed around serving the needs to both the passengers and air and ground crews. An intellectual infrastructure was needed for aeronautical research and education of aeronautical engineers and other experts. The creation of the financial system from reservations and ticketing to aircraft purchases based on new revenue, allocation and investment models. And finally an aircraft industry had to exist to develop and build the airplanes. The icon was the airplane. But from initiation through growth to maturity aviation was a highly coupled system of innovation. We all understand this model.

Take the above and substitute schools and longitudinal data system; teachers needing real-time formative assessment; learning support systems serving the teacher-student nexus; learning research and professional teacher/leader education; and school financing initiatives that removes legacy system barriers, creates efficiencies  and funds innovation to enhance student performance. Embrace the digital curriculum and hardware/software industry as they redouble their effects for education.

The now mature aviation, was from the 1930’s to 1970’s a highly successful system of innovation. eLearning can also be viewed as a system of innovation from the 1990’s to the 2020’s.

If we make this intellectual leap, then we have a powerful pathway to integrate innovation into Arizona’s RTTT proposal.

91111 Fourth Turning Implemention

November 11, 2009

Driven by my “True Believer” gene, every few years I jump fully clothed into a new ocean of ideas that promises an understanding of how our world works. My latest is the 1997 book by William Strauss and Neil Howe, “The Fourth Turning.” Their “research” resulted in the discovery of an ~ 80 year cycle of human history that is caused by the interaction of four distinct ~ 20 year generations. The Fourth Turning is the 20 year period, the Crisis “Turning” starting a few years ago and ending in ~ 2025. In the Crisis turning – think Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWII and now – are noted by terrible unforeseen events, a renting of the social fabric, and the implementation of major changes – especially infrastructure.

The four generations that are playing out now are “Archetype: birth years, current name, roles.

Hero: 1901-1924, G.I. Generation, cope with Depression and fight WWII, build new institutions, protected children; 1982-2003 Millennial Generation, will take us through the crisis now emerging.

Artist: 1926-1943 Silent Generation, improved institutions, populated suburbia, had midlife crisis and are now active seniors. 2004-2025 Homeland Generation will grow up in time of crisis.

Prophet: 1943-1960 Boomer Generation, grow up in affluence and upheaval, moralistic and value obsessed, playing down dangers, steering country into next big crisis.

Nomad: 1961-1981 Generation X, reared under protected during cultural upheavals, don’t trust institutions, speak frankly of dangers, are highly realistic and pragmatic individualists.

What does this mean for our K-12 transformation mission for the next ten years? In a recent interview author Neil Howe said the Gen Xer’s are in the drivers seat, with strong support of the Millennials. This is evidenced by the Obama election with strong support from the younger crowd. As the Gen Xer’s move into positions of power during the crisis the Millennials will be like the G.I.’s of the prior crises. The Boomers who failed to address the emerging crises will fade from power.

First Turning (1945-1965) was a High with Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy and social conformity. The Second Turning (1966-1982) was the Awakening where social obligations where thrown off and individualism drove riots, civil rights, tax cuts, and deregulation. The Third Turning (1983-2004?) was the Unraveling where individualism is high and institutions are weak and discredited, many celebrity circuses but little sense of public purpose.

The Fourth Turning (2005? To 202??) is the Crisis where ineffectual institutions are torn down to build new. There is enormous rebuilding of public, social, political and economic life as a response to a series of crises.  The recent small wars and economic upheavals may be the foothills of the crisis, similar to the 1770’s, 1850’s, and 1930’s. Individualism gives way to a new sense of community to reverse the process of Third Turning attitudes. The crisis nor the crisis trigger cannot be forecast during the prior decade: Boston Tea Party, Lincoln’s election, and stock market crash in 1929 followed by Pearl Harbor.

Turnings are caused by the sequencing of the generations, not technology. During Crisis the reaction to a crisis is what matters. The Silent Generation drifts off into retirement and Prophet Boomer cultural warriors shouting at each other on talk shows. The realistic and pragmatic Nomad Gen Xer’s lead by fixing the crises. They are supported by the Hero Millennials who remain close to their elder visionary Prophet parents.

There will be a push toward pro-family and  middle class with recent focus on seniors, the poor and the very wealthy slipping. Millennials want free-trade and capitalism with a public and social purpose. They have respect for realistic “smart” people but not the ideological “best and brightest.” The invention during the Awakening, drove unlimited and diverse innovation (biogenetics, nanotech) during the Unraveling to setup implementation in the Crisis. Fourth Turning society picks winners and invests in them. Infrastructure build out was big in the last three (toll roads and canals, railroads, then highways). In this century digitizing medical records, Internet everywhere, security at all levels, and high-speed trains are coming on strong.

Stable employment and personal reputation are critical individual factors leading to teamwork building and community activities. Intergenerational families will come together.

The economic problems of today are a 2 to 3 compared to the 10 of the Crisis ahead of us. But what could trigger this Crisis. A nuclear bomb going off anywhere would change the rules all over the world. Cheap robots make war, everyman’s war. There are many more. But as society wipes away old way, better systems can be built. As the crisis peaks, the myriad of problems that defines this period are seen as parts of same huge systemic problem.

Over the past two months I have experienced a “sea-change” during our voyage toward the eLearning promised land. As a observer in meeting after meeting with ABEC, P-20 Coordinating Committee Task Forces, Valley Forward panels, legislators and IBM-Smart Cities Forum almost every participant touched on or lead with a component of eLearning as a part of the solution.

I developed the understanding is that our advocacy work has been successful. The time for  It is now time for us “Boomers” to switch from pitching the value of eLearning to advising the Gen X implementers teams. It is a bit like the old story of:

“Robespierre sitting with his friends at an outside café drinking wine when a mob surges by. Robespierre jumps up and dashes off. His friends call to him, “Where are you going?” He replies, “That’s my mob and I have to get in front of them and lead.”

eSATS and our collaborators have a well honed system design. We understand of what is needed to significantly integrated the pieces into a whole. The investments and timing including process changes can be spelled out.

91013 P20 Great Teachers – Great Leaders

October 13, 2009

Subject: Suggestions for Addressing the Critical Issue of K-12 Teachers and Leaders

Proposed Requirements by RTTT:

  • Confirm the number and percentage of core academic courses taught in highest- and lowest-poverty schools by highly qualified teachers;
  • Describe the systems used to evaluate the performance of teachers and principals by LEA;
  • Indicate whether systems that evaluate performance of teachers and principals include student achievement outcomes by LEA;
  • Provide the number and percentage of teachers and principals rated at each performance rating or level by LEA;
  • Indicate whether the number and percentage of teacher performance ratings are easily accessible to the public by LEA.

My Response

Actually I am a bit bum-fuzzled!  P20 Coordinating Council is tasked by Executive Order to focus on reforms to increase academic achievement. Based on decades of studies and planning initiatives, and our individual experience the teacher, time and again, has been recognized as the greatest single factor in student academic success. The scope of this issue is wide and deep. This task force has been named Great Teachers Great Leaders.

Why are the proposed requirements limited to a small component of the overall problem?  The five bullet items from Race To The Top cover only a situation assessment dealing with LEA data on performance ratings of teachers and principals. A quality assurance system is a necessary but insufficient part of the most critical human resource problems in Arizona. Most of this data challenge will be addressed by the State Longitudinal Data System Task Team.

I suggest that the P20 coordinating council develop requirements that address the statewide needs of teachers and leaders over the next decade:

  • Educating, hiring, professional development, rewarding, retention;
  • The emergence of eLearning in the classroom, online and at home;
  • Develop a multilevel system to assess teacher skills and practice mastery;
  • Design and implement the next generation of teacher instructional tools;
  • Transforming teacher practice from legacy education to hybrid eLearning;
  • Integrating the formative assessment data driven decision support system into teacher practice.
  • Aid Arizona’s universities in transforming their colleges of education to produce eLearning savvy teachers.

91013 P20 Data Task Force (3b) Research

October 13, 2009

Suggestions for Addressing the Research Requirements

Race to the Top (RTTT) Data System Proposal

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

A suggestion: There is a requirement from the U.S. Department of Education that “schools adopt strategies that have been proven through rigorous research.”  (Education Week, October 7, 2009 pp18)

This is impossible because there are over 150 courses that populate the typical P-12 curriculum and there is almost no rigorous research available. The reason is fundamental. Complex systems that are in the same size and class as P-20 education include medicine and defense. The federal and industry funded rigorous research and development for medicine and defense is in the $60-$100 billion level… (each). On a good year the funding of rigorous research and development for P-12 education is at the $100+ million range, will behind the VA, Interior, EPA and DOT. Both medicine and defense has had 70 years of rigorous research based technology and procedures adoption. Education has yet to leave the starting gate.

There is a glimmer of hope and the Arizona RTTT proposal should reflect this new opportunity. A Washington based advocacy organization, “Digital Promise,” was successful summer of 2008 in having Congress pass legislation: Sec. 802. National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies. The 2010 funding is expected to be $50 million. It is modeled after the National Science Foundation. They will focus on using information and digital technologies to advance education, both formal and informal.

Arizona has an opportunity to collaborate with NCRAIDT. Through ADE, AZ eLearning Task Force, ASSET, IDEAL and research arms of our colleges of education and field testing system could be developed in Arizona. With Arizona’s wide range of populations we could develop networks of schools where innovative practices and technologies could be rigorously tested. Edwards AF Test Facility has spun off aircraft research base innovation into southern Californian aerospace industries for decades. An Arizona virtual statewide test facility integrated with our leading statewide data system would position Arizona as a first adopter of rigorous researched innovation.

91012 USDOE National Education Technology Plan

October 8, 2009

Preface Note: I am a proponent of the use of cross-industry innovation systems and transformation models. When my aeronautical engineering domain stopped talking about “flying machines” in the early 1900’s and started using the system descriptor of “aviation” the industry took off (horseless carriages => automobile, etc.). It is time to put aside “educational technology” and consider the system descriptor that has been emerging for a decade: “elearning”.

Introduction:

The U.S. Department of Education is developing a new National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) to provide a vision for how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. The plan will provide a set of concrete goals that can inform state and local educational technology plans as well as inspire research, development, and innovation. A draft plan is expected in early 2010.

This web site is hosted for the U.S. Department of Education by SRI International.

https://edtechfuture.org/

Planning Working Group

This group of 18 leading educators, researchers, state and district ed-tech leaders and policymakers has been selected from the Central-East part of the nation, except for Roy Pea and John Seely Brown from the Stanford/ USC communities. I know, or know of, a number of these pioneers from our work with eSATS (eLearning System for Arizona Teachers and Students) that started in the late 1980’s. These experts have provided the “shoulders of giants” that have, since the early 1990’s, guided and inspired a generation of advocates who have driven the early progress of eLearning adoption. The problem is that half of this working group should have been the bright new minds of eLearning like Susan Patrick and Clayton Chistensen. Also the US DOE Education Technology Director slot is vacant.

Barbara Means of SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning is engaged as the leader of the working group. We first met at a large ed-tech conference at in Stanford/Palo Alto in early 1990’s.

My concern is that the working group’s challenge is to be a driving force behind innovation driven transformation of a legacy system based on human labor. This is a huge task to achieve. Our K-12 education system has a history of innovation cycles that require a half century from start to finish. In the latter 20th century technology driven transformations of other industries were in the 20 year range. The economic, energy, resource and ecological transformation of our global 21st century demands an even shorter innovation cycle.

The foundation for the solution to these challenges is a successful mastery of the K-12 curriculum of – not just 50 to 65 percent of our student population – but 95 percent. A brief glance at our bell shaped performance curve shows a minimum of a one sigma increase for all students, and a pulling in of the tails. The failing student is performing at the C level and gifted student does not drop out. eLearning is the only means supported by meta-studies that show an effect factor in the 0.40 range.

Without a history of innovation driven transformation within K-12 education, the task of the NETP working group seems to be insurmountable. But innovation is always driven by a small group and fired by genius, so the probability is not zero. In business, science and engineering it is well known that the invention and innovation in a narrow sector of an industry is by the young with passion and creative ideas. If an industry transformation is to take place, it will happen with the collaboration of two forces.

One is the disruptive innovation (like microcomputers invented in the 1970’s destroying the minicomputer industry by the early 1990’s). The other is the few – then many – enlightened and seasoned leaders of the mature industry removing barriers and making the strategic planning, organizational design and financial change decisions that will accelerate a transformation. The 2010 NETP is positioned to support this transformational challenge with a innovation based strategic redesign of the K-12 system.

My Response

Over the past 20+ years hundreds of Federal and State technology plans have been written and rewritten every few years. However, they have had little effect on adoption of elearning.

A major exception is the NETP 2004 published from the U.S. DoE’s Office of Educational Technology under the leadership of Susan Patrick. The 68 page publication was titled “Toward A New Golden Age in American Education”, How the Internet, the Law and Today’s Students are Revolutionizing Expectation.” I distributed over a 1000 copies of this “little blue booklet” to Arizona legislators, governance, councils, businesses and educators. I believe it had a material effect on Arizona’s progress. Our legislature formed the Arizona eLearning Task Force that has 8 years remaining to transform our K-12 education system. Other legislative and governance successes were $3 million for a middle school math pilot, P20 council with data and teacher task forces, and all 1500+ Arizona schools enabled as virtual schools.

I recommend that this 2010 National Education Technology Plan reach beyond the 2004 success with a powerful new prescriptive design for innovation driven transformation. It must be more than just a visionary model on paper to be used as an instrument of advocacy. Create this plan with the expectation that it will be fully implemented. Transformation to K-12 elearning will be reaching its tipping point within the life of the plan. The quality, equity and effectiveness of the drive to that tipping point depends on this design.

The most recent data on eLearning adoption are from the 2008 iNACOL annual conference on online learning and Project RED  http://projectred.org/news/ => click on “click here to see the chart”. iNACOL reported 3% of elearning in K-12 education takes place online. The Project RED study had 4% of students in schools with computing devices for (almost) all students. With the hybrid mode online elearning being a significant contributor to classroom elearning. Let’s assume for the situation assessment that 5% of K-12 student learning is elearning based.

The semi-log plot from disruptive innovation theory predicts that 3%-5% will reach 10% by 2012. At 10% we are at the tipping point where elearning will begin its rapid transformation of legacy education.

Our federal NETP 2010 plan has two major roles. It will guide federal policy to drive this innovation and it will point to where significant funds must be invested. I am limited by the SRI web site for the working group, so I can only assess the current stage of their work in four focus areas.

Four focus areas of learning, teaching, assessment and productivity may be a reasonable first cut as system processes. But, historical processes are weak foundations on which to redesign a plan of this scope and magnitude. From both the NECC input and this outreach for public comment, I have to assume that the working group is still in the situation assessment phase. Members/staff of our AZ eLearning Task Force are concerned that a number of critical issues raised during the NECC focus groups were not included by the consultants/working group.

Possibly these four elements of legacy education theory are the conventional wisdom of the working group, and that is why they gravitated to them. In the science and engineering fields we advance rapidly because we understand how conventional wisdom can retard advancement. Inventive and transformational advancements and innovation are not based on best past practices or group processes. They are based on inventive genius and entrepreneurial skills of emerging leaders of the discipline. I wonder why this same old ground is being plowed many months into the process when the plan draft has to be written within a few months. I question the wisdom of not having representatives of the current cadre of K-12 innovation leaders in the working group. I also question the apparent lack of specialized expertise of strategic planning, inter-organizational design, elearning industry entrepreneurship, and school finance on the working group.

Some of this expertise may be provided by the SRI support staff, but to maximize effectiveness, it should also be built into the NETP working group.

The most difficult aspect of the NETP design is the inter-organizational design that will produce the systematic transformation of our entire national education system. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I had the pleasure of initiating –and being in the leadership of –Arizona’s Strategic Plan for Economic Development. We raised $500,000 and engaged SRI International. Critical economic industry clusters and supporting infrastructure were identified. Changes were made in how Arizona’s economy was supported in our government agencies, and new Arizona industry associations were formed. This system-wide effort addressed both our physical and intellectual infrastructures. Based on SRI’s initial engagement with Arizona, they developed a global practice that applied lessons learned on transformational strategic planning to other states and countries.

Since SRI International is the lead consultant for the National Education Technology Plan working group, I suggest that Barbara Means engage their global strategic planning team. They could provide the support needed for the complexity and scope of the elearning transformation of K-12 education in the United States.

The following are a number of elements that might be addressed with a system design process:

  • A vision of the transformed U.S. K-12 system in 2019;
  • The five to ten goals set by the working group to effect the K-12 system transformation, including P-20 goals where linkage is vital.
  • A set of quantitative objectives with time lines;
  • A short set of strategies for each objective;
  • A meta-strategy that addresses the entire system transformation.
  • A system design model presented on the learning ecology dimension with aspects of micro, meso, exo, macro and chrono ecologies* at each of the five functional levels from teacher-student engagement to federal.
  • A system design model based on the major implementation components: teacher practice development, student personal learning plans; digital curriculum, formative and summative data systems, broadband Internet access, student computing devices, technical support, metamorphosis of funding system from “seat-time” to mastery-based, leadership, elearning centered schools and spaces, federally sponsored research, emerging solutions based elearning industry, and “Innovation Centrals” to champion the transformation at all levels.
  • A detailed ten year financial model of the system transformation based on a roll up along the five functional levels of classroom, school, district, state, and federal. It would include a one-time investment spread over that ten year period, new costs, cost avoidance, cost savings and use of net savings either to meet needs like teacher salaries or to decrease tax burdens on communities.
  • An implementation plan with costs and benefits to guide the national efforts. It would deliver models for the state, district, school and classroom levels to support their efforts. Implementation will address changes in systems, governance, funding, facilities, transportation, people, types of positions and student learning pace/calendar.

Summary:

Let’s look at an example. One of several system components being actively pursued under the current Race To The Top initiative is data driven decision support. Three of the requirements (1, 2, 3b) address Longitudinal Summative Administrative Data. The other (3a) addresses Real Time Formative Instructional Data. The administrative data systems are well defined, and have been under development for many years by many states. They are relatively easy to address since only 1 million administrators will be active users. The instruction learning systems are still in the research and development, and must serve the needs of 3.5 million teachers and 60 million students. These systems must be integrated with teacher professional development, digital curriculum, and computing interfaces and systems for all students and individualize learning plans.

Each component of the system transformation must be phased with an appropriate time line and with full consideration of the leads and lags of the other components. There are many other challenges within the five level system, from the teacher-student relationship to national physical, financial and intellectual infrastructure support.

I recommend that your planning working group might take a step back. You might want to reconsider developing a plan and process the is based on a redesign. Then generate a strategic eLearning plan that has both implementation and financial plans as major sections.

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