5 must-haves for online assessments

‘Good’ online assessments could bring much-needed credibility to online learning

online-assessments-schoolsAs K-12 schools across the country begin to implement online learning, issues of cheating and lack of credibility are some of the main reasons why skeptics hesitate in supporting online learning—especially MOOCs.

The answer to decreasing cheating, as well as giving more credibility to many less traditional forms of online learning, is in good assessments, say supporters.

“Assessments are the lynchpins of [online learning],” said David Smetters, CEO of Respondus, a Windows exam creation tool. “If you go to a [class], it’s certainly possible to learn things. But when you actually take the assessments designed for it, you can demonstrate mastery of the content. An instructor then feels comfortable providing a grade…or some type of badge.”…Read More

8 key recommendations for Common Core online assessments

New toolkit for school districts offers crucial guidance on how to implement Common Core online assessments

online-assessments-common core Common Core online assessments are scheduled to begin in districts across the country in the spring of 2014 through 2015. However, many districts still struggle to implement these online assessments, thanks to inadequate bandwidth and lack of technology infrastructure. National consortia and multiple school districts have offered eight key recommendations to help districts in their implementation efforts.

“Online assessments are important for the future, regardless of participation in Common Core States Standards,” said Tom Ryan, CEO of eLearn Institute, Inc. “These assessments are substantially different from other current online assessments because of significant writing, simulations and higher-order thinking skills, and the requirement of new infrastructure and human capacity.”

The comprehensive toolkit, “Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready,” was developed by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Education Networks of America (ENA), and the eLearn Institute as part of overall efforts to ensure all districts can make the transition to online assessments smoothly.…Read More

This learning style is creating a new digital divide in the U.S.

Blended, online learning is giving only students in some states the advantage they need

learning-online-divideEducation technology can enable achievement for students with a variety of learning styles. But it also creates a problem: For students who don’t have access to these forms of technology-enabled learning—bring-your-own-device, for instance—the digital divide grows. Now, as many states across the country begin to support multiple online and blended learning programs, states that still don’t support these learning styles are creating an alarming disadvantage for their students.

Perhaps one of the most definitive sources on the online and blended learning landscape in the U.S. today is “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online & Blended Learning,” a massive data report compiled by the Evergreen Education Group, a private consulting and advisory firm specializing in education and education technology.

The report provides a snapshot of the K-12 online and blended learning landscape across 50 states as of late 2013, and makes many forward-looking statements on the future of online and blended learning. One of those statements describes the new digital divide.…Read More

Some schools need $100 million for online Common Core tests

A new report from Maryland’s Education Department to the legislature says that the vast majority of schools in many of the state’s counties are not technologically prepared to give new online Common Core-aligned standardized tests and that at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready, the Washington Post reports. In Montgomery County alone, it is estimated that necessary computer purchases will cost some $10 million, wireless enhancements to the infrastructure another $3 million and other technological improvements an additional $4 million…

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5 best practices in online learning

District and school-level leaders weigh in on what makes a successful online learning program

online-learning-practicesThough still in its adoption infancy, online learning in K-12 schools and districts has been around long enough for tech-savvy education leaders to have key insights into what makes an online learning program successful. Thanks to a new national survey, most school and district leaders agree that there are five distinct best practices for online learning.

The survey, conducted by MDR’s EdNet on behalf of K12 Inc. in the spring of 2013, sought to determine best practices and lessons learned when implementing online learning programs in K-12 schools through in-depth responses from superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, principals, and exemplary teachers.

Of the 165 respondents who offer online learning programs, 82 percent offer an online credit recovery program; 81 percent offered online courses in 2013 versus just 66 percent in 2012; and full-time online programs in districts with more than 10,000 students grew from 27 percent in 2012 to 48 percent in 2013.…Read More

Contemporary online PD for educators

Smithsonian debuts Online Education Conferences; offers educators PD, digital badges

educators-PD-online Educators looking for a unique professional development (PD) experience that relates textbook curriculum to real-world events and current issues now have a new, free online opportunity thanks to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian Online Education Conference series is an interactive online webinar presented each month by Smithsonian experts, and can be used by educators looking for an innovative PD experience.

The entire series is available for free online so educators can pick the topics they want to implement into instruction at their convenience. The conferences cover a range of cross-curricular topics from astrophotography, to civil rights and the rainforest.…Read More

5 online learning trends worth knowing about

Online learning is quickly growing and is changing the way most of us think about modern education, Edudemic reports. Before we dive into the current trends, let’s take a step back. What exactly is online learning and why should you care? Basically, it’s the implementation of new technology into education so that both teachers and students can interact in a new way. Simple enough, right? Online learning is useful for K-12 students up to college students. That’s primary and secondary school students for some of our international audience. So this new type of digital learning is a fabulous thing. We get it. Technology in the classroom is like the invention of the lightbulb, car, and airplane all rolled into one thing. Got it. It’s great…

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What tech leaders need to know about online assessments

Experts say bandwidth, state guidelines crucial for online assessments implementation

online-assessments As part of Connected Educator Month, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) gathered together two expert district and state technology directors to discuss how their states successfully implemented 21st century online assessments.

The most interesting piece of advice: Without a basic technical foundation and statewide support, you can kiss online assessments goodbye.

“It’s a summary of parts that all work together,” said Patches Hill, technology systems manager of Delaware’s Indian River School District (IRSD). “You need your state-level infrastructure implementation, state assessment implementation [summative standardization], and personalized  learning [formative standardization]. This is a multistep process and it can’t be done instantly.”…Read More

School encourages homophobic humiliation as student punishment

Two Arizona high school students who were caught fighting faced a controversial punishment concocted by their principal: Either endure a suspension, or sit in the school courtyard holding hands while other students shout and throw homophobic slurs at you, Takepart.com reports. The message here seems to be that there’s nothing more horrific than being perceived as gay. Student Brittney Smyers told ABC 15, “Kids were laughing at them and calling them names asking, ‘Are you gay?’” Pictures of the boys holding hands surfaced online with some singing the principal’s praises, while others denounced his tactics as shortsighted and discriminatory…


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Are video games the answer to college counseling shortage?

Recent high school graduate Edwin Brito plays the pilot version of USC's Pathfinder game.
Recent high school graduate Edwin Brito plays the pilot version of USC’s Pathfinder game.

A simple online search will turn up hundreds of web sites packed with advice for high school students applying to college. But few internet resources offer step-by-step guidance, and with college counseling dwindling in public schools, University of Southern California researchers have created a video game that lets student simulate the application process in all its complexity.

The online game, called Pathfinder, has been piloted among more than 100 Los Angeles-area high school students this year and could be available to school districts free of charge if USC’s Game Innovation Lab secures $1 million in grants and funding, said Zoe Corwin, a research associate in the university’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis.

The Pathfinder pilot uses playing cards, but the finished product will be a web-based game, officials said.…Read More