These are my notes from closing, summative session at the April 20, 2012, Oklahoma Digital Learning Summit in Oklahoma City. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. SEE ALL MY POSTS TAGGED “DLsummit2012″ AS WELL AS MY TWEETS TAGGED “DLsummit2012.” Each of our breakout groups from the past day and a half shared some of the key discussion points, recommendations, and take-aways in our final session. This conversation was facilitated by our luncheon keynote speaker, Tom Vander Ark.

James Deaton, Doug Levin, and Tom Vander Ark at #DLsummit2012

Report from funding and infrastructure group (group 7)
- funding needs flexibility, incentives, sufficiency, and equity
- infrastructure: leveraging assets, equity, standardizing and scaling

federal dollars may be more restrictive in some cases from state dollars
- discussions about weighted funding: “should a student be worth as much money” regardless of context

High speed Internet access
- 2 years ago Oklahoma received substantial grant which is laying 1000 miles of new fiber

The idea of portable funding: funding following a kid
- this is hard to deal with if you are a district administrator
- calculations of dropouts, how funding follows a student, those are important considerations
- potential for students to lose enrollments

Digital Learning Now wants funding to be portable, ___ and ___ (didn’t get the other 3)

Personalized Learning (group 2)
- take CCSS seriously: provide deeper learning experiences to prepare students for college, career and citizen readiness
- support blended model
- use tech for foundational knowledge and skills
- use teacher facilitated learning for 21st century skills, application enrichment
- personalize F2F instruction using digital data to flexibly group, intervene
- incorporate authentic tasks and audiences, collaborative projects, access to external experts and mentors

online courses should include
- open response
- training for students on how to learn online
- NETS aligned
- incorporate teacher/tutor support

Elementary digital learning
- topical, differentiated
- support center-based pedagogy, small groups
- expand broadband network access

Ideas from Scott Parks, superintendent of Howe Public Schools:

Good to see the discussion focusing on blended learning
- purpose-driven learning
- projects that are locally focused: how to improve my school / community
- helping teachers see how we can intentionally engage in ways we wouldn’t normally use or give credit for in school
- using driving questions
- in a 10 week project with all high school students
- definitely about turning learning over to the students, having teachers facilitate
- our high school students are now meeting with our county commissioners, discussing concrete ideas to improve our community
- initially proposed funding was for $1000 for the winning group, it’s clear now that won’t be enough for some of the proposed student ideas, so students are out seeking other funding/revenue sources
- kids having an ability to fire team members, but having a process to go through, this was hugely beneficial for our students in terms of ‘real world’ group collaboration and accountability

MY COMMENT: SO GREAT TO HEAR SCOTT SHARE THESE ELEMENTS

Quality Content (group 4)
- do we purchase or produce content?
- how do we share it? how is it indexed and shared statewide?

Recommendation 1: Further examine flexibility

Recommendation 2: Creation of a high quality online content task force
- compressed of K12 educators, higher education, research community, technology experts and instructional designers (excluding vendors)
- to look at existing state models for online content evaluation
- develop a rubric for vetting and identifying high quality online content
- provide recommendations for online content based on compliance with the rubric
- provide continual evaluation of online content to accommodate changes in demographics, standard, and technology advancements

Tom V: choice is between a wild universe of unmanageable content vs vendor-provided, well organized systems
- if you go down the tablet road you better have a budget for apps

Recommendation 3: Explore opportunities for consumer review of online content
- forums available for educators to comment on online content produced
- rating system

Recommendation 4: Recommend expiring options for openly licensing non-commercial content
- some district folks expressed not being ready for this

Tom’s comments on Digital Learning Now:
- Effort to create 10 point roadmap for state policy
- mostly about what states should NOT do

Now Quality Instruction (group 5)

think of bigger picture about digital literacy
- teachers need to be skilled with all kinds of things they need to move forward

whatever instructor is teaching the course, the closer they are to the school the better
- in my case, it would be the tech center
- important for that teacher to be accountable for student performance on AP tests, EOI, etc
- just like teachers at schools

MY COMMENT: WHY SHOULD WE ASSUME THAT IN ALL CASES, INSTRUCTORS HAVE TO BE GEOGRAPHICALLY CLOSE? THIS COMMENT CAME FROM SOMEONE (NOT SURE HIS NAME) WORKING AT AN OKLAHOMA TECH CENTER. I KNOW THAT MIGHT SOUND GOOD FROM A JOB PRESERVATION STANDPOINT, BUT THAT’S NOT A RESEARCH-BASED RECOMMENDATION FROM WHAT I KNOW.

teacher preparation a big discussion point
- hope that universities will build digital literacy into their programs

Modeling best practices

Comments by Lisa Fraine on Florida Virtual School model
- year to year contracts for everyone
- all performance based
- no teacher union
- hiring lots of adjuncts now
- wouldn’t want to work in another environment, I like my peers being evaluated based on results

Group 1: Student Access
- consortia would allow students access to more offerings
- provide scheduling that allows teachers brick and mortar time as well as time for providing digital content, support, etc.
- providing students another method of obtaining content of interest

student access and barriers to access
- provides another method of delivery for students who need something other than bricks and mortar delivery
- provides students with background knowledge of digital delivery to prepare for college class that may be delivered digitally
- requires IT policies that provide for greater access
- district policies to enable students to use own devices
- policies of ‘what it takes’ for virtual learning for parent/child
- ability to ‘try it out’ without penalty
- (some parents and kids have ‘buyers remorse’)
- vendors can customize offerings for differentiation
- policy and screening important for students to access digital learning successfully
- technology hardware like computers, bandwidth, towers, etc necessary to provide equal access to all
- equity between large and small districts
- falling behind in brick and mortar class if unsuccessful in digital environment
- requirement for one digital course to graduate seems unfair to some special needs students
- digitally literate dos not mean taking an online course
- collaboration and close communication essential to special needs success
- some special needs students do better with online, less distraction and unwanted interaction with peers
- student knowledge of what it means to be a digital citizen
- district’s right to determine class size and ration
- district’s right to select platforms
- funding formula should follow the student

guided choices without creating barriers

Group 6: Quality Choices, our top ideas
- vetting of vendors is key, including the ‘amazon features (user ratings)
- use district experiences
- establish state virtual charter school for FULLTIME students
– but strong with oversight
– state is accountable
– could be course catalog

in Kansas: locally controlled, districts choose
- Michigan: state controlled, takes several years for selection
- in Maryland, no funding or staffing
- virginia has quick approval

Oklahoma NOW, our system in new rule for supplemental providers
1- state amasses list of providers with prices (for equity in pricing)
2- districts choose provider or providers they think are suitable
3- student who is not happy can apply for a transfer to another district if they want a different virtual provider

We looked at option of state offering a menu, students choose from that menu without gatekeeping at the district level
- that could allow more students to have more choice to a broader menu
- concerns over state system:
– having enough money for staff and work
– good vetting process

state should ensure number of provider options for students
- state should track multiple factors

need a website: how to make this information available to students and parents
- ref to Tom’s idea of “Yelp” like website (user ratings)

might need statewide task force to set up ne wstate-based authorization process for providers
- to define and really think through the vetting process and feedback loops
- more

might need a state run virtual charter school, not working through individual districts

Now group 3: How do we really ensure quality?
- what should accountability look like in this era of virtual learning and big data
- Advancement, Assessment and Accountability

Oklahoma was one of the 1st to do an online assessment
- geography in 7th grade
- mandated that every school do this test online, not an option
- was that a challenge, yes, but we did it!

How can we move change forward
- there are technical and practical issues, but also tech and pedagogical issues
- every district wants to do everything for kids, money and resources are key, how do we do that?!

MY COMMENT: I DON’T THINK IT’S ACCURATE TO SAY ALL DISTRICTS WANT TO DO IT ALL. MANY DISTRICTS DON’T WANT VIRTUAL OPTIONS FOR CLASSES NOW OFFERED/TAUGHT F2F. I’M NOT SAYING THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S JUST REALITY.

Test based promotion
- state law requires students to demonstrate competency on a standardized assessment to advance to the next grade
- is currently not met with the exception of 3rd grade (SB 346)
- group agreed this should be true for digital learning, unless committee is established to ‘clean up vendors and courses
- discussion on expanding on traditional courses…

SB 280 requires OSDE to address this issue that state law doesn’t require students to complete a defined amount of instructional time to get credit

Quality of schools
- under state law, data on student learning is used to evaluate the quality of schools
- achieved through A-F grading scale
-going through elements 58, 59, 60, 61

Senator Ford was quoted:
- school should determine what is ‘academically appropriate’ for individual students

Bottom line: we are moving to online high stakes assessment
- it is a challenge to test online at high school new

big challenges
- nature of assessments being robust for high stakes
- technology infrastructure
- purchasing co-op
- systems integration

Tom’s closing comments:
- we’re headed for an exciting few years
- we will soon have more data than we’ve ever had in many schools partnering with vendors
- this will create new problems, using new forms of data to give better feedback to teachers

 

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