The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report

The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
The Blended & Virtual
Learning Frontier
Special Report
A Research Report from the center
for digital education and Converge

                                               Jeb Bush,
                                        Former Florida
                                           and founder
                                     of the
                                                  of the
                                           in Educationin
The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
From the Publisher

                       “What distinguishes a technological world is that the terms of nature are
                       obscured; one need not live quite in the present or the local.”
                       — Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

                       These are interesting times in the education field, and a bit hectic for education leaders at all
                       levels. The digital revolution has hit full force and a whole new education frontier is emerging.
                           It is important to remember, however, that the revolution in banking took under a decade. The ATM
                       greatly improved convenience for users and significantly lowered costs for banks. I can’t even remember
                       the last time I went to a field branch. Similarly, the peak of evolution in education with blended and online
                       learning has been the fundamental restructuring of the delivery mechanism. It will continue to evolve into the
                       future, like in other fields. Banking, for instance, is now personalized online in so many ways and there is even
                       micro-banking and micro-lending.
                           The Center for Digital Education sees that schools everywhere are grappling with the rather vast new
                       frontier of blended and virtual learning. As such, we wanted to start defining the territory. This Special
                       Report describes the various terms in blended and virtual learning, and gives education leaders more
                       than a few ideas of what their peers are already doing in this new frontier.

                                                             Leilani Cauthen
                                                             Publisher, Converge Special Reports
                                                             Vice President, Center for Digital Education

                                                             In the last special report we looked at how educational
                                                              institutions were addressing the digital revolution. We talked about
                                                              how digital textbooks and other forms of digital content are changing
                                                              the way learning is conducted. In this Special Report we take a close
                                                              look at one aspect of this digital outgrowth — the movement to online
                                                              and blended learning.
                                                                  This investigation was enlightening for us. We learned not only
                                                              that there were multiple sources for online and blended learning
                                                              curriculum and content, but that there are multiple delivery systems for
                       that content. Because there are so many options for educational institutions to investigate, campuses must
                       perform proper due diligence to ensure they maximize opportunities and achieve the best results for their
                       students and staff. But this is not a one-time investigation. As the education industry continues to evolve
                       new tools, courseware and content, educators and administrators (including schools of education) must
                       adopt methodologies, delivery systems and best practices to keep pace for optimum student performance
                       and institutional efficiency.
                           Online and blended learning are yet two more ways we can achieve the goal of personalized learning.
                       When curriculum is online, when it can be delivered 24/7, when it can be easily customized, when student
                       achievement can be instantly measured, when we can blend face-to-face and online benefits, we enable
                       greater personalization. We know this will not come easily. Instruction must be altered, curriculum must
                       be adapted, administrators must adjust practices and students must become more responsible for their
                       learning. Everyone in the system must adjust. But the effort will be worthwhile when we see the results.

                       John Halpin
                       Vice President, Strategic Programs
                       Center for Digital Education

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The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
contents                         2012 | issue 3

4 New Frontier, Big Impact:
The Promise of Virtual and
Blended Learning

6 Bringing Clarity to the Confusion

8 Every Revolution
Meets Resistance:
A Look at the Drivers and Roadblocks

14 The Support Ecosystem:
What’s Needed to Make it Work

20 The Enhanced, Evolving
Role of Educators

                                                            26 Effective Leadership         32 Best Practices
                                                            Goes a Long Way:                from the Field


                                                            Administrators Inspire Change
                                                            from the Top Down

                                                            28 Making Virtual and           34 What Will Become of
                                                            Blended Learning a Reality      Campuses in the Future?

                                                            36 Moving Forward

                                 28                         Toward a New Frontier           © 2012 e.Republic. All Rights Reserved
                                                                                            100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, CA 95630
                                                                                            916.932.1300 phone | 916.932.1470 fax

                                                                                                              converge | special report      3
The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report

A fourth-grade
student works on an
estimation lesson
on MIND Research
Institute’s ST Math
Software with his
class at Overton
Elementary School
in Chicago, Ill.

           New Frontier, Big Impact                                                              graduates had participated in the
                                                                                                 new online curriculum; according
                                                                                                 to St. Mary’s County Public Schools
            The Promise of Virtual and Blended Learning                                          Superintendent Mike Martirano,
                                                                                                 some of these students would not have

                     ental students at the University      At Evansville Vanderburgh School      graduated without the blended option. 3
                     of Maryland can skip class         Corporation (EVSC) Virtual Academy          Vignettes like these give a small
                     if they want, because the          in Indiana, a high school senior wants   picture of the big transformation
            professor’s lecture is recorded and         to boost her GPA, so she enrolls in an   occurring in education as a result of
            available online almost as soon as          online version of a course she already   blended and virtual learning, which
            she is finished, complete with the          took in class. She earns a higher        are becoming more common in U.S.
            slides she presented and notes she          grade, which her school allows her       schools at every level. These types of
            included. Students can rewind,              to replace. Not only does she improve    learning have created a new frontier,
            fast-forward and freeze-frame               her GPA, she hones her concentration     where the roles of instructors,
            her talk as well as zoom in on the          and study skills, leading to a higher    administrators, students and the entire
            slides. The convenience of having           SAT score and college acceptance.2       campus ecosystem are evolving. These
            the lectures captured and stored —             After just one year of blended        changes are leading to a rethinking
            along with a lecture library going          learning, the graduation rate            of the structure of educational
            back several years — has many               at Great Mills High School in            institutions, new funding models, new
            students listing this as a reason to        Maryland increased about 7 percent.      forms of curriculum and new, more
            pick UM’s program over others.1             Approximately 75 of the 2012             personalized approaches to pedagogy.

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The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
college students

                                                                                                            took an online
                                                                                                            course in fall 2010
                                                                                                            (up 560,000 from
                                                                                                            2009, representing
                                                                                                 million    a 10 percent
                                                                         The Growth                         growth rate).4

                                                                         of Blended and
                                                                         Virtual Learning

                                                                         At the
                                                                         K-12 level,

                                                                         students were           have virtual
                                                                         enrolled in             schools or
                                                                         distance education      online learning
                                          getty images/Chicago Tribune

                                                                         courses in the          initiatives.5
                                                                         2009-2010 school
                                                                         year, while

   As more students choose
online or hybrid models of learning,
challenges are rising as well. Too many
instructors remain untrained in the                                                           of high
                                                                                                                   continue, by
use of online pedagogy. Administrators

similarly lack training in the unique                                                         students
complexities of managing online                                                               have taken
courses, programs and institutions.                                                           an online
Public policy sometimes works                                                                 class on               there
against successful online learning,                                                           their own,          will be more
such as government seat-time                                                                  outside           full-time online
restrictions that limit reimbursement                                                         of the            post-secondary
to the hours a student sits in a                                                              classroom,         students than
classroom rather than what a student                                                          to learn           students who
learns. Entrenched bureaucracies,                                                             about a            take all their
regulations and attitudes all stand                                                           topic that           classes in
in the way of needed reform.                                                                  interested           a physical
   This Special Report examines the                                                           them.6               location.7
new blended and virtual learning
frontier, taking an in-depth look at
its challenges and its promise. n

                                                                                                            converge | special report   5
The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report

        Bringing Clarity to the Confusion
         There remains much confusion in the field of blended and virtual learning over what these terms
         actually mean. School officials will sometimes say their campuses are incorporating blended learn-
         ing, but what they mean is their classrooms use technology to enrich learning. A student may use the
         Internet for research, but this alone does not constitute blended learning. The following definition of
         blended learning is widely accepted and was developed by the Innosight Institute in 2012 with input
         from more than 100 education experts and 80 organizations.

       “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.” 8

         Innosight further breaks down blended learning        to study outside of class (a video recording of
         into four models:                                     the lecture, for example). The material normally
                                                               considered as homework — activities related
         1) Rotation:                                          to the content, plus discussion — is then done
         Students’ time is split between different             in class.
         modalities: sometimes in the classroom,
         sometimes in the lab. In class, students rotate       Hybrid learning is another term often used: Is
         on a scheduled basis between stations,                it different from blended? No, says Vicky Phillips,
         such as group projects, individual tutoring or        CEO of GetEducated, a consumer and research
         independent online learning.                          group focused on online learning.

         2) Flex:                                              Online learning, virtual learning and
         Students move on an individually customized,          distance learning are also terms that are
         fluid schedule among different learning modali-       often used interchangeably, yet they can carry
         ties, with teachers providing help as needed.         different meanings.
         Such models often employ differentiated staffing.
                                                               Distance learning is any type of learning
         3) Self-blend:                                        that takes place with the student and instructor
         Students attend traditional school but take one or    geographically distant from each other.
         more classes online.
                                                               Online learning is the most recent delivery
         4) Enriched virtual:                                  method used for distance learning instruction.
         Students learn at a physical school but teachers
         are brought in remotely, or divide time between       Virtual learning is any learning that occurs
         campus and home online learning; this model           where either the instructor or student are pres-
         began as full-time virtual schools developed          ent for an educational event in virtual rather
         blended programs to give students more face-to-       than physical form.9
         face time.
                                                               Mike Lawrence, executive director of
         Flipped classroom models are another form of          Computer-Using Educators, suggests “e-learn-
         blended learning where material that tradition-       ing strategies” as a more easily understood
         ally would have been covered in class, such as        and accepted term, covering both blended and
         an instructor’s lecture, is provided for students     online instruction. n

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The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
converge | special report
                            Getty Images/Diane Collins /Jordan Hollender

The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
Drivers &

Daphne Koller
is a co-founder
of Coursera, a
massive open
online course
(MOOC) that offers
free online courses
from a host of top

  8      converge | special report
The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
                        A Look at the Drivers and Roadblocks

                                 tudents in a Florida public school classroom work side by
                                 side at computers, but each child studies something different:
                                 Spanish, algebra, biology, English. A facilitator — not a certi-
                        fied teacher — manages the class, walking the room to maintain order
                        and make sure equipment functions properly.
                            Florida Virtual Learning Labs — offered to public schools as part
                        of Florida Virtual High School — are becoming popular because they
                        allow school districts to meet Florida’s strict class-size guidelines
                        without having to hire more teachers. They also help schools comply
                        with a state mandate that students attend an online course. In 2012,
                        273 online courses existed — a number set to double in 2013.
                            The School of One in New York is another ambitious blended
                        program. Middle-school walls were knocked down, creating a large
                        open space filled with centers that students move through in a
                        rotational model. At the end of each day, teachers run an algorithm
                        showing what each student has mastered, which determines the next
                        day’s assignment for that particular student.
                            At the University of Connecticut, a new graduate business class
FLICKR/TED Conference

                        is being held simultaneously at two campus locations, Hartford and
                        Stamford, using videoconferencing with an auto-tracking camera to
                        connect the instructor and students in one classroom with a teach-
                        ing assistant and students in another. The instructor uses a wireless
                        graphics tablet to make annotations on material displayed on the

                                                                                          converge | special report   9
The Blended & Virtual Learning Frontier Special Report
interactive whiteboard and to control       well-known); nonprofit, online-only          courseware movement. Students can
          his PowerPoint presentation. The            public schools (such as the Western          take part in discussion sessions, answer
          interactive whiteboard is visible at both   Governors University, formed in 1997         quizzes, receive grades and earn a cer-
          locations, observed in real time as well    as the result of a cooperative effort        tificate of completion, all at no charge.
          as recorded for students to view later.     among the governors of 19 states);               Udemy is offering another new
              These outposts on the frontier          nonprofit, online private schools; and       option for students to learn by
          show some of the chief characteristics      both private and public brick-and-           empowering experts around the world
          of e-learning today: it is personalized,    mortar schools, which offer either           to teach and share what they know
          flexible and convenient. It is also a       online-only or blended programs.             online. It is a community platform
          key element in the educational change           The newest wrinkle: MOOCs, or            where it is easy for anyone with an
          that’s urgently needed to restore           massive open online courses. Examples        expertise to build an online course by
          America to economic health.                 include Coursera, a company co-found-        using video, PowerPoint, PDFs, audio,
              “Most jobs today — 60 percent —         ed by Stanford professors Andrew Ng          zip files and live classes.11
          require post-secondary education, yet       and Daphne Koller to offer free online           Even when college courses aren’t
          we are turning out a workforce with only    classes in more than three dozen             fully online, many are likely to have some
          about 40 percent holding a post-sec-        subjects from a host of top universities,    kind of an online element, such as virtual
          ondary degree,” says Bob Wise, former       including Stanford, Princeton, the           office hours, downloadable content or
          governor of West Virginia and head of       University of Pennsylvania and others.       videotaped lectures, says GetEducated’s
          the Alliance for Excellent Education.10     The company was started after Ng’s           Vicky Phillips. “There isn’t any ‘either/
              Wise calls for a host of changes to     first class drew more than 100,000           or’ — it’s flexing together.”
          spur greater educational attainment         students.                                        One reason: students today — raised
          at the K-12 level, including the use of         Other MOOCs include Google Vice          with online technology — demand it.
          blended learning.                           President Sebastian Thrun’s Udac-                “This generation of students is all
              Within higher education, there has      ity, which he started after his free         about convenience,” says Phillips.
          also been an increase in online and         online class in artificial intelligence at   “If they don’t want to go to a class,
          blended options at a range of differ-       Stanford attracted 160,000 students.         why should they? If they don’t want
          ent types of institutions: for-profit,          With MOOCs, students are given           to wait until 3 p.m. for office hours,
          online-only schools (the University         more than just the free lectures that        why can’t the instructor have virtual
          of Phoenix being perhaps the most           have long been part of the open              office hours? It’s the whole mentality

10   converge | special report
of anytime/anywhere — it’s very much                                         • changes in pedagogy that value          Despite these and other drivers, a
                                          a part of our culture and especially this                                      student-centered, flexible, data-    variety of roadblocks and challenges
                                          generation.”                                                                   informed instruction, which pairs    remain on the road to broad implemen-
                                             Indeed, today’s mobile devices,                                             well with personalized digital       tation of blended and virtual learning.
                                          digital content (including instruc-                                            content available online; and
                                          tional games), availability of video                                         • Common Core implementation           Educator, Administrator and
                                          (conferencing, streaming, capture) and                                         (and the ability to run online as-   Community Acceptance
                                          access to WiFi have helped fuel the                                            sessments) must be accomplished          Prevailing attitudes among some
                                          movement to personalized, blended                                              in the next two years for the 45     educators, administrators and communi-
                                          and virtual learning.                                                          states that are adoptees (plus the   ties that online and blended learning are
                                             Other drivers include:                                                      District of Columbia); even states   not as rigorous as traditional learning are
                                          • the need to improve high school                                              that aren’t Common Core adoptees     slowing adoption. Less than one-third of
                                              graduation rates, which has led to                                         have upgraded standards, which       chief academic officers say their faculty
                                              the use of more credit-recovery pro-                                       means a national imperative to       accept the value and legitimacy of online
                                              grams, many of which are online;                                           change curriculum and upgrade        education, a percentage that has changed
                                          • demand by students for the freedom                                           teacher skills.                      little over the last eight years.13
getty images/Blend Images/Ariel Skelley

                                              to “self-blend” and take whichever
                                              type of course best suits their needs;
                                                                                       getty images/MACIEJ NOSKOWSKI

                                          • demand by state legislatures that
                                              students take at least one online
                                              course before they graduate (Florida
                                              and Idaho have this mandate);
                                          • budgetary pressures; as funding
                                              drops, districts look for more
                                              economical ways to provide services
                                              (online learning can be less expen-
                                              sive — Florida Virtual High School’s
                                              per-student costs in 2010-11 were
                                              $4,840, compared with $6,999
                                              statewide and $10,000 nationally);12
                                          • competition; at both higher educa-
                                              tion and K-12 levels, there is student
                                              demand for blended and/or online
                                              services; in some districts, K-12
                                              students have multiple choices for
                                              online learning (including charter
                                              and state schools), while colleges
                                              find themselves competing for
                                              enrollments with schools offering
                                              more flexible learning options;

                                          “We are incentivizing the
                                          wrong things. We need to
                                          put our money where our
                                          priorities are. If our priority
                                          is to keep kids in chairs while
                                          their parents are away, I’m
                                          pretty sure we don’t need to
                                          have people paid $90,000 a
                                          year to do that work.”
                                          — David Haglund, Principal,
                                          Riverside Virtual School, Calif.

                                                                                                                                                                                    converge | special report   11
Zoe Renfro, principal of the new        incentivizing the wrong things. We
                                                                 Bradley County Virtual School in           need to put our money where our
                                                                 Cleveland, Tenn., says winning             priorities are. If our priority is to keep
                                                                 administrative, school board and           kids in chairs while their parents are
                                                                 community support for their grades         away, I’m pretty sure we don’t need
                                                                 3-12 school was a challenge. “They         to have people paid $90,000 a year
                                                                 went to brick and mortar schools,”         to do that work. If we paid schools
                                                                 and weren’t convinced students could       based on their outcomes, maybe we
                                                                 get a quality education online, says       would see a shift in focus in the work
                                                                 Renfro. “It’s taken some time to show      and a subsequent improvement in
                                                                 them there are curriculum providers        learning. As my dad always warned
                                                                 out there who are writing and provid-      me, you get what you pay for.”
                                                                 ing a good, rigorous curriculum.”14           Riverside has introduced
                                                                                                            language in the California legis-
                                                                 Seat-Time Funding                          lature that would reimburse the
                                                                    Funding based on Carnegie               district based on demonstration
                                                                 seat-time reimburses school districts      of competency in online courses.
                                                                 for the amount of time students are        “Don’t pay us until our kids dem-
                                                                 physically present (typically 180 days     onstrate proficiency,” he says.17
                                                                 a year). Such rules were put in place in      The 15-year-old Florida Virtual
                                                                 the early 1900s as a reform measure        School already follows this prin-
                                                                 ensuring all American children had         ciple; it is reimbursed only after
                                                                 access to education. Today, though,        students master their courses.
                                                                 such rules are counterproductive.
                                                                    “The seat-time policies didn’t          Disparate Learning Systems;
                                                                 foresee online courses and learn-          Lack of Standardization
                                                                 ing,” says Susan Patrick, CEO of              Instructors using digital curriculum
                                                                 the International Association for          products from different vendors may
                                                                 K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).             find themselves faced with learning
                                                                 “They are clunky and limit what            several different interfaces — not some-
                                                                 a district can do in terms of on-          thing busy instructors want to take the
                                                                 line and blended learning.”15              time to do. Disparate learning systems
                                                                    In recent years, states have started    may also not offer interoperability
                                    FLICKR/Fort Sill Cannoneer

                                                                 moving away from seat-time policies.       with learning management systems.
Students enjoy some
                                                                 Thirty-six states have adopted policies    Middleware that allows for easier,
technology time at the                                           that allow for credit-for-performance      more cost-effective integration of
School Age Center
computer lab in Fort                                             rather than time spent physically in       content and platforms is one solution.
Sill, Okla.                                                      class. In 2009, New Hampshire did             Organizations such as the IMS
                                                                 away with seat-time policies entirely,     Group and the Association of
                                                                 requiring high schools to comply           Educational Publishers (AEP) are
                                                                 with a competency-based model.16           working to develop and foster the
                                                                    “Kids should be allowed to move on      use of common standards for digital
                                                                 when they’ve mastered the content,”        materials. This would allow digital
                                                                 says David Haglund, principal of Riv-      content from publishers, third-party
                                                                 erside Virtual School in California. “If   providers and others to be more
                                                                 we’re going to focus on learning, we’re    easily integrated into a school or
                                                                 going to have to let go of arbitrary       college’s learning environment,
                                                                 constrictions relating to time and         making these products more likely
                                                                 place. From my perspective, the only       to be adopted by instructors. The
                                                                 way to do that is to engage learning       AEP, for example, supports the
                                                                 24/7 and focus on competency.”             Learning Resource Metadata
                                                                    Haglund says it makes more sense        Initiative, which would create a
                                                                 for schools to be paid based on student    standard framework for the online
                                                                 outcomes, not seat time. “We are           tagging of educational content.18

 12     converge | special report
Another issue with digital content                                          Despite these challenges, research continues to show that blended
at both the K-12 and higher education                                          and virtual learning are equal to or better than face-to-face learning.
levels has been a tendency for institu-
tions to adopt standardized software                                           3 Eighth-grade algebra students in a blended learning class outperformed
solutions that may not be adaptable or                                           counterparts in a traditional classroom setting, according to a recent study
customizable for various disciplines                                             by researchers from the American Institutes for Research and Education
— leading educators to reject using                                              Development Center. The study compared 218 students who studied online
these products and instead build their                                           at school with 222 students who received classroom instruction. The online
own. In recognition of this problem,                                             students were proctored by a math teacher and also had an online math
future learning content models may                                               instructor assigned to them. At the end of an academic year, the online
shift to a less structured, hierarchical                                         students scored slightly higher than the control group and were twice as
approach in favor of more organic                                                likely to take advanced math classes.21
dissemination and collaboration.
   Additional challenges when                                                  3 Nonprofit researcher Ithaka recently studied blended learning, comparing
moving to blended and virtual                                                    students at six public universities to test efficacy. The students were divided
environments include:                                                            into two groups, with one taking a course in hybrid fashion and the other
• A lack of formal training                                                      taking a traditional course. Result: The hybrid group got the same scores as
    or certification in technol-                                                 traditional learners, but took less time to complete their courses.22
    ogy integration in most teacher
    preparatory programs. Many                                                 3 In a 2009 meta-analysis of online and blended learning, the U.S. Department of
    new teachers arrive in classrooms                                            Education found these types of learning were just as effective as face-to-face
    not knowing how to use online                                                learning, with blended learning offering the best results.23
    and blended learning technolo-
    gies and must learn on the job.
• Intellectual property concerns.
    Which material found online
    (and how much of it) can be used
    legally by instructors? While fair
    use and TEACH Act provisions
    provide guidance, there still
    remains gray areas for instruc-
    tors planning lessons, especially
    those that include digital content
    excerpts.19 Another issue: Do
    instructors maintain any rights to
    their lesson materials, videocasts
    or audiocasts? University policies
    can differ quite significantly. 20
• A potential confusing new
    dynamic for administrators,
    teachers and students. Shifting to
    a blended learning environment
    can be especially tricky because
    the existing on-site structure
    is still largely maintained, yet
    with new roles for teachers,
                                           flickr/August Jennewein/courtesy UMSL

    administrators and students.
    Proper training and understand-
    ing of the new learning dynamic
    is essential to the transition.
• Network access and security
    concerns. These must be addressed
    to support the shift to vastly
    increased student access. n

                                                                                                                                                 converge | special report   13
The Support

All aspects of campuses
need to evolve to support
the transition to blended
and virtual learning. School
district libraries are now
hosting Digital Bookmo-
biles (an alternative to the
traditional bookmobile)
to engage students with
e-books, audiobooks,
music and video.

14     converge | special report
The Support
 What’s Needed
 to Make it Work
                                 Moving into the blended
                                 and virtual learning
                                 frontier requires a strong
                                 support system that
                                 includes both human and
                                 technology resources,
                                 and updated policies and
                                 strategies. This support
                                 ecosystem expands
                                 outside of the traditional
                                 classroom and reaches
                                 across all departments
                                 and areas of a campus.

                                 converge | special report    15
For some additional resources about instructional design
                                                                                              degree and certificate programs, visit the following sites:

                                                                          can tap the teachers                              at supporting the technical educational
Teachers at the virtual                                                   remotely for a certain                            needs to facilitate these new learning
public school, Connections
Academy, interact with                                                    number of hours per                               opportunities. Also, a variety of degree
students on the phone,                                                    week (including different                         and certificate programs — many
over the Web, and at
in-person field trips and                                                 teachers from different                           online — have surfaced in the last
social activities.
                                                                          schools, depending on                             decade in the field of instructional
                                                                          language specialty), with                         design. Districts and colleges also may
              The Learning Staff                          a facilitator or paraprofessional on                              use the services of online curriculum
                  To transition to blended and            hand to supervise and prevent prob-                               developers, subject matter experts,
              virtual learning, a host of support staff   lems, thus allowing more students                                 content writers and others.
              is needed, both inside and outside          to receive varied language instruc-
              the classroom, covering everything          tion while still containing costs.                                Collaborative Technologies
              from aides and IT workers to special            Librarians, too, have a changing                                 Beyond personnel, another key to
              education paraprofessionals and             role: Today’s librarians, whether in                              making e-learning initiatives suc-
              counselors to library specialists. Often,   higher education or K-12, “have to be                             cessful is collaborative technology.
              these roles are changing and evolving       much more IT-sophisticated,” and                                  Having a flexible, user-friendly LMS
              with the move to online learning.           have become digital curators and                                  can help instructors and students
                  When students are studying online       archivists, says Vicky Phillips, CEO of                           maintain the communication needed
              coursework in classrooms or computer        GetEducated. “Still there are very few                            for successful online learning.
              labs, it may make sense for lesser-         library science programs even online                                 Another collaborative tool that is
              trained (and paid) paraprofessionals,       that have an emphasis on digital.”24                              increasingly critical: video capture,
              facilitators or others to be on hand            The role of the IT professional in                            where educators record lectures,
              for support, leaving certified educa-       education is also shifting, as more                               lessons and other material for students
              tors for higher-level interactions.         maintenance and traditional IT duties                             to watch later, either as a download or
                  Proctors assigned to watch students     are being outsourced to cloud-based                               streamed material.
              taking tests may be able to do this         services. For some, this may mean a                                  Lecture capture is growing rapidly in
              virtually, allowing students to take        move to instructional development and                             higher education. More than two-thirds
              tests from home rather than having          design. Master teachers with tech skills                          of online courses at the community
              to travel to an in-person, proctored        also may move into these positions.                               college level use some type of online col-
              test site. Services exist that let proc-        “The trend I see is for technol-                              laboration tools, according to the Center
              tors monitor students through their         ogy departments to become less of                                 for Digital Education’s 2011 Com-
              computers’ webcams. The proctors            a technical department and more of                                munity Colleges Survey.26 Additionally,
              also monitor the students’ comput-          an instructional department,” says                                in another recent university study,
              ers to make sure no unauthorized            Aaron Slutsky, director of technology                             recorded lectures and other content
              programs are being accessed. Students       for McDowell County Public Schools                                were found to increase student compre-
              can’t take screenshots or look up           in North Carolina. “I would like to                               hension and test prep, and helped some
              answers if forbidden by examiners.          grow our instructional side and have                              students score more highly on tests.27
                  In foreign language classes, a          a group of facilitators who are in the                               At North Arkansas College, 90
              district might employ a limited             classroom helping teachers integrate                              courses are recording lectures and 84
              number of teachers certified in specific    the technology into the curriculum.”25                            percent of students say they’d like to see
              languages, being unable to afford to            Although this trend is not                                    more use of this technology in future
              have this teaching repertoire in every      widespread as of yet, districts are                               courses.28 Pace University in New York
              school every day. But a language lab        acknowledging the need to get better                              views lecture capture as a way to serve

16    converge | special report
Students interact
                                        with each other and
                                        digital content at the
                                        Colorado Springs
                                        School District 11
                                        Internet Cafe.

students located in other countries
                                                Derek Swanson
(and time zones). “We know that
recorded lectures are an important part
of distance learning courses that can
attract students from around the world,
who will add to the rich cultural experi-                          In one such configuration, students       of nursing students working with medi-
ence of the university,” says Shikha                            call into a bridge mechanism that            cal simulation mannequins.
Bajracharya, director of user services.29                       allows the professor to see their faces          Some classrooms of the future
    University of Maryland College of                           in a Hollywood Squares-like display,         can cost $100,000-plus and be fully
Dentistry students report on end-of-                            with each student’s face in a small box      tricked out with video and audio tools
year surveys that they find recorded                            on the screen. The instructor controls       to capture the classroom experience. A
lectures to be extremely valuable, says                         what is displayed; students are usu-         more typical classroom capture setting
James Craig, educational consultant for                         ally shown only during discussions           with video costs $15,000 to $30,000,
the school. “Students will say if it wasn’t                     or question-and-answer periods.              including projection technology, controls
for lecture capture, they wouldn’t                                 These specialty rooms are outfit-         for lights and audio, and fixed cameras.
have graduated,” says Craig. “Many                              ted with multiple cameras (including         Some universities are tiering their video
students select us because of that.”30                          ones that can sense and respond to           capture classrooms, so that some rooms
    Within K-12 schools, video cap-                             whomever is speaking) and special            have higher-level capture tools than
ture is still a small segment, though                           sound and lighting equipment. If rooms       others, with courses scheduled accord-
growing. The primary use in K-12                                aren’t available, cart-based systems         ingly. Universities may fully outfit 10
is professional training. Sometimes                             can be wheeled from classroom to             percent of their rooms, and then work
rural schools will use it to offer AP                           classroom. Desktop capture is an-            in coming years to add equipment to
courses they can’t provide on location,                         other alternative — using a classroom        others as funds become available.
rather than having students travel.                             computer to do the recording.                    Some believe for-profit institutions
    Videoconferencing is another                                   Instructors now have the ability          can afford to adopt these technologies
rising element. It is becoming more                             to annotate over presentations, such         faster than public institutions, where
affordable, allowing teachers to                                as on interactive whiteboards; these         budgets are tight. Yet this technology
connect students with other students,                           annotations can be captured as part of       can be a cost-saver for institutions:
experts and outside-the-classroom                               the lecture so students don’t see just the   rather than build or expand classroom
virtual field trips. Students can col-                          instructor’s face, but also the material     facilities and large lecture halls,
laborate with another classroom                                 being presented and annotated. The           they can offer classes online (maybe
within their district, in another state or                      whiteboarded material can be saved           with a smaller number of students
another country. They can use mobile                            as a PDF file or other format and made       showing up for in-person lectures).
devices to join lecture discussions                             available online or via email after class.
that they can’t attend in person.                               Teachers can present other content,          Digital Learning Content that is
    Lecture capture and videocon-                               websites and so forth. Document camer-       Interactive, Adaptive and Guided
ferencing work most smoothly when                               as can show 3D objects on these screens.        Digital content today is not just
there are dedicated room systems,                                  Medical simulation capture can in-        a repurposed textbook, but rather
letting teachers focus on teaching                              volve three or four different angles cap-    material that can include video and
rather than lights and cameras. Such                            tured simultaneously, as at a nursing lab    audio elements, games, puzzles,
room systems might have touch-                                  at Douglas College in British Columbia.      quizzes and tests. Schools and colleges
panel control systems in the instructor’s                       The college was experiencing a shortage      can pick from prepackaged courses,
podium to view students connecting                              of nurses and nursing instructors, so        individual learning objects that are
on mobile devices or computers.                                 recorded several angles simultaneously       available a la carte and open source

                                                                                                                                  converge | special report   17
students. Students can join   Alabama is also providing Common
                                                                           Web-based social com-         Core materials through its online
                                                                           munities to interact with     Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX).34
                                                                           other students, including
                                                                           those who are natives         Updated Procurement Policies
                                                                           in the language they are          Procurement policies for online
                                                                           studying. Lessons could       digital materials are often overly compli-
                                                                           include activities such as    cated and inflexible. “Up until 15 years
                                                                           sending a text message        ago, we focused on only one type of
                                                                           in a foreign language or      content delivery: textbooks,” says Wise.
                                                                           performing a mock job         “But buying a textbook with a lifespan
                                                                           interview in another          of four to six years versus buying digital
                                                                           language (recorded for        content that is updated daily is a far
                                                                           the teacher to see).          different situation. Those procure-
                                                                               Online curriculum         ment rules need to be revisited and in

The University of Alberta                                                  increasingly is mirroring     many cases completely changed.”35
in Canada accommodated
the IP address needs of
                                                                           what’s being taught in            Using purchase orders to buy
38,000 students and 14,000                                                 the brick-and-mortar          content pieces, such as online text-
faculty and staff by using an
automated management                                                       classroom. “We’re shifting    books, remains an area of difficulty
software solution.
                                                                           away from a high level        for campuses. Administrators might
                                                                           of difference,” says Greg     see deals on consumer sites, such as
                (free) content, or they can create their    Ottinger, director of online learning for, and want to simply buy
                own content. Some learning courses          the San Diego County Office of Educa-        items in bulk this way, but districts
                are customizable, allowing instruc-         tion.32 The classroom and home learning      work with purchase orders and can’t
                tors to rearrange units, add their own      experiences are becoming more similar        buy downloads. In addition, state
                projects or even film themselves on Web     today, letting students move back and        contract vehicles that would speed up
                cameras to incorporate into lessons.        forth between them (such as during an        the purchasing process are not readily
                With a few clicks, teachers can include     illness). The remote student can partici-    available in every state for all potential
                video of themselves, including news         pate and have the same opportunities at      digital curriculum providers. It is also
                on the fly in a daily lesson or activity.   home with the same learning tools and        more common for state departments
                   “Technology means teachers don’t         resources as those in the classroom.         of education to allow digital content
                have to keep repeating the same lecture         School districts in most states will     add-ons to existing textbook contracts,
                but can find content materials and          want digital content to be Common            rather than allowing the purchase of a
                authorities across the globe that will      Core compliant. As these standards are       full digital curriculum replacement.
                best move their students forward,” says     being implemented, it is key for K-12            Colleges shifting from print to digital
                former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise.31       teachers to have material available          textbooks can take months to negotiate
                   Instructional programs can be            that has been aligned to the standards       the change with publishers and prepare
                used in or outside the classroom, with      they need to teach. Or, for the handful      for e-books that students can read on
                students working on personalized            of states that have not adopted CCSS,        mobile devices. Even once purchased,
                lessons, at their own pace. Continu-        it is important for teachers to have         publishers can impose restrictions —
                ous formative assessment built into         state standards-compliant material.          such as limiting content access to one
                content adjusts the material instantly          States getting ready for Common          device per student or restricting the
                to a student’s performance.                 Core implementation and assessment           number of pages a student can print.
                   With foreign language content,           can look to Michigan and South                   One new initiative brings together
                studio coaches can work online with         Dakota for an example of how to use          28 schools in a joint effort to receive
                students to practice conversations          resources to help schools prepare. The       deeply discounted e-textbooks, view-
                with native speakers (students can see      two states are paying teachers to locate     able via Internet2’s NET+ cloud-based
                them via video presence). Students can      open access, Common Core-aligned             collaborative purchasing system.
                record video and/or audio of themselves     resources, such as digital learning          The effort should help students save
                practicing lessons for a teacher to hear    objects, and post them to Michigan’s         money (the average student spends
                and assess; they can also see a graphic     open source digital resource portal,         about $1,000 per year on books).36
                display of their audio waves and match      MORE (Michigan Online Resources                  Some states (including Florida,
                this pattern to that produced by a native   for Educators). Michigan is welcom-          West Virginia, Utah and Idaho) are
                speaker. Teachers can record replies to     ing other states to join the effort.33       unbundling content, enabling schools

18     converge | special report
to obtain content from a variety of         to more than a third of devices being            Achieve K12 is a four-year-old, fully
sources. Content can be broken down         mobile, says Patches Hill, technology         online K-12 school in Colorado Springs,
into individual parts and purchased         systems manager. The district recently        Colo., serving about 200 students (and
a la carte, so that digital learning        installed a mobile device management          growing: the prior year’s enrollment
objects, chapters and other bits of         solution to help push configurations          was 60). Students take courses online
material can be purchased separately.       and control settings while improving          but can come to school for tutoring
                                            security. “We will now be able to             sessions with their teachers. Achieve
Tailored IT Security and Solutions          make a change on devices without              K12 also offers on-site art and physical
    The virtual and blended learning        students and teachers bringing them           education programs.
frontier has a variety of security needs.   into a central location,” says Hill.37           About 30 of the students in the most
Integrity of online assignments and            Multiple devices coming onto net-          recent year were elementary students
tests is one concern. Districts and         works mean IP address management              from grades 2 through 5, says Assistant
colleges need to prevent cheating           is needed. The University of Alberta          Superintendent Robert Curran. “We
and take steps to ensure, as much as        in Edmonton, Canada, needed to                see a lot of parents who would gener-
they are able, that the online student      accommodate IP address needs                  ally home school their children, but
turning in the homework or taking the       of more than 38,000 students and              they decide on this because we provide
test is the student receiving credit.       14,000 faculty and staff. A software          the curriculum. They have the ability
    One strategy is requiring “two-factor   solution allowed the university to            to be home with the student.”
authentication” or “multi-factor iden-      reduce the complexity of manag-                  Achieve K12 competes with “a ton
tification” — such as having university     ing IP addresses across multiple              of online providers within the state,”
credentials and a PIN to log in. Virtual    platforms. Putting in automated               says Curran, plus programs at neigh-
proctors are another solution, mak-         management allowed the university             boring school districts and a state
ing use of cameras in classrooms to         to reduce administrative costs, while         online program. “It’s gotten to be a
watch for cheating during tests.            enhancing reliability, manage-                very competitive environment.”40 n
    FERPA (the Family Educational           ability, scalability and security. 38
Rights and Privacy Act) is another
concern: to receive funding, administra-    New Branding and                              Best Practices for Online
tors must ensure confidentiality and        Marketing Strategies                          Pedagogy Services
integrity of information. Administrators       Branding is important for recruitment,     3 Build a community (example: have
need to make sure the right person has      especially in a crowded, competitive field.     students embed photos and videos of
the right level of access and that Web      How do campuses set themselves apart?           themselves, their hobbies and interests)
servers are secure, so data is protected.      More students are starting to look at      3 Use appropriate formative and summative
Managing back-end infrastructure            return on investment for their education        assessments
is also important. Many institutions        dollars. Will an educational institution      3 Foster collaboration
are now using hosted applications           provide them with the 21st-century            3 Instill the “4 Cs” of 21st-Century learning
but with access control to ensure           skills they will need in the marketplace        (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration,
confidential information isn’t leaked.      (which could include video capture/             communication)
    On the other hand, having to            conferencing as well as a general envi-       3 Remember that tech tools are subordinate
re-authenticate repeatedly during the       ronment of technological innovation)?           to educational objectives: map out first
course of a school day is frustrating          Ivy League schools are jumping               what standards you want to achieve, then
for students, faculty and staff. An         into the online world. Yale, Harvard,           find the tool to help students get there
instructor might need to know multiple      Stanford and Columbia all have begun
passwords and usernames in order to         offering online courses for credit in
sign in for various classes, databases,     recent years. The $25-million funded
vendor sites, student accounts and so       Minerva Project aims to begin offering
on. Single sign-on is preferred, though     an Ivy-League level education in a fully
not always possible. Still, programs and    online mode, cutting costs to about
services exist to provide authentication    $20,000 per year, starting in 2014. 39
and password management assistance.            Marketing is relevant not only
    Additionally, mobile devices can        in higher education but also in K-12
represent a challenge for institutional     education, where parents are being
networks. In the past two years, Indian     asked to decide between public and
River School District in Delaware has       private schools or between charter
gone from almost no mobile devices          and traditional schools.

                                                                                                               converge | special report     19
ROle of educators

     Evolving Role
     of Educators

                   ducators are key to successful
                   learning, whether online or not.
                   Yet it’s not always easy for them
          to transition from one field to the next,
          or to juggle the demands of a blended
          classroom, especially since many are
          not trained in online skillsets.
              Former Gov. Bob Wise says the shift
          to  a blended, technology-infused envi-
          ronment is good for educators. “I think
          it’s a positive shift and it enhances the
          role of the educator; it doesn’t diminish
          it,” he says. Beyond being a guide on
          the side, today’s instructors are more
          like educational designers, he says,
          using technology tools that allow them
          to work on an individual basis with
          students, knowing their strengths and
          weaknesses, and helping design their
          most successful learning path.
              Parents’ biggest concern about their
          children using technology in school,
          says Wise, is that it will depersonalize
          the process. Yet, he argues, despite
          constrained budgets, “layoffs for
          laptops” and political rhetoric that
          negatively portrays the profession,
          “The educator is still the most critical
          element in school. The educator has
          a much greater ability to bring about
          successful outcomes.”41

20   converge | special report

converge | special report   21
Online learning systems can do         looking at a student and realizing ‘this                       encouragement and empowerment.
          much to help students learn, but they     student hasn’t had breakfast in three                          Even more importantly, technology
          can’t replace the human connection        consecutive days; this is a problem.’”42                       allows them to get to know their
          students make with instructors, nor          Teachers may worry that they are                            students on a much deeper level;
          the influence they have, especially in    going to be replaced by technology.                            they’re not trying to teach to a large
          a blended model where there remains       When they see such programs in action                          class, all learning the same subject at
          some element of face-to-face contact.     and discover their continuing role, such                       the same time.
             “I spent 10 years teaching in an       fears may ease. They also may appreci-                             Many learning programs provide
          inner-city school,” says Greg Ottinger,   ate the support technology can provide                         student data through a learning
          director of online learning for the San   them in helping plan individualized                            management system, such as forma-
          Diego County Office of Education.         lessons and track student analytics.                           tive assessments and other analytics.
          “There is a huge difference between          In a blended or virtual system,                             New frontier teachers need to be able
          a curriculum saying ‘click here and       teachers are still teaching; they                              to interpret this data in order to best
          here and do it again’ versus a teacher    are still providing support,                                   provide differentiated instruction.

          The Roles of Educators in Online and Blended Learning Environments
          The roles of educators are constantly evolving, especially when it comes to blended and virtual learning. These
          images represent four of the common roles found in blended and virtual learning environments. The ideal blended
          and virtual educator would most likely incorporate aspects from all four roles.

          Supervising self-guided instruction                                                Lecturing with the support of technology
          In blended learning environments it is common                                      Although increasingly less common in blended and
          for students to self-guide themselves through the                                  online learning environments, educators are still required
          curriculum. In this case, lesser-trained (but still                                in certain situations to feed information to students —
          paid) paraprofessionals or facilitators can supervise                              similar to a lecture in a traditional classroom structure.
          certain classes to make sure students stay on task.                                Online and blended educators, however, have the
                                                                                             advantage of using technology to supplement lectures.

22   converge | special report
Differences Between Online Teaching            students need reminders to log in and                           “The educator is
                        in K-12 and Higher Education                   to do assignments. “In college, the at-
                           As Metropolitan Nashville Public            titude is that the students are in college
                                                                                                                                       still the most critical
                        Schools began adding virtual and blended       so they should know how to do this by                           element in school.
                        learning last year, administrators initially   now. In K-12, that can’t be the case. You                       The educator has a
                        chose part-time online college instruc-        really have to pull them along, encour-                         much greater ability
                        tors as teachers — but realized there are      age them, and help them adapt to this                           to bring about
                        differences between how courses are            environment.”43
                        taught online in college and in K-12.             While online educators at colleges
                                                                                                                                       successful outcomes.”
                           “What they are required to do at the        and universities may expect indepen-                            — Bob Wise, Former Governor of West
                        K-12 level is significantly different from     dence from their students, they still                           Virginia and Head of the Alliance
                        what they do at college,” says Kecia Ray,      need to keep lines of communication                             for Excellent Education
                        executive director of learning technology.     open and be responsive for online
                        Courses are paced differently, while           learning to be effective.

                                                                                                                                                                                      FLICKR/Karen Blumberg


                        Making real-world connections                                                             teaching in a purely virtual environment
                        A highly trained online and blended learning                                              In a purely virtual/online learning environment, students
                        educator achieves a proper balance of teaching                                            drive their own learning and advancement through the
                        students and guiding students in their own                                                curriculum, while educators are available via online chat
                        learning. They also make real-world connections                                           or video presence to answer questions and intervene
                        with their lessons, with the aid of technology.                                           when necessary.

                                                                                                                                                          converge | special report   23
Key Instructor Traits for Blended and Virtual Teaching
          Successful online teachers need to be able to:
          •	Use student-centered instructional strategies to encourage active
            learning and interaction
          •	Identify tech tools and strategies to move project-based learning
            into the online environment
          •	Collaborate with colleagues through the use of Web-based tools
          •	Use asynchronous discussion tools and social media tools
          •	Understand accessibility; know the relevant laws and regulations
            related to Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
          •	Know how to develop and deliver assessments, projects and
            assignments that meet standards-based learning goals
          •	Understand the changing role of the online teacher to online coach

          Courtesy of Greg Ottinger, Director of Online Learning, San Diego County Office of Education

     collected data                      development to help teachers become
          from about 1,000 online college                         acclimated to the product and create
          students to find leading causes for                     their own tasks or lessons within the
          dissatisfaction with their schools. The                 framework of the software.
          chief complaint, says GetEducated CEO                       Professional learning communi-
          Vicky Phillips, is related to inadequate                ties also exist online, supported by
          instructor interaction.                                 learning software providers, educa-
              “The number one complaint by far                    tion associations and educational
          is: ‘Where is my professor?’” she says.                 institutions. These allow teachers
          “They’ll say, ‘I could have learned as                  to compare notes on online teaching
          much by buying a book.’ They feel they                  practices and can be a source of ongo-
          are not getting any mentoring, guidance                 ing coaching, mentoring and support.
          or feedback.”44                                             A new national program offering
                                                                  certification for e-learning teachers
          Professional Development:                               is Leading Edge Certification, run
          Training Needed in Online                               by a nonprofit alliance of educators,
          Teaching Skills                                         universities and educational agencies.
             “Teachers are not often trained                      Leading Edge began certifying online
          in online and/or blended instruction,”                  and blended learning teachers in 2011
          says Susan Patrick, iNACOL CEO.                         and administrators in 2012.
          “In the 21st-century, there’s a huge                        “The vast majority of the teaching
          need for teachers to be coming out of                   force out there and administrators       However, implementing lecture
          teacher prep programs with a wider                      as well have limited experience in an    capture is not without its difficul-
          range of skills.”45                                     online and blended environment,”         ties. When the system was first put
             K-12 teachers are not the only ones                  says Mike Lawrence, Leading Edge         into practice, some faculty members
          lacking training in online teaching.                    founder. “I see a massive chasm in the   were uncomfortable with the idea
          Only about half of 183 two- and                         skillset of teaching online.”47          of attendance not being mandatory.
          four-year colleges had formal training                      One aspect of online teaching that   Faculty and students have been able
          in place for faculty to teach online, ac-               instructors need to prepare for is the   to compromise on the issue, and some
          cording to the 2010 Managing Online                     increased time-shifting by students      classes at the school have mandatory
          Education survey by WCET and the                        of their lectures. At the University     attendance, while others do not.48
          Campus Computing Project.46                             of Maryland College of Dentistry, all
             One way to gain training in online                   lectures are recorded; some classes      Transitioning to Online
          skills is from content providers,                       give students the option to attend          Julie Young, CEO of Florida Virtual
          which typically provide professional                    in-person, remotely or not at all.       School (FLVS), says full-time teachers

24   converge | special report
should spend a day in a kindergarten         traits in an online environment, it’s not      “Full-time teachers
or first-grade classroom as part of an       always easy.”49                                should spend a day in a
orientation to blended learning, because         Other teachers may struggle in a           kindergarten or first-grade
they can get an appreciation for what it’s   traditional environment, but find it           classroom as part of an
like to have multiple students pursuing      easier to teach and excel online because       orientation to blended
multiple paths simultaneously.               everything is not done in real time;           learning, because they
    “You could have a phenomenal             teachers have time to plan for their           can get an appreciation
classroom teacher who comes to               next student interactions.                     for what it’s like to
Florida Virtual School and is miser-             Mentors can be helpful for teachers        have multiple students
able,” says Young. “They may be              new to online and blended learning. At         pursuing multiple paths
phenomenal because they are great            FLVS, “star teachers” are paired with new      simultaneously.”
entertainers and very engaging in            teachers to “shepherd them through their
class, but when you come to any virtual      first year,” says Young. Mentors are avail-    — Julie Young, CEO,
school and see how to have these same        able 7 a.m. to midnight for teacher calls. n   Florida Virtual School

                                                                                                                     converge | special report   25
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