Posts Tagged 'digital learning'

Let’s Not Test All Students Because 60 Can’t Connect #CCSS #DigitalLearning #sbac #pencilchat #edchat

A report in California suggests that to connect up to 60 students could cost as much as $2 million dollars per student. Since it is so expensive to connect these students, then perhaps we should not require any student in California to take the test.

In California we have adopted the Common Core Standards and is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). In the past week, the state legislative analysts office (LAO), a non-political entity, issued a report to the state legislature and Governor suggesting that to have every student connected in California in order to take the computer based test could cost $2 million dollars per student (Mentioned within this entire report). Apparently there are 64 schools that do not have the right Internet bandwidth to administer the test based on trials last year. However, some of them were able to administer the test if they shut down the Internet only for testing during the testing period, which leaves 9 schools which serve 60 students that were not able to administer the computer / Internet based test. The LAO report suggests that these students could take the paper version of the test or that they could take the test one student at a time and even SBAC officials stated, “Smarter Balanced officials estimate that about 50 elementary-age students could be tested in the 12-week testing period if they were tested one at a time.”

Now, let’s step back a minute and imagine that 20 of those students are in one classroom and each one of them takes the test individually. Depending on the grade level, that would have to be some type of rotation into the one room with one computer and each student might take 3 days with one individual person to administer the test. What would the rest of the students be doing? Imagine a 12-week computer station rotation model built into the normal school day.

Now let’s imagine back to the early days of testing or even teaching. Can’t you just hear these words echoing in hallways of school buildings in history?

  • Every student does not have a pencil, so we can’t do the math problems today
  • Every student does not have a pen, so we can’t practice our cursive writing today
  • Every student does not have a textbook, so we can’t teach history today
  • Every student does not have a computer, so we should not teach with technology
  • Every student cannot connect to the Internet, so we should not teach students to go online
  • Every student cannot afford a hand held device, so we should not use them for learning
  • Every student cannot take the computer based test, so we should not administer the test

Surely (and especially in California), there must be a solution to connect these 60 students that costs less than $2 million per student.

And the reason we should connect every student in California should not be because of a test, but because it is an equity issue so that every student (and teacher) has access to incredible educational resources outside of the classroom.

“New” Blended Learning Definition

Heather Staker and Michael Horn have done an admirable job of further defining “blended learning” in their latest white paper from the Innosight Institute.  Creating a definition that illustrates something that is not clearly known by those not in the field is a challenging task.  As I have shared in various presentations, it is critical for us to define blended learning so that we know what it looks like so we can study it and we can teach others.  This new iteration of the definition is getting closer to the essence of blended learning. I have bolded and changed the color of the parts of the definition that changed from the definition a year ago (also listed below):

Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.  (Horn & Staker, 2012)

The previous definition was:

Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick and mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.  (Horn & Staker, 2010)

Their new report illustrates why the definition was changed: to “distinguish blended learning from informal online learning such as playing educational video games” and to “distinguish online learning from using only Internet tools.”  I think there are other reasons adding in the terms “formal education” and “online delivery of content and instruction” are important because it suggests that for blended learning to be effective, it needs someone to guide the education or put together the content or provide some type of instruction…and that “someone” is a teacher.  The type of blended learning that most would agree is effective is one that includes an effective teacher.  Yes, students can learn through computer assisted programs (such as Plato or Education 2020 or Apex Learning and others), but for these programs to be effective, there is almost always a teacher or other educator encouraging and motivating the student.  And, Yes, Horn and Staker explain that their purpose is to define blended learning and that there can be “good and bad” blended learning, just like there is good and bad face-to-face teaching.

Horn and Staker in this report explain that this definition is from the student perspective.  After I read that, I thought, “Ok, so what would the definition of blended teaching and learning be from the teacher perspective?”  Based on studying the variety of definitions of blended learning, reading the iNacol report about quality online course standards, and working to illustrate exactly what “blended learning” looks like (see illustration below), I have taken a stab at defining blended learning from the teacher perspective.

Blended Learning Continuum Illustrated








Here is what I believe the definition of “blended teaching and learning” is from the teacher perspective:

Blended Learning is a pedagogical approach facilitated by a teacher where students have some control over their learning; and the teacher seamlessly incorporates the use of online learning tools (e.g. discussion boards, online collaboration, blogs, etc.), technology tools (computers, digital white boards, cameras, etc.), and face-to-face instruction so that instruction and learning can be accessed at any time by the student through multiple electronic devices.  (Darrow, 2012)

Tomorrow…a discussion of the updated models of blended learning.

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