Teach 40+ Students Online in K-12 and Save Money on Teachers! #txedbudget #moodle #onlinelearning #edchat

Source: Edutopia

Online learning...the disruptive innovation that's shaking up schools. There are already plenty of blended online/F2F courses that are working well and impacting student achievement. Yet, in the midst of budget cuts, are we sure that this is the approach we want to take? 

For computer-based learning to bring about a disruptive transformation, it must be implemented where the alternative is no class at all.
There are many areas of nonconsumption within schools where this method is already taking place. For example, online learning is gaining hold in the advanced courses that many schools are unable to offer, in small, rural, and urban schools that are unable to offer breadth, in remedial courses for students who must retake courses in order to graduate, with homeschooled students and those who can't keep up with the regular schedule of school, and for those who need tutoring. Online enrollments are up from 45,000 in 2000 to 1 million today, as organizations like Florida Virtual School and Apex Learning lead the way.
Although computer-based learning is in its infancy, classes that follow this approach possess certain technological and economic advantages over the traditional school model that should allow them to grow and improve rapidly. Not only does computer-based learning provide accessibility for students who otherwise would not be able to take the course, but it also enables one to scale quality with far greater ease. And as it scales, its economic costs should fall. (Source: Clayton M. Christensen, Edutopia article)

Earlier this week, a colleague emailed me this question:
With the possibility of funding being cut for the Texas Virtual School Network, do you have any ideas or suggestions on how school districts would look to fund online courses next year?
According to a presentation by TxVSN.org staff at TASA MidWinter's Conference, the Texas Virtual School Network is alive and kicking. It was, remarked another administrator, one of the few presentations at TASA Midwinter's Conference that wasn't "negative." As you may recall, the "virtual school network" was marked for death, along with the State Technology Allotment, which would plunge educational technologists into the abyss of unemployment.

My brief response to my colleague went something like this:
You  need to follow XYZ ISD's model...they dedicated teachers to facilitate online courses they had purchased from a 3rd party provider. The District has 10 teachers committed to this.
This raised some additional questions:
  1. How much do you pay online course teachers/facilitators?
  2. How much do you pay someone to develop an online course?
  3. How can we build courses so that they will be independent of a particular course management system?
In regards to question #1, I'm going to pass on that one. I'm curious myself what YOU are doing in your school district. For question #2, I recall that I contracted with staff at a rate of $1000 per course. I know that PBS Teacherline pays a lot more (and charges a lot more for their courses). Other places charge less.

As to Question #3, I'm leaning towards building courses in a wiki with a simple outline form. Of course, building the course is the tough part...especially when you're the subject matter expert. There really needs to be the opportunity for synergy between course developers.

A part of the issue is, can we teach large classes online? The answer is a resounding YES. But are our children ready to make the transition? 

Consider this blog entry on Teaching Extra-Large Classes and the Role of Technology:
Rather than looking at the shift from a smaller class to a supersized class as a hardship, I see it as a challenge: How do I continue to engage students on a dialogic and experiential plane when institutional momentum seems to curtail all but the most traditional forms of pedagogy?
Wow, what a powerful question. Simply put, how can I be innovative when the "system" fights against me?

That's the kind of question we all struggle with at some point. Often, the answer is left for another day and action carries the day...or not. Is working with larger class sizes online to save money, innovative? And what will the "system" do to fight back?

Today, I had the chance to overhear a decision made regarding Facebook Pages and its use by schools. Schools obviously wanted to use Facebook because it enabled them to reach a wider audience, while administration questioned the wisdom of this because it opened up the school district to legal liability.

Lisa Nielsen (TechLearning Blog) encourages us, as educators, to encourage, NOT discourage educators from “friending” students not just on Facebook, but on playgrounds, in classrooms, and in the community. No matter whether you're using a course management system (e.g. Moodle) or one of the many tools available, it's clear that learning to interact skillfully with children--building relationships while being transparent and above reproach--is going to be critical.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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