Posts Tagged ‘Teachers School Leaders eLearning Research’

00125 Digital Curriculum Redoubt

January 25, 2010

In colonial times the military term redoubt was used to discuss one of a series of little forts outside of a main fortress that, together, created a fortification system. With less than 5% of education supported by digital curriculum we have K-12 education’s first redoubt. The other redoubts including professional level teacher education, professional development, broadband connectivity, formative and summative data systems, and a personal computing interface for each teacher and student.

To move out of colonial times, we must transform our K-12 redoubts and main fort into a modern integrated system. A critical barrier is not the lack of motivation but the lack of knowledge on how to integrate effective digital curriculum with the books, white board, and classroom of lecture, recitation and seatwork.

Curriculum is unique for each grade level and each course within that grade level. Let’s assume detailed course standards are adequate for the approximately 150 different half and full semester K-12 courses (Career, Technical Education, core, ELL, special ed, remedial, elective, and physical education (the Wii Fit/Sport is upon us.) The decision support needed for selection and full operation of digital curriculum is not available in most schools and districts.

What is needed is a new “corps of army research and field engineers” only this time they will be digital curriculum experts and extension agents. They need to be centered in a new non-profit public sector “Digital Curriculum Institute.”

This Arizona institute will integrate three unique operations.

Expert staff to assess all significant offerings of K-12 digital curriculum from any source and match the most effective to their respective Arizona course(s);

A portal with a knowledgebase used for accessibility by educators to support their decisions on adopting and implementing digital curriculum;

An extension service to deliver advice and training within the school by mentor-master experts in digital curriculum.

The digital curriculum assessment will go far beyond the typical “Amazon” user ratings to instructional software. It will include scope from supplement to full course, flexibility, student academic performance effect factor (points increase), total cost of ownership, use of real-time formative assessment, data delivery to State Longitudinal Data System, and teacher and computer interface capabilities needed.

With decision knowledge and mentors afoot in the field, the fortress system transforms into a mobile system serving the individual needs of all our students.

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:

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.

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. 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.