Opinion Article in The Oregonian: How Online Education Can Work
Towards Fair and Meaningful Grading Practices for the Differentiated Standards-Based Classroom
Public school teachers today are charged with designing standards-based learning experiences that will be effective with increasingly diverse groups of students. To fulfill that goal, they have begun to use a wide variety of the assignments, learning activities, culminating projects and assessments with the students in their classes. But teachers working to improve their practice by differentiating their lesson plans sometimes worry, “How can I be sure my grades are fair and accurate if my students engage in different learning activities and express what they know in different ways?”
This pedagogy requires new, more flexible grading and reporting practices than we’ve used in the past; practices that help us better recognize and support all kinds of learners. Well-regarded educational leaders believe that grading practices alone could play an important role in reducing disengagement and school failure. Here are the big ideas. Continue reading
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”
Asynchronous forums offer many learning opportunities and benefits, but deep inquiry happens only when the teacher provides good structure and moderation. Here are my 10 tips for building purposeful conversation in asynchronous virtual forums. Continue reading
Online learning is still pretty mysterious to many people, including some experienced educators. A common question is, “How does that work, anyway?” One notion is that online learning is an alternate method for delivering content knowledge. Somewhat more sound is the idea that it is an alternate method for delivering a learning experience. Many believe it relates only to virtual schools. Educators are aware that online learning can be useful for home-schoolers or credit recovery. Some people imagine that online learning means that a student sits alone at a computer working through digital content at his own pace instead of working in tandem with peers and a classroom teacher. It is often assumed to be asocial or to involve a weak substitution for face to face interaction.
These ideas, while they can occasionally be accurate, are partial understandings of online learning that miss it’s fundamental importance. Here is my short, overview of online learning for beginners. I hope I can illustrate that online learning is not primarily about offering an alternate delivery method for learning. Learning online is an important element of all learning, and of becoming literate in our electronic age. New online networking tools are enhancing personal connections for learning and mentorship. For those who have not yet experienced learning online first hand, I will offer a description of the many ways that learning online “works.” Continue reading
As a response to unprecedented rapid enrollment growth in virtual charter schools in Oregon, the state legislature has put a temporary cap on enrollment while it studies the effects of this growth on equity, compliance with education laws, public education spending and quality. The enrollment cap, while not intended as a permanent solution, is angering the group of parents who have had access to virtual schools for their children. The solution to the conflict is a long-term strategic vision for online learning that assures access, good pedagogy and choice for all of Oregon’s students.